After reports that Kyle Lowry's Toronto home is on the market, the prospect of the six-time All-Star parting ways with the Raptors is closer than ever.
After reports that Kyle Lowry's Toronto home is on the market, the prospect of the six-time All-Star parting ways with the Raptors is closer than ever.
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
NEW YORK — “Caste,” Isabel Wilkerson's exploration of racism in the United States, and “The Dead are Arising,” an acclaimed biography of Malcolm X, are among this year's nominees for awards presented by the J. Anthony Lukas Prize Project. The project announced Thursday that Wilkerson is a finalist for the Lukas Book Prize, along with Becky Cooper's “We Keep the Dead Close,” Seyward Darby's “Sisters in Hate,” Barton Gellman's “Dark Mirror” and Jessica Goudeau's “After the Last Border.” The Lukas project, based at Columbia University's journalism school and named for the late investigative journalist, also announced nominees for the Mark Lynton History Prize and the Lukas awards for works in progress. The awards honour “literary grace and commitment to serious research and social concern.” Winners will be announced March 24. Winners of the Lukas Book Prize and Lynton history prize receive $10,000 each. The project awards two works in progress, each worth $25,000. “The Dead are Arising,” which won the National Book Award last fall, is a finalist for the Lynton prize. The book was co-written by Les Payne, who died in 2018, and daughter Tamara Payne. Other Lynton nominees are Martha S. Jones' “Vanguard,” Geraldine Schwarz's “Those Who Forget,” Walter Johnson's “The Broken Heart of America” and Dwayne Betts' “A Question of Freedom.” Finalists for the work-in-progress awards are David Dennis Jr.'s “The Movement Made Us,” Emily Dufton's “Addiction, Inc.,” Channing Gerard Joseph's “House of Swann,” Casey Parks' “Diary of a Misfit” and Elizabeth Rush's “The Mother of All Things.” The Associated Press
PARRY SOUND-MUSKOKA — Camp Ooch Muskoka isn’t your typical summer camp and this year isn’t your typical summer. Since COVID-19 arrived, it has dramatically changed the way people live, work and socialize. For the non-profit oncology camp that welcomes families affected by childhood cancer, the challenges have been no different. But, while many summer camps and programs have been cancelled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Camp Ooch and Camp Trillium has developed virtual programming to keep its community connected. “We want people to know that we’re still here and we’re still programming,” said Melanie Lovering, director of marketing and communications for Camp Ooch and Camp Trillium. To date, the camp has offered more than 2,000 virtual experiences for its campers and their families with content ranging from interactive games, songs and dance to entertainment from program specialists. “Families who have a child with cancer are, at the best of times, isolated,” Lovering explained. When deciding how to proceed this year with a camp for so many immune-compromised guests, she said cancelling just wasn’t an option. “We couldn’t do that to our families because they need us more than ever.” Ooch Muskoka, the last year has been one of growth as its location in Rosseau where Path to Play, a $35 million expansion is now primed for further construction to render the camp more accessible, building outdoor paths that can accommodate wheelchairs and accessible boating facilities. The goal, Lovering said, is to make Ooch Muskoka the kind of place where kids using assisted devices can navigate the campus fully independently. Ooch Muskoka is the only oncology camp in Canada that provides on-site IV chemotherapy and blood transfusions thanks to a team of pediatric oncologists and nurses on call 24 hours a day. “No matter the depth of their illness we’re there for them,” Lovering said. “They come to camp and they’re just like every other kid. There’s a lot of comfort and a lot of acceptance and a sense of community and a sense of belonging. It’s like a lifeline for them.” Many people think Ooch Muskoka is an overnight camp only, but Lovering points out the philosophy is more that of a social support system for families affected by childhood cancer across the province. “We really want the Muskoka community to know what we’re up to,” she said. The camp currently serves 1,900 kids from approximately 750 families. However, the goal is to reach 100 per cent of the more than 4,000 kids in Ontario currently experiencing cancer. The ripple effects of COVID however, have left Camp Ooch and Camp Trillium with “a major downturn in our revenues,” Lovering said so fundraising is particularly vital this year. To that end, Camp Ooch and Camp Trillium is hosting a virtual campfire