Havoc flies around the kitchen and shows off his wings for some treats. What a smart bird!
Havoc flies around the kitchen and shows off his wings for some treats. What a smart bird!
Canada's health officials spoke about the recent change in guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the time between two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and how that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in Canada.
County council agreed to support a movement for improvements at long-term care (LTC) homes, though disagreed with local advocates’ desire to end for-profit homes. Council voted to write a letter of support for the Haliburton-CKL (City of Kawartha Lakes) Long-Term Care Coalition. The advocacy group is joining with others across the province to push for improvements, including amending the Canada Health Act to include LTC, guaranteeing four hours of direct care per day for residents, stronger enforcement and a culture change. Councillors spoke in favour of those ideas. But the coalition’s desire to end private LTC did not garner support and was specifically excluded in the resolution. “The first four points that you have, I think, are a bold initiative and a great start,” Coun. Brent Devolin said. “The supply going forward, will public initiatives alone be enough to look after all of us?” Coalition co-chair, Bonnie Roe, cited the Ontario Health Coalition, a province-wide organization also calling for the end to for-profit long-term care. Its May 2020 analysis found COVID-19 deaths in homes with outbreaks were higher in private (nine per cent) versus non-profit (5.25 per cent) or publicly-owned (3.62 per cent). The Canadian military also released a report about terrible conditions at homes it intervened in last May, which prompted the province to start an independent commission. Four of those homes were privately-owned. “There are some for-profits that are excellent, but generally speaking, they do not follow the standards,” Roe said. “People are asking, ‘why are there private profits attached to us as a society caring for our elders’?” co-chair, Mike Perry, said. “Why was that ever seen as a profit-making venture?” Warden Liz Danielsen said the Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus has identified LTC as a priority. But she added the caucus is not yet in favour of ending private facilities. Coun. Carol Moffatt said she can attest to the challenges of eldercare and there is a drastic need for better support for health workers. “More people to do the job,” Moffatt said. “We also maybe need to be careful of what you wish for in terms of potential downloading. How do we all as a province push for the changes that are required, without it going off the cliff and then landing in the laps of municipalities for increased costs?” Perry thanked council for the support. “There’s so much common room and so much common ground for this moving forward,” he said. “That’s where we find hope in all this tragedy recently." Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
OTTAWA — The debate over the safety of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic is coming under researchers' microscopes. Three new projects are aiming determine how many teachers and school staff in Canada have had COVID-19, to help inform prevention strategies in neighbourhoods, schools and daycares. About $2.9 million will be spent on the research in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec as part of the work of the national COVID-19 immunity task force. All three projects will ask teachers for blood samples to determine how many have antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, which would indicate a previous COVID-19 infection. In Ontario, researchers are hoping for 7,000 teachers and education workers to enrol, while in B.C. the study will focus on the Vancouver School District. In Quebec, the work will build on an existing study looking at the spread of the novel coronavirus in children in four Montreal neighbourhoods. The research will also delve into the question of teachers' mental health, a key area of concern for educators in recent months. While the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is released daily, the true number of how many people in Canada have been infected can't actually be known without widespread surveillance testing. "Although daycare and school staff may have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 in their work settings, we don’t have much data on how many school staff have had asymptomatic infections, meaning they had no symptoms but potentially could transmit the virus,” said Dr. Catherine Hankins, co-chair of the task force. The CITF was set up by the federal government to understand the factors in immunity to COVID-19. A piece of that will be the vaccines, now rolling out across the country and teachers participating in the research will also be tracked post-vaccination to see whether their antibody levels change over time. But so far, vaccines have not been approved for use in children, which will likely leave the debate about the safety of schools raging for months to come. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
SAN FRANCISCO — Financial technology company Square, Inc. said Thursday that it has reached an agreement to acquire majority ownership of Tidal, the music streaming service partly owned by Jay-Z. Under the deal, Square will pay $297 million in cash and stock for Tidal, Jay-Z will be named to Square's board of directors, and he and other artists who currently own shares in Tidal will remain stakeholders. Tidal will operate as a distinct entity alongside the point-of-sale hardware and software offerings of San Francisco-based Square, the payments company founded by CEO Jack Dorsey, who is also co-founder and chief executive of Twitter. Tidal has presented itself as the artist-friendly alternative to other music streamers, and Square says it will take that phenomenon further for musicians just as it has for businesses with its financial systems. “It comes down to one simple idea: finding new ways for artists to support their work,” Dorsey said in the statement announcing the deal. . Jay-Z said in the statement that the “partnership will be a game-changer for many.” I look forward to all this new chapter has to offer!" The Associated Press
Takedown NOTICE Please DO NOT USE story slugged LJI-ONT-PORTBRUCE-SHELFICE headlined Close call – man falls through shelf ice at Port Bruce. This story has been killed by its news editor. Regards, Local Journalism Initiative AVIS d'annulation Prière de NE PAS PUBLIER l'article identifié LJI-ONT-PORTBRUCE-SHELFICE et intitulé Close call – man falls through shelf ice at Port Bruce. Cet article a été annulé par le rédacteur en chef de la publication. Merci de votre collaboration, Initiative de journalisme local Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
