Joe Biden has promised a return to diplomacy and to restart talks around the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal. But changes to the political landscape in the Middle East could make that difficult.
Joe Biden has promised a return to diplomacy and to restart talks around the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal. But changes to the political landscape in the Middle East could make that difficult.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia said Saturday it intercepted a missile attack over its capital and bomb-laden drones targeting a southern province, the latest in a series of airborne assaults it has blamed on Yemen’s rebel Houthis. The Saudi-led military coalition fighting in Yemen’s yearslong war announced the Iran-allied Houthis had launched a ballistic missile toward Riyadh and three booby-trapped drones toward the province of Jizan, with a fourth toward another southwestern city and other drones being monitored. No casualties or damage were initially reported. There was no immediate comment from the Houthis. The attack comes amid sharply rising tensions in the Middle East, a day after a mysterious explosion struck an Israeli-owned ship in the Gulf of Oman. That blast renewed concerns about ship security in the strategic waterways that saw a spate of suspected Iranian attacks on oil tankers in 2019. The state-owned Al-Ekhbariya TV broadcast footage of what appeared to be explosions in the air over Riyadh. Social media users also posted videos, with some showing residents shrieking as they watched the fiery blast pierce the night sky, which appeared to be the kingdom’s Patriot missile batteries intercepting the ballistic missile. Col. Turki al-Maliki, the spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition, said the Houthis were trying in “a systematic and deliberate way to target civilians.” The U.S. Embassy in Riyadh issued a warning to Americans, calling on them to “stay alert in case of additional future attacks.” Flight-tracking websites showed a number of flights scheduled to land at Riyadh’s international airport diverted or delayed in the hour after the attack. A civil defence spokesman, Mohammed al-Hammadi, later said scattered debris resulted in material damage to one house, though no one was hurt, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported. As Yemen's war grinds on, Houthi missile and drone attacks on the kingdom have grown commonplace, only rarely causing damage. Earlier this month the Houthis struck an empty passenger plane at Saudi Arabia's southwestern Abha airport with a bomb-laden drone, causing it to catch fire. Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition has faced widespread international criticism for airstrikes in Yemen that have killed hundreds of civilians and hit non-military targets, including schools, hospitals and wedding parties. President Joe Biden announced this month he was ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, including “relevant” arms sales. But he stressed that the U.S. would continue to help Saudi Arabia defend itself against outside attacks. The Houthis overran Yemen’s capital and much of the country's north in 2014, forcing the government into exile and months later prompting Saudi Arabia and its allies to launch a bombing campaign. __ Associated Press writer Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed to this report. Isabel Debre, The Associated Press
(NBC/The Associated Press, NBC/Reuters - image credit) Schitt's Creek won the Golden Globe for best television comedy on Sunday, shortly after star Catherine O'Hara captured the award for best actress for her portrayal of Moira Rose. Dan Levy — who co-created the show with his father, Eugene Levy — accepted the award remotely and paid homage to the Canadian cast and crew. "The incredible work you all did over these past six seasons have taken us to places we never thought possible, and we are so grateful to all of you for it," he said. "Thank you to the CBC and Pop TV for making the active choice to keep this show on the air and give it the time and space it needed to grow." The show topped fellow nominees Ted Lasso, The Great, The Flight Attendant and Emily in Paris. "This acknowledgement is a lovely vote of confidence in the messages Schitt's Creek has come to stand for: the idea that inclusion can bring about growth and love to a community," Dan Levy said. "In the spirit of inclusion, I hope that this time next year, the ceremony reflects the true breadth and diversity of the film and television being made today because there is so much more to be celebrated." Earlier, O'Hara thanked Eugene and Dan Levy for creating "an inspiring, funny, beautiful family love story in which they let me wear 100 wigs and speak like an alien." "Thank you CBC for making this show in Canada," she said. Eugene Levy, Dan Levy and Annie Murphy were each nominated for acting awards as well. Jason Sudeikis bested Eugene Levy for best actor in a television series for his role in Ted Lasso, John Boyega won the award for best supporting actor for his role in Small Axe over Dan Levy and Gillian Anderson's turn on The Crown earned her best supporting actress over Murphy. Schitt's Creek, which aired on CBC and Pop TV, ended its sixth and final season last April. The Ontario-shot show swept the comedy category at the Emmy Awards last fall. Nomadland wins 2 awards, Boseman honoured posthumously Nomadland won best drama film while its director, Chloé Zhao, became the first woman of Asian descent to win best director at the Golden Globes. The film follows a woman, played by Frances McDormand, who leaves her small town to join a group of wanderers in the American West. Accepting the best picture award, Zhao paid tribute to all those who have been on difficult journeys, quoting a line from the film: "We don't say goodbye, we say see you down the road." Meanwhile, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm won best movie, musical or comedy, while star Sacha Baron Cohen won best actor for his portrayal of the fictional journalist from Kazakhstan. In a major surprise, the Globe for best actress in a drama film went to Andra Day in The United States vs. Billie Holiday. Day played the legendary jazz and blues singer in the biopic directed by Lee Daniels. A tearful and overwhelmed Day spoke through tears as she said she was "in the presence of