Gorgeous hues of orange light up the sky in Toronto, Ontario.
Gorgeous hues of orange light up the sky in Toronto, Ontario.
In the opening moments of a Golden Globes night even more chaotic and confounding than usual, co-host Tina Fey raised a theoretical question: “Could this whole night have been an email?” Only the next three hours would tell. Well, sure, it could have been an email. But then you wouldn't have had Chadwick Boseman’s eloquent widow, bringing many to tears as she explained how she could never be as eloquent as her late husband. Or Jane Fonda, sharply calling out Hollywood for its lack of diversity on a night when her very hosts were under fire for exactly that. Or Chloé Zhao, making history as the first woman of Asian descent to win best director (and the first woman since 1984.) Or 98-year-old Norman Lear, giving the simplest explanation for his longevity: never living or laughing alone. Or Jodie Foster kissing her wife joyfully, eight years after very tentatively coming out on the same telecast. Of course, there were the usual confounding results and baffling snubs, compounded here by some epic Zoom fails. But then we had the kids and the dogs. And they were adorable. Next year, can we still have the kids and the dogs, please? Some key moments of the first and hopefully last virtual Globes night: AN OVERDUE RECKONING The evening began under a cloud of embarrassing revelations about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and its lack of inclusion, including the damaging fact that there are no Black members in the 87-person body. Fey and co-host Amy Poehler addressed it early: “Even with stupid things, inclusivity is important." Winners like Daniel Levy of “Schitt's Creek” and presenters like Sterling K. Brown referred to it. Jane Fonda made it a theme of her powerful speech accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award. And the HFPA made a hasty onstage pledge to change. “We recognize we have our own work to do,” said vice-president Helen Hoehne. “We must have Black journalists in our organization.” “I DON'T HAVE HIS WORDS” The best-actor award to Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey's Black Bottom” had been expected. That did not dull the emotional impact of his victory. His widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, tearfully accepted in his honour, telling viewers that her husband, who died of colon cancer at 43 before the film was released, “would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of all of us that tells you you can. That tells you to keep going, that calls you back to what you are meant to be doing at this moment in history.” But, she said poignantly, “I don't have his words." Co-star Viola Davis could be seen weeping as Ledward spoke. She was not alone. PREDICTABLE ZOOM FAILS It was obvious there were going to be awkward Zoom fails. It started early, when the very first winner, Daniel Kaluuya for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” was on mute as he accepted his award, leaving presenter Laura Dern to apologize for technical difficulties. Thankfully, the problem was resolved in time for the actor to speak. Jason Sudeikis, whose charmingly rambling speech ("This is nuts!") and rumpled hoodie signalled he hadn't expected to win, finally realized he needed to “wrap this puppy up.” And winner Catherine O'Hara ("Schitt's Creek") had some perhaps unwelcome help from her husband, whose efforts to provide applause sounds and play-off music on his phone while she spoke lost something in translation, causing confusion on social media. Oh yes, and there were those conversations between nominees before commercials — did they know we heard them? KIDS AND PETS, STILL BRINGING JOY Still, the virtual acceptances from winners stuck at home had a huge silver lining: happy kids and cute pets. When Mark Ruffalo won for “I Know This Much is True,” two of his teens could not control their joy enough to stay out of the camera shot. Not to be outdone, the adorable young daughter of Lee Isaac Chung, writer-director of the Korean-American family drama “Minari,” sat in his lap and hugged him throughout his acceptance for best foreign language film. “She’s the reason I made this film,” said Chung. Winner Jodie Foster ("The Mauritanian") also had a family member in her lap: her dog. Also seen: Sarah Paulson's dog, and Emma Corrin's cat. LOVE FOR BORAT, SNUB FOR BAKALOVA ... AND EXPOSURE FOR GIULIANI Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, breakout star of Amazon’s “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” had been widely expected to win, but lost out to Rosamund Pike ("I Care a Lot") who saluted Bakalova's bravery. In her movie, Pike said, “I had to swim up from a sinking car. I think I still would rather do that than have been in a room with Rudy Giuliani.” The former New York mayor's infamous cameo was also the butt of jokes from “Borat” star Sacha Baron Cohen, who called Giuliani “a fresh new talent who came from nowhere and turned out to be a comedy genius ... I mean, who could get more laughs from one unzipping?” Baron Cohen, who won for best actor in a comedy, also joked that Donald Trump was “contesting the result” of his win. A FIERY FONDA Did you expect anything less from Fonda? In her memorable DeMille award speech, the multiple Globe winner extolled the virtues of cinematic storytelling — “stories can change our hearts and our minds” — then pivoted to admonishing Hollywood. “There's a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves,” she said, “a story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out: a story about who’s offered a seat at the table and who’s kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.” She said the arts should not merely keep step with society, but lead the way. “Let's be leaders,” she said. ZHAO MAKES HISTORY When Zhao won best director for her haunting and elegant “Nomadland,” she was the first Asian American woman ever to win that award. But that wasn't the only way she made history: it was the first directing Globe for a woman in nearly 40 years, since Barbra Streisand won for “Yentl." Her film, a look at itinerant Americans, “at its core for me is a pilgrimage through grief and healing,” Zhao said. “For everyone who has gone through this difficult and beautiful journey at some point in their lives, we don’t say goodbye, we say: See you down the road.” With Zhao's win, the road widens for other female directors. ___ This story has been corrected to show that Norman Lear is 98, not 99. Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
