A U.K. coroner’s inquest has ruled that air pollution was a material contribution in the death of nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah who had severe asthma. Advocates hope the ruling will push the government to do more to tackle air quality.
A U.K. coroner’s inquest has ruled that air pollution was a material contribution in the death of nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah who had severe asthma. Advocates hope the ruling will push the government to do more to tackle air quality.
PALM BEACH, Fla. — Donald Trump has lost his social media megaphone, the power of government and the unequivocal support of his party's elected leaders. But a week after leaving the White House in disgrace, a large-scale Republican defection that would ultimately purge him from the party appears unlikely. Many Republicans refuse to publicly defend Trump's role in sparking the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. But as the Senate prepares for an impeachment trial for Trump's incitement of the riot, few seem willing to hold the former president accountable. After House Republicans who backed his impeachment found themselves facing intense backlash — and Trump’s lieutenants signalled the same fate would meet others who joined them — Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly Tuesday for an attempt to dismiss his second impeachment trial. Only five Republican senators rejected the challenge to the trial. Trump's conviction was considered a real possibility just days ago after lawmakers whose lives were threatened by the mob weighed the appropriate consequences — and the future of their party. But the Senate vote on Tuesday is a sign that while Trump may be held in low regard in Washington following the riots, a large swath of Republicans is leery of crossing his supporters, who remain the majority of the party’s voters. “The political winds within the Republican Party have blown in the opposite direction,” said Ralph Reed, chair of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a Trump ally. “Republicans have decided that even if one believes he made mistakes after the November election and on Jan. 6, the policies Trump championed and victories he won from judges to regulatory rollback to life to tax cuts were too great to allow the party to leave him on the battlefield.” The vote came after Trump, who decamped last week to his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, began wading back into politics between rounds of golf. He took an early step into the Arkansas governor’s race by endorsing former White House aide Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and backed Kelli Ward, an ally who won reelection as chair of Arizona’s Republican Party after his endorsement. At the same time, Trump’s team has given allies an informal blessing to campaign against the 10 House Republicans who voted in favour of impeachment. After Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer backed impeachment, Republican Tom Norton announced a primary challenge. Norton appeared on longtime Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast in a bid to raise campaign contributions. On Thursday, another Trump loyalist, Rep. Matt Gaetz, plans to travel to Wyoming to condemn home-state Rep. Liz Cheney, a House GOP leader who said after the Capitol riot that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. — a star with Trump’s loyal base —- has encouraged Gaetz on social media and embraced calls for Cheney’s removal from House leadership. Trump remains livid with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, who refused to support Trump's false charges that Georgia's elections were fraudulent. Kemp is up for reelection in 2022, and Trump has suggested former Rep. Doug Collins run against him. Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s decision not to seek reelection in 2022 opens the door for Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters, to seek the seat. Several other Republicans, some far less supportive of the former president, are also considering running. Trump’s continued involvement in national politics so soon after his departure marks a dramatic break from past presidents, who typically stepped out of the spotlight, at least temporarily. Former President Barack Obama was famously seen kitesurfing on vacation with billionaire Richard Branson shortly after he left office, and former President George W. Bush took up painting. Trump, who craves the media spotlight, was never expected to burrow out of public view. “We will be back in some form,” he told supporters at a farewell event before he left for Florida. But exactly what form that will take is a work in progress. Trump remains deeply popular among Republican voters and is sitting on a huge pot of cash — well over $50 million — that he could use to prop up primary challenges against Republicans who backed his impeachment or refused to support his failed efforts to challenge the election results using bogus allegations of mass voter fraud in states like Georgia. “POTUS told me after the election that he’s going to be very involved,” said Matt Schlapp, the chair of the American Conservative Union. “I think he’s going to stay engaged. He’s going to keep communicating. He’s going to keep expressing his opinions. I, for one, think that’s great, and I encouraged him to do that.” Aides say he also intends to dedicate himself to winning back the House and Senate for Republicans in 2022. But for now, they say their sights are on the trial. “We’re getting ready for an impeachment trial — that’s really the focus,” said Trump adviser Jason Miller. Trump aides have also spent recent days trying to assure Republicans that he is not currently planning to launch a third party — an idea he has floated — and will instead focus on using his clout in the Republican Party. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said he received a call from Brian Jack, the former White House political director, on Saturday at home to assure him that Trump had no plans for defection. “The main reason for the call was to make sure I knew from him that he’s not starting a third party and if I would be helpful in squashing any rumours that he was starting a third party. And that his political activism or whatever role he would play going forward would be with the Republican Party, not as a third party,” Cramer said. The calls were first reported by Politico. But the stakes remain high for Trump, whose legacy is a point of fierce contention in a Republican Party that is grappling with its identity after losing the White House and both chambers of Congress. Just three weeks after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, Trump’s political standing among Republican leaders in Washington remains low. “I don’t know whether he incited it, but he was part of the problem, put it that way,” said Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a strong Trump supporter, when asked about the Capitol siege and the related impeachment trial. Tuberville did not say whether he would personally defend Trump in the trial, but he downplayed the prospect of negative consequences for those Republican senators who ultimately vote to convict him. “I don’t think there’ll be any repercussions,” Tuberville said. “People are going to vote how they feel anyway.” Trump maintains a strong base of support within the Republican National Committee and in state party leadership, but even there, Republican officials have dared to speak out against him in recent days in ways they did not before. In Arizona, Ward, who had Trump’s backing, was only narrowly reelected over the weekend, even as the party voted to censure a handful of Trump’s Republican critics, including former Sen. Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain. At the same time, Trump’s prospective impeachment sparked a bitter feud within the RNC. In a private email exchange obtained by The Associated Press, RNC member Demetra DeMonte of Illinois proposed a resolution calling on every Republican senator to oppose what she called an “unconstitutional sham impeachment trial, motivated by a radical and reckless Democrat majority.” Bill Palatucci, a Republican committeeman from New Jersey, slapped back. “His act of insurrection was an attack on our very democracy and deserves impeachment,” Palatucci wrote. ___ Peoples reported from New York. Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report. Steve Peoples And Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
