"I think it’s the first time that the son of a boss has decided to turn against his father in 'ndrangheta and he’s the pivotal testimony for this trial," said University of Oxford professor Federico Varese.
"I think it’s the first time that the son of a boss has decided to turn against his father in 'ndrangheta and he’s the pivotal testimony for this trial," said University of Oxford professor Federico Varese.
WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Antony Blinken as America’s top diplomat, tasked with carrying out President Joe Biden’s commitment to reverse the Trump administration’s “America First” doctrine that weakened international alliances. Senators voted 78-22 to approve Blinken, a longtime Biden confidant, as the nation’s 71st secretary of state, succeeding Mike Pompeo. The position is the most senior Cabinet position, with the secretary fourth in the line of presidential succession. Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration. He has pledged to be a leading force in the administration’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which President Donald Trump questioned longtime alliances. He is expected to start work on Wednesday after being sworn in, according to State Department officials. “American leadership still matters,” Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at his Jan. 19 confirmation hearing. “The reality is, the world simply does not organize itself. When we’re not engaged, when we’re not leading, then one of two things is likely to happen. Either some other country tries to take our place, but not in a way that’s likely to advance our interests and values, or maybe just as bad, no one does and then you have chaos.” Blinken vowed that the Biden administration would approach the world with both humility and confidence, saying “we have a great deal of work to do at home to enhance our standing abroad.” Despite promising renewed American leadership and an emphasis on shoring up strained ties with allies in Europe and Asia, Blinken told lawmakers that he agreed with many of Trump’s foreign policy initiatives. He backed the so-called Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and several Arab states, and a tough stance on China over human rights and its assertiveness in the South China Sea. He did, however, signal that the Biden administration is interested in bringing Iran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal from which Trump withdrew in 2018. Trump's secretaries of state nominees met with significant opposition from Democrats. Trump’s first nominee for the job, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, was approved by a 56 to 43 vote and served only 13 months before Trump fired him in tweet. His successor, Pompeo, was confirmed in a 57-42 vote. Opposition to Blinken centred on Iran policy and concerns among conservatives that he will abandon Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. Blinken inherits a deeply demoralized and depleted career workforce at the State Department. Neither Tillerson nor Pompeo offered strong resistance to the Trump administration’s attempts to gut the agency, which were thwarted only by congressional intervention. Although the department escaped proposed cuts of more than 30% of its budget for three consecutive years, it has seen a significant number of departures from its senior and rising mid-level ranks, Many diplomats opted to retire or leave the foreign service given limited prospects for advancement under an administration that they believed didn't value their expertise. A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School and a longtime Democratic foreign policy presence, Blinken has aligned himself with numerous former senior national security officials who have called for a major reinvestment in American diplomacy and renewed emphasis on global engagement. Blinken served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration before becoming staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chair of the panel. In the early years of the Obama administration, Blinken returned to the NSC and was then-Vice-President Biden’s national security adviser before he moved to the State Department to serve as deputy to Secretary of State John Kerry, who is now serving as special envoy for climate change. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
Initial doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are set to roll into the country in the next few weeks, and Canadians will be wondering where they stand in the inoculation line.Which segment of the population will get the first doses, once Canada approves them for use, and how long will it take before most of us are inoculated and we can reach that point of herd immunity?The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has already recommended early doses be given to: residents and staff of long-term care homes; adults 70 years or older (starting with those 80 and over); front-line health-care workers; and adults in Indigenous communities — but there's still some debate among experts on whether that's the best strategy for a vaccine rollout.Dr. Ross Upshur of the University of Toronto's School of Public Health, agrees with NACI's recommendations, but he says there's also an argument to be made for vaccinating those more likely to spread the virus first — including people with jobs in the community that can't work from home."There is quite a vigorous debate and ... quite a varied set of arguments about who should go first and the priority list," Upshur said. "And that's because people have very deep and different intuitions about what fairness means, and which fundamental values should illuminate the distribution of scarce resources." Upshur says prioritization, which will fall to the provinces and territories to determine, will depend on the goal of the vaccination strategy.If the main objective is to ensure economic recovery by limiting community spread, essential workers might get vaccinated first, Upshur explained. But if the goal is to limit deaths by preventing our most vulnerable populations from getting COVID, older people, especially those in long-term care, should jump to the front of the line."Each one of those aims leads to favouring a different kind of population," he said. "So priority-setting is a complex task."But because there's going to be a limited number of doses available, choices will have to be made soon."Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that up to 249,000 doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine will arrive on Canadian soil by the end of the month, with the first doses delivered next week.Canada, which is currently reviewing several vaccine candidates, has purchased 20 million doses of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine, and is set to receive four million doses — enough to inoculate two million people — by March.Kelly Grindrod, a researcher and associate professor at the University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy, says the concept of prioritizing the COVID vaccine may be hard for some to grasp. Grindrod agrees with NACI's recommendations of where the first stage of vaccine distribution should go, but subsequent stages of rollout become trickier.Certain individuals may perceive themselves to be in a higher-risk group and therefore more deserving of a vaccine than others, she said, and it will be hard to determine for example, if a 50-year-old with asthma who works from home should be vaccinated over a taxi driver."What I always say is: if you don't know anybody who's gotten the virus, you're probably one of the last to get the vaccine," Grindrod said. "So that might mean you have a middle-class income and you don't work in a factory or a grocery store."If you're feeling like COVID is something that's not really in your world, that's probably a suggestion that you're fairly low-risk for getting the virus in the first place."Grindrod says it's important to remember that immunizing the majority of Canadians will take a long time. The first stage alone could take months, she said, estimating that Canada will be able to vaccinate roughly three million people (in a country of 38 million) in the first quarter of 2021. "If we're all vaccinated by next Christmas, we will have done a great job," she said.Upshur agrees that getting to herd immunity will take time, but having multiple vaccine candidates reporting high efficacy rates should speed up that process — at least in theory."As exciting as it is to have these studies showing really good results, there's still a lot more questions," he said. "There's a lot more that needs to be done before we can be sure that these vaccines are going to achieve the goals that we hope."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2020. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
