St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador is no stranger to foggy conditions.
St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador is no stranger to foggy conditions.
Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) now says the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months in order to boost the number of Canadians being vaccinated. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, that means going from a three week interval to a full four months. "NACI recommends that in the context of limited COVID-19 vaccine supply, jurisdictions should maximize the number of individuals benefiting from the first dose of vaccine by extending the second dose of COVID-19 vaccine up to four months after the first," the committee said in a statement. Prior to this new recommendation, NACI had said that the maximum interval between the first and second shots of the Moderna vaccine should be four weeks, the interval for the Pfizer-BioNTech product should be three weeks and the interval for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine should be 12 weeks. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. Since first doses of all three vaccines have been shown to dramatically increase immunity to the disease, or to significantly reduce the illness associated with contracting COVID-19, the committee said stretching the interval would help protect more Canadians sooner. NACI said that it reviewed evidence from two clinical trials that looked at how effective the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were after a single dose. Those studies, NACI said, showed the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines started providing some level of protection 12 to 14 days after the first dose. By the time the second dose was administered — 19 to 42 days after the first — the first shot was shown to be 92 per cent effective. Population studies find lower protection Outside of clinical trials, NACI looked at the effectiveness of a single shot of these two vaccines in the populations of Quebec, British Columbia, Israel, the United Kingdom and the United States. NACI said that analysis showed the effectiveness of a single dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine was between 70 per cent and 80 per cent among health care workers, long-term care residents, elderly populations and the general public. "While this is somewhat lower than the efficacy demonstrated after one dose in clinical trials, it is important to note that vaccine effectiveness in a general population setting is typically lower than efficacy from the controlled setting of a clinical trial, and this is expected to be the case after series completion as well," NACI said. The committee said that published data from an AstraZeneca clinical trial indicated that delaying the second dose 12 weeks or more provided better protections against symptomatic disease compared to shorter intervals between doses. Earlier this week, before NACI changed its interval advice, B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Henry said data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control and countries around the world showed a "miraculous" protection level of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Moderna or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The head of Moderna's Canadian operations, Patricia Gauthier, said Monday that the company's own trials, and the conditions under which the vaccine was approved by Health Canada, are tied to a four-week interval. "That being said, we're in times of pandemic and we can understand that there are difficult decisions to be made," Gauthier said. "This then becomes a government decision. We stand by the product monograph approved by Health Canada, but governments ... can make their own decisions." Gauthier said she was not aware of any studies done or led by Moderna on what happens when the interval between the first and second doses is changed from four weeks to four months. 'We have to do it safely and watch carefully' Dr. David Naylor, who has been named to a federal task force charged with planning a national campaign to see how far the virus has spread, said the data have been "very encouraging." "The evidence is there for the concept of further delay," Naylor told CBC News Network's Power & Politics today. "We [had] trial data from earlier showing that going out from 90 days, a single dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective. So things are triangulating." He said health officials need to pay close attention to the data coming out of other countries to determine if the protection provided by the first dose remains strong four months after it was administered. "We do it because we can cover more people with a single dose of the vaccine, spread the protection, prevent more severe disease and prevent fatalities, and the evidence is clear that that's what you can do if you spread those doses out widely. But we have to do it safely and watch carefully," Naylor told host Vassy Kapelos. Watch: The evidence is there for the 'concept of further delay' of second doses: Dr. Naylor: Storage and transport recommendations also changed Health Canada also announced today that after reviewing a submission from Pfizer-BioNTech, it would authorize changes to the way the vaccine is handled in Canada. The new rules allow the vaccine to be stored and transported in a standard freezer with a temperature of between -25 C and -15 C for up to two weeks, instead of the previous requirement that it be stored in ultra-cold conditions of -80 C to -60 C. Vials of the vaccine stored or transported at this higher temperature for no longer than two weeks remain stable and safe and can then be returned to ultra-cold freezers once, said the department.
