Details with meteorologist Tyler Hamilton.
Details with meteorologist Tyler Hamilton.
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
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.
(Jessica Davis Photography - image credit) After the latest outbreak of COVID-19 in the St. John's metro area forced the province to revert back to Alert Level 5 of its pandemic response plan two weeks ago, much of Newfoundland and Labrador is beginning to reopen. On Friday, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said all regions, with the exception of the Avalon Peninsula, will take a step forward to Alert Level 4. This means public health restrictions will ease up for the majority of the province, while the Avalon continues to grapple with the outbreak. Fitzgerald said things will be reevaluated in two weeks. Here's a reminder of how things will look under Alert Level 4, which includes the Central, Western and Labrador-Grenfell Health regions, as well as areas of Eastern Health west of the Avalon, including Clarenville and the Bonavista and Burin peninsulas. Public spaces and gatherings In Alert Level 4, people must still stay their household bubbles whenever they are not at work or school. The bubble can expand, however, to include immediate family when necessary, bring in caregivers or support for isolated people. Gatherings at funerals, burials, weddings and religious and cultural ceremonies are expanded to 10 people, as long as physical distancing can be maintained. Wakes remain prohibited. Informal gatherings are limited to just those in your bubble. "Bubbles need to remain small, exclusive and local. You should only include other people if it is necessary to keep you and them safe and healthy," Fitzgerald said on Friday. "Organizing a social gathering, such as having your extended family over for Sunday dinner, would not be acceptable." Businesses Child care services are expanded to full capacity. Retail stores, including those inside shopping malls, can open at 50 per cent capacity. Personal service establishments, such as spas, esthetic services, hair salons, body piercing and tattoo shops and tanning salons can open in accordance with public health guidelines. Bars will remain closed in Alert Level 4. Bars, cinemas and bingo halls remain closed. Restaurants remain closed for in-person dining. Recreation Gyms, fitness facilities, yoga studios, swimming pools, tennis and squash courts and arenas remain closed. Dance studios and performance spaces also remain closed. Group and team sports are still suspended, along with groups arts and recreation. Public health is encouraging outdoor activities, including walking, hiking, or riding a bike as long as physical distancing can be maintained and you are not required to self-isolate for any reason. Health care Regional health authorities will allow some services to resume. Private health care clinics can reopen in accordance with public health guidelines. Visitor restrictions in health care remain in place, while visitation in long-term care, personal-care homes and assisted living facilities will be expanded. Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
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
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.
KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE — Canadian Jeff Gustafson captured his first-ever Bassmasters Elite Series win in emphatic fashion Sunday. Gustafson, of Kenora, Ont., recorded a five-fish limit weighing 14 pounds, three ounces for an overall total of 63 pounds. Gustafson finished seven pounds, one ounce ahead of runner-up Steve Kennedy to capture the US$100,000 winner's cheque. "This is the lifelong dream for me," Gustafson said. "I've loved bass fishing and bass tournaments ever since I was a little kid. "It's a lot of sacrifice doing this. The travel and time away from home, that part of it isn't glamorous. So to finally get it — awesome." Gustafson, in his third season on the Bassmasters Elite circuit, was one of three anglers to weigh a five-fish limit all four days but the only one to record double-digit weights each day. He took the opening-round lead Thursday after registering 17 pounds, 14 ounces. Throughout the tournament, Gustafson did most of his damage early, catching his limit — or close to it — shortly after the start of fishing each day. But action Sunday was delayed roughly 90 minutes due to fog, creating questions whether Gustafson's fish would still be there once the final round opened. Gustafson quickly provided the answer, registering a five-fish limit before noon. Gustafson had some tense moments with his third fish, a three-pound smallmouth bass. He attempted to lift it into his boat in windy conditions, only to have it squirm loose and back into the water. Gustafson successfully landed it on his second try before quipping: "That might've been the ugliest fish catch of all time but it's in my livewell." Gustafson began Sunday's final seven pounds, 14 ounces ahead