Even before the first flakes fell, the mayor of New York City made it clear that students, including ones attending classes in person, will be expected to log in. Some found a way to enjoy the snow despite the mayor's gloomy forecast. (Dec. 17)
Even before the first flakes fell, the mayor of New York City made it clear that students, including ones attending classes in person, will be expected to log in. Some found a way to enjoy the snow despite the mayor's gloomy forecast. (Dec. 17)
WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Antony Blinken as America’s top diplomat, tasked with carrying out President Joe Biden’s commitment to reverse the Trump administration’s “America First” doctrine that weakened international alliances. Senators voted 78-22 to approve Blinken, a longtime Biden confidant, as the nation’s 71st secretary of state, succeeding Mike Pompeo. The position is the most senior Cabinet position, with the secretary fourth in the line of presidential succession. Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration. He has pledged to be a leading force in the administration’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which President Donald Trump questioned longtime alliances. He is expected to start work on Wednesday after being sworn in, according to State Department officials. “American leadership still matters,” Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at his Jan. 19 confirmation hearing. “The reality is, the world simply does not organize itself. When we’re not engaged, when we’re not leading, then one of two things is likely to happen. Either some other country tries to take our place, but not in a way that’s likely to advance our interests and values, or maybe just as bad, no one does and then you have chaos.” Blinken vowed that the Biden administration would approach the world with both humility and confidence, saying “we have a great deal of work to do at home to enhance our standing abroad.” Despite promising renewed American leadership and an emphasis on shoring up strained ties with allies in Europe and Asia, Blinken told lawmakers that he agreed with many of Trump’s foreign policy initiatives. He backed the so-called Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and several Arab states, and a tough stance on China over human rights and its assertiveness in the South China Sea. He did, however, signal that the Biden administration is interested in bringing Iran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal from which Trump withdrew in 2018. Trump's secretaries of state nominees met with significant opposition from Democrats. Trump’s first nominee for the job, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, was approved by a 56 to 43 vote and served only 13 months before Trump fired him in tweet. His successor, Pompeo, was confirmed in a 57-42 vote. Opposition to Blinken centred on Iran policy and concerns among conservatives that he will abandon Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. Blinken inherits a deeply demoralized and depleted career workforce at the State Department. Neither Tillerson nor Pompeo offered strong resistance to the Trump administration’s attempts to gut the agency, which were thwarted only by congressional intervention. Although the department escaped proposed cuts of more than 30% of its budget for three consecutive years, it has seen a significant number of departures from its senior and rising mid-level ranks, Many diplomats opted to retire or leave the foreign service given limited prospects for advancement under an administration that they believed didn't value their expertise. A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School and a longtime Democratic foreign policy presence, Blinken has aligned himself with numerous former senior national security officials who have called for a major reinvestment in American diplomacy and renewed emphasis on global engagement. Blinken served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration before becoming staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chair of the panel. In the early years of the Obama administration, Blinken returned to the NSC and was then-Vice-President Biden’s national security adviser before he moved to the State Department to serve as deputy to Secretary of State John Kerry, who is now serving as special envoy for climate change. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
MADRID — Lionel Messi is back in the Barcelona squad that will face second-division club Rayo Vallecano in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday. Messi has not played in the Copa del Rey this season but coach Ronald Koeman is expected to use him in the round-of-16 game after missing two matches because of a suspension. Messi had been rested before that because of an unspecified minor fitness problem. “He's fresh and isn't feeling any ailments,” Koeman said Tuesday. “To win things we need Messi to be in good shape and playing at the level that he can play. He is excited to play. He is the kind of player who wants to play in every match. We will look at our opponent and tomorrow we will know exactly who will be in the starting 11.” Messi received a two-match suspension for hitting an opponent away from the ball late in the team’s 3-2 loss to Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Super Cup final on Jan. 17. He did not play against Cornellà in the round of 32 of the Copa del Rey last week, nor against Elche in the Spanish league on Sunday. Barcelona won both matches 2-0. The Catalan club trails Spanish league leader Atlético Madrid by 10 points and is three points behind second-place Real Madrid entering the second half of the season. Atlético has a game in hand. Barcelona has played well this year despite the loss to Athletic in the Spanish Super Cup. It has won four straight league matches, all away from home. The Catalan club is unbeaten in nine consecutive league games. Rayo is coming off a loss to Mallorca but previously had won six in a row in all competitions. It sits fourth in the second-division standings, in good position to earn promotion. Barcelona defender Sergiño Dest will not play Wednesday because of a “thigh discomfort,” the club said. The Copa del Rey's round of 16 is still played in one-game matchups. “The Copa is a shorter tournament, with fewer games, and we play to win it," Koeman said. “I want to see my team with this winning mentality, just like it showed until now.” ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press
BURLINGTON, Ont. — Police say two women have died and three people are injured following a multi-vehicle crash on the Queen Elizabeth Way in Burlington, Ont. Ontario Provincial Police say they were called shortly after 5:30 a.m. to the four-vehicle collision. They say it appears a Mitsubishi vehicle crossed from the westbound lanes into the eastbound ones and collided head on with an Acura. Police say the Mitsubishi was then hit by a truck, after which a fourth vehicle lost control and rolled into the centre median ditch. Investigators say two women in the Mitsubishi were killed and three others are being treated for minor injuries. They say it's unclear what caused the crash, and it will likely take at least five or six hours for the highway to reopen in the area. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
