All international travellers arriving at Toronto Pearson Airport now have to be tested for COVID-19. Ontario introduced the rule Monday. The federal government is expected to put hotel quarantine requirements in place as early as Thursday.
All international travellers arriving at Toronto Pearson Airport now have to be tested for COVID-19. Ontario introduced the rule Monday. The federal government is expected to put hotel quarantine requirements in place as early as Thursday.
Former President Donald Trump has clashed again with his Republican Party, demanding that three Republican groups stop using his name and likeness for fundraising, a Trump adviser said on Saturday. The adviser, confirming a report in Politico, said lawyers for Trump on Friday had sent cease-and-desist letters to the Republican National Committee, National Republican Congressional Campaign and National Republican Senate Campaign, asking them to stop using his name and likeness on fundraising emails and merchandise.
HONG KONG — A group of 11 Hong Kong pro-democracy activists accused of subversion will stay in jail for at least another five days while judges consider whether to release them on bail, a court said Saturday. The group, which includes three former legislators, will have hearings Thursday and on March 13, the High Court said. A court agreed this week to release them but prosecutors appealed the decision. They are among 47 people who were charged under a national security law imposed on the Chinese territory last year by the ruling Communist Party after pro-democracy protests. They were arrested after opposition groups held an unofficial vote last year to pick candidates for elections to the territory’s Legislative Council. Some activists planned, if elected, to vote down major bills in an attempt to force Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to resign. The national security law was imposed following months of rallies that began over a proposed China extradition law and expanded to include demands for greater democracy. The law prompted complaints Beijing is undermining the “high degree of autonomy” promised when the former British colony returned to China in 1997, and hurting its status as a business centre. People convicted of subversion or other offences under the law can face penalties of up to life in prison. Hong Kong traditionally grants bail for non-violent offences but the new law says bail cannot be granted unless a judge believes the defendant “will not continue to commit acts endangering national security.” On Friday, four of the 47 people charged were released on bail after prosecutors dropped a challenge to the decision. The group due to appear in court Thursday includes former legislators Helena Wong, Jeremy Tam and Kwok Ka-ki. The next hearing for the 47 defendants is May 31. The Associated Press
The manager of the laboratory responsible for processing a huge spike in COVID-19 tests in the past week says staff are doing "an incredible job" of keeping pace with the demand. "Of course I'm biased here because I'm in the middle of it," said Charles Heinstein, the manager of the primary microbiology lab for the central zone. "It's been definitely some of the busiest times of my career here in Nova Scotia Health, but we're hanging in here." Staff have been scrambling to process thousands of tests. Records have been broken three times this week, culminating in 6,875 tests processed on Tuesday. Not bad for a lab whose testing capacity is about 5,000. 'It's hard to sustain' "What we have the ability to do is stretch our capacity on a given day," Heinstein said. "For us to sustain almost 7,000 tests ... it's hard to sustain that for any period of time. So we can sustain it for two or three days, but then it has to draw down back to a more sustainable capacity." Before COVID-19 hit, the microbiology lab would process about 600-800 tests per day, and in the particular section where the molecular COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are analyzed, "big weeks in there would be 150 to 200 samples in the whole week," Heinstein said. "The scale of what's going on … is pretty impressive." Heinstein said while the lab has the ability to analyze about 10,000 tests per day, it's the clerical work associated with processing tests — verifying names, health card numbers and dates of birth, as well as labelling the samples with a barcode that tracks that information — that slows the system down. But over the next month or two, some new technology may speed up that process, Heinstein said. The lab has been drawing from every available resource within the system, as well as recruiting new workers and training them quickly to tackle the work. "All hands on deck is really what we've been preaching." A swab is taken at a pop-up COVID-19 testing site on the Dalhousie University campus in November.(Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press) As Nova Scotians continue to heed the calls from Dr. Robert Strang, the chief medical officer of health, to get tested, Heinstein's lab is always gearing up for the next big wave. He said after the lab saw a spike in testing last April and again in November, staff analyzed what worked and what didn't. The time will come for that again, but for now, lab workers are just trying to get through the current influx. "It's a bit of controlled chaos," Heinstein said. "So that's a little bit frazzled, but then on the opposite side of that is, staff are really proud, they're really happy, they're really invested in getting COVID tests out for Nova Scotians…. It's pretty neat to see the amount of teamwork." Testing FAQ Do daily stats of tests completed include rapid tests? No. The rapid tests completed at pop-up sites across the province are not included in the daily or cumulative figures. To date, 27,760 rapid tests have been conducted. Does the daily testing statistic reflect how many people were tested, or how many tests were