The federal government is laying plans for the procurement and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, inking contracts with seven potential manufacturers and saying six million doses could arrive in the country in the first quarter of 2021. The most recent development from Ottawa came Friday when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tapped former NATO commander Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin to lead the national distribution effort. But various provinces have started spelling out their plans as well. Here's a look at what they've said so far: — Nova Scotia The province's chief medical officer of health says he will release a detailed plan for the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine once Ottawa shares more information. Dr. Robert Strang said Friday there is no certainty yet about the availability of a vaccine, but expressed hopes an initial supply will trickle into Nova Scotia early in the new year. Strang said a detailed provincial plan, to be released once the federal government has shared more specifics on its end, will include tight control of the supply and clear rules dictating who can be first in line for immunization. He said he's waiting for more federal guidance on issues ranging from priority groups to transportation and storage logistics. — Quebec The province will be ready to start rolling out its vaccine plan as of Jan. 1, say senior politicians. Premier Francois Legault said Thursday that public health officials have already settled on the list of priority vaccine recipients, but did not release details. Legault said the province is also working to put the necessary infrastructure in place to support a vaccine rollout. That includes obtaining fridges capable of maintaining the extremely low temperatures needed by one of the most promising potential vaccine options, currently in development through pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. Quebec has also tasked assistant deputy health minister Jerome Gagnon, and former provincial public health director Dr. Richard Masse to oversee the province's vaccination effort. — Ontario Premier Doug Ford is among those leaders calling on Ottawa to provide more clarity as officials scramble to develop a provincewide vaccination strategy. Early speculation on the number of doses the province could receive was put to rest earlier this week when federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said such details were still in the works. But Ford has forged ahead, naming former chief of national defence Gen. Rick Hillier to oversee the province's vaccine rollout. Hillier said on Friday he hopes to have a plan developed by year's end, while Ford urged Ottawa to provide detailed information on potential vaccine delivery. "We need a clear line of sight into the timelines of the shipments," Ford said. — Alberta The province's top medical official has said she expects to receive 680,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine early in the new year, a figure not yet confirmed by the federal government. Dr. Deena Hinshaw has also said a number of hurdles and unknowns remain as the province works to devise its vaccination scheme. "These (vaccine) numbers, of course, depend on many factors,'' Hinshaw said on Nov. 18. "They depend on the final pieces of the trials that are underway going well. They depend on ensuring that the safety and the effectiveness of the early vaccines can be assured. All of those checks and balances must be cleared." On Friday, Hinshaw said the province is working with Ottawa to get vaccine, but it is "a bit of a moving target" on when vaccines might be available. "But our goal is that whenever vaccine is available, we will be ready to start immunizing individuals on that highest priority list." — British Columbia Provincial health officials announced on Wednesday that a vaccine strategy for the province is already in the works. Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province's top doctor, said Dr. Ross Brown of Vancouver Coastal Health will join the group working to organize the logistics around the distribution of vaccines. Henry said front-line workers as well as those in long-term care homes will likely have priority for vaccinations. She cautioned that while the province has contracts with vaccine makers, there can be challenges with offshore manufacturing. "It's very much focused on who is most at risk and how do we protect them best," Henry said. "There's a lot of discussion that needs to happen." Henry said the province hopes to have vaccines in hand by January. — Yukon Premier Sandy Silver told the legislature on Wednesday that the territory has been in discussions with various levels of government on a vaccine rollout plan. He said the goal will be to provide vaccines to elderly people and health-care providers. Silver said rural and remote communities should also get priority status in northern regions, a fact he said he's emphasized with federal authorities. The premier said he has joined the other provincial and territorial leaders in pushing for a national strategy to distribute the vaccine. “How confusing would it be for 13 different strategies right across the nation?” he said. Silver said the Pfizer vaccine could cause logistical problems for remote communities because of its cold-storage requirements, but those issues may not apply to other vaccines under development. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020. The Canadian Press
The leader of Ethiopia's rebellious northern forces said on Monday he was still fighting close to the regional capital of Mekelle after it was captured by government troops. Debretsion Gebremichael, who heads the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), also told Reuters in a text message that some Eritrean soldiers fighting alongside the Ethiopian federal forces had been taken prisoner by his side. Billene Seyoum, the spokeswoman for the Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, told Reuters that responding to "delusions of a criminal clique" was not the government's focus.
Britain and the European Union warned each other on Monday that time was running out to reach a Brexit trade deal, with big differences still to be bridged on state aid, enforcement and fishing. The United Kingdom leaves the EU's orbit on Dec. 31, when a transition period of informal membership ends following its formal departure last January, and the sides are trying to secure a deal to govern nearly $1 trillion in annual trade. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is also tackling Europe's worst official death toll from COVID-19, says a deal would be preferable but that Britain, which joined the EU in 1973, would flourish without one.
