A one-man quartet sings Handel's Messiah Part 44: Hallelujah. Enjoy!
A one-man quartet sings Handel's Messiah Part 44: Hallelujah. Enjoy!
MONTREAL — With spring just around the corner, people will soon be able to return to outdoor workouts, and with government restrictions beginning to lift in some provinces, they might even be able to go back to their usual gym routines. But for those who prefer guided workouts or aren’t ready to face the health risks of visiting a gym, there are ways to get many of the same benefits while keeping a tight budget. Throughout the pandemic, options for at-home workouts and other solo fitness offerings have proliferated. They include free, pre-recorded home workouts that require limited or no equipment, exercise bike rental programs at gyms and spin studios, and even private workout space available for rent. In many cases, these offerings are cheaper and provide more variety for your money than a traditional gym membership. Econofitness, for example, a major gym chain in Quebec, offers free at-home workout videos on its YouTube channel, many of which require no equipment. For people with paid memberships, which range from $10 to $34 a month, it also offers varying tiers of specialized programming, from pre-recorded workouts to live classes held over Zoom. “With the YouTube channel, you get very good at-home workouts,” said Renaud Beaudry, vice president of development for Econofitness. “It’s good to start if you’ve never worked out in a gym before.” Some online platforms cater to people with more experience with workout classes. Amanda Zweig, a Montreal-based personal trainer and spin instructor, co-founded a platform called FitFomo with other local trainers, selling pre-recorded workouts for $29.99 a month. The platform now regularly publishes content from five trainers and covers a variety of workouts, Zweig said, including videos for Pilates, barre, high-intensity interval training and strength training, which are uploaded twice a week. For people who are wondering how to choose from the many fitness platforms that are out there, Zweig recommended sampling different ones. Other subscription-based online workout platforms include YYoga at Home, by the Vancouver-based yoga chain YYoga, and virtual classes from R Studios, which has locations in Halifax and Dartmouth, N.S. “The best thing to do is to try out the free trial,” Zweig said, noting that most platforms offer customers the option of testing the service for one or two weeks. “You have to just try and see what works.” Lyndsay Schneidman, who subscribed to FitFomo after having worked with Zweig and another trainer on the platform before the pandemic, said she appreciated being able to do the workouts on her own schedule. She had sampled other platforms but liked having the variety of different classes from multiple trainers on FitFomo, she said. Some classes may require more equipment than others. Still, Zweig said that for under $100, people can purchase two sets of weights — one lighter, between one and five pounds, and the other between five and thirty — as well as a set of resistance bands, which should offer enough equipment for a variety of home strength workouts. Many gyms and spin studios have also been renting out cardio equipment on a monthly basis throughout the pandemic, for people who are looking for flexibility. The gym at Concordia University in Montreal, for example, had been offering spin bike rentals for $45 per month, its website says, but the program is currently sold out. For more equipment-intensive workouts, Silofit, a Montreal-based startup, offers its customers the ability to rent out a small gym space, fully stocked with weights and cardio equipment, where people can work out in private. Before the pandemic, the app was mostly used by trainers looking for space to work with clients, but now, around half of the people making bookings are just looking for a place to work out, said Wilfred Valenta, the company’s CEO and co-founder. Gym spaces range from 500 to 1,000 square feet and cost between $20 and $45 per hour, depending on the size of the space. Each of them is professionally cleaned in between sessions, Valenta said. The company will have 12 locations in Toronto and three in Montreal by the end of March, Valenta added. Even once lockdown restrictions are completely lifted, Valenta sees fitness continuing in what he called a hybrid model. That model consists of people doing some workouts at home and only going to gyms for specialized classes, personal training sessions, or workouts that require additional equipment. Schneidman said she is unlikely to buy another gym membership after the pandemic, saying that she was happy with her home workouts. Still, she may add in-person training sessions to her routine once it becomes an option, she said. “I was someone before COVID that absolutely hated home workouts,” she said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. Jon Victor, The Canadian Press
Municipalities across Muskoka have waived permit costs and streamlined the application process for establishments to build temporary patios in an effort to aid in the economic recovery from COVID-19. The provincial government gave restaurants and other food establishments the green light to reopen to guests for dining in, as part of its Phase 2 reopening. However, it has stipulated service can only take place outdoors to minimize the spread of coronavirus. Noting the challenges that were presented for establishments with small patios, or none at all, the province also passed an order adjusting the process typical for building such structures. No longer do businesses have to pay for building permits — a fee of up to $360 — or apply for new liquor licenses (which are based on occupancy numbers). “To boost the economy, this is one way we can speed it up and get rid of some of the red tape,” said Steve Watson, director of building and bylaw services for Lake of Bays Township. The province waived the typical requirements on the premise that local municipalities would also waive them, Watson explained, noting the timeline for such a request can normally take up to six months. The deadline for applications is Dec. 31, 2020 and will provide exemptions for zoning regulations and site plan approvals to expand an existing patio, or construct a new one, in order to adhere to social distancing measures. Watson noted the primary concern for the township is making sure that no patios are built on septic systems, and that washrooms and exits are in compliance. Marty McDonald manages The Moose Cafe in Dwight where the existing patio will be extended into the grass to accommodate more tables. The café has been offering curbside pickup for takeout and frozen meals during lockdown and customers have been supportive, he said, which has been a big help because the financial impact of COVID-19 has been “huge.” “We already have a good-sized patio,” he said, but with social distancing measures increasing the space between tables the café lost roughly 12 patio seats in addition to the 60 seats inside. Taking the Township up on its offer, MacDonald said, “will bring our patio number back to what it was before.” “We’re trying to make this easy and simple for the businesses so they can get some business to their door,” Watson said, noting coffee shops are other businesses that are not licensed are also eligible. “All the municipalities are doing this,” he added. For the businesses impacted by COVID-19 this option is necessary, “to keep everybody alive,” said Natalie Archer, operations manager at Sawdust City Brewing Company in Gravenhurst. “I think it’s great that communities have done what they’ve done and the province has given us the opportunity to increase our capacity to rival that of what it was prior,” Archer said. At Sawdust the patio has been extended with picnic tables behind the building giving the brewery and saloon a total of 65 seats. Typically the patio and dining room each have seating for 100 guests. “We’re still below capacity,” she noted. “[COVID-19] has impacted us greatly. It’s more important than ever that people shop local.” At press time, a spokesperson from the Township of Muskoka Lakes confirmed it would also offer a similar application process to businesses for temporary patio extensions. STORY BEHIND THE STORY In its newsletter, the Township of Lake of Bays included its plans to help assist restaurants and other food establishments in economic recovery from COVID-19. Our reporter took a look at which other municipalities are offering similar help, as well as who might apply for temporary patio extensions and how that would impact businesses, many of whom are struggling with a significant decline in revenue. Kristyn Anthony reports for Muskokaregion.com through the Local Journalism Initiative, a program funded by the Canadian government. Kristyn Anthony, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