Emma Corrin just won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Princess Diana.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
Regina–SaskEnergy is warning of a potential telemarketing scam targeting its residential customers. The warning comes a week after its sister Crown corporation, put out a warning of a scam targeting its customers. SaskEnergy said in a release on March 2 it has received reports that individuals claiming to be associated with either SaskEnergy, or the federal government, are contacting customers regarding their eligibility for various rebates, including: carbon tax, furnace replacement and equipment maintenance. These callers are not associated with SaskEnergy, and are not offering rebates on behalf of SaskEnergy, the Crown corporation emphasized. SaskEnergy rebates are not offered through solicitation or door-to-door sales. All SaskEnergy rebates are offered through participating SaskEnergy Network Members only. For more information about SaskEnergy current rebates and programs, and a list of qualified Network Member companies, visit www.saskenergy.com. Anyone who has received calls of this nature should make a report to the Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority (FCAA) of the Government of Saskatchewan at 1-306-787-5645 or 1-877-880-5550 (menu option #1), SaskEnergy said, adding, “If you have provided personal financial information, including bank account or credit card information over the phone, you should report the matter to local police, as well as immediately contact your financial institution.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
The achievements of tech billionaire Bill Gates are well known, whether it's helping to build a tech giant in Microsoft or his efforts to improve global health through his foundation. Still, the challenge of climate change can seem daunting, even to him. Gates has spent the last several years examining just how tough the battle will be and admits, "this is going to be harder than any other domain that I've ever worked in." Gates was the keynote speaker to kick off the CERAWeek by IHS conference, one of the world's largest annual events focused on energy. The conference attracts leading figures from around the world in politics, business and energy, including several from Canada's oilpatch. This year's event is focused on the energy transition as many countries and companies try to lower their emissions and meet their climate goals. Achieving net zero emissions by 2050 will be difficult, but possible, says Gates. "Things have never changed as fast as we're asking them to change," he said during the event. "I mean, it is so radical. Only an entire generation committed to making this a political priority and at least all the rich countries for all of those 30 years, gives us a chance." For instance, the electricity grid will need to be three times as large, he said, and remain stable even with intermittent sources of power like wind and solar. Even though reducing emissions means using fewer fossil fuels, Gates sees an opportunity for the oilpatch. "Green hydrogen may need to play a very gigantic role and a lot of the skill sets involved there are from the oil and gas industry," he said, pointing to how natural gas pipelines can be retrofitted to transport hydrogen around the continent. Gates pointed to the need for carbon capture and sequestration projects, including companies like B.C.-based Carbon Engineering. The drilling technology of the oilpatch may also be needed to store nuclear waste deep below the surface and refineries could help produce large quantities of biofuels. Overall, the expertise of the sector will be required to develop the technologies that don't exist today, Gates said, but will be needed in the future. "We need that ability to do complex engineering." One of the energy companies to speak at the conference on Monday was BP, the U.K.-based oil firm with more than a 100-year history. The company is trying to re-invent itself to eventually reach its net-zero goal. In the last year, it cut 10,000 positions and slashed the amount of executives by 50 per cent. Rewiring the global energy system will cost a trillion dollars, according to BP chief executive Bernard Looney, but he too sees an opportunity for the oilpatch. For instance, BP is investing in growing its portfolio of renewable energy and providing electricity to the market. "We love complexity, it sort of plays to our strengths, we actually enjoy that," he said. WATCH | Bill Gates on making 'green' cement
The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions to punish Russia for what it described as Moscow's attempt to poison opposition leader Alexei Navalny with a nerve agent last year, in President Joe Biden's most direct challenge yet to the Kremlin. The sanctions against seven senior Russian officials, among them the head of its FSB security service, and on 14 entities marked a sharp departure from former President Donald Trump's reluctance to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Another GTA region has begun inoculating seniors 80 years of age and older. Shallima Maharaj has the story.
