Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman, in a reference to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, added lines to her poem, saying, 'While democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.'
Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman, in a reference to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, added lines to her poem, saying, 'While democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.'
(ANNews) – The Alberta Government announced on March 4, 2020 that they will begin offering vaccination appointments to Albertans 65 to 74 years old starting on Monday, March 15 as part of Phase 2A of the provincial vaccination program. This is happening much earlier than first anticipated, as original estimates predicted that Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout would start in April. 437,000 eligible Albertans will be able to get their vaccine, Health Minister Tyler Shandro said Thursday. “By June 30, we expect to have offered every single adult in the province at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine.” When Phase 2A begins on March 15, bookings will be offered in two-year age groups. On the first day, anyone aged 73 or 74 will be able to book an appointment. On the second day, eligibility will be expanded to include anyone aged 71 to 72, and so on from there. “Staff and residents in seniors’ supportive-living facilities who are not already immunized will also be able to book appointments starting on Day 1,” Shandro said. “Appointments will be booked through both participating pharmacies, the online booking tool, as well as HealthLink 811. First Nations, Inuit and Métis people who are aged 50 and older will also receive the vaccine starting the week of March 15.” “And it’s important to remember that under our system you never lose eligibility for the vaccine,” he said. “Once you’re eligible you stay eligible. No one is left behind.” On top of this, the Alberta Government also announced their roll-out plan for the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was approved by Health Canada for all adult Canadians. The first doses of the vaccine arrived in Canada on Wednesday March. However, Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) announced that they are not recommending the AstraZeneca vaccine be used on people 65 or older. Keeping in line with the NACI’s recommendation, or lack-there-of, the Alberta Government will only administer the AstraZeneca vaccine to healthy adults 64 years old and younger. Beginning March 10, the province will offer 58,500 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to eligible Albertans aged 50-64 in Phase 2D who do not have severe chronic illness. Albertans born in 1957 can begin booking their appointments on March 10. Both Shandro and Alberta’s chief medical officer of health emphasized the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine, with Shandro saying, “Both Dr. Hinshaw and I recommend that all healthy Albertans get immunized as soon as they are eligible no matter what vaccine option is provided.” “AstraZeneca works. It has shown to reduce infection by 60 to 70 per cent and severe outcomes like hospitalization by 80 per cent.” “Where this vaccine seems to differ is in preventing asymptomatic infection, which means reducing the spread of COVID-19. This is why we’re not using it in any congregate living settings like seniors housing.” Dr, Hinshaw explained, “All three vaccines help protect against serious outcomes or long-term health impacts that COVID-19 can cause for many people. They dramatically reduce the risk of hospitalization and death. If those reasons don’t resonate with you, please know widespread immunization will help us all return to a more normal way of life more quickly.” “Choosing to be immunized is one of the most important actions we can take for ourselves and for our communities,” she said. As for Alberta Hospitalizations, the province fell below 250 for the first time in months on March 6. There are currently 247 Albertans in hospital due to COVID-19 including 42 in intensive care units. There has been 135,537 total infections in the province with the amount of active cases being 4,649. Meanwhile, the amount of active cases on First Nations reserves, as of March 4 and according to Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is: Case numbers per region: Jacob Cardinal is an LJI reporter for Alberta Native News. Jacob Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alberta Native News
TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $20 million jackpot in Saturday night's Lotto 649 draw. However, the draw's guaranteed $1 million prize went to a lottery player in British Columbia. The jackpot for the next Lotto 649 draw on Mar. 10 will be approximately $23 million. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — The fierce debate over cross-border pipelines is putting more Canadian oil and gas on trains destined for the United States — a country experts fear is ill-equipped for the potential consequences. It would take an oil-by-rail calamity of a scale comparable to the 2013 Lac-Mégantic disaster in Quebec before Americans wake up to the dangers, U.S. rail safety analysts say. "There's a bullet whizzing past our head," said Eric de Place, an energy policy expert and director at the Sightline Institute, a Seattle-based think tank focused on sustainability issues in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. On average, more than a million barrels of crude oil travel through Washington state each week, most of it from North Dakota but about 13 per cent from Alberta and Saskatchewan, according to the state's Department of Ecology. The risks were punctuated late last year when seven tanker cars carrying crude oil derailed and caught fire just outside Bellingham, Wash., a city of nearly 90,000 people not far from the Canada-U.S. border."The only thing I can imagine is that there will have to be a significant loss of life before we get the regulatory attention that the industry deserves, in my opinion, and that's a tragedy that's just waiting to unfold," de Place said."We're talking about 300-foot tall fireballs — this is cinematic, when accidents happen. I mean, it looks like a James Cameron movie."It's a real-life image Canadians know all too well. In July 2013, an oil-laden train derailed and exploded in the heart of Lac-Mégantic in the Eastern Townships region of Quebec, killing 47 and levelling half of downtown — the deadliest non-passenger train accident in Canadian history. The tragedy put a laser-sharp focus on oil-by-rail in Canada, resulting in a number of regulatory changes, including an end to single-person train crews and the phaseout of DOT-111 or TC-111 tanker