This house packed the front yard with spooky skeletons, ghosts, and graveyards.
This house packed the front yard with spooky skeletons, ghosts, and graveyards.
Remember “The Croods”? It’s understandable if the answer is a “sure, kinda?” The 2013 animated film about a cave family in a fictional prehistoric era featuring the voices of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, Ryan Reynolds and Cloris Leachman was pretty enjoyable, made a decent amount of money and even got an Oscar nomination. Nothing earth shattering, but it wasn’t surprising that DreamWorks Animation decided to greenlight a sequel.That it took seven years to do so is, but “ The Croods: A New Age ” got caught up in a crazy cycle of corporate acquisitions, director changes and shifting priorities. It was even flat out cancelled at one point. And this all happened pre-pandemic. That it still eventually got made with all of the original cast is a downright miracle.But it’s certainly a lot of drama for a silly animated sequel that’s neither terribly special nor all bad. Directing duties transferred from Chris Sanders and Kirk DeMicco to first-time director Joel Crawford.This time around we meet up with the Crood clan Grug (Cage), Ugga (Catherine Keener), Gran (Leachman), Eep (Stone) and her boyfriend Guy (Reynolds) on the search for a new place to live, somewhere they dreamily refer to as “Tomorrow.”And they do stumble upon a “Tomorrow” of sorts: A walled-in community with farming, tools and comforts, things that are wholly foreign to the rag-tag survivalist cave family. All of this progress is thanks to the not-so-subtly named Bettermans, Hope (Leslie Mann), Phil (Peter Dinklage) and their daughter Dawn (Kelly Marie Tran).The Bettermans look, to put it bluntly, like modern urban hipsters on vacation in Indonesia. With mom in a tasteful shift dress and turquoise jewelry and dad with a man-bun, sandals and an open shirt, it seemed like we were about to discover that this isn’t prehistoric times at all and maybe the Croods had been living in some deranged social experiment to mimic the conditions of primitive peoples. Don’t worry, they aren’t. It’s simply that this fantastical prehistoric society has gotten even more cartoonish and over-the-top.These two families do not mesh together particularly well, with one valuing privacy, tidiness and progress and the other being, well, crude. You can already guess the misunderstandings, the hurt feelings and where it all eventually ends up and it’s a journey with a good heart. Some kids might even take some comfort in relating more to one family or another, or, as Dawn discovers, wanting what the other family has.There is some clear imagination and talent behind this world, although the esthetic won’t be for everyone. The Betterman’s home is colorful and imaginative and will no doubt be a visual feast for youngsters, especially the gadget-curious and treehouse fans. And there are some genuinely funny moments, and a bit with “punch monkeys” that will likely produce giggles and then, depending, a follow-up conversation about punching.It might not be as novel as the first, but it’s essentially harmless, if a little chaotic, fun for kids and doesn’t need to be anything more than that.“The Croods: A New Age,” a Universal Pictures release, is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for “peril, action and rude humour.” Running time: 95 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.___MPAA Definition of PG: Parental guidance suggested.___Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahrLindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
Canada welcomes the choice of John Kerry as new U.S. climate envoy but will press Washington not to cancel permits for an oil pipeline he opposes, Ottawa's ambassador to the United States said on Tuesday. President-elect Joe Biden this week announced Kerry would be his climate czar, a cabinet-level position. Kerry played an important role in crafting the Paris Agreement on climate but President Donald Trump has withdrawn from the treaty.
France will start easing its COVID-19 lockdown this weekend so that by Christmas, shops, theatres and cinemas will reopen and people will be able to spend the holiday with their families, President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday. In a televised address to the nation, Macron said the worst of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in France was over, but that restaurants, cafes and bars would have to stay shut until Jan. 20 to avoid triggering a third wave. "We must do everything to avoid a third wave, do everything to avoid a third lockdown," Macron said.
Dale Woodard Lethbridge Herald With the winter months closing in, a pair of groups were at Galt Gardens to raise awareness for the homeless situation in Lethbridge on Saturday afternoon. Members of Kindness To Others and Community Giving Back To Community were at Galt Gardens handing out sandwiches to the homeless and raising awareness for a drop-in centre for those in need. “Today we are with some members of the community,” said Alvin Mills, a peer support worker with Bringing Home The Spirit in Standoff. “We want to feed the at-risk and vulnerable who struggle here in the city. We also want to bring to light what they go through and what they are going to be going through when the weather gets cold. I do see a real need for a drop-in facility here in the city. During the day they have nowhere to go and a lot of them are getting sick being out in the elements. “Then with the opioid crisis it enhances things. With the outreach service we started with Bringing Home The Spirit, we have been able to work in partnership with Alpha House, Alberta Health Services, Streets Alive and the Watch Program.” Mills said Saturday’s initiative was a street-level approach to reaching those who need help. “This is just the first step and sometimes they’ll follow through. Sometimes you just have to show that you care and you have to have that feeling of empathy regardless of the choices that they make. They should still be afforded that same dignity.” Mills said a shelter has been opened in Standoff. “They’ve stepped up in a big way opening up that shelter. So that’s another way of how we can get the ones struggling here in Lethbridge back out there.” In July, the Province of Alberta announced a capital investment to support the construction of two recovery communities in southern Alberta, one of them a 75-bed recovery community on the Blood Reserve in Standoff. “We have to fill those beds, especially with the weather getting colder,” said Mills. “This is the first step in recovery and we have to start filling up those beds.” On the Blood Reserve, Kainai Wellness manager Roger Prairie Chicken noted some concerning