NEW YORK — One of the most intriguing parts of the costumes at the Broadway play “A Soldier's Story” was something the audience likely never saw. Each of the 12 actors wore uniforms carefully reflecting the attire of real soldiers in 1944. Their boots, too, were faithful replications. But around their necks were dog tags carefully etched with each character's name, age and religious affiliation. The dog tags — usually tucked under the costumes and out of sight — gave the actors something they could physically hold as they got into character. They became touchstones for their roles. It was the brainchild of Dede Ayite, who has earned two 2021 Tony Award costume design nominations. Even if few sitting in the audience knew about the dog tags or what they said, it was her gift to the actors, her attempt to deepen the experience. “Stuff like that brings me joy. I don’t need the audience to know that," said Ayite. "It’s building up of those layers that adds even more texture to a piece.” Showing her versatility, Ayite also is nominated for designing the costumes for “Slave Play,” Jeremy O. Harris’ bracing work about an antebellum fantasy therapy workshop. If “A Soldier's Play” was regimented and historically accurate, “Slave Play” is fantasy and fetishism. “I love the way clothes make me feel. I love the stories you can tell through clothing,” said Ayite, who noted that on this interview day her red sweater had shifted her demeanour. “That’s the power and the beauty of what clothes can do. I want to be able to tap into that.” For “A Soldier's Play,” which explores racism within a Black U.S. Army unit, Ayite created special padding in the elbows and knees for actor David Alan Grier, who was frequently pummeled onstage. The soldiers' boots had to look broken in so she handed them out at the beginning of rehearsals. For “Slave Play,” Ayite put a leather dominatrix outfit under a hoop skirt for one character and mixed contemporary items — like Calvin Klein underwear — with Civil War-era pieces to make the viewer question what they were seeing. “There is a sort of home-grown quality to it. The characters have sort of like put their own spin on each of these costumes,” said “Slave Play” director Robert O’Hara. “I think that people watching the show will say, ‘Wait a minute. That looks out of time with the time period.’ So there are winks in the costumes throughout.” Ayite said she's always been curious about what makes humans tick, and she had one of the more astounding double majors of anyone on Broadway — theatre and behavioural neuroscience. She excelled at both, but at some point had to pick career paths. “I needed to choose the thing that brought me the most joy and the thing that sort of kept my heart intact and my spirit intact. And that was art,” she said. “I just kept saying yes to the thing that spoke to my heart. And it’s brought me here today. And for that I’m grateful.” She has a master’s in design from the Yale School of Drama and teaches at Harvard University. Ayite said she likes the collaborative nature of theatre, and her art is a “soul calling.” “There’s nothing like watching an audience experience the world you helped to create and to see them moved,” she said. "I don’t need to run up there and say, ‘Hey, look at me,’ because I see that, I see the effect.” Her other Broadway credits include “American Son” and “Children of a Lesser God.” Her work has been seen at Steppenwolf, La Jolla Playhouse, Berkeley Repertory, Baltimore Center Stage, Arena Stage and Cleveland Playhouse. Ayite learned she had earned two Tony nominations last fall while at the dentist, who was encouraging. “He said, ‘You know what? I feel good about this. I think it’s going to be a good day’” she said he told her. She was still processing the first text message of a nomination when a second arrived with more good news. “It is it is a huge honour to think that people who see theatre and people who appreciate theatre