cars for crude oil. In the U.S., however, new rules that took effect in 2016 didn't explicitly prohibit the use of DOT-111s for flammable cargo, said Fred Millar, an independent rail industry analyst and safety expert in Alexandria, Va. A Bureau of Transportation report submitted to Congress in September found that while DOT-111s stopped carrying crude oil in 2018, the cars still carry some flammable liquids such as ethanol, and won't be completely gone until 2029. In 2019, the report said, 73 per cent of the tank car fleet carrying crude oil in the U.S. comprised DOT-117 cars — a heavier, "jacketed" tanker with more robust valves and reinforced shields at either end. "More than 99.99 per cent of all haz-mat moved by rail reaches its destination without a release caused by an accident," Jessica Kahanek of the Association of American Railroads said in a statement. "Railroads also long advocated for tougher tank car standards and fully endorsed rules that are now in place requiring these cars have higher grade steel, improved thermal protection, thicker shells, and enhanced valves."Developed after Lac-Mégantic, DOT-117s are only "marginally safer" than their predecessors, said Millar, noting that Congress has consistently refused to impose limits on train length or speed, or require that dangerous cargo be rerouted away from population centres. "The thing about rail car safety is there's a trade-off between the weight of the car and how much product you can carry — there's a conflict between safety and profit," he said. "If you put on more steel to protect from puncture, that means you have to put in less product." Oil and gas exports from Canada depend heavily on commodity prices; crude shipments by rail plunged last summer as the price of oil collapsed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, well off the dramatic peaks they posted at the beginning of the year. But those exports are ticking back up: Canada exported more than 190,000 barrels a day in December 2020, twice the level posted just four months earlier, according to data from the federal energy regulator. Environmentalists have long opposed pipeline projects like TC Energy's Keystone XL and Enbridge Inc.'s Line 3 and Line 5 for fear of an expansion of Alberta's oilsands operations as well as further North American dependence on fossil fuels. President Joe Biden cancelled the Keystone XL expansion on his first day in office, while Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer wants to shut down Line 5, which links Wisconsin and Sarnia, Ont., via the Straits of Mackinac between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan has vowed to defend Line 5, which he called a vital source of energy and jobs in Michigan and Ohio, as well as Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec. That energy is going to get to market by any means available, all of them less reliable "and with regard to oil by rail … far less safe" than pipelines, O'Regan told a House of Commons committee Thursday. "Just so that we all understand what's at stake … that energy, those molecules, are going to have to be transported either by rail, by truck, or by marine transportation," O'Regan said. "They will have to get sourced, because people will not be kept cold — that's for sure."Millar said the Trump administration tried to make it easier to ship energy by rail in the U.S., including authorizing the transport of liquefied natural gas throughout the country and trying to block efforts to require two-person train crews. An appeals court in Nebraska last month rejected the Trump-era decision to abandon the two-person rule, which the Obama administration introduced in 2016 in response, in part, to Lac-Mégantic. "We've passed through a very dangerous phase," Millar said. "The rail industry overall — but hazardous-materials transportation specifically — is more dangerous than it was before." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2021. James McCarten, The Canadian Press
TEHRAN, Iran — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Sunday his country was prepared to take steps to live up to measures in the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers as soon as the United States lifts economic sanctions on Iran. In a meeting with Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, Rouhani said: “Iran is ready to immediately take compensatory measures based on the nuclear deal and fulfil its commitments just after the U.S. illegal sanctions are lifted and it abandons its policy of threats and pressure.” Rouhani criticized the European signatories of the historic nuclear deal for what he said was their inaction on their commitments to the agreement. He said Iran is the only country that kept its side of the bargain. Trump in 2018 unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from the Iranian nuclear accord, in which Tehran had agreed to limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. When the U.S. then reimposed some sanctions and added others, Iran gradually and publicly abandoned the deal’s limits on its nuclear development. The Republic of Ireland has the role of facilitator in the implementation of the nuclear deal. Coveney said the withdrawal of former President Donald Trump was a mistake and noted that the new U.S. administration is determined to return to the deal. In December, Iran’s parliament approved a bill that calls for the suspension of part of U.N. inspections of its nuclear facilities if European signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal do not provide relief from oil and banking sanctions. The Associated Press
Long Island, with its steep cliffs topped with red spruce and white birches, is the centrepiece of the picture-perfect riverfront views along the Kennebecasis River. The island is a popular spot for boaters in the summer, and ATVers, snowmobilers and cross-country skiers in the winter. While Long Island is accessible via a short journey over the ice from Rothesay or the Kingston Peninsula, extreme caution is required. The ice has weak spots that can be unpredictable because of the freeze-thaw cycle, brooks and streams running off the island.