Host William Lou recaps the Toronto Raptors' 117-105 loss to the Miami Heat in preseason.
Three stars: Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, Yuta Watanabe - Gerald Henderson award(s): KZ Okpala, Max Strus
Host William Lou recaps the Toronto Raptors' 117-105 loss to the Miami Heat in preseason.
Three stars: Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, Yuta Watanabe - Gerald Henderson award(s): KZ Okpala, Max Strus
WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Antony Blinken as America’s top diplomat, tasked with carrying out President Joe Biden’s commitment to reverse the Trump administration’s “America First” doctrine that weakened international alliances. Senators voted 78-22 to approve Blinken, a longtime Biden confidant, as the nation’s 71st secretary of state, succeeding Mike Pompeo. The position is the most senior Cabinet position, with the secretary fourth in the line of presidential succession. Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration. He has pledged to be a leading force in the administration’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which President Donald Trump questioned longtime alliances. He is expected to start work on Wednesday after being sworn in, according to State Department officials. “American leadership still matters,” Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at his Jan. 19 confirmation hearing. “The reality is, the world simply does not organize itself. When we’re not engaged, when we’re not leading, then one of two things is likely to happen. Either some other country tries to take our place, but not in a way that’s likely to advance our interests and values, or maybe just as bad, no one does and then you have chaos.” Blinken vowed that the Biden administration would approach the world with both humility and confidence, saying “we have a great deal of work to do at home to enhance our standing abroad.” Despite promising renewed American leadership and an emphasis on shoring up strained ties with allies in Europe and Asia, Blinken told lawmakers that he agreed with many of Trump’s foreign policy initiatives. He backed the so-called Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and several Arab states, and a tough stance on China over human rights and its assertiveness in the South China Sea. He did, however, signal that the Biden administration is interested in bringing Iran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal from which Trump withdrew in 2018. Trump's secretaries of state nominees met with significant opposition from Democrats. Trump’s first nominee for the job, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, was approved by a 56 to 43 vote and served only 13 months before Trump fired him in tweet. His successor, Pompeo, was confirmed in a 57-42 vote. Opposition to Blinken centred on Iran policy and concerns among conservatives that he will abandon Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. Blinken inherits a deeply demoralized and depleted career workforce at the State Department. Neither Tillerson nor Pompeo offered strong resistance to the Trump administration’s attempts to gut the agency, which were thwarted only by congressional intervention. Although the department escaped proposed cuts of more than 30% of its budget for three consecutive years, it has seen a significant number of departures from its senior and rising mid-level ranks, Many diplomats opted to retire or leave the foreign service given limited prospects for advancement under an administration that they believed didn't value their expertise. A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School and a longtime Democratic foreign policy presence, Blinken has aligned himself with numerous former senior national security officials who have called for a major reinvestment in American diplomacy and renewed emphasis on global engagement. Blinken served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration before becoming staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chair of the panel. In the early years of the Obama administration, Blinken returned to the NSC and was then-Vice-President Biden’s national security adviser before he moved to the State Department to serve as deputy to Secretary of State John Kerry, who is now serving as special envoy for climate change. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
Le conseil des maires de la MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord, réuni en séance ordinaire le 19 janvier, a présenté un projet de règlement permettant la création d’un fonds de roulement de 200 000 $ qui servira d’outil de financement pour des acquisitions ou immobilisations futures. À ce jour, la MRC ne possède aucun fonds de roulement et l’article 1094 du Code municipal du Québec lui permet de s’en constituer un d’un montant maximal de 2 200 000 $, soit une somme n’excédant pas 20 % des crédits prévus au budget de l’exercice courant. Les fonds nécessaires seront puisés à même le surplus accumulé du 31 décembre 2019, selon le rapport financier adopté en mai dernier. « À cette fin, le conseil peut, par résolution, emprunter à ce fonds des montants dont il peut avoir besoin et qui ne dépassent pas 200 000 $ sur une période n’excédant pas 10 ans », est-il expliqué dans le projet de règlement. Pour pourvoir aux dépenses engagées relativement aux intérêts et au remboursement en capital des échéances annuelles de l’emprunt, le règlement prévoit prélever annuellement, à même le surplus accumulé de la MRC, les sommes requises pour maintenir ou ajuster la valeur du fonds de roulement en vigueur chaque année dans les prévisions budgétaires de la MRC. L’entrée en vigueur de ce nouveau fonds de roulement se tiendra après l’adoption du règlement à la prochaine réunion publique du conseil des maires. PSPS Dans le cadre