giants," naming her fellow nominees Viola Davis, Carey Mulligan, Vanessa Kirby and Frances McDormand. Six months after his death at age 43, Chadwick Boseman won the Golden Globe for best actor in a dramatic film for his final role in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Boseman's widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, accepted the award for her late husband, saying "he would thank God, he would thank his parents, he would thank his ancestors for their guidance and their sacrifices." Through tears, Ledward added: "I don't have his words, but we have to take all the moments to celebrate those we love." In the Netflix film, Boseman plays an ambitious trumpeter named Levee who aims to launch himself with his own updated version of the songs of Ma Rainey, the powerhouse blues singer played by Viola Davis. Boseman, who starred in the Marvel blockbuster "Black Panther," died in August after privately battling colon cancer for four years. Netflix, which came in with a commanding 42 nominations, won the top TV awards. The Crown, as expected, took best drama series, along with acting wins for Anderson, Josh O'Connor and Emma Corrin. O'Connor and Corrin portrayed Prince Charles and Princess Diana, respectively. The Queen's Gambit, another Netflix show, won best limited series or TV movie and star Anya Taylor-Joy won best actress in a limited series. Jodie Foster, meanwhile, won her first Golden Globe in nearly three decades. Foster won the Globe for best supporting actress in a film for her role in The Mauritanian. Jane Fonda accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award, praising the "community of storytellers" for their vital role in troubled times, and calling for greater diversity in Hollywood. The 83-year-old actor and activist, star of Barbarella, Klute, Coming Home, On Golden Pond and 9 to 5, received the Globes' version of a lifetime achievement award, one of the few honorees to accept a Globe in person in Beverly Hills. The DeMille award honours "outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment." Previous winners include Walt Disney, Judy Garland, John Wayne, Sidney Poitier, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Hanks and Fonda's father Henry Fonda. The Fondas become the first parent and child to both receive the DeMille award. Norman Lear accepted the Carol Burnett Award on Sunday at the Golden Globes for his storied career in television, saying he "could not feel more blessed." The 98-year-old still-working television legend, creator of All in the Family, The Jeffersons and One Day at a Time, is the third winner of the award that honours "outstanding contributions to television on or off the screen." Hosts on different coasts Earlier, co-hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler began the pandemic-era award show by delivering a split-screen opening from separate coasts. With Poehler at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif., and Fey in New York's Rainbow Room, the two did an initial gag where Fey reached out through the screen and stroked Poehler's hair. Golden Globes hosts Tina Fey, left, and Amy Poehler, opened the show from New York and Beverly Hills, Calif., respectively. When attendees would normally be streaming down the red carpet on Sunday evening, many stars were instead posing virtually. Regina King, resplendent in a dazzling dress, stood before her yawning dog. Carey Mulligan, nominated for Promising Young Woman, said from a London hotel room that she was wearing heels for the first time in more than a year. Lee Isaac Chung, writer-director of the tender Korean-American family drama Minari (a movie the HFPA was criticized for ruling ineligible for its top award because of its non-English dialogue), accepted the award for best foreign language film while his young daughter embraced him. "She's the reason I made this film," said Chung. "Minari is about a family. It's a family trying to learn a language of its own. It goes deeper than any American language and any foreign language. It's a language of the heart. I'm trying to learn it myself and to pass it on," said Chung. Other awards included Pixar's Soul for best animated film; Rosumund Pike took best actress in a comedy or musical film for I Care a Lot; and Aaron Sorkin won for best screenplay for Trial of the Chicago 7. The film, a favourite to win best drama film at the Globes, was sold to Netflix by Paramount Pictures last summer due to the pandemic. "Netflix saved our lives," said Sorkin. Issues in lead-up to show On a night when the organization that gives out the Golden Globes is facing condemnation for having no Black voting members, the night's first award went to a Black actor, with Daniel Kaluuya winning best supporting actor in a film for his work in Judas and the Black Messiah. Kaluuya's acceptance speech could not be heard from his location at first, and he jokingly shouted, "You did me dirty!" once the audio was restored. Kaluuya didn't mention the issue directly in his acceptance, though he praised the man he played to win the award, Blank Panther leader Fred Hampton, who was was killed in an FBI raid in 1969. The Globes, normally a loose-and-boozy party that serves as the kickoff for Hollywood's awards season, has been beset with problems beyond the coronavirus leading up to this year's ceremony. They include a revelation in the Los Angeles Times that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which gives out the awards, has no Black voting members in the group. LISTEN | Why the Golden Globes' shady reputation persists: Fey took a shot at the organization in the show opening, explaining to the two small live audiences made up of first responders and essential workers that "the Hollywood Foreign Press Association is made up of around 90 no Black journalists." This year, none of the most acclaimed Black-led films — Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, One Night in Miami, Judas and the Black Messiah and Da 5 Bloods — were nominated for the Globes' best picture award. With the HFPA potentially fighting for its Hollywood life, Sunday's Globes were part apology tour. Within the first half hour of the NBC telecast, members of the press association also appeared on stage to pledge change. "We recognize we have our own work to do," said vice president Helen Hoehne. "We must have Black journalists in our organization."