(Julia Wright / CBC) The combination of isolation and accessibility are what appeal to Ted Harley, an avid outdoorsman who grew up on the river and spends time on the island every winter. "It's almost like you're 200 miles from civilization, but you're only five minutes from home," says Harley. "You don't have an island like this in most places of this world, where you can just go a short distance, summer or winter, and feel like you're in the deep forest." Many might not know the role it played in the early story of New Brunswick — or that it was once a thriving community with its own school, post office, and riverboat service. "It has a long history," says Walter Emrich with the Nature Trust of New Brunswick, which protects part of the island. "It's a magnificent island." Former farmland on Long Island is being reclaimed by the forest(Submitted by ACAP Saint John) Glooscap, graveyards As it turns out, there are a lot of "Long Islands" in New Brunswick, including in Lake Utopia, off the coast of Grand Manan, and in the St. John River. Long Island in the Kennebecasis River is linked with a Wolastoqey legend that the "rock in the river" was home to Glooscap, a godlike giant who split the rock face in two, creating a deep ravine that still has the nickname Glooscap's Gully. The steep ravine nicknamed 'Glooscap's Gully,' pictured in 1973. (Saint John Free Public Library: Barbara Mouffe, Long Island in the Kennebecasis Bay, Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada) If the Loyalist settlers who arrived there in 1785 expected something similar to Long Island in New York state, they were probably dismayed to find an isolated location, with rocky soil ill-suited to farming. Of the 37 original grantees, only one stayed. Others soon arrived — from an eclectic mix of backgrounds, as Colin Rayworth, a landowner on the island, writes in his report "The development of Long Island on the Kennebecasis River." Early Black settlers on the island included Jupiter Watts, who came with his family in 1814 and stayed until at least 1861. Children of the Watts family, and of other settlers, are buried in two small graveyards on the island. Thriving farming community By the 1890s, there were 75 families farming buckwheat, oats, potatoes, turnips and other crops. Settlers eked out a living timbering, and cutting river ice, which was then shipped to Boston in the days before refrigeration. A man disembarks from a steamer at Long Island in an early 1900s photo by H.W.H. Swann.(Saint John Free Public Library: Credit Barbara Mouffe, "Long Island in the Kennebecasis Bay, Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada") A school was set up in the 1840s, and post office on the easterly end of the island that was still operating in the 1930s. In the late 1800s, a government wharf was built between Long Island and adjoining Mathers Island. The channel between the two islands was dredged, allowing riverboats to pass through. They made regular stops there until 1921, when the riverboat Hampton made her last run. A photo by H.W.H. Swann shows the riverboat Hampton stopping at Long Island in the early 1900s The Hampton, the last riverboat to travel to the island, made its final run in 1921.(Saint John Free Public Library: Credit Barbara Mouffe, "Long Island in the Kennebecasis Bay, Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada") In the winter, recalls longtime resident Jennie Breen Willians in her 1972 memoir History of Long Island, residents made a "road" by cutting fir or spruce trees and fitting them in holes in the ice. "There, they froze, so many yards apart in a perfect straight line to Rothesay. Now you couldn't get lost at night or in a storm, as you just followed from one tree to another." It particularly isolated In autumn, when ice started to form, and the few weeks in the spring when the ice began to break up, making boat travel impossible. The rest of the year, settlers rowed, snow-shoed, or used skates, sleighs and horses, travelling from the mainland on their own steam and ingenuity. A stereographic image from the New Brunswick Museum archives shows Long Island as it would have appeared between 1875 and 1878.(Submitted by the New Brunswick Museum - Musée du Nouveau-Brunswick. Accession #: 1956.43.28) Danger on the ice That's what people like Ted Harley, and countless others, still do today. "I've been here thousands of times," Harley says. "My history goes back over 60 years. I learned in a hurry that I had to respect the river at a very young age. But just because it's close doesn't mean it's safe. "If you don't respect the river, it'll get ya," says Harley. "There can be big waves, and big storms out there. It's a big body of water, a mile wide and over 100 feet deep. It's probably close to a kilometre to get over. Lots of people still do it." Travelling over the ice, as many people have done in the winter of 2020-2021, is particularly risky. The Bridal Veil Falls on Long island is a popular destination in the winter for ATVers and ice climbers.(Submitted by Ted Harley) With numerous accidents reported on or near the island over the years, flotation jackets, ice picks and safety gear are recommended. "You have to be prepared if you're going to come over here. We don't want to see anybody hurt," Harley says. "You can't count on anybody else. By the time people react and come out to help you, chances are that they won't be able to." The last year-round resident moved off in the 1960s. While the stone foundations and traces of the old settlements are still visible, in 2021 only seasonal cottages remain. Three generations of the Breen family — John D. Breen, Wilson (Wilt) Breen, Cunningham Breen, Lawrence McCarthy and Mortimer (Mort) Breen — pictured haying on the island circa 1910 in a photo by H.W.H. Swann. (Saint John Free Public Library: Credit Barbara Mouffe, "Long Island in the Kennebecasis Bay, Kings County, New Brunswick, Canada") A piece of history Several areas of Long Island are protected by the Nature Trust of New Brunswick. It's a stop for at-risk peregrine falcons, and home to the extremely rare wall-rue fern, not previously found anywhere in New Brunswick The Nature Trust, and local volunteers, maintain a network of trails along the old Long Island Road. "We are trying to clean up the trail system," says Shaylyn Wallace, the stewardship co-ordinator with the Nature Trust. "We're thinking about extending the trail, if there's interest in it." An old Pontiac that crashed in the woods on the island is one of the many signs that still remain of earlier eras in its history. (Julia Wright / CBC) "We've had people doing surveys for birds and lichen as species change over the years, and invasive species removal." Many people, including Ted Harley, hope that "the future is the status quo." "There are certain groups of people that for some reason think they can just throw their stuff on the ground and someone else will pick it up." One of several signs on the island asking people not to litter. (Julia Wright / CBC) That's a shame, he says, considering "it's a piece of history. There's no doubt about it. "We are so lucky to have it here, and accessible, where private landowners haven't bought it all and made it unusable for the general public." "We want to make sure that anyone else who comes over here is not abusing it — to keep it clean and pristine."