WILMINGTON, Del. — President-elect Joe Biden will likely wear a walking boot for the next several weeks as he recovers from breaking his right foot while playing with one of his dogs, his doctor said. Biden suffered the injury on Saturday and visited an orthopedist in Newark, Delaware, on Sunday afternoon, his office said. “Initial x-rays did not show any obvious fracture,” but medical staff ordered a more detailed CT scan, his doctor, Kevin O’Connor, said in a statement. The subsequent scan found tiny fractures of two small bones in the middle of his right foot, O’Connor said. “It is anticipated that he will likely require a walking boot for several weeks,” O’Connor said. Fractures are a concern generally as people age, but Biden’s appears to be a relatively mild one based on his doctor’s statement and the planned treatment. At 78 he will become the oldest president when he’s inaugurated in January; he often dismissed questions about his age during the campaign. Reporters covering the president-elect were not afforded the opportunity to see Biden enter the doctor's office Sunday, despite multiple requests. Leaving the doctor's office to head to an imaging centre for his CT scan, Biden was visibly limping, though he walked without a crutch or other aid. Biden sustained the injury playing with Major, one of the Bidens’ two dogs. They adopted Major in 2018, and acquired their first dog, Champ, after the 2008 election. The Bidens have said they’ll be bringing their dogs to the White House and also plan to get a cat. Last December he released a doctor's report that disclosed he takes a statin to keep his cholesterol at healthy levels, but his doctor described him as “healthy, vigorous” and “fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency.” ___ Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report. Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
LONDON — In late October, Matthew Jones was enjoying a rare “bit of normality” at his London barber shop in a year that has been short on that. He was cutting hair and laughing with colleagues — when the news landed that the business would have to close for the second time.Jones, 43, endured 15 weeks without any income after the three Sharpes barber shops he co-owns were forced to shut in the spring as the government imposed restrictions to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The shops, including a tiny one in east London’s trendy Hackney neighbourhood, had been open for four months when Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered a new lockdown.“It was a body blow for everyone that works here,” he said. “You’re just building up your business again, trying to get back to a normal lifestyle. And then all of a sudden it’s all taken away.”As in much of Europe, the United Kingdom saw a sharp resurgence of COVID-19 infections this autumn, and officials imposed a second round of severe restrictions. The suffering has been especially acute in the U.K., where more than 57,000 people have died in Europe’s deadliest outbreak and the economy has plunged into the worst recession on record.While small businesses all over the world are struggling as the virus forces many to close outright while also remaking consumer habits, many in the U.K. are facing the double whammy of the pandemic and the economic uncertainty caused by Britain's exit from the European Union.___EDITOR’S NOTE — Small businesses around the world are fighting for survival amid the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Whether they make it will affect not just local economies but the fabric of communities. Associated Press journalists tell their stories in the series “Small Business Struggles.”___Many British businesses managed to survive the spring lockdown with generous aid from the government, including grants like the 10,000-pound ($13,300) one Jones received and a program that pays a portion of wages to workers whose employers are struggling. The measures have helped keep the unemployment rate relatively low at 4.8% — though it has been rising and is forecast to hit 7.5% next spring.The latest round of restrictions could pack a bigger punch, coming smack in the crucial weeks ahead of Christmas. Even before the second lockdown was announced, a survey conducted by Britain’s Office for National Statistics showed that one in seven U.K. companies reported having “little or no confidence” they would survive the next three months.Jones estimates that the pandemic wiped out 60% of his income this year. With his shops closed, the single dad, who has a 10-year-old daughter, is doing odd jobs on building sites — and praying that business will return enough to ease the pain once restrictions lift on Dec. 2. The five other barbers who work in his shops are self-employed, and trying to scrape by as well.“It could be really tough if it carries on," Jones said, as he put up Christmas lights in his empty shop on Hackney's Broadway Market.Hackney has seen steady gentrification in the past two decades. Located in London's historically gritty East End, the borough was once known as the home of a stretch dubbed “Murder Mile," but Hackney is now filled with trendy bars and expensive apartments.Broadway Market itself is lined with some 60 small shops, cafes and restaurants, and before COVID-19 hit, the street would throng with locals and tourists coming for the hugely popular weekend market. These days, some shops are doing better than others, but everyone is scrambling to adapt.Jane Howe, who has run Broadway Bookshop since 2005, said the weekends would often get so busy that her shop would take in thousands of pounds in sales per day on the back of 7.99-pound books.For a shop that relies heavily on foot traffic, the cycles of coronavirus restrictions have been hard. In June, Howe launched a website for the first time.Even once her doors reopened, the tiny space meant she couldn't welcome back her usual crowds. Sales from the website don't come close to making up for the in-person ones she's lost — especially during the crucial Christmas period, when her shop typically rakes in a third of its annual sales.“We’re missing out on the impulse buys, the ‘sweetie by the till factor,’” she said.With the shop pulling in just over half what it used to, Howe has stopped paying herself and, when one of her two employees left, she was not able to replace her.Like Jones, she’s managed to keep paying the rent thanks to a government grant. She has also taken out a 50,000-pound state loan.“What we are doing, which is our best, I think is working for the moment,” she said.Others haven't fared as well. A much-loved bakery next to Sharpes that was part of 66-year-old family-run chain closed for good, Jones said.Percy Ingle blamed the closure of its 48 bakeries on many factors that predated the pandemic, including rising rents and wages and the likelihood that the low-margin business wouldn't provide a good return on needed capital investments. Like many businesses, even those that were allowed to remain open, it shut for several weeks in the spring before reopening with safety measures.The bakery closure stands in contrast to a trend seen on much of the street, whose butchers, fishmongers, greengrocers and delis have done relatively well thanks to a surge in interest from fairly affluent locals who are now working from home and doing more shopping in the neighbourhood.Popular coffee shop and roastery Climpsons struggled to adapt at first — the cafe was shut, the wholesale business almost completely wiped out, and 34 of the company’s 42 workers went on the government furlough scheme in the first weeks of the pandemic, co-owner Danny Davies said.But now on weekdays, Climpsons often serves more take-away coffees than before the pandemic. That makes up for losses on the wholesale side, which supplied restaurants and offices.“There’s the suburban community high street success story I think, which is a lot of great local businesses are thriving — much higher sales than before even, if they sell things that people can grab and go home with,” Davies said.Down the street, Grigorios Vaitsas says business at his deli, Isle of Olive, has not been too bad, even though he closed his small indoor cafe and Christmas shopping events have been cancelled.But Vaitsas and his partner, Paulina, who import their products from Greece, have been losing sleep over another threat: Brexit.The couple are worried about the tariffs and bureaucracy if Britain leaves the economic embrace of the EU at the end of the year with no deal in place. That combined with the pandemic makes a “perfect storm,” Vaitsas said.