In the opening moments of a Golden Globes night even more chaotic and confounding than usual, co-host Tina Fey raised a theoretical question: “Could this whole night have been an email?” Only the next three hours would tell. Well, sure, it could have been an email. But then you wouldn't have had Chadwick Boseman’s eloquent widow, bringing many to tears as she explained how she could never be as eloquent as her late husband. Or Jane Fonda, sharply calling out Hollywood for its lack of diversity on a night when her very hosts were under fire for exactly that. Or Chloé Zhao, making history as the first woman of Asian descent to win best director (and the first woman since 1984.) Or 98-year-old Norman Lear, giving the simplest explanation for his longevity: never living or laughing alone. Or Jodie Foster kissing her wife joyfully, eight years after very tentatively coming out on the same telecast. Of course, there were the usual confounding results and baffling snubs, compounded here by some epic Zoom fails. But then we had the kids and the dogs. And they were adorable. Next year, can we still have the kids and the dogs, please? Some key moments of the first and hopefully last virtual Globes night: AN OVERDUE RECKONING The evening began under a cloud of embarrassing revelations about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and its lack of inclusion, including the damaging fact that there are no Black members in the 87-person body. Fey and co-host Amy Poehler addressed it early: “Even with stupid things, inclusivity is important." Winners like Daniel Levy of “Schitt's Creek” and presenters like Sterling K. Brown referred to it. Jane Fonda made it a theme of her powerful speech accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award. And the HFPA made a hasty onstage pledge to change. “We recognize we have our own work to do,” said vice-president Helen Hoehne. “We must have Black journalists in our organization.” “I DON'T HAVE HIS WORDS” The best-actor award to Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey's Black Bottom” had been expected. That did not dull the emotional impact of his victory. His widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, tearfully accepted in his honour, telling viewers that her husband, who died of colon cancer at 43 before the film was released, “would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of all of us that tells you you can. That tells you to keep going, that calls you back to what you are meant to be doing at this moment in history.” But, she said poignantly, “I don't have his words." Co-star Viola Davis could be seen weeping as Ledward spoke. She was not alone. PREDICTABLE ZOOM FAILS It was obvious there were going to be awkward Zoom fails. It started early, when the very first winner, Daniel Kaluuya for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” was on mute as he accepted his award, leaving presenter Laura Dern to apologize for technical difficulties. Thankfully, the problem was resolved in time for the actor to speak. Jason Sudeikis, whose charmingly rambling speech ("This is nuts!") and rumpled hoodie signalled he hadn't expected to win, finally realized he needed to “wrap this puppy up.” And winner Catherine O'Hara ("Schitt's Creek") had some perhaps unwelcome help from her husband, whose efforts to provide applause sounds and play-off music on his phone while she spoke lost something in translation, causing confusion on social media. Oh yes, and there were those conversations between nominees before commercials — did they know we heard them? KIDS AND PETS, STILL BRINGING JOY Still, the virtual acceptances from winners stuck at home had a huge silver lining: happy kids and cute pets. When Mark Ruffalo won for “I Know This Much is True,” two of his teens could not control their joy enough to stay out of the camera shot. Not to be outdone, the adorable young daughter of Lee Isaac Chung, writer-director of the Korean-American family drama “Minari,” sat in his lap and hugged him throughout his acceptance for best foreign language film. “She’s the reason I made this film,” said Chung. Winner Jodie Foster ("The Mauritanian") also had a family member in her lap: her dog. Also seen: Sarah Paulson's dog, and Emma Corrin's cat. LOVE FOR BORAT, SNUB FOR BAKALOVA ... AND EXPOSURE FOR GIULIANI Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, breakout star of Amazon’s “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” had been widely expected to win, but lost out to Rosamund Pike ("I Care a Lot") who saluted Bakalova's bravery. In her movie, Pike said, “I had to swim up from a sinking car. I think I still would rather do that than have been in a room with Rudy Giuliani.” The former New York mayor's infamous cameo was also the butt of jokes from “Borat” star Sacha Baron Cohen, who called Giuliani “a fresh new talent who came from nowhere and turned out to be a comedy genius ... I mean, who could get more laughs from one unzipping?” Baron Cohen, who won for best actor in a comedy, also joked that Donald Trump was “contesting the result” of his win. A FIERY FONDA Did you expect anything less from Fonda? In her memorable DeMille award speech, the multiple Globe winner extolled the virtues of cinematic storytelling — “stories can change our hearts and our minds” — then pivoted to admonishing Hollywood. “There's a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves,” she said, “a story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out: a story about who’s offered a seat at the table and who’s kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.” She said the arts should not merely keep step with society, but lead the way. “Let's be leaders,” she said. ZHAO MAKES HISTORY When Zhao won best director for her haunting and elegant “Nomadland,” she was the first Asian American woman ever to win that award. But that wasn't the only way she made history: it was the first directing Globe for a woman in nearly 40 years, since Barbra Streisand won for “Yentl." Her film, a look at itinerant Americans, “at its core for me is a pilgrimage through grief and healing,” Zhao said. “For everyone who has gone through this difficult and beautiful journey at some point in their lives, we don’t say goodbye, we say: See you down the road.” With Zhao's win, the road widens for other female directors. ___ This story has been corrected to show that Norman Lear is 98, not 99. Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