BERLIN — A lawmaker with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's party said Sunday he will give up his seat in parliament and leave politics after it emerged that his company profited from deals to procure masks early in the pandemic — drawing sharp criticism in an election year. Nikolas Loebel, a backbench lawmaker with Merkel's centre-right Christian Democratic Union, was blasted by members of his own party and opponents after it emerged Friday that a company he runs earned commissions of 250,000 euros ($298,000) from brokering contracts to buy masks. Saying that he should have been “more sensitive," Loebel admitted that he had made a mistake and gave up his seat on parliament's foreign affairs committee. That wasn't enough for critics — particularly as his home state of Baden-Wuerttemberg elects a new regional legislature on March 14. A national election in which Germans will choose a new parliament, and determine who succeeds Merkel, follows on Sept. 26. Susanne Eisenmann, the CDU candidate for governor in Baden-Wuerttemberg, told news magazine Der Spiegel that “it is unacceptable for parliamentarians to enrich themselves in this serious crisis.” On Sunday, Loebel said he will leave the Union bloc's group in parliament immediately and give up his seat at the end of August. He apologized and said he won't run in the September election, the dpa news agency reported. “I am taking responsibility for my actions,” he said. Loebel's case wasn't the first to rattle the centre-right bloc. Georg Nuesslein — a prominent lawmaker with the Christian Social Union, the CDU’s Bavaria-only sister party — faces a corruption investigation by Munich prosecutors in connection with mask procurement deals. He denies wrongdoing. On Friday, Nuesslein's lawyer said he won't run for re-election in September and is giving up his position as a deputy leader of the Union's parliamentary group. ___ Follow all AP stories on the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic. The Associated Press
GAZA, Palestinian Territory — Three Palestinian fishermen were killed Sunday after a blast ripped through their boat off the Gaza shore, officials said, in what appeared to be an explosion caused by a misfired rocket launched by the ruling Hamas militant group. Nezar Ayyash, a spokesman for the local fisherman's association, said the men — two brothers and a cousin — were working off the coast of the southern town of Khan Younis when the explosion happened. The cause of the blast wasn't immediately clear, but there were growing indications that it was the result of a misfired rocket. Hamas, which has fought three wars with Israel, is believed to possess thousands of rockets. Minutes before the explosion, local media reported that Hamas was test-firing rockets toward the sea. Hamas, which is usually quick to cast blame on Israel, instead said it was launching an investigation. And relatives of the fishermen posted a statement on Facebook describing them as “the martyrs of living who were killed when a local mortar shell hit their boat.” Rami al-Laham, who runs the family Facebook page, said the post was published before the investigation was launched. “For now, it’s mystery and nobody knows how” they were killed, he said. However, four hours after the investigation was announced, he said no one from Hamas or the government had contacted the family. Earlier, Palestinian media reports blamed Israeli navy fire, but the Israeli military said it was not involved in this incident. The Associated Press
Travis Cains looks over to the spot where he and George Floyd watched the world go by when they were young. It was on those steps that Cains — who considers himself Floyd's older brother and stuck with him through the highs of sports stardom at school to the lows of addiction and incarceration — became convinced that Floyd was destined to make his mark on the world. Floyd is a martyr for us.
Iran has released British-Iranian aid worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe from house arrest at the end of her five-year prison sentence, but she has been summoned to court again on another charge, her lawyer said on Sunday. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his government would continue to do everything possible to secure her permanent release so she could return to the UK. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, was arrested at a Tehran airport in April 2016 and later convicted of plotting to overthrow the clerical establishment.
