How DJ D-Nice’s Club Quarantine Became an Isolation Sensation

Shirley Ju

Click here to read the full article.

DJ D-Nice’s Instagram Live virtual dance parties have been the sensation of isolation, drawing upwards of 150,000 viewers — among them, both Democratic candidates, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, former first lady Michelle Obama, Drake, Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith and even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg — and helping relieve anxiety during this time of stress and uncertainty. The Bronx native, whose real name is Derrick Jones, currently lives in Los Angeles and is, like all of the city’s residents, under a “safer at home” mandate calling for a weeks-long quarantine. 

So last Friday, he took to the turntables — DJ-ing and mixing for some eight hours straight with barely a bathroom break. Under the banner “Home School at Club Quarantine,” his sets featured an abundant mix of genres — from disco to funk to soul and hip-hop. 

More from Variety

Jones got his start at age 15 with rap group Boogie Down Productions alongside KRS-One and DJ Scott La Rock. After selling millions of records, putting out two successful solo albums and helping Kid Rock get a deal and working on his first album, Jones decided to leave the music industry in 1993, telling Variety, “I just felt burnt out.”

Fast forward to 2020, and his audience has never been bigger or his presence more impactful. Just yesterday, legendary rapper Scarface, who tested positive for COVID-19, credited D-Nice’s IG Live for “saving” him. Currently counting 1.7 million followers on Instagram, the outpouring of support and feedback has commended the DJ’s cheerful spirit, positivity and talents on the turntables. D-Nice spoke with Variety and revealed the one song he played twice: for Rihanna.

Where did the idea to host a virtual dance party originate and how did you get it going?
I live in L.A. now so when the quarantine happened, I felt stuck. I started going through withdrawals. I miss being in front of a crowd. All my life, whether I was rapping or DJ-ing, there’s always a crowd involved. To be isolated and not have that as an option, it threw me off. I decided to jump on IG Live and create a fun small party. I didn’t have any turntables hooked up, I was pressing buttons on my computer directly into my iPhone. My friends were joining in, we’re all having a great time. It was people in the music industry or in fashion. There were roughly 200 of us, all cool people I’ve known throughout years.

We’re in there pretending we’re in a club. I was playing music and telling stories about certain songs I produced back in the day. Just a fun time. I did it the next day. The third day, I could tell there was something different about it. More people were coming, so I decided to go out and buy new turntables and really DJ, Not just play music, to really get in there and spin records. That particular day — last Friday — Jennifer Lopez happened to stop in, and so did Drake. I couldn’t believe so many people were in this chat room. Michelle Obama to Oprah to Ellen Degeneres, it ended up being amazing. They weren’t just popping in, they’re in there listening to the music and interacting with people in the comment section. Gayle King, Lionel Richie, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, The Rock, Rihanna came in.

Then as it was building, and we got to 95,000 people, I felt like we’re about to get cut off [after an hour if IG]. All of a sudden, Mark Zuckerberg signed in. We’re all tripping, like. “Wait, Mark Zuckerberg is in here!” I’m begging him, “Mark, please don’t shut it off! We need to reach at least 100K.” As soon as we hit 100K, everyone’s going crazy. Everyone erupted — happy in being a part of something so monumental. The number 100K doesn’t truly reflect the amount of people who actually heard everything, because people were in and out of the chat room. Knowing we did something so iconic is a great feeling. 

What was the purpose of it, in your view?
To provide enjoyment for my friends. I figured, I’m sitting here isolated, I knew that feeling wasn’t unique. Other people were in the same predicament. If we can connect in this chat room while I’m playing music, then we’d all have a good time. Pretend that we’re together. Even though we weren’t physically there, we’re connected. We’re still communicating with one another via text. So many people felt that way because it started to take off, and it wasn’t celebrity-driven. … It grew organically. People caught on.

What was the greater cultural significance?
Oh man, this is a weird time. We’re all dealing with the coronavirus. To have a few hours of not worrying about a thing and hearing music, celebrating with each other and allowing that to relieve some stress is important. Music relieves all stress. No matter what type of music you listen to, it literally changes and touches your spirit. I play more of an uplifting set. Disco music always had a feeling of love and celebration so I tend to find records that feel that way. Whether I’m playing Stevie Wonder “All I Do” or First Choice’s old disco record “Doctor Love,” it feels like love. You want to dance, get up and celebrate. For music to have the ability to take the focus off what’s going on in the world, for an hour or two or however long you’re in that chat room, it’s extremely important finding a way to be happy right now. 

How are you feeling in isolation and what were you hoping to provide for others?
Sometimes, I forget I’m here alone. Once I have on headphones and I’m playing music, I actually feel connected as well. It hasn’t really bothered me to be honest, I’m much happier now that I’m doing this. I hope other people feel the same way. We’re caught up in this virtual world of hanging out in Club Quarantine — that doesn’t really exist but for some reason, it’s the biggest club in the world right now. 

What do you think drew so many there?
The music, it came from an honest place. I didn’t do this to have all the fanfare that’s going on, I did it because we love music. That’s why I ended up doing a playlist on Spotify. Even after I finished DJ-ing, I wanted the music that I played to actually have a home. [Those who] may not have heard a certain song, they could go back and play that song. Now they’re being introduced to new artists.

What’s the significance of having Biden and Sanders in the room?
With the internet chat room, everyone’s on a level playing field. No one’s really a celebrity. Biden came in and lifted people’s spirits. In their mind, they never imagined being in a text or chat room with Joe Biden. It’s important for [Biden and Sanders] to be there because we’re all going through this together. And for Biden or Bernie supporters, everyone felt good seeing them in there. They felt like they could touch them. 

How long did you intend on spinning? Was it to break a record?
It wasn’t really about breaking a record. I was so caught up with enjoying the moment and the music. I play what I love, the music happens to feel good to me. Even though I was getting tired by hour seven, I watched Rihanna come in and I was happy to play even more music. Even though I’ve DJ’d for her in the past, the feeling that I had was… imagine this: most of the parties I DJ, I’m going into someone else’s world. I have to cater my set to what they want. In this case, they’re coming into my world. They’re coming to D-Nice’s Instagram Live. I played what I wanted to hear and wanted to expose them to, and they had a great time. 

You said several times “we made history,” how do you mean?
There’s never been 100,000 people in one IG Live. 

Describe how you felt when it reached 100,000?
Man, I was definitely emotional. To start something out of being lonely and doing it with 200 friends, to build that so quickly — it was less than a week. Five days. To build something that impacted people on such a large scale, that provided them with happiness and joy, to take their minds off what’s going on. Some people may have a hard time paying their bills they’re losing jobs; doctors and nurses on the front line dealing with this — and for one or two hours to allow them to escape that reality? It makes me emotional when I think about it. I had the ability to do that from my kitchen counter. 


Of the hundreds of celebrities that popped in, who blew your mind the most?
Well, I’ve met Mrs. Obama before. I’ve met Joe Biden before. I was extremely happy they’re there but the one person who surprised me was The Rock. The Rock being in my IG live leaving comments, like, “Hey D, great job brother,” that meant a lot to me. I’m a big fan. 

Did you have any communication with Zuckerberg?
We interacted one time, just one line each. When we’re about to reach that 100K mark, I yelled out “Zuck, yo Mark, please don’t cut us off!” His response was, “You got this.” That’s what made it all exciting; We were all rooting to get to that number. 

To confirm, no songs were repeated throughout?
One song was repeated: Burna Boy’s “Ye” record. I played that earlier, then when Rihanna was there. I know that’s one of her favorite songs, so I decided to play it again. 

Who are your top artists in rotation?
I play a lot of Stevie Wonder and Prince.

How did you get into DJ-ing?
I love creativity, so I started a creative services agency developing websites for iconic artists like Luther Vandross, Aaliyah and Alicia Keys. I was doing online marketing for Reebok, Violator Records, 50 Cent’s G-Unit sneaker and in 2003, I was invited to a party by a friend, Q Tip from A Tribe Called Quest. He was spinning with Mark Ronson and being there, I fell in love with music again. I fell in love with DJ-ing.

I started from the bottom. I was one of those guys who’d DJ for six hours in New York City clubs. Even though they weren’t paying a lot, it was gratifying to me. I had my first residency at Serena At the iconic Chelsea Hotel. Similar to the story I’m having right now, it started with 10 people, then it grew to a real party. I was able to play the set I play currently: a mix of everything. I went on to do a lot of clubs — residencies in Cane and Canal Room in NYC. One day, Kid Rock asked me to DJ a Sports Illustrated event he was hosting ahead of the Super Bowl. After that, I became more of a private event DJ. I did tons of huge events all the way until I played the inaugural ball for President Obama’s second term. I became one of the DJs the Obamas would frequently use.

Are you planning to keep Club Quarantine going on a regular schedule?
We’re determining that now. I don’t want to burn it out. It’s been such a great party for people to keep their spirits lifted, but I know I can’t physically do that every day. I’m going to see as far as we can take it. When this is over, I want to take it on the road. Allow people to have that experience of Club Quarantine in person. 

