Daft Punk, one of the most influential and popular groups to emerge in the past 30 years, have announced their retirement via a video titled “Epilogue” posted Monday morning.
Daft Punk, one of the most influential and popular groups to emerge in the past 30 years, have announced their retirement via a video titled “Epilogue” posted Monday morning.
WASHINGTON — Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm won Senate confirmation Thursday to be energy secretary, joining President Joe Biden's Cabinet as a leader of Biden’s effort to build a green economy as the United States moves to slow climate change. The vote was 64-35, with all Democrats and 14 Republicans, including GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, voting yes. Granholm, 62, served two terms as governor in a state dominated by the auto industry and devastated by the 2008 recession. She has promoted emerging clean energy technologies, such as electric vehicles and battery manufacturing, as an answer for jobs that will be lost as the U.S. transitions away from oil, coal and other fossil fuels. Granholm, who was sworn in late Thursday, is just the second woman to serve as energy secretary. She tweeted her thanks to senators and said, "I’m obsessed with creating good-paying clean energy jobs in all corners of America in service of addressing our climate crisis. I’m impatient for results. Now let’s get to work!'' Sen. Joe Manchin, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Granholm has the leadership skills, vision and compassion needed at the Energy Department to “develop innovative solutions for the climate challenge'' while preserving jobs. Granholm is committed to working every day “to ensure that we don’t leave any workers behind as we move towards a cleaner energy future,'' said Manchin, D-W.Va. During her confirmation hearing last month, Granholm pushed her plans to embrace new wind and solar technologies. But her position caused tension with some Republicans who fear for the future of fossil fuels. “We can buy electric car batteries from Asia, or we can make them in America,” Granholm told senators. “We can install wind turbines from Denmark, or we can make them in America.'' Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy committee, said Biden “seems to want to pull the plug on American energy dominance. So I cannot in good conscience vote to approve his nominee for secretary of energy.'' Barrasso and other Republicans have complained that a freeze imposed by Biden on oil and gas leases on federal lands is taking a “sledgehammer” to Western states’ economies. The moratorium could cost tens of thousands of jobs unless rescinded, Barrasso said. He and other Republicans also bemoaned Biden’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, saying thousands of jobs will be lost and a friendly source of oil left idle. Granholm assured lawmakers that creating jobs was her top priority — and Biden's. “We cannot leave our people behind. In West Virginia, and in other fossil fuel states, there is an opportunity for us to specialize in the technologies that reduce carbon emissions, to make those technologies here, to put people to work here, and to look at other ways to diversify,'' she said at her Jan. 27 hearing. During her introduction as Biden's nominee, Granholm described arriving in the U.S. at age 4, brought from Canada by a family “seeking opportunity.” She said her father found work as a bank teller and retired as head of the bank. “It’s because of my family’s journey and my experience in fighting for hardworking Michigan families that I have become obsessed ... with gaining good-paying jobs in America in a global economy,” she said. In other action Thursday on Biden's Cabinet nominees: SURGEON GENERAL Surgeon general nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy said Americans must not lose track of opioid addiction and other health emergencies amid the intense national focus on overcoming the coronavirus pandemic. He told senators at a hearing that “we cannot neglect the other public health crises that have been exacerbated by this pandemic, particularly the opioid epidemic, mental illness and racial and geographic health inequities.” After dipping slightly, opioid deaths have risen again, the result of street formulations laced with the powerful painkiller fentanyl. Murthy told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that the overdose rescue drug naloxone should be even more widely available and that medication-assisted treatment must be expanded. Murthy, who was surgeon general in the Obama administration, has drawn opposition from gun rights groups because of his assessment that gun violence is a public health problem. But he tried to dispel notions that he would launch a crusade against guns. He told Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., that while he supports government studying the problem, “my focus is not on this issue, and if I’m confirmed it will be on COVID, on mental health and substance use disorder.” TRADE REPRESENTATIVE Biden’s pick for U.S. trade representative promised to work with America’s allies to combat China’s aggressive trade policies, indicating a break from the Trump administration’s go-it-alone approach. Katherine Tai told the Senate Finance Committee that rebuilding international alliances would be a priority, as well as "reengaging with international institutions? to present Beijing with “a united front of U.S. allies.? Tai did not address whether the Biden administration would drop former President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum or whether it would revive the Obama administration's Asia-Pacific trade deal, which Trump killed. BUDGET DIRECTOR Another key Republican lawmaker came out against Biden’s embattled pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, raising further questions about her viability. Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley told reporters he won't support her nomination. He and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski were two Republicans seen as potentially gettable votes for the White House, as Grassley had previously said he’d had good conversations with Tanden. Murkowski has yet to say how she'd vote. With a handful of other key centrist Republicans coming out against her in recent days, Tanden’s path to confirmation hinges largely on Murkowski and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., neither of whom have made their positions known. The White House was forced to search for a Republican to support Tanden after West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin announced his opposition last week. Lawmakers have largely cited Tanden’s controversial and at times harshly critical tweets about members of both parties in explaining their opposition to her. ___ Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Paul Wiseman contributed to this report. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
Trois-Rivières – Alors que la semaine de relâche débute pour plusieurs, le Défi château de neige se poursuit encore pour environ deux semaines. Jusqu'à présent, ce sont 114 châteaux qui ont été érigés et enregistrés pour la compétition en Mauricie. La limite a été fixée au 8 mars. Pour participer, il suffit de construire un château de neige à l’endroit de son choix, de l’immortaliser en photo et de partager celle-ci en l’inscrivant sur le site www.defichateaudeneige.ca. L'organisation souligne qu'il est «évidemment important de respecter les mesures sanitaires en vigueur ainsi que les règles de sécurité associées à de telles constructions.» En Mauricie, ce sont six grands coffrets polaires - comprenant du matériel pour construire des châteaux - ainsi que 30 cartes-cadeaux dans des magasins offrant du matériel de loisir et de sport qui seront attribués au hasard parmi ceux et celles qui auront inscrit leur château. Le Défi château de neige n’est pas un concours visant à déterminer le plus beau château. C’est avant tout un programme qui a été mis de l’avant pour développer l’intérêt pour l’activité physique et les saines habitudes de vie auprès des enfants et des familles durant l’hiver. Il est présenté dans toutes les régions du Québec. Pour l’édition 2021, plus de 2715 châteaux ont déjà été enregistrés à l’échelle de la province, soit plus que le record des années précédentes. Marc-André Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nouvelliste
