A gaggle of geese fly in formation, honking along the way
A gaggle of geese fly in formation, honking along the way
WASHINGTON — Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm won Senate confirmation Thursday to be energy secretary, joining President Joe Biden's Cabinet as a leader of Biden’s effort to build a green economy as the United States moves to slow climate change. The vote was 64-35, with all Democrats and 14 Republicans, including GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, voting yes. Granholm, 62, served two terms as governor in a state dominated by the auto industry and devastated by the 2008 recession. She has promoted emerging clean energy technologies, such as electric vehicles and battery manufacturing, as an answer for jobs that will be lost as the U.S. transitions away from oil, coal and other fossil fuels. Granholm, who was sworn in late Thursday, is just the second woman to serve as energy secretary. She tweeted her thanks to senators and said, "I’m obsessed with creating good-paying clean energy jobs in all corners of America in service of addressing our climate crisis. I’m impatient for results. Now let’s get to work!'' Sen. Joe Manchin, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Granholm has the leadership skills, vision and compassion needed at the Energy Department to “develop innovative solutions for the climate challenge'' while preserving jobs. Granholm is committed to working every day “to ensure that we don’t leave any workers behind as we move towards a cleaner energy future,'' said Manchin, D-W.Va. During her confirmation hearing last month, Granholm pushed her plans to embrace new wind and solar technologies. But her position caused tension with some Republicans who fear for the future of fossil fuels. “We can buy electric car batteries from Asia, or we can make them in America,” Granholm told senators. “We can install wind turbines from Denmark, or we can make them in America.'' Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy committee, said Biden “seems to want to pull the plug on American energy dominance. So I cannot in good conscience vote to approve his nominee for secretary of energy.'' Barrasso and other Republicans have complained that a freeze imposed by Biden on oil and gas leases on federal lands is taking a “sledgehammer” to Western states’ economies. The moratorium could cost tens of thousands of jobs unless rescinded, Barrasso said. He and other Republicans also bemoaned Biden’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, saying thousands of jobs will be lost and a friendly source of oil left idle. Granholm assured lawmakers that creating jobs was her top priority — and Biden's. “We cannot leave our people behind. In West Virginia, and in other fossil fuel states, there is an opportunity for us to specialize in the technologies that reduce carbon emissions, to make those technologies here, to put people to work here, and to look at other ways to diversify,'' she said at her Jan. 27 hearing. During her introduction as Biden's nominee, Granholm described arriving in the U.S. at age 4, brought from Canada by a family “seeking opportunity.” She said her father found work as a bank teller and retired as head of the bank. “It’s because of my family’s journey and my experience in fighting for hardworking Michigan families that I have become obsessed ... with gaining good-paying jobs in America in a global economy,” she said. In other action Thursday on Biden's Cabinet nominees: SURGEON GENERAL Surgeon general nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy said Americans must not lose track of opioid addiction and other health emergencies amid the intense national focus on overcoming the coronavirus pandemic. He told senators at a hearing that “we cannot neglect the other public health crises that have been exacerbated by this pandemic, particularly the opioid epidemic, mental illness and racial and geographic health inequities.” After dipping slightly, opioid deaths have risen again, the result of street formulations laced with the powerful painkiller fentanyl. Murthy told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that the overdose rescue drug naloxone should be even more widely available and that medication-assisted treatment must be expanded. Murthy, who was surgeon general in the Obama administration, has drawn opposition from gun rights groups because of his assessment that gun violence is a public health problem. But he tried to dispel notions that he would launch a crusade against guns. He told Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., that while he supports government studying the problem, “my focus is not on this issue, and if I’m confirmed it will be on COVID, on mental health and substance use disorder.” TRADE REPRESENTATIVE Biden’s pick for U.S. trade representative promised to work with America’s allies to combat China’s aggressive trade policies, indicating a break from the Trump administration’s go-it-alone approach. Katherine Tai told the Senate Finance Committee that rebuilding international alliances would be a priority, as well as "reengaging with international institutions? to present Beijing with “a united front of U.S. allies.? Tai did not address whether the Biden administration would drop former President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum or whether it would revive the Obama administration's Asia-Pacific trade deal, which Trump killed. BUDGET DIRECTOR Another key Republican lawmaker came out against Biden’s embattled pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, raising further questions about her viability. Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley told reporters he won't support her nomination. He and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski were two Republicans seen as potentially gettable votes for the White House, as Grassley had previously said he’d had good conversations with Tanden. Murkowski has yet to say how she'd vote. With a handful of other key centrist Republicans coming out against her in recent days, Tanden’s path to confirmation hinges largely on Murkowski and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., neither of whom have made their positions known. The White House was forced to search for a Republican to support Tanden after West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin announced his opposition last week. Lawmakers have largely cited Tanden’s controversial and at times harshly critical tweets about members of both parties in explaining their opposition to her. ___ Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Paul Wiseman contributed to this report. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