numbers. “What is happening within the reserve is basically the opiate process is still creating a lot of problems and deaths within the families on the reserve,” he said. “We are averaging about 12 DOAs a month and I would say 70 or 80 per cent of that is drug-related deaths and the age process is roughly 30 years and up. If you go back in time when this started, I would say, in 2018 and 2019, I believe we’ve had 46 or 47 each year, average DOAs. In 2019 and 2020 we went up to 118 deaths. That was when opioids really peaked out. “Now we are at a stage where we have had 99 deaths in the last fiscal year, but again the numbers are still really high. I would say almost 85 per cent of that is alcohol- and prescription-related DOAs.” Prairie Chicken said the numbers need to be shared by the public. “It has to start from the grassroots in the family situations, educating them and moving them forward,” he said. “You can’t resolve it with Band-Aid solutions and Band-Ad processes. These people are humans and they need help with their addictions. It’s an illness and it must be understood that way.” Over the weekend, Blood Tribe Police Service issued a warning about of a highly concentrated batch of drugs. BTPS and Blood Tribe EMS responded to an alarming amount of overdoses over 24 hours. Since noon Friday there were 15 overdoses that police and EMS have attended. There was been one death that is not considered suspicious, an autopsy will determine cause of death. On Saturday afternoon Prairie Chicken commended Mills for his work with the street people. “These are our people from the Blood Tribe and different areas and our hearts and our prayers go out to the families.” Follow @DWoodardHerald on TwitterDale Woodard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Lethbridge Herald
Twenty-three B.C. mayors are calling on Premier John Horgan to establish policies that give resource-based communities a key role in the province’s post-pandemic economic recovery plan. In an open letter to Horgan Nov. 19, the mayors of both rural and urban municipalities praised previous foundation investments in natural resource development, as well as associated construction and transportation needs, and asked for inclusion in future policy discussions. “As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, BC has undergone a tremendous economic shock,” the letter reads. “Fortunately, BC’s resource industries have been able to persevere during this period. Our mines have continued to operate, the forest sector was able to take advantage of soaring lumber prices during 2020, aquaculture continues to invest and innovate, and four major energy projects have kept British Columbia workers busy building the resource infrastructure of the future.” In September the province announced a $1.5 billion pandemic economic recovery plan, in addition to previous commitments, targeting primarily tourism, food security, climate action, technology and innovation. Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman said the group of mayors found no disagreements with the strategy, and issued the letter primarily as a show of support. “This was just to let the premier know that we are ready and willing to engage,” Ackerman said. “Our resource industries need to be front of mind when we’re looking at creating the future of British Columbia. We’ve got businesses that need to get working. With a new cabinet coming into place we needed to send the premier our congratulations and hope that we can work on this together.” The mayors asked Horgan to enshrine five core pillars for economic recovery into the Mandate Letters of incoming cabinet ministers. Those pillars are: quickly enable shovel-ready projects to proceed; ensure international investors know B.C.’s industries can succeed in uncertain global investment conditions; recognize the unique advantage of globally carbon-competitive exports; put workers and communities first when delivering on campaign commitments; and ensure any new regulations affecting delivery on the first four pillars are considered carefully. Going forward, the mayors also offered their support on all aspects of pandemic recovery and ongoing efforts with climate change and First Nations reconciliation. The letter was written by Ackerman and Williams Lake Mayor Walt Cobb, and supported by: Mayor Andy Adams, Campbell River Mayor Bruno Tassone, Castlegar Mayor Allen Courtoreille, Chetwynd Mayor Lee Pratt, Cranbrook Mayor Dale Bumstead, Dawson Creek Mayor Michelle Staples, Duncan Mayor Sarrah Storey, Fraser Lake Mayor Brad Unger, Gold River Mayor Linda McGuire, Granisle Mayor Phil Germuth, Kitimat Mayor Dennis Dugas, Port Hardy Mayor Joan Atkinson, Mackenzie Mayor Linda Brown, Merritt Mayor Gary Foster, Northern Rockies Mayor Brad West, Port Coquitlam Mayor Gaby Wickstrom, Port McNeill Mayor Lorraine Michetti, Pouce Coupe Mayor Doug McCallum, Surrey Mayor Rob Fraser, Taylor Mayor Carol Leclerc, Terrace Mayor Keith Bertrand, Tumbler Ridge Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
With millions dining at home for safety and a swing to the spicier side in the U.S. in recent years, Cholula, the hot sauce with the distinctive wooden cap and a cult following, has become a very valuable brand.McCormick & Co., the spice maker that dominates U.S. grocery shelves, said Tuesday that it was buying Cholula for $800 million from L Catteron, a private equity firm.McCormick made a notable tilt toward the hot sauce shelf three years ago when it acquired Frank’s RedHot, the preferred fuel in Buffalo wing recipes, as part of its $4.2 billion acquisition of Reckitt Benckiser’s food business.“The sauce with the little wooden cap is, like Frank’s RedHot, well-known to ‘chilli-heads’ around the globe but its appeal is much wider,” said Dean Best, food editor of Global Data.The acquisition arrives with the pandemic warping how America and the rest of the world eats, meaning largely at home. There was evidence of that trend in recent regulatory filings from McCormick, a company in Hunt Valley, Maryland with a valuation of close to $25 billion.McCormick said in September that revenue surged 8% during the third quarter as people replaced the contents of outdated spice racks, or started one for the first time.And hot sauce is increasingly part of the pantry mix.The volume of hot sauce produced for North America has risen in each of the past five years by an average of 4.7%, to more than 127,000 tons in 2020, according to the data service Euromonitor. That production is expected to rise by 16% within the next five years, according to the group.“Hot sauce is an attractive, high-growth category and, as an iconic premium brand, Cholula is outpacing category growth," said McCormick Chairman and CEO Lawrence Kurzius in prepared remarks Tuesday.Cholula has made its own adaptations during the pandemic to get the sauce to its cult followers.Earlier this month the company teamed up with simplehuman to create a touch-free Cholula dispenser for restaurants or other places that serve the hot sauce, allowing those eating out to bring the heat in relative safety.Shares of McCormick, which have hit an all time high this year, rose more than 2% Tuesday.Michelle Chapman, The Associated Press