More than two weeks after Canada implemented a rule that incoming airline passengers must show a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding a plane, the country still appears to be seeing some travel-related cases and the federal government is exploring ways to make it harder to go on trips. As more transmissible variants of the COVID virus emerge across the globe, experts say tightening the leaks around travel becomes even more important, and that the new testing requirements are not likely to catch all cases. COVID projections from Caroline Colijn, a mathematician and epidemiologist with Simon Fraser University, show a potentially grim picture for the next few months, with a skyrocketing spring wave fuelled by community spread of a more contagious variant. Colijn says clamping down on travel is her "top recommendation right now." "There's still a good chance that we can prevent — or at least really delay — large numbers of this high-transmission variant coming into Canada," she said. "And if we can push that peak out to September, we may be able to avert it if most of us are vaccinated by then." Colijn says essential travel needs to be more clearly defined by leaders, and quarantine rules more strongly enforced once people arrive. More stringent restrictions on land border crossings and further limitations on travel within the country will also help, she adds. While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Canadians should cancel all upcoming non-essential trips they may have planned, other options the government is looking at include implementing a mandatory quarantine in hotels for returning travellers. On Jan. 7, the government implemented a requirement that airline passengers entering Canada must show proof of a negative PCR test that was taken within 72 hours before their flight. Colijn and other experts are hopeful this rule is catching a large number of positive COVID cases, but the 72-hour window — necessary to ensure people have enough time to get results back — also allows the virus more chances to wiggle through. In some cases, very small amounts of the virus, which could grow to infectious levels days later, aren't picked up in testing. Others cases could contract the virus between taking the test and boarding the plane. Dr. Christopher Mody, the head of the microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases department at the University of Calgary, says PCR tests offer "a snapshot in time," meaning the result is only valid on the day the test is taken. "A positive test means you're infected, but a negative test doesn't absolutely exclude infection," Mody said. A Government of Canada online database that keeps track of possible exposure on domestic and international flights shows that since Jan. 7, hundreds of planes have had at least one passenger on board who tested positive for the virus days after landing, and may have been contagious on their flight. Dr. Zain Chagla, an associate professor of medicine at McMaster University, says while the negative test requirement is likely helping on a large scale, "it's gonna miss a few people for sure." "Clearly it isn't a perfect system, but there are also a number of people who have been rejected for flights based on their tests," he said. "This just isn't enough to say everyone coming into Canada is completely not infectious at the border." Some experts have suggested the use of rapid antigen tests at airports, either right before boarding or right after landing, as a potential way to ensure positive cases aren't travelling between countries or regions. Dr. Don Sin, a respirologist and UBC professor who's co-leading a rapid test pilot project with WestJet at Vancouver International Airport, says rapid testing could offer a measure of insurance — a second step to be used in addition to the PCR negative test requirement. Rapid antigen tests, which turn results around in 15 minutes, aren't as sensitive as the PCR nasal swab, Sin says, but they work very well in catching positive cases. "If you test positive on the antigen test, you'll test positive with a PCR," he said. "So I think the public can have confidence in the ability of these tests to accurately pick up those who are infectious." Experts say testing can only be part of the strategy to contain the spread of new cases though. The mandatory 14-day quarantine period, which Canada is still implementing, needs to be followed properly. Mody says people also need to understand that a negative test taken days before flying isn't a free pass to skip that isolation period. "We are in a very tenuous time with these variants," Mody said. "If there is community transmission of the variants, we will be in a very serious situation." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version erroneously reported that travellers flying from city to city within Canada must show a negative COVID-19 test. In fact, the requirement is for air travellers coming from international destinations.
Teachers complain of working conditions, low pay, and a bungled pandemic response.View on euronews
NEW YORK — Canadian author Souvankham Thammavongsa's “How to Pronounce Knife" is among this year's fiction finalists for the U.S.-based National Book Critics Circle prizes. The critics circle announced five nominees in each of six competitive categories Sunday, and seven finalists for an award for best first book. This year's nominees are the first under new leadership at the NBCC after many of its board members departed in 2020 amid a dispute over how to respond to the summer's Black Lives Matters protests. Among those stepping down was NBCC president Laurie Hertzel, senior books editor for the Minneapolis Star Tribune. She was replaced by David Varno, Publishers Weekly's fiction reviews editor. In the NBCC's fiction award category, Martin Amis was nominated for his autobiographical novel “Inside Story” and Randall Kenan, who died in 2020, for the story collection “If I Had Two Wings.” The other finalists were Maggie O’Farrell's “Hamnet,” Thammavongsa's “How to Pronounce Knife,” which won the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize, and Bryan Washington's “Memorial.” The Feminist Press, whose founder Florence Howe died last year, will receive a lifetime achievement award and has a nominee for criticism: Cristina Rivera Garza's, “Grieving: Dispatches from a Wounded Country.” New Republic critic Jo Livingston received a citation for Excellence in Reviewing. Winners will be announced March 25. Isabel Wilkerson's “Caste,” her widely read exploration of American racism; was a nonfiction finalist. The others were Walter Johnson's “The Broken Heart of America: St, Louis and the Violent History of the United States,” James Shapiro's “Shakespeare in a Divided America,” Sarah Smarsh's “She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs” and Tom Zoellner's “Island on Fire: The Revolt That Ended Slavery in the British Empire.” Biography nominees included “The Dead are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X," co-written by Tamara Payne and her father, the late journalist Les Payne, and winner last fall of the National Book Award. The other finalists were Amy Stanley's “Stranger in the Shogun’s City: A Japanese Woman and Her World,” Zachary D. Carter's “The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy, and the Life of John Maynard Keynes," Heather Clark's “Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath” and Maggie Doherty's “The Equivalents: A Story of Art, Female Friendship, and Liberation in the 1960s.” In poetry, the nominees were Victoria Chang's “Obit,” Francine J. Harris' “Here Is The Sweet Hand,” Amaud Jamaul Johnson's “Imperial Liquor,” Chris Nealon's “The Shore” and Danez Smith's “Homie.” The autobiography finalists were Cathy Park Hong's “Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning,” Shayla Lawson's “This Is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls, and Being Dope,” Riva Lehrer's “Golem Girl,” Wayétu Moore's “The Dragons, The Giant, The Women” and Alia Volz's “Home Baked: My Mom, Marijuana, and the Stoning of San Francisco.” Beside's Garza's “Grieving,” criticism nominees were Vivian Gornick's “Unfinished Business: Notes of a Chronic Re-Reader,” Nicole Fleetwood's “Marking Time." Namwali Serpell's “Stranger Faces” and Wendy A. Woloson's “Crap: A History of Cheap Stuff in America.” Three of last year's most talked about first novels, Raven Leilani's “Lustre,” Megha Majumdar's “A Burning” and Douglas Stuart's “Shuggie Bain," are nominees for the John Leonard Prize for best first book, fiction or nonfiction. The other finalists are Kerri Arsenault's “Mill Town,” Karla Cornejo Villavicencio's “The Undocumented Americans,” Brandon Taylor's “Real Life” and “C Pam Zhang's ”How Much of These Hills Is Gold." The Leonard award is named for the late literary critic, who helped found the NBCC in 1974. Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