“We are holding our breath,” he said.Vaitsas laughed when asked where he sees himself in six months. He says he's “operating on a week by week basis.”Other business owners agree that they don't have the capacity to think too far ahead.“Most business people sort of wrote this year off…. Let’s just keep our heads down, pay our bills, pay the rent, and try not to worry,” said Jones. “And next year is another year, and we can start again.”Sylvia Hui, The Associated Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. EST on Nov. 30, 2020:There are 370,238 confirmed cases in Canada._ Quebec: 141,038 confirmed (including 7,033 deaths, 122,014 resolved) _ Ontario: 114,746 confirmed (including 3,648 deaths, 97,319 resolved) _ Alberta: 56,444 confirmed (including 533 deaths, 40,219 resolved) _ British Columbia: 30,884 confirmed (including 395 deaths, 21,304 resolved) _ Manitoba: 16,483 confirmed (including 301 deaths, 7,010 resolved) _ Saskatchewan: 8,239 confirmed (including 45 deaths, 4,589 resolved) _ Nova Scotia: 1,271 confirmed (including 65 deaths, 1,078 resolved) _ New Brunswick: 481 confirmed (including 7 deaths, 363 resolved) _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 333 confirmed (including 4 deaths, 297 resolved) _ Nunavut: 177 confirmed (including 65 resolved) _ Prince Edward Island: 72 confirmed (including 68 resolved) _ Yukon: 42 confirmed (including 1 death, 29 resolved) _ Northwest Territories: 15 confirmed (including 15 resolved) _ Repatriated Canadians: 13 confirmed (including 13 resolved) _ Total: 370,238 (0 presumptive, 370,238 confirmed including 12,032 deaths, 294,383 resolved)This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.The Canadian Press
President-elect Joe Biden fractured his right foot while playing with one of his dogs, an injury discovered in a scan Sunday and that will likely require him to wear a boot for several weeks, his doctor said. (Nov. 30)
Iran began the burial of slain nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in a cemetery in northern Tehran on Monday, state TV reported, as the defence minister promised the Islamic Republic would retaliate for his killing. Fakhrizadeh, long suspected by Western and Israeli government of masterminding a secret nuclear weapons program, was ambushed on a highway near Tehran on Friday and gunned down in his car.
When Retired Gen. Rick Hillier received a call from Ontario Premier Doug Ford asking him to oversee the province's COVID-19 vaccine rollout, he knew he couldn't say no."My reaction was, I'm not looking for a job, I'm not looking for the stress that goes with this kind of appointment," Hillier told CBC Radio's Fresh Air on Sunday."And I thought about it for some hours after I spoke with Premier Ford, and then thought, you can't sit back, be critical of what's going on around you in many ways, I suppose, be saying I want to get back to a regular life, and then when your premier phones and asks you to be part of an effort to get us back to what we believe is a normal life, you can't say no," Hillier said."Duty calls is what went through my mind at the end of it."Hillier, former Chief of Defence Staff for the Canadian Armed Forces from February 2005 to July 2008 and Commander of the NATO-led forces during the war in Afghanistan in 2004, said he was in Newfoundland and Labrador when he got the call.Hillier said the appointment, announced on Monday, means balancing new responsibilities with previous commitments as well as his personal life, but he decided the role matters to the province and to Canada. "There's nothing more important for the almost 15 million people in Ontario than getting this vaccine program right," he said. "And since I also believe that as Ontario goes, the rest of Canada goes, I don't think there's anything more important for Canada."His official title is chair of COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force. The task force will advise the Ontario government on delivery, storage and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. It will also provide support for the health care system to deliver a "phased" vaccination program.That program will begin with immunization of vulnerable populations, then proceed with mass immunization. The province said it is planning the early rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine program with vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. The task force will provide clinical guidance on vaccine administration and monitoring of vaccine uptake. And it will implement a "broad and sustained" public education and community outreach effort to encourage vaccination."I talked to the premier and said: 'Yeah, I'm in, I'll do the best I can.' Nobody can ask more of me than that. I'll do the very best I can."On Monday, Ford said: "This task force will be responsible for the largest vaccine rollout in a generation, a massive logistical undertaking, the likes of which this province has never seen. Because as soon as these vaccines are available, we have to be ready. We need military precision."Team being assembled to deal with War Against COVID-19Hillier said a small team is already being assembled against what he called "the War" on COVID-19. That team will ensure the rollout is effective, he said. In a news release on Monday, the province said it will announce other task force members in the coming days.Asked if overseeing a military operation in the Afghan desert against the Taliban will be useful experience when overseeing a vaccine rollout, Hillier said: "We're used to operating in an environment where there are a huge number of unknowns.""And we know how to parse through the information, to develop the information and try to determine all that we possibly can to allow us to plan and execute an operation appropriately. We're used to operating in a void," he said."In fact, that's where we are with the drug right now. We don't know when it's going to come. We don't know which ones will get here first. We don't know all the characteristics of it beyond the fact that there will be some challenges logistically in handling it."Hillier said he agrees with Ford that military precision is a very useful thing but added that everyone has a role to play."We're used to operating as a team and I think more so than anywhere else around. We pile on, we have each other's back, and we're straightforward and frank with each other. But we're all there with one mission."Role is to 'tie all of those pieces together'Hillier said his job is not actually rolling out the vaccine in Ontario, because there are medical professionals who will actually roll it out, but he will "tie all of those pieces together" with his small team to make it a nearly seamless operation."I've learned a lot by having the opportunity to serve with Canada's sons and daughters in uniform and their families and the civilians who support the armed forces for decades. I've learned a lot about leadership. I talk about leadership, write about leadership. And the one thing I always come back to is, if you're a leader, it's all about people," he said."And if you can energize people, focus them on the mission at hand, support them as they launch into those tasks, inspire them when they get tired, then you're going to be okay because they'll have the great ideas. Their minds will be brought to work and applied on behalf of the province and the people of Ontario."Hillier says leadership is what mattersHillier said leadership is what matters and the Canadian Armed Forces produces effective leaders.He noted there was criticism over the recent naming of Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, current chief of staff to the Canadian Joint Operations Command and a former commander of the NATO mission in Iraq, as vice president, logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada. Some pundits objected because Fortin is not a medical professional.But Hillier said that criticism is unwarranted."I think the Canadian Armed Forces produce leaders that are extraordinary," Hillier said. "We have a program of education and training, of experiencing people, selecting them, and then tying all that together with a mentorship program that is phenomenal," he said."I don't believe there's another organization or institution in Canada that produces leaders in a systemic manner like the Canadian Armed Forces does."In January 1998, Hillier led 15,000 military personnel under "Operation Recuperation" to help Ontario, New Brunswick and Quebec recover from an ice storm.