ATHENS, Greece — Greece's prime minister on Thursday promised sweeping changes to the country's laws and labour regulations to combat sexual abuse and misconduct in the wake of an assault allegation made by Olympic sailing champion Sofia Bekatorou that has prompted more cases and triggered a nationwide debate. Speaking in parliament, conservative Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the government will introduce tougher sentencing guidelines, propose changes to statute-of-limitation rules for cases involving minors, and create a dedicated government agency to deal with abuse claims in workplaces and organized youth activities. Multiple cases of alleged sexual misconduct and abuse have been made public since former Olympian Bekatorou alleged she was sexually assaulted by a national sailing federation official in 1998. The people coming forward with accusations include other athletes, current and former university students, and stage actors. Mitsotakis said reports that unaccompanied minors were vulnerable to abuse at migrant camps on Greek islands also motivated him to take action. “There were children at the camps...and in Greek cities that were being exploited for sex for 5 and 10 euros ($6-12),” the prime minister told lawmakers. He noted that children and teenagers travelling alone no longer live at the island camps or are held in police cells for protection but have supervised, separate living quarters. The reports include a 51-page document from the Francois-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University in 2017 that said, citing camp informants, there were serious indications of child abuse at Greek migrant camps. Separately Thursday, a former director of Greece’s National Theatre appeared before a public prosecutor to respond to child abuse allegations. The 56-year-old suspect, who denies any wrongdoing, was arrested Saturday and remains in police custody. Opposition parties have demanded that Mitsotakis replace his culture minister over the alleged scandal. A government official told the AP Thursday that new sentencing guidelines and details of the proposed legal changes would be announced “in the coming days.” ___ Follow Gatopoulos at https://twitter.com/dgatopoulos Derek Gatopoulos, The Associated Press
TORONTO — A new alert system that police recently used to find two missing girls received endorsement from the country's police chiefs on Thursday.The system, known as the Child Search Network, allows police to put out information on a missing child via a website and smart-phone app. Members of the public can then offer tips by clicking on the name or picture of the child. Supt. Cliff O'Brien, with Calgary police, called the network run by the non-profit Missing Children Society of Canada "super impressive.""The more people in our community that are looking instead of just the police, the better it is," O'Brien said. "It's great that all law enforcement is going to come together with our communities to help rescue kids."The network aims to alert the public — especially those in a specific location — to missing children deemed at high risk, but who are not in the kind of imminent danger needed to trigger an Amber Alert. The network began testing in September 2019, with just a few police services as early adopters.Now, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police have given the system its blessing. The association is urging all police services across the country to adopt and implement the new network as a standard resource in all high-risk missing children investigations.The society's Rescu website and phone app allows users to view all active cases by geographic region. Names, photographs and other relevant data are available.Users can register to receive text alerts on their cellphones specific to cases in their area. The faster a child is found, the more likely they can be returned unharmed to safety, data indicate.Police services across Canada received 40,425 reports of missing children or youth — about half of all missing-person reports, federal data show. About three-quarters of the young people involved were runaways.A few weeks ago Calgary police were able to find two 14-year-old girls reported as missing and designated as high risk after an alert via the network. Tips began coming in within hours of the first alert."Within 24 hours, we were able to locate and safely return this second girl to her family," O'Brien said. "The first 14-year-old girl, within three days of that, we were also able to find her and return her to her loved ones."Amanda Pick, CEO of the Missing Children Society of Canada, said the technology and system now in place will help in the rescue of vulnerable children."We have a network that is able to be used in every single community by every single police service for the sole purpose of protecting children and finding a child as fast as possible," Pick said.Over the past year, the society's Rescu website has received about 4,500 visits and close to 800 users have subscribed to receive text alerts, the organization said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
YEREVAN, Armenia — Armenia's prime minister accused top military officers on Thursday of attempting a coup after they demanded he step down, adding fuel to months of protests calling for his resignation following the country's defeat in a conflict with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has faced opposition calls to step down ever since he signed a Nov. 10 peace deal that saw Azerbaijan reclaim control over large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas that had been held by Armenian forces for more than a quarter-century. The opposition protests gathered pace this week, and the feud with his top military commanders has weakened Pashinyan's position, raising concerns about stability in the strategic South Caucasus region, where shipments of Azerbaijan’s Caspian crude oil pass through on their way to Western markets. The immediate trigger for the latest tensions was Pashinyan’s decision earlier this week to oust the first deputy chief of the military's General Staff that includes the armed forces' top officers. In response, the General Staff called for Pashinyan's resignation, but he doubled down and ordered that the chief of the General Staff be dismissed. After denouncing the military’s statement as a “coup attempt,” Pashinyan led his supporters at a rally in the capital, and he addressed them in a dramatic speech in which he said he had considered — but rejected — calls to resign. “I became the prime minister not on my own will, but because people decided so,” he shouted to the crowd of more than 20,000 people in Republic Square. “Let people demand my resignation or shoot me in the square.” He warned that the latest developments have led to an “explosive situation, which is fraught with unpredictable consequences.” In nearby Freedom Square, over 20,000 opposition supporters held a parallel rally, and some vowed to stay there until Pashinyan stepped down. Demonstrators paralyzed traffic all around Yerevan, chanting “Nikol, you traitor!” and “Nikol, resign!” There were sporadic scuffles in the streets between the sides, but the rival demonstrations led by Pashinyan and his foes later in the day went on in different parts of the capital. As the evening fell, some opposition supporters built barricades on the central avenue to step up pressure on Pashinyan. The crisis has its roots in Armenia's humiliating defeat in heavy fighting with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh that erupted in late September and lasted 44 days. A Russia-brokered agreement ended the conflict in which the Azerbaijani army routed Armenian forces — but only after more than 6,000 people died on both sides. Pashinyan has defended the peace deal as a painful but necessary move to prevent Azerbaijan from overrunning the entire Nagorno-Karabakh region, which lies within Azerbaijan but was under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994. Despite the simmering public anger over the military defeat, Pashinyan has manoeuvred to shore up his rule and the protests died down during winter. But the opposition demonstrations resumed with new vigour this week — and then came the spat with the military brass. Pashinyan fired the deputy chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Tiran Khachatryan, earlier this week after he derided the prime minister's claim that only 10% of Russia-supplied Iskander missiles that Armenia used in the conflict exploded on impact. The General Staff responded Thursday with a statement demanding Pashinyan's resignation and warned the government against trying to use force against the opposition demonstrators. Immediately after the statement, Pashinyan dismissed the General Staff chief, Col. Gen. Onik Gasparyan. The order is subject to approval by the nation's largely ceremonial president, Armen Sarkissian, who hasn't endorsed it yet, prompting an angry outburst from Pashinyan. “If he doesn't sign my proposal to dismiss Gasparyan, does it mean that he joins the coup?” Pashinyan asked at the rally of his supporters. He urged the chief of the General Staff to resign voluntarily, adding that “I won’t let him lead the army against the people.” Facing the top military officers' demand to step down, Pashinyan relied on his defence