PARIS — French lawmakers on Tuesday debated an animal welfare bill that would ban using wild animals in travelling circuses and keeping dolphins and whales in captivity in marine parks, amid other restrictions. Circus workers held a protest against the bill outside the National Assembly, saying the measure would cause circuses and jobs to vanish, if it becomes law. “That’s death for circuses,” Royal Circus director William Kerwich told The Associated Press. The bill, which also bans the use of wild animals in television shows, nightclubs and private parties, calls for a transition period of five to seven years depending on the location. The wild animal ban would not apply to permanent shows or to zoos. Anther provision of the legislation is aimed at shutting down mink farms within the next five years. The bill would also require new pet owners to obtain certificates guaranteeing they have the specific knowledge needed to care for their animals. It would stiffen for penalty for committing abuse that leads to the death of pet animals to up to three years in prison and a maximum fine of 45,000 euros ($54,750.) Protesting circus workers said French law is already strict enough to ensure the welfare of the animals appearing in their shows. Kerwich, the Royal Circus director, said he is worried about what would happen to the 800 or so animals owned by French circuses. “They are alive, we won't be able to reintroduce them in nature and we won't be able to keep them. Who will pay?” he asked. “We don't want to abandon them.” Kerwich said that about 14 million spectators attend traditional circuses featuring animals in France while 1 million go to circuses with only human acts. Frederic Edelstein, a lion trainer for the Pinder Circus, advocated for “an art that is part of our country's culture.” “A trainer doesn't hurt an animal, he seeks complicity, respect between humans and animals," Edelstein said. “I have 12 magnificent white lions. They love me....It is out of question for me to let my animals go away.” Animal rights activists also organized a gathering near the National Assembly on Tuesday, saying they think the proposed law does not go far enough. “There's nothing about hunting. There’s nothing about intensive farming....So we are here to demand that these gaps be filled,” Muriel Fusi, a representative of the Animalist Party in Paris, said. One Voice, an animal defence organization, called the bill “a big step in the right direction” but said it wants the wild animal ban to be extended to non-travelling circuses and shows. “Maybe we won’t see elephants, lions and hippopotamuses on the roads any more, but a new category of sedentary circuses will be allowed to multiply,” it said in a statement. A vote on the bill is set to take place by Friday. Lawmakers in French President Emmanuel Macron’s party, which has the majority at the National Assembly, support the measure. After the lower chamber votes, the bill will go to the Senate. Most European countries have partially or totally banned the use of wild animals in circuses. In recent years, some major circuses in France announced they were voluntarily ending such acts. An amusement park north of Paris announced Monday it was shutting down its dolphin show. The Asterix park said its eight dolphins would be transferred within two months to other aquariums in Europe because they could not be reintroduced into their natural environment. Sylvie Corbet, The Associated Press
Ani Di Franco, "Revolutionary Love” (Righteous Babe Records) Pioneering folkie activist Ani Di Franco is a standout instrumentalist whose guitar could kill fascists. Alas, on “Revolutionary Love,” her six-string doesn’t play a major role — or many notes. Not that Di Franco has gone mellow. With characteristic passion on her first studio album since 2017, she makes the personal universal, and the political personal. Her title cut is a seven-minute pledge to propel social movements with love and forgiveness, the message underscored by a slow-burn soul groove. Elsewhere Di Franco quotes Michelle Obama, skewers an ex-president and calls for resilience in the wake of depressing news headlines. Such topics are mixed with couplets about personal pain and bliss, sometimes within the same song. The best of “Revolutionary Love” is very good. Di Franco's acoustic guitar is most prominent on “Metropolis,” and it's beautiful — a love ballad with shimmering reeds that evoke her description of “fog lifting off the bay.” The equally compelling “Chloroform” laments domestic dysfunction as a string quartet creates dissonance of its own. Elsewhere Di Franco blends elements of folk, jazz and R&B, and makes music suitable for a rally. She's at her most politically vociferous on “Do or Die,” singing about “Yankee Doodle Dandy” to a Latin beat. Di Francophiles will find it positively patriotic. Steven Wine, The Associated Press
Studies have suggested previous COVID-19 infections may result in promising levels of immunity to the virus, leading to questions of whether those who've already recovered from the disease still need a vaccine. And is there urgency to inoculate them, or can they move to the back of the vaccination line? Experts say a vaccine will likely offer the safest bet for longer-term protection, meaning those with previous infections should still get them. And prior COVID illness shouldn't determine someone's place in the queue. The exact level of immunity acquired from a natural infection is yet to be fully determined, says Dr. Andre Veillette, a professor of medicine at McGill who's also on Canada's COVID-19 vaccine task force. It may be that protection begins to wane quicker in some people, or that those with previous mild infections aren't as protected as someone who had more severe symptoms, he says. Still others may think they've had a COVID-19 infection but can't be sure if they didn't get tested at the time. "I would say the simple rule would be that we vaccinate people who've had prior infections, just like everybody else," Veillette said. "If you had the infection, yes, you may have some protection, but it may not last a long time, and it may not be as good as the vaccine." Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were found to have a 95 per cent efficacy in clinical trials in protecting against severe disease. But there are still questions around whether the vaccines can actually prevent someone from catching the virus and spreading it to others. While Moderna has some data that their product may protect against acquiring the virus, it's still unclear. Antibodies from natural infections suggest the same — that they may protect us from getting really sick again, but not from getting the virus a second time. While there have been some cases of reinfection around the world, immunology expert Steven Kerfoot says the fact we're not seeing more of those suggests the immune response from initial COVID-19 infections is probably "pretty strong." Kerfoot, an associate professor at Western University, says vaccines are designed in a way that should produce an immune response "at least as good or better" than what we get after a natural infection. "So it may help fill in holes where people may not have developed an immune response effectively to the virus," Kerfoot said. "If anything, the vaccine could as act as its own booster that would improve your immunity." While some studies have suggested antibodies may disappear relatively quickly after COVID-19 infections, others have found a more lingering immune response. An American study published this month showed antibodies present for at least eight months, and possibly longer. Even studies suggesting an early drop-off of antibody levels aren't concerning, Kerfoot says. Infections trigger the body to produce other immune cells and memory cells that reduce slowly over years and help fight off future invasions from the same virus. If the immune response in those with past COVID infection is expected to be lengthy, could there be justification to defer their inoculations, especially if vaccine supply is low? It will be up to provinces to decide priority in each stage of their rollouts, but Jason Kindrachuk, a virologist with the University of Manitoba, says that will be a tricky decision. "I don't think we can use prior infection as an indicator of priority, because we just don't know what that person's immune response actually is," Kindrachuk said. "We don't know what long-term immunity looks like in those folks. "The recommendations are going to be that everybody gets vaccinated because that way we know — across vulnerable groups and all ages and different demographics — they'll all get a robust immune response." Veillette adds that many people with previous COVID cases were also in higher-risk settings — either because of their jobs or living environments — that would theoretically put them at risk for reinfection. And if they were to get the virus again but not show symptoms, they could still pass it on to other people. "There's probably a whole spectrum of situations there, and when there's so many variables it's better to have a simple rule," he said. "So I think that's another reason to vaccinate previously infected people." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
Le bilan quotidien de ce mardi 26 janvier mentionne qu’il n’y a aucun cas suppléentaire dans la région, et 3 guérisons supplémentaires. Le nombre de cas actifs est actuellement de 6 et il y a 1 hospitalisation en cours. NOTE : Confinement du Québec et instauration d’un couvre-feu entre 20 h et 5 h pour la période du 9 janvier au 8 février 2021 : Restez à la maison et consultez la page Confinement du Québec pour connaître les détails. Vous pouvez aussi consulter toute l’information sur la COVID‑19. *En date du 26 janvier 2021 – 11 h Nombre de cas confirmés : 340 Répartition par MRC : Cas guéris : 331 (+3) Décès : 3 Cas actifs : 6 (-3) Cas actifs provenant d’une autre région : 0 Hospitalisation en cours : 1 Éclosions en cours : Éclosions terminées récemment : Vaccination contre la COVID-19 :Pour consulter le nombre de doses administrées sur la Côte-Nord (Les données concernant la vaccination sont disponibles chaque jour dès 13 h.)Karine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord
An Australian gold mining company was arraigned on a slew of environmental charges in provincial court in Dartmouth, N.S., Tuesday morning. Atlantic Mining NS Inc. faces 32 charges under the province's Environment Act related to its gold mining operation in eastern Nova Scotia. Atlantic Mining NS Inc. is a subsidiary of St Barbara Limited, but is better known for its corporate name, Atlantic Gold Corp. The company is accused of "failing to comply with the conditions of an approval" and "releasing substances into the environment in amount, concentration or level in excess of approval level or regulations." The offences allegedly took place between February 2018 and May 2020. Most of the charges are related to the area of Mooseland and Moose River Gold Mines, where the company has an open pit gold mine. The other alleged offence locations named in the charging information are 15 Mile Stream, Jed Lake and Seloam Brook. The company was granted a request to adjourn the case until March 15, when it will enter a plea. Atlantic Gold plans to develop three more open pit gold mines on the Eastern Shore and truck the ore to a central processing facility at Mooseland where it operates the Touquoy mine. The company recently told investors it will proceed next with 15 Mile Stream and Beaver Dam locations. The startup date for its controversial Cochrane Hill site on the St. Marys River has been delayed by several years. There is uncertainty over whether the province will allow the company access to the water supply it wants to use at Cochrane Hill. There is some local opposition because of its proximity to the St. Marys River, home to a remaining Atlantic salmon population. MORE TOP STORIES
There’s a small shop that sells healthy lotions, potions and pills on Mill Street. Tucked inside, behind the till and a thick sheet of Plexiglas, sits Essa Mayor Sandie Macdonald. She talks fast and has handy notes about the pandemic and how it will cost each household worth $500,000 another $6.87 per month ($82.64 annually) on their municipal taxes this year. Feeling the pinch of a $680,000 shortfall, Macdonald said staff and council had little choice but to approve a three per cent tax increase on the 2021 budget. “When you take a budget and start off that far behind, it is a challenge,” Macdonald said, from her Naturally For You shop, where she’s down two staff members due to the pandemic. “We tried to take a proactive approach to control our budget expenditures.” Macdonald says the shortfall consists of three things: $180,000 due to lost parks and recreation revenue from lack of rentals; another $250,000 in lost revenue in the planning and economic development office due to shortfalls blamed largely on COVID-19; and another $180,000 lost on bank interest on the town’s investment savings, when interest rates dropped from around seven per cent to a much lower rate. In the 2021 budget, cuts were made to the library’s renovations and staff’s hours, as well as the spraying of calcium only once during the summer to keep dust down on work sites. Simcoe County and neighbouring Springwater Township have announced zero increases on their 2021 budgets. Essa Township — where Statistics Canada says the average household income is $87,543 — will hardly feel the pinch. Yet with the costs of heat, hydro and insurance increasing for not just homes, but the township as well, Macdonald said this isn’t the time to take on loans to cover the cost of the shortfall and possibly rob from next year’s budget. “It’s a needs not wants budget,” agreed Essa CAO Colleen Healey-Dowdall. Cheryl Browne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Barrie Advance