Heart inflammation is uncommon in pro athletes who’ve had mostly mild COVID-19 and most don’t need to be sidelined, a study conducted by major professional sports leagues suggests. The results are not definitive, outside experts say, and more independent research is needed. But the study published Thursday in JAMA Cardiology is the largest to examine the potential problem. The coronavirus can cause inflammation in many organs, including the heart. The research involved professional athletes who play football, hockey, soccer, baseball and men's and women's basketball. All tested positive for COVID-19 before October and were given guideline-recommended heart tests, nearly 800 total. None had severe COVID-19 and 40% had few or no symptoms — what might be expected from a group of healthy elite athletes with an average age of 25. Severe COVID-19 is more common in older people and those with chronic health conditions. Almost 4% had abnormal results on heart tests done after they recovered but subsequent MRI exams found heart inflammation in less than 1% of the athletes. These five athletes all had COVID-19 symptoms. Whether their heart problems were caused by the virus is unknown although the researchers think that is likely. They were sidelined for about three months and returned to play without any problems, said Dr. Mathew Martinez of Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey. He's the study’s lead author and team cardiologist for football's New York Jets. Two previous smaller studies in college athletes recovering from the virus suggested heart inflammation might be more common. The question is of key interest to athletes, who put extra stress on their hearts during play, and undetected heart inflammation has been linked with sudden death. Whether mild COVID-19 can cause heart damage ‘’is the million-dollar question,’’ said Dr. Richard Kovacs, co-founder of the American College of Cardiology’s Sports & Exercise Council. And whether severe COVID-19 symptoms increase the chances of having fleeting or long-lasting heart damage ‘’is part of the puzzle,’’ he said. Kovacs said the study has several weaknesses. Testing was done at centres affiliated or selected by each team, and results were interpreted by team-affiliated cardiologists, increasing the chances of bias. More rigorous research would have had standardized testing done at a central location and more objective specialists interpret the results, he said. Also, many of the athletes had no previous imaging exams to compare the results with, so there is no way to know for certain if abnormalities found during the study were related to the virus. ’’There is clearly more work to do but I think it is very helpful additional evidence,” said Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, president-elect of the American Heart Association. Dr. Dial Hewlett, a member of a COVID-19 task force at the National Medical Association, which represents Black physicians, said the study ‘’is extremely timely.’’ Hewlett is a deputy health commissioner for New York's Westchester County and advises high schools and colleges on when to allow young athletes to return to play after COVID-19 infections. ‘’I’m grateful that we are starting to get some data to help guide us in some of our decisions,’’ Hewlett said. ___ Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at @LindseyTanner. ___ 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. Lindsey Tanner, The Associated Press
JUNEAU, Alaska — Juneau city leaders have approved changes to local COVID-19 testing requirements for travellers, including waiving a $250 testing fee for non-resident travellers who are tested at the airport and exempting “fully vaccinated” individuals from strict social distancing after testing. The changes approved by the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly on Monday are meant to be encouraging for COVID-conscious travellers, KTOO Public Media reported. The rules define fully vaccinated as people who have gone more than two weeks since receiving a second dose of a two-dose vaccine or more than two weeks after receiving of one-dose vaccine. People considered fully vaccinated must still adhere to testing protocols, according to a statement from the city. But they do not have to practice strict social distancing for five days after arrival. The city describes strict social distancing, in part, as not socializing with anyone outside the person's household and not going indoors anywhere, except for one's home or the place they are staying. Non-vaccinated travellers must arrive with proof of a negative coronavirus test result, or they can get tested at the airport when they arrive and observe strict social distancing while awaiting results. The rules expire at 12:01 a.m. on May 1, unless other action is taken first. City Manager Rorie Watt said at the assembly meeting that officials “won’t be shy” about notifying the community if plans need to change. The Associated Press
Ontario Premier Doug Ford regularly refers to his local MPPs as “champions”. Introducing riding representatives at his now discontinued daily briefings, Ford heaped praise on the work local Progressive Conservatives do for their communities. In Mississauga and Brampton, a recent vote at Queen’s Park has left municipal officials and constituents wondering why Ford’s MPPs don’t listen to those they’re supposed to “champion”. On Monday, PC MPPs in Brampton and Mississauga voted with their party to strike down an NDP Bill to give workers in Ontario permanent and pandemic-specific paid sick days. The vote was a direct contraction of requests made by the cities the MPPs are elected to represent. Paid sick days are something the Official Opposition has been pushing for months. Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and his Mississauga counterpart Bonnie Crombie have also been making the demand continually, with workplace transmission in Peel Region a major barrier to bringing the pandemic under control. It’s a major reason why Peel, unlike most of Ontario, remains under a stay-at-home-order. Dr. Lawrence Loh, the Region’s medical officer of health, the man tasked with managing pandemic response in Ontario’s hardest hit area, has vocally backed the calls. Research completed by Peel Public Health illustrates the impact of not having paid sick days in the region. Workplaces, many of which remain open in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga, have been a major source of the novel coronavirus transmission in Peel. Between August and January, 66 percent of all confirmed community outbreaks in the region took place in workplaces. In August, workplace transmission was the most common likely source of infection that resulted in spread within households. The threat is especially pervasive in Peel because of the number of essential jobs the area hosts and due to the large percentage of residents who work in these sectors, including those who have to commute outside the region. A series of major highways, Toronto Pearson Airport and large corridors of industrial zoning have created an ideal nexus in Peel for viral infection and spread. Essential workers makeup a significant portion of the population. According to the 2016 census, manufacturing employed more Peel residents than any other sector, including jobs that are deemed essential to keep supply chains running. Roughly 90,000 Peel residents worked in the manufacturing sector. Other job categories dominated by essential workers are common in Peel. In 2016, there were 69,920 residents working in transportation and warehousing; 59,270 in healthcare and social assistance; 44,755 in construction; and 42,205 in accommodation and food services. “This pandemic has highlighted the fact that lack of access to paid sick days is a health hazard,” Peel Public Health wrote in the briefing that accompanied its research into workplace cases. Between August and January, a total of 1,993 people who later tested positive