minister, a loyal ally. The Defence Ministry warned against any attempt to draw the military into political infighting. Amid the spiraling tensions, the chief prosecutor's office denied claims it had received instructions to arrest the top military officers. The prime minister warned that authorities now will move more forcefully to disperse the opposition protests and arrest its participants. He bluntly rejected their demand for early parliamentary elections. The political crisis is being watched closely, particularly in Russia and Turkey, which have been competing for influence in the South Caucasus region. Russia, worried about its ally plunging deeper into turmoil, voiced concern about the tensions and emphasized that Armenia must sort out its problems itself. “We are calling for calm and believe that the situation should remain in the constitutional field,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. Armenia has relied on Moscow's financial and military support and hosts a Russian military base — ties that will keep the two nations closely allied regardless of the outcome of the political infighting. And even though the peace deal is widely reviled in Armenia with many calling it a betrayal, it's unlikely to be revised — no matter who is in charge — following the fighting that demonstrated Azerbaijan's overwhelming military edge. Turkey, which backed its ally Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, would relish instability that would further weaken Armenia. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his country strongly condemns the coup attempt in Armenia and stands against all coup attempts anywhere in the world. —- Associated Press writers Vladimir Isachenkov and Daria Litvinova in Moscow and Zeynep Bilginsoy in Istanbul, Turkey, contributed. Avet Demourian, The Associated Press
(Submitted by The Front Yard Flower Co. - image credit) Flower vendors are worried B.C.'s COVID-19 rules for farmers' markets could lead to greenhouses full of blooms going to waste. Farmers' markets are considered an essential service and have been allowed to continue operating throughout the pandemic. However, non-food vendors like potters, jewelry and soap makers and flower sellers are excluded from in-person sales. This rule was lifted for a time last summer before being reinstated in December. Flower farmers plan months ahead, ordering seeds and growing plants throughout the winter, said Rachel Ryall, who owns River and Sea Flowers in Ladner. "We planted the current flowers that will be blooming over the next month back in September and October, assuming things would be alright to sell them again," Ryall said. "I can't stop them from flowering. They're coming." Rose Dykstra, owner of The Front Yard Flower Co. in Richmond, says it was never clear why non-food vendors were excluded from selling in farmers' markets. She has started a petition urging non-food vendors be allowed back. She has sold her flowers at the Vancouver Farmers Market for years and says the market has maintained strict rules throughout the pandemic to keep visitors and vendors safe. Spring flowers like tulips, narcissus, ranunculus and anemones will be ready soon and she's worried about lost sales and wasted blooms — she says she's not equipped for large-scale delivery across the Lower Mainland. "I feel like maybe we've been forgotten, because we're not vegetable farmers, we're kind of a smaller segment of vendors," Dykstra said. Rose Dykstra, owner of The Front Yard Flower Co. in Richmond, says it was never clear why non-food vendors were excluded from selling in farmers' markets. She has started a petition asking that non-food vendors be allowed back. Laura Smit, executive director of Vancouver Farmers Market, says although she is grateful the province has permitted markets to continue operating, it's never been made clear why non-food vendors aren't allowed. The farmers' market has been working since December to bring back non-food vendors, and she says if the rule is not overturned, it will have a big impact on the bottom line for flower vendors in particular. "Their product is absolutely seasonal," Smit said. "It's not something that is shelf-stable and can sit around to be sold later on in August. Literally the spring time is when these flower farmers are planning for, preparing for, and they don't understand why they can't come to market and we don't either." Spring flowers like tulips, narcissus, ranunculus and anemones will be ready soon and Rose Dykstra is worried about lost sales and wasted blooms if she can't bring them to the market. In an email to CBC News, the B.C. Ministry of Health said the rule is in an effort to keep the risk of COVID-19 transmission down, and added that non-food vendors can do online sales and pick-up orders. "The reason that food vendors are allowed is that farmers' markets are essential food and agriculture service providers," a spokesperson said. "The B.C. government will continue to listen to feedback from the community and stakeholders and adjust our response to support businesses as needed." Soap also not allowed — during a pandemic It's not just flower farmers who are concerned. Shea Hogan hopes he will be able to sell his natural bar soap at farmers' markets again this spring. The owner of PoCo Soap Co. says farmers' markets used to be a big part of his business and a way to build relationships with customers. He says it's ironic that, as a non-food vendor, he can't sell soap in a pandemic. He believes buying items from an outdoor farmers' market is among the safest ways to shop. "It was frustrating because other than being arbitrary and general, we're being told to wash our hands with soap and water," Hogan said. "And as a maker and seller of soap, to not be allowed to sell soap somewhere seems ... extra weird."
Out on a walk with his dog Taiga, Dorset resident Ryan Morin took the path he regularly does along Kawagama Lake Road and up toward the Nordic Inn. Morin, an ecologist, likes to explore the area there, where he often finds rare plants. It was on his way up Nordic Inn Road where he found hogweed, an uncommon but growing sight along the border where the Township of Lake of Bays meets the Algonquin Highlands. “This one is just getting humungous and almost coming out to the road,” said Morin, who counts this as the third location he has spotted the plant currently growing. Hogweed is a common name used for multiple kinds of the genus, Heracleum. The plant can grow up to 14 feet in height and, in late summer, blooms a white flower. However, its stems are home to prickly red particles and full of toxic sap because they contain chemical compounds called, furanocoumarins. When exposed to UV rays, Phytophotodermatitis occurs — an inflammation of the skin that leads to blistering, burns and in extreme cases, blindness. “It’s obviously a big human safety issue if you happen to not know what it is,” Morin said. Complicating matters further is that hogweed is often mistaken for cow parsnip and vice versa, because of their similar appearance. “It takes a bit of a plant eye to be able to tell the difference,” he said. From an ecological perspective, Morin said the hogweed doesn’t seem to be invading the habitat, despite spotting it in multiple locations. It’s kind of a unique thing, at least to me, to have in Dorset,” he said, because to his knowledge, it is more prevalent in southern Ontario. “Obviously, there is something that’s brought it here.” The Township of Lake of Bays does keep an eye out for hogweed, said public works superintendent Steve Peace. If found in the road allowance, the municipality takes care of removing or treating it, but also encourages people to report it directly. “We see the odd little bit in Lake of Bays,” Peace said. Between the township, the district and the Ministry of Natural Resources, he said, “everybody is doing what they can to stay on top of it.” Morin said he has warned his neighbours and made phone calls to both townships to report the hogweed and some has been removed as a result. At the time of this writing, Kristyn Anthony was a Local Journalism Initiative reporter, funded by the Government of Canada. Kristyn Anthony, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
The authorities expect to have 70% of the population vaccinated by the end of the summerView on euronews