Emma Corrin just won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Princess Diana.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
ALGIERS, Algeria — Hundreds of students restarted their weekly Tuesday protest marches that were called off last spring because of the coronavirus. The march came eight days after the Hirak pro-democracy movement reappeared in streets around the country to mark its second anniversary and days after the weekly Friday marches restarted. Hirak's peaceful protests helped force long-time President Abdelaziz Bouteflika from office in 2019. His successor, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, has promised reform of the system marked by corruption under Bouteflika and with the shadow of the army ever-present. “Civilian state and not a military state,” one group of students cried out, hoisting high a banner reading “We don't go home until the demands of Hirak are met.” Police watched, their vans blocking some streets, as marchers detoured around security forces, moving through winding streets at the bottom of Algiers' famed Casbah toward the imposing central post office, the traditional rallying point for the Hirak. Demonstrators sang and waved flags with no incidents reported. The Associated Press
TORONTO — Ontario's health minister says the province won't administer the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to seniors. Christine Elliott says the province plans to follow the advice of a national panel recommending against using that vaccine on people aged 65 and older. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has recommended the shot not be used for seniors due to concern about limited data on how it will work in older populations. Elliott says the vaccine could more easily be used in sites like correctional facilities because it does not need to be stored at the same cold temperatures as other vaccines already in use. She also says the province is waiting for recommendations from the immunization committee on whether Ontario can extend the interval between administering first and second vaccine doses to four months. Elliott says Ontario will share its updated vaccine rollout plan once that advice is received, factoring in expected supply of Oxford-AstraZeneca doses as well. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
An Indigenous youth group is hoping the United Nations will step in and help them seek justice after they claim they were “brutalized” by Vancouver Police Department officers who broke up what they say was a peaceful protest last week. The youth group, known as the Braided Warriors, had been out protesting the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion at affiliated insurance companies throughout the week in downtown Vancouver, calling on them to drop the project. While earlier demonstrations ended peacefully, the group’s third protest, at AIG Insurance’s office at 595 Burrard St. on Friday (Feb. 19), turned ugly when VPD officers arrived and “violently” dispersed the crowd. A video circulating on social media showing scenes of a police officer grabbing the hair of a protester and others being thrown to the ground has been sent to the VPD’s Professional Standards Section for review – but the Braided Warriors want more action to be taken. According to the Braided Warriors, youth were “violently thrown to the ground, dragged across floors and down stairways, pulled by the hair and braid, thrown to surfaces covered in glass, strangled in a chokehold, and dragged face down on concrete.” On Monday (March 1), the youth group returned to the site of the protest to film testimonials of their experiences with the VPD to be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and to the International Human Rights Community. Dressed in traditional regalia, the youth gathered peacefully at the front of the BMO building once more, singing and smudging “temeth” or earth on one another for protection. #IndigenousYouth that Were Violently Arrested Outside Vancouver AIG Insurance Building Return to Film International #HumanRights TestimonialsIndigenous Activists Escalate Their Actions Calling on AIG to Stop Insuring Trans Mountain Tar Sands Pipeline #stopinsuringGenocide pic.twitter.com/8NEdk75P2M— Kanahus Manuel (@KanahusFreedom) VPD officers 'should be ashamed of themselves' One of four youths arrested for mischief and obstruction by the VPD, Kaylee Wolflinger, of Cowessess First Nation in southern Saskatchewan, said she wanted to share her testimonial to bring awareness to what had happened. Wolflinger said she had been left traumatized by the experience of being arrested, while trying to help a fellow Braided Warrior who was being pulled away by police. “While they were getting thrown out the door I saw that their drum was falling on the ground, and I've always been taught that drums should never touch the floor, so I went and leaped over and I went on my knees and I tried to pick up the drum,” Wolflinger said. “When I picked up the drum, I just felt a sudden force on my back, that pushed me down and my body and my head hit the floor where shattered glass was. I just remember being in a daze and continuing