Stephen Mac, a scientist, researcher and infectious diseases expert, explains what COVID-19 numbers could look like in Ontario.
British police were granted more time to question seven men arrested after hostile stowaways aboard an oil tanker in the English Channel prompted special forces to storm the vessel on Sunday. "Officers have been granted more time by Southampton Magistrates Court to question seven men as we continue to lead the investigation into the maritime security incident on board the Nave Andromeda off the coast of the Isle of Wight on Sunday 25 October," police said in a statement. The seven men, who are all Nigerian nationals, were arrested on suspicion of seizing or exercising control of a ship by use of threats or force, and will remain in custody until the evening of Wednesday Oct. 28.
Sentencing for an Onion Lake Cree Nation man who pleaded guilty to resisting arrest, possession of property obtained by crime, break and enter, and possession of cocaine was adjourned. Lyndon Belly, 34, was to be sentenced in Lloydminster Provincial Court Oct. 26. Sentencing was rescheduled to Nov. 2. The North Battleford RCMP Crime Reduction Team arrested belly on Aug. 15. The highly trained and specialized gang unit was sent to Onion Lake Cree Nation Aug. 12 to 16 to help fight gang activity. The RCMP CRT members collaborate with communities and partner agencies to reduce gang violence and activity. There are two CRTs operated by the RCMP in Saskatchewan – Prince Albert and North Battleford. Provincially funded police resources in Saskatoon, Regina and Prince also have CRTs. Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Despite running candidates in only 17 constituencies, the Buffalo Party captured the third-largest share of votes in the province Monday night. Interim Buffalo Party Leader Wade Sira said observers who discounted the party “are in for a pleasant surprise.” Though, he also acknowledged the race was an “uphill battle.” Sira, who finished third in Martensville-Warman, found encouragement in the party’s second place finishes against the Saskatchewan Party in Cypress Hills, Kindersley, Estevan, and Cannington. Those races made it the only third party to place second, he noted. Sira said low turnout hampered the party’s support “because a lot of people were frustrated and didn’t know there was a third option.” He said increased emphasis on recruiting volunteers and fundraising would help the party grow its base in 2024. “The buffalo’s in the room and it’s not leaving.” The Buffalo Party finished Monday with 11,050 votes (2.91 per cent) followed by the Green Party at 9,051 votes(2.37 per cent) and the Progressive Conservatives at 7,905 votes (2.07 per cent). Independent candidates garnered 954 votes (led largely by Sandra Morin in Regina Walsh Acres) and the Liberals three candidates had 338 votes. Green Party Leader Naomi Hunter said she’s pleased with her party’s turnout Monday night, underscoring hers was the only third party, after the Sask. Party and the NDP, that would be able to form government. “We ran a full slate of candidates,” she said. Four years ago, the party earned a 1.83 per cent vote share, 7,967 votes. “There was this wave of energy across the province; I travelled to all 61 ridings,” she said. “Saskatchewan people care about green issues, they care about ending poverty and homelessness, they care about participatory democracy.” Hunter said she’s “horrified” by the Sask. Party’s platform promises to address climate change, saying they’re non-existent; while the NDP only “claims to care about the climate crisis.” She urged both parties to steal from the Greens’ platform to adopt more immediate policies to address climate change over the next four and 10 years. That includes the party’s plan to make Saskatchewan use 100-per-cent renewable energy by 2030. PC Leader Ken Grey said he was disappointed his party didn’t have a better showing. “I was surprised they did as well as they did some ridings,” Grey said of the Buffalo Party. “Buffalo took away our votes.” “I do congratulate them. They tapped into a good source of anger, they made some gains,” Grey said. He figures voters who supported the far right party, formerly named the Wexit Party, were expressing frustration over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal Liberals. “(Premier-elect) Scott Moe’s challenge will be bringing forward a better relationship between the west and the federal government.” Sask. Party holds on in Moose Jaw The Sask. Party used Monday to turn what has historically been a NDP stronghold, Moose Jaw Wakamow, into its own regular pick-up area. Incumbent Greg Lawrence won his third-straight term to serve as MLA for the southern Moose Jaw riding. “My team and I did the best we could. We door-knocked on 14,000 to 15,000 doors twice,” he said, thanking people in his riding for getting out to vote. “I work for the people,” he said. At the end of the night, Lawrence led NDP challenger Melissa Patterson by 854 votes, bumping up his 2016 695-vote margin. He commended Patterson for her work during the campaign. Prior to Lawrence taking the riding for the Sask. Party in 2011 from Deb Higgins, the NDP held it in 10 of the previous 11 governments going back to the 1960s. The NDP had been hoping to use the southern Moose Jaw riding as a way to build its base outside of the province’s two main cities. A long-time former NDP MLA previously told the Leader-Post the riding is essential to the party either forming government or a credible opposition. The Sask. Party handily won Moose Jaw North; newcomer Tim McLeod beat the NDP’s Kyle Lichtenwald by more than 2,100 votes. He’s a partner at a local law firm in the city and he has previously served as the chair of the Prairie South school board. Prince Albert race down to the wire The Saskatchewan Party’s chance to claim victory in Prince Albert is down to a few hundred votes. With all 50 polls reporting by midnight, the party’s Alana Ross carried 2,393 votes to NDP incumbent Nicole Rancourt’s 2,171 votes in Prince Albert Northcote. That doesn’t account for the 568 mail-in ballots that could decide the race. “It’s a close one. We thought it would probably go to the mail-ins,” Ross said. Rancourt was unavailable for comment. Ross, a health care worker, pitched herself as a moderate that could bring riding concerns closer to decision makers. Her opponent, Rancourt, promised to spur the local economy by building a second bridge and a hospital in Prince Albert. Monday’s close race follows a trend from 2016, when Rancourt won the riding by a slim 261-vote margin. That year, turnout in the riding was 43 per cent — the fifth lowest in the province with 5,603 total votes. That number dropped to 5,446 this year. The Sask. Party’s Joe Hargrave sailed to re-election in Prince Albert Carlton with a comfortable lead on Monday. He has served as minister responsible for Crown Investments Corporation and minister responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance. He defeated NDP challenger Troy Parenteau with 3,470 votes against his opponent’s 2,112 on Monday.Nick Pearce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix
“A Small Farm Future: Making the Case for a Society Built Around Local Economies, Self-Provisioning Agricultural Diversity and a Shared Earth,” by Chris Smaje (Chelsea Green) With the possible exception of parks, perhaps no use of the land is viewed more favourably in America than a small farm. It’s encompasses all the values and myths we hold holy — seemingly pollution-free stewardship of the land, green vistas of vibrant crops, and contented animals munching grass. If only the realities and economics of small farming were so engaging. The vast scope and power of corporate agriculture presents ferocious competition; studies show half of small farmers depend on a second job to stay solvent. Chris Smaje explains in “A Small Farm Future" how small farms can become profitable — it merely will take a near complete reordering of our society. Smaje threw his research net wide for this book, citing population growth, climate change, conflicting economic theories and outdated politics in concluding the labour-intensive, small-scale agriculture he advocates can work. Forget any multi-tasking when you are reading this book —you’ll get lost in equations he creates to show the flow of commodities and money and how the world can change to embrace small farms. Smaje offers a solution for small farms on a macro-economic/political scale; the aspiring small farmer will not find much here to help make the venture profitable. “A Small Farm Future” joins a barnful of books and articles in recent years on small farming, a romance with the land that has eluded profitability. However, several factors may hasten Smaje’s farm revolution, at least in the United States: — Climate change, which will render some of our current farmlands too hot, too dry, or both. — The diminishing water table in California’s central and Salinas valleys, where most of America’s salads originate in industrial-scale farms. — Washing away of the topsoil in the Great Plains, the result of corn and soybean monocultures and failure to plant cover crops, such as clover, in the winter to hold the soil in place when it rains. — In California, a failure of the winter rains, and conversely, deluges in the central states, surely will elevate the urgency of an alternative agriculture discussion. If those factors are not enough to ignite a shift to more sustainable small farms, consider this statistic: Federal payments to farmers are expected to reach a record $46 billion this year, the New York Times reported earlier this month. That’s about 40 per cent of total farm income. As Smaje writes: “It’s clear that present ways of doing politics, economics and agriculture in much of the world are reaching the end of the line.” Jeff Rowe, The Associated Press