County curlers are rocking the ice again as the Haliburton Curling Club reopened its doors Feb. 17 for its first session since the Dec. 26 lockdown. The club ran for several weeks in November and December with a limited slate of approximately 100 curlers, three nights a week, with COVID safety restrictions in place. It is the only curling club in the County which is operating amidst the pandemic. But the lockdown put a premature halt on the winter 2020-2021 schedule. Still, president, Kent Milford, said they were able to carry on with the lockdown lifted. “The only comment we’ve heard is people are just glad they’ve got an opportunity to get out and do something,” Milford said. “Relieve some of the boredom and stress and other things we’ve all faced over the last year.” The sport is not the same this year. Health precautions mean the social gathering aspect cannot be as robust. Travelling for bonspiels is also out. The lockdown also forced a schedule change, though Milford said they reorganized it by picking up where they left off. “No one’s overly concerned this year in making sure we have an even schedule or even some sort of competitive schedule,” Milford said. “It’s just to get some exercise, have some fun, have a little bit of social activity.” Board director, Wanda Stephen, said the first day back went well. “There was a great, big, sigh of relief from the crowd that was here, saying, ‘Yay, we made it’,” Stephen said. “Because there are a lot of clubs that didn’t reopen.” Milford said the club is in a financially stable position. But a major fundraiser – the Haliburton Home and Cottage Show – was cancelled in 2020 and is doubtful again for 2021. “Our strategy is we’re preparing for a show, so if we can have one, the logistics are in place,” Milford said. “It is difficult for me to see how we can have a show this year with the number of people we would normally have.” The club was allowed to curl thanks to the district staying in an “orange” zone under provincial COVID-19 protocol. But if case numbers worsen in the district, pushing that colour to “red” or “gray,” the club would have to halt. “Just hoping we can make it to the end of April without any shutdowns,” Stephen said. Milford said the curling sessions have remained COVID-safe, with no cases associated with the rink. He said they will follow whatever public health asks of them – and members are willing to work through those hurdles. “Curling is really an integral part of the community,” Milford said. “As long as we can keep them safe, and they wanted to do that, then we felt it was important to continue.” Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
If there is a universal language, one method of communicating emotion, culture, heritage and welcoming, it’s the language of food. At Sudbury.com, we’re always looking for ways to share the stories of the community of Greater Sudbury and the many smaller communities that make up the fabric of this city. What better way, then through your stomach. Welcome to the first edition of Communities Eat. It’s a chance to meet wonderful members of this community and to enjoy some great food – maybe even learn a little something new. This edition features Tibila Sandiwidi, who is a school settlement worker in Sudbury. Originally from Burkina Faso, Sandiwidi arrived in Sudbury almost 20 years ago. He is an excellent cook, even though he is largely self-taught. In his home country, men must be invited into the kitchen, as it is not only the domain of women, but every grain of rice is accounted for and when there isn’t much to go around, a little unpermitted snack can mean one less meal. He is cooking a common meal from his homeland, one that would be cooked for celebrations and events, when family would come together to dine. Called Riz Gras, it translates as Fat Rice, but only because it requires slightly more oil than you might expect. Sandiwidi’s home country of Burkina Faso, in West Africa, did not always go by that name. For many years it bore the name of the colonizers who named the Volta River that flows through the area, then naming their colonies based on the proximity to the river’s flow. In 1960, it gained independence from France, but remained as Haute or ‘Upper’ Volta. Later, the impoverished country weighed down by government corruption needed a fresh start. Landlocked and poor, as well as irrevocably changed by colonialism, the president of the country from 1983 to 1987, Thomas Sankara, decided it needed to be renamed, and a name that was chosen by its people, the communities that lived there. It became known as Burkina Faso, which means ‘Land of Incorruptible People’ or ‘The People of Integrity.’ When Sankara spoke to the United Nations for the first time as leader, he said, “I am here to bring you fraternal greetings from a country that covers 274,000 square kilometers, and whose seven million children, women and men refuse henceforth to die from ignorance, hunger and thirst. These are people who, despite a quarter century of existence as a sovereign state represented here at the UN, are still not able to really live.” We hope you enjoy this taste of Burkina Faso and a little more information about The People of Integrity. Thanks to the Centre de santé communautaire du Grand Sudbury for allowing Sudbury.com to film in their kitchen. You can watch the video here or click the Play button to watch the video below. For the puree: For the main Preparation Instructions: Add onion, green onion, garlic, parsley, ginger, and peppers to the blender or food processor. If using blender, add oil to help the mixture blend. Blend until ingredients are fully combined. Add half of this mixture to large bowl, set aside the rest to add to recipe later. Toss cubed meat, fish or poultry in the bowl with half of the puree mixture. Set aside while you prepare other ingredients. In large pot, add enough oil to coat one inch on bottom of pot Fry leftover puree mixture in oil, 1-2 minutes. Add medium can of tomato paste, stir to fully combine. Add cubed meat and its puree mix, scraping all juice and puree into pot. Add water to the pot until the meat is just covered. (Some would sear meat before add liquid, but Sandiwidi prefers that the meat simmer without searing, “to let the flavours go in and the juices come into the pot.”) Simmer until meat is nearing your desired level of tenderness (longer = more tender) Add vegetables, in this case Okra, Manioc, eggplant, cabbage and carrots. Add Manioc and carrots first to allow a few extra minutes of cook time, and then add the remaining vegetables. (Any vegetables you have on hand can be used, as long as they are added in order of their cooking time, longest to shortest, to allow even cooking of all.) Add bouillon cube, any extra salt you feel is needed after the bouillon, pepper to taste, and 2 Bay leaves. (remove Bay before serving.) Simmer until the meat is cooked and vegetables are fork tender, or to your preference Remove the meat and vegetables to another bowl, tent with aluminum foil to keep warm while rice cooks. To the liquid remaining in pan, add your desired amount of rice. 2 cups is common for 2-4 portions. Add water “Until the liquid amount sits 1-1.4 inches about the level of rice in the pot” Simmer until rice is cooked, checking to ensure doneness and level of water remaining. When the rice is almost done, put your fork underneath the rice to the bottom of the pot, lifting the rice and allowing the liquid to move underneath, covering the bottom and keep the rice from sticking. Serve the rice alongside the cooked meat and vegetables. Jenny Lamothe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
(Mehrdad Nazarahari/CBC - image credit) York Regional Police say their homicide unit has been called in to investigate a "suspicious" death after a man's body was found on a road in Vaughan, Ont. on Thursday morning. Police say they were called to the area of Teston at Rodinea roads at around 8 a.m. after the body was located. The man was pronounced dead at the scene, police say. There's no confirmation yet of man's identity and cause of death. The homicide unit has since taken over the investigation. Police are appealing to anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in the area or anyone with home surveillance video to contact them.
WHITEHORSE — Yukon is beginning to look toward revising its pandemic restrictions as the number of active cases of COVID-19 returns to zero. Speaking at the weekly COVID-19 update in Whitehorse, deputy premier Ranj Pillai says Yukon is "putting resources in place" to be prepared when the time to adjust restrictions arrives. In the meantime, Pillai says the government is extending and expanding assistance to hard-hit Yukon businesses. Supports include extensions to Sept. 30 for several programs, including a plan that helps businesses break even and another that supports employers who pay workers to stay home when they're sick. A new program also allows small and medium-sized businesses to seek up to $100,000 in deferred-interest loans, with no payments due until 2023 and forgiveness of 25 per cent of the amount if certain conditions are met. Pillai and chief medical officer of health Dr. Brendan Hanley both mentioned "hiccups" as the territory launched its online reservation site for immunization appointments, but Hanley says the problems have been resolved. The availability of vaccine marks an "exciting time" for Yukon residents, he told the news conference on Thursday. "We have seen an incredible uptake in appointments," Hanley says, confirming he has a booking next week for his first dose of the vaccine. "The turnout so far shows so much promise that we are well on our way to immunizing the majority of our population." Yukon has had 72 cases of COVID-19 and one death since the pandemic began. Its website shows 10,781 people have received their first vaccination and 3,585 have been given their second shot. The government has assured all Yukon residents who want the vaccine that they are guaranteed to receive both doses required for maximum immunity. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin told sailors on the USS Nimitz Thursday that he hopes to avoid long ship deployments like the more than 10 months they just spent at sea. But as he made his first aircraft carrier visit as Pentagon chief, he acknowledged the demand for American warships around the globe as he wrestles with security threats from China in the Pacific and Iran in the Middle East. Standing in the ship's hangar bay, Austin said he will make a decision soon on whether to send a carrier back to the Middle East, where the Nimitz had been. But he said there have been times when the U.S. has opted not to have a carrier strike group in that region. “There’s going to be gaps,” he said. “As we do that, we do things to make sure we have resources in the right place so can respond.” The Nimitz, which left its homeport of Bremerton, Washington, last April, has been at sea for nearly 300 days, including several weeks of pre-deployment exercises. By the time it gets home in March, the ship and its strike group — which includes the USS Princeton and the USS Sterett — will have sailed about 99,000 nautical miles around the globe. The ship’s return home has triggered renewed debate over whether the U.S. should keep a persistent aircraft carrier presence in the Middle East as a deterrence to Iran. And it underscores the persistent competition for Navy ships as the U.S. and the Pentagon focus on China as a key threat that has required an escalating presence in the Indo-Pacific. Over the past year, however, military commanders have successfully argued for a carrier presence in the Gulf region because of threats from Iran and Iranian-backed militias. Just a year ago, the U.S. poured more than 20,000 additional troops into the Middle East to counter escalating tensions with Iran that peaked with the missile attack on American forces in Iraq in early 2020. The Nimitz’s lengthy deployment was largely due to decisions to keep it in the Middle East last year and this year to serve as a deterrent to Iran. Sailors late last year were just starting to head home, after being held in the Gulf region for an extended time. But in early December, as the U.S. pulled troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq, then-acting defence chief Christopher Miller announced that they would be staying in the region -- forcing the ship to turn around and head back to the Gulf. On Dec. 31, Miller announced the ship was finally going to head home. It's now off California. President Joe Biden has announced plans for a Pentagon review of national security strategy on China as part of his push to recalibrate the U.S. approach with Beijing. Biden’s call for a new task force to review strategy comes as the new administration shows growing recognition of the challenges that the U.S. faces from China’s modernized and more assertive military. The review will weigh U.S. intelligence, troops levels in the region, defence alliances with China and more. Speaking to reporters travelling with him on the Nimitz, Austin said that as directed by Biden, he is doing a detailed review of how the U.S. forces are positioned around the globe to ensure resources are focused on national security priorities. His visit to the ship came on Austin's first travel as defence secretary. He spent two days on the West Coast, largely visiting military vaccination centres in San Diego and Los Angeles. But as he spoke to sailors on the ship, he acknowledged their sacrifices in being away from families for so long. Recalling his 18-month deployments to Iraq as a commander, the retired Army general said, “I understand the stress that that can place on families. “Any potential adversary out there in this ocean or any other ocean, has to know when they look at what you’ve accomplished, that the United States takes very seriously our security commitments around the world,” Austin said. He added, however, “I don’t want deployments like this one to be the norm, and so we need to take a hard look at that, but you handled it very very well.” Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press
Quebecers 85 years and older were able to register for COVID-19 vaccinations starting Thursday, while seniors in Ontario will have to wait weeks to book in that province. The Quebec appointments are to begin next week in the Montreal region. Ontario’s vaccine distribution committee, blaming a lack of supply for the delay, has said seniors won’t be able to book appointments until March 15. Provinces are moving forward with their vaccine distribution plans as federal officials assure the disruptions that have plagued supply lines have been rectified. The vaccine appointment launch in Alberta on Wednesday left many frustrated when the government's online portal crashed after more than 150,000 people tried to get access to it about the same time. Some 230,000 people born in 1946 or earlier are now eligible to be immunized in that province. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, military commander in charge of the federal vaccine distribution program, said he understands that provinces may not have a lot of confidence in dose deliveries after a disappointing performance in February. But supply is already ramping back up, he said. The largest number of doses yet was delivered this week — 643,000 across the country. "Provinces are now in a position to fully deploy their immunization plans," Fortin said. Even with setbacks in recent weeks, Canada's deputy chief public health officer, Dr. Howard Njoo, said more than 40 per cent of seniors over 80 have received one dose of the vaccine. About 5.5 per cent have received a second dose. Njoo cautioned it is not time for people to let their guard down. "For now, however, COVID-19 remains a serious threat” Concern over spread of the novel coronavirus in Quebec has prompted officials there to require primary school students in red pandemic-alert zones, including the greater Montreal area, to wear masks starting March 8. It won't apply to certain students with special needs or when children are playing outside. The more contagious B.1.1.7 variant — first detected in the United Kingdom — has become a significant concern in Montreal, where there is still widespread community transmission. The variant is making up eight to 10 per cent of new cases. Dr. Mylene Drouin, Montreal's public health director, said 40 per cent of cases linked to variants in the city involved children. Hospitalizations, however, are declining provincewide. Health authorities are reporting 858 new infections and 16 more deaths. Ontario was to release new COVID-19 projections later Thursday. The province has reported 1,138 new infections and 23 more deaths linked to the virus. There has been a total of 20,945 new cases across Canada over the past seven days. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