NEW YORK — Stephen King doesn't think of himself as a horror writer. “My view has always been you can call me whatever you want as long as the checks don't bounce,” King told The Associated Press during a recent telephone interview. “My idea is to tell a good story, and if it crosses some lines and it doesn't fit one particular genre, that's good.” Readers may know him best for “Carrie,” “The Shining” and other bestsellers commonly identified as “horror,” but King has long had an affinity for other kinds of narratives, from science fiction and prison drama to the Boston Red Sox. Over the past decade, he has written three novels for the imprint Hard Case Crime: “Joyland,” “The Colorado Kid” and “Later,” which comes out this week. He loves sharing a publisher with such giants of the past as James M. Cain and Mickey Spillane, and loves the old-fashioned pulp illustrations used on the covers. At the same time, he enjoys writing a crime story that is more than a crime story — or hardly a crime story at all. “Joyland" is a thriller set around an amusement park and could just as easily be called a coming-of-age story. “The Colorado Kid” has a dead body on an island off the coast of King's native Maine, but otherwise serves as a story about why some cases are best left unsolved. “It's the beauty of the mystery that allows us to live sane as we pilot our fragile bodies through this demolition derby world,” he writes in the book's afterword. His new novel has a lot of crime in it but, as King's narrator suggests, it might actually be a horror story. Jamie Conklin is looking back on his childhood, when he was raised by a single mother, a New York literary agent. Like other young King protagonists, Jamie has special powers: He not only can see dead people, but when he asks them questions, they are compelled to tell the truth. “Later” also features a bestselling novelist and his posthumous book, and a police detective who for a time is the girlfriend of Jamie's mother. The 73-year-old King has written dozens of novels and stories, and usually has three to four ideas that “are half-baked, kind of like an engine and no transmission." He doesn't write ideas down because, he says, if something is good enough he's unlikely to forget it. For “Later,” he started with the idea of a literary agent who needed to get her late client's manuscript finished, and thought of having a son who communicates with the dead. He then decided the mother needed a companion. “And I thought, ‘You know what, I’m going to make the love relationship female.' Then I thought to myself, ‘Cop,’ and the cop is dirty and everything fell into place," he says. King, who publishes most of his work with Simon & Schuster, is part of the founding story of Hard Case Crime. Back in 2004, Charles Ardai and Max Phillips were launching a line of books to “revive pulp fiction in all its lurid mid-century glory." Hoping for some publicity, they wrote to King and asked for a blurb. A representative for the author called and said King did not want to write a blurb for Hard Case Crime; he wanted to contribute a book. That became “The Colorado Kid.” “I sat on the other end of the phone while this sank in and tried to sound cool, like this was the sort of phone call I got every day and twice on Fridays,” Ardai wrote in an introduction to “The Colorado Kid,” which came out in 2005. “But inside I was turning cartwheels.” King's passions also include politics and current events, and over the past few years he regularly tweeted his contempt for President Donald Trump. But he doubts that Trump's loss to Democrat Joe Biden will have an effect on his work. Fiction has been an “escape” from politics, he says, not a forum. And though he has written a famous novel about a pandemic, “The Stand,” he passed on a chance to write about COVID-19 in a work of fiction coming later this year, “Billy Summers." He originally set it in 2020, but decided instead on 2019. Toward the end of “Later,” Jamie observes that his writing has improved as the story went along, “improved by doing, which I suppose is the case with most things in life.” Asked during the interview to evaluate his own writing, King, the baseball fan, likens himself to an aging but resourceful pitcher. “I've gotten better in some ways, but you lose a little of the urgency. In my 40s, the ideas were like people jamming into a fire door to get out. There were so many ideas, and you couldn't wait to get to the typewriter and the words would pour out,” he says. “Nowadays, you're almost feeling people are looking over your shoulder and they're apt to be a little more critical. You slow down a little bit. I'm aware I'm getting older. You lose the blazing fastball and start to count more on your changeups and curves and be a little more careful and mix them up.” Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Robert Irwin has long acted as a voice for animals. Now he's actually voicing an animal. The 17-year-old son of the late conservationist Steve Irwin is lending his voice to a character on the popular animated children's TV show “Bluey.” “I’ve had so many hilarious and awesome and scary and fun and exciting adventures with animals. But I’ve never gotten to actually be an animal before or be the voice of an animal,” he tells The Associated Press from his native Australia. The Brisbane-produced “Bluey,” which centres on an eponymous 6-year-old Blue Heeler pup, her sister Bingo and their parents, Chilli and Bandit, has in just a few years grown into a worldwide phenomenon. The show has been praised for its ability to speak honestly about parenting and childhood, with realistic dialogue and creative games. It won an International Emmy Kids Award for best preschool program. It's available on Disney Channel, Disney Junior and DisneyNOW. In the upcoming season two episode called “The Quiet Game,” Irwin voices a clerk named Alfie on his first day at work in a toy store when Bluey, Bingo and Bandit come in looking for a birthday gift for a friend of the kids. The trouble is that dad has earlier persuaded his kids to play silently and their fierce commitment has now backfired, forcing him to use charades to figure out which toy to buy. That's when Alfie comes it, expertly translating the kids' clues. “Alfie, you rock star!” says dad after the right toy is picked. Irwin, who works at Australia Zoo, a 700-acre facility on the continent's Sunshine Coast established by his “Crocodile Hunter” dad, tapped into his knowledge of dingoes at the zoo and his own pet pug to get into character. “I feel like I have a lot to draw from,” he said. “I definitely know the mind of a dog quite well. And it was fun to sort of step into those shoes.” Irwin says Blue Heelers — also know as Australian Cattle Dogs — are an iconic breed from the outback who are smart and natural herders. “They’re really these amazing, intelligent, loyal working dogs,” he said. “If you’re going to adopt a Blue Heeler, you definitely want to be ready for for a very energetic dog.” Irwin, who was only 2 when his father died in 2006, has continued Steve Irwin's work protecting wildlife and education efforts about the environment, together with his mom, Terri, and sister, Bindi. He usually makes documentaries, but leapt at the chance to reach a different audience with “Bluey” and expand his family's voice. “For me, it feels like an immense honour and and a responsibility in a way, but not a burden in any sense. It feels like a privilege to be able to continue this legacy,” he said. “It feels like the most amazing honour every day to make sure that the incredible work that my mum and dad started continues, especially after we lost dad. I know that for us, our biggest priority was to make sure that everything that he lived and died for continues.” ___ Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press
The majority of Toronto public school students aren’t worried about catching COVID-19 in the classroom. But new survey results reveal this may be at the expense of staff’s well-being. A survey of Toronto District School Board (TDSB) students, staff and parents released Wednesday, shows that 81 per cent of students say they feel protected from contracting COVID-19 in the classroom due to health and safety measures in place, and 90 per cent of students feel supported by their teacher. That confidence, however, shrinks dramatically among Toronto public school staff — only 20 per cent say they feel safe at work from contracting COVID-19, and only 30 per cent say they’re satisfied with safety procedures put in place to protect their health and the board’s communication on these policies. A majority of staff respondents — 70 per cent — admit to feeling burnt out, and less than 30 per cent say they are able to predict the amount of work they must do on any given day. Many expressed “problems at work have kept them up at night, and that they have little energy left at the end of the day.” More than 6,000 staff members responded to the survey in December, the TDSB said. The board employs 42,000 people in total, according to its website. Students from Grades 6 to 12 were surveyed in January, with 36,000 students accessing the survey across those grades. There are about 247,000 students in total in the TDSB. Some 96,500 parents completed the survey as well. The majority, 89 per cent, say they feel their child is protected from catching COVID-19 at school. Ryan Bird, spokesperson for the TDSB, said the results show that while staff are “integral to providing those supports to students, which are going over well,” teachers and staff themselves are reporting high levels of burnout and stress. “You have an overwhelming majority of students and parents feeling that students are protected from getting COVID-19 because of health and safety precautions in place at the school, and 70 per cent of families report coping well during this pandemic,” Bird said. “At the same time, I think much of that success