Ontario reported 827 more cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, while the province's labs processed fewer than 24,000 tests — about half of their daily capacity.Of the new cases, Toronto saw 355 new cases, while Peel Region recorded 169 and York Region 89.Meanwhile, the seven-day average of new daily cases, a measure that limits noise in the data and provides a clearer picture of longer-term trends, increased slightly up to about 879, another record high. Compared to the previous five days, the rate of increase slowed considerably. The province is also reporting 691 more resolved cases, and an additional four deaths, bringing the total death toll to 3,103.Also Tuesday, the Toronto Catholic District School Board reported 10 classes at St. André Catholic School in North York are self-isolating, eight of which are due to one infected staff member. The new case numbers come after a record-breaking weekend and seven-day average, which health officials said was partially to blame on Thanksgiving and other large gatherings. As for testing levels, Ontario currently has laboratory capacity for about 45,000 tests daily. Fewer than 30,000 tests were completed on each of the last two days.The province recently moved to limit tests for asymptomatic people, reserving them instead for those with symptoms or who had exposure to someone with a confirmed case. A Ministry of Health official told CBC News that since testing is demand driven, the numbers typically dip earlier in the week with fewer people booking appointments to be tested on the weekend. Asked about testing levels at a news conference Tuesday, Premier Doug Ford maintained Ontario continues to lead the country in testing, with nearly five million tests completed.Health Minister Christine Elliott added that the province has identified areas in Toronto and Peel Region for mobile or pop-up testing but provided no specific details about when and where that may happen. Hospitalizations climbThe relatively low number of tests has pushed the province-wide positivity rate to about 3.45 per cent, also a new high. Provincial health officials have previously said that a 2.5 per cent positivity rate is reason for serious concern.Meanwhile, the number of people in Ontario hospitals with confirmed cases of COVID-19 climbed above 300 for the first time during the resurgence of the illness that began in early August and continues today. More than 1,000 were hospitalized during the first wave of the pandemic in the spring.Of 312 people currently in hospital, 75 are being treated in intensive care and 52 are on ventilators.On Tuesday, Ford announced an investment of $116 million to increase hospital capacity by 766 beds across the province. The new beds are in addition to the 139 critical care beds and up to 1,349 hospital beds announced as part of the province's fall preparedness plan, Elliott said."We are taking another step today to keep that promise by adding hundreds more hospital beds across the province. This will not only ensure we are ready for any surges in COVID-19 cases, but provide patients with the care they need and deserve close to home," Ford said in a news release. The move isn't necessarily specific to COVID-19, however. In 2018, the Ford government announced an extra $90 million for hospital surge capacity to help cope with flu season. They year before, the then-Liberal government announced a boost of $100 million. Ford was also asked again Tuesday about MPP Sam Oosterhoff, who has apologized after photos posted online showed him at recent gathering of about 40 people, who squeezed in to take a picture together without masks on.WATCH | 'We all make mistakes,' Ford says after MPP Oosterhoff pictured at gathering without masks:The Niagara West MPP faced widespread backlash online after the incident, with the CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association calling for his resignation.In response, Oosterhoff said Monday there were fewer than the allowable limit of 50 people in attendance, but that, "I should have worn a mask when we took a quick [picture], given the proximity of everyone..."Ford said he has accepted Oosterhoff's apology. "MPP Oosterhoff apologized, he said it's not going to happen again, and I accept that," he said. "Everyone makes mistakes, he apologized, he's not going to do it again."Experts and officials have been warning about so-called "pandemic fatigue" for months, in which people who are sick of following the rules embrace riskier behaviour in order to see friends and family or do beloved activities. Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital, told CBC on Tuesday that with a long winter ahead, it remains a major concern. What's needed, he said, is "messaging of how you can create safer spaces so people can do the things that they like to do, stay physically active, connect with others, enjoy themselves." North York General Hospital outbreak Another Toronto hospital has declared a COVID-19 outbreak after two staff members in its surgical program tested positive for the virus.North York General Hospital says both cases appear to be linked, and it will postpone non-emergency surgeries for the time being to limit the risk of infection.The hospital says there are no patient cases connected to the outbreak so far.Several other hospitals have been dealing with outbreaks of the novel coronavirus, which are generally defined as at least two health-care-related cases within a 14-day period.Ontario long-term care commission will grant workers anonymityNurses and personal support workers can now be granted anonymity when testifying for a commission examining Ontario's response to COVID-19 in long-term care homes.Long-term Care Minister Merrilee Fullerton says the government has changed the terms of reference for the independent inquiry to ensure the workers don't fear reprisal from their employers.Opposition critics called the move a good start, saying whistle-blower protections should be strengthened across the sector.The commission is investigating how the novel coronavirus spread in the long-term care system and will submit its final report on April 30, 2021.In interim recommendations issued late last week, the commission said the province must address critical staffing shortages at long-term care homes as the second wave of the pandemic intensifies.The province says there are currently 88 long-term care homes experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks.Toronto Western sends new COVID-19 patients to another hospitalToronto Western Hospital is now sending new COVID-19 patients to another hospital while it moves its current COVID-19 unit to another floor.The unit, known as 8A, and another one nearby, 8B, are dealing with an outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Three patients and seven staff members have tested positive.Alexa Giorgi, spokesperson for the University Health Network, said people with COVID-19 admitted through the emergency department at Toronto Western will be cared for at the COVID-19 unit at Toronto General Hospital temporarily. Toronto Western will take patients who need admission because of COVID-19 within the next 10 days, she said.Giorgi said the hospital has taken the following measures to deal with the outbreak: * Units 8A and 8B have been closed to new admissions and new patients with COVID-19 who go to Toronto Western are being diverted to Toronto General's COVID-19 unit. * The units are undergoing cleaning and there is enhanced cleaning of common spaces and the locker room. * The number of housekeeping staff in 8A has been increased for daily enhanced cleaning. * All staff in 8A and 8B are being tested regularly and there is contact tracing and isolation where appropriate. * Patients in 8B are being tested regularly and there is contact tracing and isolation where appropriate. * The hospital is implementing "stricter cohorting of shared staff." * An environmental assessment and a review of measures in place to encourage physical distancing has been done. * There are "daily interdisciplinary outbreak management team" meetings to ease internal communications and organize action plans."Management is continuing to closely monitor this situation as it develops," Giorgi said.