are seeing my work and they’re recognizing the effort that goes into it,” she said. The pandemic put on hold two plays she also worked on — revivals of “How I Learned to Drive” and ”American Buffalo." Both sets of costumes are in storage, awaiting the return of live theatre. But when it does, Ayite is ready to tweak and enhance. “I definitely would like to look at the costumes again, acknowledge what we’ve done so far, but then also think of them through the lens of what we’ve all gone through in the last year and a half,” she said. “We’re all different today.” ___ Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press
The territory needs to improve screening of residents for colorectal cancer to help early detection of the disease, says Inuvin Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler. Quoting health authority data, Semmler said the Beaufort Delta has the highest number of residents with colorectal cancer but the lowest take-up of testing. “I can honestly say most people in my region have been affected by this disease,” she said. “We need to make sure our residents are aware of the screening criteria and ensure we see our screening rates rise so we can prevent any further deaths for our loved ones.” According to the N.W.T. health authority, men and women aged 50 to 74 who are considered to be at an average risk should be screened every one or two years. Those at increased risk should begin screening at age 40, or 10 years earlier than the youngest age at which the disease has been diagnosed in their family. In the N.W.T., colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death. Cure rates are almost 90 per cent when detected early but drop to 12 per cent if detected in its later stages, according to the 2019-2020 N.W.T. Health and Social Services annual report. From October 2019 to February 2020, community engagement program kits were sent to each community to raise awareness about colorectal, cervical and breast cancer. According to its annual report, the territory is nowhere near the national minimum target for colorectal cancer screening. The national screening goal for colorectal cancer was 60 per cent for the period studied. The N.W.T. only screened 21.9 per cent of its targeted population. Health minister Julie Green said a pilot project launched in the Beaufort Delta a year ago did improve participation. The project saw self-screening kits mailed to people while nurses followed up with information and assistance. Green said more kits were sent in November 2020. A total of 1,157 kits were distributed. Screening in smaller Beaufort Delta communities beyond Inuvik rose from seven per cent to 15.6 per cent. Including Inuvik, the figure went from 6.7 per cent to 11.8 per cent. People who receive a positive result from their self-screening test must currently wait an average of 88 days for a colonoscopy, a delay Green says the territory is working to shorten. “We are now working on a pilot project that will help us identify where we can make improvements to reduce the amount of time that it takes to go from a positive test to a colonoscopy,” the minister said. Semmler said she worried about potential delays the pandemic had introduced to the process of diagnosing cancer and treating patients, such as travel restrictions potentially disrupting access to the Alberta Cross Cancer Institute. Green said services remain as available as they were pre-pandemic and, though some residents have been hesitant to leave the territory for medical care, there was regular communication between the N.W.T. and the Alberta facility. In addition, the minister said, two specialist cancer clinics are offered virtually from Yellowknife’s Stanton Territorial Hospital. Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio
Dr. Seuss Enterprises released a statement that the company will stop the sale and publication of six books that "portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong."