de la Politique de soutien aux projets structurants (PSPS), la MRC de la Haute-Côte-Nord a accordé une aide financière à deux projets. Tout d’abord, comme la Ville de Forestville a dû modifier son projet Modernisation des infrastructures aéroportuaires, la MRC a accepté de lui verser les fonds prévus de 20 000 $. « Le projet rencontre toujours les critères d’admissibilité de la PSPS et le comité consultatif a analysé la modification apportée au projet et il est toujours favorable à l’octroi de financement », indique la résolution adoptée par le conseil des maires. Quant au deuxième projet accepté, il s’agit de l’aménagement de la cour de l’école Notre-Dame du Sacré-Cœur. La MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord participera au projet pour un montant de 50 000 $. PDZA La MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord s’est lancée en 2020 dans l’élaboration d’un plan de développement de la zone agricole (PDZA). Pour ce faire, elle doit former des comités directeur et consultatif composés d’intervenants du secteur agricole et agroalimentaire. « L’accompagnement d’expertises et l’appui des autorités compétentes sont essentiels pour l’accomplissement de ce mandat », a mentionné le directeur général Paul Langlois, lors de la séance du conseil des maires tenue le 19 janvier. Participation au PMVI La MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord est admissible au Programme de mise en valeur intégrée (PMVI) en raison de la réalisation par Hydro-Québec du projet de ligne à 735 kV Micoua-Saguenay sur son territoire. Une somme de 1 906 921 $ lui a donc été allouée dans le cadre de ce programme. Par résolution, elle s’est engagée à utiliser cette somme pour réaliser, via un fonds de développement régional, des initiatives qui relèvent de l’un des domaines d’activité admissibles et respectent les conditions générales de réalisation du PMVI. Système de ventilation Le conseil des maires a accepté de lancer un appel d’offres sur invitation pour effectuer le nettoyage et la désinfection du système de ventilation de son centre administratif situé aux Escoumins. « Le bâtiment a été construit en 2003 et le nettoyage et la désinfection du système de ventilation n’ont pas été effectués depuis ce temps », a déclaré Paul Langlois. Dons et commandites Depuis 2015, la MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord octroie des aides financières aux organismes de son territoire via sa Politique sur les dons et commandites. Cette année, deux appels de projets seront lancés comparativement à un seul habituellement. Le premier appel, qui a pris fin le 30 novembre, a permis de remettre 5 000 $ sur un budget total de 9 750 $. Action-Chômage Côte-Nord reçoit 1 000 $ tout comme Centraide Haute-Côte-Nord Manicouagan, l’Organisme des bassins versants de la Haute-Côte-Nord (J’adopte un cours d’eau), la municipalité des Escoumins (175e anniversaire) et la municipalité de Sacré-Cœur (Fjord en fête). Les promoteurs qui devront reporter leur événement en raison de la pandémie pourront conserver l’aide financière octroyée. Toutefois, ceux qui seront contraints d’annuler complètement le projet devront rembourser le montant reçu par la MRC. Fusion de Desjardins Tel qu’annoncé par l’Assemblée des MRC de la Côte-Nord le 18 janvier, le conseil des maires de la MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord a entériné son opposition à la fusion de Desjardins Entreprises Côte-Nord avec Desjardins Entreprises Saguenay. « La MRC de La Haute-Côte-Nord appuie la démarche initiée par la MRC de la Minganie, et s’oppose à cette fusion ainsi qu’à ce transfert d’expertise financière, et dénonce les effets et pertes qu’elle engendrera pour l’ensemble de la Côte-Nord », dévoile la résolution.Johannie Gaudreault, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Haute-Côte-Nord
TORONTO — Few things have lifted Rojhan Paydar’s spirits during the COVID-19 pandemic quite like a Netflix watch party.Isolated inside her home, the Toronto resident is too often short on social opportunities and long on streaming options. So like many people, she’s recreated the experience of watching Netflix with friends through an unofficial web browser application called Teleparty, formerly known as Netflix Party.It’s been an opportunity for Paydar to gather with pals on a virtual couch while they gasp over the twists of true crime series, “Unsolved Mysteries." Even more often, she's used the app with her boyfriend for date nights watching the dysfunction unfold on “Tiger King" and other bingeable series.“Sometimes we’d eat dinner and set up our webcams to see each other,” she said.“Knowing he was there and we were doing something in real-time — it felt really good and made me less lonely."Not long ago, viewing party technology was a tool reserved for unique situations: a long-distance couple or fans of a niche TV series searching for like-minded people.But a year into the pandemic, weekly rituals have evolved, and online watch parties have proven many of us are desperate for some semblance of connection.As the winter months stretch on, and strict stay-at-home orders grip large parts of the country, observers say the watch party, and apps that help make it happen, are due for a second wave of popularity.“I think we may have seen a cultural shift,” suggested Daniel Keyes, associate professor of cultural studies at the University of British Columbia.