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

  • 'They're mad...it's like a horror movie': 150 people exposed to COVID-19 in New Brunswick after doctor neglects rules
    Health
    Yahoo News Canada

    'They're mad...it's like a horror movie': 150 people exposed to COVID-19 in New Brunswick after doctor neglects rules

    A doctor in New Brunswick didn't self-isolate after a personal trip to Quebec, instead he saw patients and exposed at least 150 people in a province that had no active cases.

  • After Dream Wedding, Canadian Newlyweds Discover Deep Family Bonds During Pandemic
    Lifestyle
    HuffPost Canada

    After Dream Wedding, Canadian Newlyweds Discover Deep Family Bonds During Pandemic

    Their pandemic living arrangement with in-laws is a blessing, they say.

  • Police across US speak out against Minneapolis custody death
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Police across US speak out against Minneapolis custody death

    LOS ANGELES — Murder. Brutality. Reprehensible. Indefensible. Police nationwide, in unequivocal and unprecedented language, have condemned the actions of Minneapolis police in the custody death of a handcuffed black man who cried for help as an officer knelt on his neck, pinning him to the pavement for at least eight minutes.But some civil rights advocates say their denunciations are empty words without meaningful reform behind them.Authorities say George Floyd was detained Monday because he matched the description of someone who tried to pay with a counterfeit bill at a convenience store, and the 46-year-old resisted arrest. A bystander's disturbing video shows Officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, kneeling on Floyd's neck, even as Floyd begs for air and slowly stops talking and moving.“There is no need to see more video,” Chattanooga, Tennessee, Police Chief David Roddy tweeted Wednesday. “There no need to wait to see how ‘it plays out’. There is no need to put a knee on someone’s neck for NINE minutes. There IS a need to DO something. If you wear a badge and you don’t have an issue with this ... turn it in.”The reaction from some law enforcement stands in stark contrast to their muted response or support for police after other in-custody fatalities. Sheriffs and police chiefs have strongly criticized the Minneapolis officer on social media and praised the city’s police chief for his quick dismissal of four officers at the scene. Some even called for them to be criminally charged.“I am deeply disturbed by the video of Mr. Floyd being murdered in the street with other officers there letting it go on,” Polk County, Georgia, Sheriff Johnny Moats wrote on Facebook. “I can assure everyone, me or any of my deputies will never treat anyone like that as long as I’m Sheriff. This kind of brutality is terrible and it needs to stop. All Officers involved need to be arrested and charged immediately. Praying for the family.”Typically, police call for patience and calm in the wake of a use of force. They are reluctant to weigh in on episodes involving another agency, often citing ongoing investigations or due process.“Not going hide behind ‘not being there,’" tweeted San Jose Police, California, Chief Eddie Garcia. "I’d be one of the first to condemn anyone had I seen similar happen to one of my brother/ sister officers. What I saw happen to George Floyd disturbed me and is not consistent with the goal of our mission. The act of one, impacts us all.”But Gloria Browne-Marshall, a civil rights attorney and professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said she wouldn't be a “cheerleader” for a “handful” of chiefs who harshly decried the officers' behaviour.“Any minute progress is seen as miraculous because so little has been done for so long,” she said. “It’s nothing close to progress or what outrage would be taking place if it was a white man as the victim of this assault.”Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter in Los Angeles, said she wasn't “particularly moved” by the relatively few police who voiced outrage.Abdullah said the three other officers who witnessed Chauvin's actions and did not intervene contributed to a long-standing system of police racism and oppression against people of colour.“We’ve got to remember that it was not just Officer Chauvin who was sitting on George Floyd’s neck,” she said.Abdullah and hundreds of others protested what she called Floyd's lynching on Wednesday night. Some blocked lanes of a freeway and shattered windows of California Highway Patrol cruisers.Minneapolis is bracing for more violence after days of civil unrest, with burned buildings, looted stores and angry graffiti demanding justice. The governor on Thursday called in the National Guard. On Thursday night, protesters torched a Minneapolis police station that the department was forced to abandon.The heads of the Los Angeles and Chicago departments — both of which have been rocked before by police brutality scandals — addressed Floyd's death and its potential effect on race relations between law enforcement and communities of colour.Even the New York Police Department weighed in. Eric Garner died in the city in 2014 after he was placed in a chokehold by police and uttered the same words Floyd did: “I can't breathe.”It took city officials five years to fire the officer, and no criminal or federal charges were brought."What we saw in Minnesota was deeply disturbing. It was wrong," NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea wrote Thursday. “We must take a stand and address it. We must come together, condemn these actions and reinforce who we are as members of the NYPD. This is not acceptable ANYWHERE.”Before he was commissioner, Shea spearheaded the NYPD’s shift to community policing that moved away from a more confrontational style favoured by other commissioners after Garner's death.Harris County, Texas, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, who also spoke out online, told The Associated Press that law enforcement agencies keep promising reforms in the wake of fatalities, but they are "not delivering it on a consistent basis.”“When bad things happen in our profession, we need to be able to call it like it is,” he said. “We keep thinking that the last one will be the last one, and then another one surfaces.”Stefanie Dazio, The Associated Press

  • Northern B.C. lake being considered as site for plastics plant, sparking concern among residents, First Nation
    News
    CBC

    Northern B.C. lake being considered as site for plastics plant, sparking concern among residents, First Nation

    A lake in northern B.C. is being considered as a site for a new petrochemical plant, raising concerns among residents and a First Nation in the rural area.West Coast Olefins initially planned to build a $5.6-billion plastic manufacturing facility in Prince George's industrial area, which the company said would create 1,000 permanent jobs. But the idea was scrapped after backlash from locals concerned about air pollution.Instead, the company has announced plans to relocate the facility to a rural area north of the city.West Coast Olefins is considering five possible sites, including Summit Lake, 50 kilometres north of Prince George.Surrounded by forest and 12 kilometres long, Summit Lake is on the continental divide, and drains into both the Pacific and Arctic oceans.  The fact that it's been earmarked as a site for the plastics plant is alarming for Hilary Crowley, a former Green Party candidate who has lived on the shore of the lake for 45 years. "The very thought of this is horrendous," said Crowley.Crowley and her husband, a pipeline expert, built their own log house by Summit Lake. They grow, gather and hunt almost all their own food. "We have excellent air quality here and we want to keep it that way," she said.West Coast Olefins plans to extract natural gas liquids, such as ethane, propane and butane, from a natural gas pipeline running through the area. Those byproducts would then be used to make materials like plastic and rubber for Asian markets.Company president and CEO Ken James said the project does have support — from investors, construction contractors and the McLeod Lake Indian Band, a community 90 kilometres north of Summit Lake.The company is negotiating a benefits agreement with the First Nation. Chief Harley Chingee told CBC the plan could bring long-term jobs for band members.In an online meeting with McLeod Lake earlier this month, West Coast Olefins assured band members that the Summit Lake location was "a safe distance, if you want to call it that, from the McLeod Lake community itself."But another First Nation with a connection to Summit Lake says it hasn't been notified at all.Chief Roland Wilson of the West Moberly First Nations says he first learned of the plan from a CBC News reporter.Wilson says his community owns 23 acres of land on Summit Lake, right next to a proposed site for the plastics plant. He says his community has also been in talks with the government for 15 years to secure reserve lands at the lake.  "We've always been in that area .... and utilized that area extensively. So that surprises me that we haven't ever been notified," said Wilson, who added that he grew up at Summit Lake."We don't really know what kind of impact this plastics plant has, or what the emissions of a project like this are. Does it create pollutants? We don't know. We have absolutely no clue. Nobody's talked to us about this," said Wilson.But James says his company has done a good job keeping people informed."You can't be too early [with consulting] because people will get worried about something that's not going to happen in their area. Could you imagine if we just thought out loud and every time, that got out to everybody? We would create alarm all over the place," said James.James said if the community doesn't want the plant, it won't be built. But he says that doesn't mean "everybody has a veto."The West Coast Olefins project is still in the environmental assessment process.The Ministry of Environment told CBC News that it's aware of the proposed location change but hasn't received formal notification from the company.The government says West Coast Olefins is legally allowed to move locations, but officials will need to see the extent of changes to determine "the right next steps."James said the site change will likely only require a small change to its application.