TORONTO — More infectious COVID-19 variants will likely make up 40 per cent of new cases in Ontario by mid-March, an expert group said Thursday, calling it a "minefield" the province will need to navigate very carefully. The science group, which advises the province on the pandemic, said the next few weeks will be critical to both controlling and understanding more infectious variants of concern that are continuing to spread quickly. Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of the group, compared the weeks ahead to a "minefield" and urged continued vigilance when it comes to public health measures. "There is no easy path through minefield. Just care and caution at each step," Brown said. "The next few weeks will give us a map through the minefield but we cannot afford to rush through the minefield without that map." The data show that declines in cases and hospitalizations that followed strict lockdown measures have begun to slow. The numbers also show cases and test positivity rates starting to trend upwards across the province, including in hot spots Toronto, Peel Region and York Region. The science group's projections show hospitalizations will likely rise as variants spread and intensive care capacity will be strained over the next month. Even in the group's best-case scenario, intensive care bed occupancy will likely remain at, or far above, the threshold at which quality of care is impacted. Case growth will depend on how well the variants are controlled, according to the modelling. Those variants do not appear to have spread as quickly as anticipated, Brown said, but in the most likely scenario, the province will see around 2,000 new cases per day by the end of March. In the worst-case scenario, it would be closer to 4,000 cases per day, similar to the growth seen in other jurisdictions like the United Kingdom where virus variants have taken hold. "If we let up, we will with little doubt lose the gains that we’ve worked so hard for," Brown said. The group said vaccinating high-risk communities and older people will drive down hospitalizations and deaths. The new numbers showed that vaccinations in long-term care, combined with lockdowns, have resulted in a rapid drop in infections and deaths. The group noted that the province will need to react quickly with strong public health measures when flare-ups happen. That recommendation comes as the government ponders whether to impose stronger public health restrictions on regions with rising COVID-19 case numbers. Cabinet will decide tomorrow whether to move the Thunder Bay area into lockdown after rising infection numbers have forced several school closures and other outbreaks among vulnerable populations over the last several weeks. Dr. David Williams, the province's top doctor, said Thursday that he's recommended a potential lockdown for the region, which is a travel hub for northern Indigenous communities with few resources to support case surges. "We want to keep it at bay out of there and make sure we protect those remote communities," Williams said. Brown noted in his presentation the need to limit travel between regions, which has potential to bring infectious variants into areas with low levels of infection and less protections in place. Williams said the travel issue is being discussed with Simcoe Muskoka, where the region's top doctor has said tighter restrictions are needed to limit travel into and throughout his area, which has dealt with several outbreaks driven by variants. He also commented on the "dynamic" situation in the Greater Toronto Area, where two hot spots -- Peel and Toronto -- are under an extended stay-at-home order, while neighbouring York Region with similar high case rates has moved to the "red" zone of the province's pandemic framework, allowing more businesses to open. "We'll continue to have discussions with the medical officers in around the (Greater Toronto Area) during this tenuous time," Williams said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press
Authorities say that all those connected to the murder of anti-corruption journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia have now been arrested.View on euronews
La Ville de Saint-Sauveur a acquis deux terrains par dons écologiques pour créer la réserve naturelle du Mont-Christie. Les travaux débuteront au printemps et les sentiers seront accessibles dès l’été 2021. Un nouveau projet parmi les nombreux autres de la Ville. Ces dons proviennent du promoteur Immo-Mc inc et de Madame Nancy Guillemette qui ont donné chacun une partie de leur terrain. Au total, cela représente 1,6 million de pieds carrés dans le domaine du Mont-Christie, en bas et à l’est de la montagne du même nom. Il s’agit d’un milieu humide et un lac se trouve également au centre. La création de la réserve permettra de préserver ce territoire naturel et d’y faire de l’interprétation. « Il s’agit d’un don écologique, car c’est un milieu humide et il n’est pas possible de toute façon de construire dans ce genre d’endroit », a précisé le maire de la Ville, M. Jacques Gariépy. La Ville profitera donc de ce territoire pour y installer des sentiers d’interprétation de la faune et du milieu naturel. « Dans ce coin, la faune est très diversifiée. Des écologistes vont d’ailleurs travailler avec nous pour développer cette partie. » Des passerelles en bois seront également construites pour que le terrain ne soit pas abimé, mais aussi parce qu’il s’agit d’un milieu humide, donc il y a souvent de l’eau. Comme il s’agit de dons, la Ville a eu moins d’investissements à faire, sauf pour les infrastructures de bois et l’aménagement. Dans le budget 2021, le montant est estimé à 600 000$. En été, les sentiers seront accessibles pour la randonnée pédestre et pour y faire de l’interprétation. En hiver, il sera possible d’y faire de la randonnée pédestre également, mais aussi de la raquette et du ski de fond. « On regarde pour peut-être permettre le fatbike à l’hiver », précise le maire. Il y aura également un belvédère avec une vue sur le lac et le terrain pour y faire de l’interprétation. « Les écoles et les camps de jour pourront également en profiter. Du point de vue académique, c’est très intéressant. » Il y aura deux accès pour entrer dans la réserve : un sur la rue de l’Église et un autre à l’extrémité du chemin Papineau. Des stationnements sont prévus aussi à ces endroits, mais il reste à la Ville d’acquérir ces deux terrains situés au nord et au sud. Selon le maire, il est aussi important de prendre en compte cet enjeu avant de lancer le projet. « Le problème qu’on a dans les sentiers des Pays-d’en-Haut, c’est que les gens se stationnent n’importe où dans les milieux résidentiels et dans les rues, car il n’y a pas assez de stationnements. » La Ville souhaite donc travailler en amont, et ouvrir la réserve lorsque des stationnements auront été prévus à cet effet. Cela fait déjà plusieurs années que la Ville de Saint-Sauveur travaille pour créer cette réserve. « C’est un long processus, autant du point de vue écologique qu’au niveau interne. Mais toutes ces étapes sont maintenant passées et nous sommes prêts à passer à d’autres choses », explique M. Gariépy. Dès le printemps, la Ville entamera l’aménagement des sentiers et des passerelles en bois et travaillera avec des écologistes pour le volet interprétation. Mais la réserve du Mont-Christie n’est pas le seul projet qui prendra forme cette année. En effet, grâce au don écologique de la famille De Volpi, la Ville a acquis un terrain de plus de 3 millions de pieds carrés. Ce dernier est situé près du Lac des Becs-Scies et de la municipalité de