of Kennedy. Gustafson becomes just the second Canadian to win a Bassmaster Elite Series event. Chris Johnston, of Peterborough, Ont., accomplished the feat last year. Both Johnston and his older brother, Cory, of Cavan, Ont., competed in the semifinal round Saturday. Cory Johnston finished 45th overall (18 pounds, nine ounces) while Chris Johnston was 50th (13 pounds 12 ounces). The top-10 anglers after Saturday's round qualified for Sundays final. All three Canadians are in their third season on the Elite Series. The trio qualified last year for the Bassmaster Classic, the circuit's premier event that offers a US$300,000 prize for the tournament winner. This year's Classic will be held in June on Lake Ray Roberts in Fort Worth, Tex. Gustafson was 24th in the season-opening event on the St. John's River in Palatka, Fla., two weeks ago. The next tournament is March 18-21 on Pickwick Lake in Florence, Ala. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021. The Canadian Press
(Vernon Ramesar/CBC - image credit) The local MLA says the loss of 150 jobs at Stanfield's in Truro, N.S., is a blow to the community. The company, a fixture in the community for more than 150 years, recently lost a government contract to manufacture medical gowns. David Ritcey said the layoffs announced Friday are a hardship, especially with 55 jobs lost at the local RCMP communication centre that is moving to Dartmouth. "The great thing about this partnership was that we have another local company providing the fabric ... it was a really good community business partnership that helped Canadians," he said. Looking for other opportunities Ritcey said he has written to Lenore Zann, the MP for Cumberland-Colchester, requesting a meeting to see what other opportunities are available for Stanfield's in the federal tender process. In the meantime, he said he has been receiving "numerous calls" from employees of the company. Jon Stanfield, the company's chairman, CEO and president, did not reply to messages seeking an interview. Ritcey said Stanfield cares about his employees and having to let them go "broke his heart." He said the Stanfield family has been a staple in the community for a very long time. Jon Stanfield is president and CEO of Stanfield's Ltd. He said he is confident that Stanfield will find a way to keep the company going, "He's going to find a way to help Stanfield's continue and find a way to help Nova Scotians and Canadians with another opportunity, whatever that may be." 'They had this planned' One worker contacted Sunday said she is unhappy with the way the layoffs were handled. Alisabeth Legge, part of Friday's layoffs, said workers were "crowded" into a small room minutes before the end of their shift and told the news by Allan Henley, the vice-president of operations. She said a supervisor had told her earlier in the week that the company was aware it didn't get the contract, but "waited until the last minute" to tell employees. "They had this planned and had papers to give out and a speech ready to read, but yet waited 16 minutes until our shift was over and gave us no time to look for new employment or get our applications in to EI," Legge said. The garment manufacturer had laid off much of its staff in March 2020 after the pandemic played havoc with its sales. Stanfield approached the federal government about manufacturing the gowns, which were in demand at the time. At the end of last March, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that Stanfield's would be manufacturing PPE for health-care workers. Ottawa provided Stanfield's with just under $28 million to retool and reconfigure its facility for the new work. The company was able to bring back many of the employees laid off just weeks before. MP Lenore Zann said she is disappointed and worried about the workers. Zann said the initial arrangement was reached because there was an urgent need. But the government put out a new tender last October. She said that by that time many Canadian companies had retooled and Public Services and Procurement Canada used a competitive bidding process. In late February, nine of 71 companies that bid for the work were chosen and Stanfield's was not one of them. Zann said she doesn't yet know which companies were chosen. "It's very disappointing and I'm worried for the workers," she said Sunday. "I think I'm going to suggest that I meet with them and help figure out steps going forward as to how I can actually help them and what kinds of solutions we can come up with." As recently as Feb. 22, the company posted on Facebook that production was in "full swing" and that it was proud to be making PPE for front-line workers. Zann said Stanfield sent her a text on Friday telling her he had sent out layoff notices to 150 employees. She said he told her the previous week that he didn't think his company would be awarded a second tender. Zann said she has been in contact with other federal departments to see if there are other opportunities for Stanfield's. "I don't know what is in store, but I'm certainly going to be doing everything I can to try and help them continue," she said. "Nova Scotians are hardy people and we've certainly been through a lot lately. But we will continue and we will get beyond this." MORE TOP STORIES
