Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu travelled to Saudi Arabia and met its crown prince, an Israeli official said on Monday, in what would be the first publicly confirmed visit there by an Israeli leader as the countries close ranks against Iran. Earlier, Israeli media said Netanyahu had secretly flown on Sunday to Neom, on the Red Sea, for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Reports of the meeting between the crown prince and Netanyahu were denied by Saudi Arabia's foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud.
GENEVA — A panel of human rights experts working with the United Nations said Monday that former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn was wrongly detained in Japan and has urged “compensation” for him from the Japanese government.The Japanese government denounced the report as a “totally unacceptable” viewpoint that will change nothing in the country's legal process.In its opinion published Monday, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Ghosn’s arrest in Japan in late 2018 and early 2019 was “arbitrary” and called on Japan’s government to “take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Mr. Ghosn without delay.” A determination of whether detention is arbitrary is based on various criteria, including international norms of justice.While Ghosn is no longer in Japan, having fled in a dramatic operation that drew headlines worldwide, the opinion could weigh on minds in courtrooms in the country and beyond. It could affect, for example, the possible extradition of two Americans, Michael Taylor and his son Peter, whom Japanese prosecutors say helped the executive sneak out of Japan.Ghosn, a 66-year-old with French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, led Japanese automaker Nissan for two decades, rescuing it from near-bankruptcy. He was arrested in November 2018 on charges of breach of trust, in misusing company assets for personal gain, and violating securities laws in not fully disclosing his compensation. He denies wrongdoing.In December, he fled Japan to Lebanon while out on bail awaiting trial, meaning his case will not go on in Japan. Interpol has issued a wanted notice but his extradition from Lebanon is unlikely.The five-member working group, which is made up of independent experts, called on Japan to ensure a “full and independent investigation” of Ghosn’s detention, and asked the government “to take appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of his rights.”The working group said that “the appropriate remedy would be to accord Mr. Ghosn an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations."The opinions of the working group are not binding on countries but aim to hold them up to their own human rights commitments. Among its past rulings involved the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who was likewise deemed to have had his human rights violated.The panel, which is independent from the United Nations, noted a string of allegations from Ghosn and his representatives, such as that he was subjected to solitary confinement and long interrogations at day or night, and denied access to court pleadings. His team claimed that interrogations of Ghosn were aimed to extract a confession.Japan’s system has been repeatedly criticized by human rights advocates. The panel cited previous concerns about Japan’s so-called “daiyo kangoku” system of detention and interrogation that relies heavily on confessions and could expose detainees to torture, ill-treatment and coercion.Japan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the government had applied “appropriate procedures” in the case, and it could not provide full information to the working group before a trial had begun. For that reason, the ministry added, it would be inappropriate for the working group to make a decision on the Ghosn case “based on limited information and biased allegations” from him and his team.“The opinion is totally unacceptable, and is not legally binding,” the ministry statement said. It also warned that the opinion could set a dangerous precedent, and “encourage those who would stand criminal trial to entertain the idea that flight can be justified and prevent the realization of justice and the proper functioning of the criminal justice system in each country.”"Japan can by no means accept the opinion of the Working Group regarding the case of the defendant Carlos Ghosn," it added.Ghosn lawyer Jessica Finelle welcomed the “brave” decision by the panel and said its members had been “hard on the Japanese legal system” and the way that Japanese authorities treated Mr. Ghosn, "specifically, violating numerous times his presumption of innocence, presenting him as guilty, orchestrating two of his arrests with the media...”Ghosn was “very happy” and “relieved” about the opinion, she said."He is somehow is getting back his dignity because he’s been humiliated during this time that he was held in Japan,” she said.Ghosn has accused Nissan and Japanese officials of conspiring to bring him down to block a fuller integration of Nissan with its French alliance partner Renault SA of France.Ghosn's lawyers filed a petition with the working group in March last year, appealing to its role to look into cases in which governments are alleged to have wrongly detained individuals under agreed international human rights conventions.Its members declined to speak to reporters about the opinion, the U.N. human rights office said.____Jeffrey Schaeffer reported from Paris.Jamey Keaten And Jeffrey Schaeffer, The Associated Press
PARIS — The trial of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy for corruption and influence peddling was suspended Monday less than two hours after it started, to allow a medical report on one of the defendants.Sarkozy is accused of having tried to illegally obtain information from a magistrate about an investigation involving him in 2014.This is the first trial for the 65-year-old politician, who has faced several other judicial investigations since leaving office in 2012.He stands trial in a Paris court along with his lawyer Thierry Herzog, 65, and the magistrate, Gilbert Azibert, 73. They face a prison sentence of up to 10 years and a maximum fine of 1 million euros ($1.2 million.) They deny any wrongdoing.Sarkozy and Herzog are suspected of promising Azibert a job in Monaco in exchange for leaking information about an investigation into suspected illegal financing of the 2007 presidential campaign by France’s richest woman, L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.Sarkozy arrived at the court surrounded by his lawyers and bodyguards, in the presence of dozens of journalists. The Paris court has been placed under high security as hearings in the case, scheduled until Dec. 10, are taking place at the same time as another key trial — that of the 2015 attacks at the Charlie Hebdo offices and a kosher supermarket.The trial started Monday in the absence of Azibert, whose lawyer requested the hearings to be postponed. He argued his client's bad health makes it risky for him to travel and appear in court amid the coronavirus pandemic, leading the court to suspend proceedings pending an expert medical report. The trial will resume on Thursday.In 2014, Sarkozy and Herzog used secret mobile phones — registered to the alias name of “Paul Bismuth” — to be be able to have private talks as they feared their conversations were being tapped.Sarkozy and Herzog explained that they bought the phones to avoid being targeted by illegal phone tapping. Investigative judges, however, suspect they actually wanted to avoid being tapped by investigators.Judges have found that discussions between Sarkozy and his lawyer suggested they had knowledge that judicial investigators at the time tapped their conversations on their official phones — they mentioned “judges listening.”Sarkozy argued that he never intervened to help Azibert, who never got the job and retired in 2014.Investigative judges consider that as soon as a deal has been offered, it constitutes a criminal offence even if the promises haven't been fulfilled.Legal proceedings against Sarkozy have been dropped in the Bettencourt case.Sarkozy, a lawyer by training, pointed at judicial harassment, accusing judges of breaching lawyer-client privilege via wiretapping.“I don't want things that I didn't do to be held against me. The French need to know... that I'm not a rotten person,” he told BFM TV earlier this month.He said he was facing the trial in a “combative” mood.Sarkozy's predecessor, Jacques Chirac, was found guilty in 2011 of misuse of public money, breach of trust and conflict of interest and given a two-year suspended prison sentence for actions during his time as Paris mayor, before he was president from 1995 to 2007.Sarkozy’s name has appeared for years in several other judicial investigations.Allegations, which include illegal financing of his 2007 campaign by then-Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, cast a shadow over Sarkozy's comeback attempt for the 2017 presidential election.After failing to be chosen as candidate by his conservative party, he withdrew from active politics.Sarkozy remained the most popular figure amid French right-wing voters in recent years. His memoirs published this summer, “The Time of Storms,” was a bestseller for weeks.Sarkozy was handed preliminary charges including “illegal campaign financing” in the Libyan investigation, which has been underway since 2013 — and prompted the wiretapping of his phones.Earlier this month, French-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine retracted his previous statements that he delivered suitcases from Libya containing 5 million euros ($5.9 million) in cash to Sarkozy and his former chief of staff, Claude Gueant.Instead, he told news broadcaster BFM and magazine Paris-Match that there were “no Libyan financing.”Sarkozy said that the truth “finally comes out.”Financial prosecutors said in a statement that charges in the Libyan case are based “on strong or corroborated evidence that are not limited to one person’s statement only.”Meanwhile, the former president will stand another trial in spring 2021 along with 13 other people on charges of illegal financing of his 2012 presidential campaign.His conservative party and a company named Bygmalion are accused of using a special invoice system to conceal unauthorized overspending.They are suspected of having spent 42.8 million euros ($50.7 million), almost twice the maximum authorized, to finance the campaign, which ended up in victory for Socialist rival Francois Hollande.Nicolas Vaux-Montagny And Sylvie Corbet, The Associated Press