processed in the lab? The daily stat shows how many PCR tests (non-rapid tests) were finished being processed in the lab. Does the number of new positives announced each day necessarily reflect swabs that were collected the day before? No. The number of positive cases is not necessarily based on the tests collected the day before, but rather the tests that were finished being processed in the lab the day before. So, for example, if 6,551 tests were processed on Wednesday, and on Thursday three new cases were announced, it doesn't mean the three positive swabs were collected on Wednesday. They may have been collected before Wednesday, but the lab only got around to processing them on Wednesday. Is the processing of tests prioritized in any way? Yes. Staff prioritize tests for people who need results urgently — for example, people who are about to be admitted to hospital or undergo surgery or be transferred to a long-term care facility. Why do test results sometimes come back at different times — even days apart — if two or more people got tested at the same time? The lab uses different systems to process tests so they can use a variety of reagents and not be limited to one supplier. Since the systems function differently — for example how the samples are loaded and how many samples can be loaded at the same time — the results can come back at different times. Why do some negative test results get delivered by email, while others get delivered with an automated phone call? If there is an error in the email address, if an email hasn't been opened after 24 hours, or if someone doesn't have a Nova Scotia health card, an automated call will be used instead. MORE TOP STORIES
The village of Chester wants to replace its 60-year-old firehall, located on Central Street, because it can no longer accommodate modern firefighting equipment. "The problem is the height of the doors," said Bill Nauss, the village commission's chairman. "It's hard to buy a fire engine that will fit in." So the village commission is using $625,000 from its reserves to buy the Windjammer Motel property, which is on the outskirts of the community, in hopes that a new facility can be built there. The site is about a kilometre from the current firehall. Nauss said it will provide easier access for volunteer firefighters. The move concerns John Redden, a fire consultant based in New Brunswick, who is familiar with the Chester Fire Service. "What they've done is move their firehall from the highest risk area to the outskirts," said Redden. "I think they're adding issues to the whole response curve of the fire department." The Windjammer Motel property is a possible location for a new firehall.(Steve Lawrence/CBC) Chester resident Tom Mulrooney, a former member of the village commission, said he is not happy with how the issue has been handled so far. Mulrooney is worried about it becoming a multi-million dollar project. "If they really believe that we needed this, they should have gone out and priced the whole thing, land, building, everything, and then have a meeting and present the whole package to the public," he said. According to Redden, Mulrooney's concern is valid because he's seen firehall projects that end up costing up to $5 million. But Nauss said a new firehall project will need approval from local residents and the Municipality of Chester as well as the blessing of the Municipal Affairs department before it can go ahead. "We're not trying to hide anything, everything will be transparent," said Nauss. "We are taking the most fiscal approach that we can possibly take." A new firehall will need approval from local residents and the Municipality of Chester as well as the blessing of the province before it can go ahead.(Steve Lawrence/CBC) The village commission has posted a list of questions and answers about the firehall issue. Nauss said even if the project is approved a new firehall won't be completed before 2023. Mulrooney is also concerned about the timing of the land acquisition, given that since 2019 the Municipality of Chester has been conducting a review of all fire stations in the area, including the one in the village. "It makes no sense," said Mulrooney. "Why is this study being ignored?" But the municipality's warden does not believe the new location for the village firehall will impact the assessment. "It's so close to where the firehall is now that it's insignificant," said Alan Webber. "In terms of responding outside of the village core it may even have a positive impact." The assessment is still in a draft form, is under review by a steering committee and has not yet been presented to the public. MORE TOP STORIES
After a stalled rollout, Ontario is aiming to approve dozens of cannabis retail outlets each week with the goal of hitting 1,000 stores across the province by the fall. But the prospect of more competition, especially during a pandemic, has some in the industry predicting a shakeout in the marijuana marketplace. Vivianne Wilson, the founder and president of GreenPort Cannabis on College Street in the heart of Little Italy, opened her story on Oct. 17, 2020 after waiting almost a year to get it approved. "We opened during the pandemic, so we don't know what normal is. As soon as we opened we were on lockdown again so people can't come into the store," she said. Wilson added that the retail experience is how she hoped to differentiate her store. GreenPort Cannabis employees fill orders during the store's grand opening on Oct. 17, 2020.