Tisdale town council is looking to change their zoning bylaws after a letter was sent to the council from a resident regarding potentially putting in a secondary suite at their home. During the Jan. 25 council meeting, the council discussed the possibility of allowing these suites for additional income for property owners, said Brad Hvidston, Tisdale’s administrator. The bylaw received its first reading during the meeting with the town hosting a public meeting in March to discuss the change further and allow the public to voice any concerns that they may have. There was little discussion going into the first reading of the bylaw with councillors not having many concerns regarding secondary suites at this time, Hvidston said. February might bring even more changes to the town’s zoning bylaws, he said, as the town will be taking a deeper look at their zoning and community plans. “We're just going to be starting our first meeting consultation process here in February. So we fully expected our whole zoning bylaws going to be redone by June or July for the whole town and the RM. We're doing it as a joint regional project with them.” The last time the zoning bylaw was examined by staff and council was 2005, Hvidston said, so it is time to have that deeper look and see that zones have been adhered to and that the current zones make sense. “We've done a ton of amendments to the zoning bylaw. Even just to follow the zoning bylaw now is getting tougher and tougher because you've got to follow up on all the amendments and changes.” Out buildings, like garages, shipping containers, and sheds, is one area that the town will definitely have to take a closer look at since that part of the zoning bylaw has faced many amendments over the years, Hvidston said. Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
WASHINGTON — Female soldiers can let their hair down, and flash a little nail colour under new rules being approved by the Army. But male soldiers will still have to shave. Army leaders announced Tuesday that they are loosening restrictions on various grooming and hairstyle rules, as service leaders try to address longstanding complaints, particularly from women. The changes, which also expand allowances for earrings and hair highlights and dyes, are particularly responsive to women of various ethnicities, and will allow greater flexibility for braids, twists, cornrows and other styles more natural for their hair. The new regulations take effect in late February and come after months of study, in the wake of a directive by former Defence Secretary Mark Esper, who ordered a new review of military hairstyle and grooming policies last July. The review was part of a broader order to expand diversity within the military and reduce prejudice, in the wake of widespread protests about racial inequality last summer. “These aren’t about male and female,” said Sgt. Maj. Michael Grinston, the Army's top enlisted leader during a Facebook Live presentation on Tuesday about the latest changes. “This is about an Army standard and how we move forward with the Army, and being a more diverse, inclusive team.” The Army announcement has been long-planned, but it came just days after the Pentagon's first Black defence secretary — Lloyd Austin — took over. Austin has vowed to try to root out racism and extremism in the ranks and foster more inclusion. Esper and many of the service leaders have also been taking steps to make the military more diverse, particularly in the higher ranks. As an example, Esper last summer ordered that service members’ photos no longer be provided to promotion boards. Officials said studies showed that when photos are not included “the outcomes for minorities and women improved.” On Tuesday, Army Sgt. Maj. Brian Sanders told reporters that the panel recommending the new grooming changes considered a variety of factors, including cultural, health and safety issues. He said the tight hair buns previously required by the Army can trigger hair loss and other scalp problems for some women. And larger buns needed to accommodate thick or longer hair, can make a combat helmet fit badly and potentially impair good vision. At the same time, he said that changes, like allowing women in combat uniforms to wear earrings such as small gold, silver and diamond studs, let them “feel like a woman inside and outside of uniform." He added, "At the end of the day, our women are mothers, they're spouses, they're sisters, they definitely want to be able to maintain their identity and that’s what we want to get after." In many cases — such as the earrings — the changes simply let female soldiers wear jewelry or hairstyles that are already allowed in more formal, dress uniforms, but were not allowed in their daily combat uniforms. Army leaders said women will now be able to wear their hair in a long ponytail or braid and tuck it under their shirt. Sanders said that allowing that gives female soldiers, particularly pilots or troops at a firing range, greater ability to turn their head quickly, without the restraints that the buns created. The new regulations also allow the exact opposite. Female soldiers going through Ranger or special operations training get their heads shaved, like male soldiers do. But when they leave training, their hair is too short, based on the Army's previous minimum length requirements. Now there will be no minimum length rules. For men, however, the perennial request to allow beards is still a no-go. Grinston's answer to the question from the online audience was short and direct: “No.” He noted that the Army already makes exceptions for medical and religious reasons. Also, male soldiers still can't wear earrings. The new lipstick and nail polish rules, however, allow men to wear clear polish, and allow colours for women, but prohibit “extreme” shades, such as purple, blue, black and “fire engine” red. Men will also be able to dye their hair, but the colours for both genders are limited to “natural" shades. Prohibited colours include blue, purple, pink, green, orange or neon. In another sign of the times, the new rules state that soldiers will now automatically receive black and coyote-colored face masks. They are also permitted to wear camouflage colored masks, but have to buy those themselves. The Army also is taking steps to change wording in the regulations to remove racist or insensitive descriptions. References to “Fu Manchu” moustache and “Mohawk” hairstyle have been removed, and replaced with more detailed descriptions of the still-banned styles. Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — The first inaugurations of Presidents Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama were the only ones to exceed Joe Biden's in popularity among television viewers over the past 40 years. The Nielsen company said that 33.8 million people watched Biden's inauguration over 17 television networks between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. last Wednesday. Reagan's festivities in 1981 drew 41.8 million viewers, and Obama's 2009 inaugural reached 37.8 million, Nielsen said. Perhaps most important to a former president known to watch television ratings closely: Biden exceeded the 30.6 million who watched Donald Trump take office in 2017, Nielsen said. CNN was the most popular network for inaugural viewers, Nielsen said. Meanwhile, Fox News' audience for Biden's oath of office and inaugural address was down 77% from the network's viewership for Trump. Meanwhile, the pro football conference championship games gathered people around televisions in big numbers Sunday. Nielsen said 44.8 million people saw Tom Brady and his Tampa Bay Bucs qualify for the Super Bowl, while 41.8 million watched Kansas City beat Buffalo. With the prime-time game, CBS easily won the week in the ratings, averaging 10.4 million viewers. ABC had 3.4 million, Fox had 2.7 million, NBC had 2.5 million, Univision had 1.2 million, while Ion Television and Telemundo each averaged 1.1 million viewers. CNN led the cable networks, averaging 2.76 million viewers in prime time. MSNBC had 2.67 million, Fox News Channel had 2.56 million, TNT had 1.19 million and HGTV had 1.1 million. ABC's “World News Tonight” won the evening news ratings race, hitting 10.1 million people. NBC's “Nightly News” had 8.3 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 6.2 million. For the week of Jan. 18-24, the top 20 prime-time programs, their networks and viewerships: 1. AFC Championship: Buffalo at Kansas City, CBS, 41.85 million. 2. “NFL Post-Game,” CBS, 17.88 million. 3. “NCIS” (Tuesday, 8 p.m.), CBS, 9.64 million. 4. “FBI,” CBS, 8.99 million. 5. “NCIS” (Tuesday, 9 p.m.), CBS, 8.75 million. 6. “Young Sheldon,” CBS, 7.39 million. 7. “911,” Fox, 7.2 million. 8. “Presidential Inauguration" (9 p.m.), CNN, 7.08 million. 9. “Blue Bloods,” CBS, 6.73 million. 10. “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune,” ABC, 6.3 million. 11. “Presidential Inauguration” (8 p.m.), CNN, 6.24 million. 12. “The Neighborhood,” CBS, 6.09 million. 13. “911: Lone Star,” Fox, 6.03 million. 14. "Magnum, P.I., CBS, 5.86 million. 15. “FBI: Most Wanted,” CBS, 5.81 million. 16. “Bob Hearts Abishola,” CBS, 5.56 million. 17. “Presidential Inauguration” (10 p.m.), CNN, 5.31 million. 18. “B Positive,” CBS, 5.06 million. 19. “Mom,” CBS, 5.03 million. 20. “The Bachelor,” ABC, 5.02 million. David Bauder, The Associated Press