Deaths from malaria due to disruptions during the coronavirus pandemic to services designed to tackle the mosquito-borne disease will far exceed those killed by COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa, the World Health Organization warned on Monday. More than 409,000 people globally - most of them babies in the poorest parts of Africa - were killed by malaria last year, the WHO said in its latest global malaria report, and COVID-19 will almost certainly make that toll higher in 2020. "Our estimates are that depending on the level of service disruption (due to COVID-19) ... there could be an excess of malaria deaths of somewhere between 20,000 and 100,000 in sub-Saharan Africa, most of them in young children," Pedro Alsonso, director of the WHO's malaria programme, told reporters.
WATERLOO — Anne Dagg arrived at Fleur de Lys Ranch in 1956. She was 23, and determined to study wild giraffes. She had driven alone for about 1000 miles through apartheid-era South Africa in a second-hand Ford Prefect with a radiator that needed to be topped up almost every 20 minutes. Then the car she called Camelo, after the giraffe’s scientific name, Camelopardalis, broke down in the dark five miles from her destination. “I started to pray,” she says. “I had to walk, I was so scared.” In a letter to home, she described how she got out of the car, locked it and started to walk along the road in the dark. She couldn’t even see in front of her. But the trial was worth it. “The next morning I saw my first giraffe,” she says with glee. Dagg stayed at Fleur de Lys with her host, Alexander Matthew, for most of the year, observing the giraffes and taking careful notes. “It was heaven,” she says. When Dagg returned to Canada, she earned her PhD in animal behaviour at the University of Waterloo. But she was a woman, and in 1972, after working as an assistant professor of zoology at the University of Guelph and publishing 20 research papers, she was denied tenure by the dean. “I was really angry,” she says. “I was just really annoyed that so many people really didn’t care about the actual information, they just wanted to make sure it wasn’t a woman.” After that, day-to-day life in Waterloo was sometimes surreal for Dagg. “It was weird because no one was ever interested,” she says. “I’d say, ‘I’ve been up Mount Kilimanjaro,’ and there’d be a pause, and you would know they’re thinking, ‘what a liar.’” “I just went with it because there’s nothing else I could do.” Dagg channelled her energy into promoting equality for women and protection for animals, and raised her children with the same values. She continued to write, while working part time in the Independent Studies department at the University of Waterloo. Every Valentine’s Day she took her daughter, Mary, with her to protest the sale of furs in front of department stores in Kitchener, Waterloo and Toronto. They also protested when a circus came to town. “A couple circuses, Barnum and Bailey at the time, came to the Kitchener Auditorium,” says Mary. “I remember the two of us went out with a bunch of other people from similar organizations.” They shouldn’t be treating the elephants and tigers that way, she says. “You can have a circus without using animals, so we would protest that.” Mary also remembers her mother petitioning to ensure the animals at Waterloo Park were treated well, especially the bears and cougar. “They used to have these tiny little cages,” says Mary. “I remember mom just pushing and pushing with The Record. ... Just saying, you’ve got to get these poor animals out of these cages, they’re just so small.” Today, Dagg lives in the Luther Village on the Park community not far from where she and her husband raised their children. An elegant glass environmental award crowds a shelf with a Boggle board game. Robert Bateman paintings share the walls with children’s drawings and a careful giraffe sketch from a teenage fan. A stuffed giraffe takes up a whole corner, while her Doctor of Science degree from the University of Waterloo casually leans against the couch. A giraffe charm hangs from a light fixture and catches the sun. “A lot of them have just been given, which is very kind,” she says. “Then you have to find a home for them.” In her office are neat rows of books: all the books Dagg wrote or collaborated on during her years pursuing science on her own. “It makes me very proud, because that’s a lot of work.” “When other parents would be tired and maybe they would just want to sit and watch TV, or just relax or something, mom would be up in her office working away,” says Mary. “We’d all be doing our homework and mom was either down reading a book or upstairs ...” “... writing a book,” finishes Dagg. For about 30 years Dagg’s accomplishments remained in relative obscurity, until she was tracked down by a group of giraffe biologists in 2010. Unbeknownst to Dagg, she was — and still is — considered a foundational expert in the field by the academic giraffe community. In 2018, a documentary on her, “The Woman Who Loves Giraffes,” was released and her work finally received widespread recognition. After the documentary was released she received awards and national attention. Universities bestowed honorary degrees. The University of Guelph made a formal apology and created a scholarship in her name. The Toronto Zoo named a newborn giraffe after her. Last year she was appointed to the Order of Canada. Dagg still seems a little surprised and tickled by the limelight, but first and foremost she cares about the fate of giraffes. Giraffes are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, the world’s most comprehensive resource for the status of species conservation. Habitat loss, illegal hunting and poaching, civil unrest and military activity are all listed as leading threats to giraffe populations. Since 1985, giraffes’ numbers have declined from nearly 152,000 to about 97,500 in 2015. Giraffes’ numbers are much lower than other high-profile African species. For example, chimpanzees’ overall populations are estimated between 170,000 and 299,700, and African elephants at 415,000. To help giraffes survive, Dagg, her daughter, Mary, and their team are launching the Anne Innis Dagg Foundation. Once the documentary about Dagg’s life was released, the Daggs were flooded with requests from people asking how they can join her cause and help save giraffes. “When people watch the movie,” says Mary Dagg, “they just come out going, ‘Wow, what an amazing woman,’ and the next one is, ‘How can I help? How can I make a difference?’ “We realized that what they really want to do is connect with Anne and stuff that Anne is informed with and engaged with. I read somewhere that when you make a donation, you’re not necessarily making a donation toward a cause, you’re donating to a person who has a cause,” Mary says. Dagg’s living room is now a command post for giraffe activity. Cart tables are set up as makeshift desks and covered with stacks of papers, books, binders, articles, and newspaper clippings. Mary Dagg has taken a year’s leave to help launch the foundation. Their goal is to peacefully help preserve the world’s giraffes. For the Daggs, this means a focus on promoting education about giraffes and conservation in African countries including Tanzania, where the giraffe is the national animal. In November, the foundation worked with the Wild Nature Institute to hire an environmental scientist based in Mto Wa Mbu, Tanzania. This position of Dr. Anne Innis Dagg Environmental Education Co-ordinator is tasked with visiting schools and communities to raise awareness about giraffe conservation. Tree planting is emphasized to teach the importance of habitat conservation and school trips are organized to take the children to see giraffes in the wild, something many of them have never seen, says Mary. So far 12 schools in Tanzania are scheduled to be visited — four secondary and eight primary. Other funds raised will go toward rangers who track poachers, as well as helping train and support “sniffer” dogs to detect giraffe parts being smuggled across the Tanzanian and Kenyan border, says Mary. With overall numbers down by about 40 per cent in 30 years, giraffes can use all the help they can get. Conservation biologists and experts don’t think they will survive without more direct human intervention. “It’s a very complicated problem. But you’ve got to start somewhere,” says Dagg. “If we don’t smarten up, we could lose the giraffe.” Learn more at anneinnisdaggfoundation.org Leah Gerber’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. The funding allows her to report on stories about the Grand River Watershed. Email email@example.comLeah Gerber, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Waterloo Region Record
LOS ANGELES — Retired Baseball Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully turned 93 on Sunday and marked the day by watching football.Scully saw both the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers lose and the Kansas City Chiefs win, led by Patrick Mahomes, who is his favourite quarterback, according to Los Dodgers Dodgers spokesman Steve Brener.Scully spent the day at his Los Angeles-area home with his wife, Sandra. His daughter, Katherine, brought him three balloons with the Nos. 50, 40 and 3 on them, adding up to his age of 93.Scully retired from the Dodgers booth following the 2016 season. He spent 67 seasons with the franchise, beginning when it was located in Brooklyn. His is the longest tenure of any broadcaster with a single pro team in sports history.___More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_SportsThe Associated Press
BANGKOK — Thailand’s indefatigable pro-democracy activists took to Bangkok's streets again Sunday, this time to protest the army as they push forward with their campaign for sweeping reforms, including to the nation's monarchy.Around 800 protesters marched to the base of the 11th Infantry Regiment, which is closely associated with the country’s royal palace. Their number grew to well over 1,000 as they settled in for speeches by protest leaders.An advance group of protesters had already pulled away two decrepit buses that had been used to block the entrance to the base and removed strands of razor wire. A large contingent of riot police, several rows deep, stood their ground in front of the gate but no violence was reported by the end of the rally.The protesters believe that the army undermines democracy in Thailand, and that King Maha Vajiralongkorn wields too much power and influence in what is supposed to be a democratic constitutional monarchy.The student-led protesters for months now have been demanding reforms to make the monarchy more accountable, even though criticism of the institution has long been considered taboo and comments judged defamatory of the king and key royals are punishable by up to 15 years in prison.“People should be able to criticize the king. People should be able to inspect what he does. In this way, people will respect and love him more,” said activist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, who served seven years in prison for defaming the monarchy and is facing criminal charges in connection with this year’s protests.The protesters also want Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his government to step down and the constitution to be amended to make it more democratic.As the army chief in 2014, Prayuth led a coup ousting an elected government. His military junta oversaw the rewriting of the constitution, which shifted power from elected politicians to unelected bodies, and he was returned to power after elections held under the new rules last year.Prayuth faces a legal challenge on Wednesday, when the constitutional Court is to rule on whether he illegally stayed in army housing after he retired from the military at the end of September 2014. If found guilty, he could be forced out of the prime minister's post. Protest leader Parit “Penguin” Chiwarak urged the crowd to rally outside the court on the day of the verdict.The site of Sunday's protest was symbolic for several reasons.Last year, the 11th Infantry Regiment was shifted from the army’s chain of command and made part of the Royal Security Command, answerable directly to the king. The action was one of several denounced by protesters as an example of the palace taking powers that should not be allowed under constitutional rule.Although it was a bloodless army revolt in 1932 that ended the absolute monarchy and installed constitutional rule, the military and the palace have been closely allied for decades. By promoting and defending the royal institution, the army lays claim to being the protector of the nation, while the palace can count on the army to put down any threats to its position of privilege.There have been 20 military coups since 1932, the most recent ones in 2006 and 2014. Because it is based in Bangkok, the 11th Infantry Regiment has been a key player in coups, or opposing them, according to the prevailing political climate.While most coups are bloodless, the army has not hesitated to use force to crush threats to the established order.In 2010, more than 90 people were killed and almost 2,000 injured during nine weeks of protests that saw part of central Bangkok occupied by protesters who were eventually cleared out by the army. Prayuth, then a senior army general, was involved in the crackdown.In announcing plans for Sunday’s protest, a group from Bangkok’s Thammasat University explained on Twitter that the regiment was targeted “because this unit suppressed people in 2010 and it was the main force for the previous coups.”Near the end of the rally, protesters threw red paint in the direction of the army base — some splattering on shields held by the police — to symbolize the 2010 bloodshed.___Associated Press journalist Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul contributed to this report.Grant Peck, The Associated Press