is thanks to the commitment of our staff, but it’s having an impact on our staff.” In response to the survey results, Bird said the TDSB will be launching a newsletter for staff that will communicate the board’s decision-making process on how and why COVID-19 safety precautions are implemented. “That’s a minor thing, but an important document,” Bird said, that will help keep staff more informed about decisions that directly affect them. But with respect to mental health and burnout, Bird said the board is still determining what next steps it should take to address those issues. He pointed to existing supports, such as employee assistance programs. Other resources available on the TDSB website include wellness modules and links to Wellness Canada, which offers free counselling, and Anxiety Canada, which offers group counselling for a fee. “Students and staff are struggling with mental health — that feeling of being burnt out is very real, and we’re trying to acknowledge that,” Bird said. “Now that we have this information, how can we better support them?” Jennifer Brown, president of Elementary Teachers of Toronto, said immediate steps can be taken to help alleviate some of the stress on teachers and staff. “Now that they have this information, they need to address it,” Brown said of the TDSB, the largest school board in the country. She said the TDSB can immediately decrease the workload of teachers, and offer some time throughout the day for teachers and staff to participate in wellness activities and for their own mental health and well-being, instead of directing them to yet “another website” to read something, Brown said. “If it really is a priority, then fund it as such,” she said. As for overall results of the survey, Brown said they are a testament to “how much the teachers do for the students, so that they feel safe, so that there is some standard of normalcy at such a time of chaos and despair.” Teachers, Brown added, continue to feel heightened levels of anxiety due to class sizes they feel are too large in comparison to general limits on gathering in the city of Toronto, and due to public health messaging that is constantly changing. “The workload hasn’t changed,” Brown said. “It has increased on top of the pandemic, on top of the lack of resources.” Other notable survey results include 70 per cent of teachers revealing they don’t have adequate tools, resources or training to do their jobs safely, and 80 per cent of staff reporting they’ve taken on additional cleaning responsibilities in the classroom, especially elementary teachers. A number of safety measures have been implemented in schools to protect staff and students from COVID-19, including wearing masks, frequent hand washing and use of hand sanitizer, and consistent cleaning of surfaces and shared spaces. The spread of COVID-19 continues to be a concern in Toronto classrooms, especially with the emergence of new virus variants that are more contagious. On Wednesday, the province reported 623 school-related cases within the last 14 days, including about 140 cases at Toronto schools. At least eight Toronto schools have identified variant cases, Toronto Public Health reported on Wednesaday. In response to the survey, Caitlin Clark, the spokesperson for Ontario’s Minister of Education Stephen Lecce, said the ministry is aware of ongoing COVID-19 risks and has responded with enhanced safety measures in classrooms. “We have stepped up access to asymptomatic testing, enhanced the requirement and quality of masks, and stricter screening before students and staff enter our schools,” Clark said Thursday. “We will continue to invest in the safety of our schools and the mental health of our students.” Nadine Yousif is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering mental health. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Follow her on Twitter: @nadineyousif_ Nadine Yousif, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
BERLIN — The head of the German Bishops' Conference said Thursday that the country's Roman Catholic church is suffering from a “scandalous image” amid mounting anger over the Cologne archbishop's handling of a report on past sexual abuse by clergy, but he defended its overall record in addressing the issue. The Cologne archbishop, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, faces discontent after keeping under wraps for months a study he commissioned on how local church officials reacted when priests were accused of sexual abuse. Woelki has cited legal concerns about publishing the study conducted by a law firm. He has commissioned a new report, which is supposed to be published March 18. There has been criticism within the German church of Woelki. The head of the German Bishops' Conference, Limburg Bishop Georg Baetzing, has described the crisis management in Cologne as a “disaster” but said earlier this week that the conference has no “sovereignty” to intervene. After a regular meeting of the country's bishops, Baetzing said Thursday that they take the effects on the church “very seriously.” A Cologne court this month announced that it was raising the number of appointments available for people seeking to formally leave the church to 1,500 from 1,000 starting in March, amid strong demand. “Every person who leaves the church hurts, and we perceive it as a reaction to a scandalous image of the church that we are currently delivering,” Baetzing said at a news conference. “Certainly, there are things in the Cologne archdiocese that need to be cleared up,” he said. “But focusing solely on the archbishop of Cologne would be short-sighted.” Baetzing said he can say “with a good conscience” that Germany's bishops stand by their pledge to get to the bottom of sexual abuse of minors by clergy. “A lot of good things have already happened,” he said, with successful investigation efforts taking place “in the shadow of Cologne.” Revelations about past sexual abuse have dogged the church in Germany and elsewhere for years. In 2018, a church-commissioned report concluded that at least 3,677 people were abused by clergy in Germany between 1946 and 2014. More than half of the victims were 13 or younger when the abuse took place, and nearly a third of them were altar boys. In January, a new system drawn up by the church to compensate abuse survivors took effect. It provides for payments of up to about 50,000 euros ($60,760) to each victim. Under a previous system in place since 2011, payments averaged about 5,000 euros ($6111.) The Associated Press
Calls for family violence continue to rise in Hinton after Hinton’s RCMP responded to 234 calls of family violence in 2020, a five-year record high. Hinton Staff Sgt Chris Murphy told council during the standing committee meeting on Feb. 2 that the RCMP is concerned about the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on people who are stuck at home without outlets and resources to help them. Family violence calls shot up drastically at the end of the summer, following three or four months of surprisingly low numbers, said Murphy. He noted that the RCMP responded to 183 calls of family violence in 2016, 176 calls in 2017, 196 calls in 2018, and 172 calls in 2019. The definition of family violence is fairly broad, Murphy explained. The call can include arguments, threats, assault, and even siblings fighting. The majority of these calls come from within the family unit. “As we respond, they’re not translating to more criminal charges thankfully, but it does show us the need of working together with other community groups,” Murphy said. The RCMP is part of a domestic violence committee, through which they work with other local agencies to provide support to struggling families. Murphy anticipates that family violence calls will continue to climb as the restrictions continue to lock down the community. Usually there are underlying factors that come into play with these types of calls, Murphy explained, such as addictions, mental health, or unemployment. “My preference is of course that the individuals receive the support and guidance and help that they need so hopefully it doesn’t escalate to a point where we are coming in, arresting somebody, and putting them in jail and before the courts,” Murphy said. During his report to council, Murphy also touched on several other crime trends and statistics, including missing persons and the mental health act. In 2020, the Hinton RCMP recorded 26 investigations for missing persons, all of which were located. The RCMP responded to 138 mental health calls in 2020, but Murphy anticipates an increase of this number further into the pandemic. Based on input from the community last year, the RCMP focused on crime reduction and community consultation. In 2019, Hinton saw a record high break and enters, which was followed by a 61 per cent decrease in 2020. That translates to 76 fewer break and enter incidents. The clearance rate of break and enters, which means solving the crimes, was at 35 per cent in 2020. Compared to 2019, there was an overall reduction in crime in 2020. These reductions include a one per cent decrease in person crimes, a 35 per