Mille-Isles. À cet endroit seront aménagés des sentiers de randonnée pédestre et de vélo qui seront accessibles dès cet été. Certains sont déjà en place, mais il restera à les baliser par la Ville. Dans les autres grands projets de Saint-Sauveur, il y a également l’acquisition du Cap Molson pour y faire des sentiers balisés et y construire un belvédère. « Nous sommes actuellement en procédure d’expropriation. Dans les prochaines semaines ou mois, la procédure devrait être finalisée. On devrait commencer les travaux prochainement. » La Ville souhaite principalement sécuriser les sentiers, comme ils sont déjà beaucoup utilisés. Les sentiers du sommet de la Marquise seront aussi accessibles dès cet été. Il reste à la Ville d’acquérir un terrain pour en faire un stationnement à l’entrée sud des sentiers pour empêcher les gens de se stationner dans les rues. Selon M. Gariépy, ces projets aboutissent presque tous maintenant, mais la Ville travaillait sur eux depuis des années. « Les projets étaient liés à des échéanciers écologiques, avec le ministère de l’Environnement notamment. Par exemple, pour les sentiers du Mont-Christie, on attendait des autorisations de leur part qu’on a eues. » Voyant l’engouement pour le plein air cette année en raison de la pandémie, ces projets s’inscrivent parfaitement dans le mouvement. « On n’avait pas prévu la COVID-19 il y a deux ou trois ans lorsqu’on avait commencé ces projets, mais la concrétisation de ces derniers tombe pile avec ce besoin. » Marie-Catherine Goudreau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Accès
Ce jeudi, les résultats d’une consultation sur l’autonomie alimentaire menée auprès des citoyens de la Haute-Gaspésie ont été dévoilés par le LAB Nourrir notre monde. Ils donnent une bonne idée des volontés de la population, et des infrastructures concrètes qui pourraient voir le jour dans cette MRC. Le LAB Nourrir notre monde est un projet d’innovation sociale et de revalorisation des savoirs d’antan qui vise à mettre en place des infrastructures bioalimentaires collectives en Haute-Gaspésie. Celles-ci permettront de produire, transformer et conserver des aliments locaux, et in fine d’améliorer la résilience de la population face aux changements climatiques. Pas moins de 275 personnes ont répondu à la consultation, qui a débuté en novembre : 113 l’ont fait en ligne, et 162 par le biais de cartes postales imprimées à cet effet et distribuées dans les commerces d’alimentation locaux. Agente de mobilisation pour le LAB Nourrir notre monde, Mireille Jalbert y voit la preuve d’« un engouement, un besoin et un désir de se mobiliser pour les projets du LAB ». Un participant sur deux s’est d’ailleurs dit intéressé à s’impliquer dans la suite du processus. Sur les cartes postales et le formulaire en ligne, plusieurs suggestions d’infrastructures collectives étaient données. Six d’entre elles ont été plébiscitées par la population, recevant plus de 90 votes chacune : pépinière, biodigesteur pour faire du compostage, poulailler communautaire, caveau pour conserver les légumes, serre solaire passive et fumoir à poisson. Les participants à la consultation y sont également allés de leurs idées personnelles, allant du rucher communautaire jusqu’à la cuisine collective de transformation et la bibliothèque de semences, en passant par des idées très originales comme l’achat de chaloupes collectives afin de pouvoir partir à la pêche au large. Une entrée dans le vif du sujet dès mars Au courant du mois de mars, l’équipe du LAB Nourrir notre monde va effectuer une tournée virtuelle des différentes localités de la Haute-Gaspésie. Dans chacune d’entre elles, la population sera informée des résultats de la consultation au niveau local. C’est à partir de ce moment-là que les choses sérieuses commenceront : les projets seront choisis puis mis en place en collaboration avec les citoyens. Ces derniers pourront s’impliquer à deux niveaux : soit dans les comités citoyens qui piloteront les projets de A à Z, soit plus ponctuellement lors de corvées. Selon la co-coordonnatrice du LAB Marie-Ève Paquette, « le comité citoyen qu’on va mettre en place après nos rencontres locales va être central pour aller fouiller : est-ce qu’on a un terrain ciblé pour le projet qu’on aimerait voir naître dans notre municipalité? Combien ça pourrait coûter? Est-ce qu’il y a des gens qui ont des connaissances sur notre territoire pour nous aider à construire cette infrastructure? Tranquillement, il y a des projets qui vont nous sembler de plus en plus viables. » Il faudra également s’assurer que toutes les règlementations municipales sont respectées. Le budget sera ensuite distribué entre les différents projets selon les besoins, donc pas nécessairement en parts égales partout sur le territoire. D’après Mme Paquette, des infrastructures pourraient être construites dès cet été. Lancé en octobre, le LAB bénéficie d’un budget de 800 000 $ pour trois ans, financé majoritairement par le ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, dans le cadre du programme Climat municipalités-Phase 2. Rémy Bourdillon, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Mouton Noir
The COVID-19 vaccine is now being made available to Alberta seniors aged 75 and over. All Alberta residents born in 1946 or earlier may now book appointments to be vaccinated through Alberta Health Services (AHS) using online and telephone booking systems. AHS started offering the vaccine directly to all residents in retirement centres, lodges, supportive living and other congregate living facilities with residents aged 75 or older, as of Feb. 19. Then on Feb. 24, the province opened appointments to all residents aged 75 or older, regardless of where they live. Appointment availability is based on vaccine supply. Appointments can be booked online (albertahealthservices.ca) or by calling 811. Seniors isolated seniors and those with mobility challenges can call 21 for assistance finding a ride to and form their vaccination appointment. These vaccinations are being provided as part of Phase 1 of Alberta’s COVID-19 vaccination program. Other people eligible to receive the vaccine under this phase include select healthcare workers, staff and residents of long-term care facilities, and First Nations, Inuit, Métis and persons 65 years of age and over living in a First Nations community or Metis Settlement. Phase 2 of the province’s vaccination program is scheduled from April to September 2021, but timelines are subject to change depending on vaccine supply, according to the government. This phase is broken down into four groups (A to D), of about 1.8 million Albertans, with each group being eligible once the vaccination of the previous group is complete. Group A consists of Albertans aged 65 to 74, First Nations, Inuit and Metis people aged 50 to 64, and staff of licensed supportive living not included in Phase 1. Group B includes Albertans aged 18 to 64 with high-risk underlying health conditions. Group C is composed of residents and staff of congregate living settings (e.g., prisons, homeless shelters, group homes), and caregivers who are most at risk of severe outcomes. Group D includes Albertans aged 50 to 64 and First Nations Inuit and Métis people aged 35 to 49. Phase 3, scheduled for fall 2021, will see the anticipated roll-out of the vaccine to the rest of the public. Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