It's a common reality for New Brunswick: students grow up here, get their university education here, then leave to work in other provinces.The University of New Brunswick is pushing for a deeper understanding of the factors that influence student retention and is conducting a comprehensive analysis aimed at this issue and its effect on the labour market.Funded by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, the university's New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training will work with two provincial departments, Education and Post-Secondary Education, on an analysis of New Brunswick students, their educational experiences and their transition into the workforce. Using multiple sources of linked individual data on school experience, post-secondary education and subsequent labour market outcomes, the project will evaluate the return on investment of public education for individuals and for New Brunswick. A key component will be the examination of student retention, as well as how the province keeps its post-secondary graduates here and engaged in productive employment."Provincial governments make large investments in public education, which are expected to result in increased earning power for individuals and communities" as well as non-financial benefits such as "improved health behaviour and lower crime rates," McDonald said.But because the returns can accrue many years after the investment in education, many jurisdictions find it difficult to evaluate new educational programs, policies and projects, he said."This can be additionally complicated in a small province like New Brunswick, where a substantial percentage of students who go through the New Brunswick education system end up working in other provinces."René Arseneault, the MP for Madawaska-Restigouche and parliamentary secretary to the minister for ACOA, said the UNB project will offer insight into current labour market pressures and future labour availability."Overall, the information collected for this report could have a valuable impact on future educational programming that will benefit this region's economy for years to come," he said.The federal government, through ACOA, is contributing $137,775 to the project.
Small businesses in the province need more than a loan to help them stay in business during the COVID pandemic, according to the director of provincial affairs in New Brunswick for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.Louis-Philippe Gauthier said the provincial government's response to providing the support small businesses need to survive is essentially inadequate.And, without some immediate help from the provincial government in grants or forgivable loans, Gauthier said more small businesses will have no choice but to close their doors. "We're hoping the provincial government will change its approach at this time and at least try to capture and support the small businesses that are falling through the cracks." Gauthier said the province should follow Quebec and Ontario's example. Those provinces provided support to businesses that had to close based on further restrictions. He said based on recent data, 11 per cent of their members are considering shutting down their business or declaring bankruptcy. About 50 per cent are unsure they will survive a closure during a second wave. "It's not an easy time for a lot of businesses, those who are still impacted by the health measures and/or by reduced demand from consumers." Gauthier said businesses that had to close during the orange phase in Zone 1, the Moncton region and Zone 5, the Campbellton region, because of health restrictions were hit hard."In Moncton, the businesses here were fortunate because closure was over a shorter period. But for the businesses in Zone 5, the reality is no revenue coming in."This is the third closure for some businesses in Zone 5, who went through the first lockdown, a second n June during a COVID-19 outbreak and now this second outbreak. Gauthier said many businesses were worried about what would happen if additional restrictions were put on them."And that's a reality that unfortunately materialized." Gauthier said CFIB is asking the province to provide additional support for the businesses that are affected when it puts restrictions in placeRight now the government only provides support to small businesses through loans, but CFIB is calling on the government to allow forgivable loans or grants.Gauthier said many businesses have incurred a large amount of debt, and can't afford to take on more."Eventually you're going to hit a speed bump as a business so helping them in a grant format would be the preferred method at this point." Gauthier said otherwise, the government is taking away the ability of that person to gain a livelihood."You know, you're basically expropriating these business owners and not allowing them to generate revenue and then taking all the risk.So at this point, from our perspective, it's very evident that when government imposes restrictions, it has a responsibility."
Former U.S. Consul-General James Dickmeyer explains what Canada stands to gain or lose from the outcome of the U.S. Presidential Election.