(CBC) By last summer, Ontario had authorized just 100 cannabis retail stores, fuelling criticism that the slow rollout was hurting legal sales and helping the black market. Now the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which regulates the cannabis industry, is aiming to approve 30 retail store authorizations per week. But with in-store shopping curtailed in many regions due to COVID-19 restrictions, Wilson says it's been tough times for cannabis startups like hers. She's concerned about the impact all those new stores will have. "We opened a brand new business in a brand new industry during the pandemic, so those are huge strikes against any new business to begin with," she said. "It's inevitable that independent stores will feel that impact and I guess we'll have to wait to see see how dramatic it truly is." Trevor Fencott. the CEO and president of Fire and Flower, Canada's largest cannabis retail chain, says despite adding so many stores, Ontario's model doesn't work. He says having the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS), the Crown corporation that manages online retail also handle the wholesale distribution to private retailers, is a mistake. "There's an attempt to change the narrative, but really we're still where we were before, which is that the government is operating a monopoly in direct competition with private retailers." Trevor Fencott, president and CEO of Fire & Flower, says Ontario's private cannabis retailers must compete against a Crown corporation with a monopoly on wholesale distribution.(Fire & Flower) Fencott prefers the Saskatchewan model, where the government is the regulator, but not the wholesaler and retailer. He predicts that the OCS "taking gross margins from private retailers" will make them less competitive. "They are going to end up with fewer stores and perhaps that's the clarion call if these mom and pops are not able to sustain themselves. So it might take some business failures." Daffyd Roderick, the Ontario Cannabis Store's senior director of communications, says the cannabis sector is not immune to the factors that affect other retailers. "You see a real range of creative expression about what a cannabis store should look like across the province and that's the real gain in having the private sector involved. And that means some will be very successful and some are going to struggle." But Roderick says the last report for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2020 showed gains for the industry and healthy margins for private retailers. Ontario hit a high with $251 million in legal sales in the fourth quarter of last year. That's about about 32 million grams of weed, up 23 per cent over the previous quarter. That means the legal market has now captured 40 per cent of all cannabis sold in Ontario, up from 36 per cent. Daffyd Roderick, Ontario Cannabis Store’s senior director of communications, says COVID-19 has hit the cannabis sector hard, just as it has all other retailers. (Zoom) As for bankruptcies, consolidations and failures, he says the figures don't show there's a problem. "You're still seeing some stores changing hands. There will be successes there will be failures, but that's the nature of an open marketplace," he said. "We have yet to see a store close its doors since legalization occurred." Jay Rosenthal. the co-founder and president of the research and analysis firm Business of Cannabis, says while many stores are clustering in some Toronto-area communities, there are still many parts of Ontario where getting legal cannabis is still inconvenient. "Even with the ramp up ... saturation of cannabis retail stores is a long way off," said Rosenthal. He says where there is strong competition, retailers with capital and experience, such as, Value Buds, Fire & Flower, High Tide will thrive, but there is room for neighbourhood stores rooted in the community. Jay Rosenthal, co-founder and president of the Business of Cannabis, says while some communities in the Toronto area have complained of too many stores, there are still many parts of Ontario that are underserved.(supplied) In fact, even though the OCS offers lower prices online than private retailers, $6.40 per gram versus $9.45 per gram, customers seem to prefer their local stores. Almost 90 per cent of all legal cannabis in Ontario is bought from private retailers. "If consumers prefer buying from private retailers and COVID has shown that private retailers can responsibly and responsively offer products through e-commerce and delivery, why does the OCS have an e-commerce function at all?" asked Rosenthal. Back at GreenPort, Vivianne Wilson says OCS is appreciated by small and medium operators. "Having the OCS as a wholesaler negotiating for us, especially as an independent, is fantastic," she said. "I don't think that if they took that away we would be able to get the same price as a lot of wealthier corporations with more stores."
Have you ever wanted to try biking part of the Yukon? Now you can give it a test drive of sorts before actually going. A Yukon museum has a new venture which is part exercise video, part tourism ad. Janna Swales, executive director of the Yukon Transportation Museum, filmed a bike ride down the South Klondike Highway toward the White Pass. And now, the Yukon Transportation Museum project is allowing that video to be rented online. The idea is for people to watch the scenery, as they pedal on a stationary bike. "It reaches out to people in other parts of the world and they get to experience our roads, and perhaps pique their interest in coming to visit us when they're able to," Swakes said. Videos like this are becoming more common as more stationary bikes incorporate screens or tablets. Janna Swales, executive director of the Yukon Transportation Museum, recorded her point of view bike ride in the fall, beginning a new series called Yukon Spin.(Philippe Morin/CBC) Two videos have been released by the museum online so far. They are available for rental between $1.50 to $5. Swales says she'd like to record more videos when conditions are right. Future runs could include bike rides form Carcross Corner to Mt Lorne, the Silver Trail into Mayo and more. Swales says the videos are a novel way to discuss roads and transportation at a time when the museum is closed for renovations and dealing with COVID-19. The series is called Yukon Spin.