Maybe Spiderman was onto something about the power of webs after all. A Western University husband-wife research duo, Miodrag and Vojislava Grbic, are using spider mite silk to develop a new, microscopic material they say is “stronger than steel” and would be a boon for biomedical developments. “Silk produced by mites and spiders is one of the most elegant and well-designed materials in existence,” Miodrag Grbic said from his research lab in Spain. The newly developed biomaterial is twice as stiff as spider silk, 400 times thinner and has a tensile strength four times that of steel. It’s also biodegradable and non-toxic. The Grbics used the genetic DNA framework of the gorse spider mite, Tetranychus lintearius, to develop a new fibre and biofilm, based on the insect's silk, which they’ve patented. “These nanoparticles can be used in biomedicine, for example, for targeted drug delivery (in the body) because you need a carrier to deliver drugs to particular cells,” Miodrag said. Other potential applications range from vaccine delivery and regenerative medicine to food production. Miodrag said the team is working to see if the material could have applications in COVID-19 vaccines. Developing the material was a happy coincidence for the couple, born out of a “crazy side project.” The Grbics originally were sequencing the genome of spider mites in an effort to combat the pests in agriculture only to stumble upon the power of the insect’s silk. In collaboration with teams in Spain and the United States, researchers used radiation and light, and minuscule force measurements to determine the makeup of spider mite silk. The Grbics were then able to tweak that code and manufacture their new nanoparticles based entirely on the original spider mite silk. “Instead of focusing on killing this pest, which is devastating tomatoes and potatoes and greenhouse industry, we can actually learn from this particular animal and turn something negative into something positive,” Miodrag said. Outside of medicine, the nanoparticles also could be used to coat slow-release fertilizer pellets, pesticides and herbicides to create “smart agrochemicals” for use in sustainable agriculture. “Having a broader view in a particular project, especially in genome sequencing projects, are really opening gold mines for different applications,” Miodrag said. email@example.com Twitter.com/MaxatLFPress Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
FREDERICTON — New Brunswick's Public Prosecutions Service announced Tuesday that no criminal charges will be filed against police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Rodney Levi last June.Levi, who was from the Metepenagiag First Nation, was shot dead by the RCMP on the evening of June 12 after police responded to a complaint about a disturbance in a home in Sunny Corner, N.B.The incident was investigated by Quebec's police watchdog, the Bureau des Enquetes independantes, which submitted a report to New Brunswick prosecutors in December.A statement from the prosecutions service said it is clear the officers on the scene believed Levi was using force against them, and he was shot to protect themselves and civilians who were present."This action followed repeated attempts to engage with Mr. Levi peacefully, and followed several applications of a Taser to disarm him from the dangerous weapons (knives) he refused to yield," the statement said.The prosecutions service concluded the police officers in question were acting lawfully to protect the residents of the home that evening."The evidence presented to Public Prosecutions Services does not establish a reasonable prospect of conviction, and therefore, we will not proceed with criminal charges," it said.Levi's killing came days after an Edmundston, N.B., police officer shot and killed Chantel Moore, a 26-year-old Indigenous woman, during a wellness check. The two killings sparked dismay and anger in the province's Indigenous community along with demands for a full inquiry.Alisa Lombard, the lawyer for Levi's family, said Tuesday that family members are disappointed with the outcome."They were provided with a very thorough explanation and review of the evidence and the law. They are now taking the time to process this information and to grieve," she said in an interview.Lombard said she expects the family will want to take further action. "I can say with a fair amount of confidence that this is not the end," she said.A summary of evidence prepared by the prosecutions service and published Tuesday says an autopsy confirmed Levi died from gunshot wounds to the chest. Witnesses told investigators Levi had been acting erratically, and a toxicology report revealed the presence of traces of amphetamine and methamphetamine in his body, the report said.The report summarizes what investigators heard from witnesses, though it does not name them. One woman, identified as a close relative of Levi, did not witness the shooting but spoke of his state of mind and intent on June 12.She said Levi had been living in her home for a few days and was very depressed, according to the report. "He kept talking about suicide and more specifically about 'suicide by RCMP'," the report says. The witness tried to dissuade Levi, but suicide by RCMP was all he would talk about. She never saw him again after he left her home on the afternoon of June 12.The report states that four witnesses at the home in Sunny Corner believed Levi was under the influence of something when he took knives from the kitchen of the home and began waving them around. He refused to put down the knives, and two people called 911.The witnesses said the officers were calm and tried to defuse the situation but Levi refused to drop the knives. They said Levi was Tasered three times by police and at one point said something to the effect of "you'll have to put a bullet in me," the report says. The witnesses said Levi "lunged" or "charged" at one of the officers, who then opened fire.The evidence included a 37-second video filmed by a witness, which shows Levi being hit with the stun gun three times. After the third time, Levi drops one of his knives but immediately picks it back up and seconds later is moving toward one of the officers with the knives pointed toward him, according to the report. The sound of two shots follows.The officer who fired the shots told investigators Levi was about three to five feet away from him and he perceived a “threat of death or grievous bodily harm” when he fired.In its statement, the prosecutions service said the decision not to lay charges against the officers does not "diminish the tragedy of the event." It said Levi's death is "a pain shared by members of the Metepenagiag First Nation and residents of neighbouring communities that cared about him."A coroner's inquest will be held into the incident, although a date and location have not been set.At such an inquest the presiding coroner and a jury will hear evidence from witnesses to determine the facts surrounding the death. The jury can then make recommendations aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances in the future.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — CBS has placed two top executives on administrative leave as it investigates charges of a hostile work environment for women and minorities at news operations in some of its largest individual stations. Peter Dunn, president of the CBS Television Stations, and David Friend, senior vice-president for news at the stations, are on leave pending the results of an external investigation. “CBS is committed to a diverse, inclusive and respectful workplace where all voices are heard, claims are investigated and appropriate action is taken where necessary,” the network said in a statement. The accusations were outlined over the weekend in an investigation by the Los Angeles Times and a subsequent meeting between CBS and the National Association of Black Journalists. Since 2009, Dunn has been head of stations owned and operated by CBS in big cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago and others. The Times said Dunn had referred to a Black male news anchor in Philadelphia as “just a jive guy." One executive at the station quit because she couldn't tolerate the culture and another has filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relates Commission alleging he was fired for co-operating with an internal review of his bosses, the Times reported. The NABJ has said CBS stations lag in maintaining diverse staffs, saying New York's WCBS-TV had only one female Black full-time reporter and went five years without a male Black reporter. “This is toxic. There's no other way to put it,” said Ken Lemon, the NABJ's vice-president of broadcast, on Tuesday. Since the story was published, Lemon said he had talked to at least five other people with new experiences to tell about the working atmosphere at CBS. He said the NABJ is optimistic about the steps CBS has taken. David Bauder, The Associated Press