Illegal night fishing on Rice Lake has resulted in a number of charges being laid by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF). According to Otonabee-South Monaghan Mayor Joe Taylor, who’s lived on Rice Lake for more than 30 years, anglers have been using artificial light to attract fish, while some have also been using more than one rod. Since Oct. 17, conservation officers have patrolled the lake a couple of times and have laid a number of charges, said Taylor, with several additional charges being laid prior to that date. Information on charges, meanwhile, was not available from MNRF. "It’s an issue that’s of significant concern to many residents in the area, and I’m certainly included in that because I live on Rice Lake and I see this activity going on night after night, " he said. Taylor is an avid angler who enjoys night fishing and follows the rules. "I started seeing these flagrant violations of fishery regulations, I’m going to say 10 to 15 years ago, and it’s been increasing every year. This year, it’s almost increased exponentially, " he said. "These anglers will typically use illuminated bobbers and they really show up at night. They stick out from quite a distance. I can see them from the windows on my house, so I know that there’s, for example, three anglers in that boat and I see five or six bobbers coming out of it; that’s illegal. You can only use one rod per angler, " he said. Those partaking in illegal fishing are being selfish and short-sighted, Taylor said. "They’re not looking at the long-term impact of these actions, and future generations are going to suffer. We just can’t stand by and let that happen. The resource is too valuable and we have to protect it, " he said. While he’s unsure who the individuals are that aren’t abiding by the rules, Taylor said they need to be fined. Many years ago, when Taylor was fishing in northern Quebec, a First Nations man told him something he’d never forget, he said. "There was a Cree fellow who said to me, ‘If you be good to the fish, they’ll be good to you.’ And I’ve always remembered that, and I live by that. Unfortunately, not enough people do look at it that way, " he said. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.comMarissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
Local homelessness charities in Kelowna, B.C., are acting quickly to open two emergency winter shelters downtown earlier than last year before freezing temperatures return to the area.Starting Monday, Metro Community will reopen the 39-bed Welcome Inn at 1265 Ellis St., while the brand new Doyle Avenue Shelter — housed in the Daily Courier's former office building at 550 Doyle Ave. — will offer around another 40 beds.Temporary shelter spaces will be available 24/7 until March 31, according to nonprofit Central Okanagan Journey Home Society. Gospel Mission is one of the nonprofits that has had to turn unhoused people away from its permanent shelter due to COVID-19 physical distancing requirements, even amid the frigid weather last week.The new 30,000-sq. ft. Doyle Avenue Shelter, which includes facilities such as showers, toilets, hygiene centres and laundry rooms, should help address this, Gospel Mission executive director Carmen Rempel said."The spaces are actually incredible — big warehouse-type spaces where we can put in these pod units so that everybody is socially distanced," Rempel told Sarah Penton, host of CBC's Radio West.The Gospel Mission's permanent shelter on Leon Avenue will continue to accommodate 60 people, although that number is down from the 90 beds offered before the pandemic."In years past when the weather got cold, we would be throwing mats on the ground, we'd be shuffling bunk beds and every spare corner of space," Rempel said."But this year, because of COVID, we have a certain spacing that we have to provide between the beds, so I have a storage unit filled with mattresses and beds."Rempel says both the Welcome Inn and Doyle Avenue emergency winter shelters won't reject guests who have substance use issues. The nonprofits will keep records to ensure people don't occupy spaces at both shelters.Gospel Mission is hiring night-time staff for the Doyle Avenue Shelter, which is located the building formerly used by the Daily Courier newspaper. The media company vacated it several weeks ago.The building is slated for demolition next spring. Mission Group and UBC Properties Trust, the property co-owners, plan to build a downtown extension of University of British Columbia's Okanagan campus on the site, as well as residential units and commercial offices.It makes sense to lend the building as a temporary shelter before the building was torn down, says UBC Okanagan's principal Lesley Cormack."This is not a country where you can be out on the street in the winter, especially with the pandemic," she said. "The university has always wanted to work for the betterment of the whole community, including those who are less fortunate."There are at least 297 unhoused people in Kelowna, according to the latest report by the charitable Central Okanagan Foundation.
2020 marks the sixth year Dylan Toymaker has displayed his works of art at the Dark Sky Festival, held this year from Oct. 16 to 25. Toymaker is a light design and installation artist from Edmonton whose eye-catching creations have been seen at a variety of other festivals including the Edmonton Folk Music Festival and Astral Harvest. The dark sky preserve that Jasper National Park is, provides a perfect backdrop for Toymaker's works of art. Patterned cubes and a variety of other shapes are illuminated from the inside, shining a mosaic of colors on their surroundings. "As a light and installation artist, darkness is a precious and valuable commodity," Toymaker said. Toymaker's display is usually set up at Lake Annette, but was moved to Centennial Park due to COVID protocol because bussing people to the site didn't allow social distancing. "I'm glad the site is more accessible to people," he said. "I really enjoyed the site in Jasper. The shape of the park worked really well for an installation." Most of Toymaker's festival work is outside and he has done a lot of winter festivals. "There's a lot of work in the winter, so lantern-based artwork works really well," he said. Setting up an installation anywhere is a huge effort. "It all depends on the scale," Toymaker said. For the set-up at Centennial Park Toymaker said he probably spent 16 to 20 hours to set up over two days - Oct. 15 and 16. Toymaker said his installation practice came from being at festivals. "I was doing recycled materials jewellery and sculpture,” he said. “Being in the environment showed me the place for my work at festivals." For example, he said, at the Burning Man Festival he attended, it was almost all installation art. It's inspiring to see 100 different artists doing their creations in a deep and meaningful way," he said. A lot of the events he does are city-based, and many are music festivals but Toymaker has been hired to do displays at weddings too. This work, he said, is his main gig. With festivals being shut down this year due to COVID, he's doing more one-on-one work. He's been booked to do more winter festivals throughout 2020 and 2021. Toymaker noted on his website that he began his artistic career in craft, unexpectedly, while receiving a BA in Anthropology. Early experience working internationally in craft production in places such as Toronto, Vancouver, Tucson, New Orleans and New York, led him down a long and winding road to his real passion: light design. With his art, Toymaker said, "There's a state of mind that could be described as enchantment about something in the world, and I find I can set up a world in a way that is enchanting to people. The medium of sparkling lights and shapes and moving patterns in the dark, have some very enchanting qualities to them. "There's a new, different place when it's dark, that feeling of enchantment. I enjoy it, and I enjoy that other people enjoy it too."Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh
A Vancouver Island man is facing charges after choosing a poor time and place to let his creative impulses flow. Nanaimo RCMP say an officer was called to a doughnut shop on Sunday when staff reported someone had just spray-painted the shop floor. The suspect was gone by the time police arrived, but as the officer was taking photos of the damaged floor, a bystander noticed someone was spray-painting the RCMP cruiser parked outside.