OTTAWA — The Public Health Agency of Canada is launching an investigation and reviewing its practices after two returning travellers were allegedly sexually assaulted during their mandatory quarantine periods. A spokesperson for Health Minister Patty Hajdu said allegations of assaults reported in the media this week are "really concerning." Cole Davidson said the public health agency would review its own procedures as well as those of its service providers to ensure the safety of travellers returning to the country. The response follows reports that a quarantine screening officer as well as a returning traveller have been charged in separate sexual assault cases that allegedly occurred last week. The Opposition Conservatives immediately demanded a suspension of the obligation for travellers to quarantine in hotels until better safety measures are in place, as well as an end to the use of security guards, who they say haven't been properly evaluated, to check on people quarantining at home. Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet says he doesn't necessarily believe the quarantine measures need to be suspended, but he wants to see improvements to ensure the safety of travellers under quarantine. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021 The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Wall Street's GameStop saga won't stop. After weeks of going dormant, shares of GameStop have suddenly shot higher again, rising 18.6% Thursday after surging 75% in the last hour of trading Wednesday. Thursday's gain, which topped 101% before shrinking, came even as most stocks across Wall Street fell sharply on worries about rising interest rates. The moves are reminiscent of the shocking 1,625% surge for GameStop in January, when bands of smaller and novice investors communicating on social media launched the struggling video game retailer's stock. That initial supernova heightened questions about whether the broader market was in a bubble and whether a new generation of traders should be able to take full advantage of the free trades available on their phones. Global markets swooned momentarily; Congress held a hearing. No clear reason seems to be behind this most recent move, leaving market observers to grasp at what little news is out there, but it does demonstrate the increased power that regular investors suddenly have. One major piece that drove last month’s surge is not as big a player this time around: a huge build-up of what’s called “short interest,” or bets by investors that the stock is set to fall. After short-selling funds got badly burned by last month's sudden surge, many fewer GameStop shares are being sold short now. That means this pop may not reach last month's heights. “It’s like dropping a ping-pong ball on the table,” said Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA. "The first bounce is the greatest while subsequent bounces are a bit more muted. We’re still getting a bounce, but it’s probably not going to drive up GameStop to $500 a share.” Here’s what we know: KITTY ROARS AGAIN — The most influential GameStop-backer may be Keith Gill, a colorful personality known for wearing a red headband and cat-themed T-shirts. He’s given regular updates of his GameStop holdings on Reddit’s WallStreetBets forum, going back to when a share cost just 85 cents in 2019. A day after testifying in a Congressional hearing about GameStop last week, he indicated he added another 50,000 shares after Feb. 3, doubling his GameStop stock position. By Feb. 3, GameStop had dropped toward $90 after touching a momentary peak of $483 in late January. CFO EXIT — This is one of the few actual pieces of news. Late Tuesday, GameStop said its chief financial officer had agreed to leave the company and that he was entitled to the benefits due to him under his employment contract for a “good reason” resignation. Speculation rose that the departure was part of the company’s accelerating transformation from a struggling brick-and-mortar retailer to a digital seller better able to compete in an increasingly online business. But this information was known when trading began on Wednesday, and the stock didn't surge until hours later. THE ICE CREAM CONE — Ryan Cohen is a co-founder of the Chewy online pet-supplies company. He is also a big shareholder of GameStop and on its board of directors. GameStop backers see his involvement as a key reason to bet on a successful transformation for the company into a successful digital powerhouse. On Wednesday, an hour or so before GameStop shares spiked, Cohen tweeted a photo of an ice cream cone from McDonald’s, along with an emoji of a frog. Sounds fairly mundane, but nothing is normal in the GameStop saga. Market watchers and Reddit users tried to parse the cryptic image. Some focused on how the original photo seems to have accompanied an article about a person who created a website tracking whether McDonald’s ice cream machines are working ... a person whose past tweets indicate he may be a holder of GameStop stock. LEAVE THE KIDS ALONE — Some market watchers speculated that GameStop’s surprise reanimation was a reaction to critical comments from Charlie Munger, the vice chairman of Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway. “That’s the kind of thing that can happen when you get a whole lot of people who are using liquid stock markets to gamble the way they would in betting on race horses,” Munger said on Wednesday while speaking at the annual meeting of Los Angeles Daily Journal The remarks didn’t win Munger many admirers on WallStreetBets, where traders often see themselves in opposition to Baby Boomers, hedge funds and others. One Redditor posted a chart in the forum showing the spike in GameStop’s shares, adding: “TAKE THAT CHARLIE MUNGER.” TRADING FRENZY — The stock's movement were so wild that trading was temporarily halted four times on Thursday for volatility. Even though some novice investors suspected something nefarious, such halts are normal. There are rules that mandate a halt in trading when a stock rises or falls by a certain percentage within a certain time. Even so, GameStop shares changed hands more times by midday Thursday than for Apple, a company with a market value nearly 180 times the size of GameStop. REGULATORS REACT — The Securities and Exchange Commission and Commodity Futures Trading Commission are reviewing whether trading practices were consistent with “investor protection and fair and efficient markets.” At a hearing last week by the House Financial Services Committee, some lawmakers floated the possibility of crafting new rules requiring market players to disclose short-selling positions and restricting arrangements of payment for order flow, a common practice in the securities markets in which Wall Street trading firms such as Citadel pay companies like Robinhood to send them their customers’ orders for execution. Stan Choe And Alex Veiga, The Associated Press
La campagne de sociofinancement pour les rénovations du Bar à Pitons bat son plein. En moins d’un mois, plus de 8000 $ ont été amassés, sur un objectif de 30 000 $, afin de permettre l’agrandissement de ce lieu culturel et d’ainsi assurer sa survie. Avec ces rénovations, l’établissement pourra revoir sa capacité d’accueil à la hausse et bonifier son offre d’activités. C’est la Coopérative de Solidarité V.E.R.T.E qui est responsable du bar et qui a mis en place la campagne de sociofinancement appelée Pour l’amour du Bar à Pitons. Selon Christine Rivest-Hénault, coordonnatrice générale de la coopérative, le Bar à Pitons est devenu, au fil des années, un endroit unique pour la scène émergente artistique du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean. « La signature du Bar à Pitons, c’est que tout le monde peut être une vedette. Ils peuvent tous venir chanter ou lire leurs textes. On accueille aussi beaucoup de groupes émergents. On a une offre qui, je pense, est importante pour la région culturellement », explique-t-elle, lors d’un entretien téléphonique avec Le Quotidien. Alors que les gestionnaires avaient pris la décision, en février 2020, de concentrer leurs activités sur le Bar à Pitons et de fermer l’auberge, ils ont été frappés de plein fouet par la pandémie. Le bar a dû fermer ses portes tout l’hiver, avant de rouvrir quelques mois à l’été. La terrasse extérieure a permis la tenue de certaines activités. Cet automne, la coopérative a dû faire face à la réalité. Les normes sanitaires ne permettent pas au bar d’ouvrir ses portes à l’hiver. Les gestionnaires devaient donc décider de le laisser fermé tout l’hiver ou d’amorcer des rénovations qui permettraient au lieu d’être adapté