(Aqua Maof Group/Submitted - image credit) A Norwegian company's proposal to open a salmon farm and hatchery in Placentia Bay, N.L., got a major boost Thursday from Canada's OceanSupercluster, a federal innovation funding organization. The organization announced that Grieg Seafood, an on-again, off-again salmon facility planned for Marystown, will be used to develop ocean sensors that allow open-net pens to be monitored and managed remotely from shore. The Ocean Supercluster will contribute $12 million with industry partners putting in $14.8 million. The project will use communication towers installed around Placentia Bay to receive data gathered by sensors in the water. The information will be transmitted to control centres on shore. Grieg NL is an aquaculture company in Marystown. Some of this technology is already in use at fish farms operated by Cooke Aquaculture, a Grieg competitor, elsewhere in Atlantic Canada. But Tim Stone of Halifax-based InnovaSea, a partner in the project, said the systems planned for the Grieg operation represent a leap forward. Its sensors are installed in more than 300 fish farms around the world. "We're not talking about making incremental improvements to technology," Stone told reporters Thursday. "We're talking about actually changing the way people do things." They can tell when a fish is hungry, or full High-definition cameras, sensors and machine learning will come together in Placentia Bay to measure the size of the fish, the amount of feed eaten and wasted along with real-time ocean conditions. For example, video will reveal when fish are hungry, or full. When satiated, salmon stop feeding on pellets and let them go through the water. Operators will be able to instantly stop the feeding process. Tim Stone is the general manager and vice-president of product development at Halifax-based InnovaSea Systems. "Those technologies, although individually they may exist in some parts of the world, no one has ever brought them together to provide multi-factor feeding in aquaculture-industry sensing technologies," he said. One of five partners InnovaSea is one of five partners, led by Grieg Seafood Newfoundland. The other partners are SubC Imaging, AKVA Group and High-Tech Communications. It is a two-year project with work beginning later this year. For Grieg, Thursday's announcement is a step forward after a major setback last fall when it shut down construction of its hatchery in Marystown, citing poor salmon prices caused by the pandemic. Grieg halted a post-smolt unit that houses hatched salmon before being transferred to ocean cages. Perry Power of Grieg NL calls the development a 'win-win.' The company said at the time work would continue on the other elements of the project. Grieg spokesperson Perry Power said Thursday the installation of the communication towers will be a boon for the Placentia Bay area, where wireless communications are limited. "This is a win-win for everyone," he said. "It's going to create not just for us but for mariners and pleasure craft operators out in the bay … a level of enhanced safety of connectivity," he said. OceanSupercluster CEO Kendra MacDonald said the project puts Atlantic Canadian companies in a position to export their wares. "We see this is a really exciting project from the perspective that it is building on existing technology," MacDonald said. "It's developing expanding technology solutions and these technologies can be taken to the rest of the world to really help with the journey to transform the aquaculture sector. So we do see that this is transformational." MORE TOP STORIES
An Onion Lake man currently serving time on charges from Saskatchewan has a bail hearing in Alberta on charges out of that province. Michael Patrick Hill, 23, was scheduled to enter a plea in Sherwood Park Provincial Court on Feb. 24 but an agent appearing on his behalf asked for an adjournment. The matter was adjourned until March 10 for a bail hearing. Hill is charged in Alberta in connection to an incident where an RCMP officer was injured while pursuing Hill. If Hill is granted bail at his upcoming hearing in Alberta, he will first have to finish his custodial sentence from a Saskatchewan court. On Feb. 9, 2021, in Lloydminster, Sask., Provincial Court, Hill was sentenced to six months for theft over $5,000 and two months consecutive for breach of a curfew. Hill has been in custody since he was arrested in Alberta on Jan. 19, 2021. Alberta RCMP say that Hill was involved in an incident in Vermillion, Alta., where a gun was allegedly pointed at someone. The suspects fled in a black SUV, which police located about an hour later near Edmonton. One of the RCMP officer’s pursuing Hill hit the ditch and the police cruiser rolled on Range Road 540 just outside of Edmonton. The officer was taken to hospital and treated for minor injuries. A second RCMP vehicle was able to stop the SUV near Township Road 534. Strathcona County RCMP and Fort Saskatchewan RCMP assisted Vermillion RCMP in the pursuit. Hill was charged with assault with a weapon, dangerous operation of a vehicle, flight from a peace officer, pointing a firearm, operation of a motor vehicle while prohibited, possession of stolen property under $5,000, possession of stolen property over $5,000, and failing to comply with conditions. Alberta RCMP also arrested a twenty-one-year-old woman from Onion Lake Cree Nation who was with Hill. She was released on an undertaking and is scheduled to make her first court appearance in Sherwood Park Provincial Court on March 17. Alberta RCMP say they will release her name after she makes her first court appearance. Sherwood Park is part of Strathcona County and part of the greater Edmonton region. Onion Lake Cree Nation is about 50 kilometres north of Lloydminster and borders the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. email@example.com Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Canada's Auditor General Karen Hogan on Thursday delivered her 2021 report, including five performance audit reports to the House of Commons. Hogan's report found that Canada's ship building strategy was slow to deliver combat and non-combat ships.