As the first signs of winter begin to appear around Ontario, the province is struggling with a surging second wave of COVID-19. Dropping temperatures and the onset of flu season have been joined this year by an explosion in positive cases of the novel coronavirus in Peel. Three months ago, the region moved into Stage 3, and a collective rebirth sent people back to their normal lives. Before that, in May and June, the virus showed signs of retreating just as warm summer weather began to appear. A year written off on almost every front, 2020 looked like it might actually turn around. But a rapid relaxing of restrictions, a return to school and general complacency have allowed the deadly killer to storm back, with key indicators of the pandemic’s impact in Peel looking bleak: they moved from green to orange and many now sit at red. The Region’s top public health doctor now says current closures, including the prohibition on indoor dining, will likely have to be kept in place beyond the initial 28-day period. On Sunday, Peel residents digested the chilling news that 28 percent of Ontario’s record-breaking 1,042 new cases of COVID-19 were right here in the region, currently the worst of the hotspots. The news came just over a fortnight after Peel was sent back to a modified Stage 2, shutting indoor dining and workout spaces. So far the move, which could still help, has not prevented the rapid climb in local cases. Peel’s current 28-day restrictions will likely be extended with COVID numbers trending in the wrong direction. Case numbers in Peel reached all time highs over the weekend. Data from Peel Public Health, which often lag behind the reporting out of the Ministry of Health, before reflecting full case counts, show a rapid climb in cases between October 18 and 23. Cases for the period increased from 134 on October 18, to 234 on the 23rd. Data not yet reflected in these counts, but shared by Health Minister Christine Elliott on Twitter, show Peel Region hitting highs of 215 Monday (25 percent of provincial total), 289 Sunday (28 percent), 170 Saturday (17 percent) and 186 Friday (23 percent). Peel accounts for roughly 10 percent of Ontario’s total population. A report by Peel Public Health published on October 23 shows high case counts aren’t the region’s only concern. Several key indicators, ranging from testing to hospital capacity and tracing efforts, show the pandemic already worsening in the region, ahead of winter and flu season. The region’s rolling seven day average of new infections (not including institutional settings like long-term care) is at the highest it has ever been, with an average of 146 new cases per day over the past week. Hospitalizations remain relatively low, but six long-term care and retirement homes are experiencing outbreaks and the median reproduction rate of the virus is at 1.1, meaning each case spawns just over one additional infection. There are also indications Peel’s local health unit is having trouble controlling the virus. Over the two weeks prior to October 23, the proportion of cases acquired from the community spiked dramatically compared to other sources of infection. During this time, community acquisition accounted for 49.4 percent of new cases reported, compared to an average of 22.7 percent of all cases since March. The high number over the past two weeks includes some cases that will eventually be reclassified if contact tracing links them to a known outbreak, Peel Public Health’s top medical official, Dr. Lawrence Loh, explained to The Pointer. The numbers also have to be contextualized, as travel initially accounted for a much larger portion of local cases, before community spread began after the virus was introduced. Institutional outbreaks, mostly in long-term care facilities, dominated the case numbers throughout much of the spring, before the novel coronavirus slipped out into the broader community. “That number has crept up,” he said, even taking into account the potential reclassification of some cases. Benchmarks for contact tracing also appear to be slipping, with only 67 percent of those tested positive contacted within 24 hours last week (the target is 90 percent). “I think that also reflects my concern in highlighting that we are starting to see wider spreads in the community which is why we really need the community to get this under control,” Loh added. With indoor dining and gyms closed in the Region of Peel, transmission is problematic in small to medium social events where attendees are not adhering to rules. “It is still very much being driven by household gatherings and social gatherings,” Loh said. “There is not one single large outbreak you can point to, it’s a number of different household and social gatherings that occured over the Thanksgiving long weekend, some of which were also with people who travelled into our community from out of province. That essentially resulted in the numbers we’re seeing.” It’s unclear why those figures would be so disproportionately high in Peel, with between 20 and 25 percent of Ontario’s cases daily over the past week. And Loh’s claim fails to explain why Brampton has consistently been so far outside the statistical norms in the rest of the province during long stretches of the pandemic. On September 2 and 6 the province’s fourth largest city, with about 4.5 percent of the population, accounted for 37 percent of COVID cases, during a two-week period when more than 20 percent of infections in Ontario were among Brampton residents (they could have contracted the virus elsewhere). A key argument Peel Public Health has used through the pandemic to reassure local residents is the fact it can trace the vast majority of cases to their source. Categories including travel, work outbreaks or household clusters allow local health officials to target where the viral spread is occurring. When cases are simply acquired in the community, it means tracers and experts are struggling to understand exactly where to look for the virus. The region’s positivity rate has increased, too. The indicator, which shows the percentage of tests confirming an individual has the virus, is another measure that shows if the pandemic is under control. “The World Health Organization uses a benchmark of less than 5 percent of samples positive for COVID-19 for at least two weeks as one indicator that the pandemic is under control,” Friday’s regional report explains. “In Peel and other Ontario jurisdictions, a 3 percent test positivity is used to flag increasing infection rates or insufficient testing rates.” Between October 4 and October 10, the Region of Peel as a whole recorded a positivity rate of 4 percent. Additional data shared by the health unit with The Pointer show significant increases. For the week ending October 17, Mississauga reported a test positivity of 3.8 percent, Caledon 4.9 and Brampton 8.1 percent. The region’s second largest city has not been able to meet per capita daily testing targets set by the Province, with only about a third of required assessments being conducted each day. It’s not clear why the Province has only maintained one assessment centre in Brampton since the start of the pandemic, while Mississauga has three. Brampton currently has more than double the positivity rate as its neighbour to the south, an indication that not enough tests are being done in the smaller municipality, which has approximately 650,000 residents who are served by only one test site. Changes to Ontario’s testing criteria, introduced by the Province at the end of September, play a part in the recent spike in positivity rates. Shifting from screening anyone to only testing those with symptoms or who might have come in contact with the virus means the percentage of positive tests will increase. More targeted screenings