Months-long protests in India escalated on Tuesday as thousands of farmers clashed with police in New Delhi over new laws that they say will push small farmers out of the market and let private corporations exploit them.
Construction on Place des Arts began in earnest, then a pandemic set back. Work resumes once again, then a second lockdown — then the announcement of a sort-of third lockdown. The construction was supposed to continue, but then everything was shut down once again last week, with the building work ceasing on Friday. But then Monday it started again. There was an amendment to the legislation. It’s just another part of the journey, says Léo Therrien, executive director of the new Francophone arts and culture centre in downtown Sudbury. “The construction is expected to be done at the end of the summer, give or take, and again COVID willing,” said Therrien. “And then our hope is to open later in the fall. Even once the work is finished, everyone has to move in, we have to test all the equipment, you have to do a few shows, too.” But he’s pleased this timeline should coincide with the vaccination process in Sudbury. “I think everyone will be ready to get back to shows,” he said. It is also this specific, pandemic-related journey that has revealed an interesting way for the seven organisations behind ROCS (Regroupement des organismes culturels de Sudbury) to offer planning and programming that is not only accessible in the pandemic world, but in the post-pandemic world as well: streaming. “Our hope is with streaming that we'll be able to stream internally to the various venues inside,” said Therrien. That includes the ability to watch a performance from anywhere in the building. “There's a performance in La Grande Salle (main theatre),” he said. “We can send it to the studio, we can send it to the Bistro, we can send it to other venues. We could split people in various places internally. “But we can also Zoom it, stream it externally, too, for conferences, for performances, and so on.” Whether you love a live show, or your life is more conducive to enjoying it in your pyjamas, there will be options for you. There will even be recordings, something in the works for La Nuit sur l'étang music festival. “Right now, they're planning the shows in March,” said Therrien, “But they might be able to get only 50 people right now because of COVID. So, their plan is to have various cameras and record the whole show and sell it later on at another date – present it as a recorded show.” And because of the occasional pause in the construction, there is the opportunity to consider these aspects: when you can’t build, you have the advantage of time while you work out the kinks of closed-circuit television. Silver Linings, as they say. “It's the right time for us to put the equipment in place because the walls aren't done yet. It would be too hard to do it if it was all finished,” said Therrien. “That's one of the only bonuses from COVID, is that we were able to adapt.” But also, they are not open. That means they are not bringing in revenue as of yet. Still, that may again be fortuitous (to be generous with the interpretation). Therrien said that while they wish the building was finished, it also prevented them from having to cancel or postpone. “We didn't have to stop any shows because we didn't have any shows planned,” he said. “So many of our partners had to cancel their season, then restart it and cancel it again. And it's been that nightmare for them.” He said that they hope the opening of the Place des arts will allow community arts and culture groups — both Anglophone and Francophone — to come together and pool resources, to use the knowledge and experience from every corner of the city to create programming to enrich Francophone culture and, by extension, Sudbury culture, as well as offer a home to Anglophone groups, like YES Theatre, which is currently in negotiations with the Place des arts team. There will not only be the headquarters of the seven founding Francophone organisations, as well as a gift shop, bookstore, bistro and multi-purpose studio space, but also a grand theatre and office space and rehearsal space. And there has never been a better time for art, said Therrien. Movies, television, books, puzzles, art galleries tours and musicals on Zoom — you name the medium, the world consumed content on it — and he’s hopeful this trend will continue. “Art and culture is healthy to our wellbeing, the health of ourselves,” said Therrien. “That’s why a place like this is essential to our community and to everyone in it.” Jenny Lamothe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
Debi Buell has always been a big fan of her father, artist Athol Buell, so naturally she wanted to share his work with others. In particular, she wanted to preserve the wartime sketches he did in the late '90s, before his death in 1999. Several years ago she approached staff at the Robertson Library at UPEI to see if they could archive his work and now that work is complete and his sketches are part of a digital archive. "He was so talented so it's very nice to be able to share with everybody what he was passionate about," she said. Passion for wartime art Athol Buell had a passion for the Second World War and enjoyed sketching everything from battlefields to planes and tanks, to the local P.E.I. soldiers who served. He also researched the personal stories to go along with his artwork. "He just kept drawing every day. He would try to make sure that he drew the people that were involved," said Debi. She said her father had the ability to capture "the essence" of people with his sketches. She said her father was well-known for his love of art, and it was a hobby he pursued whenever he had the time. "Even before he was a teenager he was always drawing, everywhere he went," she said. She said he had originally done a lot of acrylic painting but later in life when he developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease he could no longer work with paints as they bothered his lungs, so he switched to pencil art. Sketches now online Athol's sketches can now be seen by anyone with an internet connection — they are part of a digital archive called Island Lives found at Islandlives.ca. Keltie MacPhail, the digital initiatives librarian involved in the project, described his work as realistic and informative. "A lot of the drawings, especially the ones of the people he talks about, are quite lifelike," said MacPhail. "They're beautiful," she said. She said the Island Lives archive focuses on community history and artwork, like that done by Athol Buell, and it must have a substantial Prince Edward Island connection. She said the stories he wrote alongside his artwork are also valuable. "There are a number of P.E.I.-related stories sprinkled throughout some of the larger more international historic figures and events that he sketches about and it's a way of preserving some of those Island stories," she said. She said his stories and sketches tell a history that may not be available in many textbooks. Debi said her father would be thrilled that his sketch books are being preserved and shared with such a wide audience. "This is a way of protecting them and being able to share them. I guess it's going to be shared with the world." More from CBC P.E.I.