aux règles sanitaires. « Ça faisait déjà deux ans que nous pensions à ces rénovations et, comme tout le monde, nous ne savons pas combien de temps nous serons dans cette pandémie. Nous nous sommes donc lancés. Nous savons qu’il y a plein de gens qui nous aiment, qui tiennent au Bar à Pitons. Nous avons décidé de prendre le pari que tous ces gens-là, qui voient que notre mission est importante, allaient nous aider », se réjouit-elle. Déjà, les rénovations sont amorcées. La coordonnatrice est fière du montant amassé jusqu’à maintenant et reconnaît que son objectif est ambitieux. L’important pour elle est d’amasser le plus de sous possible, pour que la relance de l’établissement soit le plus facile possible, à la réouverture. Jadis un lieu touristique Le Bar à Pitons a bien changé avec les années. Lorsque la coopérative a acheté la Maison Price, où se trouve le Bar à Pitons, le but était de transformer cette maison en auberge. Au sous-sol, une salle de réunion avait été aménagée, surtout pour les visiteurs. « C’est comme ça qu’est né le Bar à Pitons, une toute petite salle principalement pour les utilisateurs de l’auberge. Rapidement, les gens qui habitent autour se sont approprié le lieu », souligne la coordonnatrice générale. C’est cet engouement qui a motivé les gestionnaires à faire des rénovations en 2015 et à mettre sur pied le Bar à Pitons. Le bar a eu le droit à un léger agrandissement, mais plusieurs espaces étaient toujours réservés à l’auberge. En 2018, l’auberge a commencé à perdre de la clientèle, tandis que le Bar à Pitons lui, en gagnait. C’est ce qui a amené les gestionnaires à fermer l’auberge, en février 2020, pour de bon et se concentrer sur le lieu culturel. « C’était rendu le Bar à Pitons qui faisait vivre l’entreprise. Notre programmation culturelle était de plus en plus riche, aimée et fréquentée, donc nous avons concentré nos activités là-dessus puisque c’est ce qui fonctionne et ce qui attire les gens », continue Mme Rivest-Hénault. La mission de l’établissement alors touristique a officiellement changé pour devenir plus culturelle. Tous les intéressés à participer à la campagne peuvent se rendre sur le site de la coopérative pour faire un don. Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
The Town of Strathmore will undergo a rebranding, through which a new logo and tagline will be developed for the town. Over the past three years, council has been working on a new strategic vision for Strathmore to guide economic development and marketing, among other areas. But according to town administration, Strathmore’s current brand, which includes design elements (e.g. its logo) and its tagline, do not fit this vision. While the current logo works for larger signage, it reportedly is difficult to use or reproduce in many digital or print applications. On Feb. 17, town council approved a plan to proceed with a new rebranding initiative strategy for Strathmore. The rebranding will be performed in-house, rather than with the help of external consultants, which will help to lower the cost of the project, explained Geoff Person, the town’s communication manager. “I think it’s something that we can do for a really affordable price,” he said, adding that $10,000 allocated to the project this year will be enough to complete it. “Oftentimes, when you have a consultant-led rebranding initiative, a lot of money is spent in the community engagement portion,” he said. “So, we really benefit from the fact council has already done a lot of those strategic visioning processes as a group already.” The project will help achieve a council-led vision, allowing the town to bring in stakeholder groups, have them engage with the community and bring ideas forward, and then return to council to ensure it matches council’s vision, explained Person. While this process included many stakeholders, additional groups should be included, namely representatives of the Strathmore Farmers’ Market and Bow Valley College, said Councillor Lorraine Bauer. Councillor Jason Montgomery inquired whether the town would delay some of the necessary physical rebranding, referring to such things as signs and logos on vehicles, to help save costs. But compared to other municipalities, Strathmore has a less obvious branded presence, said Person. “Right now, not a lot of external signage, outside of our vehicles, has our current logo on it,” he said. “This means that the town can replace many of its branded elements when replacement is needed.” Some aspects will need more immediate attention. The town’s digital highway sign is actually “two brands old,” so the town will be looking to replace it over the next three to five years. The town will research a plan to replace its Welcome to Strathmore signs this year, to deliver a replacement plan sometime in 2022. Currently, the most visible parts of the town’s brand are digital, such as on websites and social media, said Person. “In that regard, a rebranding can actually be really affordable for us right now, because we can sidestep a lot of the physical costs, focus on the digital ones and really change our identity that way.” Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times
WASHINGTON — The number of sexual harassment and sexual assault cases reported at the military service academies dropped in the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 school year, the Pentagon said Thursday. The report, which is required by law annually, comes as Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has said that reducing sexual assault is one of his top priorities. He was recently briefed on the military service's programs to counter the problem. “We have been working at this for a long time in earnest, but we haven’t gotten it right,” Austin said last week at his first Pentagon news conference. He promised stronger efforts. “You can look for us to take additional steps in looking in detail at ourselves and what has worked, what hasn’t worked and what measures we need to take going forward to ensure that we provide for a safe and secure and productive environment for our teammates,” he said. “Any other approach is, in my view, irresponsible.” Thursday's Pentagon report said the number of reported sexual assault cases at the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy fell to 129 from 149 in the previous academic year. Sexual harassment reports dropped to 12 from 17. The report said the reason for the declines is unclear, but it noted that in-person classes at the military academies were suspended in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Officials altered most academy activities, including holding graduations virtually and postponing commissioning ceremonies. Thus, it said, the academies offered only about three-quarters of normal levels of interaction. Separately, an in-person survey of military academy students that is normally conducted to give the Pentagon a better understanding of the sexual assault problem and its prevalence was cancelled because of the pandemic. Robert Burns, The Associated Press
(Brian Morris/CBC - image credit) The Rideau Canal Skateway will not reopen this season, the National Capital Commission (NCC) announced Thursday. The news comes after the skateway was temporarily closed Monday night, due to warming weather conditions this week. Tuesday and Wednesday saw above-zero temperatures, and Environment Canada's forecast shows warmer days in the coming week. "Along with three subsequent warmer days of weather, in addition to a snowstorm and warmer temperatures in the forecast for early next week, continued maintenance efforts would unfortunately not return the skateway to safe conditions," wrote the NCC in a news release, adding it is "saddened" by the closure. The 51st season lasted 26 days, starting when a portion of the canal opened on Jan. 28. The full length of the skateway opened early February. "Winter is not yet over!" reads the statement, citing its 450 kilometres of trails still open for skiing, snowshoeing and tobogganing in the region.