If supplies of COVID-19 Pfizer vaccines to Manitoba don’t resume, appointments at the Brandon vaccination supersite may need to be postponed. That’s according to Dr. Joss Reimer, a member of the province’s vaccination task force, who joined Dr. Brent Roussin for the daily COVID-19 update on Monday. "As you already know, last week, we were informed about a third reduction in our Pfizer vaccine shipments. Manitoba has been responsible in managing our vaccine supply, but we continue to see the effects of the supply reductions," said Reimer. The planned Feb. 1 supply dropped from 5,850 to 2,340 doses. "We had to stop making appointments for the supersites, both in Winnipeg and in Brandon. So far, we’ve been able to weather the supply disruptions better than most other jurisdictions based on the strategic approach that Manitoba has taken. However, we’re now in a position where we’re still concerned about ongoing supply and may have to postpone some of our appointments if the supplies don’t resume. Reimer said the province will receive an update from the federal government — which is responsible for vaccine deployment to provinces and territories — on Friday. The postponement decision will depend on what the province receives from the federal government on Feb. 8. "We will update Manitobans as soon as possible, most likely on Friday, to let them know if we are expecting that shipment to come in and what the implications are for people who have appointments coming up beginning next week," said Reimer. "We are going to be contacting everybody who has an appointment coming up to let them know about this unknown, as well. So, for now, we’re asking people to plan to keep their appointments for next week and the week after, but to keep your eye on the bulletins and on the website." As for the Northern health region, which has seen half of Manitoba’s new case counts, vaccines are headed up. Reimer said the phone line opened Monday morning to book appointments for the supersite in Thompson. Immunizers will begin putting needles in arms beginning Feb. 1. "This is a slight adjustment from our original plan because instead of using Pfizer, we’re using Moderna temporarily in Thompson," said Reimer. "Also building on feedback from the Northern health region, we will be scheduling appointments for eligible workers in The Pas and Flin Flon for the week of Feb. 8." Vaccination teams are on track to complete first doses at personal care homes by the end of this week — a week ahead of schedule — with enough doses to deliver a second round beginning the following week. The province also plans to release a priority list of all Manitobans Wednesday, with a tentative schedule for the entire vaccine rollout, which will depend on vaccine supply. "The dates that will be attached to that list will have to remain quite fluid because we still don’t know exactly when to expect the Pfizer numbers to change. But we will come up with at least the sequence for Manitobans," said Reimer. Reimer said, so far, there is a 70 to 80 per cent uptake in eligible health-care workers. She said there are various reasons some are taking the vaccine, including having health conditions, such as autoimmune conditions. That made them ineligible until the enhanced process was put in place. "Some people may have other health conditions or allergies that made them concerned and want to seek some opinion from their health-care provider before booking an appointment. Those folks may be in the process right now of discussing with their health-care provider whether or not the vaccine is the right decision," said Reimer. "We’ve also heard of health-care providers who wanted to let other people go first. They felt that their exposure or their own health status was such that they didn’t want to take up an appointment, when there’s other people who might be at higher risk because of their own health, their age." Reimer added 70 to 80 per cent is a high uptake rate for an immunization campaign. In personal care homes so far, the uptake is more than 90 per cent. Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
Rapid COVID-19 testing kits have mostly been gathering dust since the federal government delivered them to the province last fall, but some of them are finally being put to use in two Montreal high schools. Asymptomatic students and staff are being tested at random as part of a pilot project, in an effort to determine how effective the tests can be in detecting and slowing down classroom outbreaks. The two high schools taking part in the project are Calixa-Lavallée in Montréal-Nord and the Pensionnat du Saint-Nom-de-Marie in Outremont. A slow rollout of the rapid tests began Monday with staff at the Pensionnat, in an effort to put apprehensive students at ease. "Yesterday was sort of a practice run," said Antonella Picillo, the school's director of student services. "We wanted to really make the students comfortable, so some staff members even got tested in front of students just to show them that it's a quick and easy test." A quarter of the students and staff from both schools who gave their consent will be tested every week, and those who test positive will be isolated. Dr. Caroline Quach, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist and medical microbiologist at Sainte-Justine Hospital, is heading the project, and will provide regular updates to the Quebec government. The project will also look at the impact of bringing students and teachers back to school after seven days versus 14 days. The rapid tests — which can be produce results in as little as 15 minutes — will be used to monitor those brought back from isolation early. The province received more than a million rapid testing kits last fall, but most of them have yet to be deployed due to concerns over reliability.
TBILISI, Georgia — Europe's top human rights court on Thursday found Russia responsible for a swath of violations in Georgia's breakaway regions after the 2008 Russia-Georgia war. Georgia hailed the verdict by the European Court of Human Rights as a major victory. President Salome Zurabishvili described the ruling as “historic,” noting that Georgia was “recognized as a victim of this war and it is a great achievement for our country, our society, our history and our future." Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia also described the verdict as a landmark move, saying that “the case against Russia at the European Court of Human Rights has ended with Georgia’s victory.” The August 2008 war erupted amid rising tensions over the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia, much of which was under control of Russia-backed separatists. Georgia said it launched an artillery barrage on the regional capital after Russian combat troops entered the region and shelled Georgian villages, but Russia claimed the troops entered only in response to the artillery. After the war, Moscow set up military bases in South Ossetia and another breakaway Georgian province, Abkhazia, and recognized them as independent states, while most of the world has continued to consider them part of Georgia. In its case against Russia, Georgia accused it of violating the European Convention on Human Rights both during and after the war, but the ECHR only accepted the Georgian complaints related to the period after the fighting. The Strasbourg-based court ruled that Russia exercised effective control over Georgia's separatist regions after the hostilities and was responsible for ill-treatment and acts of torture against Georgian prisoners of war, arbitrary detentions of Georgians and "inhuman and degrading treatment” of 160 detained Georgian civilians, who were held in crowded confinement for more than two weeks in August 2008. It also held Russia responsible for preventing forcibly displaced ethnic Georgians from returning to the separatist regions after the conflict. The court ordered Moscow to conduct a probe into human rights violations during the hostilities and in their aftermath. Georgia’s Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani hailed the ECHR’s ruling as “an unprecedented international victory of the Georgian state." Russia's Justice Ministry voiced disagreement with some of the court's conclusions blaming Russia for the incidents in South Ossetia and Abkhazia "despite the fact that the Russian troops' direct involvement in them was never proven." At the same time, the ministry emphasized the ECHR's decision that the Georgian complaints related to the period of fighting were inadmissible. ___ Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report. Sophiko Megrelidze, The Associated Press