TORONTO — An escort home is planned today for an Ontario Provincial Police officer killed in the line of duty last week.The provincial police union says two OPP cruisers will accompany the hearse carrying Constable Marc Hovingh.The procession will leave a Toronto funeral home at noon and drive more than five hours to Little Current on Ontario's Manitoulin Island.According to the Special Investigations Unit, Hovingh and Gary Brohman were both killed Thursday after exchanging gunfire.Hovingh was one of the officers who responded to a call regarding an "unwanted man'' on a property in Gore Bay, Ont.Ontario's police watchdog says both Hovingh and Brohman died in hospital.The procession is scheduled to head north on Highway 400 to Highway 69, then follow highways 17 and 6 into Little Current. The association representing OPP officers encourages its members, other policing agencies, and the public to pay their respects along the route as the procession passes.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 23, 2020. The Canadian Press
WALKERTON – Despite an icy wind and requests for people to stay home because of COVID-19, a small group of people went to the Walkerton cenotaph to view an abbreviated Remembrance Day ceremony on Nov. 11. Most people remained safe at home and viewed the ceremony on Facebook. Brief though they were, the ceremonies in Walkerton and Mildmay were fitting and dignified. Although there were no parades, there were many wreaths set in place prior to the ceremony. There was a solemn two-minute silence. And there were heart-felt words from all levels of government. In Walkerton, representatives of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 102 were joined by members of the Ontario Provincial Police, MP Ben Lobb, MPP Lisa Thompson and Brockton Mayor Chris Peabody. The Legion and government representatives gave short speeches thanking those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom, and who continue to do so – members of the Armed Forces, police, emergency services and volunteers. Thompson spoke about a 97-year-old veteran who told her he hopes no one ever has to go through what he did. Peabody summed it up by stating, “Thank you for your service.” The poppies carefully placed beside many of the names on bricks in the walkway said the same thing. We will not forget. Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times
In May, the City of Mississauga gnashed its teeth. At the time, it was knee-deep in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. A number of long-term care homes in the city were in outbreak, with dozens of deaths recorded. Business owners were also hurting, their shuttered bars, restaurants and gyms collecting dust and debt. Inside City Hall, losses were mounting daily. Reluctantly, the City had been forced to let roughly 2,000 staff, mostly part-time, seasonal employees, go from its empty recreation facilities. Help eventually offered by the federal and provincial governments was still months away from materializing. Quietly, while the world was distracted, the Doug Ford PC government was forging ahead with its plans to seismically shift how developers pay for growth. Under the area of development subsidies known as a Community Benefits Charge (CBC), the Province was toying with new rules for planning. These fees are often paid by builders to create enhanced features such as green spaces or other amenities that are built using additional money charged to developers in exchange for project changes that generally create more profit, such as adding additional floors to a condo building. Changes were introduced as one of many initiatives in Bill 108 (More Homes, More Choice) — legislation that was almost universally decried around municipal council tables when it received royal assent in 2019. The Province allowed consultation in May (when Mississauga was preoccupied with its pandemic response) which revolved around parks. Just how much greenspace developers needed to provide for even more new residents that would eventually be housed in expanded projects, was a question that created tension. According to staff reports in Brampton and Mississauga at the time, the proposed changes meant developers would pay less to cities, for the features they have for decades been expected to provide when building large residential projects. Municipalities, under the PC government’s plan, would be worse off, while developers would be further ahead. “At a time when we are grappling with the unprecedented financial impacts of COVID-19, the proposed Community Benefits Charge will leave Council [with] even more difficult decisions,” then City Manager, Janice Baker, told Mississauga Council. Under the current rules, developers have to offer a certain amount of parkland to cities and, if they want to reduce that amount, they have to pay a fee. The CBC proposals limited parkland related contributions to 10 percent of the land’s value for high-rise buildings, meaning the projects with the most residents would offer the least public space per capita. “The proposed CBC weakens the link between population growth and the increased need for services,” a Mississauga staff report earlier in the year stated. In Mississauga, under the current system, high and medium-density developments contribute 74 percent of parkland (either physically or in payments). The CBC proposals meant dense developments would cough up just 31 percent of the funding for the city’s new greenspace, with non-residential and low-density homes (which already have backyards) making up the difference. It seemed illogical. After a passionate response from Mississauga and other cities angered by the prospect of a revenue hit while they are reeling financially because of the pandemic, the PC government has rolled back its proposed changes. Under Bill 197 (COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act) Queen’s Park rapidly back-peddled, returning parkland contributions by developers to the pre-pandemic levels. “The new community benefits charge authority provides local governments with the flexibility to collect funds for any growth-related services required due to higher density residential development, as long as those costs are not being recovered under other tools,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Municipalities and Housing explained to The Pointer. “A community benefits charge may enable municipalities to recover the capital costs of any service, as long as it is needed to support new growth … the types of services funded through community benefits charges could include parks, recreation centres, affordable housing, child care, cycling infrastructure and others.” “We were very pleased the Province listened to the feedback from municipalities and rolled back many of the proposed Bill 108 provisions around the Community Benefits Charge,” Jason Bevan, director, city planning strategies, told The Pointer. “We look forward to seeing the final CBC regulations on the percentage of land value cap.” The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) which advocates for the lowest tier of government, said it was “pleased to see the addition of eligible services for development charge recovery being restored” alongside “maintaining existing parkland provisions and the flexibility of CBCs as a tool to recover additional costs”. After a year of consternation for cities, the Province has largely walked back its plans for the CBC. The legislation, initially blasted as a developer freebie, has gradually been softened. Originally, the new legislative changes impacted a range of community features that municipalities have to provide for residents under the development proposals submitted by builders after assembling land for growth. Municipalities were concerned they would have to stretch the funds from the charge to cover features such as libraries, community centres, parks and playgrounds. Responding to feedback, the Province changed tack and protected a range of community