U.S. property data and analytics company CoreLogic Inc has asked peer CoStar Group Inc for more assurances that it can complete their combination should it attract antitrust scrutiny, people familiar with the matter said. CoStar unveiled a $6.9 billion all-stock bid for CoreLogic earlier this month, after the latter agreed to sell itself to a private equity consortium of Stone Point Capital and Insight Partners for about $6 billion. CoreLogic has informed CoStar it would be willing to declare its bid superior and abandon its deal with the private equity firms if CoStar provides more certainty that the transaction will be completed expeditiously, the sources said.
MOSCOW — Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been sent to a prison outside Moscow to serve his sentence, his lawyer said Thursday, a move that comes despite a demand by Europe's top human rights court for his release. Navalny lawyer Vadim Kobzev didn't immediately say what prison he was sent to. Russian news reports have previously indicated that Navalny, who has been held in a maximum-security jail in Moscow, would likely be sent to a facility in western Russia. Navalny, 44, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s most vociferous foe, was arrested on Jan. 17 upon returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. Russian authorities have rejected the accusation and accused Navalny of co-operating with Western intelligence agencies — claims he has ridiculed. Earlier this month, Navalny was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for violating the terms of his probation while convalescing in Germany. The sentence stems from a 2014 embezzlement conviction that Navalny has rejected as fabricated — and which the European ?ourt of Human Rights has ruled to be unlawful. Navalny’s arrest has fueled a wave of protests that drew tens of thousands to the streets across Russia. Authorities have detained about 11,000 people, many of whom were fined or given jail terms ranging from seven to 15 days. Russian officials have dismissed demands from the United States and the European Union to free Navalny and stop the crackdown on his supporters. Moscow also rejected the ECHR ruling that, citing risks to Navalny's life in custody, ordered the Russian government to release him. The Russian government has rebuffed the court's demand as unlawful and “inadmissible” meddling in Russia’s home affairs. Earlier this week, EU foreign ministers agreed to impose new sanctions against Russian officials linked to Navalny’s jailing. Since Navalny's arrest, Russian officials and state news media have aggressively tried to discredit him, a change from the previous tactic of largely ignoring him. Some of the criticism has emphasized anti-migrant views expressed years ago as he was rising to prominence. Amnesty International this week stripped Navalny of his designation as a “prisoner of conscience” because of those views. “Navalny had, in the past, made comments which may have amounted to advocacy of hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, violence or hostility,” the organization said in a statement Thursday. The statement denied the move was in response to external pressure, but news reports have suggested Amnesty International was targeted in a co-ordinated campaign to discredit him. “These were not independently acting activists ... these were people who would like to defame Alexei as the most prominent opponent of Mr. Putin,” Vladimir Ashurkov, executive director of Navalny's anti-corruption organization, said in a conference call Thursday. Amnesty International said rescinding the prisoner-of-conscience designation does not change its demand for Navalny to be freed. “There should be no confusion: nothing Navalny has said in the past justifies his current detention, which is purely politically motivated. Navalny has been arbitrarily detained for exercising his right to freedom of expression, and for this reason we continue to campaign for his immediate release,” it said. ___ Jim Heintz in Moscow contributed to this report. Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Ontario had no updated plan for dealing with a pandemic when COVID-19 began cutting a deadly swath through the province last spring, a public commission was told. In testimony before the panel released on Thursday, the province's chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, denied responsibility for the shortcoming. The province had developed a pandemic response plan in 2006 that was updated in 2013, but the process stalled after work started on a "Ready and Resilient" blueprint in 2016. "Do you have any knowledge about the "Ready and Resilient" plan and why it wasn't completed in four years before COVID?" commission co-counsel John Callaghan asked. "The process was in place, and they were doing reviews on it," Williams answered. "Why was it not done?" "Because it was not completed." The commission is delving into the devastating impact of COVID-19 on Ontario's long-term care homes. To date, coronavirus disease has killed 3,753 residents and 11 staff members. Williams said pandemic preparation drifted