SYDNEY, Australia — Sydney’s annual iconic Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras went ahead on Saturday, only in a different format due to coronavirus restrictions. It was being held at the Sydney Cricket Ground, where people can socially distance in their seats rather than on the traditional route down Oxford Street. Up to 23,000 spectators will be allowed in the stands while the performers will be on the pitch. Organizers say this year’s parade will move away from the traditional large floats and instead focus on the outlandish pageantry of costumes, puppetry and props. Face masks will be mandatory for participants and there will be temperature checks and screening at entry points. Meanwhile, LGBTQI rights protesters have been given the green light to march down Oxford Street in a separate event before the parade. Health officials in New South Wales state agreed to make an exception to the 500-person limit on public gatherings after organizers agreed to enhanced contact-tracing processes. The marchers are protesting social issues including transphobia, the mandatory detention of asylum-seekers and the criminalization of sex work. The Associated Press
NICOSIA, Cyprus — Dozens of Orthodox Christian faithful held up wooden crosses and sang Church hymns outside of Cyprus' state broadcaster on Saturday to demand the withdrawal of the country’s controversial entry for the Eurovision song contest — titled “El Diablo” — that they say promotes satanic worship. Some of the protesters, including families, held up placards reading in Greek, “We’re protesting peacefully, no to El Diablo,” “Repent and return to Christ” and “Christ saves, Diablo kills.” The broadcaster and the singer of the song insist it has been misinterprested and the song is actually about an abusive relationship between two lovers. The protest came several days after the powerful Orthodox Church called for the withdrawal of the song that it said mocked the country’s moral foundations by advocating “our surrender to the devil and promoting his worship.” The Holy Synod, the Church’s highest decision-making body, said in a statement that the song “essentially praises the fatalistic submission of humans to the devil’s authority” and urged the state broadcaster to replace it with one that “expresses our history, culture, traditions and our claims.” Last week, police charged a man with uttering threats and causing a disturbance when he barged onto the grounds of the public broadcaster to protest what he condemned as a “blasphemous” song that was an affront to Christianity. The state broadcaster insisted that the entry won’t be withdrawn, but its board chairman, Andreas Frangos, conceded that organizers should have done a better job explaining the core message of the song, whose lyrics include, “I gave my heart to el diablo...because he tells me I’m his angel.” Even the Cypriot government waded into the controversy, with Presidential spokesman Viktoras Papadopoulos saying that although the views of dissenters are respected, the government cannot quash freedom of expression. “The Government fully respects creative intellectual and artistic freedom that cannot be misinterpreted or limited because of a song’s title, and unnecessary dimensions should not be attributed,” Papadopoulos said in a written statement. The song’s performer, Greek artist Elena Tsagrinou, said that the song is about a woman who cries out for help after falling for a “bad boy” known as “El Diablo” and coming to identify and bond with her abuser. Tsagrinou insisted that any other interpretation is “unfounded.” “The song sends a strong message, one against any form of abuse, such as the one conveyed in ‘El Diablo,’” Tsagrinou told The Associated Press in a written statement. “In these ‘Me Too Movement’ times that message is extremely relevant and can be felt not only in Cyprus but also across Europe and beyond.” She added that she is a Christian and her faith was very important to her. Addressing the song’s detractors, Tsagrinou said “we must all embrace the true and intended message of the song” and that people are now stepping forward with their own stories of abuse. “Music unites and empowers. Let’s focus on that and the important issues around us and leave misinterpretations and dark thoughts behind,” Tsagrinou said. Menelaos Hadjicostis, The Associated Press
After questioning in the legislature Friday from Liberal Heath MacDonald, Prince Edward Island Health Minister Ernie Hudson has committed to opening a supervised injection for drug users in the province, but did not put a timeline on when that might happen. Supervised injection sites can be found in most major cities across Canada. Staff do not supply or administer illegal drugs, but are there to supply clean needles, test a consumer's drugs for fentanyl, and to watch and help if anything goes wrong, such as an overdose. Depending on staffing, they might also offer other help for users, such as accessing social services and shelter. In question period in the legislature Friday, Hudson said he personally thinks supervised injection sites are a good idea, and his government will more forward with opening one, but that he needs time to discuss implementation with experts. "I do support it, I will move forward on this, I'm not going to stand here and give a date though," Hudson said. "Are we going to have safe injection site harm reduction in the next week, in the next two weeks? No, that's not going to happen. And at the end of the day, what is this going to look like? I really couldn't say," Hudson said. Hudson said he would be discussing the matter with groups such as the harm-reduction group PEERS Alliance (formerly AIDS P.E.I.). Advocates for harm reduction on the Island have been calling on the government to create a supervised injection site as soon as possible. Overdose deaths on P.E.I. From January to September of last year, six people died of opioid overdoses on P.E.I., three of them involving fentanyl. A week ago, P.E.I.'s coroner said a young woman died after accidentally consuming cannabis laced with fentanyl. Health Minister Ernie Hudson didn't make an announcement of a supervised consumption site on Friday, but under questioning he did commit to one. (P.E.I. Legislature) Just last week in neighbouring New Brunswick, the government announced it plans to implement overdose prevention sites this year as part of a new mental health and addictions strategy. A harm reduction group there, Ensemble Moncton, estimated the sites would each cost $100,000 to $300,000 a year to run, and would be less elaborate than a supervised injection site. Some supervised injection sites, like one opened last year in Saskatoon, are in the same building as drop-in centres which offer coffee and food, and family and shelter supports. More from CBC P.E.I.