JERUSALEM — Israel reopened most of its economy Sunday as part of its final phase of lifting coronavirus lockdown restrictions, some of them in place since September. The easing of restrictions comes after months of government-imposed shutdowns and less than three weeks before the country’s fourth parliamentary elections in two years. Israel, a world leader in vaccinations per capita, has surged forward with immunizing nearly 40% of its population in just over two months. Bars and restaurants, event halls, sporting events, hotels and all primary and secondary schools that had been closed to the public for months could reopen with some restrictions in place on the number of people in attendance, and with certain places open to the vaccinated only. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government approved the easing of limitations Saturday night, including the reopening of the main international airport to a limited number of incoming passengers each day. Netanyahu is campaigning for reelection as Israel's coronavirus vaccine champion at the same time that he is on trial for corruption. Israel has sped ahead with its immunization campaign. Over 52% of its population of 9.3 million has received one dose and almost 40% two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, one of the highest rates per capita in the world. After striking a deal to obtain large quantities of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines in exchange for medical data, Israel has distributed over 8.6 million doses since launching its vaccination campaign in late December. While vaccination rates continue to steadily rise and the number of serious cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, drops, Israel's unemployment rate remains high. As of January, 18.4% of the workforce was out of work because of the pandemic, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. At the same time that it has deployed vaccines to its own citizens, Israel has provided few vaccines for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a move that has underscored global disparities. It has faced criticism for not sharing significant quantities of its vaccine stockpiles with the Palestinians. On Friday, Israel postponed plans to vaccinate Palestinians who work inside the country and its West Bank settlements until further notice. Israeli officials have said that its priority is vaccinating its own population first, while the Palestinian Authority has said it would fend for itself in obtaining vaccines from the WHO-led partnership with humanitarian organizations known as COVAX. Israel has confirmed at least 800,000 cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic and 5,861 deaths, according to the Health Ministry. Ilan Ben Zion, The Associated Press
MONSTER, Netherlands — Dutch cress grower Rob Baan has enlisted high-tech helpers to tackle a pest in his greenhouses: palm-sized drones seek and destroy moths that produce caterpillars that can chew up his crops. “I have unique products where you don’t get certification to spray chemicals and I don’t want it,” Baan said in an interview in a greenhouse bathed in the pink glow of LED lights that help his seedlings grow. His company, Koppert Cress, exports aromatic seedlings, plants and flowers to top-end restaurants around the world. A keen adopter of innovative technology in his greenhouses, Baan turned to PATS Indoor Drone Solutions, a startup that is developing autonomous drone systems as greenhouse sentinels, to add another layer of protection for his plants. The drones themselves are basic, but they are steered by smart technology aided by special cameras that scan the airspace in greenhouses. The drones instantly kill the moths by flying into them, destroying them in midair. “So it sees the moth flying by, it knows where the drone is ... and then it just directs the drone towards the moth,” said PATS chief technical officer Kevin van Hecke. There weren't any moths around on a recent greenhouse visit by The Associated Press, but the company has released video shot in a controlled environment that shows how one bug is instantly pulverized by a drone rotor. The drones form part of an array of pest control systems in Baan's greenhouses that also includes other bugs, pheromone traps and bumblebees. The drone system is the brainchild of former students from the Technical University in Delft who thought up the idea after wondering if they might be able to use drones to kill mosquitos buzzing around their rooms at night. Baan says the drone control system is smart enough to distinguish between good and bad critters. “You don’t want to kill a ladybug, because a ladybug is very helpful against aphids," he said. "So they should kill the bad ones, not the good ones. And the good ones are sometimes very expensive — I pay at least 50 cents for one bumblebee, so I don’t want them to kill my bumblebees.” The young company is still working to perfect the technology. “It’s still a development product, but we ... have very good results. We are targeting moths and we are taking out moths every night in an autonomous way without human intervention," said PATS CEO Bram Tijmons. "I think that’s a good step forward.” Baan also acknowledges that the system still needs refining. "I think they still need too many drones ... but it will be manageable, it will be less,” he said. “I think they can do this greenhouse in the future maybe with 50 small drones, and then it’s very beneficial.” Mike Corder, The Associated Press
Pope Francis visited Iraq's war-ravaged north to pray for victims and call for peace in the first-ever papal visit to the country.View on euronews