(Cecilia Fabiano/LaPresse/The Associated Press - image credit) Health Canada's approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and the Serum Institute of India's version to prevent COVID-19 in adults follows similar green lights from regulators in the United Kingdom, Europe Union, Mexico and India. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, called ChAdOx1, was approved for use in Canada on Friday following clinical trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil that showed a 62.1 per cent efficacy in reducing symptomatic cases of COVID-19 cases among those given the vaccine. Experts have said any vaccine with an efficacy rate of over 50 per cent could help stop outbreaks. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said the key number across all of the clinical trials for those who received AstraZeneca's product was zero — no deaths, no hospitalizations for serious COVID-19 and no deaths because of an adverse effect of the vaccine. "I think Canada is hungry for vaccines," Sharma said in a briefing. "We're putting more on the buffet table to be used." Specifically, 64 of 5,258 in the vaccination group got COVID-19 with symptoms compared with people in the control group given injections (154 of 5,210 got COVID-19 with symptoms). Dr. Susy Hota, medical director of infection prevention and control at Toronto's University Health Network, called it a positive move to have AstraZeneca's vaccines added to Canada's options. "Even though the final efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine appears lower than what we have with the mRNA vaccines, it's still reasonably good," Hota said. "What we need to be focusing on is trying to get as many people as possible vaccinated so we can prevent the harms from this." Canada has an agreement with AstraZeneca to buy 20 million doses as well as between 1.9 million and 3.2 million doses through the global vaccine-sharing initiative known as COVAX. WATCH | AstraZeneca vaccine overview: Canada will also receive 2 million doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the government announced Friday. Here's a look at some common questions about the vaccine, how it works, in whom and how it could be rolled out. What's different about this shot? The Oxford-AstraZeneca is cheaper and easier to handle than the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which need to be stored at ultracold temperatures to protect the fragile genetic material. AstraZeneca says its vaccine can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions (2 to 8 C) for at least six months. (Moderna's product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures for 30 days after thawing.) The ease of handling could make it easier to administer AstraZeneca's vaccine in rural and remote areas of Canada and the world. "There are definitely some advantages to having multiple vaccine candidates available to get to as many Canadians as possible," Hota said. Sharma said while the product monograph notes that evidence for people over age 65 is limited, real-world data from countries already using AstraZeneca's vaccine suggest it is safe and effective among older age groups. "We have real-world evidence from Scotland and the U.K. for people that have been dosed that would have been over 80 and that has shown significant drop in hospitalizations," Sharma said, based on a preprint. Data from clinical trials is more limited compared with in real-world settings that reflect people from different age groups, medical conditions and other factors. How does it work? Vaccines work by training our immune system to recognize an invader. The first two vaccines to protect against COVID-19 that were approved for use in Canada deliver RNA that encodes the spike protein on the surface of the pandemic coronavirus. Health-care workers Diego Feitosa Ferreira, right, and Clemilton Lopes de Oliveira travel on a boat in the state of Amazonas in Brazil, on Feb. 12, to vaccinate residents with the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The product can be stored at refrigeration temperatures, which facilitates its use in remote areas. In contrast, the AstraZeneca vaccine packs the genetic information for the spike protein in the shell of a virus that causes the common cold in chimpanzees. Vaccine makers altered the adenovirus so it can't grow in humans. Viral vector vaccines mimic viral infection more closely than some other kinds of vaccines. One disadvantage of viral vectors is that if a person has immunity toward a particular vector, the vaccine won't work as well. But people are unlikely to have been exposed to a chimpanzee adenovirus. AstraZeneca is working on reformulating its vaccine to address more transmissible variants of coronavirus. How and where could it be used? Virologist Eric Arts at Western University in London, Ont., said vaccines from Oxford-AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, which is also under review by Health Canada, and Russian Sputnik-V vaccines all have some similarities. "I do like the fact that AstraZeneca has decided to continue trials, to work with the Russians on the Sputnik-V vaccine combination," said Arts, who holds the Canada Research Chair in HIV pathogenesis and viral control. Boxes with AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine are pictured at St. Mary's Hospital in Dublin, Ireland. Health Canada says the vaccine is given by two separate injections of 0.5 millilitres each into the muscle of the arm. "The reason why I'm encouraged by it is I think there might be greater opportunity to administer those vaccines in low- to middle-income countries. We need that. I think our high-income countries have somewhat ignored the situation that is more significant globally." Researchers reported on Feb. 2 in the journal Lancet that in a Phase 3 clinical trial involving about 20,000 people in Russia, the two-dose Sputnik-V vaccine was about 91 per cent effective and appears to prevent inoculated individuals from becoming severely ill with COVID-19. WATCH | Performance of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine so far: There were 16 COVID-19 cases in the vaccine group (0.1 per cent or 16/14,964) and 62 cases (1.3 per cent or [62/4,902) in the control group. No serious adverse events were associated with vaccination. Most adverse events were mild, such as flu-like symptoms, pain at injection site and weakness or low energy. Arts and other scientists acknowledged the speed and lack of transparency of the Russian vaccination program. But British scientists Ian Jones and Polly Roy wrote in an accompanying commentary that the results are clear and add another vaccine option to reduce the incidence of COVID-19.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Spacewalking astronauts ventured out Sunday to install support frames for new, high-efficiency solar panels arriving at the International Space Station later this year. NASA's Kate Rubins and Victor Glover put the first set of mounting brackets and struts together, then bolted them into place next to the station's oldest and most degraded solar wings. But the work took longer than expected, and they barely got started on the second set before calling it quits. Rubins will finish the job during a second spacewalk later this week. The spacewalkers had to lug out the hundreds of pounds of mounting brackets and struts in 8-foot (2.5-meter) duffle-style bags. The equipment was so big and awkward that it had to be taken apart like furniture, just to get through the hatch. Some of the attachment locations required extra turns of the power drill and still weren't snug enough, as indicated by black lines. The astronauts had to use a ratchet wrench to deal with the more stubborn bolts, which slowed them down. At one point, they were two hours behind. “Whoever painted this black line painted outside the lines a little bit," Glover said at one particularly troublesome spot. “We’ll work on our kindergarten skills over here,” Mission Control replied, urging him to move on. With more people and experiments flying on the space station, more power will be needed to keep everything running, according to NASA. The six new solar panels — to be delivered in pairs by SpaceX over the coming year or so — should boost