  • How a man with two wives helped deliver one big loss to Meng Wanzhou
    News
    CBC

    How a man with two wives helped deliver one big loss to Meng Wanzhou

    More than a century before Meng Wanzhou's arrest at Vancouver Airport, another alleged fugitive from U.S. justice slipped across the border into British Columbia — one whose crimes would lay the groundwork for a judge to deliver the Huawei executive a stunning loss this week.George Collins had apparently made enough money as a lawyer in San Francisco to take up rooms at Victoria's elegant Driard Hotel with his new wife in the summer of 1905. Only problem: He was supposed to be on trial for bigamy in California in relation to his other wife back home. And the United States wanted Collins extradited.At first blush, it's hard to imagine two fates less likely to be intertwined than those of an American lothario born a decade before the invention of the telephone and Meng, the chief financial officer of a global telecommunications giant.But in the decision she released Wednesday, B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes drew a straight line between the cases.She relied, in part, on precedent established by Collins 115 years ago to justify a decision to continue extradition proceedings against Meng, despite the 48-year-old's claim that the offence U.S. prosecutors have accused her of would not be considered a crime in Canada.A marriage is announcedAccording to what was then the Victoria Daily Colonist newspaper, Collins was arrested on July 12, 1905, at the hotel where he and his wife had checked in as "Mr. and Mrs. Rosenberry" in the weeks before.His troubles had begun a few months earlier, when a notice of Collins' marriage to Miss Clarice McCurdy, the daughter of a wealthy widow, appeared in the San Francisco newspapers.That came as a surprise to those who had watched Collins marry Charlotta Newman in May 1889. Collins was charged with bigamy after Charlotta's brother told a grand jury he had witnessed the wedding.A trial was set to begin in June 1905 when Collins fled north.The shrewd lawyer had ascertained that bigamy was not an extraditable offence under the treaty the U.S. had with Canada at the time. But perjury was. And so U.S. prosecutors charged Collins with lying about his marital status in a civil suit Charlotta Collins filed in the wake of his betrayal, seeking support for herself and their three children.And they asked Canada to arrest the two-timer.'Trumped-up' chargeLike Meng, Collins caught the attention of the headline writers of his day.They speculated on his wealth and rumours of an expensive mahogany desk and book collection, estimating that he had made "at least a quarter of a million dollars" but that "like many of his kind … he spent his money freely and it was eaten up as fast as it came in."Collins told the Daily Colonist the charge was a "trumped-up one" and that "he was the victim of a conspiracy which resulted from the fact that he had made many powerful enemies."And like Meng, one of the key battles in his fight against extradition was over so-called double criminality  — the idea that the offence a person is accused of would have to be considered a crime in both countries to warrant sending an accused across the border to face justice.In Meng's case, the charge is fraud. The Huawei CFO is accused of lying to an HSBC executive in Hong Kong about Huawei's control of a company that violated U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.Prosecutors claim the banks relied on those lies to continue handling Huawei's finances, meaning they risked loss and prosecution by violating the same regulations.Meng's lawyers argued that because Canada didn't have economic sanctions against Iran when the case was given the authority to proceed, there could be no loss if the offence had happened here — and so there would be no charge of fraud.Collins, on the other hand, claimed the lie about his marriage happened in a pleading given to a notary in a civil suit in a way that wouldn't have made it an oath given in evidence had it been done in Canada — and so there would be no charge of perjury.A hypothetical puzzleB.C. Supreme Court Justice Lyman Duff wrestled in 1905 with the same hypothetical puzzle Holmes, the judge in Meng's case, confronted this week. Exactly what does it mean to transpose the facts of an alleged crime to Canada?Is a judge limited to pretending that no sanctions exist, or that Canadian technicalities wouldn't make a lie an oath?Or can judges also consider the context around the alleged offence — in effect, making foreign legal considerations part of the Canadian equation?When it came to Collins, Duff — who went on the become the eighth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada — found they could."If you are to conceive the accused pursuing the conduct in question in this country, then along with him you are to transplant his environment," he wrote.And that meant thinking about the legal environment in which Collins swore he wasn't married to two women."Treating the matter in that way, then what have we here?" Duff asked."You have an oath taken in a judicial proceeding before a court of competent jurisdiction after a manner in which it was authorized by law. These facts make up the substance and 'essence' of the 'criminality' charged against the accused."Citing Duff's words, Holmes concluded that she could consider context to find Meng's alleged lie would amount to a crime in Canada — even without economic sanctions against Iran."The essence of the alleged wrongful conduct in this case is the making of intentionally false statements in the banker-client relationship that put HSBC at risk," she wrote."The U.S. sanctions are part of the state of affairs necessary to explain how HSBC was at risk, but they are not themselves an intrinsic part of the conduct."'Well, George, we're off at last'Meng's loss this week is not the end of her battle. She still has several chances to fight extradition through hearings to determine whether her rights were violated when she was arrested and whether there is sufficient evidence to mount a prosecution.She has denied the charges.Collins was extradited back to California in October 1905, placed on a steamer out of Victoria with only 20 minutes' notice.A Daily Colonist reporter watched as a detective sent to accompany the fugitive said, "Well, George, we're off at last.""Collins laughed. 'It does look like it,' he said," according to the newspaper. When he got back to San Francisco, Collins was convicted of perjury. He was sent to San Quentin to begin a 14-year prison sentence.He's long dead. And 100 years from now — barring really drawn out proceedings — the question of Meng Wanzhou's extradition will be settled.But her name and that of George Collins will forever be a part of Canadian extradition law.

  • Experts hope to locate Asian giant hornet nests after insect found in Langley
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Experts hope to locate Asian giant hornet nests after insect found in Langley

    The Asian giant hornet is back in B.C. after first being spotted in the province last year. Experts are now trying to determine how many nests might be in the ground and where they might be. Provincial apiculturist Paul van Westendorp said this year's first confirmed sighting was reported May 15 in Langley, B.C."All that signifies is that this beast has been travelling or been spreading a bit farther than we had anticipated up to this point," he said. "The scenery hasn't really changed very much."Three giant hornets were first spotted last August near Nanaimo, the B.C. agriculture ministry said. The single nest was destroyed. A specimen was found in November in White Rock and two specimens were found last December at Blaine, Wash.Van Westendorp said he has frozen the Langley specimen and will eventually conduct an examination to see if it's a queen. The insect will also be analyzed through DNA sequencing to determine its geographic origin.The province issued an information bulletin in March asking residents near the border to be on the lookout. Hornet traps were placed throughout the area and pest-alert notices were distributed. Further monitoring will continue and experts are asking for the public's participation to report what they see."The hunt is on and the way to find the nest is you're not going to find the nest visibly, you're not going to see it when you're walking along forest paths," said Gail Wallin, executive director of the Invasive Species Council of B.C."You're going to see it because you see the Asian giant hornets heading to that hole in the ground ... so being on the alert for the hornets is the first step to finding the nest."Normally found in the forests and low mountains of eastern and southeast Asia, it remains unclear how the giant hornets arrived in North America."Even under the best of circumstances, there's so few of them around, this is kind of like looking for a needle in a haystack," van Westendorp said from Abbotsford. "And that's why we rely on the reports to come in to get an overall impression as to what the distribution is."If we can find and catch live adults, then we can put on radio tags and follow them to find their nests. But up until this point we have only collected dead ones. Well, dead ones cannot bring us to their nest and that is the problem."The Asian giant hornet (Vespa mandarinia) can be as big as a man's thumb. It has a large orange head, black eyes and can deliver a nasty sting. "Because of the development cycle of this insect, we anticipate more sightings in the weeks and months to come," van Westendorp said. "All that is now a bit different is that with the latest find in Langley, it is now recognized that it has perhaps a broader distribution here in coastal B.C. than we had anticipated up to this point."The "murder hornet" moniker — a term experts frown upon — was coined in Japan.British Columbia classifies the Asian giant hornet as a "serious honey bee predator.'' Farmers in the southern B.C./northern Washington area depend on honey bees to pollinate crops such as apples, blueberries and cherries."The (hornets) prey on bees, et cetera, and there's nothing that preys on it," Wallin said from Williams Lake, B.C. "You don't want it to establish because it will have a ripple effect to the ecosystem."Area beekeepers are being encouraged to use screens or barriers to protect their hives. The Asian giant hornet is not currently a pest regulated at the federal level, so it falls under the mandate of the province, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said earlier this month. "There isn't any evidence yet that these hornets have become fully established," said Gard Otis, an adjunct professor at the University of Guelph specializing in bee behaviour and forest entomology. "But the fact that a new hornet was found (in a different location) is a concern also because that could be a different source colony or something."So we're all concerned but I don't think we're like screaming out of the room and really upset because things right now, at this particular moment, are not bad.'The hornet's life cycle begins in April when queens emerge from hibernation, feed on sap and fruit, and look for underground dens."I'm not saying it will, but even if this pest can establish itself here on a permanent basis, we are only dealing with very, very few," van Westendorp said. "There is an exceedingly low density, if I can call it that."As an apex predator, there is simply not enough room, if you will, for a lot of them to be proliferating. I think that's the key message here."Asian giant hornets hunt insects and are generally not looking to engage with people, pets or large animals, the B.C. agriculture ministry said."In the eyes of a hornet, (humans) are totally inconsequential ... it is only when a nest is disturbed that they pose a risk or a threat," van Westendorp said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2020.Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

  • Canadian airlines could 'fail' if forced to refund passengers, says transport minister
    Business
    CBC

    Canadian airlines could 'fail' if forced to refund passengers, says transport minister