A far-right proposal to ban facial coverings in Switzerland won a narrow victory in a binding referendum on Sunday instigated by the same group that organised a 2009 ban on new minarets. The measure to amend the Swiss constitution passed by a 51.2-48.8% margin, provisional official results showed. The proposal under the Swiss system of direct democracy does not mention Islam directly and also aims to stop violent street protesters from wearing masks, yet local politicians, media and campaigners have dubbed it the burqa ban.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lankan Roman Catholics attended Mass dressed in black on Sunday, with prayers and protests calling for justice for those killed in co-ordinated suicide bomb attacks on Easter Sunday two years ago. Church bells tolled and prayers were chanted at 8:45 a.m., the time when bombs were detonated almost simultaneously at two Roman Catholic churches and a Protestant church during Easter services on April 21, 2019. Bombs were also set off at three top hotels targeting locals and foreigners who were eating breakfast. More than 260 people, including 171 from the two Catholic churches, were killed in the attacks, which were blamed on two local Islamic extremist groups that had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group. A presidential inquiry commission has handed its final report to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who has shared parts of it with Catholic and Buddhist religious leaders. The report has also been sent to the attorney general for legal action. However, the archbishop of Colombo, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, said the report had concentrated more on the failures of the then-government in preventing the attacks despite early warnings, rather than finding out the handlers of the groups accused of carrying out the bombings. “No one who wants to promote hatred and religious strife will receive our support. We believe there should be unity and brotherhood among different ethnic and religious groups all over the world," Ranjith said Sunday. “Today Holy Father Pope Francis has visited Iraq and has had a discussion with the Shia leaders (in Iran). It shows religious leaders in the world think about unity and brotherhood, not about creating strife. Therefore I request anyone inclined to create conflict on account of religion to give up that idea,” he said. At St. Sebastian's Church in Negombo, a predominantly Catholic area north of Colombo where 115 people were killed in the Easter attacks, parishioners attended Mass on Sunday dressed in black and held placards outside the church in a silent “Black Sunday” protest. “The main purpose of this is to show the people and our rulers that justice has not happened for the victims of the Easter attacks," said Auxiliary Bishop the Rev. Maxwell Silva, who celebrated Mass at the church. “We believe the commission report is not genuine and it did not do any justice to those who suffered," said Manilal Ranasinghe, who attended Mass at St. Mary's Church in Dehiwala, south of Colombo. Political infighting between the then-president and prime minister resulting in a communications breakdown and lapse of security co-ordination was said to have enabled the attacks despite foreign intelligence warnings. Rajapaksa told a public gathering Saturday that the report blamed the government at the time for letting its guard down on national security, and that his government will punish those responsible. Krishan Francis, The Associated Press
SaskMusic is holding their annual International Women's Day concert Sunday night and due to the COVID-19 pandemic it will be entirely virtual. Female music artists will be featured in the pre-recorded concert event that is premiering Sunday at 7 p.m. CST on the SaskMusic's Facebook and YouTube pages. Lorena Kelly, a spokesperson for SaskMusic, said people can expect a great blend of genres during tonight's concert. Kelly said the audition process was a bit different this year, as artists submit a video of them performing a song. "We were really pleased to discover some new artists through this audition process this year and we've also got some familiar names who people may have heard on the radio or seen their performance before," Kelly said. "It's a really nice mix and I think there's going to be something for everybody." She said SaskMusic had a difficult time narrowing down submissions and even went over the time they had allowed themselves for the concert. In the end, 23 provincial artists were chosen. Heidi Munro, half of Munro & Patrick, a duo that will be performing in Sunday's concert, said an important thing to keep in mind during the special event is how difficult it was — and still is — for women to find success in the industry. "I have great male friendships in the business and colleagues but you know you just always had this sense to work harder and to prove yourself," She said. "There is so many extremely talented female artists in our province and in Canada." "I think that it's important that we celebrate each other, that we support each other and I think women in the industry are very well respected now." Valerie McLeod — known as her stage name Val Halla — is going perform in Sunday's concert. She said she has her own challenging experiences at making it in Saskatchewan's music industry. "I've even encountered stuff where now people are at least aware and trying to book more women on festivals and shows," McLeod said. "You actually get told that you're fulfilling a quota." She said she has heard from other women artists that festival organizers will contact women and say the festival is "short" on female performers. "They're not saying 'I love what you do, I love your music' and even if they do, it's the wrong way to address it," McLeod said. With the International Woman's Day concert, she said none of the performers feel as if they are simply "filling a spot." "We actually get to celebrate what we do, we get to appreciate other artists," McLeod said. McLeod said she believes tonight's show will be very unique since artists had to get out of their comfort zones to record their parts for the event. "I ended up recording in my bathroom," She said. "It just had to be that way, I tried other places to make it look really cool and it looked great but sounded awful... It's very different."