the station’s electrical capability by as much as 30%. Rubins and Glover tackled the struts for the first two solar panels, due to launch in June. Their spacewalk ended up lasting seven hours, a bit longer than planned. “Really appreciate your hard work. I know there were a lot of challenges,” Mission Control radioed. The eight solar panels up there now are 12 to 20 years old — most of them past their design lifetime and deteriorating. Each panel is 112 feet (34 metres) long by 39 feet (12 metres) wide. Tip to tip counting the centre framework, each pair stretches 240 feet (73 metres), longer than a Boeing 777's wingspan. Boeing is supplying the new roll-up panels, about half the size of the old ones but just as powerful thanks to the latest solar cell technology. They’ll be placed at an angle above the old ones, which will continue to operate. A prototype was tested at the space station in 2017. Rubins' helmet featured a new high-definition camera that provided stunning views, particularly those showing the vivid blue Earth 270 miles (435 kilometres) below. “Pretty fantastic," observed Mission Control. Sunday’s spacewalk was the third for infectious disease specialist Rubins and Navy pilot Glover — both of whom could end up flying to the moon. They’re among 18 astronauts newly assigned to NASA’s Artemis moon-landing program. The next moonwalkers will come from this group. Last week, Vice-President Kamala Harris put in a congratulatory call to Glover, the first African American astronaut to live full time at the space station. NASA released the video exchange Saturday. “The history making that you are doing, we are so proud of you,” Harris said. Like other firsts, Glover replied, it won't be the last. “We want to make sure that we can continue to do new things,” he said. Rubins will float back out Friday with Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi to wrap up the solar panel prep work, and to vent and relocate ammonia coolant hoses. Glover and Noguchi were among four astronauts arriving via SpaceX in November. Rubins launched from Kazakhstan in October alongside two Russians. They’re all scheduled to return to Earth this spring. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press
CHICOUTIMI, Que. — Another Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team has been forced to pause its season due to COVID-19. The league announced Sunday that new restrictions in Prince Edward Island have forced the Charlottetown Islanders to suspend activities until March 14th. Similar restrictions in Nova Scotia have forced the Halifax Mooseheads to pause their season as COVID-19 cases climb in the province. With the Islanders and Mooseheads on hold, the QMJHL says the Cape Breton Eagles will also have to take a break from games. The league announced Saturday that restrictions have been lifted in New Brunswick, allowing games to resume for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, the Moncton Wildcats and the Saint John Sea Dogs starting the week of March 8. The three teams have not played since late November due to provincial government restrictions. The 18-team QMJHL started its season in October, but has seen numerous pauses and postponements due to positive test results and changing government restrictions. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press - image credit) Social housing advocates and a provincial network of women's shelters are calling on the provincial government to give domestic violence survivors easier access to safe housing in Quebec. According to Gaëlle Fedida of the Alliance des maisons de 2eme étape pour femmes et enfants victimes de violence conjugale (Alliance MH2), the province is currently dealing with a dangerous shortage of resources in its second-stage homes — shelters where women stay after they head to an emergency shelter but before they find permanent housing. She said the issue is even worse in western regions, including the Laurentians, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Mauricie and Lanaudière, and the consequences of this shortage can be deadly. "Second-state shelters are designed to prevent domestic violence and to prevent domestic homicides," Fedida said in a news conference Sunday. "We know that this spring we will be overwhelmed by the demand and we won't be able to answer all the needs in sheltering the ladies. This is really a big big concern for us." The MH2 says it asked for an additional 106 additional units in its second-stage homes, but more than a year later, the government has yet to approve them. "We're waiting for these units that we desperately need to speed up access to our services," said Fedida. On top of the current shortage of space, Alliance MH2 expects to see a surge in demand once the pandemic ends. In a Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale survey of women served by some of the province's women's shelters, 43.5 per cent of respondents said they were attacked more frequently during the province's COVID-19 lockdown last spring and 43 per cent said they did not ask for help because their partner was always home. Even with those units in place, social housing group Front d'action populaire en réaménagement urbain (FRAPRU) says only about 66 per cent of women who leave their second-stage homes manage to find affordable housing for themselves afterward. That's why the two groups are also calling on the province to fund the construction of 50,000 social housing units for women and children who survived domestic violence, over the next five years. "The needs are growing with the pandemic because the housing shortage is still going on and, as we've seen, women are more vulnerable," said Catherine Lussier of FRAPRU.
(Doug Kerr/CBC - image credit) A group of climate change activists known around the world for their dramatic protests and willingness to be arrested blocked traffic in downtown Vancouver on Saturday. Around 50 people with Extinction Rebellion marched from the Vancouver Art Gallery to the law courts Saturday afternoon, then occupied the intersection at Hornby and Smithe streets. Three people were arrested. Maayan Kreitzman, a volunteer with the group, said she was protesting what she calls a lack of action by the Canadian government to address climate change and its ecological impact. "And that means that normal people need to stand up and resist," she said. Protesters with Extinction Rebellion lay on a road in downtown Vancouver on Feb. 27, 2021. Extinction Rebellion has three key objectives: to see governments communicate and act with urgency around climate change; engage citizens through an assembly that will determine policies to stop climate change; and ensure carbon emissions are reduced to net zero by 2025 — a deadline 25 years shorter than that proposed by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The group on Saturday spilled buckets of fake blood in the street, then collapsed to the ground as part of what it called a die-in. The display was part of a series of monthly peaceful protests, leading up to the group's so-called spring rebellion, planned for May 1 in Victoria, where protesters hope to provoke hundreds of arrests to gain more attention and support for their movement. "I always thought that climate change is an issue that is going to be happening in the future, and we'll worry about it in 10 years, 20 years. No. We have to make the changes now," said Nam Topp-Nguyen a volunteer with Extinction Rebellion. Vancouver police said officers arrested three protesters for mischief and intimidation after an intersection was blocked for several hours and the group refused to leave after multiple requests. "The protest was peaceful," said Const. Steve Addison in a release. He said the three people arrested were taken to jail and then released under a promise to appear at court at a later date. In 2019, 10 people with Extinction Rebellion were arrested after 100 activists took over the Burrard Street Bridge in Vancouver for more than 12 hours. Extinction Rebellion was founded in the U.K. in October 2018 and rose to prominence when the group disrupted traffic in central London for 11 days. More than 1,000 activists were arrested, of whom 850 were prosecuted for various public disorder offences. At least 250 have been convicted.