to watch the police violently displace Indigenous youth that were occupying this space.” After being arrested, the 21-year-old said she was left in a paddy wagon in the dark for about an hour and a half, without anyone looking at her injuries or checking if she was OK, causing her to have a panic attack. Once placed in jail, she said it took a further hour and 40 minutes before a nurse attended to a cut on her head. “This whole situation has really affected me and all of us mentally, and it was really traumatic,” Wolflinger said. “What they [police officers] did was wrong and it was unnecessary force. They should be ashamed of themselves.” SUPPORT INDIGENOUS YOUTH WARRIORS @BraidedWarriors violently arrested at #stoptmx #stopinsuringGenocide at AIG Insurance to demand insurance companies stop underwriting #TransMountain pipelines E transfer Braidedwarriors@gmail.com @amnesty @NaomiAKlein pic.twitter.com/Zv3ApTtI72— Kanahus Manuel (@KanahusFreedom) VPD say some youth became 'confrontational' While Braided Warriors maintain they did not become violent, VPD spokesperson Sgt. Steve Addison said protesters had tried to block access to the building and some became “confrontational” when officers attempted to negotiate. “During Friday’s protest, the demonstrators set up a tent and used their bodies to barricade the front doors of a building on Burrard Street, refusing to let anyone enter or exit,” he said via email. “Several protesters became physically and verbally confrontational with police. Extra officers were brought in from other areas of the city to regain control of the situation and to remove the protesters from the building.” Sgt. Addison said the video circulating on social media of the interactions that took place on Friday had been sent to the VPD’s Professional Standards Section for review. He said the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner had also been notified. Braided Warriors call on UN for intervention As well as justice for the police “brutality” and calling for the charges to be dropped against those arrested, Scwicweye, of Secwepemc (Shuswap) Nation, said the Braided Warriors were hoping for intervention from the UN to help with their fight to stop the TMX pipeline and with their greater goal of the “abolishment of all police on all unceded lands and territories” and a return to Indigenous law. “We hope for intervention and immediate termination to Trans Mountain Pipeline, the removal of police from unceded territories and to call attention to the human rights violations that Canada is committing against Indigenous people,” she said. “That's why we stand here and why we do this, to ensure that that will happen.” The newly formed group, made up of Indigenous youth from many nations, fights for Indigenous sovereignty mostly on the unceded territories of the Səl̓ílwətaʔ (Tsleil-Waututh), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) nations. “Indigenous people have been resisting colonialism since first contact, and we are just an extension of that,” Scwicweye said. She said until the insurance companies affiliated with TMX publicly come forward and state they will no longer insure the project, they will “continue to be a target for all people defending the land.” Elisia Seeber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, North Shore News
LONDON — A British newspaper publisher said Tuesday it plans to appeal against a judge’s ruling that it invaded the privacy of the Duchess of Sussex by publishing parts of a letter she wrote to her estranged father after her 2018 marriage to Prince Harry. The American former actress Meghan Markle, 39, sued publisher Associated Newspapers for invasion of privacy and copyright infringement over five February 2019 articles in the Mail on Sunday and on the MailOnline website that reproduced large portions of a letter she wrote to her father, Thomas Markle. High Court judge Mark Warby ruled last month that the publisher had misused the duchess’s private information and infringed her copyright. He said the duchess “had a reasonable expectation that the contents of the letter would remain private” and concluded the paper’s publication of large chunks of it was “manifestly excessive and hence unlawful.” In written submissions released as part of a court hearing on Tuesday, Associated Newspapers’ lawyer Antony White sought permission to appeal, saying a bid to overturn Warby’s ruling “would have a real prospect of success.” The publisher's lawyers argue that the duchess wrote the letter not simply as a private message to her father but “for the public record upon advice from royal family members and palace communications staff and for use as part of a media strategy.” The judge refused permission to appeal, saying he saw “no real prospect” of another court reaching a different conclusion than he had. “The Court of Appeal, of course, may take a different view,” he said, adding that Associated Newspapers can take its case directly to the appeals court. Lawyers for Meghan, meanwhile, demanded the publisher hand over the letter and destroy any electronic copies or notes it held. They also asked the judge to order the Mail on Sunday to remove the five articles from its website and to run a front-page statement about the duchess’ legal victory. Ian Mill, an attorney for Meghan, said “the defendant defiantly continues to do the very acts which the court has held are unlawful.” The publisher's lawyers agreed to remove the articles from the website until the legal issues are resolved. The judge didn't immediately rule on the request to hand over the letter. He ordered Associated Newspapers to make an interim payment of 450,000 pounds ($625,000) toward Meghan's legal costs, and said further “financial remedies” would be dealt with later. Meghan, a former star of the American TV legal drama “Suits,” married Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Their son, Archie, was born the following year. In early 2020, Meghan and Harry announced they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. They recently bought a house in Santa Barbara, California, and are expecting a second child. In his ruling last month, the judge ruled in Meghan's favour on most points, but said a “limited trial” should be held to decide the “minor” issue of whether the duchess was “the sole author” and lone copyright holder of the letter. It is expected to take place in the fall. Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Emergency loans made to small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic have been added to a list of government programs considered at high risk of waste, fraud or mismanagement. The most common of those emergency loans, PPP loans, are provided at a low interest rate and are fully forgivable under conditions that include spending a certain percentage on payroll costs. The loans were created by Congress and have proven exceedingly popular as shops, restaurants and other small businesses try to survive the pandemic. The Government Accountability Office said Tuesday that millions of small businesses benefitted from the emergency loans, but the speed with which the relief programs were set up limited safeguards necessary to identify risks, “including susceptibility to improper payments and potential fraud.” The Small Business Administration made or guaranteed more than 14.7 million loans and grants totalling about $744 billion between March and December. Congress approved an additional $304 billion in emergency loans in December. The GAO said in the report that, as of January, it continues to experience delays in obtaining key information about the loans, including detailed oversight plans and documentation for estimating improper payments. “There's no doubt they’ve had a positive impact. However, the management of these programs needs to be dramatically improved," U.S. Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro told reporters in previewing the report. Government auditors release a high-risk list near the beginning of every new Congress. The list is designed to increase attention on the shortfalls cited by the GAO, and to prompt action that can often save taxpayer dollars and improve government operations. Auditors also added the government’s efforts to prevent drug misuse to the high-risk list. The GAO had warned as the pandemic began that it would be doing so. At the time, it noted that the pandemic could fuel the conditions that contribute to drug misuse, such as unemployment. In December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the largest ever increase of drug overdose deaths during a 12-month period that ended the previous May. The CDC noted a particular acceleration in drug overdose deaths as widespread mitigation measures kicked in. “This is heartbreaking," said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. Portman said that the country and his home state had finally seen a drop in overdose deaths in 2018 for the first time in decades. “Substantial progress. And yet now, with the pandemic, under this horrible pandemic, we have this horrible addiction crisis that has grown," Portman said. Auditors said that maintaining sustained attention to the problem of drug abuse will be challenging in the coming months with agencies focused on addressing the pandemic. “This makes developing and implementing a co-ordinated, strategic approach even more important as agencies’ resources are also being diverted, in part, to pandemic priorities,” the report said. On a positive note, the GAO said the Department of Defence had made concerted progress in how it aligns its support infrastructure with the needs of the country’s military forces, It dropped the support program from it's high-risk list. For example, in citing, progress, auditors said the Army reduced its leased footprint in the Washington D.C. region from a peak of 3.9 million square feet in 2011 to roughly 1 million square feet as of September 2019. Kevin Freking, The Associated Press
A parents group advocating for Black students has launched a tool where school staff across Canada can report and track anti-Black racism. Parents of Black Children (PoBC) created an online tool for educators and school board employees across Canada to anonymously report incidents of anti-Black racism that they have witnessed against students, colleagues, or experienced themselves. “We want you to know what racism looks like when the doors are closed,” said board member Charlene Hines at a virtual press conference Tuesday. “We know it’s happening and we know it’s not being addressed.” As an organization, PoBC is frequently hearing stories of racism, as shared by concerned parents, but that’s only a piece of the story. “This only captures the racism that parents know about,” said co-founder Kearie Daniel. “It doesn’t capture the racist incidents that educators may see in their colleagues’ classrooms and never report. It doesn’t cover the racist comments (said) in the teachers’ lounge or over email. “And it doesn’t cover the reprisals that Black teachers and their allies may face for standing up for Black students,” Daniel continued. Founding member Claudette Rutherford is also a department head at the York Region District School Board, and can relate to the risk of speaking up. “Even me coming here I understand the risk that it puts me at but I feel like I don’t have a choice anymore,” said Rutherford, who has been teaching for 19 years. PoBC has long demanded the collection of disaggregated, race-based data, which has not been fulfilled by the vast majority of school boards. Earlier this month, the Toronto District School Board released its