When drug companies like Pfizer and Moderna learned to successfully incorporate messenger RNA technology into a COVID-19 vaccine, experts say they likely opened the door to a significant shift in the future of immunization.The milestone in vaccine development was met with enthusiasm from most, but the seemingly swift pace and novel approach is causing hesitancy in others. Experts say the new technique shouldn't dissuade people from getting the vaccine. While the mRNA method is new to inoculations, the actual technology has been around for decades. The difference now, they say, is scientists have ironed out the kinks to make a useful product."It sounds fancy, mRNA, but there's nothing outlandish about it," said Dr. Earl Brown, a virology and microbiology specialist with the University of Ottawa. "This is the way our cells operate — we live by mRNA."Vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna were the first inoculations approved for humans to use mRNA, which provides our cells with instructions to make proteins. In the case of COVID vaccines, the injected material shows cells how to make a harmless piece of the coronavirus spike protein, which then teaches our immune system to recognize the virus and fight off a future infection.Scientists made the vaccine by programming genetic material from the spike protein into mRNA, a process that theoretically could work for other viruses."As long as you know how to create those instructions — that genetic code you need to convince your body to create that target — you can design an mRNA vaccine against any antigen," said Nicole Basta, an associate professor of epidemiology at McGill."But the question is whether it will be effective, and whether it will be safe."The development of future mRNA vaccines might be quick, Basta says, but they would need to go through the usual evaluation process and clinical trials to ensure safety and efficacy. So vaccines for other viruses won't be popping up overnight.Still, Basta adds, there's potential for using mRNA to either improve upon existing vaccines or to develop new ones against other pathogens.Dr. Scott Halperin, a professor at Dalhousie University and the director of the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology, sees mRNA vaccines as "evolutionary rather than revolutionary."Part of the reason COVID vaccines came together so quickly was the technology had been developing for years, Halperin said. The global pandemic offered scientists a pressing opportunity — and unprecedented funding and collaboration — to try again for a viable injection.Previous research had been done on creating mRNA vaccines against Zika and other viruses, Halperin added, and there were earlier efforts focused on cancer treatments. Coronavirus-specific research was further sped up by spike protein analysis from SARS and MERS.While the mRNA technology itself is impressive, Halperin says improvements need to be made to create a more temperature-stable product before these types of vaccines and treatments "truly take over.""The logistics of delivering mRNA vaccines right now, we wouldn't want to have to do that for every vaccine we produce," he said, referencing the ultra-cold storage temperature that's currently needed. "But I do think it's an important milestone."Scientists are expected to continue advancing the technology, just as they did recently in solving two confounding problems with mRNA — its fragility and instability.Brown says fragility was resolved by packaging the mRNA in a fat coating, giving it something to help bind onto cells so it wouldn't disintegrate upon injection. The instability was conquered by modifying the uracil component of RNA, one of the four units of its genetic code."The technology application is new, but the science is mature," Brown said. "We've just reached the point at which we can apply it." Traditional vaccines typically contain a killed or weakened virus, Brown said. Those methods are still being used in COVID vaccine development, including by AstraZeneca-Oxford, whose product has not yet been approved in Canada.A benefit to using mRNA is the speed at which a vaccine can be developed or updated once scientists know what to target, Brown says. While experts believe current vaccines will work against recent variants of the COVID virus — including one originating in the U.K. that's more transmissible — Brown says mRNA's adaptability could theoretically come in handy if new strains emerged that necessitated an update. "In six weeks they could produce something," he said. "It would still have to go through Phase 3 trials, but it does give you more flexibility and a big leg up."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
POLITIQUE. À l’issue d’une rencontre avec des acteurs des milieux économiques, la députée de Shefford, Andréanne Larouche et son collègue d’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Sébastien Lemire, par ailleurs vice-président du Comité permanent de l’industrie, des sciences et de la technologie, proposent un fonds propre aux régions. «Je voulais ouvrir un espace de dialogue avec des dirigeants d’organismes économiques, d’entreprises et de municipalités pour échanger sur nos propositions pour la relance», a expliqué Andréanne Larouche au sujet de sa tournée de consultations économiques. Elle a reçu de nombreux témoignages d’entrepreneurs en difficulté selon les bureaux de circonscription des deux élus. «La pénurie de main-d’œuvre est aussi un enjeu qui freine le développement économique de nos régions et qui comporte de nombreuses ramifications. Je pense à la complexité et aux délais en matière d’immigration en lien avec les travailleurs étrangers et aux problématiques de logements qui limitent grandement les possibilités d’attraction de travailleurs», analyse le député d’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Sébastien Lemire. Sa collègue de Shefford et lui saluent les contributions des centres d’aide aux entreprises (CAE), mais ils préconisent qu’on leur donne «plus de moyens afin qu’ils assurent un soutien de proximité aux entrepreneurs.» En effet, plus de 200 000 PME, soit 20 % des emplois du secteur privé, envisagent sérieusement de mettre la clé sous la porte selon la dernière mise à jour de l’analyse de la fédération canadienne de l’entreprise indépendante. Un fonds de développement par et pour les régions Sébastien Lemire estime que les questions du développement territorial nécessitent des « solutions flexibles adaptées aux régions » et non des approches globales développées à Ottawa. En parlant d’Internet, le bloquiste annonce que le comité de l’industrie a dans ses cartons un rapport sur cet «enjeu fondamental» pour lequel sa circonscription, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, a pris 20 ans de retard. «Il faut s’assurer de démocratiser son accès pour tous, même dans les zones moins densément peuplées… il faut sortir de la logique de rentabilité », dit-il en conférence de presse dans un plaidoyer énergique sur l’accès au développement régional. Les deux élus soutiennent «la mise en place d’un fonds de développement par et pour les régions», qui devra être déployé en fonction des besoins spécifiques de celles-ci. Ils déplorent «des improvisations d’Ottawa» même s’ils reconnaissent que les programmes s’ajustent progressivement. Ils prônent «les enjeux identifiés par les régions», comme les incubateurs d’entreprises ou l’innovation territoriale plutôt que «des programmes mur à mur mal adaptés» conçus à partir des mégalopoles uniformes. En cette veille de rentrée parlementaire et en prélude au budget fédéral, Andréanne Larouche envisage de poursuivre ses consultations «afin que les programmes soient les mieux adaptés aux besoins des entrepreneurs.»Godlove Kamwa, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Canada Français