MONTREAL — The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 variants in Quebec jumped by more than 100 on Sunday, on the eve of a ramp-up in the province's mass vaccination plan. The province is reporting 137 confirmed cases involving variants, with most of them identified as the B.1.1.7 mutation first detected in the United Kingdom. While most of the cases are in Montreal, the province's public health institute reports there are also 40 cases of the variant originally found in South Africa in the Abitibi-Temiscamingue region. A further 1,083 cases remain under investigation and are listed as "presumptive." Quebec's health minister described the overall situation as "encouraging" as the province reported 737 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths due to the pandemic. Four of the deaths occurred in the last 24 hours, while the rest took place earlier. Hospitalizations rose by two to 601, while intensive care numbers rose by five to 117. Christian Dube noted that the situation in the province has been stable for the last week, but asked Quebecers not to let their guard down as spring break begins. "It's not the moment to relax our efforts," he wrote on Twitter. The province will kick off its mass vaccination program in earnest on Monday, with several large clinics in the Montreal area opening their doors to residents age 80 and older who have booked appointments through the province's website. In the rest of the province, the vaccination appointments are being accepted for those born in or before 1936. Quebec Premier Francois Legault said Saturday that the start of the mass vaccination campaign was giving him "a lot of hope," even as he expressed concern about spring break week and the spread of new variants. He urged Quebecers to remain vigilant for the coming weeks to allow the province to vaccinate more people, and to wait for immunity to fully develop in those who have received a shot. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021 Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
La Ville de Montréal a répondu favorablement à la demande du Grand Conseil des Cris de restituer une coiffe qui appartenait jadis à la femme d'un chef de Mistissini. Cet artefact était conservé au Musée de Lachine depuis plus de 70 ans et lui avait été donné par un collectionneur montréalais. La coiffe perlée a été fabriquée vers 1861 avec du lainage, des perles de verre et du coton, pour la femme du chef de la communauté de Mistissini, Jane Gunner. Les femmes portaient cette coiffe dans des cérémonies soulignant le retour d’une chasse importante ou un mariage. Elle a été restaurée il y a une quinzaine d’années par le Centre de conservation du Québec. En 2016, elle avait été prêtée à l’Institut culturel cri Aanischaaukamikw, à Oujé-Bougoumou, où elle avait été reconnue par les descendants d’une membre importante de la communauté crie. Cette coiffe perlée nous parle La décision de restituer la coiffe a été prise le 24 février dernier par le comité exécutif de la Ville de Montréal et a fait l’objet d’une annonce publique réunissant la mairesse de Montréal, Valérie Plante, le grand chef du Grand conseil des Cris, Abel Bosum, et la mairesse de Lachine, Maja Vodanovic. " La restitution de la coiffe à l’Institut culturel cri Aanischaaukamikw est importante pour assurer la transmission de la culture aux futures générations et pour permettre de perpétuer les coutumes traditionnelles de notre peuple », déclare Abel Bosum. « Le retour à Eeyou Istchee d’éléments de notre patrimoine culturel et d’objets liés à nos coutumes permet à nos citoyens de raviver leur intérêt et d’en apprendre davantage sur d’importants aspects de leur patrimoine. " " Cette coiffe perlée nous parle d'une façon telle qu'elle ne peut parler à personne d'autres, ajoute le chef Bosum. Pour les autres peuples, c'est simplement un objet mais, pour les Cris, c'est plein de signification que nous pouvons sentir, une signification qui nous touche de façon profonde. C'est un objet qui nous connecte avec nos ancêtres et avec nos traditions culturelles. Nous connaissons les gens qui ont créé ces objets et nous pouvons les retracer dans notre famille. Pour nous, ce ne sont pas des artefacts abstraits de l'histoire. Ce sont des rappels concrets d'où nous venons et de qui nous sommes. [...] En rapatriant des objets comme ceux-là, nous devenons plus complets." Déclaration des Nations Unies Pour la mairesse de Montréal, Valérie Plante, la restitution de la coiffe traditionnelle répond aux principes de la Déclaration des Nations Unies sur le droit des peuples autochtones ainsi qu’aux objectifs de la Stratégie de réconciliation avec les peuples autochtones. « En rapatriant cet objet [...], de dire Mme Plante, la communauté crie aura accès à son patrimoine matériel et au savoir-faire de ses ancêtres. » « C'est fantastique », s'exclame le directeur des programmes de l’Institut culturel cri Aanischaaukamikw, Rob Imrie. « Il faudra encore attendre environ un an avant que l'artefact ne soit exposé », dit-il. Aux journalistes de CBC, Jamie Little et Christopher Herodier, l'ancienne directrice d'Aanischaaukamikw, Sarah Pash, a déclaré que les efforts continuent pour rapatrier d'autres artefacts cris, comme une peau de caribou peinte. Denis Lord, Initiative de journalisme local, La Sentinelle
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration said Sunday it remains open to talks with Iran over the 2015 nuclear deal despite Tehran’s rejection of an EU invitation to join a meeting with the U.S. and the other original participants in the agreement. A senior administration official said the U.S. was “disappointed” in the rejection but was flexible as to the timing and format of the talks and saw Iran’s decision to snub the European invitation as part of the diplomatic process. The official said the U.S. would be consulting with the other participants — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the European Union — on the way forward. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter by name and spoke on condition of anonymity. Earlier Sunday, Iran turned down the offer for talks saying the “time isn’t ripe” for the meeting, at which the U.S. would have participated as an observer. Iran had been insisting that the U.S. lift or ease sanctions imposed on it by the Trump administration under its “maximum pressure campaign” before sitting down with the United States. President Joe Biden has said repeatedly that the U.S. would return to the deal that his predecessor, Donald Trump, withdrew from in 2018 only after Iran restores its full compliance with the accord. "Considering US/E3 positions & actions, time isn’t ripe for the proposed informal meeting," Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Twitter. He referred to the so-called E3, which comprises Britain, France and Germany. “Remember: Trump failed to meet because of his ill-advised ‘Max Failure,'" he said. “With sanctions in place, same still applies. Censuring is NOT diplomacy. It doesn’t work with Iran.” The Biden administration announced earlier this month that it would accept an EU invitation to participate in a meeting of deal participants and at the same time rescinded a Trump determination from the U.N. Security Council that Iran was in significant breach of the agreement that all U.N. sanctions had been restored. The U.N. move had little practical effect as nearly all members of the world body had rejected Trump's determination because the U.S. was no longer a participant in the nuclear deal. Biden administration officials said the withdrawal of the determination was intended to show goodwill toward its partners and at the same time had eased severe restrictions on the movement of Iranian diplomats posted to the U.N. Separately on Sunday, the State Department condemned a weekend attack by Iran-backed Yemeni rebels on Saudi Arabia, saying it damaged prospects for peace. Along with the overtures to Iran on the nuclear front, the Biden administration also reversed several late