BEIJING — China’s foreign minister warned the Biden administration on Sunday to roll back former President Donald Trump’s “dangerous practice” of showing support for Taiwan, the island democracy claimed by Beijing as its own territory. The claim to Taiwan, which split with the mainland in 1949, is an “insurmountable red line,” Wang Yi said at a news conference during the annual meeting of China’s ceremonial legislature. The United States has no official relations with Taiwan but extensive informal ties. Trump irked Beijing by sending Cabinet officials to visit Taiwan in a show of support. “The Chinese government has no room for compromise,” Wang said. “We urge the new U.S. administration to fully understand the high sensitivity of the Taiwan issue” and “completely change the previous administration’s dangerous practices of ‘crossing the line’ and ‘playing with fire,’” he said. President Joe Biden says he wants a more civil relationship with Beijing but has shown no sign of softening Trump’s confrontational measures on trade, technology and human rights. Surveys show American public attitudes turning more negative toward China, which is seen as an economic and strategic competitor. Wang gave no indication how Beijing might react if Biden doesn't change course, but the ruling Communist Party has threatened to invade if Taiwan declares formal independence or delays talks on uniting with the mainland. Wang’s comments in a wide-ranging, two-hour news conference reflected Beijing’s increasing assertiveness abroad and rejection of criticism over Hong Kong, the northwestern region of Xinjiang and other sensitive topics. Wang defended proposed changes in Hong Kong that will tighten Beijing's control by reducing the role of its public in government. He dismissed complaints that erodes the autonomy promised to the former British colony when it returned to China in 1997. The changes announced Friday follow the arrest of 47 pro-democracy figures in Hong Kong under a national security law imposed last year following months of anti-government protests. Beijing needs to protect Hong Kong’s “transition from chaos to governance,” Wang said. The proposal would give a pro-Beijing committee a bigger role in picking Hong Kong legislators. That would be a marked reduction of democracy and Western-style civil liberties in Hong Kong. Mainland officials say they want to make sure the territory is controlled by people deemed patriots. “No one cares more about the development of democracy in Hong Kong than the central government,” Wang said. He said the changes will protect the “rights of Hong Kong residents and the legitimate interests of foreign investors.” Also Sunday, Wang rejected complaints Beijing’s treatment of predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang amounts to genocide. Human rights researchers say more than 1 million people, many of them members of the Uyghur minority, have been sent to detention camps. Chinese officials say they are trying to prevent extremism. “The so-called existence of genocide in Xinjiang is absurd. It is a complete lie fabricated with ulterior motives,” Wang said. He blamed “anti-China forces” that he said want to “undermine the security and stability of Xinjiang and hinder China’s development and growth.” Joe McDonald, The Associated Press
It's a North American phenomenon: People across the continent stuck inside during COVID-19 pandemic restrictions are renovating their homes, and P.E.I is no different. "We're up at least 40 per cent over last year," says Ammie Jeffery, retail manager at House of Excellence in Charlottetown, which sells Benjamin Moore brand and other high-end paints and painting gear. "It's crazy. I've never seen anything like it," said Rob Lewis at the nearby Sherwood Timber Mart. He has been in hardware and building supply sales for 38 years and said he's never seen demand so high. "Right now, most of the contractors are so booked, they can't keep up," he said. Customers are telling him they're spending money on renos that they normally would have used for a vacation, and doing a lot of the work themselves. But even seasoned do-it-yourselfers can sometimes miscalculate. Add the adrenaline rush of an exciting new project fuelled by Pinterest-perfect "after" photos, and the margin of error for first-timers can grow. Here are some common mistakes to avoid if you're going to do it yourself. Do your research, and put safety first Experts agree many of the mistakes they see spring from the same sources: lack of knowledge and inadequate planning. Some flooring must be installed by a professional to be covered by warranty by the manufacturer, Lewis points out. (Bruce Tilley/CBC) Consider whether you need a municipal permit to finish that basement or attic space, Lewis said. Read the fine print. Some flooring is covered by the warranty only if installed by a certified professional. Then, discuss your project with a salesperson where you're shopping. Some are seasoned experts with years of knowledge, and likely have experience with the very task you are undertaking or product you're buying. Once customers have the supplies they need, Lewis recommends they watch manufacturer's videos on proper installation. With the skyrocketing price and scarcity of some building supplies like lumber, the old adage "measure twice and cut once" has never been more important. "This time last year, an eight-foot two-by-four would have been $3.69 — that same eight-foot two-by-four is $7.99 [now]," Lewis said. The price for some sheets of plywood has more than doubled too. Safety is an often-overlooked consideration, Lewis points out. Remember safety gear including glasses, gloves and a good first-aid kit. If you are getting help from a friend or neighbour, consider that you are responsible for their safety while they are on your property. Check first, toss or smash later One mistake Lewis has seen a lot of during the pandemic is DIYers demolishing first, then going shopping only to find there's a shortage of what they need. A few months ago, there was a long wait for toilets. Right now, Lewis said it's bathtubs. "With COVID, the supply chain is very tight ... tubs right now are 12 to 14 weeks away," he said. Twelve tubs that just arrived in his Timber Mart are all spoken for, he said, which is unusual. "If you're doing DIY, it's best to do research. Know what you need; don't tear anything apart unless you have what you need," Lewis said. Lori S. MacArthur of Charlottetown renovated her bathroom during the pandemic. Toilets were in short supply earlier in the pandemic, and now it's tubs, says Rob Lewis at Sherwood Timber Mart. (Submitted by Lori S MacArthur) "I've seen people take their toilets out, even throw them away, and then come in," he said — only to find there are none available for weeks. Another important tip: If you are demolishing a wall, you may need an expert to determine if it is a load-bearing wall needed for the building's structural integrity. Don't pick up the sledgehammer until you are sure. Surface prep is 80% of the job Over at the paint store, improper preparation of surfaces is the biggest mistake Jeffery cites. "We always say 80 per cent of your job, you're never going to see ... it's a lot of unseen preparation." Ammie Jeffery, manager at House of Excellence in Charlottetown, says too often, people do not prepare surfaces properly before painting. (Sara Fraser/CBC) Read the directions on the product, and take time to watch videos or read information the company may have online with helpful tips. Not cleaning walls and cupboards with a degreaser such as TSP and then rinsing it off is a common mistake, Jeffery said. So is not sanding furniture before applying a paint or finish. "Right now there's a big surge in DIY to paint cupboards," Jeffery noted. Customers will often remove cupboard doors and get them spray-painted professionally, then paint the cupboard boxes themselves in the same colour — except, it often doesn't match exactly, and people are unhappy with the result. If customers are getting doors painted, she recommends having them done first, then bringing one to the paint store where staff can match paint for the boxes as closely as possible. For those who want to save money by painting their own cupboard doors, Jeffery recommends first bringing one to the paint store for advice on the right products to prep the surface. The doors may need different treatments depending on whether they have been painted, stained or lacquered. What's under there? Another common DIY problem is trying to paint water-based paint over an older oil-based paint, which is not uncommon in P.E.I.'s many heritage homes. Water-based paints may bubble or flake off in this case. Many people are painting their own kitchen cabinets, but proper preparation is essential, depending on what finish is already on them: paint, stain or lacquer.(Sara Fraser/CBC) "A lot of people will get halfway through a paint job and realize they never tested the wall first," Jeffery said. You'll have to sand off the bubbling paint and start over, priming with the correct primer. There's a shortage of popular paints at House of Excellence for the first time since the pandemic began, Jeffery said. With a post-holiday surge in DIY interest and tighter restrictions on P.E.I. keeping people at home, there's been a sharp upswing in sales. "Demand right now seems to be higher than supply," she said. "This is the first time we've run into this, actually, in the whole 12 months." More from CBC P.E.I.