Le conseil des maires de la MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord, réuni en séance ordinaire le 19 janvier, a présenté un projet de règlement permettant la création d’un fonds de roulement de 200 000 $ qui servira d’outil de financement pour des acquisitions ou immobilisations futures. À ce jour, la MRC ne possède aucun fonds de roulement et l’article 1094 du Code municipal du Québec lui permet de s’en constituer un d’un montant maximal de 2 200 000 $, soit une somme n’excédant pas 20 % des crédits prévus au budget de l’exercice courant. Les fonds nécessaires seront puisés à même le surplus accumulé du 31 décembre 2019, selon le rapport financier adopté en mai dernier. « À cette fin, le conseil peut, par résolution, emprunter à ce fonds des montants dont il peut avoir besoin et qui ne dépassent pas 200 000 $ sur une période n’excédant pas 10 ans », est-il expliqué dans le projet de règlement. Pour pourvoir aux dépenses engagées relativement aux intérêts et au remboursement en capital des échéances annuelles de l’emprunt, le règlement prévoit prélever annuellement, à même le surplus accumulé de la MRC, les sommes requises pour maintenir ou ajuster la valeur du fonds de roulement en vigueur chaque année dans les prévisions budgétaires de la MRC. L’entrée en vigueur de ce nouveau fonds de roulement se tiendra après l’adoption du règlement à la prochaine réunion publique du conseil des maires. PSPS Dans le cadre de la Politique de soutien aux projets structurants (PSPS), la MRC de la Haute-Côte-Nord a accordé une aide financière à deux projets. Tout d’abord, comme la Ville de Forestville a dû modifier son projet Modernisation des infrastructures aéroportuaires, la MRC a accepté de lui verser les fonds prévus de 20 000 $. « Le projet rencontre toujours les critères d’admissibilité de la PSPS et le comité consultatif a analysé la modification apportée au projet et il est toujours favorable à l’octroi de financement », indique la résolution adoptée par le conseil des maires. Quant au deuxième projet accepté, il s’agit de l’aménagement de la cour de l’école Notre-Dame du Sacré-Cœur. La MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord participera au projet pour un montant de 50 000 $. PDZA La MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord s’est lancée en 2020 dans l’élaboration d’un plan de développement de la zone agricole (PDZA). Pour ce faire, elle doit former des comités directeur et consultatif composés d’intervenants du secteur agricole et agroalimentaire. « L’accompagnement d’expertises et l’appui des autorités compétentes sont essentiels pour l’accomplissement de ce mandat », a mentionné le directeur général Paul Langlois, lors de la séance du conseil des maires tenue le 19 janvier. Participation au PMVI La MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord est admissible au Programme de mise en valeur intégrée (PMVI) en raison de la réalisation par Hydro-Québec du projet de ligne à 735 kV Micoua-Saguenay sur son territoire. Une somme de 1 906 921 $ lui a donc été allouée dans le cadre de ce programme. Par résolution, elle s’est engagée à utiliser cette somme pour réaliser, via un fonds de développement régional, des initiatives qui relèvent de l’un des domaines d’activité admissibles et respectent les conditions générales de réalisation du PMVI. Système de ventilation Le conseil des maires a accepté de lancer un appel d’offres sur invitation pour effectuer le nettoyage et la désinfection du système de ventilation de son centre administratif situé aux Escoumins. « Le bâtiment a été construit en 2003 et le nettoyage et la désinfection du système de ventilation n’ont pas été effectués depuis ce temps », a déclaré Paul Langlois. Dons et commandites Depuis 2015, la MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord octroie des aides financières aux organismes de son territoire via sa Politique sur les dons et commandites. Cette année, deux appels de projets seront lancés comparativement à un seul habituellement. Le premier appel, qui a pris fin le 30 novembre, a permis de remettre 5 000 $ sur un budget total de 9 750 $. Action-Chômage Côte-Nord reçoit 1 000 $ tout comme Centraide Haute-Côte-Nord Manicouagan, l’Organisme des bassins versants de la Haute-Côte-Nord (J’adopte un cours d’eau), la municipalité des Escoumins (175e anniversaire) et la municipalité de Sacré-Cœur (Fjord en fête). Les promoteurs qui devront reporter leur événement en raison de la pandémie pourront conserver l’aide financière octroyée. Toutefois, ceux qui seront contraints d’annuler complètement le projet devront rembourser le montant reçu par la MRC. Fusion de Desjardins Tel qu’annoncé par l’Assemblée des MRC de la Côte-Nord le 18 janvier, le conseil des maires de la MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord a entériné son opposition à la fusion de Desjardins Entreprises Côte-Nord avec Desjardins Entreprises Saguenay. « La MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord appuie la démarche initiée par la MRC de la Minganie, et s’oppose à cette fusion ainsi qu’à ce transfert d’expertise financière, et dénonce les effets et pertes qu’elle engendrera pour l’ensemble de la Côte-Nord », dévoile la résolution.Johannie Gaudreault, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Haute-Côte-Nord
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That "smile" is totally contagious. How cute is this dog?!
Organizers of a food bank for Black Edmontonians say there will be many families left behind if the service ends in March. Each week, dozens of families of African and Caribbean descent ranging from two to 10 members collect hampers packed with culturally relevant food. Despite demand, organizers had to cap the program at 90 families so staff and volunteers could keep up with collection, packing and distribution. The service was launched in May thanks to the collaboration of multiple Black-led Alberta organizations under the banner of African Diaspora COVID-19 Relief. But the funding and food from donors such as the Edmonton Community Foundation, Islamic Relief Canada, The Ghana Friendship Society and Loblaws, as well as personal donations, will soon run out. "It is a need that needs to be filled," said Emmanuel Onah, youth program manager at the Africa Centre, where the program is coordinated, clients pick up hampers and donations are being accepted. "It's a gaping hole in all of the resources that are currently available." The Liberia Friendship Society of Canada, the Jamaica Association of Northern Alberta and the Black Students Association University of Alberta are also among more than a dozen groups involved that will meet Sunday to determine next steps. Nii Koney, executive director of the Nile Valley Foundation, who rallied the coalition to action, said the program emerged from weekly meetings among Black organizations looking for ways to best respond to the pandemic. Initially they were surprised by all the middle-class community members who needed help. "People are bringing nice cars, they will come and park in the front, they will come with their wife and husband, they will sometimes come, the whole family," Koney said. "So now I know that if we didn't provide these services, it would be a great disservice to the community." Onah said a large part of the appeal comes from offering culturally relevant food tailor-made for each family whether it's injera, an Ethiopian fermented flatbread, or turtle beans, popular in the Caribbean. "The peace of mind you get when you're eating something that you're familiar with or you grew up with and is inline with your culture and your background — that all contributes to overall wellness. That all contributes to mental wellness, especially in the time where we're in a pandemic," said Onah. The initiative also supports local businesses largely by sourcing food from community stores on 118th Avenue and Stony Plain Road.