One of the town’s timeless traditions returns for the first time this year on March 6. The Orangeville Winter Farmer’s Market is scheduled to be held at the Tony Rose Memorial Sports Centre’s B-rink at 6 Northmen Way to allow for expand social distancing. This is not a permanent move. They will be downtown again. “People are trying to support the market,” said Alison Scheel, general manager of the Orangeville Business Improvement Area (OBIA). “ (Online orders) grow steadily every market Saturday. It started slow, but it picked up.” The B-rink location offers plenty of space for safe social distancing and can accommodate 50 people at one time. It will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. every other Saturday. Products include maple syrup, honey, falafels, cheese, bread, lamb meat, chicken, baked goods and prepared meals. The market was once held downtown near town hall, where vendors attracted mainly casual shoppers who happened to live nearby. It will return. The market was closed in January and February because of the mandated governmental shutdown. They were still providing preorder and pickup options for interested customers. Scheel said they average about 300 to 350 people every market Saturday as it is only held two times a month. The entrance to the market is located south of the parking lot. There will be no access through the main door. Most vendors will attend every other market, but some will alternate or change from market to market. Scheduled vendors include Bennington Hills Farm, Rasmi’s Falafel and Wild Culture Ferments, along with others. They will all be positioned at least 10 feet apart. “Customers leave their contact information at the door for contact tracing purposes,” said Scheel. “Everyone in the building has to wear a mask, and the vendor has to distance.” Organizers will not permit customers to touch the products or produce, as most items will be pre-bagged. For more information, visit www.downtownorangeville.ca and click on the farmers' market tab. Joshua Santos, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Orangeville Banner
(Leah Hennel/AHS - image credit) Alberta reported 301 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, a day before an expected announcement from the government about whether it will ease some public health restrictions. Active cases stood at 4,585 across the province on Sunday. Alberta reported three additional deaths from COVID-19 since Saturday's update, including a woman in her 90s connected to the outbreak at Youville long-term care home in St. Albert. A woman in her 70s from the Edmonton zone and a man in his 70s from the Calgary zone were the other two reported deaths on Sunday. The province set out two benchmarks to consider before moving between different steps of its plan to lift restrictions: time and hospitalizations. Monday will mark the specified three weeks since the province moved into Phase 1, when restaurants and bars were permitted to reopen for indoor service. The province remains well below its 450 hospitalizations benchmark for moving to Step 2. Hospitalizations dropped by 12 since yesterday's update, with 250 people in hospital, including 46 who are in intensive care units, according to numbers posted by Alberta Health on Sunday. If the province announces Monday its intent to move to Step 2 — which could see Alberta let up capacity limits on retail and reopen banquet halls — it may be another week before those eased restrictions come into force. Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the province's chief medical officer, has said the province will strive to give businesses a week to prepare for changes to public health restrictions. Healthcare workers administered another 8,982 vaccine doses yesterday, bringing the total to 227,678. As of Sunday's update, 87,695 Albertans had been fully immunized with two doses of vaccine. Provincial labs completed 7,503 COVID tests on Saturday, with a positivity rate of 4.03 per cent. The number of COVID-19 virus variants, of the kind first identified in the U.K., increased by 27 cases to a total 422 in the province. Here is the breakdown of active cases by health zone: Calgary zone: 1,551 Edmonton zone: 970 Central zone: 670 South zone: 319 North zone: 1,059 Unknown: 15 As part of its continuing investigation, Parkland County RCMP said officers attended on Sunday another over-capacity service at Gracelife Church, home to pastor James Coates who led the church in its open defiance of public health orders for months before his arrest. RCMP said it remained "engaged in continued consultations with several partner agencies to determine the most productive course of action," but no further information was available.