for COVID-19 reported going to work for one or more days after their symptoms began to show. The figure represents roughly 25 percent of all cases through the period, meaning one in four went to work infectious. Discussing the data, Loh has pointed out this is probably an underestimate. Despite reassurances from health officials collecting the data, it is likely some chose not to admit to authority figures they went to work while infected. Of all the data collected by Peel Public Health, one statistic stands out. Eighty individuals reported to work between August and January after their positive result had been reported to public health and they were confirmed to have the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Armed with these statistics, Peel’s mayors and medical officer of health have been begging for paid sick days. With the GTHA Mayors providing ample media attention to voice the reality for hundreds of thousands of their constituents, they had hoped to be heard by now. But they have been ignored and even the region’s local, governing MPPs have tuned out. The Stay Home If You Are Sick Act, tabled by the NDP and struck down with the help of seven Peel based PC MPPs Monday, would have offered workers 14 paid sick days during the pandemic. It also suggested seven paid days after the pandemic is over. “If Peel’s Conservative MPPs hadn’t helped the Ford government block the Stay Home If You Are Sick Act, workers in Brampton and Mississauga could have had paid sick days when they woke up today,” NDP Deputy Leader and Brampton Centre MPP, Sara Singh, said. “Instead, people in Peel are returning to jobs in health care and food processing without that support, doing essential work while the government turns its back on them, again.” The Pointer reached out to all seven PC MPPs to ask them to justify their vote and if they listened to Loh’s advice as the local medical expert. Staff members at the offices of Mississauga—Lakeshore MPP Rudy Cuzzetto, Mississauga—Malton MPP Deepak Anand, Mississauga Centre MPP Natalia Kusendova and Mississauga—Streetsville MPP Nina Tangri answered phone calls confirming they had received questions, but did not provide responses. The remaining MPPs, Associate Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria (Brampton South) Amarjot Sandhu (Brampton West) and Sheref Sabawy (Mississauga—Erin Mills) did not answer messages left by email and voicemail. Kaleed Rasheed (Mississauga East—Cooksville) did not vote. “I’m very disappointed in our Mississauga provincial members of parliament,” Crombie said at a Wednesday press conference. “They know how important sick days are. This should not come down to ideological differences — we need to do the right thing.” It’s not the first time questions have been raised about Peel’s MPPs. In 2018, Sarkaria and Sandhu felt the wrath of their community after they skipped a vote pushing to bring a third hospital to Brampton. The Progressive Conservatives’ official party line on introducing paid sick days is that they duplicate a benefit being offered by the federal government, the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB). Communications staff for the PC government have blanketed social media with the position, saying paid sick days already exist and that the NDP is muddying the waters. But the experts in Peel take issue with the idea CRSB solves the issue. Peel Public Health says the benefit’s usefulness is “limited” by duration, delayed release of funds and “lack of linguistic cultural support for applicants”. “Eligibility criteria further limit the ability of programs such as CRSB and Employment Insurance to address COVID-19 transmission in the workplace,” Peel Public Health wrote in its research. “The whole COVID-19 thing is a jigsaw puzzle, but this is one really big piece that continues to be missing in my estimation,” Loh said at Mississauga’s weekly press conference, referring to the need for paid sick days. In the legislature, the message is being ignored by the ruling PCs. Despite recently posting screenshots of a virtual briefing with Loh, the region’s MPPs have not acted on his advice. “Local leaders like Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, and Peel Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lawrence Loh recognize that paid sick days are a vital public health measure to keep workers safe in Brampton’s essential workplaces,” Singh said in the legislature Wednesday. “But this government ignores them again and again, refusing to take action to stop this virus, keep workers safe and end the cycle of lockdowns.” Email: email@example.com Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
TRURO, N.S. — A Canadian undergarment company that quickly retooled its factory last spring to make personal protective equipment is laying off 150 workers after failing to win a new federal contract. Stanfield's Ltd. of Truro, N.S., famed for its long johns and boxer shorts, switched to making medical gowns for front-line health workers at the outset of the pandemic. The company's $27.9-million federal contract was a small piece of the $1.87 billion Ottawa has spent on hospital gowns as of Dec. 31. A new request for proposals for "disposable medical isolation gowns" closed Nov. 20. But in a Facebook post, Cumberland-Colchester MP Lenore Zann says the company was not successful in their bid on the new tender for medical gowns. She says she's "terribly concerned and disappointed" to hear about the layoffs at Stanfield's as a result. Local MLA Dave Ritcey calls the loss of 150 jobs in the largely rural area "devastating." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
The dining room in Katie Rioux's Quebec City restaurant has been closed since the fall, and she expected her business would remain a takeout-only operation for weeks to come, if not longer. On Wednesday, though, the owner of Café Krieghoff received some unexpected good news. Premier François Legault announced he was scaling back health restrictions in several regions, allowing Rioux and countless other restaurant owners to serve customers sitting inside for the first time in five months. "Honestly, we could not have gotten better news than this," said Rioux, who also promised to do her part to ensure Quebec City does not go back to being a red zone. "As restaurant owners, we will do everything we can. I think the population is also on our side." Café Krieghoff owner Katie Rioux can't wait to serve sitting customers at her Quebec City restaurant for the first time in five months. (Radio-Canada) However, some public health experts say the Quebec government's decision to roll back restrictions to this extent is too hasty. Following March break, the Quebec City region will be joined by the Eastern Townships, Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec and Chaudières-Appalaches as the latest to be downgraded from red to orange zones. In these regions, gyms and show venues will be allowed to reopen, houses of worship will be able to take in as many as 100 people at a time. The government is also dropping the requirement that all primary school students must wear a medical grade mask. The nightly curfew remains, but will kick in at 9:30 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. "I would have preferred to wait until at least one week after the holiday week, because then we would be able to see the impact of the vacation on the increase of cases everywhere in