Police are investigating after thieves drove a truck through the front of a Lethbridge, Alta., pub, making off with the ATM.Honkers Pub manager Chelsea Meyering said she got an alarm notification at 6 a.m. Sunday, and after checking the cameras, saw the damage. The truck had driven through the front entrance of the business, located at 2808 Fifth Avenue North, and surveillance video shows the truck's two occupants stealing the pub's ATM and then driving away."The front window was completely taken out," Meyering said. "You feel violated for sure. This is not just a workplace for us, this is our other home."When police arrived, the floor was also scattered with cans of soup — the business had been collecting non-perishable donations for the food bank. * Watch | Surveillance video captures the moment robbers drove through the front of a Lethbridge pubPub owner Vicky Vanden Hoek said the damages are estimated to be more than $20,000.Nobody was injured, something Vanden Hoek said she's very thankful for.A hard time for small businessVanden Hoek said the robbery comes at the end of a tough week, as new restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19 have been hard on local businesses like hers.The pub also has a conference room cafe, and had 19 events for 15-person groups scheduled in the coming weeks that were cancelled."The new rulings have almost taken our business to a halt, even though we're doing everything possible to distance, sanitize, wear masks," she said. Vanden Hoek said another blow came on Friday, when Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis turned off their four VLT machines even though large casinos in the city were allowed to keep operating."We just thought that's just not fair, us local pubs are trying to survive … and with the break-in, it's like strike three, it can't get worse, it's got to get better." Vanden Hoek said. She said she was told by AGLC the machines will be turned back on in time for the pub to reopen on Tuesday.Vanden Hoek said she understands everyone is struggling, but she's sad the thieves chose to hurt a small business in their desperation."We just want people to go get help. We would be the first people if they needed a free people come in, we'd cook them something … just don't sabotage our business."Vanden Hoek said the community has been extremely supportive, even starting an online fundraiser to support the business which has been a fixture in the area for 23 years. Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to contact Lethbridge police at 403-328-4444, or to contact Crime Stoppers anonymously.
A church in Langley B.C., just east of Vancouver has been fined $2,300 for contravening a recent provincial health order that prohibits in-person, faith-related gatherings, which was aimed at limiting the spread of COVID19.On Sunday, Langley RCMP said they asked congregants at the small church in a strip mall to disperse. When they didn't, police issued the fine.Congregants Tanya Gaw and Kari Simpson said bylaw officers issued the fine at the 8:30 a.m. PT service.The bylaw officers returned later accompanied by three RCMP officers. There, the officers were confronted by churchgoers, but police didn't issue another fine.Earlier this month, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry suspended all in-person faith-related gatherings as part of a wider effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.Worshippers were told not to attend services at their gurdwara, synagogue, church, mosque or temple. Simpson said many churchgoers disagree with the health directive."This is probably ground zero for the churches standing up," Simpson said, from the parking lot in front of the church. "There is a movement afoot to ensure that more churches also start to defy Bonnie Henry's orders."Simpson and Gaw said they doubt the validity of Henry's orders, and question why liquor stores should remain open as an essential service, but not churches. Gaw said rising levels of depression and anxiety are signs that people need places like churches to remain open. "The church is the community for many people," she said. Gaw said she thinks the rising number of COVID-19 cases is due to faulty testing, which is causing false positives. "The deception to the public is instilling this unbelievable fear," she said. "All of it needs to stop. And we're pleading with the government to to just stop the whole thing." The province's latest report on test positivity shows that 8.5 per cent of tests performed through its Medical Services Plan— B.C.'s medical insurance plan — across the province were positive, a figure that rose to 11 per cent in the Fraser Health region.The provincial health order suspending faith-related gatherings has drawn criticism from faith leaders, including Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver J. Michael Miller, who said the move was "puzzling" considering parishes like those under his leadership have not been vectors of transmission.But Henry said on Friday that transmissions were happening at places of worship.Meantime, two other churches in the Fraser Valley also said they're continuing to offer in-person services despite the health order.2 Chilliwack churches also gatheringThe Free Grace Baptist Church and Free Reformed Church in Chilliwack both held services last week. On Sunday, the Free Grace Baptist Church again held a service.Lindsay Britton lives across the street from the Baptist church. Britton said he phoned police Sunday morning because people were gathering there. He was concerned they would spread more of the coronavirus into his community"I think we have to take a firmer stand," he said. The two churches' leaders argue that restricting the gatherings violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.Both said they consider in-person worship an essential service and that, as commanded by God, they are required to attend public worship.