CAMEROON, Cameroon — An attempt to get U.N. Security Council approval for a statement calling for an end to violence in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region and to spotlight the millions in need of humanitarian assistance was dropped Friday night after objections from India, Russia and especially China, U.N. diplomats said. Three council diplomats said Ireland, which drafted the statement, decided not to push for approval after objections from the three countries. The press statement would have been the first by the U.N.’s most powerful body on the Tigray crisis, which is entering its fourth month. Fierce fighting reportedly continues between Ethiopian and allied forces and those supporting the now-fugitive Tigray leaders who once dominated Ethiopia’s government and alarm is growing over the fate of Tigray’s 6 million people. No one knows how many thousands of civilians have been killed. On Tuesday, U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock warned that “a campaign of destruction” is taking place, saying at least 4.5 million people need assistance and demanding that forces from neighbouring Eritrea accused of committing atrocities in Tigray leave Ethiopia. The proposed statement made no mention of foreign forces or sanctions -- two key issues -- but did call “for an end to violence in Tigray.” The draft statement also noted “with concern” the humanitarian situation in Tigray, “where millions of people remain in need of humanitarian assistance” and the challenge of access for aid workers. It called for “the full and early implementation” of the Ethiopian government’s statements on Feb. 26 and March 3 committing to “unfettered access.” Council diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because consultations were private, said China wanted the statement to focus only on the humanitarian situation, with no reference to the violence in Tigray. India only wanted a minor change, and Russia reportedly supported its ally China at the last minute, the diplomats said. Accounts of a massacre of several hundred people by Eritrean soldiers in the holy city of Axum in Tigray have been detailed in reports by The Associated Press and then by Amnesty International. Federal government and regional officials in Tigray both believe that each other’s governments are illegitimate after elections disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Human Rights Watch echoed the reports on Friday, saying Eritrean armed forces “massacred scores of civilians, including children as young as 13," in the historic town of Axum in Tigray in November 2020. It called on the U.N. to urgently establish an independent inquiry into war crimes and possible crimes against humanity in Tigray. Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press
Juliana Aguero of London, Ont., knew she was going to have a tough time buying a house after she separated from her husband. "Every time, I lost the offer for $100,000 or something like that. It was crazy," said Aguero, who made about 10 offers on homes within a span of three months. The average price of a home in London is now more than $600,000. Aguero, who moved to Canada from Colombia 11 years ago, has two children with her ex-husband. The couple decided they wanted to live in the same neighbourhood — near Victoria Hospital — and raise their children together. Aguero is shown with her ex-husband, David Cuellar, and their children, Valeria and Santiago, when the couple was still married.(Submitted by Juliana Aguero) That's when Aguero found a three-bedroom condo listed for $330,000. It seemed like a good deal; other units in the building were listed for $20,000 more. Aguero offered $375,000. Paying it forward "When my realtor came, she actually started with Juliana's offer," said Damian Devonish, a London-based therapist with three children. "[She] said, 'This is a really touching story. I know your heart and I know that you will want to give it to her.'" Without her knowledge, Aguero's realtor had included a letter with her offer, detailing her client's backstory. Devonish, also a recent immigrant, arrived in Canada eight years ago from Barbados and believes strongly in paying it forward. "We don't know how life will treat us 10, 15, 20 years from now. So the best thing to do is to live it well today." Devonish, who moved to London from Barbados eight years ago, is shown with his three children, Destiny, Caden and Dasha. (Submitted by Damian Devonish) "I really didn't have a lot of money when I came to Canada," He said. "I was having difficulty getting a job because I needed a vehicle." Devonish found a car on Kijiji and remembers how the seller agreed to take $500 less for it, and he also threw in a set of winter tires. And that's why when Devonish reviewed all of the offers on his condo, and Aguero's was the lowest by about $50,000, he still accepted it. "I just feel so blessed," said Aguero, who takes possession of the home on May 6. "I've cried. I cannot believe there are people like Damian," she said. During an interview on CBC's London Morning, Aguero spoke directly to Devonish: "I'm absolutely sure you will receive many, many blessings in different ways. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, from the bottom of my heart." For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here. (CBC)
WARSAW, Poland — A bus carrying dozens of Ukrainian citizens rolled off an embankment into a ditch in Poland, killing six people and injuring 41, Polish media reported on Saturday. The accident occurred around midnight on the A4 motorway near the town of Jaroslaw, which is in southeastern Poland near the border with Ukraine. TNV24, a private all-news station, reported that the bus had a Ukrainian license plate and was travelling with 57 Ukrainian citizens, including two drivers. A large rescue operation early Saturday involved dozens of firefighters, paramedics and helicopters to transport the injured to hospitals. There was no immediate cause given for the accident. Ukrainians travel for work to Poland, a European Union state on Ukraine's western border. Ukrainians fill gaps in the labour market in Poland, which has experienced fast economic growth in recent years. The Associated Press