Quebec," said Dr. Cécile Tremblay, a microbiologist and infectious diseases specialist at the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal. "We know that people from Montreal travel to other regions, and we won't know the result of that until two weeks from now." The race between variants and vaccines Legault's announcement came a day after Health Minister Christian Dubé and Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda held a news conference of their own, during which they warned Quebecers about the growing spread of coronavirus variants. "The ocean is calm at the moment ... but underneath there are sharks," Arruda said, "and I'll tell you what those sharks are: they're the variants." The decision to remove restrictions in places outside of the greater Montreal area seems to reflect data showing that variants are gaining more ground in Montreal than elsewhere in the province. On Wednesday, Legault said spikes in cases and hospitalizations were expected in and around Montreal, and those projections played a major role in the government's most recent announcement. But Prativa Baral, an epidemiologist with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says the province is squandering a golden opportunity to deal a crushing blow to the virus. Seniors arrive for their COVID-19 vaccination at a clinic in the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press) With more and more Quebecers set to get vaccinated, Baral says the government should focus on its inoculation campaign while limiting contacts as much as possible, in an effort to keep the spread of variants under control. "For us to be loosening restrictions now, is too premature. We don't want to be reactive, we want to be proactive for once," Baral said. "At this point, it's more of a virus versus vaccine race, and we really want to make sure that we're pushing the vaccine segment to win, as opposed the variant segment." The province's latest projections for the spread COVID-19 appear to reinforce the importance of winning that race. According to the mathematical modelling published by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) on Thursday, lowering the province's collective guard could provoke a rapid spike in new infections that could reach between 3,000 and 4,000 cases per day. It also seems possible, perhaps even likely given the presence of infectious variants, that Quebec will experience a third wave. Sticking with the low-socialization and low-contact measures that were in place from January and February might not entirely prevent another peak this spring in terms of daily infections, but it could keep hospitalization numbers and fatalities low. Marc Brisson, the director of the Université Laval mathematical modelling group that conducts the INSPQ's COVID-19 forecasts, said the model doesn't account for the government's latest announcement, but does include increased inter-regional travel and social contacts from March break. "If we can accelerate vaccination ... and follow public health guidelines, then at that point our model is saying we could stay at a number of cases that would be relatively stable. However, if vaccination slows down and there's more contact, then a third wave is predicted," he said. There is some good news in the projections, however. The model supports the government's contention that there are two distinct epidemiological realities in Quebec: greater Montreal, and the rest of the province. The fact there is lower community spread outside the province's largest urban agglomeration means it's less likely the variant strains will spread. "The race is how many vulnerable people we can protect with vaccination and ... can that variant infect the most vulnerable among us?" he said. The key, Brisson concluded, is continued adherence to public health measures, which "would buy time for the vaccine to take its effect."
The Walker family is grateful for the outpouring of community support after a fire ravaged one of their dairy barns last week. “We’re so overwhelmed by what everyone did for us,” said John G Walker. “It was really cool that everyone was able to pull together.” Firefighters, neighbours and local businesses rallied to help the family in their time of need. “It’s hard to name them all, because there were so many people that contributed, donated, and sent food,” he said. A fire destroyed a large portion of the main barn at Walker Farms in Summers Corners on Wednesday, Feb. 17, just before 5 p.m. Damages are estimated at $3-million. “The volunteer firefighters really stepped up,” said Mr. Walker. “They did a phenomenal job.” He noted, “No one getting hurt was the number one thing.” Firefighters from Malahide, Bayham, Central Elgin and Aylmer managed to save the back portion, which otherwise would have resulted in an additional $2-million loss. The fire took about seven hours to bring under control. While the family is thankful for what was saved, and that no people were injured, they were upset at the loss of livestock: an estimated 78 cows were lost as a result of the fire. “It’s obviously emotional a little bit. You never want to lose anything - the livestock are part of our lifestyle, our livelihood,” said Mr. Walker. “You can always build new buildings, but losing livestock always sucks.” Another 875 cows were saved, quickly herded out of the barn and into a nearby penned pasture by Walker Farms staff and firefighters. Some of those displaced cows were sent to another Walker dairy farm on Talbot Line, while others will stay at Skipwell Farms, a nearby 1,800-acre, 420-head dairy farm. They are currently being closely monitored for any health issues from smoke they may have inhaled, but Mr. Walker noted they have dealt quite well in the aftermath. Gerald Schipper, who runs Skipwell Farms, said the 80 cows have adjusted well to their new surroundings since taking them in. “The neat thing about cows is that they’re like humans,” said Mr. Schipper. “If you go by yourself to a strange place it can be intimidating, but if you go with 10 friends together it’s a lot easier.” Skipwell Farms uses a very similar milking system and layout as the Walkers, making the transition that much easier. “The Walker family have helped out a lot of dairy producers in our province, including ourselves,” said Mr. Schipper. When firefighters responded on Feb. 17, night was sinking in, and temperatures were dropping with it, starting at -8°C and getting colder. Workers brought hot food and coffee from local restaurants including Aylmer Sub, Domino’s Pizza, Tim Horton’s and KFC to help firefighters during the physically exhausting, several hour fight in the frigid temperatures. All refused offers of payment. The Walkers were also provided with lunches and suppers in the days that followed. The Walker Dairy office, milking parlour, milk house, former sales arena, and storage area were lost to the fire. Live auctions have been hosted monthly in the sales arena since the 1960s. Mr. Walker said the fire did not impact the sales side of the operation. “With COVID-19, we haven’t been running our live auctions, we went online,” he said. “We don’t need to physically have the live auction part.” The family has insurance for such emergencies and they plan to rebuild a similar structure with the possibility of some changes, said Mr. Walker. Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