first human rights report, which covered 2018-2020 and revealed a prevalence of anti-Black racism, which was reported by teachers. The TDSB created a new requirement that principals must report hate incidents in its own online portal. But TDSB spokesperson Shari Schwartz-Maltz previously told the Star that she believes it is the only board currently collecting such information. As stories are submitted, PoBC plans to release the anonymized stories publicly, to school board leadership and ministries of education. The organizers note that being independent from school boards is an asset. In August 2020, PoBC held a protest for change in Ontario schools, and made 10 demands, including data collection, hiring more Black teachers, an end to streaming in all grades and decolonizing curriculum. As an organization, PoBC has already started filling some of their requests itself. Co-founder Charline Grant is a system navigator, which helps guide and support parents dealing with racism and disputes within schools. Members say they have not heard from the Ministry of Education. The government has moved forward with is ending streaming in Grade 9 and other “racist, discriminatory” practices, announced in July 2020. On Monday, Ontario announced it would be investing $6 million over the next three years to support Black students through a student and family advocates initiative in Ottawa, Hamilton and the GTA. In speaking about the data collection tool, Grant emphasized that it isn’t just data being collected, they are real “traumatic” experiences. “We already know anti-Black racism exists and is rampant in our schools,” she said. “This is just to give everybody a window into what we’re experiencing.” Angelyn Francis is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering equity and inequality. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.com Angelyn Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
A Toronto man has been charged with impaired driving in Parry Sound following a motor vehicle collision. West Parry Sound OPP say that they responded to the incident on Bowes Street around 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 25. As a result of an investigation, police arrested and charged 54-year-old Gregory Coleman of Toronto with operating a motor vehicle while impaired, blood alcohol concentration of 80 plus, and having open alcohol outside of a licensed establishment, residence or private place. He was given 90-day driver's license suspension and his vehicle was impounded for seven days. Coleman will appear in Parry Sound court on April 1. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
HALIFAX — Racial justice advocates say systematic racism has led to the overrepresentation of Black and Indigenous people in Nova Scotia's criminal justice system. The group told a legislative committee today that systemic and structural racism in Canada has disproportionately affected Black and Indigenous people. Emma Halpern, executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia, says there needs to be mandatory anti-racist training for police and other front-line workers who encounter African Nova Scotian and Indigenous residents. Robert Wright, spokesperson for the African Nova Scotian Decade for People of African Descent Coalition, says despite the group's advocacy for the end to police street checks, the practice continues to be supported by the province. Wright says his group has seen a disappointing lack of commitment to anti-racism initiatives in the province's criminal justice sector. Halpern says government departments need to have a more "human-centred approach" for offering services to racialized people in the criminal justice system. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
Dr. Seuss Enterprises released a statement that the company will stop the sale and publication of six books that "portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong."
Another GTA region has begun inoculating seniors 80 years of age and older. Shallima Maharaj has the story.
Having spent a year living under the added pressure of COVID, many British Columbians are extremely keen for a vacation. Yet that’s not easy (or for that matter, allowed) under current provincial restrictions and recommendations. As a way to generate revenue during this difficult period, local hotels are filling the gap, offering reduced room rates and packages aimed people who live in the Kamloops region. The idea is for people to enjoy a “staycation”—that is, a vacation in one’s own backyard. Over at the Thompson Hotel and Conference Centre, there has been a big push to attract families looking for a safe environment to spend some quality time. In December, the independently owned hotel transformed one of its conference rooms into a small movie theatre. As part of a package deal, families can book this theatre. Families are also given the opportunity to book time at the hotel pool and games room. Pav Moore, co-owner and operations manager at the Thompson, said that families are loving the opportunity to do something novel and fun in a way that ensures their health and safety. “They’re loving that they can enjoy some time with their family, not cooped up in their homes, but not feel like they’re putting themselves at risk,” said Moore. Moore said that the theatre is an excellent draw, with guests invited to select from an in-house selection of films or bring their own if they prefer. She added that the package has gotten lots of buzz by word-of mouth and through social media posts. The hotel is also offering a package called Dinner and Dance. It includes a dance instruction session with an instructor from Let’s Move Dance Studio. Moore said that the packages are largely sold out, but there is some availability mid-week for March. Over at the Delta Hotels