Sharon Bala knows the power of recognizing yourself in a story, and the pain of seeing your identity smeared across the page. The Sri Lankan-Canadian author says misrepresentations in fiction can feel like a form of literary violence, warping the way some readers see the real-life harms against people who aren't like them. "When we see ourselves misrepresented on the page, it just feels like the writer has taken their pen and shoved it into our eyes," said Bala, who won awards acclaim for her 2018 debut novel "The Boat People." "We can't pretend that we live in some rarefied bubble as writers where we are separate from the world." From using sexual violence against women as a plot point in a male hero's arc, to killing off an Indigenous character for dramatic tension, Bala said storytelling tropes often serve as a mirror of the systemic indifference toward the suffering of marginalized groups. But as society reckons with these injustices, the St. John's, N.L.-based novelist said a long-simmering conversation among authors about how to responsibly write about identities other than their own, whether that be a character of a different race, gender, sexuality, ability or class. In the past, she said, the public discourse about literary representation has been dominated by a privileged few stoking fears over perceived threats to authors' purported "right" to pluck inspiration from other communities as they please, said Bala. Examples include the 2017 CanLit controversy over an online campaign to fund a writing prize for cultural appropriation, or the tastemakers who rose to American author Jeanine Cummins' defence after the January release of her much-hyped book, "American Dirt," drew criticism from Latino writers and activists for trading in stereotypes about Mexicans. But Bala, who hosted an online workshop on literary representation earlier this month, says the strong turnout shows that writers know they can no longer afford to weaponize "the other" as a cudgel in someone else's narrative. Rather, she said, creators are grappling with questions that in some ways cut to the core of the mission of fiction: How do you write about who you don't know, and should you? "None of us are perfect. We're all going to make mistakes," said Bala. "But I think that if we ... have tried and still made the mistake, there's actually a lot of empathy for that within the writing community." Bala said she only writes about communities she has ties to, and people she'll have to answer to for any distortions. She's also a proponent of bringing in "sensitivity readers" — cultural experts who review manuscripts for inaccuracies — early in the writing process to catch misconceptions before they become embedded in the narrative. Emma Donoghue, the London, Ont.-based author behind "Room," said she's also enlisted the help of cultural consultants as part of her process. But ultimately, Donoghue said she and other white writers have a responsibility to assess their own abilities and motives before depicting different demographics. "I think it's a richer cultural landscape," she said. "If that means that the writers who used to sort of costlessly write about anything have to be a bit more careful, then that just comes with the territory." Acclaimed author Thomas King, who is of Greek and Cherokee descent, said he tries not to stray too far from his realm of experience in writing his protagonists. Characters of diverse backgrounds often populate his narratives, but King said he wouldn't write from another community's point of view because he wouldn't feel comfortable "taking on that skin." King said some of the most persistent pop culture narratives play into cliches and stereotypes to reinforce the audience's pre-existing biases. "While they're not authentic, to the public mind, they appear to be," he said. "Certainly, for Native people that happened with non-Native writers writing about Native characters." Novelist Andre Alexis holds that being too beholden to the burden of accurate representation can restrict the imaginative possibilities of literature. The Trinidad-born, Ottawa-raised writer said problems can arise when playing pretend with someone else's reality, and writers should have to answer for their misrepresentations. However, Alexis maintains that imagining "the other" serves a vital function not only in the arts, but for society at large. "It's important for the Americans to imagine what it's like to be a member of one of the countries they've attacked and ruined," said Alexis, who won the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize for "Fifteen Dogs." "That imagining of the others who you have made to suffer is a tremendously significant moral step." Sanchari Sur, a genderqueer writer who uses the pronouns "she" and "they" interchangeably, said growing up they never saw queer characters, particularly South Asian ones, represented in fiction. "When you don't see yourself represented, or when you see yourself represented as a stereotype or negatively, that does impact you," said Sur, who is earning a PhD in English at Wilfrid Laurier University. Still, Sur said there needs to be space for writers to make mistakes and engage with critical feedback. Sur confronted this issue during a writers' retreat when they received a negative response to a piece they wrote that centred on a transgender woman's experience of familial emotional trauma. Sur, who was wrestling with their own gender identity at the time, said some trans participants at the retreat took issue with a non-trans author writing about the trans body in relation to trauma. Sur said the critiques caught them off guard, and it took months to work up the wherewithal to return to fiction. In the time since, Sur has come to see that there were technical problems with the story that contributed to the blowback, and feels they're a better writer because of the incident. "If you're being called out for something that is inherently wrong or dehumanizing in some way, then you have to acknowledge that and you have to learn from it." Kim Davids Mandar, an emerging writer in Guelph, Ont., said the complexities of literary representation have personal resonance for her as the daughter of immigrants who fled post-apartheid South Africa to provide a better life for their mixed-race family in Canada. When a publisher approached her about conducting a series of interviews for a collection, Davids Mandar said she jumped at the chance to ask some of Canada's finest literary minds about how they work through questions of difference, identity and appropriation. The editor of "(In)Appropriate," which was released earlier this month, said she didn't reach any tidy conclusions during her conversations with the book's contributors, including Sur, Eden Robinson, Michael Crummey and Ian Williams. One theme that emerged was the role that publishers and booksellers play in amplifying certain voices at the expense of others, she said. A 2018 survey by the Association of Canadian Publishers on diversity found 82 per cent of the 279 respondents who worked in the industry identified as white. "I think we can't pretend that we don't live within this context, and that it doesn't actually impact the books industry," said Davids Mandar. Overall, Davids Mandar said she walked away from the book with a renewed sense of urgency for Canada's literary community to engage in these shifting, sometimes messy conversations. "It really reflects where we're at, each of us as individuals, but also as a community, in truthfully embracing the fact that we need unity, but we also need diversity and we have to have them together." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2020. Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