down the priority list because things had been relatively quiet for several years. Historically, he said, planning focused on influenza A, a situation that hadn't changed as late as 2019 when the World Health Organization said the world is not ready for a pandemic. "For seven years, you never felt the need to increase your pandemic plan, your influenza pandemic plan?" Callaghan asked. "We did quality work back in 2006," Williams said. "You are saying, in your opinion, it was your decision not to upgrade the 2013 plan?" "No, I was not asked to update the plan." Williams said he "took flak" over pushing more robust preparation for a major infectious disease outbreak because others saw the exercise as wasting time and resources for something that would never occur. "It is hard to keep that prevention thing always at the front table because the tyranny of the urgent always pushes things aside," Williams said. "It was to me disappointing to find the lack of depth and breadth of infection prevention and control expertise that was available out there." Williams said he was shocked to discover the poor situation at long-term care homes when it came to masks and other personal protective equipment. The purpose of the provincial stockpile, he said, was to equip front-line doctors and their offices, not long-term care facilities. Nursing homes, he said, were supposed to have their own supplies able to last between four and seven weeks. However, when the pandemic hit in earnest, he learned most of the protective equipment was made in China and global demand had outstripped supply. "That was startling and shocking to me that that had happened in there because it is something that I thought we had in-house; anyways in North America at least," he said. Constant staff turnover of key personnel in nursing homes hampered efforts to ensure adequate infection prevention controls were in place, he said. "The changeover was at times disconcerting," he said. Callaghan called it "vexing" the commission had received 217,000 pages of documents from Williams only in the week before he testified. The co-counsel also noted Williams had provided 2,000 pages of his redacted notes. New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath said Williams' testimony made it "astoundingly clear" the government was trying to hide its response to COVID-19 in nursing homes. “The Ford government and Dr. Williams are taking great pains to hide, bury and cover up how they dealt with COVID-19 in long-term care homes,” Horwath said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
1. “A Court of Silver Flames” by Sarah J. Maas (Bloomsbury) 2. “The Four Winds” by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin’s Press) 3. “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster” by Bill Gates (Knopf) 4. “Firefly Lane” by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin’s Griffin) 5. “Relentless” by Mark Greaney (Berkley) 6. “Just As I Am: A Memoir” by Cicely Tyson (HarperCollins) 7. “Bridgerton: The Duke and I” by Julia Quinn (Avon) 8. “Missing and Endangered” by J.A. Jance (William Morrow) 9. “The Sum of Us” by Heather McGhee (One World) 10. “Walk in My Combat Boots” by James Patterson, Matt Eversmann with Christ Mooney (Little, Brown) 11. “I Love You to the Moon and Back” by Amelia Hepworth (Tiger Tales) 12. “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse” by Charlie Mackesy (HarperOne) 13. “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig (Viking) 14. “Keep Sharp” by Sanjay Gupta (Simon & Schuster) 15. “The Sanatorium” by Sarah Pearse (Pamela Dorman Books) 16. “We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart (Ember) 17. “Winning the War in Your Mind” by Craig Groeschel (Zondervan) 18. “Faithless in Death” by J.D. Robb (St. Martin’s Press) 19. “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett (Riverhead) 20. “Atomic Habits” by James Clear (Avery) 21. “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz (Amber-Allen) 22. “Bridgerton: The Viscount Who Loved Me” by Julia Quinn (Avon) 23. “The Russian” by James Patterson and James O. Born (Little, Brown) 24. “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” by V.E. Schwab (Tor) 25. “A Promised Land” by Barack Obama (Crown) The Associated Press
Facebook Inc ended a one-week blackout of Australian news on its popular social media site on Friday and announced preliminary commercial agreements with three small local publishers. The moves reflected easing tensions between the U.S. company and the Australian government, a day after the country's parliament passed a law forcing it and Alphabet Inc's Google to pay local media companies for using content on their platforms. The new law makes Australia the first nation where a government arbitrator can set the price Facebook and Google pay domestic media to show their content if private negotiations fail.
Written and directed by Florian Zeller, Hopkins and Colman play father and daughter in the film about family, love and loss, taking audiences inside the mind of someone dealing with dementia. "I've never seen anything written from that point of view before," said Colman.