TORONTO — The head of the Business Council of Canada is worried about the country's inability to produce vaccines and certain medical supplies, but hopes the pandemic will pressure governments to rectify the situation. "Canadians saw back in the crisis, when it began last year, that we got caught relying on the integrity of supply chains that were vulnerable to a pandemic," said Goldy Hyder, the council's president and chief executive, in an online discussion hosted by MedicAlert Canada on Thursday. "Who knew you could only get masks or something from one country? How did that happen? … That innovation needs to be brought back to Canada to some extent." Hyder's remarks, made in conversation with University Health Netwok infectious disease specialist Dr. Isaac Bogoch and MedicAlert chief executive Leslie McGill, come as Canada nears the anniversary of the first closures of businesses and public spaces because of COVID-19. The country has spent the last year trying to quell the virus, but also grappling with a lack of vaccines, medical supplies and pharmaceutical manufacturers in Canada. With most manufacturing facilities for these products located overseas, it has impacted Canada's ability to quickly access personal protective equipment, edge out other countries vying for vaccines and prepare itself to deal with future pandemics. Hyder is proud of how companies including Canada Goose shifted from making luxury winter coats to scrubs and patient gowns and aviation manufacturer CAE Inc. rushed to start producing ventilators, but said Canada needs to look at pain points the pandemic highlighted too. "How did we get to the point where Canada can't manufacture vaccines?" he said. "Canada had that capacity and we lost it and so clearly there has to be analysis of what are the actions that policy-makers took that drove away the investment that would create the manufacturing capabilities for vaccines." Canada is buying at least 238 million doses of seven different vaccines, but only one is from a Canadian company — Medicago — and none will initially be produced in Canada. So far the country has been purchasing and receiving vaccines made in the U.S., Germany and Switzerland from Moderna, Pfizer and BioNTech. Earlier this week, Entos Pharmaceuticals in Alberta said a lack of federal funding early in the pandemic kept homegrown COVID-19 vaccines from moving as quickly as international versions. Dr. Gary Kobinger, a Laval University microbiologist behind Ebola and Zika vaccines, added his non-profit had a COVID-19 vaccine with promising early results last February, but it stalled because they lacked funding. Hyder has grown used to seeing Canada lack this kind of capital and "muddle through things." The pandemic has been no different, he said. Canadians have taken pride in having far fewer COVID-related deaths and hospitalizations than the U.S., but Hyder believes that shouldn't be the measure of success. "We have to aspire to do better and policy is a very big part of that," he said. "Policies effect the next time, so I am really hoping we don't let ourselves off the hook by saying thank God we did better than the Americans … We need to build back better. — With files from Mia Rabson in Ottawa This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX: GOOS, TSX:CAE.TO) Tara Deschamps, The Canadian Press
Facebook Inc ended a one-week blackout of Australian news on its popular social media site on Friday and announced preliminary commercial agreements with three small local publishers. The moves reflected easing tensions between the U.S. company and the Australian government, a day after the country's parliament passed a law forcing it and Alphabet Inc's Google to pay local media companies for using content on their platforms. The new law makes Australia the first nation where a government arbitrator can set the price Facebook and Google pay domestic media to show their content if private negotiations fail.
County curlers are rocking the ice again as the Haliburton Curling Club reopened its doors Feb. 17 for its first session since the Dec. 26 lockdown. The club ran for several weeks in November and December with a limited slate of approximately 100 curlers, three nights a week, with COVID safety restrictions in place. It is the only curling club in the County which is operating amidst the pandemic. But the lockdown put a premature halt on the winter 2020-2021 schedule. Still, president, Kent Milford, said they were able to carry on with the lockdown lifted. “The only comment we’ve heard is people are just glad they’ve got an opportunity to get out and do something,” Milford said. “Relieve some of the boredom and stress and other things we’ve all faced over the last year.” The sport is not the same this year. Health precautions mean the social gathering aspect cannot be as robust. Travelling for bonspiels is also out. The lockdown also forced a schedule change, though Milford said they reorganized it by picking up where they left off. “No one’s overly concerned this year in making sure we have an even schedule or even some sort of competitive schedule,” Milford said. “It’s just to get some exercise, have some fun, have a little bit of social activity.” Board director, Wanda Stephen, said the first day back went well. “There was a great, big, sigh of relief from the crowd that was here, saying, ‘Yay, we made it’,” Stephen said. “Because there are a lot of clubs that didn’t reopen.” Milford said the club is in a financially stable position. But a major fundraiser – the Haliburton Home and Cottage Show – was cancelled in 2020 and is doubtful again for 2021. “Our strategy is we’re preparing for a show, so if we can have one, the logistics are in place,” Milford said. “It is difficult for me to see how we can have a show this year with the number of people we would normally have.” The club was allowed to curl thanks to the district staying in an “orange” zone under provincial COVID-19 protocol. But if case numbers worsen in the district, pushing that colour to “red” or “gray,” the club would have to halt. “Just hoping we can make it to the end of April without any shutdowns,” Stephen said. Milford said the curling sessions have remained COVID-safe, with no cases associated with the rink. He said they will follow whatever public health asks of them – and members are willing to work through those hurdles. “Curling is really an integral part of the community,” Milford said. “As long as we can keep them safe, and they wanted to do that, then we felt it was important to continue.” Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