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
A father and son duo will take to the hills in freezing temperatures for charity this Saturday - and they'll be doing so without the benefit of proper winter wear. Brad Brown and his son will toboggan down Murray’s Mountain Park wearing bathing suits at noon. The challenge is part of the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Ontario in his bathing suit. “I jumped in cold water already in the middle of February,” said Brown. “My son has done it too. Last year was his first time jumping in the pool.” Brown is one of the basketball coaches for Special Olympics Dufferin. He is also involved in curling and bocce ball. His son is also an autistic athlete. Brown and his colleagues, of about four coaches, participated in various activities. As a group, they set a goal of $3,000 and raised $3,500. Brown set a goal of $300 himself and has surpassed that amount with $460. His son raised $430 himself as well. About 70 per cent of the funds raised will be sent to Special Olympics Dufferin, with the remaining 30 per cent to the parent organization, Special Olympics Ontario. Other participants plunged into a water body, such as a lake or river, to raise awareness and funds for the campaign. Some of his colleagues, the other coaches, have opted to plunge at a lake elsewhere. He couldn’t go deciding to do a different activity. Those registered for a polar plunge of their own will receive a polar plunge toque with a $30 registration fee. Those who raised $100 will receive a commemorative long-sleeve shirt. Those who raised $500 will get you a YETI 26-ounce bottle with a triple haul cap, the top individual fundraiser, Special Olympics athlete, and volunteer fundraiser gets an Xbox One. The most creative video plunge gets a weighted blanket. The park has “use at your own risk” signs in place, redacting a previous ban on tobogganing altogether. Brown would usually participate in the annual event in Shelburne, but he decided to do it close to home with no end in sight with the pandemic here. “We normally do it in Shelburne, as a big group, but because of COVID, everybody is back home and told to do it virtually and do what you can,” said Brown. “I don’t have a pool or anything, so we decided we’re going to toboggan in our bathing suits.” Polar plunges began on Feb. 1 and ran until Feb. 28. To take part in the fundraising effort, visit www.polarplunge.ca. Joshua Santos, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Orangeville Banner
WASHINGTON — Nearly 4 million doses of the newest COVID-19 vaccine will be shipped Sunday night, and will begin to be delivered to states for injections starting on Tuesday. White House COVID-19 co-ordinator Jeff Zients announced that the entire stockpile of the newly approved single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine will go out immediately. J&J will deliver about 16 million more doses by the end of March and 100 million total by the end of June. Though the new shot is easier to administer and requires only one dose, the administration is not altering its distribution plans. Zients says, “We’re distributing the J&J vaccine as we do the Moderna vaccine and the Pfizer vaccine.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, the chair of the White House equity task force, encouraged Americans to take the first dose available to them, regardless of manufacturer. ___ THE VIRUS OUTBREAK: — Fraud is overwhelming pandemic-related unemployment programs. J&J’s one-dose shot cleared, giving U.S. a 3rd COVID-19 vaccine to use. Health experts are urging Pope Francis to rethink his March trip to Iraq, saying that could become a huge superspreading event for the virus. Plunging demand for COVID-19 tests may leave US exposed. Biden team readies a broader economic measure after virus relief. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak ___ HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING: WASHINGTON — A U.S. advisory panel has endorsed the new one-dose COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson as a third option to bolster the national effort against the coronavirus pandemic. Advisers to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voted overwhelmingly to recommend the vaccine for adults 18 years old and up. The ruling followed emergency clearance of the vaccine by U.S. regulators a day earlier. Members of the group emphasized that all three vaccines now available in the U.S. are highly protective against the worst effects of the virus, including hospitalization and death. J&J plans to ship several million vaccine doses to states in the coming week, delivering a total of 20 million shots by the end of March. Health officials are eager to have an easier-to-use vaccine against COVID-19, which has killed more than 511,000 Americans and continues to mutate in troubling ways. CDC recommendations are not binding on state governments or doctors, but are widely heeded by the medical community. The same CDC panel previously recommended use of the two vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna authorized in December. __ SALT LAKE CITY — Utah is cancelling about 7,200 coronavirus vaccine appointments after an error in the state health department’s registration website allowed people without qualifying conditions to register for the shots. Department spokesman Tom Hudachko said in a statement that the error allowed residents who are not 65 or older or who don’t have an underlying medical condition to sign up. The Salt Lake Tribune reported Sunday those appointments are being cancelled. People who meet the state’s conditions can keep their vaccine appointments scheduled through Vaccinate.utah.gov. Public school teachers and first responders also are eligible for vaccines. Utah so far has administered more than 680,000 vaccine doses and estimates that 10% of its 3.2 million population has been fully vaccinated. ___ ATHENS, Greece — Greek health authorities have announced that 70 specialized intensive care units will be added to Athens hospitals as high hospitalization rates have nearly filled the available ones. The Athens area along with several others across the country are under lockdown until March 8, with most shops closed, schools operating on distance learning and a 9 p.m. curfew, but many experts talk of extending this for at least another week. On Sunday, authorities announced 1,269 new COVID-19 cases, along with 36 deaths. This brings the number of confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic to 191,100, with 6,504 deaths. There are 391 patients on ventilators in ICUs, close to a record high. ___ RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s capital has entered a two-week lockdown, joining several states in adopting measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 as intensive care beds begin to fill in some important cities. At least eight Brazilian states adopted curfews over the past week due to the rise in cases and deaths from COVID-19. Thursday was Brazil’s deadliest day since the beginning of the pandemic, with 1,541 deaths confirmed from the virus. So far 254,000 people have died overall. Brasilia Gov. Ibaneis Rocha decreed the total closure of bars, restaurants, shopping malls and schools until March 15 and prohibited gatherings of people. Sale of alcoholic beverages was prohibited after 8 p.m. In the federal district, 85% of hospital beds were occupied on Sunday, according to the local health ministry. President Jair Bolsonaro again criticized such measures, saying on his Twitter account: “The people want to work.” He threatened on Friday to cut off federal emergency pandemic assistance to states resorting to lockdowns. ___ ROME — While new COVID-19 cases surge in Italy’s north, the island of Sardinia has earned coveted ‘’white zone’’ status, allowing for evening dining and drinking at restaurants and cafes and the reopening after months of closure of gyms, cinemas and theatres. Earlier this year, the Italian government added ‘’white zone’’ status to its colour-coded system of restrictions on businesses and schools, with “red zone” designation carrying the strictest measures. Starting on Monday, the region of Sardinia, with an incidence of fewer than 50 cases per 100,000 residents, will be able to allow the most liberties since a second wave of coronavirus infections last fall prompted the government to tighten restrictions nationwide after easing them during summer. The Health Ministry report covering the third week of February shows nationwide incidence was 145 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, and several regions had far higher incidence. The Mediterranean island of Sardinia is a popular vacation destination. Last summer, crowds at seaside discos and clubs there were cited as a factor in the climb in an explosion of cases in Italy in the last months of 2020. ___ TEHRAN, Iran — Iran has surpassed 60,000 known coronavirus-related deaths, the latest grim milestone for the hardest-hit country in the Middle East. The Health Ministry reported 93 new deaths from COVID-19 on Sunday and more than 8,000 new infections, pushing the total infection count over 1.63 million. After more than a year of the pandemic, deaths from COVID-19 recently have declined in Iran as movement restrictions in the capital have set in, including inter-city travel bans, mask mandates and school closures. The government on Sunday banned incoming travellers from a list of 32 countries, including Britain and other states in Africa and Latin America, due to fears of new virus variants. Over the year, Iran has struggled with surges that at times overwhelmed its health system as authorities resisted a total lockdown to salvage an economy crippled by U.S. sanctions. Iran’s vaccine drive recently has gotten underway, with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine administered to health workers this month. An additional 250,000 doses by the Chinese state-backed pharmaceutical Sinopharm arrived in Iran over the weekend. The country is also accelerating efforts to produce a domestic vaccine, beginning human trials for its second vaccine on Sunday. ___ BERLIN — The German disease control agency is adding France’s Moselle region to its list of areas with a high rate of variant coronavirus cases, meaning travellers from there will face additional hurdles when crossing the border into neighbouring Germany. The Robert Koch Institute said Sunday that the restrictions would come into force at midnight on March 2, putting Moselle on a par with countries such as the Czech Republic, Portugal and the United Kingdom. Travellers from those areas must produce a recent negative coronavirus test before crossing the German border. The measure is likely to affect many people who live on one side of the frontier and work on the other. The Moselle region in northeastern France includes the city of Metz and borders with the German states of Saarland and Rhineland-Palatinate. Clement Beaune, the French minister for European affairs, said France regrets the decision and is in negotiations with Germany to try to lighten the measures for 16,000 inhabitants of Moselle who work across the border. ___ LONDON — Britain’s government says families with children in school will be provided with free coronavirus home test kits as part of plans for schools to reopen beginning on March 8. Free, twice-weekly tests will be provided to children’s households regardless of whether anyone has symptoms, officials said Sunday. The tests will also be offered to adults working with schools, including bus drivers. Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said testing family members will provide “another layer of reassurance to parents and education staff that schools are as safe as possible.” Schools in England have been closed except to children of key workers since January. Britain is also racing ahead with its vaccination program, with almost 20 million in the U.K. who have now had a first jab. Some 2 million people aged 60 to 63 in England will start getting invitations to book their shots beginning on Monday. The government aims to offer a first jab to all adults by the end of July. Britain has Europe’s worst virus death toll at nearly 123,000 dead. ___ BUDAPEST — Hungary’s prime minister on Sunday received a COVID-19 vaccine developed in China as his country aims to boost vaccination rates using jabs developed in eastern countries. Prime Minister Viktor Orban posted photos on Facebook of himself being inoculated with the Sinopharm vaccine. Hungary last week became the first country in the European Union to begin using the Chinese jab. Hungary’s government has been critical of the speed of the EU’s vaccination program, and has purchased vaccines from Russia and China to boost procurements. “The vaccines reserved by the EU are simply not arriving, and they are arriving more slowly than predicted. If we didn’t have the Russian and