features that will continue to be covered by development charges. Specific infrastructure, including libraries and other “soft” services, are covered under the Development Charges Act. Developers will continue to pay for the costs associated with growth. But, realistically, these charges are generally covered by buyers who pay for them through increased unit costs that developers charge when setting their sale prices. It seems much more fair to have the people in a particular new development pay for the surrounding features and services they will enjoy, rather than having property tax payers in general cover the expenses when municipalities have to fund them. At the beginning of October, further regulations were released which made the CBC picture a little clearer still. While the charge is designed to capture certain soft community services not always covered by traditional development charges, there are several areas explicitly excluded. Long-term care, universities, clubhouses or retirement homes cannot be funded using the latest form of CBCs. The new CBC mechanism, brought in to codify an element of development which previously operated as more of a negotiation, comes with strict rules. Cities are tasked, over the next two years, with creating a CBC strategy and bylaw to estimate the amount and type of development where the charge may be used. The strategy should also estimate the increased need for facilities and services as a direct result of developments and the associated growth-related costs. It must acknowledge any grants or subsidies made to help with such projects. A potential sticking point for municipal councils is a cap on the CBC, meaning the charge cannot exceed 4 percent of the value of the lands being developed. If developers disagree with the land valuation, they can dispute it. The likely outcome will see buyers cover any increased costs, as developers across the province won’t have to worry about unfair pricing competition because all builders will have to raise prices. In the end, it will be mostly young buyers who will absorb the additional financial burden for creating enhanced community features they will benefit from. Moving forward, municipalities will also produce an annual report showing how much money is in their CBC and parkland reserves. The reports will detail where money is spent and how projects not using CBC charges were funded. The concept behind the strategy and bylaw is to make costs more predictable for developers and reduce negotiations between individual builders and local politicians. Exactly what community features Mississauga will prioritize under the new CBC system will become clearer over the next two years, as the City draws together its bylaw for the charge. These community standards will best serve the public if they are directly involved and make clear what they want in their neighbourhoods. In essence, as long as cities don’t double charge through other parkland contributions or development charges, they can hit developers with a bill for any growth costs, other than the small list of features that are exempt. The amount is capped under the 4 percent limit, based on the land value. But it still gives high-growth municipalities such as Mississauga and Brampton welcome breathing room as they no longer have to worry about paying for a range of new community features while struggling with the financial damage caused by the pandemic. Smart decision making around the bylaw, with some elements still emerging, should help ensure that as new developments keep springing up across the city, growth will pay for growth in Mississauga. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
An elementary school in Deer Lake has closed its doors for two days, after a student tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday morning, the first instance of a case within the Newfoundland and Labrador school system.Elwood Elementary will be closed Monday and Tuesday, Education Minister Tom Osborne announced at a press conference Monday afternoon.Osborne said the student's test results came back around 8 a.m. Monday, sparking the swift reversal from prior messaging from the school district, which had previously said schools were open in the town, with school buses having begun their morning runs before word of the closure came.Students at Elwood Elementary are grouped into classroom cohorts to minimize their contacts as part of the English school district's COVID-19 operating plan, but Osborne said in this case officials decided to close the entire school and not just keep one class home."Because this is the first instance, I would rather that we acted with an abundance of caution then to look back and think that we should have," Osborne said.Osborne said the closure ensures effective contact testing, but that any closure beyond Wednesday could cause extra anxiety for a community already dealing with significant amounts of stress."We reached the right balance with two days. I think a week would have sent the wrong messages," Osborne said.Student's connection to previous caseThe student is a close contact of a previously announced positive case, officials said Monday at an earlier press conference that saw Premier Andrew Furey temporarily suspend the Atlantic bubble. The Western Health region now has 10 active cases, six of them connected to each other. Those connected cases prompted the Town of Deer Lake to go into lockdown over the weekend, with its town council asking people to stay home and non-essential businesses to close."This is scary for a lot of people and for a lot of us," Mayor Dean Ball told CBC Radio's Newfoundland Morning.No schools are closed elsewhere in the province due to COVID-19. There are 23 active cases in the province, and a new travel alert as of Monday, with anyone who flew aboard Air Canada Flight 8880 from Halifax to Deer Lake, arriving on Thursday to call for testing.Watch the full press conference below:Ball later told CBC News testing went well on Monday for the students. A testing site was set up in the parking lot of the town office. "We were really pleased with how really quick we got through that," he said. "On the bright side of this it was a good day to get that done."But, Ball said, the ordeal has been nerve-wracking for parents.Parents, students notifiedClose contacts of the student within the Deer Lake school system were notified Monday morning, said Tony Stack, the CEO of the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District.Stack said very few children showed up anyway."I would imagine it was apprehension within the community — understandably so — so the attendance rates were very low, less that 25 per cent," he said.For students and staff who were not called by public health, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said they should monitor themselves for symptoms but recognize that brief contact such as passing someone in a hallway presents a slim chance of exposure."Those are very low risk, they're very short periods of interaction, so they're not considered to put somebody at risk for COVID-19 exposure," she said.Teachers remained at work at Elwood Elementary on Monday preparing online learning lessons for Tuesday, said Stack."Tomorrow there could be activities. We're asking parents to be prepared for that connection outreach," he said.Ball said reopening is pending on test results which are expected on Tuesday. Both Stack and Osborne said the Elwood Elementary closure isn't an exact template to follow if there are more school-related COVID-19, and it may not be necessary to shut down an entire school in the future.Increase health measures: NLTAAhead of Monday's media conference with Stack and Osborne, the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' Association (NLTA) issued a media release, saying it had concerns, given the latest case. Ingram has been calling for mandatory face masks for all students, as well as physical barriers for teachers. Students younger than Grade 7 — such as those at Elwood Elementary — do not have to wear masks, except on school buses."Our position since March has been that we've had concerns about the discrepancy and inconsistency between the safety measures we see in place in public venues throughout this entire province and what's not in our school system," Ingram told CBC News shortly after Monday's news conference. "We think now is the time, more than ever, to reassess why those measures in our schools are less than seen in these venues." Ingram said he has fielded several phone calls from parents raising the same concerns.Ingram said the NLTA also takes issue with people accessing schools for extracurricular activities like sports. At Monday's press conference, Stack did say that could be adjusted on a regional basis."If we have to curtail extracurricular activities in a particular area, and Deer Lake would be one that we'd be looking at, then we will certainly do that," he told reporters.There were no changes to current district health and safety policies announced during Monday's news conference, although Stack said current public health measures within schools would be re-emphasized.As the current scenario plays out in Deer Lake and public health officials do their work, Osborne asked for patience from the community."I know there is significant concern in the community of Deer Lake today and I certainly appreciate this concern gets amplified for people when their children are involved," he said.Bus of hockey players turned around after COVID scareA small sense of relief is being expressed by Glenn Littlejohn, president of the U18 Major Hockey League. He told CBC Radio's On The Go how the Western Kings were on the way to play the East Coast Blizzard. A bus with 25 players and team staff were headed to the Southern Shore arena, from Deer Lake, when they were stopped in Whitbourne. A team official got a call that he was a close contact of a previous COVID-19 positive case in Deer Lake. Littlejohn said the bus stopped immediately. "It wasn't really a hard decision," he said in an interview on Monday, noting the safety of the team and the general public is the top priority.He said everyone on the bus was wearing masks and as spaced out as possible. The bus turned back around, and the team official stayed in the front of the bus.The team official has since learned his test was negative, but precautions remain in place. He is staying away from the team for 14 days. "This is something we probably expected," he said, given the pandemic continues to swirl, "and hopefully we can just move on."Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