“The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” “Minari,” “Da 5 Bloods” and “One Night in Miami” are among the films AARP is honouring at its annual Movies for Grownups Awards, the non-profit organization said Thursday. Director Lee Daniels’ “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” starring Andra Day as the jazz singer, was named best picture, while the Korean American family drama “Minari” got best intergenerational film. Spike Lee’s Vietnam-themed “Da 5 Bloods” picked up best buddy picture and Regina King’s “One Night in Miami...,” about the fictional meeting of Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, Cassius Clay and Jim Brown, got best ensemble. “We focus on films made by and for grownups,” said Tim Appelo, the film and television critic for AARP. “When we started this a couple of decades ago, it was hard to find first movies about people of our age. I’m very pleased to see that we’ve got a bumper crop of movies and performances to choose from this year.” George Clooney is being honoured this year with the career achievement award. The 59-year-old both directed and acted in his most recent film, “The Midnight Sky.” “He’s the Cary Grant of our day, but he’s also a fast-rising director,” Appelo said. “He’s perfect because he’s just a slam dunk argument against ageism.” Jodie Foster too is singled out for her supporting performance in “The Mauritanian,” for which she also won the Golden Globe this week. Appelo said that the 58-year-old has said that she’s glad to be her age and is looking forward to playing characters in their 60s and beyond. “That’s a big theme of ours, that life opens up after you turn 50,” Appelo said. Aaron Sorkin is a double honoree for writing and directing “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” The top acting awards went to Sophia Loren, for “The Life Ahead,” and Anthony Hopkins, for “The Father.” “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” are two films Appelo said are particularly significant because of their historical value to a 50-plus audience. He also noted that this year included several important and nuanced depictions of Alzheimer’s, including in “The Father” and in “Supernova,” with Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci, which was named best grownup love story. For the first time the organization is also recognizing television shows and performances. Catherine O’Hara took best actress for “Schitt’s Creek,” Mark Ruffalo got best actor for “I Know This Much is True” and “This Is Us” was named best series. Netflix's “The Queen's Gambit” got best limited series. The virtual awards show will be broadcast by Great Performances on PBS on March 28 at 8 p.m. ET. ___ Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
Most of us are familiar with the three Rs associated with limiting our waste: reduce, reuse and recycle. As it turns out, there’s a fourth R: renew the recycling licence. During the Feb. 22 regular council meeting for the Town of Pincher Creek, Coun. Scott Korbett formally announced the town would not be renewing its recycling contract with KJ Cameron Service Industries. Come June 30, only empty beverage containers will be accepted at the bottle depot. “The Town of Pincher Creek intends to continue to offer a recycling program,” the town’s official statement reads. “We are currently working with our regional partners to have a smooth transition to a new program by the end of June.” While understanding the town is obligated to make economic decisions when it comes to contracts, Weston Whitfield, owner and manager of KJ Cameron, worries consolidating services on a regional basis might result in an inefficient service to taxpayers. The process of gathering, transporting, then re-sorting material, Mr. Whitfield adds, might decrease the price recycling facilities are willing to pay. “My concern is in the past, places that have done collaborations like that end up with a little bit of contamination and it can affect the resale of the product,” he says. Although no official details have been released, the plan for future recycling appears to involve the Crowsnest/Pincher Creek Landfill Association. Discussion recorded in the minutes of the Jan. 20, 2021, regular meeting of the landfill association includes “Recycling Update” as an agenda item. The minutes describe proposals being sent to each of the municipalities and note that, despite no reply being received, each of the municipal representatives — Coun. Dean Ward from Crowsnest Pass, Coun. Brian McGillivray from Pincher Creek and Reeve Brian Hammond from the MD of Pincher Creek — indicated their respective councils are still considering or interested in the landfill’s recycling proposal. Recycling was also a topic during last week’s council meetings for both the MD of Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass. During the MD of Pincher Creek’s Feb. 23 council meeting, chief administrative officer Troy MacCulloch updated council on plans to move collection bins from outside the MD office to a site off Bighorn Avenue and Highway 507, near the Co-op lumberyard. The site will cover recycling needs for residents from both the MD and town. “This will be a site that the MD will build,” said CAO MacCulloch. “We will cost-share it with the town, and then going forward it would be operated and manned by the Crowsnest/Pincher Creek Landfill.” Plans for the new recycling site are still tentative as the MD is working with the current landowner to develop a lease that would permit the property to be used as a transfer station for garbage and recyclables. The garbage bins by the MD office, he added, could also be removed. This will allow for further development and easier access of the standpipe, which will remain at the location. Meetings with Pincher Creek administration have discussed the possibility of the MD taking over the composting facility, which would be included on the site. Crowsnest Pass council also voted Feb. 23 to direct administration to find a location for their own recycling bin. Ease of access, along with being sheltered from the weather and from travellers’ field of vision, were identified as main priorities. Administration was asked to present a location at the March 16 council meeting with hopes that users could begin dropping off recycling by the end of the month. The goal is to eventually have three sites in the municipality to gather recycling. Beginning with one, said CAO Patrick Thomas, was a good place to “at least start and see what the challenges are,” especially to “see how [building] the fencing and screening goes.” The Town of Pincher Creek’s full official statement regarding the recycling licence can be found online at http://bit.ly/PC-Recycle. More information on Pincher Creek Bottle Depot and Recycling can be found at www.facebook.com/pcbottledepot. Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Thursday repeated his pledge to keep credit loose and flowing until Americans are back to work, rebutting investors who have openly doubted he can stick to that promise once the pandemic passes and the economy surges on its own. With vaccines rolling out and the government fiscal taps open "there is good reason to think we will make more progress soon" toward the Fed's goals of maximum employment and 2% sustained inflation, Powell told a Wall Street Journal forum. "I want to be clear about this," Powell said in anchoring the Fed's promise to keep its near zero interest rates and monthly bondbuying intact.