allows contact tracers to quickly and more effectively isolate those who might have been infected by anyone who tests positive. This is key, as viral spread can quickly get out of control in a setting or particular area if those who are infected don’t know and pass it onto others in the community, who then continue transmitting the microscopic organism to people they come in contact with. The higher current positivity numbers for each of Peel’s three municipalities have challenged the WHO’s target of 5 percent or below and Peel’s target of 3 percent and under. Positivity rates higher than those figures indicate a region where testing is failing to keep up with the spread of the virus. The figure in Brampton is almost three times the benchmark Peel Public Health uses to assess the state of the pandemic. For Ontario, the positivity rate has remained below 5 percent since May. Amid the dreary reality and forecasts of Ontario’s second wave, the bright spot many have referenced is relatively low rates of hospitalization. As epidemiologists are quick to point out, hospital statistics represent a lagging indicator, meaning high cases are followed by a delayed increase in hospital admissions which can be seen as much as three or four weeks after local spikes in COVID cases. During August and September, leaders highlighted the fact the majority of new cases of COVID-19 were reported among people under the age of 40, a cohort statistically less likely to require acute or critical care. As cases have grown, infection has spread through age groups and the virus has again begun to endanger those more likely to need serious medical assistance. In Peel, hospital capacity mirrors this trend, moving slowly in the wrong direction. The region has set a threshold of 90 percent capacity for acute and intensive care beds to differentiate between acceptable and problematic numbers. Acute care beds in Peel are already 93 percent full (compared to 92 percent on October 9), while critical care beds are 85 percent full (compared to 84 percent two weeks prior). The increasing rate of these lagging indicators is highlighted by the rate of ventilators in use. Three weeks ago, on October 2, 41 percent of beds with ventilators were occupied, rising to 47 percent on October 23, nearing the mark of serious ventilator capacity shortages when use reaches 60 percent. The Region of Peel does not break these statistics down by hospital. William Osler, which runs Brampton Civic, did not respond to a request for comment. Trillium Health Partners, responsible for hospitals in Mississauga, could not provide a total number of beds, but shared occupancy statistics showing Credit Valley Hospital ICU 80 percent full. As cases continue to race upward, threatening to trigger a domino effect that could bury local hospitals, lockdown measures seem set to continue. Asked by The Pointer if modified Stage 2 would be extended beyond its initial 28-day period in Peel, Dr. Loh said cases were showing no sign of slowing down. “At this point in time, there isn’t any suggestion that we’re seeing a decrease or an abatement in our case numbers,” Loh said, referencing the recent record breaking surge. “It’s clear that the restrictions may need to remain for a little while longer.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
Spin Master is adding to its toy chest again.The Toronto-based company said Tuesday it will pay $50 million for Rubik's Cube, the iconic game that has captivated and confounded millions of people since it was invented nearly 50 years ago.Hungarian inventor Ernő Rubik created the game of coloured blocks that need to be sorted in 1974 before it launched globally in 1980 and went on to sell hundreds of millions of units.For those who've never seen one, a Rubik's cube is essentially 27 small coloured cubes stacked together into a larger cube form, all of which rotate around a central core.The cube starts with all one colour on each of its six outer faces, and the challenge is in spinning the cubes around and then trying to get the colours back to their original configuration. It sounds simple enough, but as anyone who has ever tried and failed to solve one can attest to: it is not.The inventor says the cube has attracted more attention than he ever imagined."It is a curious fact — one that surprises me as much as anyone — that for so many decades during a time of an unprecedented technological revolution, fascination with such a simple low-tech object has survived," Rubik wrote in Cubed: The Puzzle of Us All.Popularity in pandemic not so puzzlingIndependent toy analyst Chris Byrne says toys like Rubik's cube are enjoying a resurgence in popularity because of the pandemic that has kept hundreds of millions of people around the world at home, and has parents scrambling to find entertainment options that aren't electronic screens."You're seeing all kinds of things out there that are providing learning," he said in an interview. "It's not ABCs and one, two threes it's actually problem solving and dimensional thinking — things that are the building blocks for things later on but that are actually fun," he said.He said the deal is a savvy move for both sides."It is very stable, it's a globally known brand, it's a nice thing to add to their games portfolio — I think they got a great deal," he said. "I's a well known iconic brand that hasn't had a lot of effort behind it [but] they are going to put a lot of marketing muscle behind it," he said."A whole new generation of kids are going to find it fascinating."Founded by three friends in 1994, Spin Master went public on the TSX and quickly began an aggressive strategy of acquiring other toy brands. The Rubik's Cube purchase comes after takeovers of similarly iconic toys of yore, including Etch A Sketch, plush toy company Gund, and flying disc Aerobie.In addition to those nostalgic brands, Spin Master also owns modern brands such as Paw Patrol and Hatchimals.The deal is the 12th acquisition since Spin Master went public five years ago.
A bail hearing for a man facing numerous charges in connection to an incident where a girl was allegedly held against her will at an isolated northern Saskatchewan cabin was adjourned. Aaron Gardiner, 42, had a show cause hearing scheduled in Meadow Lake Provincial Court Oct. 26. He has been in custody since his arrest in April. The Saskatchewan RCMP Emergency Response Team was flown to the remote cabin near Île-à-la-Crosse, about 380 kilometres north of Prince Albert, by the Canadian Armed Forces in two CH-146 Griffon helicopters. Gardiner was originally charged with unlawful confinement, overcoming resistance, uttering threats, resisting arrest, possessing a firearm for a dangerous purpose, use of a firearm in commission of an indictable offence, possession for the purpose of trafficking, and proceeds of crime. Since his arrest, however, more victims came forward and police added more charges against him in July including four counts of sexual assault, three counts of forcible confinement, uttering threats, assault, reckless discharge of a firearm, use of a firearm in the commission of an offence, obstruction, and breach of an undertaking. The charges against Gardiner haven’t been proven in court. Gardiner’s show cause hearing was adjourned to Nov. 9 in Meadow Lake Provincial Court.Lisa Joy, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
A judge says a refugee pact between Canada and the United States will remain in place until a full legal hearing of the measure is resolved. In a new ruling, Federal Court of Appeal Justice David Stratas has sided with the Trudeau government in extending the life of the Safe Third Country Agreement. Under the agreement, which took effect in 2004, Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection.