LOS ANGELES — When D Smoke was teaching high schoolers in Southern California, the rapper still pursued his dreams of breaking through as a hip-hop artist while leaning on the encouraging phrase: “There’s no expiration on realness.” D Smoke maintained that mindset as a motivator before he made a splash on Netflix’s music reality TV series “Rhythm + Flow” in 2019. He won the competition, impressing judges Cardi B, T.I. and Chance the Rapper with his ability as a multi-instrumentalist and bilingual rapper who could easily switch from English to Spanish in his rhymes. Last year, D Smoke rode the momentum from the show's success, performing alongside boxer Deontay Wilder before a heavyweight championship bout and releasing his debut album “Black Habits,” which this year earned him a Grammy nomination for best rap album. He’s also up for best new artist against Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat, Ingrid Andress, Phoebe Bridgers, Chika, Noah Cyrus and Kaytranada. It’s been a long road toward Grammy recognition for D Smoke, but the 35-year-old had other milestones along the way. He’s a UCLA graduate who taught Spanish and musical theory at Inglewood High School. He's also penned songs for The Pussycat Dolls, Ginuwine, Joe and Jaheim, some of which he co-wrote with his brother, R&B singer SiR, who is signed to Kendrick Lamar's Top Dawg Entertainment. In a recent interview with The Associated Press, D Smoke talked about the pressure of finding success outside “Rhythm + Flow,” how being a teacher matured his lyrics and his thoughts on why Grammy voters nominated him and other 35-and-up rappers in the best rap album category. _______ AP: You were in your 30s with a decade of teaching under your belt, so did you ever think you were past your prime to pursue a music career? D Smoke: I always tell people that there’s no expiration on realness. People need incredible art. Anytime you spend pursuing whatever level of success and see yourself achieving, it’s time to get better. Always getting better. It didn’t matter if I got a (Grammy nom) when I was 40. It’s just going to be that season. _______ AP: What compelled you to learn Spanish? D Smoke: I went to a middle school that was predominantly Latino and all my friends spoke it. That’s when I told myself that I must be fluent in this. You’re not going to switch languages and I’m left out. I took Spanish one, two and three at Inglewood High. While everybody was doing it to get a grade, I was already like, “I’m learning this.” Then finally, when I went to UCLA, I just kept going. _______ AP: Was rapping in English and Spanish in front of Cardi B — who is also bilingual —- your strategy to win “Rhythm + Flow”? D Smoke: Everything I did on the show was strategic. That’s how you approach a fight with strategy because just being tough or trying to outdo somebody will get you hurt. I’m using a fight metaphor. I knew there were lyricists on the show. I knew they could rap their (explicit) off. But the goal was to distinguish myself. I knew that was going to be memorable. By going into the later rounds, they would be like, “There he goes. That’s the dude who can speak Spanish.” They were going to remember me from that one performance. I knew they were going to remember that until the end. _______ AP: What was the strategy to ride the momentum after the show? D Smoke: We knew that we had a limited window of converting all of these Netflix fans into music fans and people who respect the craft and follow the journey outside of Netflix, because it’s far longer before than what people realize. There was pressure to show that. If you look at the trajectory of artists who come off shows, their biggest success is the show. ...That was our goal to go ahead and transition from the Netflix star that people viewed me as to an artist. _______ AP: In the best rap album category, each Grammy nominee is 35-years-old and up (Nas is the oldest at 47). What are voters trying to say? D Smoke: It opens a conversation of what our culture needs and wants. I think all the things that happened in the past year are really sobering. I think people are requiring, at this moment more than ever, music that speaks to them at a deeper level. _______ AP: Can you elaborate a little more? D Smoke: We need mature voices in rap. We need them to be at the forefront. Of course, we’re going to listen to the kids, because we need to hear them out so they feel understood. But everybody stops to listen to a voice of reason, the voice of experience and wisdom. ...I’m experienced but I’m speaking from a place of when I was 17, acting up and wild. I’m still wild, but I’m smart enough to go about my business a certain way. _______ AP: Did being a high school teacher help the maturity in your music? D Smoke: Absolutely. I was a teacher who got to know my students. You can’t really reach nobody if you’re not concerned about who they are. It’s an exchange. I would ask, “What are you listen to? Put me up on what’s going on.” Some of it I hate, but some I would be surprised and say, “That’s dope.” In that exchange, you learn how music effects people. _______ AP: Is your music influenced by other West Coast rappers like Tupac, Kendrick Lamar and Nipsey Hussle? D Smoke: I for sure borrow from them more than any other West Coast artist. Of course, I must mention Snoop (Dogg). I look up to him so much, because he’s an elder in the game and still as relevant as ever. That’s beautiful. That’s another example of these experienced voices still being present in the culture. Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Associated Press
TORONTO — Few things have lifted Rojhan Paydar’s spirits during the COVID-19 pandemic quite like a Netflix watch party.Isolated inside her home, the Toronto resident is too often short on social opportunities and long on streaming options. So like many people, she’s recreated the experience of watching Netflix with friends through an unofficial web browser application called Teleparty, formerly known as Netflix Party.It’s been an opportunity for Paydar to gather with pals on a virtual couch while they gasp over the twists of true crime series, “Unsolved Mysteries." Even more often, she's used the app with her boyfriend for date nights watching the dysfunction unfold on “Tiger King" and other bingeable series.“Sometimes we’d eat dinner and set up our webcams to see each other,” she said.“Knowing he was there and we were doing something in real-time — it felt really good and made me less lonely."Not long ago, viewing party technology was a tool reserved for unique situations: a long-distance couple or fans of a niche TV series searching for like-minded people.But a year into the pandemic, weekly rituals have evolved, and online watch parties have proven many of us are desperate for some semblance of connection.As the winter months stretch on, and strict stay-at-home orders grip large parts of the country, observers say the watch party, and apps that help make it happen, are due for a second wave of popularity.“I think we may have seen a cultural shift,” suggested Daniel Keyes, associate professor of cultural studies at the University of British Columbia.