NASHVILLE — For Grammy-winning international star Angelique Kidjo, her artistry and her activism inform each other because music has the power to connect beyond skin colour, language or countries. “Music has that absolutely powerful side to it that sometimes when I finish a concert, I’m like, ’Why can’t we just live like this?'” said the singer-songwriter from the West African country of Benin. That sentiment is something that Skip Marley, a third-generation musician and grandson of reggae icon Bob Marley, has grown up knowing as well. “We’re talking to the people, so it’s all colours, all religions,” said Marley. “Music is music. That’s the beauty of it. It cuts through all of those barriers or borders.” These musicians are part of an online fundraising concert on Dec. 1 called Peace Through Music: A Global Event For Social Justice, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. The Facebook Live event will also feature performances by Annie Lennox, Becky G, Brandi Carlile and Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, Carlos Santana, Gary Clark Jr., Mavis Staples, Ringo Starr, Run The Jewels, Sheila E, Yo-Yo Ma and more. The event will raise money for the Playing for Change Foundation, the United Nations Population Fund, Sankofa, Silkroad and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. Kidjo, who is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, is an outspoken advocate for women’s rights and education for young women in Africa through her Batonga Foundation. Kidjo has travelled the world to encourage young people to be leaders in their own communities because she says that is the leverage needed to address systematic issues of poverty and climate change. “We’ve created a world with billions of people suffering and a minority of people are living on top of them. And if we want to live in a world of peace, we have to take care of Mother Nature and at the same time take care to get people out of poverty,” said Kidjo, from her home in Paris. For the online concert, Kidjo teamed up remotely with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and Peter Gabriel to sing Gabriel's anti-apartheid anthem “Biko,” about a South African activist who was killed in detention in the 1970s. Kidjo said the song’s message directly connected to this year’s Black Lives Matter protests over police killings of Black men and women. “Racism is so linked to capitalism and we have failed to address that issue for so many, many, many years and centuries, I think from slavery all the way to today, that it becomes a cancer that is eating our societies,” said Kidjo. “Get Up, Stand Up,” a simple message that has become part of Bob Marley’s legacy to the world, was the obvious song choice for his grandson to sing for this online concert. “Wherever there is a fight, wherever there is oppression, wherever there is wrongdoing, there will always be that anthem,” said Marley, who performed with song with his mother Cedella Marley. It’s a spiritual experience to sing his grandfather’s songs, Marley said. “Those are the songs I first hear and the songs I first sing,” said Marley. “So when I’m singing it, I’m feeling my grandfather.” Kristin M. Hall, The Associated Press
Saint-Tite – La MRC de Mékinac réagit au cri du cœur lancé dans nos pages par les relais de motoneiges qui craignent de ne pas traverser l'hiver si on leur permet seulement d'accueillir des clients pour les réchauffer, sans pouvoir ouvrir leurs salles à manger. Tous ont décrié l'impact des coûts fixes élevés comme le chauffage, la main-d'oeuvre ou le nettoyage des lieux pour expliquer les difficultés financières qu'ils anticipent. La MRC de Mékinac se dit sensible de la situation vécue par les relais de son territoire. «C’est une situation vraiment préoccupante pour notre milieu. L’industrie de la motoneige est un moteur économique très important pour notre MRC, tant au niveau des relais que des autres commerces autour. Les motoneigistes sortent souvent dans les sentiers avec le but de se rendre dans un relais, de consommer et de faire d’autres arrêts dans différents commerces. La fermeture des relais peut entrainer un ralentissement économique sur un volet beaucoup plus large» s'inquiète Nadia Moreau, directrice du service de développement économique de la MRC de Mékinac. Elle craint que l'impact financier des décisions gouvernementales ne vienne hypothéquer sérieusement le secteur jusqu'au printemps. «Nous sommes évidemment grandement conscients des enjeux de la propagation de la COVID-19. Nous tentons par tous les moyens de soutenir notre milieu pour passer à travers cette crise. Par contre, nous aimerons grandement que ce que nous pouvons favoriser localement puisse se faire chez nous. La possibilité de voir les habitués de notre région se déplacer vers une région aux conditions plus souples demeure inquiétante tant au niveau sanitaire qu’économique» ajoute Nadia Moreau. La MRC soutient que selon les commerçants, les chiffres d'affaires sont en péril de 75 à 90%.Marc-André Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nouvelliste
A retired curator has come forward to explain how five headstones went missing from a Maugerville cemetery and wound up at Kings Landing Historical Settlement. Darrel Butler, the former chief curator of Kings Landing, said if he hadn't taken them, the stones would have met a very different fate. "If we hadn't, we wouldn't be talking today because there wouldn't have been any tombstones saved," said Butler. The controversy surrounding the stones comes after a family member, looking for his ancestors headstones, found them in an unlikely place: More than 40 kilometres away at Kings Landing. Darrel Butler said he got a call in the 1990s from someone in Maugerville. The owner of the Miles family farm had recently passed away and his surviving son, who had flown in from BC, invited him to scout out the farm for notable items from New Brunswick's farming past. "In that period of time, it was important for us, for Kings Landing to get artifacts, so that we could build a collection that historians in the future would be able to use for study and research," said Butler. Farm equipment made in the early 1800's in Saint John was the obvious choice for the collection. But Mr. Miles directed Butlers attention to the five gravestones. "He explained that his brother, who he said was a priest, about 20 years before this had gone to the old family cemetery," said Butler. "He found the family cemetery all grown over and was really worried about preserving any sense of identity." So, the priest moved the stones to a barn where they sat for decades until the surviving son convinced Butler to take them. "He said nobody's interested in them in my family, I've got to go back to British Columbia," recalled Butler. "He said the best I can do is use them as lawn ornaments on my front yard... ...which my wife won't let me do." Butler said the plan was to break them up and throw them away. So Butler said the Kings Landing collections committee mulled over the idea of saving the tombstones. He says relocating them wasn't controversial at the time, but it was still a sensitive topic.After several discussions, Kings Landing accepted the tombstones in part to save them from being destroyed, but also because it was clear they had been crafted in New Brunswick and had marked the tomb of Loyalists. The fact that no one could relocate the original cemetery also factored into the decision. The stones were then placed on consecrated ground next to the Anglican church at Kings Landing."In our perspective, we saved Loyalist artifacts," said Butler. "And they were important." "If we didn't preserve them, they'd be gone," said Butler. "So that's why we did it."Butler said now that there's another branch of family descendants willing to take care and maintain the stones, they should be returned to mark their original grave sites.According to Kings Landing chief executive officer Mary Baruth, staff are still looking into the acquisition of the tombstones. They plan on contacting the family who want to have them back.