Sharon Bala knows the power of recognizing yourself in a story, and the pain of seeing your identity smeared across the page. The Sri Lankan-Canadian author says misrepresentations in fiction can feel like a form of literary violence, warping the way some readers see the real-life harms against people who aren't like them. "When we see ourselves misrepresented on the page, it just feels like the writer has taken their pen and shoved it into our eyes," said Bala, who won awards acclaim for her 2018 debut novel "The Boat People." "We can't pretend that we live in some rarefied bubble as writers where we are separate from the world." From using sexual violence against women as a plot point in a male hero's arc, to killing off an Indigenous character for dramatic tension, Bala said storytelling tropes often serve as a mirror of the systemic indifference toward the suffering of marginalized groups. But as society reckons with these injustices, the St. John's, N.L.-based novelist said a long-simmering conversation among authors about how to responsibly write about identities other than their own, whether that be a character of a different race, gender, sexuality, ability or class. In the past, she said, the public discourse about literary representation has been dominated by a privileged few stoking fears over perceived threats to authors' purported "right" to pluck inspiration from other communities as they please, said Bala. Examples include the 2017 CanLit controversy over an online campaign to fund a writing prize for cultural appropriation, or the tastemakers who rose to American author Jeanine Cummins' defence after the January release of her much-hyped book, "American Dirt," drew criticism from Latino writers and activists for trading in stereotypes about Mexicans. But Bala, who hosted an online workshop on literary representation earlier this month, says the strong turnout shows that writers know they can no longer afford to weaponize "the other" as a cudgel in someone else's narrative. Rather, she said, creators are grappling with questions that in some ways cut to the core of the mission of fiction: How do you write about who you don't know, and should you? "None of us are perfect. We're all going to make mistakes," said Bala. "But I think that if we ... have tried and still made the mistake, there's actually a lot of empathy for that within the writing community." Bala said she only writes about communities she has ties to, and people she'll have to answer to for any distortions. She's also a proponent of bringing in "sensitivity readers" — cultural experts who review manuscripts for inaccuracies — early in the writing process to catch misconceptions before they become embedded in the narrative. Emma Donoghue, the London, Ont.-based author behind "Room," said she's also enlisted the help of cultural consultants as part of her process. But ultimately, Donoghue said she and other white writers have a responsibility to assess their own abilities and motives before depicting different demographics. "I think it's a richer cultural landscape," she said. "If that means that the writers who used to sort of costlessly write about anything have to be a bit more careful, then that just comes with the territory." Acclaimed author Thomas King, who is of Greek and Cherokee descent, said he tries not to stray too far from his realm of experience in writing his protagonists. Characters of diverse backgrounds often populate his narratives, but King said he wouldn't write from another community's point of view because he wouldn't feel comfortable "taking on that skin." King said some of the most persistent pop culture narratives play into cliches and stereotypes to reinforce the audience's pre-existing biases. "While they're not authentic, to the public mind, they appear to be," he said. "Certainly, for Native people that happened with non-Native writers writing about Native characters." Novelist Andre Alexis holds that being too beholden to the burden of accurate representation can restrict the imaginative possibilities of literature. The Trinidad-born, Ottawa-raised writer said problems can arise when playing pretend with someone else's reality, and writers should have to answer for their misrepresentations. However, Alexis maintains that imagining "the other" serves a vital function not only in the arts, but for society at large. "It's important for the Americans to imagine what it's like to be a member of one of the countries they've attacked and ruined," said Alexis, who won the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize for "Fifteen Dogs." "That imagining of the others who you have made to suffer is a tremendously significant moral step." Sanchari Sur, a genderqueer writer who uses the pronouns "she" and "they" interchangeably, said growing up they never saw queer characters, particularly South Asian ones, represented in fiction. "When you don't see yourself represented, or when you see yourself represented as a stereotype or negatively, that does impact you," said Sur, who is earning a PhD in English at Wilfrid Laurier University. Still, Sur said there needs to be space for writers to make mistakes and engage with critical feedback. Sur confronted this issue during a writers' retreat when they received a negative response to a piece they wrote that centred on a transgender woman's experience of familial emotional trauma. Sur, who was wrestling with their own gender identity at the time, said some trans participants at the retreat took issue with a non-trans author writing about the trans body in relation to trauma. Sur said the critiques caught them off guard, and it took months to work up the wherewithal to return to fiction. In the time since, Sur has come to see that there were technical problems with the story that contributed to the blowback, and feels they're a better writer because of the incident. "If you're being called out for something that is inherently wrong or dehumanizing in some way, then you have to acknowledge that and you have to learn from it." Kim Davids Mandar, an emerging writer in Guelph, Ont., said the complexities of literary representation have personal resonance for her as the daughter of immigrants who fled post-apartheid South Africa to provide a better life for their mixed-race family in Canada. When a publisher approached her about conducting a series of interviews for a collection, Davids Mandar said she jumped at the chance to ask some of Canada's finest literary minds about how they work through questions of difference, identity and appropriation. The editor of "(In)Appropriate," which was released earlier this month, said she didn't reach any tidy conclusions during her conversations with the book's contributors, including Sur, Eden Robinson, Michael Crummey and Ian Williams. One theme that emerged was the role that publishers and booksellers play in amplifying certain voices at the expense of others, she said. A 2018 survey by the Association of Canadian Publishers on diversity found 82 per cent of the 279 respondents who worked in the industry identified as white. "I think we can't pretend that we don't live within this context, and that it doesn't actually impact the books industry," said Davids Mandar. Overall, Davids Mandar said she walked away from the book with a renewed sense of urgency for Canada's literary community to engage in these shifting, sometimes messy conversations. "It really reflects where we're at, each of us as individuals, but also as a community, in truthfully embracing the fact that we need unity, but we also need diversity and we have to have them together." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