cent decrease in property crime, a 31 per cent decrease in other criminal code offences, a 47 per cent decrease in motor vehicle theft, and a 46 per cent decrease in theft under $5000. The RCMP also managed to record a five-year low in traffic collisions within Hinton last year. It investigated a total of 187 traffic collisions in 2020, compared to 358 collisions in 2016, 326 in 2017, 286 in 2018, and 281 in 2019. Community consultation was challenging for the detachment throughout the pandemic, but they adapted and came up with different ways to interact and engage with the community, Murphy noted. They held two RCMP Town halls, one in-person town hall prior to the pandemic and one virtual town hall in the fall. The next town hall is planned for March 4. Murphy reported that two repeat offenders stopped committing offences after going through the habitual offender management program, while two others either moved away or are continuing with their lifestyle. The two successful individuals haven’t committed a new offence in the last year, and Murphy added that these are people who had been committing offences on a monthly basis. In addition, the RCMP has continued their aggressive prolific offender management program. This includes conducting bail release, probation checks, apprehending people on warrants, and holding people accountable. Hotpots is another initiative that the RCMP continues to update based on crime data. Strategically sending resources to certain areas in town has resulted in far more foot patrols, bike patrols, and interactions between police and the community, Murphy said. A traffic safety committee was created in 2020, partnered with numerous agencies including Hinton Peace Officers, Commercial Vehicles, Fish and Wildlife, and Parks. The traffic safety group conducted numerous joint force operations, usually over long weekends. Murphy briefly addressed the COVID-19 pandemic and explained how this changed the way RCMP respond to calls for service. “It’s not lost on all of us that we still have a very important job to do. It just may look a little bit differently and how we go about doing that,” Murphy said. A few RCMP members were recently trained for search management and will be doing training hazards and assessments in the area, Murphy said. He noted that all three municipal positions at the Hinton detachment are full, as well as all 19 regular member positions. He anticipates several transfers in 2021 and identified some replacements in March and in the summer. Murphy is also moving on to a new position in the Western Alberta District this year. The next RCMP town hall is planned for March 4 at 7pm, where Hinton and Yellowhead County residents will have an opportunity to share comments and suggestions regarding policing priorities in 2021/2022. RCMP welcomes residents to send their questions in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions and comments will also be monitored through the YouTube live chat during the livestream. For more information, visit hinton.ca/RCMPTownHall. Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice
(Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit) Ontario's public health measures have decreased COVID-19 transmission and have slowed the spread of variants of concern, according to modelling released by the province's advisory group on Thursday. But that good news comes with a caveat. According to the science table, variants of concern like B117 are continuing to spread and cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions will likely increase soon. Still, the province's latest projections come with a less dire tone than in recent weeks, with a smattering of positive news among warnings to remain vigilant. The full document appears at the bottom of this story. For one, the data suggests that lockdowns and focused vaccination in long-term care homes have rapidly reduced infections and deaths in those facilities. Doctors also predict the pandemic will likely recede again in the summer. But there are troubling statistics too. Ontario's overall test positivity rate was at 3.1 per cent on Feb. 20, but Peel Region was much higher at 7.1 per cent, as was Toronto at 5.6 per cent and York Region at 5.3 per cent. Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of Ontario's science advisory group, said "care" and "caution" are particularly critical in the next several weeks to help curb the rapid spread of variants of concern. "The next few months are really key to maintaining our gains and to achieving a declining pandemic in the summer," Brown said. "A better summer is in sight if we work for it now." Variants of concern continue to spread quickly in Ontario, the data shows, and are projected to likely make up 40 per cent of the province's cases by the second week of March. The science table says the next few weeks will be "critical" for understanding the impact of these variants, and that there "is a period of remaining risk" before the pandemic likely hits a lull in the summer months. The modelling also noted a new milestone, with more than 1,886 deaths reported in the second wave, surpassing the 1,848 deaths in the first. Number of active infections rises Ontario reported another 1,138 cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, as the number of active infections provincewide increased for the first time in more than six weeks. Brown said the new increase in the large public health units shows a trend in the wrong direction. The upward climb was small — in total, there were just 21 more active cases Wednesday than on Tuesday (10,071 compared to 10,050) — but could be notable given that, until now, infections marked as resolved have outpaced newly confirmed cases every day since Jan. 12. The new cases in Thursday's update include 339 in Toronto, 204 in Peel Region and 106 in York Region. Thunder Bay also saw another 44 cases. The local medical officer of health there told CBC News that residents should prepare to go back into the grey "lockdown" phase of the province's colour-coded COVID-19 restrictions. Thunder Bay is currently in the third-strictest red "control" phase. Other public health units that logged double-digit increases were: Ottawa: 64. Waterloo Region: 56. Simcoe Muskoka: 44. Halton Region: 40. Hamilton: 37. Windsor-Essex: 33. Durham Region: 28. Eastern Ontario: 20. Brant County: 19. Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 18. Niagara Region: 12. Southwestern: 11. (Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit on a given day, because local units report figures at different times.) The seven-day average of new daily cases increased for a fifth straight day to 1,099. Ontario's lab network completed 66,351 tests for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and reported a test positivity rate of two per cent. According to the province, there have been a total of 449 cases involving the coronavirus variant of concern first identified in the United Kingdom. That is 54 more than in yesterday's update. There have also been 11 cases of the variant first found in South Africa, and two linked to the variant identified in Brazil. Researchers from the University of Guelph and University of Waterloo independently ran modelling simulations based on Ontario's most recent reopening plan, with stay-at-home orders possibly lifted in Toronto, Peel and North Bay-Parry Sound on March 8. The results suggest that the spread of the variant, which has been shown to be more contagious, could have profound effects on case numbers in latter half of March. School-related cases The Ministry of Education also reported another 83 school-related cases: 70 students, 12 staff members and one person who was not categorized. There are currently 18 schools closed due to the illness, about 0.4 per cent of those in the province. In a news release issued late Wednesday, Toronto Public Health said that there are eight schools within the health unit where at least one case is, or is most likely, due to a variant of concern. "The affected individuals and cohorts have been dismissed from school with guidance based on their level of risk. TPH has followed up with close contacts in affected class cohorts and has recommended testing," the release said. Public health units also recorded the deaths of 23 more people with COVID-19, pushing Ontario's official toll to 6,916. Meanwhile, the province said it administered 19,112 doses of vaccines yesterday, the second-most on a single day so far. As of 8 p.m. ET Wednesday, 255,449 people had received both shots of a vaccine. WATCH | Ontario's vaccine rollout likely to be accelerated:
Facebook Inc on Thursday launched a campaign to explain to users how small businesses depend on personalized advertising, ahead of upcoming plans by Apple Inc to prompt iPhone users to allow apps to use their data for ads. The campaign called "Good Ideas Deserve To Be Found" highlights several advertisers that have grown their business on Facebook and Instagram, such as Houston-based fashion brand House of Takura. A commercial will air on TV, including during the Golden Globe Awards this Sunday, Facebook said.