WELLINGTON COUNTY – The Southwestern Integrated Fibre Technology (SWIFT) project is looking toward the next phase targeting funding broadband projects in lower-density areas. SWIFT is a non-profit that aims to subsidize broadband projects in rural southwestern Ontario areas that have poor or no connectivity. George Bridge, Minto mayor and SWIFT board member, and Barry Field, SWIFT executive director, gave an update on the project to Wellington County council at Thursday’s meeting. In the presentation Bridge noted some highlights from the first phase of the project, called SWIFT 1.0. He explained they are exceeding their target of 50,000 premises served by a few thousand and are very close to reaching their kilometre of fibre laid goal. He was also happy to report that despite earlier concerns from smaller companies about SWIFT becoming a “Bell and Rogers show,” projects from small internet service providers (ISPs) accounted for about half of the funding given through SWIFT’s first phase. The small ISPs will become more important for SWIFT 2.0, the next phase of the project where SWIFT intends to focus on projects in lower density areas. “The bigger ones, Bell and Rogers, they go after so many people per km but your small ISP, for example they’ve gone down as low 3.1 density per km or three houses on a km,” Bridge said. “Our next round we’ll get into, some of the low hanging fruit has been done, now we need to get out to that last mile.” The funding is a big question for the next phase as there has been no commitment on what the province and federal governments will give, if anything at all. A third of SWIFT is funded by the province and a third from the federal government, with the private sector filling in another third and municipal governments providing some capital contributions. Coun. David Anderson asked if there’s anything they could do to give projects a better chance at a successful grant application. Field said municipal financial support or just letter of support for a grant application — which Field noted applies for other funding beyond SWIFT — can go a long way. He also said it might be helpful to encourage local ISPs to apply for funding if they haven’t done so. Wellington North mayor Andy Lennox questioned how to ensure funding gets distributed more equitably so lower density projects aren’t missed again. Field said by the time SWIFT 2.0 comes around those will be most of the projects left and to lower the number of premises per kilometre required, which in the first phase is at around 17 premises per km on average. “There are things we can do in the (request for proposals), the procurement itself, to not only encourage but ensure that we’re not getting at that easiest of the remaining premises,” Field said, noting this was a valid criticism of SWIFT 1.0. “We did have a very high premises count target we had to achieve and that kind of led to policies we had to encourage more premises passed.” Coun. Jeff Duncan asked if a possible federal election this year could delay or impact the next phase. Field said he wasn’t sure but did stress there is no commitment from upper levels of government to fund SWIFT 2.0. Bridge said they’ve been advocating through the Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus to all political parties and there is no question from any of them that this is needed. The presentation was accepted as information from council. Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
JUNEAU, Alaska — The Alaska House cancelled most Thursday hearings after a member tested positive for COVID-19, disrupting work that just recently got underway in the chamber after weeks of organizational delays. The disclosure followed the announcement Wednesday that Gov. Mike Dunleavy had tested positive for COVID-19. Dunleavy was in quarantine at his Wasilla area home with what the state’s chief medical officer said were mild symptoms. House Speaker Louise Stutes, in an email to fellow representatives Wednesday, announced a member had tested positive. The email did not say when the test was taken, and the lawmaker was not identified. Protocols in place for access to the Capitol require testing every five days, filling out a health questionnaire for daily access and undergoing a temperature check. Capitol access to the public has been restricted. Stutes asked that House members and staff come into the Capitol Thursday only if necessary. She said this was to allow for the “appropriate response, contact tracing, and cleaning to occur.” She said any House member or staff requiring entry into the Capitol on Thursday must be tested Thursday and provide proof of that test. Stutes said all House committees would be cancelled Thursday though the posted schedule indicated one, the House Health and Social Services Committee, would be held by teleconference. Austin Baird, communications director for the Stutes-led Alaska House Coalition, said the leaders of that committee found a way to hold the meeting safely. The meeting topic involves a proposed reorganization of the state health department. One week ago, on Feb. 18, the House, which has struggled to organize a clear governing majority, set up committees a month into the session. The first House committee meetings began this week. The Senate planned to press on with its work Thursday though “vulnerable staff and legislators” were encouraged to stay home, said Daniel McDonald with the Senate majority press office. The Senate earlier this session passed a resolution intended to allow for remote voting if necessary during the COVID-19 pandemic. The House has yet to act on a similar measure. Jessica Geary, executive director of the Legislative Affairs Agency, said by email that the contractor handling testing and screening for the Legislature is “assisting with disinfection and sanitation protocols” and working with public health officials on contact tracing. She declined to identify the House member who tested positive. She said there also had been a case in which an aide had tested positive. Geary cited health protocols that state if the person is asymptomatic, “two follow up tests, taken 24 hours apart and producing a negative result, will allow them to be cleared by public health. That is what happened in this instance and there is no relation to the current positive case in the House." A code of conduct, adopted by the Legislative Council ahead of the session, said legislators and staff must avoid nonessential trips out of Juneau, the capital city. Geary has said it is up to individual legislators to define what is essential travel. Stutes asked House lawmakers and staff Thursday to not travel outside of Juneau "unless absolutely necessary until further notice.” The House has considerable work before it, she said. “Further, recent events highlight the likelihood of additional COVID protocol delays and the increased risk of contagion from travelling outside of the Capitol Building bubble,” Stutes said. She added the House would be working weekends “until our business, the people’s business, is concluded.” There are mask-wearing requirements in the Capitol, and dividers have been placed between members on the House and Senate floors. But lawmakers often huddle to talk, and seating around committee tables or in committee rooms does not always allow for or encourage spacing. State health officials have recommended mask wearing, keeping at least 6 feet from others and handwashing as mitigation steps. Rep. Sara Hannan, a Juneau Democrat, has taken over as chair of the Legislative Council, a committee of House and Senate leaders that handles legislative business. The council has yet to meet this session. Hannan, who was working from home Thursday, said she's been asked if protocols would change. She said she thinks the current situation is “a reminder that we're probably not ready to change our protocols, that COVID is actively spreading when mitigation efforts like masking, distancing and handwashing aren't being done fastidiously.” Becky Bohrer, The Associated Press