The Eastern Ontario Regional Network (EORN) took another major step in improving high-speed broadband internet access in Eastern Ontario on Monday. Quinte West Mayor Jim Harrison, Belleville Mayor Mitch Panciuk and Prince Edward County Mayor Steve Ferguson joined with EORN Chair J. Murray Jones, Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus Chairwoman Debbie Robinson, Eastern Ontario Mayors’ Caucus Chair Dianne Therrien and wardens and mayors of surrounding regions to send a letter to Laurie Scott, Ontario Minister of Infrastructure and Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, in regards to EORN’s Gig Project proposal. Representing 1.2 million people and thousands of local businesses across the region, the letter explains how COVID-19 has exacerbated the already present frustrations from constituents about the poor or limited access to high-speed broadband services. As the pandemic continues, many citizens of Ontario are experiencing difficulty working from home or accessing online learning platforms reliably due to this issue. “Residents and businesses need to be assured that they will have access to the kinds of technologies that many in large cities already enjoy,” wrote the 21 mayors and wardens. “They also tell us that they want solutions that will last for years to come because they know demand is growing exponentially every year for more and more bandwidth at higher speeds.” The letter acknowledged that there are many ways to tackle the problem and bring broadband infrastructure to homes and businesses across the region and that undertaking this project would be a major commitment for any government. The wardens and mayors collectively expressed their support and the need for all levels of government, along with the private sector, to come together to connect residents and businesses to the right high-speed services that they require and deserve. Expectations among residents and businesses in eastern Ontario continue to rise with the announcement of the provincial ICON program and the federal UBF broadband funding programs. While a regional strategy with a coordinated approach may not be readily available in many areas of Ontario, the letter explains the strong belief that a coordinated, comprehensive regional project for the 113 municipalities of eastern Ontario is the best way to address the challenge of getting the region from 65 per cent coverage with access to even 50/10 speeds to 95 per cent coverage. “We stand ready to push forward with the Gig Project,” stated the letter. “Let EORN be your vehicle to connect the more than 550,000 premises across eastern Ontario that deserve the same fibre optic technology that is available in most large cities today.” Quick, efficient and effective, Eastern Regional Ontario Network is a non-profit organization that addresses the digital divide by improving rural connectivity and supporting economic growth. The organizations represented in the letter understand the critical importance of access to world-class broadband technologies to local economies. The letter closed by asking the addressed ministers Scott and Monsef to partner with and help fund the EORN Gig Project set in motion. Virginia Clinton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Intelligencer
WASHINGTON — Emergency loans made to small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic have been added to a list of government programs considered at high risk of waste, fraud or mismanagement. The most common of those emergency loans, PPP loans, are provided at a low interest rate and are fully forgivable under conditions that include spending a certain percentage on payroll costs. The loans were created by Congress and have proven exceedingly popular as shops, restaurants and other small businesses try to survive the pandemic. The Government Accountability Office said Tuesday that millions of small businesses benefitted from the emergency loans, but the speed with which the relief programs were set up limited safeguards necessary to identify risks, “including susceptibility to improper payments and potential fraud.” The Small Business Administration made or guaranteed more than 14.7 million loans and grants totalling about $744 billion between March and December. Congress approved an additional $304 billion in emergency loans in December. The GAO said in the report that, as of January, it continues to experience delays in obtaining key information about the loans, including detailed oversight plans and documentation for estimating improper payments. “There's no doubt they’ve had a positive impact. However, the management of these programs needs to be dramatically improved," U.S. Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro told reporters in previewing the report. Government auditors release a high-risk list near the beginning of every new Congress. The list is designed to increase attention on the shortfalls cited by the GAO, and to prompt action that can often save taxpayer dollars and improve government operations. Auditors also added the government’s efforts to prevent drug misuse to the high-risk list. The GAO had warned as the pandemic began that it would be doing so. At the time, it noted that the pandemic could fuel the conditions that contribute to drug misuse, such as unemployment. In December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the largest ever increase of drug overdose deaths during a 12-month period that ended the previous May. The CDC noted a particular acceleration in drug overdose deaths as widespread mitigation measures kicked in. “This is heartbreaking," said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. Portman said that the country and his home state had finally seen a drop in overdose deaths in 2018 for the first time in decades. “Substantial progress. And yet now, with the pandemic, under this horrible pandemic, we have this horrible addiction crisis that has grown," Portman said. Auditors said that maintaining sustained attention to the problem of drug abuse will be challenging in the coming months with agencies focused on addressing the pandemic. “This makes developing and implementing a co-ordinated, strategic approach even more important as agencies’ resources are also being diverted, in part, to pandemic priorities,” the report said. On a positive note, the GAO said the Department of Defence had made concerted progress in how it aligns its support infrastructure with the needs of the country’s military forces, It dropped the support program from it's high-risk list. For example, in citing, progress, auditors said the Army reduced its leased footprint in the Washington D.C. region from a peak of 3.9 million square feet in 2011 to roughly 1 million square feet as of September 2019. Kevin Freking, The Associated Press
An 88-year-old man died after a car and truck collided on Miscou Island on Monday. RCMP believe the man was backing out of a residential driveway onto Route 113 when his car was struck by a pickup truck. RCMP and the Miscou Fire Department were dispatched to the scene at about 9:40 a.m. The man driving the car was transported to the hospital, where he died. The pickup truck driver and passenger were not hurt, RCMP said Tuesday. An investigation is continuing.
Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting five new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, including a positive case among hospital staff in St. Anthony, while the province's active caseload continues to drop. On Tuesday, the Department of Health reported five new cases and 38 new recoveries, leaving 203 active cases — less than half of the peak caseload of the variant cluster. A heartening recovery pattern has seen more recoveries than new cases since the chief medical officer of health introduced strict provincewide restrictions on Feb. 12, following an outbreak of coronavirus variant B117 in the metro St. John's area. In the past week, the province has notched 171 recoveries along with 40 new cases. Since Friday, most of the province has now moved to Alert Level 4, meaning some non-essential businesses can reopen. The Avalon Peninsula remains in Alert Level 5 at least until mid-month. "We are still on track to assess alert levels for all areas of the province on March 12," Fitzgerald said at Monday's briefing. "Before we can do that, we need to be confident that the risk of transmission is reduced," for a period of ideally two weeks. Four of Tuesday's new cases are in the Eastern Health region and remain under investigation, while the fifth is a health-care worker at Charles S. Curtis Memorial Hospital in St. Anthony under the age of 40. That staffer had no identifiably close contact with patients, according to the Department of Health; however, the local health authority has set up a temporary drive-thru testing clinic as a precaution. The clinic will continue Wednesday, from 9 a.m to 3 p.m. The site is set up at the back of the old hospital, at Apt 209, 178-200 West St. One staffer at Charles S. Curtis Memorial Hospital in St. Anthony has tested positive for the virus. All close contacts have been identified, according to the Department of Health.(www.electives.net) St. Anthony Deputy Mayor Eric Boyd told CBC anyone wanting a test should avail of the clinic. "You don't have to get out of your vehicle," he said, noting although numbers on the Northern Peninsula have remained low and stable throughout the pandemic, the St. John's outbreak reveals just how quickly a cluster can take root. He warned residents to abide public health guidelines. "That's the only way we're going to get out of this," he said. "We all got our concerns. We're all nervous … you can't become complacent." Nine people are in hospital because of the virus, down from 11 on Monday. Five of those are in intensive care. Eastern Health also confirmed another positive case associated with a recent cluster at St. Clare's Mercy Hospital in St. John's. A total of 13 staff members and patients have now caught the virus. The health authority told CBC that 97 per cent of staff at St. Clare's have now been tested. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
ALGIERS, Algeria — Hundreds of students restarted their weekly Tuesday protest marches that were called off last spring because of the coronavirus. The march came eight days after the Hirak pro-democracy movement reappeared in streets around the country to mark its second anniversary and days after the weekly Friday marches restarted. Hirak's peaceful protests helped force long-time President Abdelaziz Bouteflika from office in 2019. His successor, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, has promised reform of the system marked by corruption under Bouteflika and with the shadow of the army ever-present. “Civilian state and not a military state,” one group of students cried out, hoisting high a banner reading “We don't go home until the demands of Hirak are met.” Police watched, their vans blocking some streets, as marchers detoured around security forces, moving through winding streets at the bottom of Algiers' famed Casbah toward the imposing central post office, the traditional rallying point for the Hirak. Demonstrators sang and waved flags with no incidents reported. The Associated Press
The federal government says the door is open to help producers affected by the closure of a central Alberta pork plant where an outbreak of COVID-19 has infected hundreds of workers and resulted in three deaths. Olymel temporarily closed its plant in Red Deer more than two weeks ago. The company is moving its own pigs that would normally be slaughtered at the plant to its operations in the United States to free up capacity for independent producers in Canada. It estimates there's a backlog of 80,000 to 90,000 animals that should be cleared within four to five weeks once the plant reopens. Cabinet minister Jim Carr held a virtual news conference from his home in Winnipeg on Tuesday to provide an update on an emergency fund for meat-processing companies and to address the situation at Olymel. "Last spring, when outbreaks caused plants to slow down or close, we moved quickly to help livestock producers manage the growing backlog of animals on their farms," said Carr, who is the government's special