Un convoi composé d'un autobus et d'une vingtaine de voitures s'est rendu, le 3 mars, à l'Hôpital de la Cité-de-la-Santé de Laval pour manifester son appui envers le personnel de la santé. «Ça fait maintenant un an qu'ils sont au travail à combattre cette pandémie, mentionne Sonia Ethier, présidente de la Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) qui a organisé l'événement. Nous voulions saluer leur travail et leur rappeler à quel point ils sont importants.» L'événement était organisé conjointement avec la Fédération de la Santé du Québec (FSQ-CSQ) et la Fédération du personnel de soutien scolaire (FPSS-CSQ). «Les employés des services de garde d'urgence ont aussi fait un travail remarquable, ajoute Mme Ethier. Ils arrivent tôt et partent tard du travail, tout en ayant une responsabilité importante. Ils travaillent sans relâche au détriment de leur santé et au risque de ramener le virus à la maison.» Les membres présents sur place n'ont d'ailleurs pas manqué l'occasion de faire du bruit à plusieurs reprises pour se faire entendre par leurs collègues qui travaillent à l'intérieur des installations de la Cité-de-la-Santé. La CSQ a aussi profité de cette occasion pour rappeler que les négociations des nouvelles conventions collectives n'avançaient pas. Les organisations syndicales souhaitent d'ailleurs que le gouvernement provincial améliore leurs conditions de travail. «Après un an et demi de négociations, il n’y a toujours aucun article de signé, affirme Claire Montour, présidente de la FSQ-CSQ. Nous avons rejeté à l’unanimité une proposition globale. Nous n’avons pas fait ça par caprice, mais bien parce que nous voulons obtenir de meilleures conditions de travail, une vraie reconnaissance du travail d’infirmière, d'infirmière auxiliaire et d'inhalothérapeute.» Mme Ethier précise quant à elle que le regroupement syndical avait réajusté ses demandes au printemps dernier pour prendre en compte le contexte économique auquel la province doit faire face en raison de la pandémie. Cela n'a toutefois pas mené vers un débouché dans les négociations. «On est ici pour demander du respect pour notre personnel, conclut-elle. On veut un ratio personnel-patients, des équipes stables et la fin du temps supplémentaire obligatoire. On veut arrêter de se promener dans tous les sens et mettre fin aux agences de placement. Nicholas Pereira, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval
When Louise Rice learned her ill father had only a short time to live, she scrambled to travel from her home in Quebec to be by his side at the Edmundston, N.B., hospital where he had been admitted a few weeks earlier for a lung condition. But during the final hours of her father's life, she was stuck in the parking lot of Edmundston Regional Hospital, prevented from going inside to say a final goodbye because she did not have the right paperwork to obtain the rapid COVID-19 test necessary to enter the premises. "I was in the car. I was there. And then he was gone," Rice told Radio-Canada. Rice crossed the provincial border without incident on the morning of Jan. 15, and after hospital staff told her to hurry because her father did not have much longer to live, she went straight to the hospital. When she arrived, she was told she needed to pass a rapid COVID-19 test to enter the palliative care unit. The hospital had a trailer in the parking lot for testing — but when she arrived there, she was told: no paperwork, no test. Registration in advance was required to get the test, so she began frantically trying to complete that process. "I was on the phone; I was online; I did three or four applications," the Quebec City resident said. Rapid tests often used for symptomatic individuals Robert Rice died at about 9:30 p.m. AT on Jan. 15 with his daughter a few hundred metres away. Rice, a lawyer who had served on the New Brunswick Court of Appeal, was 90. His daughter said she doesn't understand why a rapid test would be the measure in determining whether or not she could be by his bedside. Public Health has said rapid tests are useful for screening but are meant to be used primarily for symptomatic people. If there is no time to self-isolate before an imminent death, visitors to the Edmundston Regional Hospital need a negative COVID-19 rapid test to enter.(Bernard LeBel/Radio-Canada) "Dress me in a hospital gown, anything. I wouldn't touch anyone, but let me touch the hand of my father to tell him I'm there and love him," Rice said. "No human being deserves to live through this — especially not my father." Robert Rice was a long-time lawyer in the Edmundston area and ended his career on the New Brunswick Court of Appeal. He was a resident of Lac Baker and spent time living in Fredericton. Health authorities criticized New Brunswick's regional health authorities have faced criticism for strict hospital visitation rules over the past month, with several instances of family members unable to see dying or severely ill relatives. In one situation, an 80-year-old was kicked out of the hospital for holding her husband's hand. WATCH | Daughter recalls day her father died while she was kept outside hospital The province recently revised rules to allow expanded visits during the orange phase of COVID-19 restrictions. But for people entering from outside the province, the rules are more complicated. Vitalité Health Network, of which Edmundston Regional Hospital is a part, told CBC News if there is no time to isolate before an imminent death, out-of-province visitors should make arrangements with the hospital for a rapid test. Spokesperson Thomas Lizotte said family members must wait for the result outside the hospital and can enter once a negative result has been received. Visitors must wear personal protective equipment and can only visit one time in the 24 hours after the negative test. Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said it is 'heartbreaking' that family members are being denied the chance to see their dying relatives.(Ed Hunter/CBC) Little time to make arrangements Health Minister Dorothy Shephard called a situation such as Rice's "heartbreaking" and said she will work with the health authorities to see what obstacles remain in place. "Certainly, when we have individual circumstances that are dire, I think we would like to help in any way we can," she said at a news conference Wednesday. When Rice's health started to deteriorate rapidly, his family was left with about 12 hours to come to his bedside. It left little time for his daughter to navigate crossing the provincial border and arranging a rapid test. At the time of Rice's death, the Edmundston region had been in the highly restrictive red phase of COVID recovery for more than two weeks. No visits were allowed for hospital patients except for palliative care. Rice was not moved to that unit until the morning of the day he died. No family members were present. "What devastated me the most, and what I find the most inhumane, is that my father spent two and a half weeks alone," Rice said.