An injunction that would have paused the provincial government's inquiry into alleged foreign-funded campaigns against Alberta's energy industry was dismissed in the Court of Queen's Bench on Thursday. Justice Karen M. Horner said she agreed with the province and the commissioner that there is no evidence that the release of information from the inquiry will negatively impact the reputation of Ecojustice, an environmental law charity that filed for the injunction. Ecojustice had filed the injunction because they said inquiry commissioner Steve Allan had not put in place a defined process in which organizations could respond to the inquiry, something the organization argued could result in "irreparable reputational harm". However, in September the inquiry posted rules for gathering information from different parties. The United Conservative Party government launched the inquiry in July 2019. Then justice minister Doug Schweitzer appointed Allan, a Calgary insolvency accountant, as the inquiry's commissioner. In November 2019, Ecojustice filed a legal challenge against the controversial inquiry alleging it was created for "partisan political purposes" outside the authority of the Public Inquiries Act and had been tainted by bias from the outset. The court hearing for the challenge was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Devon Page, executive director of Ecojustice, said he was disappointed to learn of the judicial response to the injunction, however because of the application the court has asked the two parties to consider a second hearing date. "If we get a main hearing on this for the release of the report, we are in exactly the place we want to be, so at the end of the day it may not mean much, " he said. He said they are considering a court date either in December or February. The province has on several occasions amended the scope and scale of the inquiry and has granted extensions for its submission. Originally the inquiry was supposed to be filed in July 2020, but now the inquiry is due on Jan. 31 and the province is legally obligated to release it 90 days after submission. Page said there is a chance for the province to release the report early and if that happens it would be "consistent with what the intent has been from the outset, to not actually conduct a fair process, conduct something that is pre-conceived and conclude the witch hunt, again for the purpose of wanting to go after people who criticize the Alberta oil and gas," he said.
TORONTO — Tessa Virtue doesn't feel the same sense of exhilaration or rush of adrenaline as she did standing at centre-ice after a gold-medal performance.At least not on that scale or of that magnitude. And that's okay. "There are so many things that are making me really content and joyful that were just impossible to experience as an athlete in training," Virtue said. "So, there's sort of something offsetting that where I might not be getting that adrenaline rush, there's so much that I feel passionate about and new goals that I'm striving for - which is both scary and exhilarating."Virtue and Scott Moir were among the 114 athletes, artists, scholars and community leaders named to the Order of Canada on Friday. They're the most decorated ice dancers in history, capturing five Olympic medals, including a pair of ice dance gold in 2010 and 2018.Virtue is swamped with school work these days as part of Queens University's Executive MBA program - one of the new pursuits that's pushed her out of her comfort zone.She's typed out frantic text messages to retired Paralympic swimmer Ben Huot - who graduated from Queens' EMBA program - saying, "Have I made a mistake? What am I doing?" she laughed. "(Huot) been so wonderfully supportive. "But I am so happy I did it. And it's an extraordinary cohort, everyone is so impressive and has accomplished such wonderful things and in such diverse spheres, and so the conversations are so exhilarating, and especially right now, I'm so grateful to have the chance to sort of expand my mind."Virtue spent the first few months of the pandemic living in North Vancouver with boyfriend and Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly. The power couple joined Arkells frontman on an Instagram live stream back in March. They appeared virtually on the Great Kitchen Party: Home Edition a month later.The couple is back living in Toronto now, and recently purchased a puppy they named Zoe.Virtue and Moir's captivating free dance to music from "Moulin Rouge" in Pyeongchang will endure as one of the greatest Olympic figure skating performances ever. Just one of the numerous YouTube streams has over 1.3 million views.But Virtue has barely watched it."I've seen parts of it here and there. And I love the feeling that it evokes in me," she said. "I'm still so proud of that moment of course. But I can't decide if it feels like it was yesterday or honestly if I feel just a few lifetimes away from it. So, it's like that disconnect, right, where I kind of hold onto the feeling that we had when the program ended. "And when we reflect together, so much of our sporting life just seems so fresh that I'm sure there hasn't been enough time for perspective, right?"Virtue and Moir, from Ilderton, Ont., competed for two decades. Earning Order of Canada honours, she said, was an honour that had her reflecting on their early days."This is not something we would have ever known to even dream for. We weren't seven and nine (years old) cruising around the ice together talking about this, it seemed unfathomable," she said. "And yet, we watched so many of our friends and peers along the way receive this incredible honour. I just feel humbled, and just so, so honoured."Virtue talked by telephone Sunday before appearing virtually on Hayley Wickenheiser's "WickFest: Female Hockey Festival," calling a few minutes early to ensure she wouldn't have to duck out too soon. Olympic athletes, both active and retired, have been front and centre in the battle against the global pandemic. Wickenheiser, of course, teamed up with actor Ryan Reynolds and others for "Conquer COVID-19," an initiative that delivered much-needed personal protective equipment to hospitals. Numerous other athletes have hosted virtual practices, information sessions, etc. for Canadian kids."It can be underestimated, I guess, what that kind of mentorship or connection with an athlete does," Virtue said. "I think about those kids watching the next Olympics and how invested they'll be and it's pretty neat to share that."The international figure skating schedule has been a bust since last March when COVID-19 forced cancellation of the world championships in Montreal.Keegan Messing is the only Canadian to have competed so far this season (Skate America). Skate Canada International was scrapped, and if Stockholm, Sweden does manage to host the world championships in March - organizers want to host it in a "bubble" - there's no guarantee Canada will even go because of lack of preparation, quarantine restrictions, etc."I think there's a caveat to everything in that it offers great perspective. You realize just how seemingly insignificant ice dance can be or skating," Virtue said. "But at the same time, in their relative spheres, and as far as their goals and pursuits go, it's huge to miss out on one competition, let alone a season. "I think just changing that benchmark of knowing when to prepare for something, how a peak, how to maximize your time, the unknown, the uncertainty, like so many people are facing, must be really challenging. And my heart goes out to (the skaters)."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020.Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press