People 95 and older, as well as First Nations people 75 and older, are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. "I’m personally very excited to be announcing that we’re expanding into general population, and I’m looking forward to decrease the age of eligibility continually over time," said Dr. Joss Reimer at Wednesday’s news conference. Calls for the newly eligible can be made beginning this week, with vaccines beginning next week. The vaccine call centre, at 1-844-MAN-VACC (1-844-626-8222) now has 2,000 lines, with more than 370 trained agents. The online booking self-serve tool is in its pilot phase, but will not replace the call centre. "We do know it’s possible the call centre will receive an overwhelming number of calls. We know Manitobans have been eager for this moment, and many of you are going to want to call right away," said Reimer. She asked that only eligible people, or the people calling for an elderly person, ensure they fit the criteria. These days, the wait time is less than a minute on the booking line, with a call-back option. If the wait time does increase, people can opt to have their call returned rather than waiting on the phone. Dr. Marcia Anderson, public health lead for the First Nation Pandemic Response Co-ordination Team, explained that in the coming weeks, people who call to make an appointment and self-identify as First Nations would be transferred to a member of a specialized team. "These specialists will have additional training and cultural safety to ensure that they support callers and facilitate access to an appointment for those who are eligible," Anderson said. At first, self-identification will be the method by which First Nations can access the vaccine. But, in the future, because some people do falsely identify as First Nations — called "pretendians" — the system will be tightened up over time. "This is a phenomenon that I have been aware of and had to work through in multiple different contexts, but I never imagined that one of the harmful ripple effects would be that non-registered or non-status First Nation people would face the risk of not being able to get a vaccine at a time when they rightly should be able to," said Anderson. In the future, First Nations people in Manitoba will be asked to verify their identity, she added. "We want to make sure that this is done in a way that is safe for people and does not exclude our First Nations relatives, that because of the complicated and various processes of colonization, do not have Indian status cards," she said. If a First Nations person does not have a status card under the Indian Act, there will be an escalation process to deal with the more complex cases in a trauma-informed and culturally safe way. Anderson reported that, as of last Friday, 7,023 doses of vaccine have been administered on-reserve — four per cent of the eligible population received first doses, while .08 per cent are fully vaccinated. Off-reserve, 2.96 per cent of the population have received one dose and .07 per cent are fully vaccinated. Of Manitoba’s eligible population, 2.4 per cent are fully vaccinated. As Anderson explained, First Nations have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 — making up 54 per cent of new cases in the overall Manitoba population and 70 per cent of active cases, and the virus does affect them more harshly, as demonstrated by hospitalization rates. The median age of death in Manitoba is 83, while in First Nations it is 66. Meanwhile, full two-dose vaccination at personal care homes is set to wrap up this week. "This is a tremendous accomplishment," said Reimer, adding results are already showing. "While we are seeing decreases in rates in the community overall, and we know that there are strong public health measures still taking place in personal care homes, we’re also seeing quite a sharp drop in the number of outbreaks happening in personal care homes." Additionally, the focused immunization teams began first doses at congregate living sites in Brandon and Winnipeg on Feb. 19, with regional health authorities scheduling high-priority congregate living sites starting this week. There are 1,400 congregate living sites in the province. A list of those sites can be found at bit.ly/2P9KaWX The vaccination task force has looked ahead in terms of doses coming to Manitoba to the end of March — which Johanu Botha, co-lead for the Vaccine Implementation Task Force, said will be 15,000 Pfizer doses weekly, up slightly from the roughly 12,000 doses it is receiving currently. "These are not large quantities," said Botha, adding all Pfizer doses go to supersites due to the storage requirements. There are currently two supersites — in Winnipeg and Brandon — with two more scheduled to open. The plan is to open Selkirk’s site in early March and Morden/Winkler’s in mid-March. Apart from the doses received from Moderna this week, next shipments of that vaccine are unknown. "We have just over 8,000 doses on hand remaining," said Botha, who added that those are tagged to complete vaccinations at personal care homes and support the congregate living campaign. Moderna is the vaccine of choice for First Nations, due to its less stringent storage requirement. That’s concerning, said Anderson. "We certainly want to respond to the data and have everybody — First Nations people living both on and off reserve — vaccinated as quickly as possible, especially as we start to think about heading into flood season, fire season, and what a large-scale evacuation at the same time as we’re dealing with the pandemic would mean," she said. But Anderson referenced Reimer’s news that Pfizer is looking into changing some of its shipping and storage restrictions. That may mean Pfizer can be used at First Nations in the future. "And I would say my experience has been both our provincial and federal counterparts are very willing to have that dialogue," she said. Anderson said it’s hard to calculate First Nation uptake of the vaccine at this time. "In general, in 61 of the 63, the anecdotal feedback that we got was that uptake was very high among those who were eligible. In one community, some further communication was needed, and support. Then uptake improved," she said. Anderson said the experience is much more in line with H1N1, which was higher than usual vaccine uptake. "We’re very encouraged by this progress." It was also revealed at the news conference that the Manitoba Metis Federation continues to be in conversation with the province for a vaccine program targeting vulnerable Métis populations. Reimer suggested Manitobans monitor the eligibility criteria website. The eligibility criteria will expand — sometimes quickly — by decreasing age, and can be found at bit.ly/3ssXBQb Additionally, 213 pharmacies and doctors across the province have signed up to deliver vaccines when more, with less stringent storage needs, are approved. The Wednesday technical briefing for media, which preceded the news conference, can be found at bit.ly/37LRuhP Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — “Better Call Saul,” the prequel spinoff to the hugely successful series “Breaking Bad,” will begin production in New Mexico on its sixth and final season beginning in March. White Turtle Casting officials told the Albuquerque Journal that production will begin in the second week of March and the agency is looking for stand-ins for the series. Pre-production is currently underway, and the crew is being quarantined and tested for the upcoming start, the Journal reported Wednesday. Production originally was set for March 2020, but it was moved because of the pandemic. There will be 13 episodes in the final season, although no air date has been confirmed. “Better Call Saul” has been shot in New Mexico since 2015. The production has given nearly $178,000 to the state’s film programs. The Associated Press