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia will get 13,000 doses of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine next week. Health officials said today the upcoming shipment must be used by April 2 and therefore all 13,000 doses will be administered to residents across the province aged 50 to 64 years starting March 15. The vaccine will be given out at 26 locations in Nova Scotia on a first come, first served basis. Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended Tuesday that it not be administered to people 65 years of age or older. Oxford-AstraZeneca’s vaccine was found to be 62 per cent effective in clinical trials, unlike the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines, which boast effectiveness rates of over 90 per cent. Officials say the delivery of the new vaccine won’t interfere with the scheduled rollout of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines for people aged 80 years and up. Health officials in Nova Scotia reported three new cases of COVID-19 today, all of which involve close contacts of previously reported cases. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
LONDON — Buckingham Palace said Wednesday it was launching an investigation after a newspaper reported that a former aide had made a bullying allegation against the Duchess of Sussex. The Times of London reported allegations that the duchess drove out two personal assistants and left staff feeling “humiliated.” It said an official complaint was made by Jason Knauf, then the communications secretary to Meghan and her husband, Prince Harry. He now works for Harry’s elder brother, Prince William. The palace said it was “clearly very concerned” about the allegations. It said in a statement that the palace human resources team “will look into the circumstances outlined in the article” and would seek to speak to current and former staff. “The Royal Household has had a Dignity at Work policy in place for a number of years and does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment in the workplace,” it said. American actress Meghan Markle, a former star of the TV legal drama “Suits,” married Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Their son, Archie, was born the following year. In early 2020, Meghan and Harry announced they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. They recently bought a house in Santa Barbara, California, and are expecting a second child. The bullying allegations were reported four days before the scheduled broadcast of an Oprah Winfrey interview with Meghan, which is anticipated to draw a huge audience. It also comes less than two weeks after the palace announced that the couple’s split from official duties would be final. A spokesman for the duchess said she was “saddened by this latest attack on her character, particularly as someone who has been the target of bullying herself and is deeply committed to supporting those who have experienced pain and trauma.” The Associated Press
Ahuntsic-Cartierville - La vaccination contre la COVID-19 semble prendre son envol sans trop de turbulences, malgré quelques petits problèmes dans les premiers jours de la campagne, notamment au site de vaccination des Galeries Normandie. En raison d’un problème informatique, entre 200 et 300 places excédentaires ont été ouvertes pour des rendez-vous cette fin de semaine au site de vaccination des Galeries Normandie. Le Centre intégré universitaire de santé et de services sociaux (CIUSSS) du Nord-de-l’Île-de-Montréal a donc dû contacter les personnes qui s’étaient inscrites à ces rendez-vous afin de les déplacer. Cette opération a nécessité le blocage de la prise de rendez-vous au site des Galeries Normandie pendant quelques heures mardi. Une lectrice du JDV avait contacté le JDV en constatant qu’on ne lui offrait par la possibilité de se faire vacciner à cet endroit. Le CIUSSS explique avoir pris le temps de joindre tous les usagers pour lesquels il fallait déplacer le rendez-vous avant de rouvrir les inscriptions aux Galeries Normandie. La résidante qui avait contacté le JDV a confirmé, par la suite, qu’elle avait finalement pu prendre rendez-vous pour sa vaccination aux Galeries Normandie. Des scènes de cohue avaient aussi été rapportées dans les premières heures de la campagne. On avait notamment vu des files importantes se former devant le centre de vaccination la semaine dernière.. L’approvisionnement en doses devrait s’accélérer dans les prochaines semaines, alors que le Canada vient d’approuver un troisième vaccin, celui d’Astra Zeneca. D’ici la mi-mars, le vaccin sera d’ailleurs également offert en pharmacie a annoncé le gouvernement du Québec. Si vous faites partie des groupes prioritaires déjà appelés, et que vous désirez prendre rendez-vous EN LIGNE pour vous faire vacciner, cliquez ici. Si vous faites partie des groupes prioritaires déjà appelés, et que vous désirez prendre rendez-vous PAR TÉLÉPHONE pour vous faire vacciner, cliquez ici. Simon Van Vliet, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal des voisins
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Legislators in more than 20 states have introduced bills this year that would ban transgender girls from competing on girls’ sports teams in public high schools. Yet in almost every case, sponsors cannot cite a single instance in their own state or region where such participation has caused problems. The Associated Press reached out to two dozen state lawmakers sponsoring such measures around the country as well as the conservative groups supporting them and found only a few times it’s been an issue among the hundreds of thousands of American teenagers who play high school sports. In South Carolina, for example, Rep. Ashley Trantham said she knew of no transgender athletes competing in the state and was proposing a ban to prevent possible problems in the future. Otherwise, she said during a recent hearing, “the next generation of female athletes in South Carolina may not have a chance to excel." In Tennessee, House Speaker Cameron Sexton conceded there may not actually be transgender students now participating in middle and high school sports; he said a bill was necessary so the state could be “proactive.” Some lawmakers didn't respond to AP's queries. Others in places like Mississippi and Montana largely brushed aside the question or pointed to a pair of runners in Connecticut. Between 2017 and 2019, transgender sprinters Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood combined to win 15 championship races, prompting a lawsuit. Supporters of transgender rights say the Connecticut case gets so much attention from conservatives because it’s the only example of its kind. “It’s their Exhibit A, and there’s no Exhibit B -- absolutely none,” said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and a prominent trans-rights attorney. The multiple sports bills, he says, address a threat that doesn’t exist. There’s no authoritative count of how many trans athletes have competed recently in high school or college sports. Neither the NCAA nor most state high school athletic associations collect that data; in the states that do collect it, the numbers are minimal: No more than