LAS VEGAS — The Nevada Supreme Court made Joe Biden’s win in the state official on Tuesday, approving the state's final canvass of the Nov. 3 election.The unanimous action by the seven nonpartisan justices sends to Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak results that will deliver six electoral votes from the western U.S. battleground state to Biden.The court action drew extra scrutiny amid legal efforts by the state GOP and Trump campaign to prevent sending vote-by-mail ballots to all 1.82 million active registered voters and then to stop the counting of the 1.4 million votes that were cast.Nevada’s six Democratic presidential electors are scheduled to meet Dec. 14 in the state capital of Carson City.Biden won Nevada by 33,596 votes, according to results approved by elected officials in Nevada’s 17 counties — including Clark County, which encompasses Las Vegas, and Washoe County, which includes Reno.Biden got 50.06% of the vote and Trump 47.67%.Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican who has avoided the public eye in recent weeks, presented the results to the court.She noted the first-ever use of all-mail balloting statewide in a general election, same-day voter registration and early voting.“The result was more of a hybrid model where voters had a choice of how to participate,” she said, adding that a record number of voters participated.Certification of the vote does not stop several lawsuits pending in state and federal courts.They include bids by two Republican congressional candidates and a state Senate challenger to obtain re-votes in those races, an open-records case by the state GOP, and a U.S. District Court action alleging that thousands of ineligible people voted.A federal judge in that case declined a bid for an immediate injunction that would have stopped the use of a signature verification scanner during the vote count.Jesse Binnall, an attorney for the Trump campaign who is handling an election challenge pending before a state court judge, said Tuesday he intends to prove that so many fraudulent votes were cast statewide that Trump won Nevada.Turnout among the state’s more than 1.8 million active registered voters was almost 77.3%, including mail, early voting and Election Day ballots cast amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to secretary of state data.That was up from a turnout of 76.8% during the presidential election in 2016, when Democrat Hillary Clinton carried Nevada by a little under 2.5% over Trump.Nevada was one of several states due to certify the election on Tuesday.Ken Ritter, The Associated Press
Forte du succès de la première phase de son déploiement, la Coopérative Le Terroir solidaire étend ses services de livraison à domicile. Cette coopérative de producteurs agricoles et de transformateurs alimentaires de Brome-Missisquoi et de la Haute-Yamaska, va maintenant offrir ses services aux citoyens et commerces de Montréal, de la Rive-Sud, de Granby et Shefford. « L’achat local est plus important que jamais », explique le Terroir solidaire. Après des débuts timides l’an dernier, la Coopérative effectue maintenant près d’une trentaine de livraisons par semaine. « Pour les petits producteurs, l’option la plus commune était celle des marchés publics. Ça leur demandait beaucoup de temps. Il fallait trouver une meilleure façon de mettre nos produits en marché. Quand la crise a commencé, tous nos membres recevaient des appels de gens qui voulaient éviter d’aller à l’épicerie » relate Kristen Gingera, membre fondatrice de la coopérative et propriétaire de la Ferme Cheeky Creek. Aujourd’hui, viandes de pâturage, produits asiatiques, fromages, pousses, légumes et produits prêts-à-manger, sont maintenant accessibles en quelques clics. Il n’y a pas de contradiction entre valeurs écologiques, emballage et livraison par camion, estime Kristen Gingera. Seuls les produits commandés sur la plateforme de vente en ligne de la Coopérative sont récoltés chaque semaine. Ceci permet de laisser plus longtemps en terre les autres légumes et d’éviter que les invendus ne prennent le chemin du compostage. « Nos livraisons se font dans des boîtes isothermes qui sont presque 100 %recyclables. On les récupère chaque semaine pour être capable de les réutiliser. Les commandes sont regroupées dans un même camion » au lieu d’en avoir 27 sur la route. Solidaire d’autres régions Chloé Ostiguy est chef propriétaire depuis cinq ans du restaurant l’Archipel à Cowansville. Elle est depuis près d’un an membre du Terroir solidaire. Son restaurant « propose à 90 % des produits du terroir de Brome-Missisquoi. Des huiles, de la farine, des légumes, des épices… » La pandémie lui a permis de se concentrer sur le développement de la Coop. « On est capables de s’impliquer encore plus. L’aspect transformation alimentaire, cuisine industrielle, gestion des pertes, c’est ça que j’apporte au sein de la coopérative » estime Mme Ostiguy. Le Terroir solidaire songe à ouvrir son membership à d’autres régions. « On a eu des demandes de la Haute-Yamaska et de Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. On est très ouverts » à intégrer des producteurs qui partagent les valeurs du Terroir solidaire. Il faut d’abord consolider les acquis et attirer un plus grand nombre de producteurs de Brome-Missisquoi, explique Chloé Ostiguy. Une seule entreprise de Granby était pour l’heure membre de la coopérative. Il s’agit de Fraîcheur urbaine qui produit des légumes en serres. « On est capable d’avoir des tomates et des verdures à longueur d’année grâce à eux ». Son propriétaire Gilles Pelletier annonce cependant qu’il va quitter la coopérative. « Ce n’est pas à cause de la Coop. Avec la pandémie, ma production est toute vendue, je n’ai plus de disponibilité pour la coopérative » souligne M. Pelletier. Le Terroir solidaire a de grands projets, dont celui de construire un atelier de transformation. Il comprendrait une boucherie, une cuisine de transformation, des espaces d’entreposage et une petite boutique. « Ça fait trois ans qu’on travaille dessus. On va lancer la recherche de financement l’année prochaine » affirme Kristen Gingera. L’Atelier pourrait voir le jour dès 2022.Boris Chassagne, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Alberta Health Minister Tyler Shandro called the display outside his constituency office "offensive".