“The pandemic and the fact we had to self-isolate totally accelerated it. It made it more mainstream.”For younger generations raised on YouTube and Twitch, watch parties are already part of the zeitgeist. Everyone else, including streaming giants themselves, seem to be playing cultural catchup.Last year, as the pandemic wore on, Amazon Prime Video introduced group chat elements into the laptop version of its platform. Disney Plus took a more restrained approach with a feature that allows up to seven people to sync their screens, but only communicate through emojis.Other streamers, such as Netflix and Crave, have so far chosen not to launch social elements on their platforms. That move could be strategic as the companies observe a sea change in how some viewers consume television, suggested Carmi Levy, director at technology advisory firm Info-Tech Research Group."It's almost as if the snow globe has been shaken and companies like Netflix are waiting for everything to settle down before they decide where to place their bets," he said."Social TV is a thing and it isn't going anywhere. It's very much like remote work: considered the exception before the pandemic, but now the rule."Levy said the entertainment industry couldn't have predicted how quickly the change took hold with casual viewers. For years, upstart tech companies launched second-screen watch party innovations, and most of them failed miserably.That's left the door open for the latest generation of alternatives to capitalize on filling the void, among them TwoStream, a paid monthly watch party option, and Syncplay, which is free.One of the most ambitious newcomers is Scener, a venture-funded operation out of Seattle that currently supports the likes of Netflix, Disney Plus, Vimeo and horror platform Shudder. In a few clicks, viewers can react to a show through their webcam or type out thoughts on their keyboard.Co-founder Joe Braidwood said replicating the in-person experience, in particular, “the laughter, the screams and the horror,” was a goal of his company long before the pandemic. But it wasn’t always easy getting others to see the value.“Two years ago I would talk to investors about social TV and they would laugh at me,” he recalled over a Zoom chat.“They told me, ‘People don't want social experiences when they're watching television.’ But all you need to do is look on Twitter.”Even before the pandemic, he said, people were engaging over social media platforms about their favourite shows. Now, since everyone's holed up in their homes, Scener's growth has been exponential. Cumulative weekly minutes of programming watched grew nearly 42,000 per cent from March 2020 to January 2021 (57,785 minutes versus 24.2 million minutes), according to data provided by the company.“People who haven't hung out with their best friend while watching ‘The Flight Attendant’ or shared a family Christmas while watching an old classic movie on Scener, they just don't know what this feels like,” he added.“There's this real texture to it... it's warm engagement with people that you care about.”Hoovie, a Vancouver-based virtual watch party service, aims to bridge the gap between art house cinema outings and the comfort of a living room chat.Hosts can dive into the company’s independent film catalogue and book ticketed showings for small groups, typically in the range of 10 to 20 people. After the movie, they’re encouraged to engage in a webcam conversation on the platform that’s inspired by the film’s themes.Co-founder Fiona Rayher describes Hoovie as a platform meant to evoke those experiences outside the cinema where groups of people – sometimes strangers – would passionately discuss what they’d just watched and maybe head to a nearby restaurant for drinks."You’d meet new people and you’d stay connected," she said. "It was all serendipitous."Hoovie plans to debut a "book club for movies" early this year that'll build on connecting movie fans. Every month, subscribers will gather for online screenings that include a post-film conversation with members, filmmakers and critics. Each film will be rounded out with a wine pairing sent by mail.Selling nostalgia for the pre-pandemic days may sound appealing in lockdown, but the question remains on how attractive watch parties will be once a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available.It's a question Paydar said she thinks about often as she logs onto a watch party for another episode of "Unsolved Mysteries.""Whenever someone asks, 'If COVID ended right now, where would you go?' the first thing I say is, 'I'd like to go to a movie theatre,'" she said."There's something about being in a physical theatre and going with a group of friends...Those end-of-the-night goodbyes, getting late-night eats with my friends.. (we're) creating memories I get to hold on to forever," she said."I don't think that can be replaced."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
GENEVA — The candidate for FIFA’s top decision-making body who lost after facing gender bias and improper influence said on Tuesday the Asian Football Confederation should re-run its tainted election. Mariyam Mohamed said the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s verdict Monday -- after she alleged misconduct by the AFC and Olympic powerbroker Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah -- undermined the winning candidates at Asian soccer elections in 2019. The court found the allegations of discrimination against women and inducements offered to be proven in Mohamed’s appeals but let the election results stand. “The currently elected officials at the AFC and FIFA have no legitimacy and there should be new elections as soon as possible,” she said in a statement to the Associated Press. The AFC said on Tuesday it would “review the CAS awards to understand what appropriate action(s) can be taken.” “The AFC notes that it is always determined to maintain the highest possible standards in these important areas.” Mohamed filed formal complaints to the AFC in April 2019 saying pressure put on her by its officials and Sheikh Ahmad left her feeling “unsafe (and) threatened.” She alleged the Kuwaiti sheikh offered her inducements to withdraw from a vote to join the FIFA Council as Asia’s female delegate. In 2017, U.S. federal authorities implicated him in buying influence in soccer elections. He denied wrongdoing but was forced out of his own FIFA Council seat. She said Sheikh Ahmad told her at a luxury hotel in Kuala Lumpur she would have no future in soccer if she stood against his favoured candidate. Mohamed lost to her opponent from Bangladesh 31-15 in a poll of AFC member federations. All 15 candidates for AFC positions on a list circulated before the vote, and reportedly backed by the Olympic Council of Asia which Sheikh Ahmad leads, ended up winning. The OCA declined to comment after the elections. Mohamed filed two appeals at CAS in the Olympic home city of Lausanne, Switzerland. The court said its judges agreed with both, finding fault with the AFC election committee’s refusal to investigate Mohamed’s complaint of discrimination, and the disciplinary committee’s failure to do a timely investigation of improper third-party influence. “The CAS panel found denial of justice, serious corruption and discrimination,” Mohamed said, hailing the verdict “a fabulous result.” However, it was a partial win for the Maldives soccer official as the three judges did not annul the vote or order new AFC elections. The court decided the proven offer of inducements had no effect because Mohamed did not withdraw her candidacy. The judges also said the AFC’s electoral and disciplinary committees had no authority to annul or re-run polls, nor amend the soccer body’s legal statutes. The AFC legal director in 2019, Benoît Pasquier, declined comment on the case on Tuesday to the AP. He cited having left the soccer body and now being on the CAS list of approved arbitrators. The court has not yet published the full written verdict of its judging panel chaired by John Boultbee, an Australian barrister and former long-time official at rowing’s governing body. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press