Canada's largest working cattle ranch hopes to convince B.C.'s Court of Appeal to overturn a 2018 ruling that said the public should be allowed to access two lakes near Merritt, B.C.It's the latest development in a lengthy court battle between the Douglas Lake Cattle Company (DLCC) and a small recreation club in Merritt over who should be allowed access to public areas enclosed by private property.In December 2018 a justice of the Supreme Court of B.C. ruled that Minnie Lake and Stoney Lake in the Nicola Valley should be publicly accessible.The lakes and a local road are surrounded by private ranch lands owned by the company, which is owned by U.S. billionaire Stan Kroenke.For years, access to Minnie Lake and Stoney Lake had been blocked by fences and locked gates.The 2018 ruling ordered those gates to be removed so the public could access the lakes.The court said at the time it would be "nonsensical" for a government to retain rights to a lake if a single owner purchasing all land surrounding it could prohibit use.It also clarified that Stoney Lake Road, which the DLCC had previously closed to the public, was a public road because public money had been spent on it and it had previously been a historic trail from a traditional Indigenous village.The victory was a culmination of the advocacy from the Nicola Valley Fish & Game Club, and most notably Merritt resident Rick McGowan, who for decades maintained that the DLCC had unlawfully prohibited access for anglers and other people seeking recreation there."We thought we would like to try to make a difference and try to see if we could possibly save the right for all future generations to access public property," he said."In the Nicola Valley there are locked gates everywhere and most of them are illegal."According to the Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C., which has been allowed to intervene on behalf of the fish and game club for the appeal, the DLCC seeks an order declaring there is no public access to Stoney Lake and that access to Minnie Lake is only by way of Wasley Creek. "This case raises important questions about the extent of the public's right to cross private property to access public resources such as lakes, hiking trails and wilderness," said Morgan Blakley, a lawyer for the council, which represents 100,000 outdoor recreation users in the province."The decision could have implications for public access across the province and brings to bear hundreds of years of case law." The appeal is scheduled for two days, starting at 10 a.m. PT Monday.
These weren’t the piano lessons of my youth. Quite the opposite. Gone was the septuagenarian teacher crowding me on a piano bench at my grandmother’s house, extolling the importance of Christian hymns. “Old Rugged Cross,” “Jesus Loves Me,” “How Great Thou Art." Grandma finally accepted my resignation after a few solid years of protest. Then last spring, as the pandemic droned on, I’d lost my job, and our schools in the Boston area remained closed, I decided to start taking piano lessons again. It had been 30 years. The grand staff was a foreign language and the only key I could recognize was middle C. The first day, I propped up my phone, clicked a Zoom link for our lesson and found an energetic college student staring back at me. I’d been thinking about returning to piano for a while, but never had the free time required for learning a skill until the shutdown in March. It was rainy and frigid in New England, and I needed an antidote for the monotony of pandemic life. Some were tending sourdough starters, others binge-watched Netflix. I started piano lessons. I wasn’t the only one who chose music. NEW WAYS TO PASS TIME “I knew nothing about the ukulele community before COVID,” said Pat Adamson-Waitley, 64, of Edina, Minnesota. Adamson-Waitley had played the ukulele a handful of times, but in March, she said, “I started playing it every day.” She joined Zoom jams with other players, and bought two ukuleles and two songbooks. Summer's warm weather took her away from the ukulele a little, but she still averages 30 minutes of playing time a day. Clubs like the Twin Cities ukulele club, an informal group of about 300 people, have welcomed many people discovering music for the first time, or finding it again. Tom Ehlinger, 69, of Bloomington, Minnesota, leads the club’s weekly Zoom jams. “One thing that’s different about the Zoom jam is that it’s much easier to get to than an in-person jam,” he said. “There’s no traffic.” Since March, Ehlinger has received inquiries from people as far away as New York City wanting to join. “It brings people together solely for the purpose of doing something enjoyable,” he said. NEVER A BETTER TIME As for formal lessons, Andrew Geant, co-founder of Chicago-based Wyzant, an online marketplace for private tutors, said music has become one of the company’s fastest growing areas. Cello tutors in April experienced a 450 per cent increase in students and a 400 per cent rise in lessons from last year, he said. By October, the number had grown to a 4,500 per cent increase in students and a 4,730 per cent increase in lessons. The cost of online lessons is lower than in-person instruction, Geant noted. And if the student and teacher don’t match well, it’s easy to find a new instructor. “Online, you can find the right instructor because you’re no longer bound by geography,” he said. Rashida Bryant, 44, is an Atlanta-based voice instructor through Wyzant who saw her client roster double from April to June, when she had 30 students. Her students range in age from early teenagers to people in their late 60s. “Everybody has different reasons for doing it, but if you’re going to be at home, then this is a better time than any,” she said. A SENSE OF CONTROL Turning to music during bleak times has a long history, said Joy Allen, chair of Music Therapy at Berklee College of Music in Boston. “It gives us choice and control, and we don’t have a lot of that right now,” she said. Music also provides social connection, Allen said, and a link to the familiar. During lockdown, private piano lessons for Andrea Cordero Fage’s two teenage sons in Harrison, New York, stopped, but something new happened. The brothers, whose interest in music has waxed and waned over the years, “came into their own musically,” she said. “I would have never imagined it.” They started playing piano for hours a day. They researched movie soundtracks, like the one to the 2014 science fiction epic “Interstellar,” by Hans Zimmer, and learned the score on their own with the assistance of sites like YouTube. “After dinner, one would play and the other would watch. Then they’d switch,” Cordero Fage said. “I think they fed off each other, saw it as a challenge.” Studying or listening to music can harness our focus, said Melita Belgrave, associate dean and professor of music therapy at Arizona State University. Throughout the pandemic, many people have been watching concerts at home but retaining a semblance of the shared experience. The millions of people who streamed the movie version of the Broadway musical “Hamilton” is an example. “People are finding themselves drawn to the arts and crafts,” Belgrave said. “We are learning new ways to connect with each other.” I haven’t figured out whether my Zoom piano lessons will continue past the pandemic. I've gone from knowing middle C to playing cusp chords, eight-key scales and Mozart. But even if returning to regular life interrupts my lessons, piano will always be one of my best pandemic memories. Tracee M. Herbaugh, The Associated Press
Wuhan, the Chinese city that was ground zero of the coronavirus pandemic, went into lockdown on Jan. 23. Life has returned to nearly normal 10 months later, but residents there still remember the harsh conditions.