    Transport Minister Marc Garneau says that Canadian airlines could go bankrupt if the ailing industry is compelled to refund passengers billions of dollars for flights cancelled due to the pandemic."I have said many times that I have enormous sympathy for those who would have preferred to have a cash refund in these difficult circumstances. It is far from being an ideal situation," Garneau told a press conference earlier today."At the same time, if airlines had to immediately reimburse all cancelled tickets, it would have a devastating effect on the air sector, which has been reeling since the COVID 19 pandemic started."Garneau was doubling down on a message he delivered to the House of Commons' pandemic committee on Thursday, when he warned MPs that if airlines "had to reimburse at this time, some of them could fail."The minister said today it's his responsibility to help Canada's airlines survive the pandemic."It is so essential for this country," he said. "This is the second largest country on Earth, with its distances and remote areas, and we expect and need an airline industry in this country."Watch | Reporters question Marc Garneau about airline ticket refundsBut his response isn't sitting well with Canadians struggling financially during the pandemic who argue it's their right as consumers to get their money back for flights they never took."It's very disappointing and frustrating," said Tammie Fang, a health care essential worker in B.C. "My rights as a consumer have been put aside to help balance the airline industry."Fang works at a New Westminster hospital assisting with open-heart surgeries. She said she spends much of her spare time calling and emailing Air Transat seeking a refund of roughly $500 for a flight to Toronto she never took. She describes it as an extra burden during an already stressful and financially challenging time."It's disheartening," she said. "It's unbelievable how much effort we have to put in."Airlines' survival versus consumers' rightsCanada's airline industry has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, and most of the country's airline fleet is sitting idle at airports across the country. Airlines are losing 90 per cent of their normal revenue streams and some have put their operations completely on pause.At the same time, pressure is mounting on the federal government to step in and force airlines to pay back passengers who also are struggling financially. Two petitions with more than 30,000 signatures combined have been submitted to Parliament in recent weeks calling on the government to demand that airlines tapping into taxpayer-funded government supports reimburse grounded passengers.Billions tied up in refundsFor the most part, Canadian airlines are offering those passengers travel vouchers redeemable for two years. Air Canada also announced last week that it's allowing people to transfer their tickets to others, which could permit ticket holders to sell them. The Canadian Transportation Agency has said offering vouchers could be a reasonable measure in the current circumstances.Garneau's office said it would cost airlines billions of dollars to refund customers. When CBC asked Transport Canada for specific numbers, it was told the figures the government receives from airlines amount to proprietary information that it isn't authorized to release.Air Canada's books are open, since it's a publicly traded company. It has about $2.6 billion tied up in ticket sales for future travel over the next year.On March 16, the airline said its current liquidity level was $6.3 billion — a record level — and its balance sheet was solid. Since then, Air Canada has said it's burning $22 million a day in operating costs and plans to reduce its workforce by 50 to 60 per cent. The company said a dramatic drop in demand during the pandemic caused the airline to slash its flight capacity by 95 per cent. Government in talks with airlines and consumersOutside Rideau Cottage today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau repeated a message he's delivered in the past — that the government has to strike the right balance between keeping airlines afloat and preserving consumers' rights. "I hear clearly the concerns that Canadians have around their air tickets," said Trudeau. "We will continue to work with the industry and with concerned groups of Canadians to ensure that we find a fair way through this. "But I know Canadians at the same time want to make sure we continue to have an airline industry after this very difficult pandemic."The government is in talks with airlines and is looking to see what other countries have done with travel refunds. It's expected to deliver an update on the file in the coming weeks.

  • Trudeau Weighs In On Minneapolis Protests: ‘Racism Is Real’ In U.S. And Canada
    News
    HuffPost Canada

    Trudeau Weighs In On Minneapolis Protests: ‘Racism Is Real’ In U.S. And Canada

    After a video of police pinning down a handcuffed Black man went public, tensions have erupted in the U.S.

  • Ottawa announces $650M in new COVID-19 funding for Indigenous communities
    News
    CBC

    Ottawa announces $650M in new COVID-19 funding for Indigenous communities

    The federal government is making an additional $650 million available for Indigenous communities to deal with current COVID-19 needs and prepare for a potential second wave of the pandemic, said Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller on Friday. The new funding will go toward the public health response to the pandemic, the on-reserve income assistance program and the construction of new women's shelters.Miller announced the new funding during a news conference in Ottawa on Friday. He said it would enable Indigenous communities to react to the "evolving needs" caused by the ongoing pandemic. "These funds enable us to live up to our obligation to provide quality care and support them, especially so in times of crisis," said Miller. Indigenous Services Canada has made over $1.3 billion available to Indigenous communities to deal with pandemic-related needs since mid-March. Miller said that as of Friday, 176 of the 214 on-reserve COVID-19 cases had recovered and all 16 cases in Inuit communities in northern Quebec had also recovered.Of the new money announced Friday, $285 million will be earmarked to bolster the health care response in Indigenous communities. The funds will be used to increase the number of nurses on the front lines, obtain more personal protective equipment and for setting up isolation centres, either through temporary structures or to retrofit existing buildings for community medical needs. "I know everyone is concerned about a second wave, and we are acting," said Miller.The funding will be used to bolster the surge health capacity of Inuit organizations should provincial and territorial governments face pressure on their health services in the face of an outbreak in Inuit communities in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador, according to Miller.Watch | Miller questioned about Saskatchewan First Nations plans to secure own supply of PPEIncome assistance program gets boostThe on-reserve income assistance program is also getting an additional $270 million boost under the funds announced Friday. "No one should have to choose between clothing their children or electricity for the next week," said Miller. "No one should be faced with the choice with a roof above their heads or food for their families, but too often this is the case."Miller said $139 million of the total is in direct response to COVID-19 and the rest of the funding will go toward bolstering the base funding for the program.Twelve new women's shelters will also be constructed with the funds announced Friday, Miller said. The federal government will spend $44.8 million over five years for 10 new on-reserve shelters and two in the territories, said Miller. The new shelters will also get $40.8 million to support the operation of these new shelters for the first five years, plus $10.2 million a year, ongoing. Miller said $1 million will also be invested yearly, beginning in 2020, for anti-violence projects for Métis women, girls, LGBTQ and two-spirit people.

  • N.S. police received warnings in 2011 about man who would become mass killer
    News
    The Canadian Press

    N.S. police received warnings in 2011 about man who would become mass killer

    HALIFAX — A newly released document reveals that in May 2011, police were told the Nova Scotia man who would later kill 22 people in a shooting rampage wanted to "kill a cop" and was feeling mentally unstable.The officer safety bulletin, submitted by the Truro Police Service, does not include names in the version released to media, but police Chief David MacNeil confirmed Friday the subject in question was Gabriel Wortman.The brief report says a Truro police officer had received information from a source indicating Wortman was upset about a police investigation into a break-and-enter and had "stated he wants to kill a cop.""He believes the police did not do their job in relation to this investigation," the bulletin says.The officer goes on to say he was told Wortman owned a handgun and was having some "mental issues" that left him feeling stressed and "a little squirrelly."The document, first obtained by the CBC, says Wortman was also investigated for uttering death threats aimed at his parents less than a year earlier, in June 2010. That probe led police to conclude he may be in possession of several rifles, though it's not clear which force conducted the investigation.The one-page bulletin represents another detailed warning that police received about the killer before the tragic events of April 18-19 in central and northern Nova Scotia.Earlier this month, a former neighbour of Wortman's said she reported his domestic violence and cache of firearms to the RCMP years ago.Brenda Forbes said that in the summer of 2013, she told police about reports that Gabriel Wortman had held down and beaten his common law spouse behind one of the properties he owned.The RCMP have said they are looking for the police record of the incident.MacNeil said the patrol officer who prepared the 2011 bulletin — Cpl. Greg Densmore — submitted it to the Criminal Intelligence Service of Nova Scotia for analysis and distribution to other police forces."Our officer did exactly what was expected of him," MacNeil said in a statement Friday. "He took the information seriously, documented it and submitted this information."MacNeil said it was safe to assume the Amherst Police Department also received the bulletin because it was one of their officers who retrieved it from files on April 18, 2020 — the day Wortman's rampage started — and sent it to those investigating the unfolding tragedy."Since neither of the addresses mentioned in this information were in the jurisdiction of the Truro Police Service, we were not obligated to follow up on this information, as this would fall to the police agencies of jurisdiction," MacNeil said."We can't comment on what those agencies may have done or didn't do with this information."At the time, Wortman had a primary residence above his denture clinic in downtown Dartmouth, N.S., which is an area covered by Halifax Regional Police. As well, he owned properties in Portapique, which is about 40 kilometres west of Truro and part of the RCMP's jurisdiction.MacNeil said this kind of bulletin would normally be sent to all municipal police agencies and the RCMP, which has been leading the investigation into last month's shootings.Const. Dylan Jackman, a spokesman for Halifax Regional Police, said the police force received the original bulletin and assigned an officer to investigate.Jackman said the investigator contacted the Truro Police Service and members of Wortman's family, but the matter was handed over to the RCMP because the information regarding firearms involved the residence in Portapique.An RCMP spokeswoman confirmed the police force received the bulletin in May 2011, but RCMP Cpl. Jennifer Clarke said she couldn't comment on how the Mounties responded because the follow-up records had been purged long ago, which is in line with existing data retention policies."Preliminary indications are that we were aware and, at minimum, provided assistance to (Halifax police), which aligns with the RCMP's approach for such enquiries," Clarke said in an email.Asked if the bulletin would have been useful for the officers investigating the recent slayings, Clarke said: "I can't speculate on how this information might have affected the outcome of the April 18/19 incidents."The Mounties have confirmed the gunman — disguised as a Mountie and driving a replica RCMP vehicle — was armed with two semi-automatic handguns and two semi-automatic rifles when he killed 13 people in Portapique on April 18 and another nine people the following day in several other communities.His victims included an RCMP officer, two nurses, two correctional officers, a family of three, a teacher and some of his neighbours in Portapique.After Wortman spent the better part of 13 hours killing people he knew and others he didn't, a Mountie fatally shot the 51-year-old at a gas station in Enfield, N.S., about 90 kilometres south of Portapique, on the morning of April 19.There have been numerous calls for a public inquiry to investigate how police handled one of the worst mass shootings in Canadian history, including pleas from relatives of victims, politicians and academics.Even though the province has the jurisdiction to hold an inquiry, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil has said Ottawa should take the lead, given the scope of the tragedy and the many federal issues involved.However, the federal government only said it will do everything it can to ensure lessons are learned from the killings.This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2020.Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press