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is expanding its travel restrictions to require all domestic travellers to self-isolate for 14 days after entering the province. Since last June, only people arriving from areas east of Terrace Bay in northern Ontario have been subject to the requirement. But, starting Friday, all out-of-province arrivals will be covered by the public-health measure to help fight the spread of COVID-19. "This is being done out of an abundance of caution to protect Manitobans," Premier Brian Pallister said Tuesday. The move is needed because of the growing spread of novel coronavirus variants and because of delays in vaccine supplies, he said. There will be ongoing exceptions for people travelling for essential work and medical care, and a new exemption for residents of border communities who cross into Saskatchewan or Ontario for necessities. Pallister also called on the federal government to tighten rules governing international travellers. He said a ban on non-essential trips, as suggested by Quebec Premier Francois Legault last week, should be on the table. "We believe that a total travel ban may be something the federal government needs to consider seriously," Pallister said. "I respect that the federal government has to make this call and that's why I'm not trying to be overly prescriptive with what Manitoba wants. ... I'm simply adding my voice to those of the premiers who have said, 'Make a decision on this and doing nothing is not an option.'" Pallister also revealed that he had disciplined James Teitsma, a Progressive Conservative caucus member, who travelled with his family to British Columbia in December. The vacation did not contravene any formal public-health orders, but went against advice to avoid non-essential travel. Pallister did not say what discipline Teitsma was subjected to, and Teitsma did not return requests for comment. He sits on cabinet and Legislature committees and receives extra pay as chairman of one. A recently updated list of members of the cabinet committee on economic growth no longer includes Teitsma's name. Manitoba's COVID-19 case count continued its downward trend Tuesday. Health officials reported 92 additional cases and five deaths. Numbers have been dropping since late fall, shortly after the province brought in tight restrictions on public gatherings and store openings. Some of the measures were eased on the weekend to allow small social gatherings in private homes and non-essential store openings with limited capacity. "It's trending the right way again, but we still have a number of people in hospital ... so it still is a burden on the acute-care system," said Dr. Jazz Atwal, acting deputy chief public health officer. Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew said he supports the government's expanded travel restrictions, but said the province must build up intensive care units, which are running well above pre-pandemic capacity. "Let's use this time to make the investments in our health care system so that we can withstand what's coming, potentially, as the pandemic drags on," Kinew said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021 Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
The consolidation of two airlines is set to take flight in remote fly-in communities in Saskatchewan. Transwest Air and West Wind Aviation will become Rise Air, changing the face of an air service that acts as one of the few links to southern resources. "If we had been two separate airlines going into COVID, I don't believe we would have survived," said West Wind CEO Stephen Smith. West Wind Aviation Group of Companies bought Transwest Air in 2016, but both airlines continued to use separate operating certificates, Smith said. Combining the airlines cuts it down to one and reduces redundancy. Rebranding will take place gradually, and Derek Nice will replace Smith as CEO on Feb. 1. Smith said the consolidation is unlikely to immediately reduce airfares — which are ongoing concerns for people in remote communities who say the costs of travelling south are too steep. "The prices are sky-rising," noted Black Lake First Nation Chief Archie Robillard. The best way to help his community would be a longer runway in Stony Rapids, but that's unlikely, he added. It's similarly costly to fly in and out of Hatchet Lake Denesuline First Nation, said Chief Bart Tsannie. He noted ticket costs are regularly several hundred dollars, which hasn't improved as COVID-19 reduced passenger loads. "That's very expensive. People don't have that kind of money in Hatchet Lake," he said. Smith said consolidating the airlines will make them more profitable, allowing Rise Air to invest in new aircraft and facilities. That could also mean a better position to pass profits on to its 22 per cent owner, Prince Albert Development Corporation, and its 65 per cent owner, Athabasca Basin Development, which represents seven communities including Hatchet Lake and Black Lake. Smith said those communities haven't received dividends in the last 10 years, which he hopes to change. The Rise Air rebranding also comes after a difficult year. A downturn in mining and the onset of COVID-19 forced a 50 per cent cut to operations, Smith said. He noted operations are now up to two-thirds of their levels prior to the pandemic. While the consolidation likely won't affect the costs of airfare, Smith added that the airline continues to push the federal government to declare paved runways at Fond du Lac and Wollaston Lake. If it does so, aircraft taking off there can carry more weight, lowering some of the prices for those communities, Smith said. "If we can reduce (fares), we will." Nick Pearce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix
When Isak Vaillancourt first began thinking of his short documentary, a project he would create with his team and the support of the guest curator of Up Here 6, Ra’anaa Brown, the global conversation on race had never been louder. At the time, it was shouting names like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. “People were suddenly realizing the urgency and validity of this movement,” said Vaillancourt. “Having difficult conversations in regards to their own complicity with systematic racism and their privilege. With the short documentary, I wanted to capture this unique moment in time from the perspectives of three Black community members here in Sudbury.” In the opening shots of the film, an introduction reads: “Black communities are having conversations about race that never make it to mainstream media. The collective consciousness rarely lends itself to amplify these voices.” With his documentary, Vaillancourt wanted to add new voices to the conversation. Not his, however: he decided to amplify the voices of three Black women in Sudbury and the struggles, racism and challenges to their own identity they have faced. And he called it, Amplify. Vaillancourt, a multimedia content producer and activist, is also from the area. He grew up in Chelmsford with his twin sister and younger brother, the children of a Franco-Ontarian father and a mother who found her way to Canada after leaving Somalia in 1991 to escape the civil war. He wanted to show that despite many believing that there are no issues with racism in Sudbury, the reality is quite the contrary. “It’s important to realize that racism and discrimination exist in Sudbury, as much as we like to pretend that Canada is a nation of cultural tolerance.” To him, the medium of a short documentary was the perfect choice to showcase his message. “We decided that a short documentary would be the perfect platform to shed