LONDON — Britain’s royal family and television have a complicated relationship. The medium has helped define the modern monarchy: The 1953 coronation of Queen Elizabeth II was Britain’s first mass TV spectacle. Since then, rare interviews have given a glimpse behind palace curtains at the all-too-human family within. The fictionalized take of Netflix hit “The Crown” has moulded views of the monarchy for a new generation, though in ways the powerful, image-conscious royal family can’t control. “The story of the royal family is a constructed narrative, just like any other story,” said Phil Harrison, author of “The Age of Static: How TV Explains Modern Britain.” And it’s a story that has changed as Britain moved from an age of deference to an era of modern social mores and ubiquitous social media. “The royals, particularly the younger royals, have moved from the realm of state apparatus to the realm of celebrity culture in recent decades,” Harrison said. “That’s worked well for them up to a point — but celebrity culture takes as well as gives and is notoriously fickle.” So anticipation and apprehension are both high ahead of Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan — the Duke and Duchess of Sussex — a year after they walked away from official royal life, citing what they described as the intrusions and racist attitudes of the British media toward the duchess, who is biracial. A clip released by CBS ahead of Sunday’s broadcast shows Meghan, a former TV star, appearing to suggest the royal family was “perpetuating falsehoods” about her and Harry. A look at some other major royal television moments, and their impact: PRINCESS DIANA The 1981 wedding of 32-year-old Prince Charles and 20-year-old Lady Diana Spencer at St. Paul’s Cathedral was a fairy-tale spectacle watched by an estimated 750 million people around the world. But the relationship soon soured. The couple separated in 1992, and in 1995 Diana gave a candid interview to the BBC’s Martin Bashir, discussing the pressure of media scrutiny and the breakdown of her marriage. “There were three of us in that marriage,” Diana said, referring to Charles’ relationship with Camilla Parker-Bowles. The interview prompted a wave of sympathy for Diana, seen by many as a woman failed by an uncaring, out-of-touch royal establishment — a pattern some say has repeated itself with Meghan. Charles and Diana divorced in 1996; Diana was killed in a car crash in Paris the following year, triggering intense public mourning and a period of reflection for the monarchy, which has since tried to appear more modern and relatable — with mixed results. ___ PRINCE ANDREW The biggest scandal to engulf the family in decades stems from the friendship between the queen's second son, Andrew, and wealthy convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who died in a New York jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges. One woman who says she was a victim of Epstein alleges she had sex with Andrew when she was 17, a claim the prince denies. The prince tried to undo the damage by giving an interview to the BBC’s “Newsnight” program in November 2019. It backfired spectacularly. Andrew appeared uncomfortable and evasive, and failed to convey empathy for those who say they were exploited by Epstein, even as he defended his friendship with the man. He called Epstein’s behaviour “unbecoming,” a term interviewer Emily Maitlis suggested was an understatement. Charlie Proctor, editor of the Royal Central website, said at the time that the interview was "a plane crashing into an oil tanker, causing a tsunami, triggering a nuclear explosion-level bad.” After the interview, Andrew announced he was “stepping back” from public duties. He has not returned. ___ SARAH, DUCHESS OF YORK Like Diana before her and Meghan since, Sarah Ferguson was a young woman who had a bruising collision with the royal family. She was initially welcomed as a breath of fresh air for the stuffy royals when she wed Prince Andrew in 1986. But she quickly became a tabloid target, dubbed “Freeloading Fergie” for allegedly scooping up freebies and spending more time vacationing than performing public duties. Some saw snobbery in coverage of a woman who, before and after her marriage, worked for a living and was open about her problems with weight, relationships and money. After her 1996 divorce, the duchess used television to speak out — frequently. She appeared on Winfrey’s show in 1996, saying palace life was “not a fairy tale.” She spoke to Winfrey again in 2010 after being caught on video offering access to her ex-husband for $724,000. The duchess said she had been drinking and was trying to help a friend who needed money. The following year she appeared in her own reality show, “Finding Sarah,” on Winfrey’s OWN network. The duchess was not invited to the 2011 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, in what was widely seen as a royal snub. ___ “THE CROWN” It may be fiction, but Netflix's “The Crown” is the most influential depiction of the royals in years. Over four seasons that have covered Elizabeth’s reign up to the 1980s, its portrait of a dutiful queen, prickly Prince Philip, oversensitive Prince Charles and the rest of the clan has brought the royal soap opera to a new generation. It is widely seen as helping the royals by humanizing them, though British Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden suggested it should come with a warning that it’s drama, not history. Prince Harry has defended the show — while underscoring that it's fiction — telling TV host James Corden that he was “way more comfortable with ‘The Crown’ than I am seeing stories written about my family or my wife.” Now Harry and Meghan are getting their chance to tell their story. It’s a high-stakes strategy, especially since the interview is airing as 99-year-old Prince Philip, Harry’s grandfather, in a London hospital after a heart procedure — timing critics have called insensitive. “I think this particular interview, like so many of those interviews, is going to do a great deal more harm to Harry and Meghan than anything to do with the British monarchy,” said royal historian Hugo Vickers. Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