WASHINGTON — House Democrats passed sweeping voting and ethics legislation over unanimous Republican opposition, advancing to the Senate what would be the largest overhaul of the U.S. election law in at least a generation. House Resolution 1, which touches on virtually every aspect of the electoral process, was approved Wednesday night on a near party-line 220-210 vote. It would restrict partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, strike down hurdles to voting and bring transparency to a murky campaign finance system that allows wealthy donors to anonymously bankroll political causes. The bill is a powerful counterweight to voting rights restrictions advancing in Republican-controlled statehouses across the country in the wake of Donald Trump’s repeated false claims of a stolen 2020 election. Yet it faces an uncertain fate in the Democratic-controlled Senate, where it has little chance of passing without changes to procedural rules that currently allow Republicans to block it. The stakes in the outcome are monumental, cutting to the foundational idea that one person equals one vote, and carrying with it the potential to shape election outcomes for years to come. It also offers a test of how hard President Joe Biden and his party are willing to fight for their priorities, as well as those of their voters. This bill “will put a stop at the voter suppression that we’re seeing debated right now,” said Rep. Nikema Williams, a new congresswoman who represents the Georgia district that deceased voting rights champion John Lewis held for years. “This bill is the ‘Good Trouble’ he fought for his entire life.” In a statement, Biden said he looked forward to refining the measure and hoped to sign it into law, calling it “landmark legislation" that is much needed “to repair and strengthen our democracy.” To Republicans, however, it would give license to unwanted federal interference in states' authority to conduct their own elections — ultimately benefiting Democrats through higher turnout, most notably among minorities. “Democrats want to use their razor-thin majority not to pass bills to earn voters’ trust, but to ensure they don’t lose more seats in the next election,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said from the House floor Tuesday. The measure has been a priority for Democrats since they won their House majority in 2018. But it has taken on added urgency in the wake of Trump’s false claims, which incited the deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol in January. Courts and even Trump's last attorney general, William Barr, found his claims about the election to be without merit. But, spurred on by those lies, state lawmakers across the U.S. have filed more than 200 bills in 43 states that would limit ballot access, according to a tally kept by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. In Iowa, the legislature voted to cut absentee and in-person early voting, while preventing local elections officials from setting up additional locations to make early voting easier. In Georgia, the House on Monday voted for legislation requiring identification to vote by mail that would also allow counties to cancel early in-person voting on Sundays, when many Black voters cast ballots after church. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court appeared ready to uphold voting restrictions in Arizona, which could make it harder to challenge state election laws in the future. When asked why proponents sought to uphold the Arizona laws, which limit who can turn in absentee ballots and enable ballots to be thrown out if they are cast in the wrong precinct, a lawyer for the state's Republican Party was stunningly clear. “Because it puts us at a competitive disadvantage relative to Democrats,” said attorney Michael Carvin. “Politics is a zero-sum game." Battle lines are quickly being drawn by outside groups who plan to spend millions of dollars on advertising and outreach campaigns. Republicans “are not even being coy about it. They are saying the ‘quiet parts’ out loud,” said Tiffany Muller, the president of End Citizens United, a left-leaning group that aims to curtail the influence of corporate money in politics. Her organization has launched a $10 million effort supporting the bill. “For them, this isn’t about protecting our democracy or protecting our elections. This is about pure partisan political gain.” Conservatives, meanwhile, are mobilizing a $5 million pressure campaign, urging moderate Senate Democrats to oppose rule changes needed to pass the measure. “H.R. 1 is not about making elections better,” said Ken Cuccinelli, a former Trump administration Homeland Security official who is leading the effort. "It’s about the opposite. It’s intended to dirty up elections.” So what's actually in the bill? H.R. 1 would require states to automatically register eligible voters, as well as offer same-day registration. It would limit states' ability to purge registered voters from their rolls and restore former felons' voting rights. Among dozens of other provisions, it would also require states to offer 15 days of early voting and allow no-excuse absentee balloting. On the cusp of a once-in-a-decade redrawing of congressional district boundaries, typically a fiercely partisan affair, the bill would mandate that nonpartisan commissions handle the process instead of state legislatures. Many Republican opponents in Congress have focused on narrower aspects, like the creation of a public financing system for congressional campaigns that would be funded through fines and settlement proceeds raised from corporate bad actors. They've also attacked an effort to revamp the federal government's toothless elections cop. That agency, the Federal Election Commission, has been gripped by partisan deadlock for years, allowing campaign finance law violators to go mostly unchecked. Another section that's been a focus of Republican ire would force the disclosure of donors to “dark money” political groups, which are a magnet for wealthy interests looking to influence the political process while remaining anonymous. Still, the biggest obstacles lie ahead in the Senate, which is split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats. On some legislation, it takes only 51 votes to pass, with Vice-President Kamala Harris as the tiebreaker. On a deeply divisive bill like this one, they would need 60 votes under the Senate’s rules to overcome a Republican filibuster — a tally they are unlikely to reach. Some Democrats have discussed options like lowering the threshold to break a filibuster, or creating a workaround that would allow priority legislation, including a separate John Lewis Voting Rights bill, to be exempt. Biden has been cool to filibuster reforms and Democratic congressional aides say the conversations are fluid but underway. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has not committed to a time frame but vowed “to figure out the best way to get big, bold action on a whole lot of fronts.” He said: “We’re not going to be the legislative graveyard. ... People are going to be forced to vote on them, yes or no, on a whole lot of very important and serious issues.” ___ AP Congressional Correspondent Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report. Brian Slodysko, The Associated Press