Originaire de Portneuf-sur-Mer, Alyson Desbiens est de retour au Québec, après quatre années passées en France, pour travailler dans un domaine qui la passionne : l’immigration. Technicienne juridique pour le moment, elle veut devenir consultante pour accompagner les immigrants. La firme Nadia Barrou Immigration de Montréal l’a repérée en mars dernier, alors qu’elle conseillait des immigrants sur des forums spécialisés. « Mme Barrou trouvait que mes commentaires étaient pertinents et que je connaissais bien les lois de l’immigration », affirme la jeune femme de 27 ans. Après plusieurs discussions, Alyson a finalement été embauchée, ce qui a devancé son retour au pays. « Mon mari et moi étions censés revenir au Québec en mars 2021, mais je ne voulais pas rater cette opportunité formidable pour moi. Je suis donc revenue seule pour le moment, mais il viendra me trouver quand il en aura fini avec la paperasse administrative », indique-t-elle. Ayant complété un baccalauréat en sociologie et développement social en France, la Portneuvoise exerce en tant que technicienne juridique puisqu’elle ne peut faire du conseil en immigration pour le moment. « Je dois terminer mon cours de consultante en immigration avant. Je le suis présentement en ligne et je dois passer l’examen de l’ordre en février prochain. Je suis assez confiante puisque jusqu’à maintenant, j’obtiens de très bonnes notes et j’adore ça », explique Alyson Desbiens. Hobby Pour la jeune femme, aider les gens qui immigrent était un « hobby » depuis longtemps. Elle participait à des forums de discussion et apportait son soutien régulièrement. « J’utilisais mon expérience et mes connaissances législatives. Ensuite, j’ai découvert que je pouvais être payée pour faire ça. C’est à ce moment que j’ai débuté mon cours », raconte-t-elle. Effectivement, en tant qu’immigrante en France avec son conjoint qu’elle a rencontré alors qu’il était en vacances à Québec, elle a vécu plusieurs problématiques pour obtenir et conserver son VISA. « C’est de cette façon que j’ai développé de l’expérience dans le domaine, dévoile Alyson Desbiens, nouvellement mariée cet été. Lire les petites lignes dans le bas des contrats, ça me connaît. » De plus, avec la pandémie qui sévit dans le monde en ce moment, l’immigration est rendue encore plus difficile, selon Mme Desbiens. « Il y a beaucoup de choses qui ont changé, ce n’est pas évident de s’y retrouver quand on n’a pas les connaissances pour le faire. Les démarches sont plus longues et coûteuses et seulement les membres de la famille immédiate peuvent venir au Québec depuis la pandémie. » Coup de foudre Alyson Desbiens fait partie de celles qui ont vécu deux coups de foudre dans leur vie, soit amoureux et professionnel. Ses trois premières semaines de travail pour Nadia Barrou Immigration l’ont enchantée. « Il y a vraiment un climat de confiance et d’entraide dans l’équipe, confirme-t-elle. C’est super comme ambiance ». Aider sa région natale La future consultante en immigration aura peut-être même l’opportunité d’aider les entreprises de la Côte-Nord qui souhaitent faire appel à la main-d’œuvre immigrante. « C’est un défi qu’est prête à m’offrir Nadia Barrou. J’en serais très heureuse puisque j’ai une bonne connaissance de la région », conclut Alyson qui peut être jointe à firstname.lastname@example.org ou au 514-286-1613.Johannie Gaudreault, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Haute-Côte-Nord
A survey of university students, faculty, and academic librarians in Ontario suggests that the shift to online learning during the pandemic has negatively affected the quality of the educational experience. The poll of 2,700 people was commissioned by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations and released on Tuesday. It reveals that 62 per cent of student respondents and 76 per cent of faculty and academic librarians surveyed believe online learning has had a negative impact on education quality. Rahul Sapra, president of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations, said that the survey's results show a meaningful engagement between students and faculty is a fundamental part of the learning process. “As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the scramble to move courses online, we have lost that human connection and educational quality has suffered,” Sapra said. The survey also found that financial security, care demands, and work-life balance are significant stress points for both groups. A majority of students that responded to the survey said they are concerned about their financial security as a result of high tuition fees and fewer opportunities to earn income during the pandemic. Kayla Weiler, Ontario representative of the Canadian Federation of Students, said that a lot of the usual ways that post-secondary students save money or budget for the school year have been affected by COVID-19. "Their summer employment was altered, their fall employment might look very different than in past years," said Weiler. "But also last year we saw $670 million cut to OSAP and we're still feeling that well into the pandemic." Other issues students who were surveyed cited were mental health and the ability to manage non-academic responsibilities, including caregiving, while studying. Faculty and academic librarians who participated in the survey indicated they feel they are falling short of their own expectations. Respondents cited an inability to adequately teach and support students, and difficulty sustaining their desired level of professional development. Sapra said that another issue is that approximately 60 per cent of Ontario's faculty are part-time or on contract and therefore have less job stability. "During COVID-19 contract faculty had to do additional work to convert in-class courses to online courses but received no extra pay for this work," said Sapra. "Because of the rise in the size of online courses, less courses were offered so many contract faculty lost their jobs." The survey suggests that one in two faculty members are working longer hours, and four of five have an increased workload. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020. John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press
Police have laid charges against a man after more than $145,000 worth of cocaine was seized at a rural residence in Rocky View County.ALERT Calgary's organized crime and gang team carried out a search warrant on Nov. 18 with help from Calgary police and Airdrie RCMP officers.Police seized the following from the residence: * 1,459 grams of cocaine. * 292 grams of an unknown pink powder. * 134 grams of an unknown white powder. * 6 grams of psilocybin. * 0.3 grams of methamphetamine. * Various rounds of ammunition. * $120 cash.Jeff Bussey, 40, was arrested at a traffic stop in Crossfield, Alta., and charged with possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking and possession of ammunition contrary to a prohibition order.The unknown powders are being sent to a Health Canada laboratory for identification and analysis."Drug trafficking offences are magnified in rural communities and, more often than not, produce a number of ancillary offences related to addiction, such as property crimes and theft," said ALERT Calgary Staff Sgt. Jeff Ringelberg in a release.