five students currently in Kansas, nine in Ohio over five years. Transgender adults make up a small portion of the U.S. population, about 1.3 million as of 2016, according to the Williams Institute, a think-tank at the UCLA School of Law that specializes in research on LGBTQ issues. The two dozen bills making their way through state legislatures this year could be devastating for transgender teens who usually get little attention as they compete. In Utah, a 12-year-old transgender girl cried when she heard about the proposal, which would separate her from her friends. She’s far from the tallest girl on her club team, and has worked hard to improve her times but is not a dominant swimmer in her age group, her coach said. “Other than body parts I’ve been a girl my whole life,” she said. The girl and her family spoke with The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to avoid outing her publicly. Those who object to the growing visibility and rights for transgender people, though, argue new laws are needed to keep the playing field fair for cisgender girls. “When the law does not recognize differences between men and women, we’ve seen that women lose,” said Christiana Holcomb, an attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom, which filed the Connecticut lawsuit on behalf of four cisgender girls. One of those girls, Chelsea Mitchell, defeated Terry Miller -- the faster of the two trans sprinters -- in their final two races in February 2020 The ADF and others like it are the behind-the-scenes backers of the campaign, offering model legislation and a playbook to promote the bills most of them with common features and even titles, like the Save Women’s Sports Act. When asked for other examples of complaints about middle or high school transgender athletes, ADF and the Family Policy Alliance, cited two: One involved a Hawaii woman who coaches track and filed a complaint last year over a trans girl competing in girls’ volleyball and track. The other involved a cisgender girl in Alaska who defeated a trans sprinter in 2016, then appeared in a Family Policy Alliance video saying the trans girl’s third-place finish was unfair to runners who were further behind. Only one state, Idaho, has enacted a law curtailing trans students’ sports participation, and that 2020 measure is blocked by a court ruling. Chase Strangio, a transgender-rights attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, notes that in several states with proposed sports bans, lawmakers also are seeking to ban certain gender affirming health care for transgender young people “This is not about sports,” he said. ”It’s a way to attack trans people.” Some states' school athletic organizations already have rules about trans participation in sports: 19 states allow full inclusion of trans athletes; 16 have no clear-cut statewide policy; seven emulate the NCAA's rule by requiring hormone therapy for trans girls; and eight effectively ban trans girls from girls’ teams, according to attorney Asaf Orr of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Texas is among those with a ban, limiting transgender athletes to teams conforming with the gender on their birth certificate. That policy came under criticism in 2017 and 2018, when trans male Mack Beggs won state titles in girls’ wrestling competitions after he was told he could not compete as a boy. While Beggs, Miller and Yearwood were the focus of news coverage and controversy, trans athletes more commonly compete without any furor -- and with broad acceptance from teammates and competitors. In New Jersey’s Sussex County, trans 14-year-old Rebekah Bruesehoff competes on her middle school field hockey team and hopes to keep playing in high school. "It’s all been positive,” she said. “The coaches have been really helpful.” While New Jersey has a trans-inclusive sports policy, Rebekah is distressed by the proposed bans elsewhere – notably measures that might require girls to verify their gender. “I know what it’s like to have my gender questioned,” Rebekah said. “It’s invasive, embarrassing. I don’t want others to go through that.” The possibility that any athlete could have to undergo tests or examinations to prove their gender was among the reasons that Truman Hamburger, a 17-year-old high school student in North Dakota, showed up at the statehouse to protest a proposed ban. “Once you open up that door on gender policing, that’s not a door you can easily shut,” he said. Sarah Huckman, a 20-year-old sophomore at the University of New Hampshire, ran track and cross country for three years at Kingswood Regional High School in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, after coming out as trans in 7th grade. Huckman showed great talent in the sprints and hurdles, but was not dominant on a statewide level. In her senior year, she won several events in small and mid-size meets, and had 6th place and 10th place finishes in the Division II indoor state championships. The proposed bans appall her. “It’s so demeaning toward my group of people,” she said. “We’re all human beings. We do sports for the love of it.” ___ Associated Press reporters covering statehouses across the U.S. contributed to this report. David Crary And Lindsay Whitehurst, The Associated Press
The Acho Dene Koe First Nation (ADKFN) in Fort Liard has released its shortlist of nominees for its chief and council election set to take place on April 26. The First Nation posted the final list on Facebook on Tuesday night after nominations closed. There are a total of three eligible candidates running for the chief position, including current chief Eugene Hope. There are six council positions available, with 13 candidates running for a spot. Two candidates – previous ADKFN chief Floyd Bertrand, who was running for the position again, as well as Marlene Timbre, who was running for councillor – were both deemed ineligible according to the chief electoral officer's notice. The election has been postponed twice due to the pandemic. Federally introduced legislation allowed six-month extensions for First Nations elections to ensure leadership stability during the crisis. The election was further delayed by a cluster of COVID-19 cases that saw Fort Liard shut down all non-essential businesses in January, including ADKFN’s office. In order to provide time for those interested in running to pick up nomination forms, pay off outstanding dues, and ask questions at the First Nation office, the election date was duly changed from April 14 to April 26. Appeals regarding nominations must be made no later than March 9. Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