Ontario reported another 994 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, as the government works to update its immunization rollout following updated guidance that the time between doses for some vaccines can safely be pushed up to four months. Public health units administered 30,409 doses of vaccine yesterday, a second straight record day in the province. A total of 268,118 people have received both shots and there are now immunization appointments being offered to residents aged 80 and older in at least 10 public health units. Yesterday afternoon, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) issued a revised direction that the interval between shots for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can be extended to 16 weeks. Clinical trials have shown the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be up to 92 per cent effective after a single dose. The move will allow more people to get a first dose more quickly. In a statement, the Ontario Ministry of Health said it welcomed the new recommendations from NACI. "This will allow Ontario to rapidly accelerate its vaccine rollout and get as many vaccines into arms as quickly as possible and, in doing so, provide more protection to more people," a ministry spokesperson said in an email. Dr. David Williams, Ontario's chief medical officer of health, also praised the new recommendation, saying it means the province might be able to move up its timeline of vaccinating all residents by early fall. Williams said health officials are now in talks about how an adjusted timeline could affect Ontario's reopening framework, adding that the move might allow some congregate settings to be "more flexible and more allowable." Don't use AstraZeneca vaccine in people aged 65 and older: NACI The province's COVID-19 vaccine task force is now re-evaluating its immunization strategy as it awaits to hear more from the federal government about how many doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to expect in coming weeks. Health Canada approved the third vaccine last week. NACI has also recommended against using the AstraZeneca vaccine in people aged 65 and older, even though Health Canada has authorized it to be used in adults of all ages. Health Minister Christine Elliott said Thursday that Ontario will follow NACI's recommendation, but wouldn't specify whether or not the AstraZeneca vaccine will instead be prioritized to other age groups or vulnerable communities. "We expect to distribute all of them broadly across the province," she said. Dr. Dirk Huyer, coordinator of the provincial outbreak response, said Ontario will continue to prioritize high-risk residents, but that it continues to look at "innovative approaches" to the vaccine rollout. WATCH | Questions remain about the use of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to immunize seniors against COVID-19 Elliott also said earlier this week that the public can expect more clarity soon on who will qualify as an essential worker during phase two of the immunization campaign. Also on Thursday, the government announced a further $500 million to help Ontario's 444 municipalities offset costs of the pandemic. The City of Toronto will receive $164 million, while Ottawa is set to receive $33.4 million. You can see how much funding has been allocated to your own municipality here. The additional money was announced jointly by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark and Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy. Amounts to individual municipalities were determined by combining household data and the relative proportion of COVID-19 cases confirmed in their respective health units, the province said. Premiers call on Ottawa to increase health-care funding This comes as Ontario Premier Doug Ford and several other provincial leaders are calling on the federal government to shoulder a larger share of health care costs in Ottawa's upcoming budget. Quebec Premier François Legault, chair of the Council of the Federation, delivered that message at a virtual news conference on Thursday afternoon. Other premiers joined virtually. The Canada Health Transfer is the federal government's primary contribution to covering the delivery of health services in the provinces and territories. Right now, the provinces spend about $188 billion on health care and the federal government covers $42 billion of that figure — roughly 22 per cent of total costs. The premiers have asked for a permanent increase in the federal share to 35 per cent cent, which works out to an additional $28 billion. Québec Premier François Legault, chair of the Council of the Federation, speaking at a news conference on Thursday. Other premiers joined virtually. (CBC) "Today we all have the same message for the federal government: now is the time to act and increase the Canada Health Transfer," Legault said, adding that if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau doesn't act, it's the country's "most vulnerable that will suffer." "We believe that our demand is reasonable." If approved, Ontario says the budget increase would provide the province with more than $10 billion in additional health care funding, which would be allocated toward the following: Increasing access to home and community care so seniors can stay in their homes longer. Building more long-term care beds and improving the quality of care in long-term care homes. Addressing the large backlog of surgeries and procedures that has accumulated during the pandemic. Improving wait times and increase access to services and procedures at hospitals. "In Ontario alone, 40,000 seniors are waiting for long-term care beds," Ford said. "Canadians can't keep waiting for better health care … but the reality is, no province can do this alone." The health transfer was the focus of a meeting between the premiers and Trudeau late last year. At the time, Trudeau promised to increase health care funding to the provinces — but not before the immediate pressure of the pandemic subsides. Announcement expected Friday on Toronto, Peel lockdowns The new COVID-19 cases in today's update include 298 in Toronto and 171 in Peel Region. Yesterday, the local medical officers in both health units asked that their respective regions be moved into the revised grey "lockdown" tier of the province's colour-coded restrictions system. That would mean that the stay-at-home order is lifted and non-essential businesses are allowed to reopen to customers with limited capacity, among other changes. You can read the province's breakdown of each tier of the framework here. Williams said the number of novel coronavirus variants, as well as the per cent positivity rates for both Toronto and Peel Region, are "going up steadily" and are "concerning" to health officials. "These are not insignificant numbers," he said. "We want to be cautious at this time." Williams is expected to announce on Friday the health units that will move to a new tier. 96 more cases linked to variants of concern Other public health units that saw double-digit increases in cases were: York Region: 64 Ottawa: 49 Hamilton: 40 Lambton: 39 Simcoe Muskoka: 39 Niagara Region: 37 Halton Region: 33 Thunder Bay: 24 Durham Region: 23 Waterloo Region: 23 Sudbury: 18 Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 18 Windor-Essex: 16 Middlesex-London: 12 Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District: 10 (Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit on a given day, because local units report figures at different times.) This comes as Ontario's lab network completed 65,463 tests for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and reported a test positivity rate of 2.1 per cent. Labs also confirmed 92 more cases linked to the virus variant first identified in the United Kingdom, bringing the total thus far to 644. Another four cases were confirmed to be the variant first found in South Africa, pushing the total to 31. On Tuesday, 350 test samples provincewide were screened for the tell-tale spike gene that suggests the presence of a variant of concern. The spike was detected in 136, or about 39 per cent, of those samples. Those samples are then sent for whole genomic sequencing to determine the specific variant of concern. Meanwhile, the seven-day average of new daily cases fell to 1,064. The Ministry of Education reported another 101 school-related cases: 77 students, 21 staff members and three people who were not identified. Twenty-six schools are currently closed to the illness. That's about 0.54 per cent of Ontario's 4,828 publicly-funded schools. A total of 649 people with COVID-19 were in hospitals, according to the Ministry of Health. Of those, 281 were being treated in intensive care and 183 needed a ventilator. The 10 additional deaths in today's update push the province's official toll to 7,024.