Kamloops, staff cooked up a sexy package in honour of Valentine’s Day. But instead of relegating it to the week of the 14th, they’ve offered the package throughout the month. Aptly named the Couples Escape Package (because at this point, who doesn’t need to escape) the package includes a one night accomodation in a king guestroom or one bedroom suite, Prosecco, a mini charcuterie board, a $75 gift certificate for Cordo Resto & Bar and an in-room movie. But the pièce de résistance has been the opportunity for couples to have a chance to enjoy the hotel’s rooftop jacuzzi all by themselves. Due to the popularity of the promotion, the hotel has extended the package until the end of March. The hotel is also offering a family-focussed package geared at families, beginning in March. It includes a night’s accommodation in a two-queen guest room or family suite, a $75 room dine-in credit or gift card for Cordo Resto Bar, a guaranteed rooftop pool and jacuzzi reservation and an in-room movie and snack pack. With provincial restrictions in place, hotel staff are making the best of it, offering fun ways to relax close to home. “Our target area right now is within Kamloops and about 50 kilometers outside of the Kamloops market for the next couple of months,” said Darcia Ball, marketing director of the hotel. For a full list of good travel deals, the good people over at Tourism Kamloops have put out a handy resource list to check out. Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
The Sun Peaks Pharmacy will remain closed for the remainder of the week, but curbside and delivery service is available after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19 last week. Clancy O’Malley, owner of the pharmacy, said the plan is to continue operating in this fashion until staff is able to safely return to work in compliance with COVID-19 guidelines. “At this point, I’m planning on keeping it as delivery only and curbside pickup until the other staff is able to safely return to work, as per Interior Health [guidelines],” said O’Malley. Last week, The Sun Peaks Pharmacy informed the community of a positive COVID-19 case involving one of its staff members. The individual was likely positive with the virus as far back as Feb. 16 or 17, 2021. Another staff member, who was a close contact, is now self-isolating as well as a precaution, said O’Malley. O’Malley said that he was not in close contact with the staff. “Thankfully, I haven’t really been working up here much, so I didn’t have any close contact with them,” he explained. O’Malley is now filling orders himself. He added that the public can purchase off-the-shelf items as well. Dr. Shane Barclay of the Sun Peaks Health Centre informed the community 33 COVID tests were conducted on Friday, Feb. 26 resulting in zero positive cases. “This is very encouraging,” stated Barclay in the public letter. “We will continue to monitor the situation and keep the community aware of any developments. Thanks to everyone for your continuing vigilance and safety measures.” The possibility of transmission between the staff members and the public is thought to be low, as precautions, such as mask-wearing, were in place. COVID testing is available in both Sun Peaks and Kamloops. More information on testing and information on booking a test can be found here. To voice any concerns or inquire about orders, you can contact O’Malley directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or (778) 996-4245. Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
Work has started on the Swan Hills Fireguard project. Lead by the Town of Swan Hills, this project is being completed through a partnership between the Town, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, and Blue Ridge Lumber. During the week of Feb. 22, Blue Ridge began clearing trees alongside the fire road on the east side of Swan Hills to make way for the 50 – 100 meter wide fireguard. The proposed fireguard will follow the fire road to reduce the amount of established forest that will need to be cleared, widening the existing cleared area around the road instead of levelling a new path through the forested areas surrounding the town. Altogether, roughly 41 hectares will be cleared for this project. Blue Ridge will harvest the saleable timber within the fireguard's planned path as the first step to clearing this area. Once Blue Ridge has made enough progress in their operations to allow for it, a mulching company will be contracted to mulch the remaining material. The removal of the standing timber, deadfall, and standing deadfall is part of a vegetation management strategy to eliminate or at least reduce potential fuel for wildfires. While this strategy will not stop a wildfire on its own, it would slow the wildfire’s advance to give firefighters more time to attempt to get it under control. The fireguard will also give firefighters space to set up their operations. While the sight and sounds of logging operations so close to Swan Hills may be disturbing to some town residents, it is important to remember that this is a planned operation to decrease the town's wildfire risk. Once the fireguard has been completed, the Town of Swan Hills will be engaging in maintenance and upkeep operations regarding the fireguard and FireSmarting activities around the town going forward. Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