POLITIQUE. À l’issue d’une rencontre avec des acteurs des milieux économiques, la députée de Shefford, Andréanne Larouche et son collègue d’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Sébastien Lemire, par ailleurs vice-président du Comité permanent de l’industrie, des sciences et de la technologie, proposent un fonds propre aux régions. «Je voulais ouvrir un espace de dialogue avec des dirigeants d’organismes économiques, d’entreprises et de municipalités pour échanger sur nos propositions pour la relance», a expliqué Andréanne Larouche au sujet de sa tournée de consultations économiques. Elle a reçu de nombreux témoignages d’entrepreneurs en difficulté selon les bureaux de circonscription des deux élus. «La pénurie de main-d’œuvre est aussi un enjeu qui freine le développement économique de nos régions et qui comporte de nombreuses ramifications. Je pense à la complexité et aux délais en matière d’immigration en lien avec les travailleurs étrangers et aux problématiques de logements qui limitent grandement les possibilités d’attraction de travailleurs», analyse le député d’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Sébastien Lemire. Sa collègue de Shefford et lui saluent les contributions des centres d’aide aux entreprises (CAE), mais ils préconisent qu’on leur donne «plus de moyens afin qu’ils assurent un soutien de proximité aux entrepreneurs.» En effet, plus de 200 000 PME, soit 20 % des emplois du secteur privé, envisagent sérieusement de mettre la clé sous la porte selon la dernière mise à jour de l’analyse de la fédération canadienne de l’entreprise indépendante. Un fonds de développement par et pour les régions Sébastien Lemire estime que les questions du développement territorial nécessitent des « solutions flexibles adaptées aux régions » et non des approches globales développées à Ottawa. En parlant d’Internet, le bloquiste annonce que le comité de l’industrie a dans ses cartons un rapport sur cet «enjeu fondamental» pour lequel sa circonscription, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, a pris 20 ans de retard. «Il faut s’assurer de démocratiser son accès pour tous, même dans les zones moins densément peuplées… il faut sortir de la logique de rentabilité », dit-il en conférence de presse dans un plaidoyer énergique sur l’accès au développement régional. Les deux élus soutiennent «la mise en place d’un fonds de développement par et pour les régions», qui devra être déployé en fonction des besoins spécifiques de celles-ci. Ils déplorent «des improvisations d’Ottawa» même s’ils reconnaissent que les programmes s’ajustent progressivement. Ils prônent «les enjeux identifiés par les régions», comme les incubateurs d’entreprises ou l’innovation territoriale plutôt que «des programmes mur à mur mal adaptés» conçus à partir des mégalopoles uniformes. En cette veille de rentrée parlementaire et en prélude au budget fédéral, Andréanne Larouche envisage de poursuivre ses consultations «afin que les programmes soient les mieux adaptés aux besoins des entrepreneurs.»Godlove Kamwa, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Canada Français
TORONTO — Few things have lifted Rojhan Paydar’s spirits during the COVID-19 pandemic quite like a Netflix watch party.Isolated inside her home, the Toronto resident is too often short on social opportunities and long on streaming options. So like many people, she’s recreated the experience of watching Netflix with friends through an unofficial web browser application called Teleparty, formerly known as Netflix Party.It’s been an opportunity for Paydar to gather with pals on a virtual couch while they gasp over the twists of true crime series, “Unsolved Mysteries." Even more often, she's used the app with her boyfriend for date nights watching the dysfunction unfold on “Tiger King" and other bingeable series.“Sometimes we’d eat dinner and set up our webcams to see each other,” she said.“Knowing he was there and we were doing something in real-time — it felt really good and made me less lonely."Not long ago, viewing party technology was a tool reserved for unique situations: a long-distance couple or fans of a niche TV series searching for like-minded people.But a year into the pandemic, weekly rituals have evolved, and online watch parties have proven many of us are desperate for some semblance of connection.As the winter months stretch on, and strict stay-at-home orders grip large parts of the country, observers say the watch party, and apps that help make it happen, are due for a second wave of popularity.“I think we may have seen a cultural shift,” suggested Daniel Keyes, associate professor of cultural studies at the University of British Columbia.“The pandemic and the fact we had to self-isolate totally accelerated it. It made it more mainstream.”For younger generations raised on YouTube and Twitch, watch parties are already part of the zeitgeist. Everyone else, including streaming giants themselves, seem to be playing cultural catchup.Last year, as the pandemic wore on, Amazon Prime Video introduced group chat elements into the laptop version of its platform. Disney Plus took a more restrained approach with a feature that allows up to seven people to sync their screens, but only communicate through emojis.Other streamers, such as Netflix and Crave, have so far chosen not to launch social elements on their platforms. That move could be strategic as the companies observe a sea change in how some viewers consume television, suggested Carmi Levy, director at technology advisory firm Info-Tech Research Group."It's almost as if the snow globe has been shaken and companies like Netflix are waiting for everything to settle down before they decide where to place their bets," he said."Social TV is a thing and it isn't going anywhere. It's very much like remote work: considered the exception before the pandemic, but now the rule."Levy said the entertainment industry couldn't have predicted how quickly the change took hold with casual viewers. For years, upstart tech companies launched second-screen watch party innovations, and most of them failed miserably.That's left the door open for the latest generation of alternatives to capitalize on filling the void, among them TwoStream, a paid monthly watch party option, and Syncplay, which is free.One of the most ambitious newcomers is Scener, a venture-funded operation out of Seattle that currently supports the likes of Netflix, Disney Plus, Vimeo and horror platform Shudder. In a few clicks, viewers can react to a show through their webcam or type out thoughts on their keyboard.Co-founder Joe Braidwood said replicating the in-person experience, in particular, “the laughter, the screams and the horror,” was a goal of his company long before the pandemic. But it wasn’t always easy getting others to see the value.“Two years ago I would talk to investors about social TV and they would laugh at me,” he recalled over a Zoom chat.“They told me, ‘People don't want social experiences when they're watching television.’ But all you need to do is look on Twitter.”Even before the pandemic, he said, people were engaging over social media platforms about their favourite shows. Now, since everyone's holed up in their homes, Scener's growth has been exponential. Cumulative weekly minutes of programming watched grew nearly 42,000 per cent from March 2020 to January 2021 (57,785 minutes versus 24.2 million minutes), according to data provided by the company.