chat June 25 at 12:30 p.m. to keep its supporters, donors and extended community, updated. “We’ve been so busy actually building this,” said Lovering, “we’ve had limited opportunity to tell our community what we’re doing.” To join the virtual chat RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Guests will also be sent an outlook invitation with the following zoom details: Zoom online: https://ooch.zoom.us/j/8658057056 Zoom phone-in: 647-374-4685, enter meeting # 8658057056. This story was altered at 3:25 p.m. on June 23 to reflect the full name of the camp as Camp Ooch and Camp Trillium and to clarify $35 million of the construction is now complete and does not include the future modifications to make the camp accessible. 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
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 email@example.com. 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
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
(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:
Hospitality industry veteran Ken Loudon will be the new executive director of the Grande Prairie Regional Tourism Association (GPRTA), the organization announced last week. Loudon will begin in the position March 1. “I’m excited to take on the leadership of a vital organization,” Loudon said. “This position enables me to serve our community at a greater level and be part of a team that’s here for the betterment of our region, businesses and area residents.” GPRTA in a non-profit marketing group intended to promote the Grande Prairie area and support local businesses. Beaverlodge, Sexsmith, the city and county of Grande Prairie, the Municipal District of Greenview and Saddle Hills County are GPRTA members. The municipalities pay a $2.25 per capita annual membership fee, said Johnathan Clarkson, GPRTA board president. The previous executive director was Terry Dow, who stepped down in December, Clarkson said. Previously, Loudon was the regional manager of the Grande Prairie/Wood Buffalo YMCA of Northern Alberta for five years. Loudon is a city resident, Clarkson said. Loudon also worked in the hotel and casino industries and served as a director on the Grande Prairie and District Chamber of Commerce board, Clarkson said. As well, Loudon is a past president and board member of GPRTA in the 2000s, according to the group. Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
Learn how to cook lentils in the Crock-Pot Express - it couldn’t be easier! Enjoy!
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
JUNEAU, Alaska — The Alaska Marine Highway System is working to finalize the sale of its fast ferries to an overseas bidder, officials said. Mediterranean-based catamaran operator Trasmapi SA offered about $4.6 million for the M/V Fairweather and M/V Chenega ferries, CoastAlaska reported Wednesday. The offer was less than half the $10 million reserve price set by the state. Bids were opened Jan. 13, and a state procurement officer at the time said a lower price could still be negotiated. John Falvey, general manager of the state-run ferry system, told the Senate Transportation Committee Tuesday that the state has “a responsive bidder” and that officials were continuing to work to close the deal. Alaska commissioned the fast ferries in the mid-2000s. They were popular because they completed voyages in about half the time as conventional ships. The ferries were taken out of service in 2015 and 2019. The marine highway system cited rising fuel costs and poor performance in rough seas. The amount the state is seeking for the purchase of the ferries was not clear. The price for the 235-foot (72-meter) catamarans when they are first sold is $68 million. Trasmapi operates ferries between mainland Spain and the country's island of Ibiza. The Spanish company also offered about $411,000 for a pair of diesel engines, which cost about $3 million new. “The two swing engines which are in our warehouse and hermetically sealed containers, unused, they were also part of the sale,” Falvey said. The Associated 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
Billie Holiday, considered one of the greatest jazz singers of all time, has long been remembered for her expressive voice as well as a history of drug and alcohol addiction and her untimely death at age 44. The new film "The United States vs. Billie Holiday" aims to change the public's perception of the singer and shine a light on her role as a leader in the push for Black civil rights, the movie's director and star said in an interview with Reuters. Debuting on the Hulu streaming service on Friday, the film tells the story of the uproar caused by Holiday's singing of the ballad "Strange Fruit," a protest song about the lynching of Black people.