NEW YORK — The exclusion of The Weeknd's “Blinding Lights" at the 2021 Grammy Awards shocked many, but he's in good company: Prince's “When Doves Cry" never scored a nomination either. Here's a look at every Billboard No. 1 hit of the year since 1958, Grammy-nominated or not. NOTE: Songs with an asterisk represent tracks that earned a Grammy nomination; songs with two asterisks won a Grammy. ______ 2020: The Weeknd, “Blinding Lights” 2019: Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, “Old Town Road” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2018: Drake, “God’s Plan” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2017: Ed Sheeran, “Shape of You” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2016: Justin Bieber, “Love Yourself” (asterisk) 2015: Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2014: Pharrell Williams, “Happy” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2013: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz, “Thrift Shop” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2012: Gotye featuring Kimbra, “Somebody That I Used to Know” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2011: Adele, “Rolling In the Deep” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2010: Kesha, “Tik Tok” 2009: Black Eyed Peas, “Boom Boom Pow” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2008: Flo Rida featuring T-Pain, “Get Low” (asterisk) 2007: Beyoncé, “Irreplaceable” (asterisk) 2006: Daniel Powter, “Bad Day” (asterisk) 2005: Mariah Carey, “We Belong Together” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2004: Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris, “Yeah!” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2003: 50 Cent, “In Da Club” (asterisk) 2002: Nickelback, “How You Remind Me” (asterisk) 2001: Lifehouse, “Hanging by a Moment” 2000: Faith Hill, “Breathe” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1999: Cher, “Believe” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1998: Next, “Too Close” 1997: Elton John “Candle In the Wind 1997” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1996: Los del Río, “Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)” 1995: Coolio, “Gangsta’s Paradise” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1994: Ace of Base, “The Sign” (asterisk) 1993: Whitney Houston, “I Will Always Love You”(asterisk)(asterisk) 1992: Boyz II Men, “End of the Road” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1991: Bryan Adams, “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1990: Wilson Phillips, “Hold On” (asterisk) 1989: Chicago, “Look Away” 1988: George Michael, “Faith” 1987: The Bangles, “Walk Like an Egyptian” 1986: Dionne Warwick & Friends, “That’s What Friends Are For” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1985: Wham!, “Careless Whisper” 1984: Prince, “When Doves Cry” 1983: The Police, “Every Breath You Take” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1982: Olivia Newton-John, “Physical” (asterisk) 1981: Kim Carnes, “Bette Davis Eyes” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1980: Blondie, “Call Me” (asterisk) 1979: The Knack, “My Sharona” (asterisk) 1978: Andy Gibb, “Shadow Dancing” 1977: Rod Stewart, “Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright)” 1976: Wings, “Silly Love Songs” 1975: Captain & Tennille, “Love Will Keep Us Together” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1974: Barbra Streisand, “The Way We Were” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1973: Tony Orlando and Dawn, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Ole Oak Tree” (asterisk) 1972: Roberta Flack, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1971: Three Dog Night, “Joy to the World” (asterisk) 1970: Simon & Garfunkel, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1969: The Archies, “Sugar, Sugar” 1968: The Beatles, “Hey Jude” (asterisk) 1967: Lulu, “To Sir with Love” 1966: SSgt. Barry Sadler, “Ballad of the Green Berets” 1965: Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs, “Wooly Bully” (asterisk) 1964: The Beatles, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (asterisk) 1963: Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs, “Sugar Shack” 1962: Acker Bilk, “Stranger on the Shore” (asterisk) 1961: Bobby Lewis, “Tossin’ and Turnin’” 1960: Percy Faith, “Theme from A Summer Place” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1959: Johnny Horton, “The Battle of New Orleans” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1958: Domenico Modugno, “Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu (Volare)” (asterisk)(asterisk) Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus will reopen high schools, gyms, pools, dance academies and art galleries on March 1 in a further, incremental easing of the country’s second nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, the government said Thursday. Health Minister Constantinos Ioannou said easing the six-week-old lockdown should proceed “slowly, cautiously and in a controlled manner.” He warned that the situation could easily get out of hand again as the country’s infection rate remains slightly above safety limits set by the European Union’s disease prevention agency. According to Ioannou, the number of infections now stands at 164.3 per 100,000 people. Middle school students are scheduled to return to classrooms March 8, Ioannou said, signalling the reopening of all schools after weeks of online instruction. Primary schools are already holding in-person classes. But the minister made it clear that twice-daily excursions requiring SMS approval and a 9:00pm-5:00am curfew will remain in effect. “We'll do without certain things for the next two or three months, some measures will carry on until there's (sufficient) vaccination coverage which is estimated to happen by June," Ioannou said. A ban on public gatherings also continues to apply despite growing public fatigue that culminated with thousands demonstrating last weekend in the capital to protest the restrictions, alleged police heavy-handedness and corruption. Police didn’t intervene in that protest, but used a water cannon, pepper spray and stun grenades to disperse a much smaller group of left-wing demonstrators a week earlier. One young woman required surgery for an eye injury following a blast from the water canon. The force’s actions triggered a public outcry and prompted a probe to determine whether riot police used disproportionate force. On Wednesday, Amnesty International urged Cypriot authorities to lift what it called “an unlawful and disproportionate blanket ban” on demonstrations. Amnesty International Greece and Cyprus official Kondylia Gogou said police made “unnecessary and excessive use of force" during the earlier protest. She said the violence was also part of a “deeply worrying pattern" in Cyprus where “human rights are coming under sustained attack." ___ 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 The Associated Press
Three New Jersey State Troopers rescued a 14-year-old boy who was stuck waist deep in frigid water in a marsh in Alloway Township, Salem County. On Sunday, February 21, at approximately 11:28 p.m., Sergeant Carl Scowcroft, Trooper Matthew Hess, and Trooper Thomas Rheault were dispatched to the report of a 14-year-old boy who ran away from his residence and got stuck in a marsh near Sawmill Road. When troopers arrived to the area, they entered the water and discovered the trapped boy, who was breathing slowly and was unresponsive. Due to the frigid temperature of the water, Sgt. Scowcroft made a determination that he needed to take immediate action to save the boy’s life, so he quickly made his way through the mud as Troopers Hess and Rheault kept their flashlights trained on the victim. Sgt. Scowcroft pulled the boy out of the marsh and began to carry him towards the shoreline. At the time of the rescue, the victim exhibited signs of hypothermia. A short time later, members of the Alloway Township Fire Rescue arrived and entered the water to assist. Troopers Rheault and Hess then secured the boy to a backboard and carried him up the embankment. Alloway Township EMS evaluated the victim and transported him to Salem Memorial Hospital where he was expected to make a full recovery. Check out this video clip of the rescue. Video credit New Jersey State Police