representative to the Prairies. "Our government stands ready to help producers affected by the temporary closure of the Olymel plant in Red Deer, Alberta. If needed, federal funding will be there to assist pork producers with extraordinary herd management costs such as additional feed costs." Carr was vague when asked for details on what the assistance would look like. "We'll have to see what the needs are moving forward. The point we wanted to make is that the door is open for assistance if required." The federal government set up a $77.5 million emergency fund in September to help food processors deal with COVID-19 by adapting new safety protocols, including acquiring more protective equipment for workers. Another $10 million has been added since. The fund is also supposed to help upgrade and reopen meat facilities shuttered due to outbreaks of the novel coronavirus. Carr said the program has provided more than $7.8 million to 24 meat-processing companies across the Prairies, but is no longer taking applications. "We were out of the gate quickly. We adjusted as we learned what elements of programs were working and what elements were working less well," he said. "The same thing is true now as we move forward into the next phase of the pandemic." The meat-packing sector has been hard hit by the health crisis. Cargill temporarily shut down plants in High River, Alta., and Chambly, Que., last year after COVID-19 outbreaks. Olymel shut down its hog slaughter and processing plant in Yamachiche, Que., and the JBS beef plant in Brooks, Alta., temporarily went down to one shift daily from two. Cargill and JBS operations in Alberta account for 70 per cent of Canada's beef production. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 — Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
A watchdog agency on Tuesday again classified the 2020 census as high risk because of efforts last fall by the Trump administration to shorten the door-knocking and data-processing phases of the once-a-decade head count of every U.S. resident. The compressed time frame for data collection increased the risk of compromised data quality, the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in its High-Risk Report. The GAO has classified the 2020 census as a high-risk area since 2017. Last spring, the Census Bureau was forced to delay field operations because of the coronavirus pandemic. The statistical agency came up with a new plan to extend data collection from the end of last July to the end of last October, and pushed back the deadline for data processing from the end of last December to the end of April. Legislation to change the deadlines stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate last summer after President Donald Trump issued an order attempting to exclude people in the country illegally from the state population counts that are used for dividing up congressional seats among the states. The Trump administration then came up with another plan to end data collection a month early and cut the time for data processing by almost half. That compressed schedule was challenged in court by a coalition of municipalities and civil rights groups who claimed the timeline was shortened so Trump would still be in the White House when the state population counts were finalized. The challenge went to the Supreme Court, which gave the Trump administration the green light to end data collection in mid-October, about two weeks earlier than planned. After missing the end-of-December deadline for the congressional apportionment numbers, the Census Bureau kept pushing back the timeline, because of anomalies it found in the data, until it announced in late January that the numbers wouldn't be ready until the end of April. The statistical agency also announced last month that redistricting data used to redraw congressional and legislative districts won't be ready until the end of September. ___ Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP Mike Schneider, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Kohl's reported mixed results for its fiscal fourth quarter, delivering a 30% increase in profits but a 10% drop in sales. Results handily beat Wall Street estimates. Online sales growth remained strong, up 22% for the latest quarter, and accounted for 42% of net sales. The Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, company also issued a per-share forecast for the current year whose top range beat analysts' expectations. It also expects solid revenue growth. The earnings report comes out as Kohl’s is fighting back against an investor group’s efforts to take control of the department store chain’s board, arguing that it would derail its progress and momentum. The investor group nominated nine members for Kohl’s board of directors as it looks to boost the company’s stock and its financial performance. The group owns a 9.5% stake in Kohl’s. Kohl's has been pushing various initiatives to attract shoppers including expanding its activewear and home area. The department