  • Health
    The Canadian Press

    Ontario says more heath providers can reopen including dentists, optometrists

    TORONTO — Dentists, optometrists and massage therapists are part of a list of health-care providers that the Ontario government says can gradually reopen following a months-long shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.Chiropractors, physiotherapists, psychologists, dieticians and denturists are also included on the list released Wednesday as part of a new order from the province's chief medical officer of health.A spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott said while the order takes effect immediately, that does not mean that all health services will be available on May 27."Health regulatory colleges are now in the process of developing guidance to ensure high-quality and safe clinical care that must be met before services can resume," she said. The provincial guidelines say providers must also comply with public health regulations and physical distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. In mid-March, the province ordered all non-essential and elective health services to close or reduce operations as COVID-19 cases increased.Under this new directive, the province is also asking regulatory colleges to provide advice on which services can be provided virtually.The province said the order will also allow hospitals to continue to develop and finalize plans to resume scheduled surgeries.This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 27, 2020.The Canadian PressNote to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version, based on a government statement, said midwives could reopen their practices. In fact, they have been operating, with some restrictions, throughout the pandemic.

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    For abortion foes, Trump's allyship blunts 'Roe' revelation

    Norma McCorvey’s admission that her conversion from the face of abortion rights -- as the “Jane Roe” of the historic 1973 Supreme Court case -- to an opponent of the practice came with payments from anti-abortion activists might seem to be a blow to their movement. In fact, leading religious conservatives and some of their critics agree that the anti-abortion alliance of Catholics and evangelicals has come to wield outsized political influence, thanks to their close ties to President Donald Trump’s administration. Anti-abortion activists are largely dismissing McCorvey’s on-camera “deathbed confession” about the authenticity of her work on their behalf.

  • COVID-19 border closures worry Americans who come to Canada to buy insulin
    News
    CBC

    COVID-19 border closures worry Americans who come to Canada to buy insulin

    When Travis Paulson drove from his home in northern Minnesota to the Canadian border last month, he thought he'd have little trouble crossing over to buy his insulin.Paulson, a Type 1 diabetic, has made the trip many times for himself and others as the price of the lifesaving drug has skyrocketed in the United States over the last decade. A vial in Canada costs roughly $25 US, a fraction of the $350 to $400 he would be charged in his home country.Paulson called Canada Border Services ahead of time to see if he'd still be able to come into Canada. Travel between the two countries has been restricted during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Paulson said he was told he could still make the trip if he only went to the pharmacy and came back the same day.But when he arrived at the border near Fort Frances, Ont., he said he was told there had been a policy change that very morning — and he couldn't come into Canada because his trip was not deemed essential."It's devastating because your life depends on it. You're literally being denied the air that you need to breathe," said Paulson, the director of the diabetes organization Northern Minnesota Advocacy Group."Every few hours you need it, every day. And that you might not be able to get it, I would say it's a little terrifying."Many Americans rely on going up north to buy insulin, where it is roughly a tenth of the price. Canada's Patented Medicine Prices Review Board, a federal agency that establishes the maximum price that can be charged for patented drugs, keeps the prices affordable.But the COVID-19 border restrictions have meant that option is no longer available.While some pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. are offering programs for cheaper insulin during the pandemic, advocates say still not enough is being done to make it affordable.A spokesperson for the Canada Border Services Agency said Americans may be allowed to enter the country to purchase medications, but the agency offers little clarity on who will be allowed in and when."Entry to Canada is decided on a case-by-case basis and based on the information made available to the border services officer at the time of entry," spokesperson Judith Gadbois-St-Cyr said in an email.Until at least June 21, there is a temporary restriction on all non-essential travel between Canada and the U.S. That could be further prolonged if deemed necessary, Gadbois-St-Cyr said.Quinn Nystrom, a long-time diabetes and affordable health-care advocate in Minnesota, said she's received several calls since the border closures began, including one from a panicked mother."She said her nine-year-old son was on his last insulin pen," Nystrom said, adding that the woman's husband had been planning a trip to Canada in the spring to buy more."They were just completely distraught over it."Nystrom gained international attention last year for organizing and taking part in several Caravans to Canada — trips to show just how easy and affordable it is to buy insulin outside of the U.S.A Type 1 diabetic herself, Nystrom went to her congressman, Pete Stauber, last spring, begging him to protect people with pre-existing conditions and vote to help lower the cost of insulin."He promised me he would do that. And after leaving his office and following up with him over the next couple of months, he unfortunately voted against those things," she said."It was so unfortunate to me that I decided to file and run against him."On Sunday, Nystrom won the Democratic nomination in Minnesota's 8th congressional district and will be up against Stauber on the ballot in November.Access to affordable insulin can be a matter of life and death for Americans.Nicole Smith-Holt's son died in June 2017 at just 26 years old, less than a month after he aged off of his parents' insurance plan. He couldn't afford the cost at a pharmacy in Minnesota and chose instead to ration his insulin.Smith-Holt said the border closures to Canada and Mexico put up "one more barrier" for struggling Americans, especially as many of them have lost their jobs and therefore their insurance during the pandemic."People are going to start rationing and people are going to suffer some very long-term health effects or possibly death," she said."A Type 1 diabetic really should not be lowering their dosage or missing doses. It proved fatal for Alec and countless other people."But Alec Smith's family, friends and supporters worked to make sure his death wasn't in vain.On July 1, the Alec Smith Insulin Affordability Act will come into effect in Minnesota. It will allow people who cannot afford their insulin to access a 30-day supply at their pharmacy for just $35. The new law also streamlines the process to access insulin in the long-term and manufacturers can be fined up to $3.6 million for not participating in the program."It means that we're going to have the ability to save lives," Smith-Holt said. "People right now, especially during this COVID-19 pandemic, are really struggling. It's going to be a lifeline for people."Pharmaceutical companies making pandemic programsSince the pandemic started, some pharmaceutical companies in the United States have created programs to help struggling diabetics. Eli Lilly, the U.S. manufacturer of fast-acting insulin Humalog, created a program in April to help those without insurance access a month's supply for $35.But these programs are difficult to apply for, advocates say, and often many people don't meet the criteria to be eligible.It's also just a temporary solution, Nystrom said, adding that the issue of insulin affordability won't go away when the pandemic does.With few options due to border restrictions, some Americans, like Paulson, are turning to online Canadian pharmacies. Some Canadian pharmacies will ship insulin to the U.S., but the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities in Ottawa said it's important to verify the legitimacy of an outlet if ordering online by checking with the province's regulating body. One of the most well-known pharmacies to Americans is Mark's Marine Pharmacy in Vancouver, just 40 kilometres from the U.S. border. It ships insulin to people across the U.S., but requires a doctor's prescription to do so — a requirement in America.People also turn to GoFundMe, social media and "underground networks."Lija Greenseid, an insulin advocate in St. Paul, Minn., and mother of a 14-year-old daughter who has Type 1 diabetes, said people in local diabetes Facebook groups will share extra insulin if they switch brands and even give up unused vials if someone has died."That's another strange consequence of our health-care system," said Greenseid, who organized a Caravan to Canada last spring. While some insurance companies have now capped their deductibles at $25 a month, the list price for insulin in the U.S. hasn't been cut.'The ultimate goal is to be like Canada'Greenseid had always been comforted by the knowledge that Canada was a short drive away. It's an option no longer there."What is reassuring is knowing that there is an insulin underground network of people who get insulin and give it to people who need it. That's always there." Greenseid said.Nystrom said Americans don't want to have to rely on outside countries to get affordable medications — and she hopes to make that possible if elected in November."The ultimate goal is to be like Canada, where somebody can just go to a pharmacy and pick up insulin for $30 US. That's our goal," she said."So people don't have to rely on a pharmaceutical company deciding to be charitable."MORE TOP STORIES

  • Mother and baby humpback whales rise from the depths beside swimmers
    Science
    Rumble

    Mother and baby humpback whales rise from the depths beside swimmers

    Tonga is one of the few places in the world that allows people to get into the water with humpback whales. To witness these majestic and beautiful animals up close is an unforgettable experience. These swimmers had traveled from all around the world to see humpbacks in the wild, in their own habitat, acting naturally. But what they did not expect to see was a large female humpback with a newborn calf. This baby whale is less than two weeks old. His mother came here, as all pregnant humpback whales do, to give birth to their young in an ocean free of predators such as great white sharks. These waters are safe for the mothers. As well as nursing their young until they are old enough to travel to colder feeding grounds on the opposite side of the planet, the females also come here to breed. Humpback whales are one of the most intelligent of all animal species and their communication may be the most complex in existence. To see a pair of whales from only a few metres away is life changing.