light on the inequalities and discrimination that affects the lives of many racialized individuals here in Sudbury,” said Vaillancourt. “This project would not have been possible without the continuous support from the amazing team at Up Here. Behind the scenes, I worked very closely with my cinematographer, Shawn Kosmerly, and my editor, Riley McEwen, to bring this project to life.” The documentary itself focuses on the lived experiences of the three Black women it features: Josephine Suorineni-Zaghe, Shana Calixte and Sonia Ekiyor-Katimi, and their thoughts in relation to the current political climate, racial inequality and social justice. It is an opportunity for them to describe the challenges they have had to overcome and to educate those that perhaps have never had to consider the prejudice, both subtle and overt, that Sudburians of colour face. It is a chance to understand that if you have not experienced something directly, rather than deny or deflect, you should defer. “We as a society need to learn how to defer to people with lived experiences when speaking on issues that affect them directly,” said Vaillancourt. But also cautions, “Keep in mind that, amplifying Black, Indigenous, and POC (people of colour) voices does not mean placing the heavy burden on marginalized communities to educate you on the ways they’ve been oppressed. It’s the act of listening, self-reflection and continuous learning. It’s a commitment.” As the film lives on, Vaillancourt hopes viewers will find ways to show this commitment by getting involved locally. He quotes Josephine Suorineni-Zaghe from the film and says “Build up the movement locally. Be there for Black children. Be there for Black girls and Black boys. Be there for the Black LGBTQ+ community and when you do have that interaction, you do see the immediate change.” He also notes the many grassroots organisations that can benefit from more community involvement. “Within the City of Greater Sudbury, there has been a growing culture of community care and mutual aid all in the face of hatred,” he said. “This has not been cultivated by city officials but rather grassroot community groups such as Black Lives Matter - Sudbury, Sudbury Pride, Myth and Mirrors, SWANS Sudbury and The Sudbury Workers Education and Advocacy Centre (SWEAC) just to name a few. I encourage viewers to take the extra step and learn more about how they can uplift these organizations and the important work they're doing.” The video is currently hosted by Up Here 6, and it is also available with French-language subtitles. For now, not only is Vaillancourt submitting this film to festivals, but he is currently working on multimedia projects that highlight “the amazing and diverse communities we have here in Sudbury.” For more of Vaillancourt’s work, you can visit his website at IsakVail.ca. You can watch the documentary below. Jenny Lamothe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
WEST BROMWICH, England — Manchester City moved to the top of the Premier League for the first time this season after thrashing West Bromwich Albion 5-0 on Tuesday. The in-form Ilkay Gundogan scored twice while Joao Cancelo, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling also netted for City in an inspired attacking display at The Hawthorns. City climbed a point above Manchester United — which can reclaim first place by beating Sheffield United on Wednesday — after an 11th straight victory in all competitions and seventh in a row in the league. It is City's longest winning run for more than three years and it sent an ominous message to the team's title rivals, even with Kevin De Bruyne's absence through injury. In contrast, West Brom has now lost its last five top-flight home games — its worst run at The Hawthorns in the Premier League in 17 years — while conceding 22 goals in the process. West Brom remain second from bottom and six points from safety, with recently hired manager Sam Allardyce yet to see his side score at home, having overseen an overall score line of 0-17 in those four matches. West Brom actually started well enough before Phil Foden, making his 100th appearance for City, forced Sam Johnstone to turn his low drive onto the post after a quick break. It was the early warning before City grabbed the lead after six minutes thanks to Gundogan’s sixth goal in 10 games. Cancelo’s searching pass was expertly collected by the midfielder and he turned before curling a fine effort into the bottom corner from 20 yards. It was the cue for City to take control, and Cancelo and Mahrez fired over. West Brom had to keep its nerve but controversially went 2-0 down after 20 minutes. Bernardo Silva teed up Cancelo but had been flagged offside — with some of the home defence stopping before Cancelo curled into the top corner from the edge of the area. A lengthy VAR check showed Darnell Furlong had played Silva onside but assistant referee Sian Massey-Ellis had incorrectly signalled early to leave West Brom fuming. There was no way back for the Baggies, and City made it 3-0 after half an hour. Albion failed to clear on the edge of the box, allowing Gundogan to turn Dara O’Shea and fire past Johnstone. City added a fourth in first-half stoppage time when Sterling picked out Mahrez in the box and the winger was allowed to check inside before sweeping a finish past Johnstone. City’s domination continued after the break, with Rodri’s 25-yard drive clipping the bar, and a fifth goal arrived after 57 minutes. This time, Mahrez returned the favour for Sterling, steering Rodri’s lofted pass across for the England forward to net his ninth goal of the season from close range. City continued to toy with the hosts but failed to find another goal, with Johnstone gathering from Cancelo in stoppage time. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
MONTREAL — CN says it will reinstate its guidance for 2021 and increase the company's dividend by seven per cent after seeing improved demand for freight in the last three months of 2020. The Montreal-based railway says its net income surged 17 per cent in the fourth quarter to $1.02 billion or $1.43 per share. That was up from $873 million or $1.22 per share in the prior year. Adjusted profits for the three months ended Dec. 31 were up 14 per cent to $1.02 billion or $1.43 per share, from $896 million or $1.25 per share in last year's quarter. Revenue increased two per cent, or $72 million, to $3.66 billion. CN Rail was expected to report $1.41 per share in adjusted profits on $3.62 billion of revenues, according to financial data firm Refinitiv. CN reported operating income of $1.4 billion, compared with $1.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019. JJ Ruest, CN's president and CEO, says that while the recovery was uneven across sectors, the company was pleased with the growth in volume demand during the fourth quarter. CN also said it planned to announce $3 billion in capital investments to stay ahead of demand. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:CNR) The Canadian Press