Valeria Melia felt a tug on her heartstrings when her daughter asked if the pandemic would force Santa Claus to cancel his visit to their Toronto home this year. Seven-year-old Michela and her four-year-old brother Massimo had seen other holiday events nixed over the last nine months, and their mother wanted to make sure they knew Christmas was still on the table. So Melia turned to her computer, typing up a letter from Santa that would ensure her children he was safe and on his way. "I wanted to tell them Santa's been given the all-clear to fly, saying 'don't worry, I'm still coming,'" Melia said. "Even before Christmas, (Michela) would say things like: 'I can't wait until this virus is over so I can go hug my friends again.' So when she asked about Christmas, it was heartbreaking." Melia's children are among many Canadian kids who will experience the holidays differently this year as public health officials urge us to modify our traditions. While some families don't want pandemic reminders to cloud Christmas within their own homes, others are finding whimsical ways to incorporate COVID-related elements into their rituals. London, Ont., mom Ursula Goncalves is leaving hand sanitizer for Santa this year, placing a bottle next to the milk and cookies her eight-year-old daughter Halina and six-year-old son Daniel usually set out for the clandestine gift-giver. "I thought it would be kinda cute, considering the year we're having," Goncalves said. "It was my idea, but the kids actually did wonder about Santa's safety, asking if he was still coming." Dr. Todd Cunningham, a child psychology expert at the University of Toronto, says adding pandemic themes to our merry festivities can be helpful by reinforcing messages kids have been hearing for months. "We've talked often about ways of keeping ourselves safe," he said. "So it would make sense to them in terms of our current context to (incorporate) those things." It also isn't surprising some kids are expressing concern for Santa's safety, Cunningham added, especially if they understand his advanced age might make him more susceptible to the virus. So it's a good thing Santa is a magical being, as some of Canada's top doctors have clarified. B.C.'s Dr. Bonnie Henry said recently Kris Kringle is likely immune to COVID-19, while Prince Edward Island's Dr. Heather Morrison announced that Santa and Mrs. Claus had been granted essential worker status along with their elves and reindeer. Sheri Madigan, a child development researcher at the University of Calgary, says introducing COVID safety elements may help calm worried youngsters, and further their understanding of the virus. "A lot of these concepts around COVID are hard to grasp because it's this germ they can't see," she said. "So Santa coming presents an opportunity to say: 'we're leaving sanitizer so he can wash his hands, and that keeps another family safe.'" Melia won't be doling out the Purell for Santa, but she did purchase an Elf on the Shelf for the first time, adding a pandemic twist by sealing it in a glass jar to "quarantine" for 14 days. Goncalves did the same, sequestering her family's elf for one week. The mischievous doll is meant to be a scout for Santa, typically arriving from the North Pole a month before Christmas. Parents place the elf in quirky tableaus each night for kids to spot in the morning. While the elf isolation is a charming reminder of pandemic precautions, Melia admitted that keeping Sugarpuff in a jar for two weeks serves another purpose. "This is gonna sound terrible," she said with a laugh, "but it's nice to not have to figure out what to do with it for 14 days." The quarantined sprite has added an element of excitement for Melia's children, with Michela periodically checking in on the "isolation station" and gleefully counting down the days until Sugarpuff is free. The Goncalves's elf, named Sparkle, was liberated from quarantine last week. "Oh God, there was so much excitement in this house when we let her out," Goncalves chuckled. Dr. Martha Fulford, an infectious disease pediatrician at McMaster Children's Hospital, says another option for parents of anxious children is to double down on the messaging that Santa and his helpers are immune from the virus. "You can leave the hand sanitizer or you can say: 'Santa is not affected by COVID and elves are not human so you don't need to worry," she said. Fulford cautions, however, that adding pandemic motifs to holiday flair could dampen some kids' Christmas spirit. It's up to individual families to determine how their children would react to those inclusions, she added. Fulford says she's more concerned with children feeling disappointed in having certain Christmas traditions, like gathering with family, taken away — though she suspects that might be harder on some parents and grandparents than the kids themselves. Cunningham agrees, adding it's important that parents "give themselves a pass" this year when it comes to trying to replicate extravagant celebrations of the past, especially for families facing financial hardships. He suggests parents welcome input from their children on ways to modify their favourite traditions. "A lot of the holidays is about anticipation of what's to come, and we can continue that excitement by co-planning activities together," Cunningham said. "When we invite children into those conversations, it's amazing what they come up with." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 14, 2020. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had the incorrect surname for Valeria Melia's children.
OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says even one case of COVID-19 coming in from abroad is a case too many. He says new restrictions on travel are coming and he is urging Canadians to cancel all travel plans they may have. He says that includes travel abroad and travel to other provinces. He says while the number of new cases linked to travel remains low, the government won't hesitate to impose stricter measures at the border. He says the bad choices of a few won't be allowed to put others in danger. The Liberal government has been hinting that tougher border controls are coming and Trudeau says they are working on what can be done without interrupting trade flows. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
Amateur investors piled further into niche stocks on Tuesday, sending professional short sellers scrambling to cover losing bets, with GameStop skyrocketing for a fourth straight day, thanks in part to Elon Musk. GameStop surged 50% in extended trade after Musk tweeted "Gamestonk!!", along with a link to Reddit's Wallstreetbets stock trading discussion group, where supporters affectionately refer to the Tesla CEO as "Papa Musk."
Movies US charts: 1. Tenet 2. News of the World 3. Promising Young Woman 4. American Skin 5. The War with Grandpa 6. National Treasure 7. Honest Thief 8. The Croods: A New Age 9. National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets 10. Let Him Go Movies US charts - Independent: 1. Promising Young Woman 2. Our Friend 3. MLKFBI 4. The Dissident 5. No Man’s Land 6. Some Kind of Heaven 7. Love Sarah 8. Assassins 9. Kajillionaire 10. PG: Psycho Goreman The Associated Press