Agriculture in Labrador has always been a bit of a hard go. While there is a huge amount of agricultural land in the region — far more than on the island portion of the province — the vast majority of it is uncleared and even getting access to some of it could take years. There is a bright side, though. In recent years, a few new farms have popped up and one is even planning to sell local beef. Food insecurity is a big issue in Labrador, with high prices and the area only producing one per cent of the food it consumes. The provincial government created a work sector plan for agriculture in the last few years and highlighted some concerns producers are having in Labrador, including the lack of an abattoir or the ability to sell large-scale commercial eggs in the region and the need for more Crown land to be made available for agriculture. On Nature’s Best Farm, Desmond Sellars has been growing produce such as carrots and potatoes in the region for about 20 years. He is a familiar face to many in Happy Valley-Goose Bay as the guy who sells vegetables in front of the courthouse, There is a huge amount of opportunity for farmers in Labrador, according to Sellars, but he feels the industry is still in its infancy stage and 'requires a lot of zeroes in your bank account.’ “Farmers here in Labrador can produce more but it always comes down to policy around agriculture. There’s no question about the soil, there’s no question about the land being able to produce, but we do not have the right policy and the right supports at the present time to support increased agriculture here in Labrador.” Things are moving in the right direction, he said, with the province recognizing the need for more locally produced food, but agriculture is a long game and that’s even more true in Labrador. It can take years to get leased land from the government, he said, and that’s just the first hurdle. Since all agricultural land in Labrador is leased, not granted, farmers don’t have access to any capital from it to go to banks, and so have to invest a lot of their own money up front. Even then, he said, the province still owns it and when a farmer retires, all the investments they made on the land can be lost. Freight costs are another barrier, he said. It costs just as much to ship things sometimes as the items themselves. That drives up his cost, which is a barrier to selling his produce to local stores. It’s cheaper for local stores in bring in food from outside the province than buy from him, he said, and that needs to be addressed. “Farmers don’t need a handout, they need a hand up,” he said. ‘If I could, for example, be able to expense freight on a subsidy basis I could compete with P.E.I., Ontario, New Brunswick, and I’d have that market, I know I would. That wouldn’t be a terrible cost to anyone, but it would be a big step for producers.” At the end of the day, he said, young people need to see that agriculture is something worthwhile to pursue and he doesn’t see a lot of that messaging out there. While farming is a long-term investment because of the large upfront capital costs, he said, it can be very profitable and there need to be more conversations around that. “The whole notion of farming as an important, viable business for this province and for people to engage in, there aren’t enough conversations around that. Farming is an underdeveloped part of this province, that’s self-evident. For that to change it requires ongoing conversations and I would argue some policy changes. “ Jim Purdy is one of the operators of Birch Lane Farm on Mud Lake Road in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, which produces a wide variety of products, from produce to live chickens and live ducks to berries and jams. Purdy highlighted some of the same issues as Sellars, especially around the impact of freight costs and getting Crown land. “Our biggest competition isn’t here, it’s in Quebec and Ontario. They can sell their product cheaper here than we can produce it for. We have to depend on the local market, loyalty, to sell our products.” Purdy said people do recognize that locally grown food tastes better, but producers need to move into larger commercial markets to be able to grow and that isn’t possible right now. Other provinces have programs to assist with that, he said, and something needs to be done in Newfoundland and Labrador. Things that aren’t issues in less remote places, he said, like getting a tractor fixed or hiring someone to clear land, can be a real barrier in Labrador. “I would say that there’s less than 200 acres of cleared agricultural land in Labrador and in some places that’s a small farm,” he said. “It’s not like you can call someone and get them to do it. We don’t have the infrastructure here for agriculture, it’s as simple as that.” He said in his opinion other provinces have done a lot more to help with agricultural production and it doesn’t seem to be a priority for the government in Newfoundland and Labrador. Much like Sellars, Purdy cites the rules around Crown land and the unwillingness of government to grant it to farmers. “They can but they won’t,” he said. “It took me a few years to get a lease and that was on land no one else wanted. Can you imagine how long it would take if someone else had wanted it? I don’t know why the process takes so long but it isn’t helping anything. If you want to farm here, you better be ready for a long investment,” he said. When asked what could be done to help the industry grow Purdy said he didn’t even know where to start, but government offering more support is a big part of it. When SaltWire Network contacted Fisheries, Forestry, and Agriculture Minister Elvis Loveless, who was given the portfolio three months ago, he said he hasn’t had a chance go to Labrador to meet with local producers yet and discuss the issues, but he’s committed to doing so. “Our goal, in terms of helping farmers, is opening up access to land,” Loveless said when asked about the concerns expressed over the inability to get granted agricultural land. “Farmers, in order to grow vegetables, or just around the culture of growing, need land, there’s no doubt. I won’t make a commitment on a timeframe, but I will commit to talking to farmers. I’m looking to get on the ground in Labrador and have those conversations with them; what are their priorities moving their industry forward in Labrador?” Loveless said in terms of issues, it’s “all on the table.” He referenced recent investments made by the provincial government in the central Labrador region for community gardens and a cold storage and packaging facility in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and said there are plans to make more agricultural land available in the region. “Having access to safe and healthy food is on everyone’s minds, and addressing those needs has never been more important than right now, especially in Labrador, where the residents rely heavily on food imported from other areas, and that’s something we’d like to change.” Tomorrow: a new beef farm is the only one of its kind in Labrador. Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
Janet Langdon and Roxanne Walsh-Seabright have always held a special place for their hometown of Gander. As first-generation Ganderites, the pair know the town has a unique place in provincial history and culture. “We love our town,” said Walsh-Seabright. When Langdon returned to the area in 2015 upon her retirement after living at various stops on the mainland, she and Walsh-Seabright started talking about ways they could showcase their beloved hometown. As many a Newfoundlander will tell you, you can live wherever you want, but nothing will ever replace the place you grew up. “It’s in your blood,” said Langdon. “It is a special place. It holds onto your identity.” Then, they got the idea to showcase Gander and its uniqueness through clothes. Langdon had studied textile design and has always had a love for fashion design, while Walsh-Seabright studied interior design. They both shared a love for design and being creative so it was only natural they settle on an outlet that would allow them to explore that side of themselves a bit more. They found that outlet with their Newfoundland Dog Company clothing line. “We’re both creative at heart,” said Walsh-Seabright. They also get some help from family members. Langdon’s partner has offered up designs for products while others model them. The Newfoundland Dog Company got its start in the wake of the popularity of the smash Broadway musical “Come From Away.” With its depiction of what Gander and the area did for the people stranded during the Sept. 9, 2001, terrorist attacks, the show captured the attention and imagination of the world. Its popularity undoubtedly meant that the region was going to see an influx of tourism as people sought to see the place and the people that helped so many during a trying time. That fact was not lost on either Langdon or Walsh-Seabright. They sought to offer unique tourism products that highlighted some of the unique parts of their hometown. After some back-and-forth, they decided on a clothing line that would showcase the history of Gander and eventually, the surrounding area. It was launched on June 04, 2017. “It is very exciting because Gander has such a unique history,” said Langdon. Even the name Newfoundland Dog is partly a referral to a piece of the town’s history. During the Second World War, there was a Newfoundland dog named Gander who was awarded the Dickin Medal, an animal’s Victoria Cross, for his heroics during the war. The other half of the Newfoundland Dog Company's name refers Humber, the Newfoundland dog that was a big part of Langdon's family growing up. A mixture of short-sleeve and long-sleeve shirts, they have a number of different designs, from the propeller of a plane to the ‘Welcome to Gander’ sign at the Gander International Airport. There is one item featuring the likeness of the town’s mascot, Commander Gander, as well as an outline of the town in the 1970s One of their latest creations is an ode to Sidetracks, a bar in town that welcomed some high-profile acts during its day. The last couple of years has seen the line expand to ball caps, toques, mitten, throw pillows and dog bandanas. “It is basically what surrounds us,” said Walsh-Seabright. “What is unique to us that is different from anyone else.” Like other companies, the Newfoundland Dog Company has been slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic. A mostly online venture, they’re starting to see things start to come around and have several pop-up sales scheduled for Nov. 28, Dec.5, Dec. 12 and Dec. 19 in Gander. “We’re excited for the popups and introducing some new things,” said Walsh-Seabright. Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice
What should deafness sound like on film? For his debut feature “ Sound of Metal,” filmmaker Darius Marder wanted to create a sound experience that audiences had never heard before. The idea was to simulate the journey of his lead character, Ruben, a punk metal drummer with sudden severe hearing loss and eventually deafness. It wouldn’t be silence, but something more complex and nuanced. And it would take years of prep, experimental methods on set and 23 weeks of sound work to accomplish. “Sound of Metal,” now playing in limited release before it debuts on Amazon Prime Video on Dec. 4, not only delivers on that lofty goal but also features one of the best performances of the year from actor Riz Ahmed who was tasked with the challenge of bringing Ruben to life. Marder, who co-wrote “The Place Beyond the Pines” had spent years trying to “scare the crap out of” actors with the prospect of playing Ruben. It was important, too, that the actor be hearing since, he said Ruben starts out that way. Then he met Ahmed, the 37-year-old British actor of Pakistani decent known for the HBO miniseries “The Night Of,” for which he got an Emmy nomination, and films like “Nightcrawler,” “Rogue One” and “Venom,” and he knew he found the right actor for what he was asking. “He is a great talent and a great intellect, but I didn’t know what was behind that,” Marder said. “What I found was someone who was appropriately frightened, which is always a good sign, but also just intoxicatingly interested in being frightened and taking on that challenge.” Ahmed would have to really play the drums, learn American Sign Language (ASL) and essentially push himself to the limits playing this ex-heroin addict who with his hearing loss fears that he may lose everything: His livelihood, his girlfriend and bandmate (Olivia Cooke) and his identity. “We wanted to do something that was all in,” Ahmed said. “We just wanted to really connect to how overwhelming and invigorating and terrifying it can be to kind of throw yourself into the deep end of a creative endeavour.” To make matters even more complicated, Marder decided to shoot on 35mm film, which meant that takes would be limited. But even that was exciting for Ahmed. “I liked the idea of spending seven months learning the drums and sign language and then doing a four week shoot where you only get two takes of anything because we’re shooting on film,” Ahmed said. On set, Ahmed wore custom implants in his ears that emitted white noise and a high ringing to approximate tinnitus. He couldn’t even hear his own voice. On those days communicated with Marder on little bits of paper. In the final mix, a lot of the sounds you hear in the movie are, as Marder puts it, "the inside of Riz.” They recorded in his mouth, his throat and even his eyelids. For his part, Ahmed spent time with members of the deaf community in New York and got quite close with his sign instructor, who helped him navigate the new culture. He explained that as a late-deafened person, Ruben goes through stages where he thinks of his hearing loss as “a loss, a lack, a disability.” Later, during his stay in a sober, deaf community, he starts to realize it is a culture and a way of being, Ahmed said. Representation of disability in film is a complex topic and actors with disabilities continue to lobby for authentic portrayals. And just as Marder knew that he needed a hearing actor to embody Ruben’s journey, he also knew he wanted actors from deaf culture to populate the rehab facility, including the very significant part of Joe, the Vietnam veteran who runs the centre. Marder was encouraged to consider A-list actors, all of whom were hearing, for the meaty part, but he didn’t relent. “That was something I fought very hard for,” Marder said. “And it was a much harder fight than it should have been.” He ended up finding actor Paul Raci, a Vietnam veteran himself and a child of deaf adults. The film is also open captioned in English to make it more accessible for all audiences, except in scenes with ASL. “We have to experience what Ruben experiences,” Marder said. “He has to contend with being a minority and not being comfortable in a culture that isn’t his. And so do we as an audience.” Ahmed found it to be a transformative experience. “I really hope that when people watch the film, it kind of stays with them and maybe changes them a little bit as well,” he said. “It’s a film about reevaluating who you think you really are and realizing the things you think define us are not all we are.” —- Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
JERUSALEM — Israeli media reported Monday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to Saudi Arabia for a clandestine meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which would mark the first known encounter between senior Israeli and Saudi officials.The reported meeting was the latest move by the Trump Administration to promote normalized ties between Israel and the broader Arab world and reflected the shared concern of all three nations about Iran.The Israeli news site Walla, followed quickly by other Hebrew-language media, cited an unnamed Israeli official as saying that Netanyahu and Yossi Cohen, head of Israel's Mossad spy agency, flew to the Saudi city of Neom on Sunday, where they met with the crown prince. The prince was there for talks with visiting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.People travelling with Pompeo declined comment. Netanyahu, in a meeting with his Likud Party, also declined to explicitly confirm the visit.“I have not addressed such things for years and I will not start with that now. For years I have spared no effort to strengthen Israel and expand the circle of peace,” he said.The Saudi foreign minister, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, denied on Twitter that the meeting took place.“No such meeting occurred. The only officials present were American and Saudi,” he wrote. He did not elaborate.The flight-tracking website FlightRadar24.com showed a Gulfstream IV private jet took off from Tel Aviv on Sunday night and flew south along the edge of Egypt's Sinai Peninsula before turning toward Neom and landing. The flight took off from Neom over three hours later and followed the same route back to Tel Aviv.Pompeo, who was in Israel last week, travelled with a small group of American reporters on his trip throughout the Mideast, but left them at the Neom airport when he went into his visit with the crown prince.While Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates have reached deals under the Trump administration to normalize ties with Israel, Saudi Arabia so far has remained out of reach. The Trump administration, as well as Netanyahu, would love to add the Saudis to that list before it leaves office in January. In Sudan, a military official said an Israeli delegation was in the country on Monday to discuss the normalization efforts. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the visit with the media.King Salman long has supported the Palestinians in their effort to secure an independent state as a condition for recognizing Israel. However, analysts and insiders suggest his 35-year-old son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, likely is more open to the idea of normalizing relations without major progress in the moribund peace process.Israel and Saudi Arabia have a shared interest in countering archrival Iran, and they have welcomed the Trump administration's pressure campaign on the Iranians, which included withdrawing from the international nuclear deal with Iran and imposing tough economic sanctions on the Tehran government.The reported meeting puts even more pressure on Iran ahead of an incoming Biden administration that has signalled a potential willingness to return to the 2015 nuclear deal.