Niagara Region big-box stores were pulled into the province’s enforcement blitz this past weekend. Announced earlier this month by labour minister, Monte McNaughton, the big-box store blitz focuses on proper masking, physical distancing and complying with health and safety measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Over 125 Niagara businesses were visited on the weekend by ministry inspectors, press secretary Harry Godfrey confirmed in an email on Tuesday. Of those stores, “only 54 per cent were in compliance,” McNaughton told Niagara This Week during a Monday (Jan. 25) phone call. The minister called the weekend result “extremely disappointing.” Coincidentally, inspections of 267 Niagara businesses by the province in a blitz this past December also found that only 54 per cent of the businesses visited were in compliance with COVID-19 safety measures. Walmart and Costco locations in Niagara were visited in the recent blitz, along with grocery store chains under the Loblaws banner. Godfrey confirmed that in Niagara, inspectors found 68 “total contraventions” with at least 22 tickets issued and five occupational health and safety orders. The three most common violations were inadequate pre-screening of workers and customers, exceeding capacity limits, and a lack of safety plans, according to McNaughton. Gone are the opportunities for education, said the minister. “We’re past that now. It’s about enforcing the laws that are in place; businesses at this point in the pandemic know what they need to do to keep COVID-19 from entering the workplace,” he said, adding that big corporations need to “take this seriously” and “step up.” Customers can also be ticketed by inspectors for refusing to wear a mask. “The ministry of labour has been given, as of a week ago, powers to actually ticket people if you’re not wearing masks properly and not physically distancing,” the minister said. On Monday, McNaughton was unsure exactly how many inspectors were involved locally, but said 107 were involved in simultaneous blitzes in Ottawa, Windsor, Niagara and Durham over the weekend. In total, over 640 businesses we revisited resulting in over 80 tickets and 100 orders being issued. Earlier this month, Niagara Region staff completed their own inspections over seven days, visiting a total of 62 businesses, issuing seven formal warnings and three fines of $750 each. — With files from The St. Catharines Standard Jordan Snobelen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara this Week
Northern Health has released COVID-19 exposure notices for Uplands Elementary School and Centennial Christian School in Terrace. The exposure at Uplands Elementary School occurred Jan. 19 to Jan. 21, and Centennial Christian School’s exposure took place on Jan. 20 and Jan. 21, according to Northern Health’s list of public exposures and outbreaks. There have been numerous COVID-19 exposure notices for Terrace schools issued by Northern Health since Nov. 2020, and nearly all Terrace schools have had at least one exposure notice. Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Typically in Canadian elections, Conservatives promise to balance budgets while Liberals accuse them of hiding secret agendas to cut public services — but not in Newfoundland and Labrador. Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie says he has no plans to balance the provincial budget within a four-year mandate if he's elected on Feb. 13. Instead, the Tory leader says he'll help grow the economy through government spending. Crosbie's position is a rebuttal to what he claims is Liberal Leader and incumbent Premier Andrew Furey's secret plan for budget cuts. The reversal of traditional roles among the two main parties is beffudling to Tim Powers, managing director of polling and market research company Abacus Data. "I feel like I'm watching and living in what a toddler would describe as 'Opposite Day,'" he said in an interview Monday. "It really is a strange thing to see the Conservatives accusing the Liberals of effectively having a hidden agenda." He adds: "Somewhere Stephen Harper is smiling," referring to similar allegations that were lobbed for years by the Liberals against the former Conservative prime minister. Newfoundland and Labrador has always marched to the beat of its own drum, Powers said, adding that the province's distinct nature is likely not going to change in a winter election held in the midst of a global pandemic. Polls had Furey with a robust lead over Crosbie before the Liberal leader called the election on Jan. 15. Crosbie is working to close that gap by promising to increase government spending and by pressuring Furey to release what he calls the "Greene report" before the Feb. 13 vote. The so-called Greene report is what Crosbie calls the review of government services and spending undertaken by an economic recovery team assembled by Furey in the fall. The team is chaired by Moya Greene, a St. John's-born businesswoman with a reputation for privatization. A draft of the report is due two weeks after election day. Crosbie's approach is "risky," Powers said, adding that the hidden agenda narrative might be hard for the public to swallow. Furey, meanwhile, has made a series of low-cost and low-key promises, while skirting discussion about the province's troubling financial situation, which includes a $16.4-billion net debt, Powers said. Even before the pandemic hit, the province's flirtation with insolvency was big enough news that Manitoba millionaire Walter Schroeder financed a national musical theatre production about it. The Liberal leader's strategy could pay off, Powers said. "Elections are no time to talk about policy," he joked. "And that's not entirely unusual in Newfoundland (and Labrador) campaigns; they can be about personalities." Furey is a young surgeon who founded Team Broken Earth, a non-profit that sends volunteer health-care workers to Haiti and to a few other countries. He has connections to the federal government through his father, George Furey, the current Speaker of the Senate. During a campaign stop in Labrador on Tuesday, Furey told reporters he wants to remain premier because he wants to rebuild the province's prosperity. Crosbie is a lawyer and the son of notoriously outspoken politician John Crosbie, and he's not without his quirks: In his 20s, he lived on a kibbutz in northern Israel and he's a noted practitioner of yoga. "More recently, I got into doing Kundalini-style yoga," he said in a recent interview. Powers says the Tory leader has a few more public relations hurdles to overcome than Furey does. Crosbie famously refused to concede the 2019 election and then apologized, admitting later that he was perhaps not the most charismatic candidate. Crosbie said he sees a "Progressive Conservative" as a progressive in social policy and conservative in spending — as long, he said, as the province can afford it. "And we can't afford it at the moment," he said. Powers says voters are looking for more than accusations of hidden agendas and campaign promises that downplay the province's financial problems. "There are real issues that all of the leaders and all of the parties should be talking about," Powers said. "The Newfoundland and Labrador public is not dumb, and they know that." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Sarah Smellie, The Canadian Press