Farmers’ markets are a staple of Muskoka summers, but for some communities, the 2020 season has been cancelled. “Like everybody in any business, it’s difficult,” said Nancy MacMillan, market manager for the Bala and Port Carling farmers’ markets. A confluence of factors contributed to the decision not to run the markets, which normally run weekly in Jaspen and Hanna parks, this year, MacMillan said. Evolving restrictions from the provincial government regarding large gatherings, the closure of municipal parks (at the time of the decision) and the fact that many of the markets’ vendors are not food-primary, led to the cancellation, she explained. “It’s not just our vendors because each of our markets have musicians too, so those are (lost) opportunities,” MacMillan said. “It’s been hard all around for everyone.” The market team is keeping watch on the evolving COVID-19 situation and is committed to coming back when safety can be ensured, said MacMillan, which is likely not until 2021. For vendors, the cancellations are “definitely having an impact on their financial situation,” she noted. To that end, the market is working on digitizing its vendors, offering information on its websites and social platforms. In April, the provincial government deemed farmers’ markets an essential service. In early June, protocol dictated markets were permitted to operate with a variety of vendors as long as the majority of them were selling food, according to Farmers' Markets Ontario. For Teresa Upper, whose handmade jewelry stall is a regular fixture at the Bala Farmers Market, those designations were too late. What began as a hobby for the Huntsville resident has grown significantly since she began selling in local markets last year. “It was very disappointing not to be able to be a vendor at any of the markets for 2020,” she said in an email. “It will definitely hurt financially and also socially since I’m fairly new to the market world.” This summer would have marked the 19th anniversary of the Baysville Farmers’ Market, but those celebrations will have to wait. Cathy Vanclieaf, co-ordinator of the Baysville Community Group, said the decision not to operate this year was made at the end of April and despite guidelines changing since then, Vanclieaf said the market’s lack of staff left it unable to operate responsibly. Many of the market’s organizers are seniors who were hesitant to volunteer in an environment where their health and safety could be compromised. In Baysville, where shopping is limited, Vanclieaf has noticed the general store stocking up on items they wouldn’t regularly carry, notably more fruits and vegetables. “We’ll see over the summer, without the market, if they continue that trend,” she said. Because some of the Baysville vendors participate in other Muskoka farmers markets, Vanclieaf is comforted by the fact that they can engage with customers elsewhere. “It’s definitely a different year, but it’s been that way for everyone and everything,” she said. “We just have to recognize that’s the way 2020 is going to be.” 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
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
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
Dr. Kit Young Hoon, medical officer of health at the NWHU, said the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU) will remain in the yellow-protect zone of the provinces COVID-19 Response Framework despite new cases continuing to crop up in the Kenora region. The NWHU reported 19 new COVID-19 cases in Kenora region on Friday, seven on Saturday and 24 on Sunday, with an additional seven probable cases. “This week we re-enter the provinces COVID-19 Response Framework in the yellow-protect zone,” Young Hoon said. “I highly encourage everyone to remain two metres from anyone they not live with. COVID-19 is most likely spread through close contact with others.” A release issued by the NWHU on Friday states that when new cases are identified, they are told to self-isolate and all of that individual’s high risk close contacts are asked to get tested as well as self-isolate. Those who have been told to self-isolate are monitored to support any health needs that they may have to ensure compliance. “There is a coordinated response that involves many agencies, each of which has an important role,” Young Hoon said. “Case numbers are high and at this time, there is no evidence of spread to the municipality of Kenora.” Young Hoon adds that the NWHU has been supporting community partners in the Kenora region that are responsible to set up and operate COVID-19 isolation centres specifically with respect to infection prevention and control. This has been on going throughout the pandemic. “The goal is to ensure that the person can have the appropriate space and access to food and care that they need so that they do not expose others,” Young Hoon said. “Therefore, the risk to the general public from an isolation centre would be extremely low, if not zero.” With cases on the rise in Kenora region, Young Hoon said they have heard disturbing stories of people being treated badly because it is assumed that they have COVID-19. Young Hoon said she reminds the public that this situation is not unique to the area and that it could happen anywhere which is why it is important to be kind. “Please do not assume that someone you see in a public space has COVID-19,” Young Hoon said. “Self-isolation centres are working well and people are isolating so it’s important to remember that the ability to self-isolate can be impacted by someone’s access to resources and we must all continue to provide support and care to those who need it the most.” Young Hoon said they are looking into spaces for mass immunization clinics. In Kenora there are talks of it taking place at the arena, Young Hoon said. “That is a good space, it’s relatively large, it has adequate parking, it will have access to internet and other facilities that are required such as washrooms so it’s a useful space and likely will be a location for our immunizations clinics when it is necessary,” Young Hoon said. Young Hoon said more vaccines are coming into the region but they are still relatively small amounts. She adds that mass immunization clinics most likely will not happen until April or the end of March at the earliest. “At that point there may potentially be large amounts of vaccine,” Young Hoon said. “The province has indicated, however, that these numbers can’t be confirmed until they actually receive some type of confirmation on their end, so it’s really hard to speak to numbers of vaccine until you actually are given a clear amount from a higher level.” Concerning the implementation of Section 22 Order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, Young Hoon said she is not aware of any fines being issued or any further enforcements being done at this time. She adds that sometimes just having the public aware of the possibility of these enforcements leads to increased compliance which is what the NWHU expected, Young Hoon said. Natali Trivuncic, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
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.