HARDCOVER FICTION 1. “A Court of Silver Flames” by Sarah J. Maas (Bloomsbury) 2. “The Four Winds” by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin’s Press) 3. “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig (Viking) 4. “The Sanatorium” by Sarah Pearse (Viking/Dorman) 5. “The Invisible Life of Addie Larue” by V.E. Schwab (Tor) 6. “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett (Riverhead) 7. “Faithless in Death” by J.D. Robb (St. Martin’s Press) 8. “The Russian” by Patterson/Born (Little, Brown) 9. “Missing and Endangered” by J.A. Jance (William Morrow) 10. “Relentless” by Mark Greaney (Berkley) 11. “The Return” by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing) 12. “Anxious People” by Fredrik Backman (Atria) 13. “A Time for Mercy” by John Grisham (Doubleday) 14. “Neighbours” by Danielle Steel (Delacorte) 15. “Ready Player Two” by Ernest Cline (Ballantine) HARDCOVER NONFICTION 1. “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster” by Bill Gates (Knopf) 2. “Just As I Am: A Memoir” by Cicely Tyson (HarperCollins) 3. “Walk in My Combat Boots” by Patterson/Eversmann (Little, Brown) 4. “The Sum of Us” by Heather McGhee (One World) 5. “Keep Sharp” by Sanjay Gupta (Simon & Schuster) 6. “A Promised Land” by Barack Obama (Crown) 7. “Winning the War in Your Mind” by Craig Groeschel (Zondervan) 8. “Unmasked” by Andy Ngo (Center Street) 9. “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson (Random House) 10. “Greenlights” by Matthew McConaughey (Crown) 11. “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle (Dial) 12. “Between Two Kingdoms” by Suleika Jaouad (Random House) 13. “Four Hundred Souls” by Kendi/Blain (One World) 14. “Think Again” by Adam Grant (Viking) 15. “Magnolia Table, Vol. 2” by Joanna Gaines (William Morrow) MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS 1. “The Numbers Game” by Danielle Steel (Dell) 2. “Reckless Road” by Christine Feehan (Berkley) 3. “Western Stars” by Nora Roberts (St. Martin’s Press) 4. “The Lost and Found Bookshop” by Susan Wiggs (Avon) 5. “Bridgerton: The Duke and I” (TV tie-in) by Julia Quinn (Avon) 6. “Perfect Partners” by Debbie Macomber (Mira) 7. “The Sea Glass Cottage” by RaeAnne Thayne (HQN) 8. “Revenge” by Patterson/Holmes (Grand Central Publishing) 9. “Shadows in Death” by J.D. Robb (St. Martin's Press) 10. “A Minute to Midnight” by David Baldacci (Grand Central Publishing) 11. “Long Range” by C.J. Box (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) 12. “Hit List” by Stuart Woods (G.P. Putnam's Sons) 13. “Highland Treasure” by Lynsay Sands (Avon) 14. “Wicked Game” by Jackson/Bush (Zebra) 15. “The Inn” by Patterson/Fox (Grand Central Publishing) TRADE PAPERBACKS 1. “Burn After Writing” (pink) by Sharon Jones (TarcherPerigee) 2. “The 20th Victim” by Patterson/Paetro (Grand Central Publishing) 3. “Home Body” by Rupi Kaur (Andrews McMeel) 4. “Fair Warning” by Michael Connelly (Grand Central Publishing) 5. “28 Summers” by Elin Hilderbrand (Back Bay) 6. “Bridgerton: The Duke and I” (TV tie-in) by Julia Quinn (Avon) 7. “The Girl from the Channel Islands” by Jenny Lecoat (Graydon House) 8. “The Order” by Daniel Silva (Harper) 9. “Circe” by Madeline Miller (Back Bay) 10. “The Step-by-Step Instant Pot Cookbook” by Jeffrey Eisner (Voracious) 11. “The Dutch House” by Ann Patchett (Harper Perennial) 12. “Thank You for Rejecting Me” by Kait Warman (Baker) 13. “Eight Perfect Murders” by Peter Swanson (William Morrow) 14. “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey (Simon & Schuster) 15. “Firefly Lane” (TV tie-in) by Kristin Hannah (Griffin) The Associated Press
The popular “Reply All” podcast has been put on hiatus and is cancelling two remaining episodes of a series that explored allegations of structural racism and a problematic work culture at food magazine Bon Appetit. The reason? Former employees at Gimlet Media, the podcast’s publisher, charged that two people behind “Reply All” had exhibited behaviour similar to what they were investigating at Bon Appetit. Alex Goldman, one of the hosts of “Reply All,” said in an audio statement Thursday that “we should never have published this series as reported.” He apologized to current and former colleagues, listeners and sources for the series on Bon Appetit, called “The Test Kitchen.” “Former colleagues of ours at Gimlet publicly described multiple instances of troubling behaviour from Sruthi and P.J.," Goldman said, referring to senior reporter Sruthi Pinnamaneni, who narrated “The Test Kitchen,” and co-host P.J. Vogt. Both have left the podcast, he said. Spotify, which acquired Gimlet in 2019, said Pinnamaneni and Vogt are still at Gimlet. Neither Pinnamaneni nor Vogt responded to messages seeking comment. The editor of Bon Appetit, Adam Rapoport, resigned last year after an old photo of him and his wife dressed in stereotypical Puerto Rican costumes surfaced on social media. Upset employees, especially those who had been working on racial inequities at the food magazine and its popular YouTube videos, seized the moment to press for changes at the publication. Those events took place in mid-2020 during a reckoning in media and other industries that emerged following the death of George Floyd and protests against police brutality toward Black people. The “Reply All” series on Bon Appetit was reported over eight months. Two of four episodes have aired, telling the stories of current and former Black, Latino, Indian-American and Asian-American staffers at the magazine. After the second episode of “Test Kitchen” came out, Eric Eddings, a former Gimlet employee, tweeted that Vogt and Pinnamaneni had “contributed to a near identical toxic dynamic at Gimlet.” He said that Pinnamaneni tried to rally others against a 2019 unionization drive, while Vogt sent harassing messages to organizers and denigrated colleagues. In the second episode of the podcast, Pinnamaneni confessed to regrets about her own past behaviour and how she reacted to the union drive. “To the extent I talked about it, I talked about the way that their fight was stepping on my toes,” she said on the podcast. “It took eight months of reporting on Bon Appetit for me to see how wrong I was about all that, and if I’m honest, I’m still processing the anger that I feel toward myself.” She and Vogt apologized on social media last week for their behaviour during the unionization push at Gimlet. “Reply All” is one of Gimlet's biggest shows. Spotify started as a music streaming service but in recent years has made a big push into podcasting. It has an exclusive deal with Joe Rogan, one of the most popular podcasters, and announced this week that it had signed up former President Barack Obama and rocker Bruce Springsteen for an eight-episode podcast series. “These accounts prompted a reckoning on our team about the work culture at 'Reply All' and left us asking whether we could continue airing this story without interrogating ourselves and what has unfolded at Gimlet,” Goldman said Thursday. Staffers want to tell what happened and the podcast is paused as they try to understand what went wrong, he said. “We want to tell you as best as we can what happened,” he said. “You'll hear more from us soon.” Tali Arbel, The Associated Press