SALT LAKE CITY — Deep in the Mars-like landscape of Utah's red-rock desert lies a mystery: A gleaming metal monolith in one of the most remote parts of the state. The smooth, tall structure was found during a helicopter survey of bighorn sheep in southeastern Utah, officials said Monday. A crew from the Utah Department of Public Safety and Division of Wildlife Resources spotted the gleaming object from the air Nov. 18 and landed to check it out during a break from their work. They found the three-sided stainless-steel object is about as tall as two men put together. But they discovered no clues about who might have driven it into the ground among the undulating red rocks or why. “This thing is not from another world,” said Lt. Nick Street of the Utah Highway Patrol, part of the Department of Public Safety. Still, it's clear that it took some planning and work to construct the 10- to 12-foot (3- to 4-meter) monolith and embed it in the rock. The exact location is so remote that officials are not revealing it publicly, worried that people might get lost or stranded trying to find it and need to be rescued. The monolith evokes the one that appears in the Stanley Kubrick movie “2001: A Space Odyssey." Because it’s on federal public land, it’s illegal to place art objects without authorization. Bureau of Land Management officials are investigating how long it's been there, who might have created it and whether to remove it. Lindsay Whitehurst, The Associated Press
LONDON — A book that looks at The Beatles from a playful kaleidoscope of angles won Britain’s leading nonfiction literary award on Tuesday.Craig Brown’s “One Two Three Four: The Beatles in Time” was named winner of the 50,000-pound ($66,000) Baillie Gifford Prize at a virtual ceremony in London.Brown’s “composite biography” juxtaposes the stories of John, Paul, George and Ringo with relatives, partners, artists, imitators, hangers-on and others drawn into their orbit.Broadcaster Martha Kearney, who chaired the judging panel, said Brown’s “joyous, irreverent, insightful celebration” of the Fab Four was “a shaft of light piercing the deep gloom of 2020.”“Who would have thought that a book about The Beatles could seem so fresh?” she said.The award recognizes English-language books in current affairs, history, politics, science, sport, travel, biography, autobiography and the arts.Brown beat a shortlist that included Sudhir Hazareesingh’s Haitian revolution history “Black Spartacus,” Matthew Cobb’s “The Idea of the Brain” and Christina Lamb’s book about women and war “Our Bodies, Their Battlefield.”The other finalists were Amy Stanley’s “Stranger in the Shogun’s City,” about a woman’s life in 19th-century Japan, and “The Haunting of Alma Fielding” by Kate Summerscale, a fact-based story of apparently supernatural events.The Associated Press
TORONTO — Anxiety-ridden and overworked health-care workers say they feel abandoned in their increasingly desperate struggle to cope with COVID-19, a new small-scale study suggests. Interviews with nurses, personal support workers and others in hospitals and long-term care homes suggest chronic stress and burnout are common, but fear of reprisals is stopping them from speaking out. "The knowledge that they are at increased risk of infection due to lack of protection has resulted in anger, frustration, fear, and a sense of violation that may have long-lasting implications," the paper states. The study, in New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, was done by James Brophy and Margaret Keith, academic researchers affiliated with the University of Windsor and noted occupational hygienists. Health-care workers in Canada have contracted the novel coronavirus in far higher numbers relative to the general public, comprising almost one-in-five confirmed cases, according to a previous study. To date, COVID-19 has sickened close to 9,000 front-line health-care workers and killed 16. Only 10 workers — nurses, personal support workers and other staff — agreed to be interviewed for the qualitative study. Others refused to take part for fear of being disciplined or fired, they said. Despite the handful of interview subjects, the authors said their peer-reviewed findings reflect other larger-scale research and surveys, and its findings are valid. Those interviewed said they still lack personal protective equipment despite the very real risks of contracting COVID or spreading it — risks apparent from the early days of the pandemic. Some said they were warned by supervisors not to wear N95 protection, even if they had their own, Keith said. Others spoke of the constant grief and trauma they endure when patients or residents die, a situation only getting worse as new cases soar. "Words on the page cannot convey the level of emotion we heard in the voices of the health-care workers we interviewed," Brophy said. "We did not expect to hear the degree of anger and desperation that came out." The vast majority of the front-line health-care workers are women, many racialized, Keith said. Many are part-time and vulnerable to job loss. "Health-care workers are desperately in need of protection from COVID and from their often back-breaking and soul-crushing working conditions," Keith said. "But the authoritarian and hierarchical nature of health-care work contributes to (their) risks and adverse mental-health impacts." Despite the issues, the workers said the provincial government had let them down by failing to take action to deal with their health or labour concerns. Chronic understaffing and failing to keep them safe, the authors said, means the workers can't do their jobs effectively, putting everyone at risk. "Health-care workers health and well-being are being sacrificed," Keith said. "We all need to pay attention to their pleas." There was no immediate response to the qualitative study from the provincial government, but Health Minister Christine Elliott praised the "tireless efforts" of front-line health-care workers during an announcement on Tuesday about the roll-out of rapid tests. Michael Hurley, president of the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions, said front-line staff in close contact with COVID-infected people still have no ready access to proper respirators. The Ministry of Labour has also rejected all 253 work refusals as valid. "This explains why people feel sacrificed and why they feel exploited and violated," Hurley said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 24, 2020 Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