BENTONIA, Miss. — With callused hands, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes plucks an old acoustic guitar at the juke joint his parents started more than 70 years ago. He checks the cafe’s inventory: jars of pickled eggs, beef jerky, pork hocks. He tends to the wood-burning stove, made from an oil-field pipe. And every morning, he eventually settles in on a stool behind the counter, waiting — hoping — that someone who wants to hear him play will drop in. Holmes, 73, is the last Bentonia bluesman, the carrier of a dying musical and oral storytelling tradition born in this Mississippi town of less than 500 people. And now, he's a Grammy-nominated artist, with a recent nod in the Best Traditional Blues Album category for Cypress Grove, a record he hopes will help preserve the Bentonia blues long after he’s gone. The world has changed around Holmes and his Blue Front Café, the country's oldest surviving juke joint. Across the South, the venues — historically owned and frequented by African Americans — have shuttered as owners pass away. Blues experts believe Holmes is the only American running a juke joint owned by his parents. It's quiet outside the Blue Front, a small building with cinder block walls off a dusty rural Mississippi road. Across the street are the railroad tracks that run through Bentonia; next door sits an old cotton gin. It's here, at the Blue Front, that Holmes will watch the March 14 ceremony and learn whether he won the Grammy. He can't go in person because of the coronavirus pandemic, and that suits him just fine. He'll be surrounded by musicians from across Mississippi who want to play with him. “I’ll be here in this hole in the wall every day, for as long as I can, so that people don’t forget,” Holmes said. “We’re trying to make sure it doesn’t die.” ___ When the Blue Front opened in 1948, it was the first African American-owned retail business in Bentonia, then a majority-Black farming community. Holmes was just a baby. His parents, Carey and Mary, were sharecroppers. Mary ran the Blue Front during the day while Holmes worked with his father in the fields. By age 9, Holmes was operating a tractor by himself. The Holmeses' business was a community gathering place. People came to have their laundry pressed, get a haircut, or pick up salt, pepper and other nonperishables. And they came for the blues. Musicians lined up outside to play the Blue Front, with guitars strapped to their backs and harmonicas in their pockets. During cotton-picking season, the Blue Front was open 24 hours a day to accommodate farmworkers, who came in for a hot plate of Mary’s famous buffalo fish. On weekends, people stayed all night drinking moonshine, dancing and playing music. The town was never home to more than 600 residents, but its location on the Illinois Central Railway drew visitors. Later, the only roadway from Memphis to Jackson passed directly through Bentonia, furthering its popularity. Historians travelling through Mississippi to document blues musicians discovered Bentonia's style. It's described as haunting and eerie; its minor tonality isn't found in the better-known blues styles of Delta and hill country. Growing up, Holmes learned from his neighbour, "the father of the Bentonia blues." Henry Stuckey, an aging World War I veteran, played to entertain Holmes and his 13 siblings on their porch. The style is passed from one musician to the next — it can't be learned using sheet music. "The old-timers I learned from couldn't read, and they couldn't read sheet music," Holmes said — he doesn't read music, either. “They didn’t know what a count was, didn’t know about minors or sharps or open or closed tuning. They was just playing. They had no idea there was a musical language to what they were doing.” Dan Auerbach, producer of Cypress Grove and a member of the band the Black Keys, said the beauty of Holmes' music is the improvisation. Holmes never plays the same song twice. Each performance is a snapshot in time. “Those songs, they're like a living organism, almost. They're changing daily," he said. “You can feel the realness and the immediacy of the music. It’s very idiosyncratic, and that’s what makes it so special. “Now, in this day and age, it’s like everything’s homogenized and we’re all on the same server. Jimmy 'Duck' Holmes lives in a world that time forgot — it hasn’t changed.” —— Today, a four-lane highway diverts traffic away from Bentonia. Businesses of Holmes' youth have shuttered; buildings are torn down. More than a quarter of residents live under the poverty line. The train passes through town daily but doesn't stop. “People my age was tired of going to the cotton fields,” Holmes said. “As soon as they got a chance, they got away from Bentonia, to Chicago, California, New York. There wasn’t nothing here." Holmes never imagined leaving. He lives on the same farm where he was raised, about a mile from the Blue Front. His presence has become Bentonia's biggest draw. Visitors come from all over the world and the music industry to see him, to hear the music, and to learn the tradition. Before the pandemic, Mississippi musicians performed at the Blue Front every other Friday, sometimes more, playing different blues styles. In 1972, Holmes started an annual blues festival, now the longest-running in Mississippi. He holds Bentonia Blues workshops. And every day that he sits behind the counter at the Blue Front, he's willing to teach anyone who walks in. Some fans are surprised he's so accessible, said Robert Connely Farr, a Mississippi native who's been visiting Holmes for years for guitar tips, all the way from Vancouver. But for those who know Holmes, it makes perfect sense. “His whole goal in life is to give that sound away, is to perpetuate or further the Bentonia sound," Farr said. “I think it’s important to Jimmy, that his place is open and that it constantly has music. He wants there to be life in that building.” Holmes has performed in Europe, South America and across the U.S. He opened for the Black Keys in the nation's capital in 2019. But he always comes back home. “I would hate if someone took time out of their day to come see me, and I wasn't here,” he said. “I appreciate it, that people want to travel from Asia and Europe because they want to know about the blues. I like to be here when they come.” Two large portraits at his juke joint pay homage to his mentors, Stuckey and Jack Owens. Owens continued to teach Holmes after Stuckey died in 1966. “It was a blessed gift they gave to us,” Holmes said. “And they were so generous with it. What they gave us changed the world.” Holmes laments that no young people in Bentonia want to learn. They say it's too complicated. People don't appreciate how the blues influenced popular music today, how every genre has roots dating back to it, Holmes said. But he keeps spare guitars around the Blue Front, just in case someone wants to play. “It will survive somehow," Holmes said one gray morning in his empty juke joint. "I learned enough that I was able to carry it on, and probably once I’m gone, somebody will be sitting around here playing, someone who picked up the things that I was doing. I have to hope. I have to hope.” ___ Leah Willingham is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Leah Willingham, The Associated Press