“I think there's a message to Iran. Look, there's a front against you. There's two months to go to the new administration. Beware. We are on the same page,” said Yoel Guzansky, a senior fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, a prestigious Israeli think-tank .In an apparent message to President-elect Joe Biden, Netanyahu said in a speech Sunday evening, shortly before the reported trip to Saudi Arabia: “We must not return to the previous nuclear deal."In the same speech, Netanyahu also praised “trailblazing Arab leaders who understand the benefits of peace" and predicted “we will see other states that widen the circle of peace.”In another possible reference to the Saudi meeting, a Netanyahu aide, Topaz Luk, accused Netanyahu's rival and coalition partner, Defence Minister Benny Gantz, of “playing politics at the same time that the prime minister is making peace.” Gantz on Sunday launched an investigation into Israel's purchase of German submarines — a scandal that has turned several close Netanyahu confidants into criminal suspects. Netanyahu himself is not a suspect.The reported visit Sunday night to Neom, still a largely undeveloped desert region alongside the north end of the Red Sea, also reflected Prince Mohammed's ambitions.It brought two world leaders to Neom, which he hopes will become a futuristic, skyline-studded Saudi version of Dubai that will offer the kingdom jobs and cement a future beyond its vast crude oil reserves. It also would reframe a rule so far colored by the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi and the kingdom’s grinding war in Yemen.It was unclear where the three men met, though the Saudi royal family has massive mansions along the turquoise waters of the Red Sea, with a major golf course.Netanyahu has long signalled back-channel relations with the Saudis, though the nations have never officially confirmed a meeting between their leaders. But Saudi Arabia appears to have given its blessing to the decisions of its Gulf neighbours, the UAE and Bahrain, to establish ties with Israel.The kingdom approved the use of Saudi airspace for Israeli flights to the UAE. Bahrain normalizing ties also suggest at least a Saudi acquiescence to the idea, as the island kingdom relies on Riyadh.___Associated Press writers Josef Federman in Jerusalem, Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Samy Magdy in Cairo contributed.Ilan Ben Zion, The Associated Press
LONDON — Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca said Monday that late-stage trials showed its coronavirus vaccine was up to 90% effective, giving public health officials hope they may soon have access to a vaccine that is cheaper and easier to distribute than some of its rivals.The results are based on interim analysis of trials in the U.K. and Brazil of a vaccine developed by Oxford University and manufactured by AstraZeneca. No hospitalizations or severe cases of COVID-19 were reported in those receiving the vaccine.AstraZeneca is the third major drug company to report late-stage results for a potential COVID-19 vaccine as the world anxiously waits for scientific breakthroughs that will bring an end to a pandemic that has wrought economic devastation and resulted in nearly 1.4 million confirmed deaths.Pfizer and Moderna last week reported preliminary results from late-stage trials showing their vaccines were almost 95% effective. But, unlike its rivals, the AstraZeneca vaccine doesn't have to be stored at ultra-cold temperatures, making it easier to distribute, especially in developing countries.“I think these are really exciting results,” Dr. Andrew Pollard, chief investigator for the trial, said during a news conference. “Because the vaccine can be stored at fridge temperatures, it can be distributed around the world using the normal immunization distribution system. And so our goal … to make sure that we have a vaccine that was accessible everywhere, I think we’ve actually managed to do that.”The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is also cheaper. AstraZeneca, which has pledged it won’t make a profit on the vaccine during the pandemic, has reached agreements with governments and international health organizations that put its cost at about $2.50 a dose. Pfizer’s vaccine costs about $20 a dose, while Moderna's is $15 to $25, based on agreements the companies have struck to supply their vaccines to the U.S. government.All three vaccines must be approved by regulators before they can be widely distributed.Oxford researchers and AstraZeneca stressed that they aren't competing with other projects, and that multiple vaccines will be needed to reach enough of the world's population and end the pandemic.“We’re not thinking about vaccinations working in terms of one person at a time. We have to think about vaccinating communities, populations, reducing transmission within those populations, so that we really get on top of this pandemic,'' said Sarah Gilbert, a leader of the Oxford research team. “And that’s what it now looks like we’re going to have the ability to contribute to in a really big way.''The results come as a second wave of COVID-19 hits many countries, once again shutting businesses, restricting social interaction and pummeling the world economy.AstraZeneca said it will immediately apply for early approval of the vaccine where possible, and it will seek an emergency use listing from the World Health Organization, so it can make the vaccine available in low-income countries.The AstraZeneca trial looked at two different dosing regimens. A half-dose of the vaccine followed by a full dose at least one month later was 90% effective. Another approach, giving patients two full doses one month apart, was 62% effective. The combined results showed an average efficacy rate of 70%.The vaccine uses a weakened version of a common cold virus that is combined with genetic material for the characteristic spike protein of the virus that causes COVID-19. After vaccination, the spike protein primes the immune system to attack the virus if it later infects the body.The vaccine can be transported under “normal refrigerated conditions” of 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit), AstraZeneca said. By comparison, Pfizer plans to distribute its vaccine using specially designed “thermal shippers” that use dry ice to maintain temperatures of minus-70 degrees Celsius (minus-94 degrees Fahrenheit).Peter Openshaw, professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, said the finding that a smaller initial dose is more effective than a larger one is good news because it may reduce costs and mean more people can be vaccinated.“The report that an initial half-dose is better than a full dose seems counterintuitive for those of us thinking of vaccines as normal drugs: With drugs, we expect that higher doses have bigger effects, and more side-effects,” he said. “But the immune system does not work like that.”The results reported Monday come from trials in the U.K. and Brazil that involved 23,000 people. Late-stage trials are also underway in the U.S., Japan, Russia, South Africa, Kenya and Latin America, with further trials planned for other European and Asian countries.AstraZeneca has been ramping up manufacturing capacity, so it can supply hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine starting in January, Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said earlier this month.Soriot said Monday that the Oxford vaccine’s simpler supply chain and AstraZeneca’s commitment to provide it on a non-profit basis during the pandemic mean it will be affordable and available to people around the world.“This vaccine’s efficacy and safety confirm that it will be highly effective against COVID-19 and will have an immediate impact on this public health emergency,’’ Soriot said.British Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he felt “a great sense of relief” at the news from AstraZeneca.Britain has ordered 100 million doses of the Oxford vaccine, and the government says several million doses can be produced before the end of the year if it is approved by regulators.Just months ago, “the idea that by November we would have three vaccines, all of which have got high effectiveness … I would have given my eye teeth for,” Hancock said.___Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreakDanica Kirka And Jill Lawless, The Associated Press
Bishop's University has decided to suspend the majority of on-campus activities after a spike in COVID-19 cases.Fifteen members of the university community in Sherbrooke, Que., have tested positive for the coronavirus. Before Nov. 11, no cases had been detected, according to the university.At the end of the day on Friday, all in-person university activities were suspended until Wednesday morning, said university spokesperson Olivier Bouffard.Until Wednesday, all classes will be given remotely. Only essential activities, including certain research projects, will continue.While other Quebec universities chose to conduct much of the fall semester online, Bouffard said Bishop's has been in "hybrid mode," with some classes online, some in person and some a mix of both.More than half the university's courses were already being held online prior to Friday's decision, Bouffard said. The university intends to assess the risks by Wednesday to determine its plan for the final weeks of the semester.University monitoring residencesThe university intends to closely monitor the situation in its residences, which can accommodate more than 400 students this semester. At least two cases of COVID-19 have been detected in residences, according to the university."The majority of people who tested positive have returned to their homes outside of Bishop's. We have also identified spaces for people who have tested positive and who need to isolate," Bouffard said. Prevention measures have been put in place in the seven university residences. According to the spokesperson for the establishment, however, it's too early to close them.The university is urging all at-risk students to be tested for COVID-19, and says taxi vouchers are available for students who need to go to screening centres.
U.S. stocks closed higher in a choppy session on Monday as hopes for a COVID-19 vaccine lifted economically sensitive sectors such as energy and industrials, but a pullback in megacap shares curbed gains on the S&P 500 and Nasdaq. Energy shares got a boost from another gain in oil prices, which have risen on anticipation a vaccine will help demand recover. "As they move out of those growth names, it's still this continued move into larger cyclical, value names which is why you see the Dow performing so well and the Nasdaq under some pressure."