Chinese vaccines, we would be in big trouble,” Orban said during a radio interview on Friday. He earlier said he would choose to receive the Sinopharm vaccine because he trusted it the most. ___ ROME — Infectious disease experts are expressing concern about Pope Francis’ upcoming trip to Iraq, given a sharp rise in coronavirus infections there, a fragile health care system and the unavoidable likelihood that Iraqis will crowd to see him. No one wants to tell Francis to call it off, and the Iraqi government has every interest in showing off its relative stability by welcoming the first pope to the birthplace of Abraham. The March 5-8 trip is expected to provide a sorely-needed spiritual boost to Iraq’s beleaguered Christians. But from a purely epidemiological standpoint, a papal trip to Iraq amid a global pandemic is not advisable, health experts say. “I just don’t think it’s a good idea,” said Dr. Navid Madani of Harvard Medical School’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “This could potentially lead to unsafe or superspreading risks.” Their concerns were reinforced with the news Sunday that the Vatican ambassador to Iraq, the main point person for the trip, tested positive for COVID-19 and was self-isolating. The embassy said Archbishop Mitja Leskovar’s symptoms were mild and that he was continuing to prepare for Francis’ visit. Beyond his case, experts note that wars, economic crises and an exodus of Iraqi professionals have devastated the country’s hospital system, while studies show most of Iraq’s new COVID-19 infections are the highly-contagious variant first identified in Britain. ___ ANKARA, Turkey — Travelling across roads covered with ice and snow, vaccination teams have been going to Turkey’s isolated mountain villages as the government seeks to inoculate 60% of the country’s people against coronavirus over the next three months. After much effort, medical workers arrived Friday to vaccinate older villagers in Gumuslu, a small settlement of 350 in the central province of Sivas that lies 140 miles (230 kilometres) from the provincial capital. “It’s a difficult challenge to come here,” said Dr Rustem Hasbek, head of Sivas Health Services. “The geography is tough, the climate is tough, as you can see.” Turkey rolled out the Chinese Sinovac vaccine on Jan. 14 and has so far given out 8.2 million doses. Ankara has also ordered 4.5 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca said Turkey aims to vaccinate 52.5 million people by the end of May. ___ HELSINKI — Police in Denmark said eight people were arrested following in an anti-lockdown demonstration with 1,200 participants in the centre of Copenhagen, the Danish capital. The demonstration proceeded largely peacefully Saturday but those detained are suspected of behaving violently against police or violating fireworks regulations, police said. Participants gathered in a square in front of Copenhagen’s town hall. The rally was organised by a group identifying as “Men in Black Denmark.” It was the first demonstration in Copenhagen since the Danish government last week that it was extending several anti-coronavirus restrictions. ___ BANGKOK — Thailand started its first vaccinations Sunday with 200 public health officials receiving the Sinovac vaccine from China. Health Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Anutin Charnvirakul was given the first shot at a hospital near Bangkok, followed by the deputy health minister and other senior officials. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who attended the vaccination ceremony, said the public should have confidence in the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, as it has been approved by authorities in Thailand and other countries. Prayuth did not receive the vaccine on Sunday because he is older than Sinovac’s recommended age, which is 18-59. Prayuth is 66. Thailand received the first 200,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine on Wednesday. They are part of the government’s plan that has so far secured 2 million doses from Sinovac and 61 million doses from AstraZeneca. Thailand has had more than 25,000 confirmed cases and 83 deaths from COVID-19. ___ WASHINGTON — The U.S. now has a third vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday cleared a Johnson & Johnson shot that works with just one dose instead of two. Health experts have anxiously awaited a one-and-done option to help speed vaccinations. The virus has already killed more than 510,000 people in the U.S. and is mutating in increasingly worrisome ways. The FDA said J&J’s vaccine offers strong protection against what matters most: serious illness, hospitalizations and death. One dose was 85% protective against the most severe COVID-19 illness, in a massive study that spanned three continents. The Associated Press
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
(Sanjay Maru/CBC - image credit) A total of 61 students from three cohorts from W.J. Langlois Catholic Elementary School have been dismissed by the local health unit after receiving notice of three confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to a Saturday news release. The Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB) said it learned of the confirmed cases on Saturday and informed the affected students that they are not to return to school on Monday. "We have been working with the health unit by providing lists of students and staff who may have been directly affected. The health unit is contacting any individuals, both students and staff, who may have been affected, and will give directions for them to follow," the statement reads. A voice message was sent to the school community informing parents that those who have not been contacted by the health unit have "not been identified as close contacts and their children may continue attending school as usual. Follow-up letters will be sent home with students." The whole school was previously dismissed due to an outbreak late last year. The school board urges parents to continue monitoring their children for symptoms of COVID-19 each morning and to keep them at home and call their health care provider for further direction if they are sick. "We want to assure parents that we are cooperating with the health unit and doing everything we can to make sure that we continue to provide safe and healthy learning environments for their children," the statement reads. More information can be found on the school board's websiite.