  • Crowd protests white mayor's words about black man's death
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Crowd protests white mayor's words about black man's death

    PETAL, Miss. — At least 200 people protested Friday outside a Mississippi City Hall, calling for the resignation of a white mayor who sparked outrage when he said he “didn’t see anything unreasonable” about the death of an African American man in Minneapolis police custody.Petal Mayor Hal Marx is resisting calls for his resignation, including from his own city's board of aldermen.“Why in the world would anyone choose to become a police officer in our society today?” Marx tweeted Tuesday, the day four Minneapolis police officers were fired. George Floyd, 46, was handcuffed and pleading for air as a white police officer kneeled on his neck Monday.In a follow-up tweet, the Republican directly referenced the Floyd case, saying he “didn't see anything unreasonable”: "If you can say you can't breathe, you're breathing. Most likely that man died of overdose or heart attack. Video doesn't show his resistance that got him in that position. Police being crucified.”WDAM-TV carried live coverage of Friday's protest, which drew a racially diverse crowd.“Accountability must come into effect for Hal Marx,” said Bobby Sims Jr., a pastor from the nearby city of Hattiesburg, told the crowd.Sims and other speakers said Petal has long had a problem of police pulling over black drivers for little or no reason.Indianapolis Colts offensive lineman Javon Patterson and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Anthony Alford both criticized Marx on social media.“You know as a former resident of Petal ... this is truly disturbing to see,” Patterson tweeted, attaching a screenshot of a Facebook post where Marx again said, “If you can talk you can breathe.”"How could you watch this disturbing video and make such an idiotic comment. But this guy is supposed to be the leader of ‘the friendly city,'” Alford, a Petal High School alumnus, wrote on Facebook. “This is why it's important to vote people. You don't want people like Mayor Hal Marx in charge.”Marx's Twitter account no longer exists.The Petal Board of Aldermen held a special meeting Thursday, voting unanimously to ask for Marx's resignation, the Clarion Ledger reported.“Recently, Mayor Hal Marx has taken to social media and repeatedly made comments that have isolated, enraged and belittled individuals in a way that is unbecoming to our city,” Aldermen Clint Moore read from a statement.Residents also called for his resignation, and protests are planned for the coming days. As Marx addressed the meeting, audience members shouted over him.“You already have your minds made up about me,” he said.Marx, who was first elected mayor in 2009 and entertained a run for governor in 2019, told the Hattiesburg American earlier this week that his remarks were misconstrued as racist, and that he was trying to caution people “to get all the facts before they judge” the police.At Thursday's meeting, he said he and his family had received death threats and called people asking for resignation bullies.“I will never surrender to the mob mentality,” he said. In Mississippi, elected officials can only be removed from office if they've committed felonies.Myla Cox grew up in Petal, a city of a little more than 10,000 people just east of Hattiesburg. She said she's been judged at her college, Brown University, because of her hometown.“Everybody looked down on me because they saw the type of people that run my city, specially you,” the newspaper quoted her as addressing Marx. “For you to come here today and say that we are bullies, and you to not hold accountability for your statements that we clearly do no agree with already shows what type of person you are.”The Associated Press

  • MLA says Alberta man visited Hay River, didn't self-isolate
    News
    CBC

    MLA says Alberta man visited Hay River, didn't self-isolate

    People in the southern N.W.T. are worried about who's coming over the border, and potentially carrying COVID-19.In the legislature Thursday, Hay River South MLA Rocky Simpson described an example he heard Wednesday, about a man who came from Alberta claiming to be an essential worker, then visited several job sites attempting to sell mechanic tools.  "As far as I know, the person did not self-isolate and visited businesses around the community," Simpson said. He also pointed out that Hay River has businesses that sell tools. "We have a retailer that has his own truck filled with tools and he is sitting at home because he is following our rules." Simpson said the story was just one example of the kind of thing he's hearing a lot. Another is of a former resident who had returned to the community after years in the South, though Simpson said he believed that person was self-isolating. "With all the complaints we hear," Simpson said, "we could continue these types of statements until a vaccine is found for COVID-19." 'Very disturbing'The N.W.T. imposed a broad ban on travel into the territory on March 21, with exemptions for returning residents and essential workers, who would be required to self-isolate for 14-days upon arrival. The rules were further tightened on April 27. "The case you cited … is very disturbing to me," said Diane Thom, the minister of Health and Social Services, during question period Thursday. She vowed to look into the incident. Travelers carrying the novel coronavirus now pose the biggest threat to remote regions like the N.W.T. The danger is illustrated by the case of a New Brunswick doctor who failed to self-isolate after traveling to Quebec for personal reasons. He eventually developed the illness, sparking a new outbreak of COVID-19 and exposing at least 150 people in a region that had few active cases. 'Not in a bubble'Simpson said he's worried about N.W.T. residents traveling south during the summer months and getting lax with self-isolation upon return. "The last thing we want to do is turn our residents into criminals." Minister Thom said the compliance and enforcement task force is prepared for that, and working closely with officers at the borders to keep a lid on it. Premier Caroline Cochrane addressed the same issue on Wednesday. "That is my biggest worry for this whole summer, is people think that we are in this bubble," she said. "We are not in a bubble." Cochrane said she's counting on residents to report people breaking the order by calling the Protect NWT enforcement line at 1-833-378-8297 or emailing protectnwt@gov.nt.ca.

  • New drugs make headway against lung, prostate, colon cancers
    Health
    The Canadian Press

    New drugs make headway against lung, prostate, colon cancers

    Doctors are reporting success with newer drugs that control certain types of cancer better, reduce the risk it will come back and make treatment simpler and easier to bear.Gentler drugs would be a relief to patients like Jenn Carroll, a 57-year-old human resources director from New Hartford, Connecticut, who had traditional IV chemotherapy after lung cancer surgery in 2018.“It was very strong. I call it the ‘blammo’ method,” she said.Carroll jumped at the chance to help test a newer drug taken as a daily pill, AstraZeneca’s Tagrisso. Rather than chemo’s imprecise cell-killing approach, Tagrisso targets a specific gene mutation. Its side effects are manageable enough that it can be used for several years to help prevent recurrence, doctors said.A big drawback: It and other newer drugs are extremely expensive — $150,000 or more a year. How much patients end up paying depends on insurance, income and other factors.Here are highlights of that study and others from an American Society of Clinical Oncology conference being held online this weekend because of the coronavirus pandemic.LUNG CANCERLung cancer kills more than 1.7 million people globally each year. Dr. Roy Herbst of the Yale Cancer Center led a study of Tagrisso in 682 patients with the most common form of the disease. All had operable tumors with a mutation in a gene called EGFR that’s found in 10% to 35% of cases, especially among Asians and non-smokers.About half had standard chemo after surgery and then took Tagrisso or placebo pills. Independent monitors stopped the study last month when the drug’s benefit seemed clear.After two years on average, 89% of patients on the drug were alive without a cancer recurrence versus 53% on placebo. Severe side effects were a little more common on Tagrisso — mostly diarrhea, fatigue and inflamed skin around nails or in the mouth.Tagrisso is approved for treating advanced lung cancer, and “the excitement now is moving this earlier” before the disease has widely spread, said Herbst, who has consulted for the drug’s maker.The drug costs about $15,000 a month.PROSTATE CANCERMen with advanced prostate cancer often are treated with medicines to suppress male hormones that can help the cancer grow. The drugs are given as shots every few months but take days or weeks to start working and can cause an initial flare of bone pain and urinary or other problems.Researchers tested Myovant Sciences’s relugolix — a different type of hormone blocker and the first that’s a daily pill — versus leuprolide shots every three months in 930 men treated for nearly a year.About 97% on the experimental drug kept hormones suppressed throughout that time versus 89% on leuprolide. Four days after the start of treatment, 56% of men on relugolix and none on leuprolide had hormones suppressed.A heart attack, stroke or other serious heart problem occurred in 3% of men on relugolix and in 6% of men on leuprolide. The difference was even greater among men with prior heart problems.That could be important because heart disease is a frequent cause of death in men with prostate cancer, according to Dr. Celestia Higano of the University of Washington in Seattle. She had no role in the study and wrote in a commentary published with the results in the New England Journal of Medicine.Myovant is seeking Food and Drug Administration approval for the drug; no cost estimate has been disclosed.COLON CANCERMerck & Co.’s blockbuster Keytruda, which helps the immune system find and fight cancer, proved better than standard chemo combinations as initial treatment for people with advanced colon cancer and tumors with gene defects that result in a high number of mutations, making them tough to treat.The study involved 307 patients in France. Those given Keytruda went more than 16 months on average before their cancer worsened compared with 8 months for those on chemo. After a year, 55% on Keytruda were alive without worsening cancer versus 37% on chemo. After two years, it was 48% versus nearly 19%.About 22% of people getting Keytruda had severe side effects versus 66% on chemo.About 5% of colon cancers are like those in this study, said Dr. Howard Burris, president of the oncology society and head of the Sarah Cannon Research Institute in Nashville.“If you’re one of that one in 20, instead of taking that combination chemotherapy you can take a simpler immunotherapy once every two weeks” with better results and fewer side effects, he said.Keytruda costs about $12,500 a month.___Marilynn Marchione can be followed on Twitter: @MMarchioneAP___The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press