Trump administration moves against Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen. Secretary of State Antony Blinken rescinded his predecessor's designation that the Houthi rebels were a “foreign terrorist organization,” a move that the U.N. and relief groups had said would make the already disastrous humanitarian situation in Yemen even worse. In addition, the Biden administration decided to halt all offensive assistance to Saudi Arabia for its military campaign against the Houthis in Yemen. The Houthis, however, have stepped up their operations in the country, pressing ahead with an offensive in Marib province and launching attacks on Saudi Arabia. On Saturday, Saudi authorities said they had intercepted a missile attack over their capital and reported that bomb-laden drones had targeted a southern province, the latest in a series of airborne assaults they have blamed on the Houthis. State Department spokesman Ned Price on Sunday said the U.S. “strongly condemns the Houthis’ attacks on population centres in Saudi Arabia.” He said they “threaten not only innocent civilians but also prospects for peace and stability in Yemen” and called on the Houthis “to end these egregious attacks.” “The United States remains committed to its longstanding partnership with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and to helping Saudi Arabia defend its territory as it faces attacks from Iranian-aligned groups," Price said. On Friday, the Biden administration further strained ties with the Saudis when it published a declassified intelligence report finding that Saudi Arabia's crown prince had ordered an operation to capture or kill Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist and U.S. resident who was brutally slain at the Saudi consulate in Turkey. Saudi Arabia has forcefully rejected the report's conclusions. ___ Associated Press writer Ellen Knickmeyer contributed to this report. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
NASA’s Perseverance rover landed on the surface of Mars on February 18, 2021 and it has already begun to send back jaw-dropping images of the surrounding area.
The Township of Strong council met on Feb. 23 and discussed several items, including the potential of the Almaguin Spartans using the arena, ideas for community activities in 2021 and a donation of gravel to High Rock Lookout Park. Here is the council meeting in key quotes. ON THE ALMAGUIN SPARTANS “I was just going to ask about the Spartans — are they looking at possibly coming to our arena?” asked Coun. Jody Baillie. “There’s an expression of interest on behalf of the Spartans to use our facilities possibly in the future. There is, I wouldn’t say a business plan, but we’re going to get some numbers of attendance (and) ice times,” said Coun. Jason Cottrell. ON 2021 COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES IN STRONG TOWNSHIP “It’s trying to think outside of different ways on what is an actual need for our community. So, we had some great ideas on reaching out to some of our seniors possibly like pen pals and even some of our group homes in the area — what are some ways that we can reach these individuals and different generations,” said Baillie, who is the new recreation committee leader. “We are open to suggestions.” “It’s a whole new world out there. Everything is changing and all of the events that we’ve done have been the same for so many years. It’s difficult to sit back now and think, ‘Oh that does not work,’ so any suggestions would be great,” said Strong’s Mayor Kelly Elik. ON HIGH ROCK LOOKOUT PARK “We didn’t get a whole lot done last year so we’re hopefully on track this year … we only need a half tonne load of gravel to be placed in front of the pavilion on the roadway because there’s some deep ruts there,” said Coun. Marianne Stickland. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
France and Germany have agreed that people crossing the border between the French region of Moselle and Germany will have to have proof of a negative COVID-19 antigen test in the previous 48 hours, French Europe Minister Clement Beaune said on Sunday. The French government was eager to keep travel restrictions limited at the border, which 16,000 French workers from Moselle cross each day. "We have negotiated with the Germans so that crossing the border remains allowed, so that these tests are faster and easier antigenic tests," Beaune said on BFM TV.
GLASGOW, United Kingdom — Canadian international David Wotherspoon helped St. Johnstone win the Scottish League Cup for the first time in the club's 137-year history with a 1-0 win over Livingston on Sunday. Shaun Rooney's 32nd-minute header off a corner proved to be the difference maker at an empty Hampden Park in the final of the cup competition sponsored by Betfred. Wotherspoon, a 31-year-old midfielder, played the full 90 minutes for St. Johnstone. Wotherspoon was born in Perth and represented Scotland at the youth level but is eligible to play for Canada through his Winnipeg-born mother. He reached out to Canada Soccer after seeing Scott Arfield switch to Canada. Wotherspoon made his debut for Canada against New Zealand in 2018 in John Herdman's first game as coach. He also played against Cuba in CONCACAF Nations League play in 2019. He started his soccer career in the Celtic youth ranks, switching to Hibernian before joining St. Johnstone. He won the Scottish Cup, which is separate from the League Cup, in 2014 in his first year with St. Johnstone. The Perth-based club currently stands eighth in the Scottish Premiership. Livingston is fifth. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021 The Canadian Press
(Reed Cowan - image credit) A former WE Charity donor is calling for the RCMP and the U.S. Internal Revenue Service to investigate the charity's finances after learning a Kenyan school he was told he funded bore a plaque with the name of another donor. Reed Cowan, an American television journalist, said he believes two groups were told that they had funded the same school. He is calling for the charity to return all funds raised in the name of his deceased son, Wesley, 4, who died in 2006 following an accident. "I demand that every penny paid to WE and Free the Children by the groups I brought there for what feels like a sham experience be immediately reimbursed. Every penny," he said in a video statement posted on YouTube on Saturday. Cowan said he has repeatedly asked for an accounting of where his money went and has never received that information. NDP MP Charlie Angus has also sent letters to the RCMP and the Canada Revenue Agency, asking both organizations to investigate WE Charity's finances following what he describes as "explosive" allegations from Cowan at the parliamentary ethics committee on Friday. In a statement issued Sunday afternoon, WE Charity said it was confident it conducted itself appropriately at all times and any investigation would reach the same conclusion." Charity co-founder offers 'mea culpa' to plaque swapping Cowan describes helping raise millions of dollars for the charity. He said he was told by senior staff at WE Charity that he was the sole fundraiser of a school in Kenya, which went on to display a plaque bearing Wesley's name. Cowan, an American TV journalist, wipes away tears while testifying remotely in front of the parliamentary ethics committee on Friday. The committee is probing WE Charity's ties to the family of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as well as to the family of former finance minister Bill Morneau. However, Cowan recently learned that the plaque was removed and swapped out for another donor's name — even though Cowan said he was told repeatedly that the school was "Wesley's" and that he was the sole donor to the project. "I have on video many WE Charity staffers saying, 'This is Wesley's school. This school.' So why, in recent months, was this school photographed as bearing the plaque of [another donor]?" Cowan said. He said he discovered a video online of another group being celebrated for opening the school. Cowan said he raised the subject with WE Charity co-founder Craig Kielburger, who he said offered "a little bit of a mea culpa." 