WASHINGTON — Antony Blinken will meet virtually Friday with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau in a day of online diplomacy for the U.S. secretary of state. Blinken will meet with Trudeau, Garneau and other members of the federal cabinet as part of a "virtual trip" to Canada and Mexico, Blinken's first bilateral video conferences since taking office. The visit follows up on Trudeau's own virtual summit this week with U.S. President Joe Biden, which produced a "road map" for plans to collaborate on issues like climate change, the economy and COVID-19. The pandemic made an in-person visit impossible, said Julie Chung, the acting assistant secretary for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. "We decided to do this virtually instead of waiting for the time when it would be safer to travel," Chung said. "This is the new world we live in through virtual platforms, but we thought it was really important to engage with both Canada and Mexico early on." Agenda items for the two "neighbours, friends and allies" also include "defending human rights in the Western Hemisphere and around the world, and bolstering our shared defence and security," said State Department spokesperson Ned Price. That means the conversations will likely include the plight of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, two Canadians who have spent the last two years in custody in China. Spavor and Kovrig — the "two Michaels," as they are known in Canada — were swept up in the weeks that followed Canada's arrest in December 2018 of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei and daughter of the company's founder. Meng is facing extradition to the U.S., where she has been charged with violating sanctions against Iran — a case some observers believe is sure to keep the two Michaels behind bars indefinitely. On Tuesday, Biden vowed to work with Canada to secure their release, but offered no clues as to what specifically the U.S. is prepared to do. Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi would only say the U.S. will "continue to seek extradition" of Meng, who is under house arrest in Vancouver and due back in court Monday. Earlier this month, Canada, the U.S. and a coalition of 56 other countries collectively denounced the state-sponsored arbitrary detention of foreign nationals for political purposes. "We've been consistently for the past year talking about the two Michaels … and calling for Beijing to release these two individuals and stop the arbitrary detention," Chung said. "Human beings should not be used as pawns. And we stand by Canada, our strong friend and partner, in the issues of arbitrary detention and for the release of the two Canadian citizens." The followup work after Tuesday's bilateral meetings continued this week in other departments as well. Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson spoke Wednesday with John Kerry, Biden's special envoy on climate, to shore up plans for more stringent emissions-reduction targets in advance of a climate summit in April. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra committed to more stringent vehicle pollution standards to push both countries toward a zero-emissions future on roadways throughout the continent. They are also collaborating on new standards for aviation and for seagoing vessels, as well as efforts to develop new clean-tech solutions with an eye toward the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. Blinken is also scheduled to meet with a group of Canadian students, as well as with Mexico's foreign secretary and secretary of the economy during a "visit" to a port of entry facility along the southern U.S. border. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. James McCarten, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — A British Columbia businessman who made an illegal contribution to New Democrat MP Peter Julian's 2015 election campaign has been ordered to pay $7,500 to the receiver general of Canada. Elections commissioner Yves Côté says Robert Gibbs, co-owner of Romar Communications, provided free website development services to Julian's campaign. Gibbs told Julian's campaign that the work was done by volunteers, after work hours. However, unbeknownst to the campaign, Côté says three workers were paid $1,000 each for their work, the commercial value of which Côté says was actually $6,000. In its report to Elections Canada, Julian's campaign reported non-monetary contributions worth $2,000 from each of the three workers. Since that exceeded the $1,500 individual donation limit, the campaign paid $1,500 to Gibbs' company on the understanding that it would be given to the three workers, but Gibbs kept the money. The $7,500 Gibbs must now pay the receiver general represents the commercial value of the work done plus the $1,500 from the campaign that was never given to the workers. Côté announced the payment as part of a compliance agreement with Gibbs. Compliance agreements are commonly used by the elections commissioner to deal with relatively minor violations of the Canada Elections Act. They do not constitute a criminal conviction in a court of law and do not create a criminal record for the offender. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
FREDERICTON — New Brunswick is reporting one new case of COVID-19 today. Health officials say the case in the Edmundston region involves a person in their 30s who is a close contact of a previously reported infection. Meanwhile, the number of active cases in the province continues to drop: there are 49 active reported COVID-19 infections compared with 111 last Thursday. Officials say two patients are in hospital with the disease, including one in intensive care. New Brunswick has reported a total of 1,427 COVID-19 cases and 26 deaths linked to the novel coronavirus. The entire province remains under the "orange" pandemic-alert level, which permits gyms and restaurant dining rooms to operate under strict conditions. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
Twitter is branching out from advertising to find more ways to make money — both for itself and for its most prolific users, whether those are businesses, celebrities or regular people. In an investor presentation Thursday, the social media company announced a new feature called “Super Follows,” which will let users charge for extra, exclusive material not shown to their regular followers. This can include subscriber-only newsletters, videos, deals and discounts. Users would pay a monthly subscription fee to access the extra content. Twitter users — and the company's investors — have long been asking it to launch a subscription-based model. This as a growing number of internet creators and influencers use tools like Patreon, Substack and OnlyFans to make money from their online popularity. The subscriptions will also allow Twitter to tap into a broader range of revenue sources in a world where online advertising is dominated by a Facebook-Google duopoly. Twitter did not detail what percentage of the revenue it would share with celebrities and others who sign up paying subscribers. “Exploring audience funding opportunities like Super Follows will allow creators and publishers to be directly supported by their audience and will incentivize them to continue creating content that their audience loves," the company said in a statement. Super Follows is not available yet but Twitter says it will have “more to share" in the coming months. Another coming product, “Revue,” will let people publish paid or free newsletters to their audience. There's also “Twitter Spaces,” a Clubhouse competitor that lets users participate in audio chats. It is currently in private beta testing, which means it's not yet available to the general Twitter audience. The San Francisco-based company also said its revenue goal for 2023 is more than $7.5 billion, more than double its 2020 revenue of $3.7 billion. Barbara Ortutay, The Associated Press