  • Foreign powers in Libya risk ever bloodier stalemate
    News
    Reuters

    Foreign powers in Libya risk ever bloodier stalemate

    As Turkish drones helped drive eastern Libyan forces back from Tripoli this month, Russia was said to be reinforcing them with warplanes, raising the stakes in a stalemated civil war that has partitioned the country. Eastern commander Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army (LNA) now face the likely failure of their year-long effort to capture Tripoli, seat of the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA). Backed by the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Egypt with arms, mercenaries and air strikes, according to U.N. experts, Haftar had last summer advanced into Tripoli's southern suburbs before his offensive stalled.

  • OPINION | Kenney will end state of public health emergency June 15. Let's hope COVID-19 is amenable
    News
    CBC

    OPINION | Kenney will end state of public health emergency June 15. Let's hope COVID-19 is amenable

    Premier Jason Kenney is tired of the COVID-19 pandemic.And who isn't?But Kenney is so tired of it that he's started to call it something else: an influenza.During debate in the legislature on Wednesday, Kenney referred to the virus as "an influenza of this nature." This was no slip of the tongue. He used the term "influenza" six times.It's a curious, perhaps troubling, choice of words. While COVID-19 and influenza are both respiratory illnesses, COVID-19 is not the flu. It is a novel coronavirus that is more contagious and more deadly than the flu. But less understood. There is no treatment or vaccine for it.People who deliberately conflate the two tend to be those trying to diminish the danger of COVID-19 while loudly demanding life to return to normal. Those include gun-toting protesters in Michigan, delusional beach-goers along the Gulf Coast, and U.S. President Donald Trump.It is surprising to hear it from Kenney, particularly when he has been so careful to follow the advice of health experts, especially the province's chief medical health officer, Dr. Deena Hinshaw.But Kenney is starting to pivot.After 10 weeks of science taking the lead, politics is back in the driver's seat.It was bound to happen, sooner or later.Chief medical officer caught off guardKenney signalled the shift Wednesday by announcing the province's state of public emergency would be allowed to lapse on June 15. Interestingly, he didn't bother to inform Dr. Hinshaw, who was caught flat-footed at her regular COVID-19 update a few hours later when reporters asked her about Kenney's statement."I haven't had the opportunity to have that conversation," said Hinshaw. "So I think that might be a question best addressed to the premier in terms of that particular information."When asked by NDP Leader Rachel Notley during question period why he hadn't talked with Hinshaw, Kenney ducked the question.Later, Kenney's office said the matter of a public health emergency is a government decision. That is certainly true. But that doesn't explain why Kenney, who declared the emergency on March 17 after talking with Hinshaw, wouldn't ask her advice before letting it lapse. Or, at the very least, give her a courtesy call before announcing his decision to the world so she wouldn't look like she had been snubbed.Perhaps it's because Kenney is still smarting from following her advice two weeks ago when he agreed to delay the reopening of businesses in Calgary and Brooks because they were COVID-19 hotspots. Owners of restaurants and bars that had stocked food and hired staff in anticipation of welcoming customers were furious at being kept closed. No doubt, having to watch Edmonton reopen as planned just rubbed salt in their wound.Hinshaw was simply doing her job and following the science. It was Kenney who had to deal with the political fallout. And for him, it must feel at times like an avalanche.Kenney approval rating 48 per centAn Angus Reid poll released on Wednesday indicates Kenney has the second-lowest approval rating of Canada's premiers. His 48-per-cent rating is one point above last-place Brian Pallister of Manitoba and far below the number one premier, New Brunswick's Blaine Higgs at 80 per cent. Ontario's Premier Doug Ford, who has suffered low ratings since his election in 2018, has seen his popularity soar to 69 per cent.This must be galling for Kenney, who positioned himself as a sleeves-rolled-up, war-time leader at the height of the pandemic and whose government has handled the crisis remarkably well, managing to flatten the curve of new cases.But Alberta was also home to the largest COVID-19 hotspot in Canada with the outbreak at the Cargill meat-packing plant near High River.And Kenney has had a running dispute with the province's physicians who, through the Alberta Medical Association, have launched a $250-million lawsuit against the province. Never a good look for a government during a pandemic.Kenney is being squeezed from both sides politically — from the NDP on the left who say he hasn't done enough to protect Albertans from the pandemic and from conservatives on the right who say he's done too much to shut down the economy.And then there's the messy history of Alberta politics, where ornery voters are liable to turn against bad-luck premiers who govern during recessions (hello Don Getty, Ed Stelmach and Rachel Notley). Kenney campaigned on a promise of jobs, a better economy and more pipelines but has been unable to deliver. The pandemic and disastrously low oil prices are not his fault but Albertans have never rewarded deficit, debt or depressions.According to the Conference Board of Canada, Alberta's economy will shrink by an "historic" seven per cent this year, the largest drop in the country.Kenney told reporters Thursday he wasn't trying to diminish the seriousness of COVID-19 by calling it the flu. He said he was trying to put its risks in context. As both he and Hinshaw have pointed out, the vast majority of fatalities are among the elderly and frail. Kenney is focused on protecting them while struggling to get the rest of the province back to normal as soon as possible.Of course, COVID-19 — a novel coronavirus that is not the flu — might yet have something to say about that.

  • Trudeau acknowledges 'anti-black racism' in U.S., with 'work to do in Canada'
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Trudeau acknowledges 'anti-black racism' in U.S., with 'work to do in Canada'