The vaccine rollout for Albertans 75 and up began last Wednesday, and since then, more than 39,000 have gotten their first dose with more than 123,000 making appointments. This hasn't been without snags. Seniors have reported major issues with booking appointments. Carillon Cameron, 74, said she got her first dose at Skyview Centre the first day people were allowed to book. She is turning 75 this year. "It's got to be sheer luck," she said of how she got her dose so quickly. "I had a little team of family members working with me." Because of the teamwork, Cameron got in that evening at around 6:40. She said she waited in her car until about five minutes before her appointment, and encountered a massive lineup of people when she got out. People were not social distancing, she said, and things were generally chaotic. Cameron's anxiety was spiking. She said there could have been way better organization with the line outside, maybe someone at the door. "There was no information or anything I could see about what to do," she said. Once she got in, it was a different story. Things ran very smoothly and the person who vaccinated her was calm and professional. "It's an overused word, but … it was all very surreal. We've been thinking about this and dreaming about this and imagining about when the vaccine would happen and then to have it happen that fast, it was quite an emotional experience for me that way." 77-year-old Phillip Raworth just got his first dose Monday. Apart from some nausea, he said then that he was feeling really well. His booking experience was a little harried as well. He tried for a day to get through online and on the phone, with no luck. With some help from his daughter the next day, he was in. "It was frustrating, but I expected it to be, so I wasn't particularly surprised," he said. Raworth said he's lucky because the real line up began after he South Park Centre left Monday morning. Raworth joked that he has never been more rich, as the pandemic has grounded his usual travel plans. Another potential setback in the COVID journey is that his wife is in the vaccine age category below him, so she won't be vaccinated until later. "I would have preferred it obviously if she could have got it, then we both would be protected and we could perhaps go off on holiday [to B.C.]," he said. "Perhaps they had their reasons for it."
Ivory Coast voted on Saturday in a legislative election, with President Alassane Ouattara's allies facing a combined challenge from opposition parties led by two of his predecessors. The poll comes only months after Ouattara won a third term in an election marred by unrest that killed at least 85 people, the country's worst violence since a 2010-2011 civil war. After boycotting the presidential election in October to protest Ouattara's decision to seek a third term, the parties of former presidents Henri Konan Bedie and Laurent Gbagbo are fielding parliamentary candidates on joint lists.
OTTAWA — A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the judicial warrant process at Canada's spy agency — an issue that made headlines last summer — stretch back at least nine years. Internal reviewers found several of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service's preparatory steps for the execution of warrant powers needed strengthening. Among the shortcomings were insufficient training of personnel and a lack of quality-control measures. In underscoring the importance of the process, the report notes warrants are authorizations issued by a federal judge that enable CSIS to legally undertake actions, including surveilling people electronically, that would otherwise be illegal. "Failure to properly apply or interpret a warrant at the time of its execution exposes the Service to the risk of its employees committing unlawful actions, and in certain situations, criminal offences," the report says. "The investigative powers outlined in warrants must be exercised rigorously, consistently and effectively." Potential misuse of these powers could result in serious ethical, legal or reputational consequences that might compromise the intelligence service's integrity, the report adds. The Canadian Press requested the 2012 audit under the Access to Information Act shortly after its completion, but CSIS withheld much of the content. The news agency filed a complaint through the federal information commissioner's office in July 2013, beginning a process that led to disclosure of a substantial portion of the document more than seven years later. CSIS operates with a high degree of secrecy and is therefore supposed to follow the proper protocols and legal framework, particularly concerning warrants, said Tim McSorley, national coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, which includes dozens of civil society organizations. "Seeing a report like this, it just raises a concern ... to what degree they're really following that framework with the most rigour possible." CSIS can apply to the Federal Court for a warrant when intrusive collection techniques are needed because other methods have failed or are unlikely to succeed. Once a judge approves a warrant but before it is executed, a step known as the invocation process takes place. It involves a request from CSIS personnel to use one or more of the authorized powers and a review of the facts underpinning the warrant to ensure appropriate measures are employed against the correct people. However, the reviewers found CSIS policy did not "clearly define or document the objectives or requirements of the invocation process." "When roles and responsibilities are not documented, they may not be fully understood by those involved. As a result, elements of the process may not be performed, or be performed by people who do not have sufficient knowledge or expertise to do so." Overall, the report found the invocation process "needs to be strengthened" through a clear definition of objectives, requirements and roles, and better monitoring, training and development of quality-control procedures. In response, CSIS management spelled out a series of planned improvements for the auditors. But concerns have persisted about the spy service's warrant procedures. A Federal Court of Canada ruling released in July said CSIS had failed to disclose its reliance on information that was likely collected illegally in support of warrants to probe extremism. Justice Patrick Gleeson found CSIS violated its duty of candour to the court, part of a long-standing and troubling pattern. "The circumstances raise fundamental questions relating to respect for the rule of law, the oversight of security intelligence activities and the actions of individual decision-makers," he wrote. Gleeson called for an in-depth look at interactions between