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has continued to send stunning images of the red planet back to Earth. In this moment, an incredible shot of the Sun from the Martian surface was captured. Credit to "NASA/JPL-Caltech".
When Aisha Yusuf finished writing her book about a Black Muslim teen who moves to a new town and grapples with racism and isolation, she couldn't find a publishing company that would publish it. So she and her three sisters launched their own. "To this day, I still have never seen a Black Muslim girl on a front cover of a [young adult] novel," Aisha said. "And in 2021, it's unacceptable, it's very unacceptable to not have that kind of diversity in the publishing industry." Aisha, 23, and her sisters Samia, Maymuuna, and Juweria started Abāyo House to publish Aisha's first book, Race to the Finish Line. The four Edmonton sisters with Somali roots are hoping the publishing house will turn into a beacon of belonging for other Black Muslim girls. Race to the Finish Line is about Aaleyah, a 17-year-old girl who moves to a small town in the U.S. and teams up with her friends to discover the truth about a dark secret that threatens her and her family. The mystery novel is set to launch on March 12, the first of several books the sisters have in the works. The cover features a Black Muslim teenager face-to-face with a person wearing what appears to be a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe, holding a torch near her face. "Some people would say that it's very shocking, but I feel like what's even more shocking is how the book just actually reflects what's been happening in our city," Aisha said, a day after protesters, some carrying tiki torches, marched to the Alberta Legislature as part of an anti-restrictions rally on Feb. 20. The rally, dubbed the Alberta Freedom Convoy, coupled with a spate of recent attacks on Black Muslim women in Edmonton, underscores the need for more representation in media and literature, the sisters said. "For us, a huge part of why we started Abāyo House, why she wrote her book, even the books that we have in the works that are yet to be revealed — goes back to, 'We will not be intimidated,' " Maymuuna said. "We will not be silenced. We have a voice and we will tell those stories." The sisters all have writing and communications backgrounds. However, their publishing house was started out of necessity, not passion. The siblings struggled to find stories in mainstream presses that reflected their experiences. The Yusuf sisters hope their publishing imprint will also provide a platform for other Black Muslim women to tell their stories. 'The next Harry Potter' "Hopefully through us and through other mediums … students and kids of all different colours and adults can just see themselves as being the next Harry Potter, you know, just seeing themselves as being the next superhero," Maymuuna said. Race to the Finish Line will be sold at Abāyo House online, and at the Glass Bookshop. For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here. (CBC)
The Peace River Regional District will be going ahead with plans for a new public library in Chetwynd, after board directors voted in favour of issuing requests for proposals for design and construction at their Feb. 25 meeting. The new library is a joint effort between Area E and Chetwynd. A lean-to style building is being floated as one possible option. Costs are capped at $5 million. “This has been going on for awhile, we’re trying to get costs down to something we can afford,” said Director Dan Rose. “We’ve got floor plans and ideas of what it might look like, so they’re not starting from scratch.” He added the library has extensive experience working remotely as a satellite office. "We’re certainly willing to accommodate as many communities as we can, with our services. I’m sure we could make agreements with everybody on how to do that,” said Rose. Fort St John Mayor Ackerman agreed a regional approach could be a good move for libraries in the Peace. “I’m totally open to having that conversation, even though the library in Fort St John is not a municipal library,” said Ackerman. “If you’re suggesting a regional library, I’m on that bandwagon.” Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead says the city will lend a hand if Chetwynd needs. “I appreciate how busy it is in Chetwynd right now. If they have any trouble at all in locating a site or land for this Chetwynd Public Library, we’d be happy to help facilitate that partnership with them, and construct it in Dawson Creek,” said Bumstead, jokingly. firstname.lastname@example.org Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News
Many people have turned to outdoor activities to stay active during the pandemic, and according to cycling industry insiders, that's made it a challenging year to keep up with demand. Bike shops in Calgary are experiencing surging sales and low inventory, with some estimated delivery dates being pushed into 2022. Jeremy Cobb, who has been biking most of his life and struggling to order bike parts this year, said it's a bit exasperating as an avid cyclist, but not surprising. "It's been frustrating," he said. "[But] I think people are trying to be safe, and trying to find things to do as a family and outdoors." No seasonal sales slowdown Scott Clarke, the sales manager of Ridley's Cycle in Kensington, said this winter has been the busiest he has seen in what is usually a seasonal industry. In a typical year, students come to work at the bike shop in the summer before heading back to school in the fall; a few seasonal layoffs usually follow, he said. Scott Clarke, left, the sales manager of Ridley's Cycle, said this winter has been the busiest he has ever seen. Bow Cycle has one of the largest inventories of bikes in Calgary, and owner John Franzky, right, said they're running low. (Terri Trembath/CBC) But this year, there was no sales slowdown in August, and Ridley's Cycle actually did some hiring in the fall to keep up. "Right now, it's get what you can, for us. Get in stock what you can, and keep stock levels high," he said. "Bike companies are producing more than they ever have, demand is up over what they're producing, so things are pumping through much, much quicker. So, we're getting to the point where we're having a lot of bikes pre-sold." A new challenge to manage It's not only Ridley's Cycle that is struggling to keep stock levels high. Bow Cycle has one of the largest inventories of bikes in Calgary, and owner John Franzky said they're running low. "On the business side, it's kind of exciting to have those challenges at work, so it's a new challenge to manage," Franzky said. "The hard part is, [at] Bow Cycle, we're not used to saying no to people." The demand that has left the store low on just about everything has been a blessing and a curse, Franzky said. "You can't really compare a year like this. And let's be honest, hopefully we don't have to compare another year like this," Franzky said. "But what it's done in the outdoor business, the boom it's been seeing, bicycle industry included — it's pretty unreal."