“People who haven't hung out with their best friend while watching ‘The Flight Attendant’ or shared a family Christmas while watching an old classic movie on Scener, they just don't know what this feels like,” he added.“There's this real texture to it... it's warm engagement with people that you care about.”Hoovie, a Vancouver-based virtual watch party service, aims to bridge the gap between art house cinema outings and the comfort of a living room chat.Hosts can dive into the company’s independent film catalogue and book ticketed showings for small groups, typically in the range of 10 to 20 people. After the movie, they’re encouraged to engage in a webcam conversation on the platform that’s inspired by the film’s themes.Co-founder Fiona Rayher describes Hoovie as a platform meant to evoke those experiences outside the cinema where groups of people – sometimes strangers – would passionately discuss what they’d just watched and maybe head to a nearby restaurant for drinks."You’d meet new people and you’d stay connected," she said. "It was all serendipitous."Hoovie plans to debut a "book club for movies" early this year that'll build on connecting movie fans. Every month, subscribers will gather for online screenings that include a post-film conversation with members, filmmakers and critics. Each film will be rounded out with a wine pairing sent by mail.Selling nostalgia for the pre-pandemic days may sound appealing in lockdown, but the question remains on how attractive watch parties will be once a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available.It's a question Paydar said she thinks about often as she logs onto a watch party for another episode of "Unsolved Mysteries.""Whenever someone asks, 'If COVID ended right now, where would you go?' the first thing I say is, 'I'd like to go to a movie theatre,'" she said."There's something about being in a physical theatre and going with a group of friends...Those end-of-the-night goodbyes, getting late-night eats with my friends.. (we're) creating memories I get to hold on to forever," she said."I don't think that can be replaced."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
When drug companies like Pfizer and Moderna learned to successfully incorporate messenger RNA technology into a COVID-19 vaccine, experts say they likely opened the door to a significant shift in the future of immunization.The milestone in vaccine development was met with enthusiasm from most, but the seemingly swift pace and novel approach is causing hesitancy in others. Experts say the new technique shouldn't dissuade people from getting the vaccine. While the mRNA method is new to inoculations, the actual technology has been around for decades. The difference now, they say, is scientists have ironed out the kinks to make a useful product."It sounds fancy, mRNA, but there's nothing outlandish about it," said Dr. Earl Brown, a virology and microbiology specialist with the University of Ottawa. "This is the way our cells operate — we live by mRNA."Vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna were the first inoculations approved for humans to use mRNA, which provides our cells with instructions to make proteins. In the case of COVID vaccines, the injected material shows cells how to make a harmless piece of the coronavirus spike protein, which then teaches our immune system to recognize the virus and fight off a future infection.Scientists made the vaccine by programming genetic material from the spike protein into mRNA, a process that theoretically could work for other viruses."As long as you know how to create those instructions — that genetic code you need to convince your body to create that target — you can design an mRNA vaccine against any antigen," said Nicole Basta, an associate professor of epidemiology at McGill."But the question is whether it will be effective, and whether it will be safe."The development of future mRNA vaccines might be quick, Basta says, but they would need to go through the usual evaluation process and clinical trials to ensure safety and efficacy. So vaccines for other viruses won't be popping up overnight.Still, Basta adds, there's potential for using mRNA to either improve upon existing vaccines or to develop new ones against other pathogens.Dr. Scott Halperin, a professor at Dalhousie University and the director of the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology, sees mRNA vaccines as "evolutionary rather than revolutionary."Part of the reason COVID vaccines came together so quickly was the technology had been developing for years, Halperin said. The global pandemic offered scientists a pressing opportunity — and unprecedented funding and collaboration — to try again for a viable injection.Previous research had been done on creating mRNA vaccines against Zika and other viruses, Halperin added, and there were earlier efforts focused on cancer treatments. Coronavirus-specific research was further sped up by spike protein analysis from SARS and MERS.While the mRNA technology itself is impressive, Halperin says improvements need to be made to create a more temperature-stable product before these types of vaccines and treatments "truly take over.""The logistics of delivering mRNA vaccines right now, we wouldn't want to have to do that for every vaccine we produce," he said, referencing the ultra-cold storage temperature that's currently needed. "But I do think it's an important milestone."Scientists are expected to continue advancing the technology, just as they did recently in solving two confounding problems with mRNA — its fragility and instability.Brown says fragility was resolved by packaging the mRNA in a fat coating, giving it something to help bind onto cells so it wouldn't disintegrate upon injection. The instability was conquered by modifying the uracil component of RNA, one of the four units of its genetic code."The technology application is new, but the science is mature," Brown said. "We've just reached the point at which we can apply it." Traditional vaccines typically contain a killed or weakened virus, Brown said. Those methods are still being used in COVID vaccine development, including by AstraZeneca-Oxford, whose product has not yet been approved in Canada.A benefit to using mRNA is the speed at which a vaccine can be developed or updated once scientists know what to target, Brown says. While experts believe current vaccines will work against recent variants of the COVID virus — including one originating in the U.K. that's more transmissible — Brown says mRNA's adaptability could theoretically come in handy if new strains emerged that necessitated an update. "In six weeks they could produce something," he said. "It would still have to go through Phase 3 trials, but it does give you more flexibility and a big leg up."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern): 10:45 a.m. Another 1,740 COVID-19 cases have been reported in Ontario today, along with 63 more deaths related to the virus. More than half the new cases are in the Greater Toronto Area, with 677 in Toronto itself, 320 in Peel Region and 144 in York Region. The province says more than 30,700 tests have been completed and more than 9,700 vaccines administered since the last daily report. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press