'I feel like my son was the victim of fraud' Cowan testified in front of the parliamentary ethics committee on Friday as part of an ongoing probe into WE Charity's ties to the family of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as well as to the family of former finance minister Bill Morneau. He was emotional during his testimony, wiping away tears as he described learning that his son's plaque had been removed. "[It] feels to me like returning to my son's grave and finding it broken, open, defiled and empty," Cowan told the committee. "If there is a pattern of duplicitous relations with donors ... how do I feel about it? I feel like my son was the victim of fraud." Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau, are flanked by WE Charity co-founders Craig Kielburger, left, and his brother, Marc, at WE Day celebrations in Ottawa in 2015. Following Cowan's testimony, WE Charity sent a statement to CBC News saying, "Mr. Cowan's experience was unfortunate but exceedingly rare." It also said Cowan "misconstrued" the online video appearing to show another group being celebrated for opening the school Cowan funded. The video "shows a group of international volunteers building the schoolhouse that was in fact dedicated to Mr. Cowan's son when it was completed," WE Charity said in a statement. Donor denies any confusion Cowan took exception to WE Charity's statement, denying any confusion on his part. "I think they want me to be confused. And I think they want all of you, as donors, to be and stay confused. At least for me, the confusion is lifting," he said. Cowan said WE Charity co-founder Marc Kielburger spoke to children in Florida with him in 2009, and they told students about Wesley's school in Kenya. Cowan said he recently learned that by then, the plaque had been swapped out for another plaque. "He was in the room fundraising with me in front of thousands of kids ... the plaque for Wesley had already been taken down by that point and he never told me," Cowan said. WE Charity also said on Friday that Cowan's fundraising paid for four schools. Cowan said he was told each school cost between $10,000 and $12,000 and that his fundraising ought to have paid for 24 schools. Additional concerns about donor transparency Cowan is the latest person to raise questions about the way WE Charity used donor funds. CBC's The Fifth Estate spoke with more than a dozen former employees who had concerns that the organization was not always transparent with donors. One donor, James Cohen, said WE Charity originally told him his organization's donation would pay for the entire cost of a borehole in Kipsongol, Kenya. Another donor shared an email sent by WE Charity saying her group's donation "is actually enough money to implement a clean water system" in that same village. The WE organization told the Fifth Estate there was no donor confusion. In a letter, it pointed to emails where Cohen later understood he was paying for a water kiosk and not the entire borehole. In his committee testimony, Cowan referred to a Bloomberg article from December that said staff joked that WE plaques "should be made of Velcro because they were swapped so frequently." Cowan is calling on other donors to speak publicly about their experience. "I'm calling on all of you, those tens of thousands of donors, to step up like I've had to do," he said. "To step forward and join me in asking for accountability. For demanding to see that what exists on the ground in Kenya and elsewhere reflects the huge money that was raised by children." For tips on this story please contact Kate.McKenna@cbc.ca or call 514-710-5413 or Harvey.Cashore@cbc.ca at 416-526-4704
Canada's pandemic hotspots are taking diverging approaches to handling the COVID-19 crisis, as Ontario prepares to trigger new lockdown measures in two public health units and Quebec enters a week of spring break. Ontario passed the 300,000 case mark today, as the province prepares to hit a so-called 'emergency brake' in the Thunder Bay and Simcoe-Muskoka District health units on Monday in order interrupt transmission of COVID-19 at a time when new variants are gaining steam. The province has also pushed back its spring break until April in an effort to limit community spread. Prince Edward Island also implemented tighter health measures, barring indoor dining and halving retail and gym capacity as part of "circuit breaker" measures meant to stop a new outbreak in its tracks. Quebec, meanwhile, has allowed movie theatres, pools and arenas to open with restrictions in place to give families something to do as the traditional winter break kicks off, even as most other health rules remain in place. Premier Francois Legault has said he's worried about the week off and the threat posed by new more contagious variants, but says he's optimistic about the province's mass vaccination campaign which will begin inoculating older members of the general public on Monday. Ontario reported 1,062 new infections linked to the pandemic today to push it over the 300,000 mark, while Quebec's health minister said the situation in the province is stable with 737 new cases and nine additional deaths. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021 The Canadian Press
(Travis Kingdon/CBC - image credit) A P.E.I. restaurateur is calling on Islanders to take self-isolation requirements more seriously, and wants governments to impose harsher penalties on those who don't. Kevin Murphy, president of the Murphy Hospitality Group, says he doesn't blame the province for disallowing in-room dining as a circuit-breaker measure announced Saturday. But he said the restaurant industry continues to suffer the impacts of other people's carelessness. "It's getting very frustrating for the restaurant industry when these protocols are not being followed, and this is the impact it's having on our island, our industry, our restaurants," he said. "And … it's really time that these are taken seriously. And we have to make examples of people that want to continually break the protocol because it's us that are paying in the business community and it's been going on a year." The province has fined dozens of people for violating public health measures, but Murphy suggests more needs to be done. He said while his restaurants will remain open for takeout, he has laid off some staff for the third time this year. "No one takes this into account when they see this, that there's hundreds, if not thousands of Islanders that are laid off today and tomorrow. "And when it's two weeks, three weeks or four weeks, you know, their income and their life, the quality of life, it's just tough for them." Mike Perry, owner of The Breakfast Spot, says closing restaurants has a trickle-down effect on other businesses. Mike Perry, the owner of the The Breakfast Spot in Summerside, which was identified as a COVID-19 exposure site, said he had planned to open on March 6 after a deep cleaning but now must wait until at least March 14 under the new rules. "It's devastating. We've lost this weekend's sales, next weekend sales and the following," he said. It's just so difficult for all of us here, every restaurant. — Mike Perry "It's just so difficult for all of us here, every restaurant. And it ripples down into other businesses as well that depend on the traffic that we create as a restaurant, [such as] more people coming into town. "And it's devastating for many, many businesses." Speaking to CBC News before Premier Dennis King and Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison placed the Island into a 72-hour modified red zone with tighter restrictions late Sunday, Perry said the circuit breaker was the right thing to do, and suggested perhaps government should have done even more. "It looks like it's spreading quickly. I think the government has to do what they can." More from CBC P.E.I.