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
Some talents come naturally, whether that is sports, singing, helping others, or in Cher Pruys’ case, hyperrealism painting. If you have ever seen Pruys’ paintings, you are sure to have done a double take, easily mistaking it for a photograph. Cher Pruys was born in Regina and has lived in many places across Canada from Saskatoon to Ottawa, Fort Frances and now Devlin where she lives with her husband, four dogs and two cats. She is also a musician, playing both the piano and guitar, and has been teaching music for 35 years. Pruys began drawing when she was three. Over the years she has worked with pencil, charcoal and ink but it wasn’t until she was 35 that she began painting. “I just decided to pick up some paints one day and see what the difference was between them and drawing and it was just great,” Pruys said. “It just came natural and it was even nicer than drawing everything out.” Pruys started out with oil paints but she said it gave her a headache and with a tendency to lick her paint brushes to get a precise point, oil paints did not taste great either. Pruys found her chosen mediums in acrylic, water colour and gouache. Diving into the world of hyperrealism art was a gradual process for Pruys. She's dabbled in abstract art, but found that she enjoyed painting what was in front of her more. Hyperrealism is an art form that resembles high resolution photography. This art form includes sculptures and paintings that focus on detail to look like real life. Looking at Pruys’ work you would have expected her to have taken years of classes, but she is self-taught. Her work has been juried into 132 international exhibits as well as numerous non juried shows and has earned her 115 awards for her work at the International Juried Exhibits. Included in these awards, the first recipient of a major Canadian National Award, The Mary Pratt Crystal Award of Excellence at the 2014 SCA Open Juried Exhibition and The Gold Medal recipient for Figurative Painting in The Mondial Art Academia’s International 2018 Competition. Pruys has had 14 solo exhibits and her work has adorned the covers of three books, 21 magazines, and has been featured in over 84 international publications. Her works have found a permanent home in private and public collections worldwide. Hyperrealism is not for the impatient. Pruys said the least number of hours she’s spent on a painting was 60 and some can take up to 250 hours, but the end result is worth every tiny brush stroke. “I’m a stickler for detail but it’s just a whole lot of time and patience,” Pruys said. “You can’t rush it, it’s just layer on layer and also you have to be able to draw to do realism in order to the perspective and everything right.” Pruys said the process before painting can require a lot of research. “If I’m doing a portrait, even if there’s a particular photo that somebody wants me to paint, I like to have a number of photos so I can get a feeling of their personality,” Pruys said. “It goes beyond just making it look like the person, is has to capture some of the person’s personality in there.” Pruys said now that she is semi-retired, she has more time to paint and has been enjoying the process more. Pruys said she loves to paint reflections and shiny surfaces, which can be the most difficult details to paint. Pruys said she likes a challenge and what others might dread painting, she enjoys the most. Painting makes it possible to recapture the magic of a memory or a feeling, Pruys said, adding that it is her motivation and reason for being. Natali Trivuncic, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
The authorities expect to have 70% of the population vaccinated by the end of the summerView on euronews