In the September throne speech, the federal government promised to set new national standards for long-term care so that Canadian seniors could get the best support possible — and a new paper from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) is recommending how that can be achieved.In a report released this week titled A Higher Standard: Setting national standards for long-term and continuing care, co-authors Pat Armstrong and Marcy Cohen outline how Ottawa can reform long-term care amid a second wave of COVID-19, something the paper indicates should have been done during the first wave."In Canada, we have had the worst infection rates and deaths in long-term care of any western country," said Cohen, speaking Monday on CBC's The Early Edition.The recommendationsThe paper recommends the federal government take the following action as soon as possible: * Ensure everyone has access to care based on need, without financial barriers, and with minimum wait times for admission to a long-term care home. * Establish and enforce minimum staffing levels in long-term care facilities, accompanied by decent working conditions and recruitment strategies to attract and retain staff; * Ensure a minimum of 70 per cent of staff work full-time in a single site and that all staff (including part-time workers) have benefits and pay based on equity principles; * Set in place plans to address infections, ranging from adequate stock of personal protective equipment, to methods for effective laundry treatment, to adequate room size and ventilation; * Require public accountability through public reporting of consistent, verified data and enforcement of penalties for failure to comply with standards; * Invest significant federal funds into developing a universal seniors care system, with stringent means of accountability attached.Cohen said B.C. is already leading the country by putting an order in place in March that limited long-term care workers employment to a single facility.For Cath-Anne Ambrose, a Vancouver resident with a mother currently in a long-term care facility, the situation in B.C. is far from perfect."When she went into the care home, there was probably a few months where I did not see her. She literally went in with the clothes on her back," Ambrose told CBC.She said it was a couple of months before she could take her mother some essentials, like her glasses, and because of the pandemic, visits have been limited to through a window, in a courtyard, or in the facility lobby spaced out without touching one another."I miss being able to hug her," said Ambrose.Cohen says if the federal government is putting money on the table for the provinces, then it has the right to set conditions and standards, and should do so as soon as possible."If you acted earlier it would have made a difference, and if you act now it will make a difference in the future," she said.In a statement, Health Canada said it has provided guidance on the care of residents in long-term care, as well as infection prevention and control guidance developed with the National Advisory Committee on Infection Prevention and Control.The government also stated it is providing up to $3 billion to provinces and territories to increase the wages of low-income essential workers, including front-line workers in long-term care facilities.To hear the complete interview with Marcy Cohen on CBC's The Early Edition, tap the audio link below:
CALGARY — The Alberta Court of Appeal has refused to throw out one of the convictions against a man who was found guilty of killing a father and his two-year-old daughter as well as a senior.Derek Saretzky's lawyer, Balfour Der, had argued that his client's first-degree murder conviction in the death of Hanne Meketech, 69, in September 2015 should be overturned because Saretzky's rights were breached when police improperly took his confession.Saretzky was also convicted of first-degree murder in the slayings of Terry Blanchette, who was 27, and his daughter Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette.Saretzky, 27, was in custody when he confessed Meketech's killing to an RCMP officer who visited him at a correctional centre.Der said Saretzky should never have been convicted in the woman's death since the confession came without a lawyer present and six months after Saretzky admitted to killing Blanchette and the toddler.The Crown argued that at the time of the police interview Saretzky would have been well aware of his right to counsel.The three-justice Appeal Court panel unanimously dismissed the appeal."The appellant was not under arrest and the trial judge found he had not been detained," wrote Justice Peter Martin on behalf of the court."Those findings were well supported by the evidence and are entitled to deference. I agree with his conclusion that on considering all of the circumstances of this case, the appellant's confession would not have been excluded."Meketech's body was found in her home in Coleman, Alta., on Sept. 9, 2015. She had been struck in the head and stabbed in the neck. During the trial, the jury was shown videotaped confessions in which Saretzky told police it was a spur-of-the-moment decision to kill Meketech, who was a friend of his grandparents, because he didn't think anyone cared about her. Five days later, Blanchette's body was discovered in his home in Blairmore, Alta. His daughter was missing, which sparked an Amber Alert and an extensive search in the Crowsnest Pass area of southwestern Alberta.Court heard Saretzky was "an aspiring serial killer" at the time of the attacks. He had few close friends and possessed numerous books on serial killers and serial killings.Saretzky was sentenced in 2017 to three consecutive life sentences, which means he is ineligible for parole until he has served 75 years in prison.The Court of Appeal still has to schedule and hear an appeal of the sentence.This report by The Canadian Press was first published November 24, 2020.— Follow @BillGraveland on TwitterBill Graveland, The Canadian Press
Premier François Legault has tightened the rules of his "moral contract" with Quebecers, asking the public to limit themselves to two gatherings between Dec. 24 and 27.Legault said last week that people could meet in groups of at most 10 — if they quarantine themselves for a week before and a week after Christmas. On Tuesday, Legault said people can only do that twice."Public health authorities told us that we have to limit ourselves to two gatherings," Legault said Tuesday.Legault also said shopping should be done seven days beforehand, if possible.He added, as well, that Quebecers should "refrain from travelling outside Quebec" during the holidays to avoid returning with the virus.Gatherings will only be allowed over the holidays if the number of daily cases and hospitalizations remains stable, said Dr. Horacio Arruda, the province's public health director.Arruda said, ideally, he would like to see a decrease in the daily numbers before the holiday season, given that an increase in transmission is expected over Christmas.The province's case count has stubbornly remained above 1,000 for several weeks. On Tuesday, the province reported 1,124 cases and 45 deaths.