Nova Scotia reported one new case of COVID-19 Tuesday, giving the province six active cases.The province said the new case is in the Central Zone and the person had travelled outside of Atlantic Canada. The person has been self-isolating, the province said. Nova Scotia Health Authority labs completed 610 Nova Scotia tests on Monday. So far, the province has recorded 109,462 negative test results, 1,102 positive cases and 65 deaths. No one is currently in hospital related to the virus.The latest numbers from around the Atlantic bubble are: * Newfoundland and Labrador reported no new cases and 4 active cases Tuesday. * New Brunswick reported 3 new cases and 60 active cases on Monday.Anyone with one of the following symptoms should visit the COVID-19 self-assessment website or call 811: * Fever. * Cough or worsening of a previous cough.Anyone with two or more of the following symptoms is also asked to visit the website or call 811: * Sore throat. * Headache. * Shortness of breath. * Runny nose.MORE TOP STORIES
The BC Chamber of Commerce is offering a low-cost educational program for small and medium-sized businesses impacted by COVID-19. Developed in partnership with the University of Victoria’s (UVIC) Gustavson School of Business, the program is designed to help business owners “adapt and compete” in the so-called new normal. Participants will learn how to adapt their business models, re-engage customers and adjust workplace cultures. The six-week program will be presented in three cohorts between November 2020 and March 2021. Weekly seminars will be supplemented by facilitated roundtable discussions, which will be held both offline and online. “We are excited to share the leadership knowledge and tools as well as build the emotional resilience to overcome the current unprecedented economic and socio-demographic challenges,” said Mark Colgate, a UVIC Gustavson School of Business instructor who is co-teaching the class. The program will be offered to individuals at a registration fee of $35 per participant for Chamber members and $70 per participant for non-members. Dates follow: ROUND ONE: Nov. 3 to Dec. 8 ROUND TWO: Jan. 12 to Feb. 16 ROUND THREE: Feb. 24 to March 31 To learn more about the Building Resilience to Thrive program click here.Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, more people in Saskatchewan may have voted in this year's provincial election than in 2016.According to Elections Saskatchewan, 385,461 people cast their ballots in person across the province this year. As well, an unprecedented 61,255 mail-in ballots were issued this election. However, it's not yet known how many people actually completed those ballots and put them in the mailbox.If all of the mail-in ballots are received by Elections Saskatchewan, a total of 446,716 voters, or 53 per cent of eligible voters, will have cast their ballots.That would be an increase of 12,472 votes from the 2016 election.To be counted, mail-in ballots had to be in the mail as of 8 p.m. CST on Monday.A second preliminary count will be held starting Wednesday, adding all mail-in ballots that had been received by then. No mail ballots were counted on election night.Last week, Chief Electoral Officer Michael Boda said the second count was added to the process in order to provide for more certainty on seats that were deemed too close to call, as well as the fact that mail-in ballots could take longer to count.Eight ridings were too close to call as of Tuesday morning. The final count, which will tally all mail-in ballots received, will be held Nov. 7.In the 2011 Saskatchewan provincial election, 402,486 people cast their ballots, only about 4,400 of those by mail-in ballot. In 2007, 453,009 people voted across the province.
A memoir featuring small-town Chinese restaurants and the families who run them in Canada has won two major book awards. Canadian journalist Ann Hui's "Chop Suey Nation: The Legion Cafe and Other Stories from Canada's Chinese Restaurants" took a top prize in this year's Taste Canada Awards. It has also won the Literary/Historical Food Writing category of the International Association of Culinary Professionals' 2020 Cookbook Awards.
Barbara Fisher was devastated after learning the person entrusted to build her home was in over his head and there wasn’t enough money left to finish it. It was early September and the temperature dropped below zero a couple of times, an ominous sign of a cold, bleak winter. “I really didn’t know what I was going to do, I was getting really stressed out about it,” Barbara, 63, said about the ordeal she and her son, Al, 38, were facing. “A million things were going through my head, of disaster.” Residents of East Ferris on Taillefer Road for 34 years, Fisher and her sons kept mostly to themselves. Her other boy lives mostly in group homes due to mental health and development issues. “We don’t know anybody around here,” she said. A family friend for about 20 years, the so-called carpenter they entrusted didn’t know what he was doing by all accounts. The limited budget for the 1,100-square-foot structure plus attached garage and basement was “chewed away” by unproductive project management. Fortunately, a concerned neighbour contacted John and Madeline Bos of Industrial Cladding located a bit further down Taillefer Road east of the Fisher property. Madeline said they had been approached to price a metal roof earlier in the year and noticed there wasn’t much happening at the site. “They weren’t progressing too fast,” she said, describing how John and their son-in-law Spencer went over to check it out. “This person that they hired wasn’t producing for them, more or less taking advantage of their situation. So a neighbour of them approached us and asked us to take a look, they thought something not right was going on there. “Sure enough, there were things not being done right,” she said. They offered to put one of their carpenters on the job to get things moving but Barbara told them after week two they only had enough money for a couple more weeks of labour. “They were going to have to shut down construction of the home because she ran out of money … because of the situation,” she said, adding that John said they were going to “lose everything they put into it” if they didn’t close it in and make sure it was heated for winter. Barbara said they’d been saving for 10 years to replace the dilapidated home they had since coming to Corbeil. Water leaked into the basement the whole time. They came here, she said, because an uncle lived in the area and their reality in southern Ontario was much worse. Al said they are disappointed in their friend who told them he had more than 50 homes under his work belt. “He told me he was capable, he had built 55 homes and nobody ever disputed what he said,” Al lamented with Barbara not wanting to name the person or how much money was wasted. “He let us think we had enough … the house would be up and closed in,” Al said, adding they understood it wasn’t going to be completely finished inside. “We knew we’d have to worry about the drywall, flooring, and trim and stuff in the next couple of years.” Knowing the Fishers were basically camping out in sheds and had nowhere to go with winter coming fast, Madeline decided to tap into their network of businesses in the construction and building industry to see if something could be done. It didn’t take long to find willing partners in a charitable effort, she said, even though nobody knew the Fishers. Insulation, concrete, electrical and plumbing, as well as kitchen and bathroom amenities were offered, along with a load of gravel, and a garage door. Some of the 30-odd contributions were donations, including a bit of cash, while others offered rebates and at-cost discounts. Crews of volunteers came around day after day. “It’s so encouraging, everybody is coming together to help them,” Madeline said. BayToday asked for a list of all the businesses helping out to give them credit but after calling for permission the key contributors were not interested in publicity for their charitable contributions. “Everybody is just thankful they are able to help. It’s just so amazing how everything is coming together,” she said, noting with pride how East Ferris is willing to lend a hand and how North Bay businesses are contributing as well. “It shows the community coming together,” she said, the entire exercise offering an extra special feeling considering how the COVID-19 pandemic has brought so many negative realities this year. It’s now looking like, if things continue in a positive way, they may have it ready before the deep freezes hit in January. “I don’t know if we’ll have the full house done for them but we’ll have the outside done (closed in for winter),” Madeline said. “We’re hoping they’ll be in by Christmas to the point it will be fully insulated and water running.” Barbara and Al are very grateful for all the help they’ve received. “It’s really overwhelming and very much appreciated,” she said. “I can’t believe it is people who don’t even know us who are helping. “I would like to thank every one of them a thousand times over for helping put this house together for us,” Barbara said with Al adding: “It’s totally … mind-boggling to tell you the truth. Like I told my mom, we might not be in for Christmas but we’ll be having Christmas in the house.” Editorial Note: If you're not sure of your home builder's credentials, there is a North Bay and District Home Builders Association membership list with the provincial body to consult as one reference.Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