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — People arrested during three nights of rioting sparked by the Netherlands' new coronavirus curfew will face swift prosecution, the Dutch justice minister said Tuesday as the nation faced its worst civil unrest in years. Minister Ferd Grapperhaus said rioters would be quickly brought before the courts by public prosecutors and will face possible prison terms if convicted. “They won't get away with it,” he told reporters in The Hague. The rioting, initially triggered by anger over the country's tough coronavirus lockdown, has been increasingly fueled by calls for rioting swirling on social media. The violence has stretched the police and led at times to the deployment of military police. Grapperhaus spoke after a third night of rioting hit towns and cities in the Netherlands, with the most serious clashes and looting of stores in the port city of Rotterdam and the southern cathedral city of Den Bosch. “If you rob people who are struggling, with the help of the government, to keep their head above water, it's totally scandalous,” Grapperhaus told reporters. He stressed that the 9 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. curfew is a necessary measure in the fight against the coronavirus. Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb posted a video message on Twitter, asking rioters: “Does it feel good to wake up with a bag full of stolen stuff next to you?” He also appealed to parents of the young rioters, asking: “Did you miss your son yesterday? Did you ask yourself where he was?” The municipality in Den Bosch designated large parts of the city as risk areas for Tuesday night, fearing a repeat of the violence. Residents in Den Bosch took to the streets Tuesday to help with the cleanup as the city’s mayor said he would investigate authorities’ response to the rioting. A total of 184 people were arrested in Monday night's unrest and police ticketed more than 1,700 for breaching the curfew, a fine of 95 euros ($115). Officers around the country also detained dozens suspected of inciting rioting through social media. Police said rioters threw stones, fireworks and Molotov cocktails at officers. “This criminal violence must stop,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte tweeted. “The riots have nothing to do with protesting or struggling for freedom,” he added. “We must win the battle against the virus together, because that's the only way of getting back our freedom.” The unrest began Saturday night — the first night of the curfew — when youths in the fishing village of Urk torched a coronavirus testing centre. It escalated significantly with violence in the southern city of Eindhoven and the capital, Amsterdam. Gerrit van der Burg, the most senior Dutch public prosecutor, said authorities are “committed to tracking down and prosecuting people who committed crimes. Count on it that they will be dealt with harshly.” The rate of new infections in Netherlands has been decreasing in recent weeks, but the government is keeping up the tough lockdown, citing the slow pace of the decline and fears of new, more transmissible virus variants. The country has registered more than 13,650 confirmed COVID-19 deaths. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic,https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Mike Corder, The Associated Press
This translation is part of a new initiative to provide content to our Chinese readers. You can find the English version, written by reporter Sheila Wang here. 聖誕節後不久，約克區的COVID-19病例激增至前所未有的水平，對陽性率的分析表明，病毒在部分城市的社區傳染率遠高於其他地區。 根據非營利組織 ICES 的數據，在1月的第一周內，North Woodbridge 社區的陽性率最高，為18.5％，這意味著在接受COVID-19檢測的人中，有近五分之一是陽性的，這一數字幾乎是當時安省總體陽性率6.8％的三倍。 數據還顯示，在同一時期內，萬錦東南區的陽性率僅次於North Woodbridge，達到17%，是約克區第二高的地區。 這兩個社區的測試陽性率均遠高於約克地區的平均水平，約克地區在同一周內的平均陽性率約為10％。 約克大學流行病學家Susan Rogers Van Katwyk 表示，盡管陽性率沒有「安全閾值」，但根據安省的重啟計劃，陽性率為2.5％或更高的公共衛生區域將被列為紅色「控制」區。 「這是一個很好的指標，表明我們應該在約克區進行更多的測試，它同時也提醒我們在本地區感染COVID-19的危險程度。」 Van Katwyk還說，陽性率與病例數等其他指標一起幫助公共衛生局了解社區的傳染狀況以及是否需要更嚴格的規定。一般而言，如果陽性病例過多或總測試的次數太少，那麽陽性率就會偏高。 約克區公共衛生部門通過其每日更新的頁面追蹤COVID-19測試結果。該數據顯示，截至1月20日，每10萬人中有44,472人做了檢測，較去年12月份大幅增加。 以下交互地圖展示了從1月3日至1月9日約克區每個社區的感染率。 大多數重災區似乎都集中在旺市，例如Kleinburg和Maple社區，那裏的陽性率遠高於10%。 約克南部另一個較為嚴重的社區是Oak Ridges，陽性率12%，是全省平均水平的2倍，也比烈治文山其他社區要高得多。 在北部，大多數社區的陽性率低於省平均水平，除了southwest Newmarket（11%）和Holland Landing/River Drive Park（9%）社區。 下面的折線圖顯示了該地區自8月30日以來各社區每個月的平均陽性率。 盡管秋季有所下降，但陽性率仍呈上升趨勢，並在聖誕節期間大幅上升。 在12月20日當周，約克區的平均陽性率為7.5％，一周後飆升至11％。 Van Katwyk強調：「我認為抗疫措施必須更加明確，那就是嚴格執行居家令。只要檢測呈陽性的人數還在上升，我們就需要采取更有力的措施，或者更加密切地追蹤所有接觸者。」 約克區發言人Patrick Casey 並沒有就該地區「追蹤接觸者的能力」的問題直接置評，他表示，約克區使用安省政府研發的虛擬助手來幫助識別病例接觸者，主要依賴「人們對各自密切接觸者的公開和誠實」。 數據說明:由於使用的數據僅顯示了在測試期間至少有6人呈COVID-19陽性的前排序區域，因此部分社區在這張地圖中沒有顯示。 Scarlett Liu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Economist & Sun
Be careful what you wish for, they say. Community volunteer Robbie Jones is celebrating his 57th birthday today as a Town of Mattawa council member. Jones, who was the first runner-up in the 2018 municipal election, fills the seat left open after deputy mayor Corey Lacelle resigned at the end of November 2020. See: 10-year veteran resigning from Mattawa council Mayor Dean Backer said appointing the next in line candidate is the "fairest and most logical" way to fill the seat and council is getting a “great guy” who has volunteered for many years with minor hockey and a number of other initiatives. “It’s prudent we get Robbie on board as soon as possible,” Backer said, noting there is a lot of work ahead for council this year. Jones garnered 285 votes in the last election, 31 more than the next person on the ballot, Bernie MacDonald, and 58 votes behind Councillor Laura Ross, who earned the last of six seats with 343 votes. “I’m happy to get the opportunity to work with my fellow councillors and looking forward to see what we can accomplish,” Jones said Tuesday morning. Other than five years in the 1990s working out west, Jones has been a resident of Mattawa for his entire life. He worked in the rail road business for 30 years before changing careers to drive a logging truck to be closer to his family. He and his wife Lise have one son, Casey, 14, who runs his own landscaping business. The inaugural meeting for Jones will be Feb. 8 or earlier if a special meeting is called before then. Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada. Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
Orangeville Hydro plans to borrow $1 million to sustain its capital works plan, half the amount it originally planned, as it attempts to cut costs. A report, presented to Grand Valley council on Jan. 12, states this is done to fund regulatory-related payments, such as increased Hydro One low voltage, network and connection charges. “Historically, Orangeville has provided safe and reliable and cost-effective power to our customers, and our business plan shows that,” said Rob Koekkoek, president of Orangeville Hydro. A $2-million loan was previously budgeted in 2021, but with some expenditures deferred due to COVID-19, as well as a corporate-wide attempt to reduce expense, including financing costs, the forecasted loan was reduced to $1 million. The business plan calls for another $1 million increase in borrowing in 2022 and $2 million in borrowing in 2024. In terms of revenue, the total cost per customer is calculated as the sum of Orangeville Hydro’s capital and operating costs and dividing this cost figured by the total number of customers it serves. Orangeville Hydro’s cost performance increased in 2019 to $568 per customer, above the cost performance in 2018 at $551 per customer. Koekkoek states the number of the company’s customers go up, as the population continues to grow, and infrastructure is constantly upgraded. Orangeville Hydro’s service areas have a population of about 32,000 and are expected to grow to 42,540 by 2036, according to forecasts contained within the Dufferin County Official Plan. Koekkoek said he understands the devastating impacts COVID-19 may have had on customers' budgets and he discussed a way for them to save money. “For businesses and residential that are struggling with their bills, that have been economically impacted by COVID-19, we have the energy response program available for residential and business customers,” he said. “They can get, basically a rebate, on their electricity bills to help them with their costs if they are falling behind.” Joshua Santos, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Orangeville Banner