Homeowners in Swan Hills began to receive telephone calls from the town last week regarding their water meters. The electronic water meter heads installed on the water meters in many of our homes have reached the end of their "shelf life" and need to be replaced. The electronic heads are able to read the water meters through a pre-programmed algorithm that detects the magnetic signatures of the mechanical water meter. The electronic heads can then connect to a receiver to transmit the data from the water meter. This setup allows a meter reader to take water meter readings without having to enter the home. The person taking the readings drives up and down the streets of Swan Hills with a receiver in their vehicle, picking up the readings as they go. According to the town office, many of the electronic water meter heads were installed roughly 8 – 10 years ago and are now starting to have performance issues. The town will be contacting the affected homeowners on an individual basis to arrange the replacement of the water meter heads. This whole process may take some time as these service calls will depend on coordinating with the homeowners' schedules, and the town has a limited number of technicians to perform these replacements. Please do not be alarmed if you receive a call from the town regarding your water meter in the near future. This is merely routine maintenance to keep our present system running smoothly.Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
When COVID-19 first appeared, people and governments across the globe reacted with alarm. Action was swift.In Alberta, businesses shuttered as the government imposed restrictions. People mostly stayed inside. Premier Jason Kenney said it was a generational challenge his government would rise to meet. But restrictions were loosened as the weather warmed. The most dire predictions didn't come to pass, and barbecues or drinks with friends seemed less risky. People held parties and their neighbours thought: why not me? Disinformation spread and, with it, doubt about the dangers of the virus and the actions of the government. But warnings were everywhere: Second wave. The fight isn't over. Be prepared.Many listened, but too many did not. Alberta's government said the economy couldn't take another hit and it was up to individuals to stem the tide. It delayed and equivocated. When the weather cooled, the virus was soon spreading more than ever. Now the talk was exponential growth and warnings of overwhelmed hospitals.As Kenney prepares to make an announcement on COVID this afternoon, he has so far stuck with personal responsibility as the key to fighting the outbreak.He and his government have pointed fingers at individuals for not obeying official recommendations, but now people are pointing back, laying blame at the feet of the government. Laying blame, however, is no easy thing.Personal responsibility and the role of the government aren't easily disentangled. Why individuals and the government have behaved as they have goes to the heart of who Albertans are — or at least who they perceive themselves to be. It begins with the ways that people, in general, deal with crises. The psychology of a pandemicThere's a common view of the world that assumes people panic when confronted with danger — causing more harm than the threat itself — but that's not often the case. Social psychologists have shown the greater risk is underestimating danger and not reacting in time. We also tend to believe the worst will happen to others, not us. Add misinformation to the mix and none of this should come as a surprise. "I've done an awful lot of reading about the Great Mortality, black plague, and about the Spanish influenza epidemic in 1918," said Dr. Lynora Saxinger, an infectious disease expert at the University of Alberta. "And I would just say that every single thing that has happened could have been predicted by reading a history book."People in the past, like today, reacted to an invisible, existential threat by embracing conspiracy theories or unlikely cures while ignoring medical advice. Many denied the problem. Add social media, and the spread of misinformation is even more damaging and difficult to control. It creates deep divisions when cohesion is key to beating back the virus. Collective action problemThere are times when 51 per cent is enough. If enough people do the right thing, everyone will be swept along by their good deeds. A virus — especially an airborne one — doesn't work that way. We are in a classic collective action problem where almost universal buy-in is required. We all have to keep distance, wear masks, wash our hands, limit social interactions or just stay home. If we don't all do it, the virus spreads. Saxinger thinks the province has reached the ceiling on what independent co-operation can do.Compounding the problem is the perception of risk. Research shows that individuals are more likely to make moral decisions when ambiguity about risks is reduced.Prof. Leslie Francis, who works in the faculties of law, medicine and philosophy at the University of Utah, says the vast majority of people understand not to put other people at risk by, say, speeding down a residential road at 100 km/h. But people might not see COVID-19 the same way."What we see going on right now is that many people deny that COVID exists, or they think it's not going to make people very sick, or they think that it won't make them very sick, maybe they'll even be asymptomatic," she said."But they don't realize that, for example, in my own state right now, the estimate is that one in 73 people right now is actively contagious."Alberta's political cultureWe judge our behaviour and the behaviours of others based on what we observe, but also on how we perceive our own political culture and what it will allow. In Alberta, a lot of it might be built on myth.Political science Prof. Jared Wesley of the University of Alberta asks participants about the province in his ongoing study of politics and culture. He gets them to sketch out their typical Albertan and then asks what that Albertan would do in certain situations. The Albertan — here nicknamed "Joe" — is always male, often a farmer, a libertarian conservative. Wesley's point is to narrow in on what people believe the political culture to be — what is acceptable and what is possible.In the pandemic, Joe reacts in a specific way."They will tell you, like you see in the media everywhere, they'll tell you all Albertans will never stand for mask mandates because it's an infringement on their freedoms," said Wesley.That sort of statement comes from people across the political spectrum, not just those who agree with their typical Albertan. That shapes the way we think about the world and can shape our own behaviour. We make moral decisions based on how we think others might perceive us. If people think broader society doesn't want to have its freedoms restricted — even in minor ways like donning a mask — they are less likely to be strict about virus-beating behaviours and less likely to feel judged for their laxity. This despite a majority not agreeing with their "typical" Albertan. "Do a survey like we just did three or four weeks ago: Albertans are massively in favour of heavier restrictions," said Wesley. "You ask them on an individual basis, would you like to see a provincewide mask mandate, doesn't matter if they're rural areas. Absolutely, it's the right thing to do. They going to push for it? No, because they don't think that the rest of the province would accept it."At some point that tide could turn. There are more voices calling for government to impose more severe restrictions, including a complete lockdown, in order to fight surging case counts.The ethics of action are clear, even if the ultimate answers are not. The ethicsFrancis says there's a clear difference between someone who puts themselves in harm's way versus someone who creates "a real risk of harm to other people." Individuals are expected to go about in the world obeying the rules so that a free society can operate in a mostly free way. Social norms keep most of us from