Jordon Gabriel is trying to manage who harvests wild mushrooms on the Líl̓wat First Nation’s lands. Wild mushrooms, berries and other non-timber forest resources growing in the understory of B.C.’s forests have largely been ignored in the provincial government’s forest management decisions. It’s a regulatory gap that some First Nations in the province have been stepping in to fill — a move both highlighting the value of forests beyond the trees and increasing First Nations’ jurisdiction over their land. Nor is the Líl̓wat First Nation alone. Several First Nations across B.C. and the Yukon have started to regulate who can harvest wild foods from their lands, especially for commercial use. It’s a big shift, particularly compared to the province’s current laissez-faire approach that lets anyone harvest anywhere on Crown land, which is about 94 per cent of the province. “When we look at managing the forest in our forestry department, we look at it sustainably,” said Klay Tindall, a colleague of Gabriel’s at Líl̓wat Forestry Ventures. “We look at what inventories of wood are out there, what we can log and what we’re keeping behind. We don’t feel like that’s being done with some of the other resources out there, specifically these botanical resources.” B.C.’s forests have historically been managed almost exclusively for timber, the root of the province’s $30-billion forestry industry. That’s left non-timber forest resources such as wild mushrooms and berries, and the understory ecosystems that support them, largely sidelined in forest management decisions. And that has left a data dark hole when it comes to non-timber forest resources, making it difficult to get a sense of the industry’s scale. A 2010 study found that between 1995 and 2005, roughly $3.5 million worth of chanterelle mushrooms were exported to Europe annually. Other researchers noted that between 2000 and 2003, about $20 million worth of pine mushrooms, or matsutake, were sent to Japan each year. And a third team found that B.C.’s Kootenay Boundary huckleberry harvest is worth between $91,000 and $685,000. “We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things. (And) it’s really hard to develop a mushroom strategy without knowing the proper inventories,” Tindall said. It’s a knowledge gap the nation is working to fill, in part to provide baseline data for a planned permitting system for commercial and recreational harvesters on their land. “You’ve got more and more people tramping around, you’ve got First Nations where this is an economic driver, and some First Nations now have gone out and (established) mushroom permits,” said William Nikolakis, a lawyer specializing in Aboriginal and natural resource law and a professor at the University of British Columbia. He has worked closely with the Tsilhqot’in National Government, which established a wild mushroom harvesting permit in 2018. “First Nations have their own set of laws and rules and norms around how to manage non-timber forest (resources) as well as forests. The Crown is also asserting, in B.C., their own laws and sovereignty over non-timber forest products and forest products. So you’ve got this clash of laws,” he explained. So far, no court cases have directly dealt with the question of non-timber forest resources, Nikolakis said. If one did, it’s likely the Crown (the provincial or federal governments) would try to limit how much First Nations could regulate non-timber forest resources and, by extension, the forests that support them. It’s an approach Nikolakis said doesn’t sit well with many First Nations because it lets Canada — not First Nations — limit the scope and scale of Aboriginal rights. And typically, the courts “define these in very static terms and (freeze) them in time.” “So many First Nations are going around (anyway) and exercising their rights and laws in their own way, giving expression to their own laws.” And that includes regulating who can harvest mushrooms on their land. It’s an approach Kukpi7 Ron Ignace, chief of the Skeetchestn Indian Band, took following the Elephant Hill wildfire, which ripped through the First Nation’s traditional territory in 2017. Anticipating a rush of mushroom pickers seeking fire morels — which only grow the year after a wildfire and are one of B.C.’s most important commercial species — he partnered with other Secwépemc communities and the Ts’kw’aylaxw First Nation of the St’at’imc Nation to establish a permit system for harvesters. Overall, he said, the system was well-received. A single buyer refused to pay the permit fee; many pickers and buyers appreciated the garbage disposal, outhouses and search and rescue service the First Nations provided in exchange for greater oversight. And the province was generally supportive, going so far as to specify in subsequent publications about the morel industry that a permit was required to harvest in the Elephant Hill area. It’s an approach — and assertion of Secwépemc jurisdiction — that Kukpi7 Ignace plans on expanding beyond wild mushrooms to the entire forest through a partnership with Brinkman Reforestation Ltd and Forest Foods Ltd. “What we’re looking to do … is to rebuild the forest not as a monoculture — which it is today, by and large through tree plantations — but to rebuild it in a biodiverse way.”Marc Fawcett-Atkinson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — TWICE, a popular K-pop group known for its catchy lyrics and colorful esthetics, has released its second full album, a collection that invites listeners into the band's more daring side. “Eyes Wide Open,” released Monday, features 13 songs, including the lead single “I Can't Stop Me." The all-female group, which debuted in 2015 and has achieved success in both Japan and South Korea, sat down with The Associated Press ahead of the release to talk about the project. Nayeon, one of the band's nine members, said that “I Can't Stop Me" has a “retro” sound, with lyrics about “not being able to control ourselves crossing the line.” The track sees TWICE explore the boundaries between good and bad, revealing a more daring side of the band — a departure from its happy-go-lucky style. When asked to discuss boundaries they wouldn’t cross in their personal lives, the group — which has Japanese, South Korean and Taiwanese members, all in their early 20s — didn’t elaborate. “This is a difficult question!” Jihyo said with a cheeky smile. K-pop bands like TWICE are celebrated for their tightly synchronized dance moves and spotless esthetics, often enduring years of training on the way to stardom. The demand for perfection never ends — leaving no room for mistakes, either onstage or off. Group member Sana said balancing a hectic schedule with onstage perfection wasn’t easy when TWICE first started. “We had so many venues we needed to perform at, but we had very limited time to prepare," she said. “There were lots of moments when we’d practice for three hours twice a day and get on stage right away. So preparing and having to give perfect performances to so many people in such a rushed time weighed on us.” “We could’ve done better and wanted to do better,” she added. "It was difficult to go through moments of not having control.” But with half a decade of experience under their belt, the band is now allowed more breathing room. “We don’t try too hard to be perfect,” said Tzuyu, the band's Taiwanese singer. “I think I try to enjoy the moment instead of being so harsh on myself.” As K-pop goes global thanks to bands like BTS and Blackpink, TWICE has its eyes on the U.S. market, planning to release English-language songs in the near future. Juwon Park, The Associated Press