VICTORIA — The British Columbia cabinet minister appointed to lead the province's COVID-19 pandemic recovery says he plans to mount a large team effort from inside and outside of government to spur economic success. Ravi Kahlon, a former Canadian Olympian in field hockey, said he will look to involve ministries, businesses, communities and workers in an effort to provide immediate help to struggling businesses and steer towards a post-pandemic future focused on innovation. "We have to have everyone working together," he said in a recent interview. "You look at how businesses have worked together with government to deliver pieces during the pandemic," said Kahlon. "That's the same mentality we're going to need when we get out. We can put critical pieces in place, incentives and supports, so that we can bounce back at a rate which most people in B.C. expect." Premier John Horgan appointed Kahlon as jobs, economic recovery and innovation minister last week, saying he piled enormous responsibilities onto the two-term New Democrat from suburban Vancouver and expected results. Horgan appointed his cabinet following last month's election where the NDP won a majority government, capturing 57 of 87 seats. Kahlon, 41, who previously served as a parliamentary secretary in the forests ministry and led the reintroduction of B.C.'s Human Rights Commission, said he will consult broadly on the recovery. "My view with everything is the government doesn't have a monopoly on good ideas," he said. "There are good ideas in the community. There are good ideas in the business community, good ideas from local elected officials." Horgan issued mandate letters to the ministers and parliamentary secretaries stating the government's overall goals: people first, clean environment, Indigenous reconciliation, equity and anti-racism, health and strong economy. He also provided each of the 37 ministers, ministers of state and parliamentary secretaries with individual mandate goals. Among the goals for ministers are: free transit for children 12 years old and younger, drop the seven per cent provincial sales tax on e-bikes and consider public condominium insurance if the issue of skyrocketing rates is not resolved by 2021. Horgan asked Kahlon to "deliver initiatives that will directly support small businesses and build an inclusive economic recovery across B.C." Prof. Tom Koch, a medical geographer at the University of B.C. who specializes in mapping diseases, said Horgan's cabinet should spend more time fighting today's pandemic than looking to a recovery. "The priority of looking forward to me is a little premature," he said. "It has to be done ... but the question immediately is what are we doing about hospitals and about hospital capacity and what are we doing about trying to rein in those areas where accelerators are occurring." B.C.'s most recent COVID-19 infection report saw a record daily high of 911 cases Friday, while the death toll is nearing 400 people. Koch said economic recovery should play a part in Horgan's cabinet and government direction, but at this time when cases are surging, the premier appears to be saying, "do we basically want to start planning the victory parade in the second quarter." Kahlon said he expects businesses, communities, governments and people to work together to battle the pandemic. "I think the pandemic is going to push societies to a place where innovation will be critical and I think we're well-positioned in B.C. to be not only leaders in Canada but I think world leaders." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2020. Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press
SALT LAKE CITY — A mysterious silver monolith that was placed in the Utah desert has disappeared less than 10 days after it was spotted by wildlife biologists performing a helicopter survey of bighorn sheep, federal officials and witnesses said.“We have received credible reports that the illegally installed structure, referred to as the ‘monolith’ has been removed from Bureau of Land Management public lands by an unknown party,” on Nov. 27, BLM spokesperson Kimberly Finch said in a statement. The agency did not remove the structure, she said.The Utah Department of Public Safety said biologists spotted the monolith on Nov. 18, a report that garnered international attention. It was about 11 feet (3.4 metres) tall with sides that appeared to be made of stainless steel.While Utah officials did not say specifically where the monolith was located, people soon found it on satellite images dating back to 2016 and determined its GPS co-ordinates, prompting people to hike into the area.Reporters with The Salt Lake Tribune hiked to the spot on Saturday and confirmed that it was gone.Spencer Owen of Salt Lake City said he saw the monolith Friday afternoon and camped in the region overnight, but as he hiked to the area again on Saturday people passing him on the trail warned him it was gone, the Tribune reported. When he arrived at the spot, all that was left was a triangular piece of metal covering a triangular-shaped hole in the rocks.“I was really bummed,” said Owen, who posted a video on his Instagram. “It was so pretty and shiny. I wanted to go see it again.”Riccardo Marino and his girlfriend Sierra Van Meter were travelling from Colorado to California on Friday and decided to stop and see the object after finding the GPS co-ordinates online.“This was just a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we couldn't miss out,” Marino told KUTV.On the way, they passed a long-bed truck with a large object in the back and he said he joked “oh look, there's the Utah monolith right there,” he said.When they arrived at the spot, it was gone.Steve Adams said he left Helper, in central Utah, at 7 a.m. Saturday to drive to the area. When he arrived and asked someone for directions he was told the tower was gone. He and some friends made the hike anyway.“It was pretty disappointing,” he told the Tribune. “We were really excited to go down and have an adventure to see it. It feels like it was everybody’s and then it was nobody’s. It’s gone.”Riccardo MarinoThe Associated Press
A group of Quebec artists are coming together to perform a benefit in honour of Joyce Echequan — an Atikamekw woman who shared a live video of abuse she faced from Joliette hospital staff hours before her death.The concert, called Waskapitan, was pre-recorded in Joliette last week and will be made available online as of Thursday Dec. 3.The lineup includes Elisapie, Ariane Moffatt, Florent Vollant, Patrick Watson, Natasha Kanapé Fontaine, Richard Séguin, Dominique Fils-Aimé, Richard Desjardins, Boucar Diouf and Patrice Robitaille.While the event is being released on demand for free, all funds raised through donations will go to the Lanaudière Native Friendship Centre."Waskapitan in Atikamekw means 'let's come together' and I think we need that more than ever," said Elisapie, who is co-organizing the event.She said this is an opportunity to raise money for expanded services at the Friendship Centre, showcase Indigenous culture and, most of all, pay respect to Echequan's memory."It really shook everybody, it really shook me as a mother, as a human being, as a woman," she told CBC.Jennifer Brazeau, director of the Lanaudière Native Friendship Centre, said that artists have a unique power to reach out and bring people together."We believe this is one of the vectors of change that we can implant after the tragedy to look toward how we can rebuild our communities," she said.She's also hoping the message will reach beyond her local community."We didn't want the issue to be solely the responsibility of Joliette. The events happened here in Joliette [but] this is an issue across the country."The concert will feature both Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists including some collaborations, added Elisapie."There will be times when there will be a real musical sharing of cultures. That's what we really wanted to highlight. We have to learn to be closer, to be curious, to be there for each other," she said.The show will be available online from December 3 to January 3.