    WASHINGTON — America's anger, frustration and discord boiled over in Minnesota's Twin Cities and spread across the country Friday at a remarkable moment in the history of the United States, sparked by the collision of racial injustice, freedom of expression and the worst public health crisis of the last 100 years.After more than two months of pandemic-induced, self-imposed exile, protesters in Minneapolis — some wearing face masks not to conceal their identities, but to ward off COVID-19 — laid waste to city streets after the police killing Monday of George Floyd, an unarmed black man.His torturous eight final minutes of life were spent begging for mercy, a white police officer kneeling on his neck.The rage appeared contagious. As evening gave way to night on the East Coast and an 8 p.m. curfew approached in Minneapolis, multitudes of protesters massed in various cities in a show of solidarity. In Atlanta, violence erupted; protesters set fire to a police cruiser, pelted officers with bottles and smashed patrol car windows with pieces of barricade.In Washington, D.C., people gathered outside the White House to register their anger, while in New York City, demonstrators rained plastic water bottles down on police, who responded with blasts of pepper spray. But the flashpoint was Minneapolis, where a police station was among the structures that went up in flames after staff abandoned the premises of Precinct 3, which was subsequently overrun by protesters. Early Friday, CNN reporter Omar Jimenez, who is black, was arrested on live television and led away in handcuffs, as were members of his crew.All of them were released a short time later following an abject apology from Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, who characterized the arrest as a mistake.By early afternoon, Derek Chauvin, the officer who is seen on cellphone video pressing Floyd's neck to the ground, was himself arrested and facing charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter, prosecutors said. Activists vowed to keep up their fight until all four officers involved were in police custody.All of it prompted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, unbidden, to do something he rarely does: comment publicly on another country's domestic affairs."Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it's in the United States, but it's also in Canada," Trudeau said Friday as he wrapped up his daily briefing outside his home at Rideau Cottage in Ottawa.More than once he used the term "anti-black racism," a specific phrase that black communities have long advocated for in order to distinguish the express injustices black people face in Canada and around the world from other forms of discrimination."We need as a society to stand together, to stand up against discrimination, to be there for each other in respect, but also understand that we have work to do as well in Canada in our systems that we need to work forward on," Trudeau said. "I call on all Canadians — whether it's anti-black racism or anti-Asian racism or racism discrimination of any type, to stand together in solidarity, to be there for each other and know just how deeply people are being affected by what we see on the news these past few days."Racial unrest, often sparked by deadly police action against black Americans, is nothing new in the U.S. But in a polarized country near the end of Donald Trump's fractious and controversial first term, its economy now plumbing Great Depression depths in the midst of a pandemic that has claimed more than 100,000 lives, the conflict feels like a new low-water mark.It's not just Minneapolis. Earlier in the week, protesters in New York City defied pandemic-related bans on public gatherings, while demonstrators blocked traffic in downtown Denver and downtown Columbus, Ohio. Demonstrators also took to the streets in Los Angeles and Memphis, Tenn.And in Louisville, Ky., police confirmed at least seven people had been shot Thursday night as protesters demanded justice for Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was fatally shot by police in her home in March."This is a moment where we don't feel like we're sort of northern Americans, that we're kind of like the Americans, because this comes from a place that does not compute for us, and that we don't share," said Chris Sands, a Canada-U.S. scholar and head of the Canada Institute at the Washington-based Wilson Center."Moments like this are always profound — and profound for the way in which they set us apart." Trump drove that point home overnight when he promised a hard line against the "thugs" who were wreaking havoc — "when the looting starts, the shooting starts," he tweeted.Twitter responded with the unprecedented step of censoring the president of the United States, blocking — but not deleting — a tweet the social media platform said was "glorifying violence."Later Friday, what was billed as a news conference in the Rose Garden resulted only in the president delivering a statement on China, Hong Kong and the World Health Organization, refusing to answer questions or acknowledge the unfolding crisis in Minnesota.He later explained that the tweet wasn't meant as a threat, but rather that people get killed when looting takes place. And he said he spoke to Floyd's family and offered his sorrow for their loss."That was just a horrible thing to witness and to watch ... It certainly looked like there was no excuse for it," Trump said. "They were grieving."A number of the protesters in Minneapolis were taking action "for the right reason" and "out of sorrow," he added, while those who engaged in wanton violence and destruction of property "did a great disservice" to the country. Walz called his state's response to the violence an "abject failure" and promised to ensure destruction in the streets does not distract from the ultimate goal of those protesting peacefully: swift justice for the officers involved in Floyd's death."Minneapolis and St. Paul are on fire. The fire is still smouldering in our streets. The ashes are symbolic of decades and generations of pain, of anguish unheard," he said."Generations of pain is manifesting itself in front of the world — and the world is watching."Canadians could be forgiven for thinking that the election of Barack Obama in 2007 was going to usher in a new period of racial peace in the U.S., Sands said — and for wondering now where it all went wrong."There was a feeling that maybe you're in a new era, in a very positive way. And for a variety of reasons, that didn't seem to coalesce," he said."Now all of a sudden you're like, 'Well, wait a minute, what happened?' So I think that that is also part of it, too. Maybe we should be grateful that Canadians often hope for the best in America. We do have a good side."This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2020.— With files from The Associated Press—Follow James McCarten on Twitter @CdnPressStyleJames McCarten, The Canadian Press

  • Partygoer at Missouri's Lake of Ozarks positive for COVID-19
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Partygoer at Missouri's Lake of Ozarks positive for COVID-19

    OSAGE BEACH, Mo. — Health officials said Friday that they were seeking to “inform mass numbers of unknown people” after a person who attended crowded pool parties over Memorial Day weekend at Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks tested positive for COVID-19.Camden County Health Department said in a release that the resident of Boone County in mid-Missouri tested positive on Sunday after arriving at the lake area a day earlier. Officials said there have been no reported cases of the virus linked to coronavirus in residents of Camden County, where the parties seen in videos and photos posted on social media took place.Because “mass numbers of unknown people” need to be notified, the officials released a brief timeline of the person's whereabouts last weekend, including stops at a bar called Backwater Jacks, a bar and restaurant that has a pool, as well as a dining and pool venue called Shady Gators and Lazy Gators.Backwater Jacks owner Gary Prewitt said previously in a statement that no laws were broken, though the images appeared to show people violating Republican Gov. Mike Parson’s state order requiring social distancing.Parson allowed businesses and attractions to reopen May 4, but the state order requires 6-foot (2-meter) social distancing through at least the end of May.The Associated Press

  • Tory calls on employers to embrace work from home 'until September at the earliest'
    Health
    CBC

    Tory calls on employers to embrace work from home 'until September at the earliest'

    Toronto Mayor John Tory is calling on the city's employers to continue work-from-home initiatives until at least September, a plan that many major companies and organizations have already agreed on.Tory stressed the need for coordination amid the novel coronavirus crisis, and said keeping people away from their offices will be an important part of the city's recovery."We are finding ways to live with the continuing threat posed by COVID-19," Tory said at the city's daily pandemic briefing on Friday."We will continue to prioritize remote work."Tory lauded what he called the "unprecedented cooperation," among many of Toronto's largest employers, including major financial, insurance and communications companies, as well as post-secondary institutions.You can see a list of employers who have agreed to the plan here.Keeping more workers at home will help the city manage stress on its transit system and help prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in places like offices and elevators, officials said."Your collective efforts are helping to protect the health of our city," said Dr. Eileen de Villa, Toronto's medical officer of health."You are saving lives."Employees of financial and insurance companies account for about 12 per cent of Toronto's public transit riders, while more than half of the students at downtown post-secondary campuses use transit, according to figures provided by the city.Keeping as many people off transit as possible will be of critical importance in the coming months, Tory said, as the TTC expects physical distancing on its vehicles will become impossible in the near future.Prominent doctor says contact tracing a continuing struggleA Toronto critical care doctor says the city is still struggling to perform adequate contact tracing for COVID-19, including at least one recent case involving a person considered a high risk for spreading the virus.Dr. Michael Warner, the medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital, said he was "disappointed" after his reaching out to Toronto Public Health about a patient earlier this week."I was told that contact tracing would start right away. Unfortunately, when I called the patient's family more than 24 hours later ... they had yet to be contacted by public health," he told CBC Toronto."There's really no point in informing public health that you have a patient who you think has COVID, unless the contact tracing starts right away."The patient, who is not being identified due to privacy considerations, arrived at Michael Garron with symptoms consistent with COVID-19, a diagnosis which was later confirmed in a test.The patient's job involves contact with the public, Warner said, making the need for swift contact tracing especially critical.Toronto Public Health has already faced criticism during the novel coronavirus crisis for failing to conduct contact tracing for dozens of confirmed patients.De Villa could not comment specifically about Warner's concerns, but she said there are instances where contact tracers try to call people but cannot reach them in time."Sometimes the lack of success in terms of connecting with individuals isn't for lack of trying," she said."We set fairly high standards for ourselves and [are] seeking to ensure we are as timely as possible."Warner, who has emerged as one of Toronto's most outspoken doctors during the pandemic, said the creation of a robust and reliable contact tracing apparatus is needed before further restrictions are lifted."We can't reopen the economy first, if these very basic functions cannot be executed in a timely manner," he said.While contact tracing is considered the responsibility of local health units, the province says it is doing more to help municipalities struggling to keep up with cases.Ontario Premier Doug Ford said on Friday the province now boasts around 2,000 contact tracers."We have an army," he said at an announcement unveiling Ontario's latest testing strategy.YMCA cancels day camps for the summerOn Friday evening, the YMCA announced the cancellation of its planned YMCA Day Camp and Club programs this summer. "For everyone's safety, busing will also be cancelled for the duration of the summer," the YMCA said in a statement. "Our plan is to replace our current summer programs with a new summer program model based on the new guidelines. "Registered families will be refunded for the full balance of their YMCA Day Camp and/or Summer Club fees over the next four weeks," the statement reads.Toronto's latest COVID-19 statistics show 10,901 total cases since the start of the pandemic, 2,005 of which are active, along with 810 deaths.The city also released detailed geographic data about the spread of the virus this week.

  • Racism In Canada Is Ever-Present, But We Have A Long History Of Denial
    News
    HuffPost Canada

    Racism In Canada Is Ever-Present, But We Have A Long History Of Denial

    It's tempting for Canadians to fall back on the idea that we're not as racist as Americans.

  • COVID-19 in Canada: Ontario, Alberta unveil new testing plans, PM considers shift in Canada-U.S. border restrictions
    News
    Yahoo News Canada

    COVID-19 in Canada: Ontario, Alberta unveil new testing plans, PM considers shift in Canada-U.S. border restrictions

    As cases of COVID-19 continue to spread around the world, Canadians are concerned about their health and safety.

  • B.C. RCMP Seek Suspect In Attack On Senior
    News
    HuffPost Canada Video

    B.C. RCMP Seek Suspect In Attack On Senior

    RCMP in Burnaby, B.C. are asking the public to help identify someone who tripped an elderly women on April 3, 2020 without any apparent provocation. (Video courtesy B.C. RCMP)