Slovak government will tighten anti-epidemic measures from March 3, including stricter limits on people's movement, as the country struggles with the resurgent coronavirus. The government of Prime Minister Igor Matovic released details of the new measures after several days of debates with experts as the country has ranked among the world's worst-hit by the recent wave of COVID-19 cases. If the tougher restrictions do not curb infections by March 21, the government will prepare even stricter limits on movement, including closure of companies and borders, local media reported.
(Submitted by Gregory Thomas - image credit) Gregory Thomas is hopeful about revised restrictions for rotational workers. But he's still waiting to hear if the province's plan will allow him to see his family without taking his daughter out of school. The Moncton technician works 14-day rotations at a diamond mine in northern Quebec. "They obviously know that there was a huge strain put on the out-of-province workers and their families," he said. Rotational workers have been calling for a reversal of tighter restrictions rolled out on Jan. 30. The current rules require them to self-isolate for a full 14 days away from others. Before the changes, they could leave isolation early following a negative test, and stay at home with family. Premier Blaine Higgs said Friday the government is developing a plan to address travel restrictions after hearing concerns. "I know that the tighter border restrictions have been hard on many people," Higgs said in a statement. The plan will be developed by Public Health and presented in mid-March to the all-party cabinet committee on COVID-19. No details have been shared publicly. 'Negative stigma' The new rules have left some rotational workers unable to see their families or forced them to change their work schedules. When Thomas last returned home, he took his eight-year-old daughter out of school for two weeks so they could isolate together. Her teacher offered to send home assignments and work. "There's certainly a mental health impact," he said. "I could get through because of the people that I'm surrounded with, but there are many people out there that are going to be in trouble." Many rotational workers, including Thomas, say the specific rules have singled them out and are adding to "negative stigma" toward those who work outside New Brunswick. Gregory Thomas works two-week rotations at a diamond mine in northern Quebec. His family strongly considered moving to Nova Scotia, and that remains a possibility. "This isn't something that is easily forgettable," Thomas said. "It was a harsh decision." Michael Pelletier goes back and forth between his home in Fredericton and Alberta, where he works two-week rotations as a quality inspector for the gas and oil industry. Since the changes went into effect, Pelletier has returned home twice. The first time he spent his isolation alone in the basement of his house. His wife took two weeks off work without pay for the second visit, so they could isolate together. Pelletier hasn't seen his three children. They are staying with their grandparents for the two weeks so they can continue to attend school. He said tight rules specifically targeting rotational workers, without providing data or evidence on the risk they pose, is resulting in mistreatment. Michael Pelletier, a rotational worker from Kingsclear, says he wants the province to introduce rapid testing for rotational workers upon their return to New Brunswick so that they can spend less time self-isolating. A spokesperson for Public Health would not say how many rotational workers have contributed to outbreaks or community spread. Pelletier said he has heard some spouses of rotational workers have been asked to go home from work. "Our families feel blamed, we feel blamed, our children that go to school get blamed," he said. "As soon as they hear that their parents are rotational workers they get bullied, they get mistreated." Calls for expanded testing New Brunswick rotational workers have been asking for rapid testing to cut down on isolation time when they return home. The province has only used a small portion of its rapid tests received from the federal government. Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, has frequently said the tests are useful for screening but need to be confirmed with a followup PCR test. Those results can take up to two days to receive. Despite the limited use of rapid tests, Public Health is exploring using them for cross-border travellers. Some New Brunswick rotational workers say they want access to a rapid test for COVID-19 when they return home. A Hartland pharmacy is now offering rapid tests for people who cross the border frequently, such as daily commuters and truck drivers. Public Health hopes to expand the pilot project to other locations in the province. Pelletier said the announcement from the premier felt like "a slap in the face" after the expansion of rapid testing for truck drivers, but not rotational workers. He wants to see rapid testing at the airport, and work isolation with testing on the fifth and 10th days. That's what the province has in place until late January. New Brunswick rotational workers are planning to file a lawsuit against the provincial government and have raised more than $23,000 online to cover legal fees. A spokesperson said the province does not comment on potential legal matters.
(Daniel DeLucia/Shutterstock - image credit) Vancouver police say they have fined the host of a gender reveal party that took place Saturday night at a downtown Vancouver apartment building. VPD say they responded to the gathering at 8:15 p.m. at an apartment building near Robson and Hamilton streets. Officers found 17 people inside the 26th floor suite attending a gender reveal party. Police say the host was given a $2,300 ticket and the party was shut down. In British Columbia, under the current public health orders to stop the spread of COVID-19, hosting an event at a private residence with members of different households is not allowed. Hosts and organizers of such events can be fined $2,300, and the ticketed individual has 30 days from the date the ticket was issued to either pay or dispute the ticket. B.C. has been living under these restrictions since November. They were extended indefinitely in early February, with Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry saying they will review how things stand in March.