OTTAWA — Jagmeet Singh is promising that a federal NDP government would provide more support for small businesses struggling during the pandemic, including paying a bonus to companies that hire new employees or bring back those who have been laid off. The promises come during a campaign-style event today, less than a week after Singh said his party would not provoke an election as long as the COVID-19 pandemic persists. The NDP leader says the hiring bonus would involve covering the portion of employment insurance and Canada Pension Plan contributions normally paid by employers. Singh is also pledging to extend the federal government’s existing wage subsidy, rent assistance and business loan programs until the end of the pandemic. The NDP leader is also highlighting his earlier promise to impose what he describes as an “excess profit tax” on companies that have benefited during the pandemic, though the NDP has not shared details on how that would work. Singh said last week the NDP would support the minority Liberal government on confidence votes in the House of Commons, but federal political parties are still readying for an election that could come at any time. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
When Carolyn Court’s husband landed a job in Simcoe County, they packed up their Milton home and moved to Thornton in a heartbeat. That was 11 years ago and the now 40-something couple haven’t looked back. “There was more land up here and everyone’s fleeing the city and coming up here for the cheaper prices,” Court said while walking her dog along Thornton Avenue. “I think we broke even when we bought up here, but the prices have risen a lot since then.” The Courts are among hundreds of couples who saw the prices rise south of Essa and the lots shrink. According to a Statistics Canada 2016 census, more well-heeled families are making their way north. The median total household income in Essa Township was $87,243 in 2015 (latest figures available) with about 15 per cent of the population earning that income, compared to the provincial average of 11 per cent. In contrast, Barrie’s median household wage sat around $77,900 at that time and Simcoe County's median was $76,489. Essa’s inhabitants are younger, too. While the average age of residents in Oro-Medonte is 43.7 years and a little less in Springwater at 43.4, Essa’s average resident is 37 years old. Simcoe-Grey MP Terry Dowdall rhymes off Essa’s attributes: it’s near the Blue Mountains and Mount St. Louis Moonstone ski hills, it’s not far from the Toronto or Lake Simcoe Regional airports, and it’s accessible to both Georgian Bay and Lake Simcoe. “It’s not too far from Toronto and a lot of new people came up just because of the price of the houses,” Dowdall said. “They’re 30 years old, they’ve saved their down payment, and they just can’t buy down in Toronto, even if you want to, so they come up here. And, it has a really good tax rate. Tax rates in Essa are phenomenal in comparison to a lot of the other municipalities; we’re very attractive to people.” The Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) determines municipal taxes by multiplying a home’s current value by the total tax rate and then dividing by property class. Essa’s residential property tax is calculated at 0.678, whereas Springwater is rated at .0768 and Oro-Medonte is 0.856. Once families move to Essa, Dowdall said, they invite their friends and families to visit and they see Essa’s possibilities. “Essa now has a lot of amenities; you know, the grocery stores, more restaurants that are coming, the high school was a huge, huge addition that completed the community,” he said of Nottawasaga Pines Secondary School that opened in 2011. “We have the opportunity for people to buy and stay and watch their kids go through their whole schooling. That made quite a difference in the area.” If there is any downside, both Dowdall and Essa Mayor Sandie Macdonald agree it’s the dearth of homes for the boomer generation. Looking 10 years down the road, Macdonald can see which amenities communities will need to keep older residents satisfied. Also on the mayor’s wish list would be more industrial businesses taking up residence. Currently, Essa has a “huge commuting” population heading south for the better-paying jobs, she said. However, there are still good jobs to be had at Honda, Baxter and many residents work at Canadian Forces Base Borden. “Industrial (businesses) are a much higher paying tax (base) and it balances taxes. Housing does not pay for itself,” Macdonald said. Maintaining parkland and opening trails will become more vital than ever, she said. “Just look at having the COVID-19, this pandemic, at least we have green space where people can get out and walk,” she said. “We need to go the way we’re going now, increase our trails, increase our green spaces, and if this is a way of life for at least a few years of social distancing, at least they can get out and (know) that it’s safe to go." Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
Most coastal residents are suitably enthralled with charismatic or charming marine animals such as killer whales, the iconic Pacific salmon or furry sea otters. But what of the lowly sea cucumber? It’s likely most people don’t give much thought to the fairly ubiquitous and possibly misunderstood invertebrate, said scientist Emaline Montgomery. She along with other researchers on the West Coast of Canada are exploring how some unsung heroes of the seabed may be the ticket to a more sustainable form of aquaculture. Apostichopus californicus, or the giant red sea cucumber, is a slightly alarming, spiky, squishy creature that can grow 50 centimetres long and sustains itself by eating detritus off the ocean floor and using its butt to breathe. But it’s the sea cucumber’s ability to remove excess organic matter from surrounding water and sediment that makes it interesting for aquaculture, said Montgomery, a research associate and instructor at North Island College (NIC). Montgomery’s research focus is on the co-cultivation of various species together to improve the sustainability and profitability of aquaculture. Known popularly as regenerative ocean farming, Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) uses extractive species