BARCELONA, Spain — Catalonia’s former regional president Carles Puigdemont says he will keep fighting extradition back to Spain if, as he expects, the European Union's parliament strips him of his immunity as a lawmaker this week. Puigdemont and two fellow Catalan separatists won seats in the European Parliament in 2019, two years after fleeing Spain because they had led a failed secession attempt for Catalonia, a move that Spain has deemed illegal. On Monday, Puigdemont, along with cohorts Toni Comín and Clara Ponsatí, faces a vote by the European Parliament on whether to lift their immunity as lawmakers, a move that has been recommended by the parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee. “We contemplate all scenarios, obviously even that we will lose our immunity, which is the most likely,” Puigdemont told The Associated Press via on Sunday from his residence in Waterloo, Belgium. “But we know that would not be the end of the road.” Lifting their immunity would allow Spain to once again pursue their extradition to stand trial like their fellow separatist leaders who remained in Spain and were found guilty of sedition and the misuse of public funds for the 2017 breakaway bid. So far, courts in Belgium, Germany and Britain have refused to send Puigdemont and his colleagues back on grounds of sedition as requested by Spain. Puigdemont said besides resisting in the national courts, the three will also “take our case to the Court of Justice of the European Union.” Joseph Wilson, The Associated Press
The early part of the pandemic may have been all about the perfect sourdough recipe, the later stages appear to be focused on birds of a different feather. Specifically, laying hens. According to suppliers in the Eastern Townships, there's a run on egg-producing chickens this year. There was in early 2020 as well thanks to the pandemic. But this spring promises to reach the next level. F.G. Edwards, a general store that has done business in West Brome for more than 90 years, moved about 2,500 hens last spring. This year, the owner expect to sell at least twice that number. "This year, we felt the same interest and the same demand very early. Toward the end of 2020 we were already getting calls. That's when we knew we had to make some decisions on this summer's orders," said Chanel Crevier, who acquired the store just before the pandemic took hold. "Even if we'd have had 10,000 we would have sold them all very quickly." Deliveries started about a month ago, and about half the 2021 inventory has already found a home, Crevier told Radio-Canada. "We have the impression than in a few weeks we'll have run out of stock," she said. Anouschka Bouchard lives in Lac-Brome on a small hobby farm her family acquired in 2019. She's one of the legions of Townshippers who have decided to look after their own egg production. Last year, she bought nine hens. It went so well she's decided to order 30 this year, of four different types. 'They'll follow you around a little like a kitten' According to Bouchard, the brown hens are the friendliest. "They'll participate in family life. And they'll follow you around a little like a kitten or a puppy," she told Radio-Canada. But chicken-rearing isn't something anyone should dive into blindly, she said. First of all there's feed, about seven dollars' worth per hen per month. Each one also requires about 20 minutes or so of care and attention per day. It also goes without saying the egg-layers will need a home, and a place to handle . Keeping them year-round means having an insulated henhouse with a heat source and water. "At the very least they need a closed shelter to protect them from gusts of wind and deep cold," Bouchard said. "They also need continuous access to water. Even indoors, the water dish can freeze. So you need to get a feeder with a heating element." Then there's the question of municipal regulations. The rules vary according to municipality. While most rural and semi-rural locales allow small coops, many cities don't. Either way, if you have interest in having hens this summer, the Eastern Townships experience suggests you should probably act quickly.
Austrian authorities have suspended inoculations with a batch of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine as a precaution while investigating the death of one person and the illness of another after the shots, a health agency said on Sunday. "The Federal Office for Safety in Health Care (BASG) has received two reports in a temporal connection with a vaccination from the same batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the district clinic of Zwettl" in Lower Austria province, it said.