CSIS and the federal Justice Department to fully identify systemic, governance and cultural shortcomings and failures. The National Security and Intelligence Review Agency, the key watchdog over CSIS, is examining the issues. Another review, completed early last year by former deputy minister of justice Morris Rosenberg, called for improvements, including better training and clarification of roles, but stressed they would not succeed unless the "cultural issues around warrants" were addressed. CSIS spokesman John Townsend said the intelligence service continuously works to improve training and updates its policies and procedures accordingly, informed by audits, reviews and best practices. The Rosenberg review prompted CSIS to launch an effort last year to further the service's ability to meet its duty of candour to the court, resulting in a plan that was finalized in January, Townsend said. "The plan includes specific action items directed at ensuring the warrant process is more responsive to operational needs, documenting the full intelligence picture to facilitate duty of candour and ensuring CSIS meets expectations set by the Federal Court," he said. "In addition to training on CSIS's duty of candour already provided under the auspices of the project, additional training on a variety of operational issues including warrant acquisition will be developed by the project team and offered to employees." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 6, 2021. Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
Sea cucumbers are among the most bizarre looking creatures in the ocean. They are truly unique, not just in appearance, but also in their structure. They are echinoderms and they cover the sea beds worldwide. One of the most numerous of the sea animals, they are found in the shallows and also at great depths. Eyeless creatures, elongated in their shape and possessing leathery skin, they don't much resemble the animals that we know. They lack the bilateral symmetry of the majority of the creatures of the animal kingdom. Their bodies have five distinct sections instead of a left and a right. They are aptly named because most of them are close in appearance to a cucumber, they move almost imperceptibly slowly. They could easily be mistaken for a plant. Many are harvested and eaten throughout the world. But more important than their contribution to feeding the people in many countries, they provide a service for the ocean by filtering the water of bacteria, plankton and plant debris. Many species use their tentacles to draw food into their mouths as they slowly move over the ocean floor. Like millions of small ocean "Roombas", they work constantly, ridding the reefs, rocks, and sand bottoms of decaying plant matter. Without them, many animals would suffer from habitat loss. Algae that provide food could not grow and the silt and debris would simply accumulate and clog corals. Scuba divers enter the ocean with a sense of wonder for the incredible abundance of life that exists below the waves. The plants and animals there are unlike anything that we see above the surface. This undersea domain is alien and beautiful and each trip to the depths is an ad venture beyond description.
Calgary is expanding its Adaptive Roadways Program to include more roads starting today in order to provide more space for residents to physically distance as the weather warms. The program was first introduced last year as more people spent time outdoors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. City pathways were widened by closing certain roads and parking lanes to motor vehicles. Today, the city is closing two eastbound lanes on Memorial Drive between Ninth Street N.W. and the lower deck of the Centre Street bridge to cars. The city will also close the entire lower deck of the Centre Street bridge between Riverfront Avenue S.E. and Memorial Drive N.W. "What we're trying to do is really target areas that are super congested. And certainly we saw in Eau Claire the pathway system was packed last weekend," said Ward 7 Coun. Druh Farrell on the Calgary Eyeopener. "We knew the weather was going to be beautiful on this weekend. And so we're sort of monitoring it. And because we're in a state of emergency, the administration is being incredibly responsive." Other roadways already widened include: Riverfront Avenue S.E. — The westbound parking lane is closed between Fourth Street and First Street S.E. Crescent Road N.W. — The parking lane is closed going east between 7A Street N.W. and First Street S.E. 12th Street S.E. — The parking lane going south is closed between Eighth Avenue and 21st Avenue S.E. Farrell said city council has "learned to be more nimble in a whole number of different ways" and said pop-up patios will also be making a return. "What I've been hearing is people are pretty blue right now … they're tired. And so anything that we can do to get them out to enjoy the fresh air, we'll try and do," she said. The roadways remain widened seven days a week. More locations will be added over the course of the spring and summer.
NAIROBI, Kenya — The death toll has risen to at least 20 after a vehicle packed with explosives rammed into a popular restaurant in Somalia’s capital on Friday night, with 30 wounded, the government news agency reported Saturday. The Somali National News Agency cited the Aamin ambulance service for the death toll. Police spokesman Sadiq Ali Adan blamed the attack on the local al-Shabab extremist group, which is linked to al-Qaida and often targets Mogadishu with bombings. The Luul Yamani restaurant also was attacked last year. Some houses near the restaurant collapsed after the dinnertime blast, and police said that caused a number of deaths. Security in Mogadishu had been especially heavy, with thousands of government forces deployed in anticipation of a planned demonstration on Saturday by an alliance of opposition leaders over the country’s delayed national election. The demonstration was later postponed. The Associated Press
China's proposal for Hong Kong electoral reforms could prevent a "dictatorship of the majority", pro-Beijing Hong Kong lawmaker Martin Liao told Reuters on Saturday. The Chinese parliament is discussing plans to overhaul Hong Kong's electoral system to ensure Beijing loyalists are in charge. Hong Kong representatives, in Beijing for an annual session, say the change is necessary and desirable.