SOUTHAMPTON, England — Arsenal came from behind to win for the first time in a Premier League game this season, beating Southampton 3-1 to move within five points of the top four on Tuesday. The Gunners saw their defence of the FA Cup end with a fourth-round loss at St Mary’s on Saturday but they returned three days later to exact a measure of revenge. Southampton looked on course to see off the visitors once more as Stuart Armstrong fired the team ahead with a third-minute volley. But Arsenal was ahead by halftime as Nicolas Pepe and Bukayo Saka scored, with Alexandre Lacazette making sure of the points with a third in the 72nd. The win moves Mikel Arteta’s side above Southampton and up to eighth in the standings, just five points behind London rival West Ham, which occupies fourth place after a win at Crystal Palace earlier Tuesday. Arteta was still unable to call on captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who remains absent due to a personal matter, but he made five changes from Saturday as Saka and Lacazette scored on their recalls. Lacazette should have opened the scoring inside 50 seconds but could not beat Alex McCarthy in the Southampton goal, having been played in by Granit Xhaka. Instead, Saints hit the front from a well-worked corner as James Ward-Prowse crossed in for an unmarked Armstrong to convert a superb finish. The visitors did not allow their heads to drop and were level soon after. Pepe — who had let Armstrong run off him to score — made amends by collecting another good pass from Xhaka and holding off his man to score. With both sides looking to take the lead, Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno made a fine stop to keep out a header from Che Adams. It was Arsenal which led at the break as Lacazette slipped a ball through to Saka, who rounded the onrushing McCarthy with ease and showed good composure to slot in his fifth of the season. The England international then set up the third, latching onto a crossfield pass from Cedric Soares and crossing for Lacazette to tap in. The win is Arsenal’s fifth in its last six Premier League games following the turnaround in form which started with a Dec. 26 victory over Chelsea. Southampton slipped to 11th place and has now won just one of its last seven in the league following a fine start to the campaign when it was top at one stage. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Three years ago, filmmakers Julie Cohen and Betsy West got a dream Sundance debut. They premiered their film “RBG” to a sold-out crowd with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg not only in attendance but seeing it for the first time. There was a standing ovation, a bidding war and a big sale. It also went on to be a major awards contender. It’s the kind of Sundance experience most filmmakers fantasize about. This year they’re returning to the festival with their follow-up, “My Name is Pauli Murray” about the somewhat obscure legal trailblazer, and while their excitement remains high, the festival itself will be quite different. Like so many in the past year, Sundance has had to reinvent itself as a mostly virtual experience. Still, the 2021 Festival which kicks off Thursday is shaping up to be a robust market for companies looking for content. More than 72 feature films are debuting over the seven days. It’s slimmed-down lineup from the previous years’ 118 and some already have ways to get to audiences, like Robin Wright’s “Land” and “Judas and the Black Messiah,” which will both be available to the masses in the coming weeks. But many this year are acquisition titles seeking distribution deals. “Buyers and sellers have found a rhythm for conducting business at virtual markets, to great success. And consumers are continuing to ask for more content,” said Deb McIntosh, an SVP at Endeavor Content. “I’m confident that we’ll find distribution partners for all of our films." Julie Dansker, an executive at Shout! Studios, is coming to the virtual festival looking for films to buy and Sundance, she said, always offers a variety of films from established and emerging talents. This year there are high profile projects from well-known names like actor Rebecca Hall’s directorial debut “Passing,” starring Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson as two light-skinned Black women who choose to live on opposite sides of the colour line in 1929 New York. Jerrod Carmichael is making his debut with the dark satire “On the Count of Three” with Christopher Abbott and Tiffany Haddish. Questlove is too with his opening night documentary “Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised).” Zoe Lister-Jones also reunites with her “Craft: Legacy” star Cailee Spaeny for “How It Ends,” co-starring Olivia Wilde and Fred Armisen. And “CODA,” a day one film from Sian Heder about a child of deaf adults, is expected to be one of the breakouts. As always, the documentary sections are fertile ground for buyers. Cohen and West’s “My Name is Pauli Murray” is among the sales titles as is Mariem Pérez Riera’s “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It,” which examines how the entertainer battled racism to become one of the few performers to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony. Lucy Walker has a documentary about the history of wildfires, “Bring Your Own Brigade” and Jonas Poher Rasmussen will debut his animated refugee documentary “Flee.” And then there’s the more unconventional efforts like animator Dash Shaw’s psychedelic “Cryptozoo,” featuring the voices of Lake Bell, Michael Cera and Grace Zabriskie. Or Nattawut Poonpiriya’s Wong Kar-Wai produced drama “One for the Road” and Timur Bekmambetov’s social media age Romeo and Juliet riff “R#J.” There are boundless “discovery” opportunities for parties looking beyond the flashy names who might just stumble upon the next Ryan Coogler or Damien Chazelle. As Sundance programmer Kim Yutani said, “You don’t really know what these films are until you see them.” Audience enthusiasm for a particular film might be harder to judge virtually, though. “There’s all this energy that happens at a festival when you’re in person that is hard to translate to a virtual environment,” said Jordan Fields, head of acquisitions for Shout! Studios. “But on the upside, it gives us the ability to judge movies a little more objectively because we’re not necessarily influenced by a crowd who stands up to cheer it at the end.” And indeed, for better or worse, that in-person energy has often played a role in negotiating the price. Sometimes the hype is warranted, and you get a “Little Miss Sunshine.” But other times off the mountain, the glow fades and companies are left with a flop. Prices have also been going up steadily due to the influx of deep-pocketed streaming companies who don’t have to worry as much or at all about box office returns. Six years ago, Amazon and Netflix both struggled to get titles. Now, the streamers are some of the biggest players in the game. Last year saw Hulu and NEON pay over $17.5 million (a record) for the worldwide rights to the Andy Samberg comedy “Palm Springs.” “Boys State” also got a $12 million deal from Apple and A24. This year there is an added anxiety about content since many productions were put on hold because of the pandemic. But there’s also opportunity in the fact that there could be a bigger and more diverse audience seeing the films who may never have had the opportunity to attend the expensive festival. The cost of entry for the virtual films is $15 a ticket and many are sold out. “Taking Sundance off the mountain and to the whole country will be a beautiful way to commune together over our shared love and need for artistic expression,” said McIntosh. There have already been a few pre-Festival deals. RLJE Films on Tuesday announced that it had acquired the Nicolas Cage film “Prisoners of the Ghostland,” Magnolia Pictures took the rights to “A Glitch in the Matrix” from “Room 237” director Rodney Ascher, Bleecker Street snagged the Ed Helms drama “Together Together” and Juno Films picked up the documentary “The Most Beautiful Boy” about Swedish actor Bjorn Andresen. But many are holding back pre-screenings and waiting until the actual Sundance premiere. “I’m still excited,” said Hall, whose “Passing” premieres Saturday. “But would I rather that we were all together wandering through the snow, freezing cold and, you know, trudging down Main Street? Yes, I would, because that communal experience is part of it.” Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press