SAN DIEGO — Former NFL player Kellen Winslow II was sentenced Wednesday to 14 years in prison for multiple rapes and other sexual offences against five women in Southern California, including one who was homeless when he attacked her in 2018. The 37-year-old son of San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame receiver Kellen Winslow appeared via videoconference at the hearing in San Diego Superior Court in Vista, a city north of San Diego. He declined to comment before his sentence, saying his lawyers had advised him not to speak. San Diego County Superior Court Judge Blaine Bowman said Winslow can only be described with “two words and that is sexual predator." He said he selected women who were vulnerable because of their age or their living situation with the idea that “hopefully he would get away with it in his mind." Winslow was once the highest-paid tight end in the league, earning more than $40 million over his 10 seasons before he left in 2013. The 14-year-sentence was the maximum allowed under a plea deal. He was convicted of forcible rape, rape of an unconscious person, assault with intent to commit rape, indecent exposure, and lewd conduct in public. The forcible rape involved a woman who was homeless in his home town of Encinitas, a beach community north of San Diego. She was among four of the women who gave statements Wednesday, including one victim who had the prosecutor read hers. All described suffering years after their attacks from fear and emotional trauma. The woman who was homeless called into the hearing via video conference from the San Diego County District Attorney's office, where she was watching the proceedings with another victim. She said since she was raped she has had trouble raising her head and walking, and she feels afraid constantly, checking under beds and in closets, and cannot be alone. “It's affecting my life every day and every night," she said. “I don’t ever feel safe inside or outside. You brought so much damage to my life." Winslow's attorney Marc Carlos said Winslow suffered from head trauma from the many blows to his head playing football, which can only explain why he “went off the rails" going from a star athlete to a convicted sexual predator. He said his client has accepted responsibility and intends to get help. Winslow was convicted of forcible rape and two misdemeanours — indecent exposure and a lewd act in public — after a trial in June 2019. But that jury failed to agree on other charges, including the alleged 2018 rape of a 54-year-old hitchhiker, and the 2003 rape of an unconscious 17-year-old high school senior who went to a party with him when he was 19. Before he was retried on those charges, he pleaded guilty to raping the teen and sexual battery of the hitchhiker. Those pleas spared him the possibility of life in prison. The father of two, whose wife filed for divorce after he was convicted, had faced up to 18 years in prison for all the charges. But both sides agreed to reduce the sexual battery charge to assault with intent to commit rape last month. That reduced the maximum sentence to 14 years. Julie Watson, The Associated Press
Northern Ontario is on high alert amid a rise in COVID-19 cases in the region that has hit the homeless community particularly hard. The health unit covering the Thunder Bay area returned to a lockdown this week after reporting more COVID-19 cases last month than in all of 2020. The Northwestern Health Unit, which covers the city of Kenora and other areas, says it’s closely watching the situation in Thunder Bay. It’s asking people to avoid travel to that city and to reduce contact with others for two weeks after returning home if they do. The health unit says it will hold a meeting with regional partners this week to discuss measures to prevent the virus from spreading among the homeless population. An Thunder Bay isolation centre for people exposed to or infected with COVID-19 is applying for extra funding after demand skyrocketed along with rising infections among the homeless. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
WHITEHORSE — Yukon's premier says COVID-19 vaccine uptake has been "fantastic" as just over half the territory's residents have received their first dose, but he's concerned about rising numbers of variants elsewhere in Canada. Sandy Silver says the territory is focusing on meeting its goal of vaccinating 75 per cent of the population to reach herd immunity before lifting current restrictions despite zero cases in Yukon. He says a clinic for everyone aged 18 and over opened in Whitehorse this week and mobile clinics are returning to smaller communities to provide second shots to people over 60. Silver says as of Monday, 11,503 Yukon residents had received their first shot while second shots were administered to about half that number. He joined chief medical health officer Dr. Brendan Hanley in saying numbers on vaccine uptake would not be provided for specific areas to prevent pitting communities against each other. Hanley is urging residents to continue taking all precautions as clinics go "full tilt" in the territory. "If cases, and particularly variants, lead to increased COVID our risk of importing variants will go up day by day," he says. Seventy-one Yukoners have recovered from the illness and one person has died since the pandemic began. Hanley says 850 people were immunized in the mass clinic on Tuesday, and he would be among those lining up for a shot in the arm on Wednesday. Yukon and other territories have received a higher allocation of vaccine doses because remote areas have limited access to specialized care. "While we recognize that immunizing the territories is the right thing to do for Canada this incredible opportunity should provide us with extra motivation to step up and get a vaccine," Hanley says. However, he says "vaccine hesitancy is a reality" and it will be important to address people's questions so they're comfortable being immunized in order to protect everyone. Hanley says despite four weeks without any active cases, the restrictions will remain because the territory is in a "nebulous" time and on guard against variants. "This is a huge consideration for us because regardless of whether we have zero or 10 cases right now we are always managing risk of importation," he says. "Vaccine uptake is so critical to getting to a place where we can be much more confident about being able to propose a solid framework for opening up." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
A semi-truck hit power lines in an alley in Regina, resulting in the lines, a power pole and a transformer being downed late Wednesday morning. Police say they were called at 11:57 a.m. CST to the 2500 block of Broad Street to assist the Regina Fire Department. The semi-truck downed a nearby power pole, transformer and lines. (Kirk Fraser/CBC) Regina Fire Department Deputy Chief Neil Sundeen said there was a minor fire in the downed transformer, but it was quickly put out. Sundeen said there were no injures in this incident. "Power lines are always a hazard, but our crews are trained," he said. "It just is an inconvenience to the people in the area." A transformer was brought down by the collision. (Kirk Fraser/CBC) SaskPower spokesperson Scott McGregor said this doesn't happen often, but when it does the Crown corporation takes it seriously. He said at about 2:50 p.m. CST that power was restored to most buildings and the Canadian Blood Bank nearby had been given a generator. He said the lines are still down but not energized, so there is no danger to the public. SaskPower expects power to be fully restored and cleanup to be finished by around 8:00 p.m. CST.