like sea cucumbers or seaweed to filter or absorb the uneaten feed or waste from fish farms or shellfish operations. The aim of regenerative aquaculture is to mimic the natural food web to both improve marine ecosystem health and increase the number of products that can be grown at one site. The giant red sea cucumber is an attractive candidate for co-cultivation because it hoovers up deposits off the sea floor, and it can fetch a good price in international markets, said Montgomery. “I think of them as nature’s recyclers,” she said, adding sea cucumbers don’t need to be fed, as they extract what they need from their surroundings with a set of specialized tentacles. “It’s why sea cucumbers are so valuable,” she added. “They're able to consume the waste products, either excess food or feces that are being produced by shellfish or fin fish, and they're able to take that organic material, assimilate it, use it for their own nutritional benefits.” And what the sea cucumber spits out the other side of its digestive system has less impact on the marine environment, Montgomery said. Plus, sea cucumbers have long been a highly valued food item with sought-after health benefits in Asian markets, she said. Montgomery is working with shellfish growers to find cheap, easy-to-use containment systems to raise shellfish and sea cucumbers together to increase growers’ incomes. But this spring, she is also slated to begin research with Fisheries and Oceans Canada to examine the commercial feasibility of raising sea cucumbers in conjunction with salmon farms. “One of the questions that we're going to be looking at is whether there are any risks to the salmon or the cucumbers from each other,” Montgomery said. There’s a solid history of theoretical research done in Canada exploring the idea of using sea cucumbers alongside fish farms, said Montgomery. When grown solely on the sable fish waste sediment, juvenile sea cucumbers showed good growth and survival rates and reduced the organic carbon and nitrogen content in byproduct materials by 60 per cent. “But nothing's been done at a large enough scale to determine if this is feasible to integrate with our current industries or not,” Montgomery said. “That's one of our goals, over the next year.” The scientist said she first became entranced with studying sea cucumbers in university. “What I discovered is this organism that looks like a blob, and might be written off by a lot of people, actually has a lot of complexity,” Montgomery said. Besides their interesting qualities, sea cucumbers have a lot to offer ecologically, she said. “But there is also a king of missing opportunity in Canada to grow these species where there are really good markets,” Montgomery said, adding both the economy and the environment stand to benefit. “Some of the (aquaculture) practices we already have in place are experiencing a lot of criticism,” she added. “If we can continue to improve that, I think it’s good for all Canadians.” Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Rochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Corinne Tougas, Vincent Marcoux, Vincent Lafleur et Mélisande Leblanc forment un joyeux quatuor à l’œuvre derrière Le Jardin des Funambules. Ils se sont lancés dans un projet de serres froides ! L’autonomie alimentaire et la santé environnementale, des enjeux clés aujourd’hui, reposent notamment sur une agriculture locale et bio pour une alimentation saine et durable. Et ce, quatre saisons par année ! Rencontre avec Vincent Marcoux. Ces quatre anciens urbains formés en agriculture biologique ont acquis leur terre en 2016, et ont commencé leur production l’année suivante. « On trouvait ça un peu désolant d’avoir des serres vides l’hiver. On a donc plongé dans les cultures hivernales, raconte Vincent. Il existe plusieurs façons de faire. D’abord, les serres doivent pouvoir supporter la charge de la neige. Nous en exploitons cinq, certaines très peu chauffées, entre 1 et 5 degrés, et d’autres pas du tout. Dès qu’il y a une percée de soleil, rapidement, l’effet de serre se fait sentir ! Plus besoin de chauffage, il faut même ventiler. Ce n’est pas tant la température que le manque de lumière qui agit sur les cultures. » Une oasis dans le désert Des légumes verts, sains et frais au cœur de l’hiver, ça ressemble à un rêve qui devient réalité ! « Au Québec, pour l’instant, peu prennent les devants. Mais plus au sud comme dans le Maine et le Vermont ayant des climats similaires aux nôtres, plusieurs maraîchers l’expérimentent depuis longtemps et obtiennent d’excellents résultats, se réjouit M. Marcoux. On y va par essais et ajustements en utilisant le minimum de ressources et de technologies, le tout en phase avec notre objectif d’équilibre ! De plus, tirer des revenus l’hiver réduit notre charge de travail durant l’été. Trouver la bonne combinaison entre le travail, la famille et la vie personnelle était au cœur de nos réflexions initiales. Vivre décemment de ce métier en harmonie avec nos valeurs, c’est possible ! » Mesclun, laitue, roquette, oignons verts, céleri, chou kale, épinards, etc. qui ne viennent pas du bout du monde, voilà une véritable révolution alimentaire nordique ! Et ce, grâce à des défricheurs passionnés. « Dès le début de notre entreprise, on tenait à notre mission éducative. Il ne s’agit pas seulement de nourrir les gens, mais également d’aider ceux qui voudraient emboiter le pas ! Une agriculture en santé au Québec, voilà un projet qui aide à traverser des périodes comme celle que nous vivons », conclut-il. Suivez-les de près ! Leur site regorge d’infos et d’espoir en quelque sorte. Et c’est bientôt le moment de s’inscrire pour les paniers estivaux. lejardindesfunambules.com facebook.com/Lejardindesfunambules Mireille Fréjeau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal L'Étincelle