store's program with Amazon to accept eligible Amazon items, without a box or label, has done well. It said Tuesday the initiative has resulted in 2 million new customers in the past year of whom a third are younger. Late last year, the department store chain announced that Sephora will replace all cosmetics areas at Kohl’s with 2,500 square foot shops, starting with 200 locations in the fall. It will expand to at least 850 stores by 2023. Kohl's CEO Michelle Gass told The Associated Press during a phone interview on Tuesday that the chain is seeing a momentum in its business, and called the Sephora shops a “game changer." And while shopping at its stores are not yet back at a normal rate, she believes that Kohl's will recover some of that. She also noted that Kohl's will be ready when shoppers start going out more, but that casual dressing will still be important. Kohl's earned $343 million, or $2.20 per share, for the quarter ended Jan. 30. That compares with $265 million, or $1.72 per share, in the year-ago period. Adjusted earnings was $2.22, well ahead of the $1.01 per share that analysts forecast, according to FactSet. Sales reached $6.14 billion, down from $6.83 billion in the year-ago period. But results surpassed the $5.88 billion that analysts had expected, according to FactSet. Kohl’s expects net sales for the current year to increase in the mid-teens percentage range. The company also forecasts that per-share range should be anywhere from $2.45 to $2.95 for the year. Analysts forecast $2.65 per share, according to FactSet. Shares rose 50 cents to $57.49 in late morning trading. Anne D'Innocenzio, The Associated Press
A recent controversy over the consistency of butter reflects the need for evidence rather than anecdotal data.
LONDON — A British newspaper publisher said Tuesday it plans to appeal against a judge’s ruling that it invaded the privacy of the Duchess of Sussex by publishing parts of a letter she wrote to her estranged father after her 2018 marriage to Prince Harry. The American former actress Meghan Markle, 39, sued publisher Associated Newspapers for invasion of privacy and copyright infringement over five February 2019 articles in the Mail on Sunday and on the MailOnline website that reproduced large portions of a letter she wrote to her father, Thomas Markle. High Court judge Mark Warby ruled last month that the publisher had misused the duchess’s private information and infringed her copyright. He said the duchess “had a reasonable expectation that the contents of the letter would remain private” and concluded the paper’s publication of large chunks of it was “manifestly excessive and hence unlawful.” In written submissions released as part of a court hearing on Tuesday, Associated Newspapers’ lawyer Antony White sought permission to appeal, saying a bid to overturn Warby’s ruling “would have a real prospect of success.” The publisher's lawyers argue that the duchess wrote the letter not simply as a private message to her father but “for the public record upon advice from royal family members and palace communications staff and for use as part of a media strategy.” The judge refused permission to appeal, saying he saw “no real prospect” of another court reaching a different conclusion than he had. “The Court of Appeal, of course, may take a different view,” he said, adding that Associated Newspapers can take its case directly to the appeals court. Lawyers for Meghan, meanwhile, demanded the publisher hand over the letter and destroy any electronic copies or notes it held. They also asked the judge to order the Mail on Sunday to remove the five articles from its website and to run a front-page statement about the duchess’ legal victory. Ian Mill, an attorney for Meghan, said “the defendant defiantly continues to do the very acts which the court has held are unlawful.” The publisher's lawyers agreed to remove the articles from the website until the legal issues are resolved. The judge didn't immediately rule on the request to hand over the letter. He ordered Associated Newspapers to make an interim payment of 450,000 pounds ($625,000) toward Meghan's legal costs, and said further “financial remedies” would be dealt with later. Meghan, a former star of the American TV legal drama “Suits,” married Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth II, at Windsor Castle in May 2018. Their son, Archie, was born the following year. In early 2020, Meghan and Harry announced they were quitting royal duties and moving to North America, citing what they said were the unbearable intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media. They recently bought a house in Santa Barbara, California, and are expecting a second child. In his ruling last month, the judge ruled in Meghan's favour on most points, but said a “limited trial” should be held to decide the “minor” issue of whether the duchess was “the sole author” and lone copyright holder of the letter. It is expected to take place in the fall. Jill Lawless, The Associated Press