hurting one another, but there is never a full participation rate. Murders, assaults and more happen on a regular basis. So there are laws. Even the most stringent libertarians agree there is a role for the state to some protections. Francis argues that we should view restrictions around COVID-19 in the same light."I think a lot of people are treating this as some kind of unusual interference with liberty," Francis said about pandemic responses. "And my point is, it's actually much more like when people are thinking through some of the most standard kinds of interferences with liberty."Yet despite the ethical obligations to protect citizens, the decision to impose restrictions across a society is no small thing.Some see the delay in implementing more restrictions as cruel — akin to saying the economy is as important as human life.Certainly the belief that Alberta's political culture would not allow a lockdown plays a role in politicians' decisions. But governments also have to consider how their decisions might affect broader society. Lives and livelihoods can be lost due to a cratered economy. Not every individual can simply choose to stay home. Many calling for a sharp lockdown have salaries, home offices or the security to stay isolated. And race, class and gender mix to create a set of ethical and moral traps many can't escape."There has to also be an economic solution for those whose lives are going to be torn apart by this," Melissa Caouette, a political strategist with the Canadian Strategy Group, said on the CBC's West of Centre podcast. As cases and hospitalizations rise, there comes a point when political calculation isn't relevant, and protecting the health of Albertans and its health-care system becomes a priority.Every decision can have a profound impact on Albertans. The hesitance of the government to shut things down as the pandemic spreads out of control, however, should come as no surprise. The Alberta government"This government is refreshingly transparent and completely doctrinaire when it comes to all elements of public policy," Wesley says of the United Conservative Party's approach. "So if you want to know where this government was heading, you need to look no further than the 2018 UCP statement of principles."Wesley calls it Neoliberalism 101 — a political philosophy that makes no room for collective action problems. "From a political science standpoint, that's almost like the ideal of what we expect of responsible party actors, is that they have a set of principles, we know what they stand for, they're being transparent about it," he said. "And we know when they're confronted with things that are out of the ordinary, are not part of their policy platform, we know how they're going to react."In short, they'll react like Joe Alberta would want them to.That policy consistency is tied directly to the founding leader of the UCP, Kenney. A principled conservative to some, an ideologue to others, he tends to stake his position and stick to it. It doesn't help that he was elected on a commitment to get the economy back on track and the budget balanced — a near impossibility given COVID spending and the languishing price of oil. The focus is, and has been, on trying to preserve and repair a battered economy. Kenney wants to avoid more business closures and loss of jobs. He does not want to spend more money.There's also a documented combativeness to Kenney and his government that hasn't abated during the pandemic, including battles with doctors, nurses and public servants. The ensuing division inhibits any chance that collective action could be effective against the pandemic. It seems the government won't abandon its ideological mores until, as Wesley calls them, a substantial "accumulation of anomalies" attacks the tenets of that foundation.It seems plenty of individuals feel the same. With more cases, more deaths, fewer ICU beds and more calls for action as the government resists, the situation is ripe for blaming the government no matter the culprit in our collective failures. Laying blameEvery catastrophe eventually leads to the need for answers: Who is responsible? Who or what could have prevented this? Things are getting out of control in Alberta, with contact tracers overwhelmed and community spread in full bloom. Recent restrictions on fitness classes and earlier last calls have had no impact to date as 1,000-plus new cases a day becomes the norm. For a while, it appeared things were under control. As cases rose, most people were not vocally critical.Then doctors started writing letters with hundreds of their colleagues' signatures calling for circuit-breaker lockdowns. The chief of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency called for the same. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi wished for more, but told citizens not to wait for the province to do what was needed. Social media was flooded with calls for restrictions.Cases soared, as did hospitalizations. There are more deaths and likely many more to come.The government continued to resist, but looks prepared to act — in some way — on Tuesday afternoon.Critics have said the government has failed to provide clarity across the province on what is expected and even failed to model the baselines of good behaviour. Research has shown that people tend to lay more blame when an intentional harm has occurred, but that those in power can be judged harshly even if causality is ambiguous or indirect. Polls have shown that Albertans are dissatisfied with the performance of their government, including a recent poll by ThinkHQ that suggested the majority of Albertans don't think recent government restrictions went far enough. But it can't all be put at the feet of the government. No one told Albertans to celebrate birthdays with friends and family. There was no public health recommendation to drink until closing time on Saturday night.Frustration, however, is mounting. So too is evidence that something more drastic needs to take place."I say that it's never too late to do something that's useful," said Saxinger, the infectious disease specialist from the U of A. "But earlier action is very clearly, and in a very data-driven way, the best way to handle something that has exponential growth — acting before it becomes a problem, because you act after it becomes a problem and you're already on your way to a much, much bigger problem."What is happeningOn Nov. 20, Alberta announced 1,155 new confirmed cases of COVID-19. That number has grown every day since, giving Alberta the highest number of active cases of all the provinces. Hinshaw has said ICU beds set aside for the pandemic are nearing capacity, but that more resources could be freed up. Those resources would come at a cost to those seeking treatment for other reasons. Decisions will soon have to be made within hospitals about who has the best chance of survival and therefore gets a bed and treatment. Some of the dire predictions that were elaborately presented in Alberta's first wave are coming into focus.On Monday, Hinshaw admitted defeat in terms of the government's already limited contact tracing and, in an attempt to catch up, was giving up on contacting thousands of those linked to high-priority settings such as hospitals, schools and continuing care homes. She also said she'd be making recommendations to a cabinet huddle after her announcement. The government response is expected to be announced Tuesday afternoon. Francis, speaking from Utah without any knowledge of Alberta's situation, said the way to minimize the impact on businesses while protecting the health of the public is to act swiftly and comprehensively if restrictions are imposed. "One wishes that business closures were very short-lived," she said. "Unfortunately, we've made some mistakes, we've done it halfway, and so we've let community spread really get out of control.... You don't treat a rapidly growing tumour by cutting out 20 per cent of it. And unfortunately, a sort of tepid approach to infection control has done exactly that."So, with the surgery delayed, that incision will only have to go deeper.