(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
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
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern): 5:55 p.m. Alberta has recorded 301 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, along with three additional deaths. According to the province's website, 29 of its new cases come from the virus variatn first identified in the United Kingdom. The province has 4,584 active COVID-19 cases and 250 patients currently hospitalized with the virus. Alberta is reporting a test positivity rate of four per cent. --- 4:20 p.m. Prince Edward Island is entering a 72-hour lockdown starting at midnight as the province struggles to contain an outbreak of COVID-19. The short-term public health order was announced this afternoon as officials reported five new infections of the disease, for a total of 17 cases in the past five days. The new infections include two males, both in their 20s, and three females, two in their 20s and one in her 50s. Health officials have identified two clusters of COVID-19 in the cities of Summerside and Charlottetown, and say it’s possible the island has community spread of the virus as many infections cannot be linked to travel. --- 3 p.m. Saskatchewan is reporting 141 new COVID-19 cases today, but no new deaths linked to the virus. The province says its seven-day average of new cases is 146, which it says works out to 11.9 new cases per 100,000 people. There were 1,662 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the province on Saturday, raising the total number to 78,226 delivered so far. --- 2:05 p.m. Manitoba is reporting two new deaths in people with COVID-19. One was in his 80s, the other was in her 90s, and both were from the Winnipeg health region. The province says there were 50 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed as of 9:30 a.m. this morning. Most of Manitoba's new cases are in the Winnipeg and Northern health regions, with each recording 21 new infections. So far, the province says it has recorded five cases of the virus variant first identified in the United Kingdom. --- 1:50 p.m. Nova Scotia is reporting three new cases of COVID-19 in the province today. Health officials say the cases are spread out across the province, with the central, eastern and northern regions each recording one new infection. Officials say one of the cases is a close contact of a previous case, while two are related to travel outside Atlantic Canada. Nova Scotia has 38 active cases of COVID-19, with two people currently in hospital. --- 1 p.m. Health authorities in Newfoundland and Labrador have diagnosed seven new cases of COVID-19 today, bringing the total number of active infections to 262. The province says all seven cases are in the Eastern Health region, which includes St. John’s. Officials say four of the infections were identified in individuals aged 20 to 39, while one patient was under 20 years old, one was aged 40 to 49 and one was aged 50 to 59. The new cases identified include three females and four males. Officials say there are currently 10 people in hospital with COVID-19, with six of those patients in intensive care. --- 11:30 a.m. Quebec is reporting 737 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths due to the virus. Four of the deaths occurred in the last 24 hours, while the rest took place earlier. Hospitalizations rose by two to 601. Of those, 117 patients are in intensive care, which is five more than a day earlier. The province gave 12,469 doses of vaccine on Saturday for a total of more than 432,000 since the pandemic began. --- 11 a.m. Health officials in New Brunswick say a 90-year-old resident of an adult residential facility in Edmundston has died as a result of underlying complications including COVID-19. The case brings the total number of deaths in the province related to the novel coronavirus disease to 27. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell says the loss of another New Brunswicker is a sad moment for the province and is something that never gets easier. The number of active cases in New Brunswick stands at 38, with one patient currently hospitalized in intensive care. --- 10:45 a.m. Ontario is expanding its list of vaccine recipients to include those experiencing homelessness even as it passes a bleak new milestone in the fight against COVID-19. The province has officially logged more than 300,000 COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic and is just shy of 7,000 total deaths. Ontario added 1,062 new infections to its count today for a total of 300,816, while 20 new deaths bring the overall toll to 6,980. Meanwhile Toronto says it willbegin vaccinating residents of its shelter system this week after getting the green light from the province over the weekend. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021. The Canadian Press