Residents may see a new roundabout in Paradise just a moment’s drive from the Topsail Road - McNamara Drive roundabout. “The provincial government is in the process of constructing a new intermediate school near the Diane Whalen Soccer Complex,” explained councillor Alan English. “Upgrades are required to the access road and the intersection at McNamara Drive. The current soccer complex access road would be upgraded with allowance for a future bypass road and the intersection at McNamara Road will be enhanced with an allowance for a two-lane roundabout in the future.” That soccer complex access road, which is marked by both a sign proudly announcing the land as the site of the new school and a sign promoting the soccer complex, is across from the Rotary Paradise Youth and Community Centre. To allow for the upgrades, the town has to purchase a portion of a piece of land referred to as ‘Lot 9.’ “Lot 9 is located at the corner of the access road and McNamara Drive and the Town required a portion of Lot 9 to facilitate area improvements,” said English. “The lot will be impacted by the construction of the roundabout and improvements to the access road. As well, the property access will be negatively impacted due to the plans to install a median on the access road when upgraded to a by-pass road.” To allow access to Lot 9 from the access road, the town also needed to deed a piece of the town-owned land to the owner of Lot 9, which can only be done with ministerial approval. “Council discussed the negotiations extensively in privileged meetings of council, and are unanimously in favour of the offer,” said English. That offer was $100,000, and the motion was passed unanimously to purchase a portion of Lot 9 near McNamara Drive for that sum. A second motion, for the Town to request ministerial approval to dispose of a portion of town-owned land located alongside the access road to the Diane Whalen Soccer Complex, also passed unanimously. All in all, English applauded the decision. “The town is making a strategic move here by acquiring this piece of property, because in the event that we don’t, we will actually block access to the land owner and be subject to legal action, possibly, for devaluing their property, and the town has taken the initiative to negotiate an agreement with the landowner, and while the amount is significant, $100,000, the end result is much, much cheaper than going the legal route,” said English. Mark Squibb, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Shoreline News
After Mateo Perusse-Shortte, experienced racism while playing his sport, he and his mom decided to plan a hockey diversity group in Quebec.
OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau signalled Wednesday that Canada will stand up for an Ottawa sociology professor facing trial in France as human-rights advocates renewed calls for the Liberal government to intervene. The prime minister's words left Hassan Diab's supporters wishing Trudeau had been more forceful in pledging assistance. In late January, France ordered Diab to stand trial for a decades-old synagogue bombing, a move his lawyer called the latest misstep in a long odyssey of injustice. The Canadian government has been communicating with officials in France about the case and will continue to do so, Trudeau said during a news briefing Wednesday. "It has been a priority for us to make sure that we're standing up for our citizens all around the world, with countries that are challenging, but also with our allies," he said. "And those conversations will continue." Canadians would rightly expect their prime minister and government to stand up for a falsely accused citizen, said Donald Bayne, Diab's Ottawa lawyer. "But what does that ambiguous phrase mean?" Born in Lebanon, Diab became a Canadian citizen in 1993, working in Ottawa as a university teacher. The RCMP arrested him in November 2008 in response to a request by France. French authorities suspected Diab was involved in the 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue that killed four people and injured dozens of others, an accusation he has consistently denied. After lengthy proceedings that went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, Diab was extradited to France, where he spent three years behind bars, including time in solitary confinement. In January 2018, French judges dismissed the allegations against him for lack of evidence and ordered his immediate release. Trudeau said later that year that what Diab went through "never should have happened." Diab's supporters have long argued he was in Beirut — not Paris — when the attack took place and that his fingerprints, palm prints, physical description and age did not match those of the suspect identified in 1980. Earlier this year, Bayne called the French move to have Diab stand trial "a travesty of justice," saying the latest analysis of handwriting evidence in the case makes the argument for pursuing his client even weaker. Diab, 67, is now back with his wife and young children in Ottawa as his lawyers in France appeal the latest decision. Alex Neve, former secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada, said in January it is "cruel and baffling" that French authorities continue to suspect Diab. Neve said the Canadian government must become involved at the highest political levels and not simply stand aside on the grounds that justice must be allowed to run its course. Justin Mohammed, a human rights law and policy campaigner with Amnesty Canada, said Wednesday the organization was encouraged by Trudeau's remarks but stressed that Canada must not co-operate with extradition requests that prolong Diab's ordeal. "It would be unconscionable to return him to face trial in France given the way his case has proceeded.” The Ottawa-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group has called on Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau to intervene with their French counterparts "to put a stop to this endless, Kafkaesque affair." The group, which represents dozens of civil-society voices, also wants the prime minister to commit to not extraditing Diab to France a second time. It also says Canada must reform its extradition laws to ensure no one else is forced to go through what Diab has endured. Tim McSorley the group's national co-ordinator, said Wednesday that while the prime minister's words were encouraging, Trudeau missed an opportunity to "clearly and publicly denounce the ongoing miscarriage of justice being faced by Hassan Diab." Early last year, Diab filed a lawsuit accusing the Canadian government of negligent investigation and malicious prosecution, saying federal officials violated his constitutional guarantees of freedom of movement, liberty and security of the person. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — A well-known Quebec lawyer says she's mounting a legal challenge to provincial laws that don't grant common-law spouses the same rights as married couples in the event of a breakup. Anne-France Goldwater said today Quebec family law treats unmarried women as having less value than their married counterparts because they aren't entitled to the same alimony and property rights. Goldwater previously argued the issue all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, which ruled in 2013 that Quebec's family law regime was constitutional and did not have to be changed, even though the court found there was discrimination against common-law couples. The case, known as "Eric and Lola," involved a woman and her former lover, a prominent Quebec businessman who contended he should not have to pay alimony because they were never legally married. Goldwater, who represented "Lola" in the case, has filed a new motion in Quebec Superior Court contesting the constitutionality of all the articles relating to family law in Quebec's Civil Code as well as the section of the provincial Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms that deals with rights and obligations of married and civil union spouses. The case she's arguing concerns a common-law couple called "Nathalie" and "Pierre," who were together 30 years and have four children. Goldwater told reporters today the years that have passed since the Supreme Court of Canada decision have reinforced the need for the law to change. She notes in her court submission that successive provincial governments have promised to reform the province's family law without ever doing so. "Quebec family law perceives non-married women and their children as having less value than married families and it's even worse for women who are common law without children," Goldwater said. "Why are Quebec women not equal under Quebec law?" she said. The 2013 Supreme Court decision noted that while there was discrimination toward common-law couples, it could be allowed under a section of the Canadian charter which allows for the limitation of rights in certain circumstances. Goldwater says she believes the current situation represents a form of "systemic sexism" that has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, which she says has had a disproportionate impact on women. "Why do we have to have a pandemic to convince the leaders that women are economically disadvantaged?" she said. Under Quebec's current law, common-law spouses aren't entitled to alimony, division of the family patrimony or the right to occupy the home after the split. While any children stemming from the relationship have a right to support, the fact that the parent doesn't get alimony or a share of the wealth will result in a lower standard of living for the children, Goldwater says. She argues this creates "two sets of rules" for children: one for those whose parents married, and another for children whose parents were common-law spouses. Like others before it, Premier Francois Legault's government has promised to reform the province's family law, which has not been overhauled since 1980. Goldwater says the change could be made with the "stroke of the pen," namely by adding de facto spouses to the definition of couple and family, as was done for same-sex spouses when they were granted the same rights and benefits as heterosexual married couples in Quebec. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. Pierre Saint-Arnaud, The Canadian Press
There were two deaths related to COVID-19 reported in the province on Wednesday. Both deaths were in the 80 plus age group and were located in Regina and Saskatoon. The number of deaths related to COVID-19 in the province is now 389. The North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, reported six new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. This was among 121 new cases reported in Saskatchewan. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 19 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 30 active cases and North Central 3 has 15 active cases. There are currently 153 people in hospital overall in the province. Of the 133 reported as receiving in patient care there are 14 in North Central. Of the 20 people reported as being in intensive care there is one in North Central. The current seven-day average 154, or 12.5 cases per 100,000 population. The high was 312 reported on Jan. 12. Of the 29,059reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 1,431 are considered active. The recovered number now sits at 27,239after 180 more recoveries were reported. The total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic is 29,059 of those 7,437 cases are from the North area (3,024 North West, 3,259 North Central and 1,154 North East). There were 1,358doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered yesterday in Saskatchewan bringing the total number of vaccines administered in the province to 81,597. There were 232 doses administered in the North Central zone yesterday. The other zones where vaccines were administered were in the North West, Far North Central, Central East, Far North Central, Far North East, Saskatoon and Regina. According to the province as of March 2, 50 per cent of Phase 1 priority healthcare workers received a first dose. This percentage includes healthcare workers from long term care and personal care home facilities. Pfizer shipments for the week of March 1 have arrived in Regina (3,510) and Saskatoon (3,510). North Battleford (2,340) and Prince Albert (4,680) shipments are expected by end of day March 3. There were 2,588 COVID-19 tests processed in Saskatchewan on Feb. 28. As of today there have been 582,829 COVID-19 tests performed in Saskatchewan. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
JUNEAU, Alaska — A state vaccine task force on Wednesday vastly expanded eligibility for people to receive COVID-19 vaccinations in Alaska, adding those 55 to 64 and people 16 and older who meet certain criteria. That criteria includes being considered an essential worker, living in a multigenerational household, being at or at possible high risk for severe illness from COVID-19 or living in communities lacking in water and sewer systems, the state health department said in a release. Gov. Mike Dunleavy called expanding eligibility significant in efforts to protect Alaska residents and to help restore the state's economy. State health officials previously emphasized vaccinating those 65 and older. Individuals who have previously been eligible remain so. More than 100,000 first doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are expected for the state and Indian Health Service allocations this month, the department said. Also, 8,900 doses of the one-shot Johnson and Johnson Janssen vaccine are expected to arrive within the next two weeks, the department said. The number of vaccines do not include military allocations or those for programs involving pharmacies and federally qualified health centres. The state's chief medical officer, Dr. Anne Zink, said the vaccine supply is not yet sufficient to make it widely available to everyone who wants it. She said it is being offered to groups “who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, who are at risk for severe illness or death or who work in essential jobs." She added: "Some Alaskans may be more vulnerable to this disease than others due to their unique health or life circumstances. Offering vaccine is one step we can take now to help address these inequities.” The Associated Press