“The pandemic and the fact we had to self-isolate totally accelerated it. It made it more mainstream.”For younger generations raised on YouTube and Twitch, watch parties are already part of the zeitgeist. Everyone else, including streaming giants themselves, seem to be playing cultural catchup.Last year, as the pandemic wore on, Amazon Prime Video introduced group chat elements into the laptop version of its platform. Disney Plus took a more restrained approach with a feature that allows up to seven people to sync their screens, but only communicate through emojis.Other streamers, such as Netflix and Crave, have so far chosen not to launch social elements on their platforms. That move could be strategic as the companies observe a sea change in how some viewers consume television, suggested Carmi Levy, director at technology advisory firm Info-Tech Research Group."It's almost as if the snow globe has been shaken and companies like Netflix are waiting for everything to settle down before they decide where to place their bets," he said."Social TV is a thing and it isn't going anywhere. It's very much like remote work: considered the exception before the pandemic, but now the rule."Levy said the entertainment industry couldn't have predicted how quickly the change took hold with casual viewers. For years, upstart tech companies launched second-screen watch party innovations, and most of them failed miserably.That's left the door open for the latest generation of alternatives to capitalize on filling the void, among them TwoStream, a paid monthly watch party option, and Syncplay, which is free.One of the most ambitious newcomers is Scener, a venture-funded operation out of Seattle that currently supports the likes of Netflix, Disney Plus, Vimeo and horror platform Shudder. In a few clicks, viewers can react to a show through their webcam or type out thoughts on their keyboard.Co-founder Joe Braidwood said replicating the in-person experience, in particular, “the laughter, the screams and the horror,” was a goal of his company long before the pandemic. But it wasn’t always easy getting others to see the value.“Two years ago I would talk to investors about social TV and they would laugh at me,” he recalled over a Zoom chat.“They told me, ‘People don't want social experiences when they're watching television.’ But all you need to do is look on Twitter.”Even before the pandemic, he said, people were engaging over social media platforms about their favourite shows. Now, since everyone's holed up in their homes, Scener's growth has been exponential. Cumulative weekly minutes of programming watched grew nearly 42,000 per cent from March 2020 to January 2021 (57,785 minutes versus 24.2 million minutes), according to data provided by the company.“People who haven't hung out with their best friend while watching ‘The Flight Attendant’ or shared a family Christmas while watching an old classic movie on Scener, they just don't know what this feels like,” he added.“There's this real texture to it... it's warm engagement with people that you care about.”Hoovie, a Vancouver-based virtual watch party service, aims to bridge the gap between art house cinema outings and the comfort of a living room chat.Hosts can dive into the company’s independent film catalogue and book ticketed showings for small groups, typically in the range of 10 to 20 people. After the movie, they’re encouraged to engage in a webcam conversation on the platform that’s inspired by the film’s themes.Co-founder Fiona Rayher describes Hoovie as a platform meant to evoke those experiences outside the cinema where groups of people – sometimes strangers – would passionately discuss what they’d just watched and maybe head to a nearby restaurant for drinks."You’d meet new people and you’d stay connected," she said. "It was all serendipitous."Hoovie plans to debut a "book club for movies" early this year that'll build on connecting movie fans. Every month, subscribers will gather for online screenings that include a post-film conversation with members, filmmakers and critics. Each film will be rounded out with a wine pairing sent by mail.Selling nostalgia for the pre-pandemic days may sound appealing in lockdown, but the question remains on how attractive watch parties will be once a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available.It's a question Paydar said she thinks about often as she logs onto a watch party for another episode of "Unsolved Mysteries.""Whenever someone asks, 'If COVID ended right now, where would you go?' the first thing I say is, 'I'd like to go to a movie theatre,'" she said."There's something about being in a physical theatre and going with a group of friends...Those end-of-the-night goodbyes, getting late-night eats with my friends.. (we're) creating memories I get to hold on to forever," she said."I don't think that can be replaced."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
Be careful what you wish for, they say. Community volunteer Robbie Jones is celebrating his 57th birthday today as a Town of Mattawa council member. Jones, who was the first runner-up in the 2018 municipal election, fills the seat left open after deputy mayor Corey Lacelle resigned at the end of November 2020. See: 10-year veteran resigning from Mattawa council Mayor Dean Backer said appointing the next in line candidate is the "fairest and most logical" way to fill the seat and council is getting a “great guy” who has volunteered for many years with minor hockey and a number of other initiatives. “It’s prudent we get Robbie on board as soon as possible,” Backer said, noting there is a lot of work ahead for council this year. Jones garnered 285 votes in the last election, 31 more than the next person on the ballot, Bernie MacDonald, and 58 votes behind Councillor Laura Ross, who earned the last of six seats with 343 votes. “I’m happy to get the opportunity to work with my fellow councillors and looking forward to see what we can accomplish,” Jones said Tuesday morning. Other than five years in the 1990s working out west, Jones has been a resident of Mattawa for his entire life. He worked in the rail road business for 30 years before changing careers to drive a logging truck to be closer to his family. He and his wife Lise have one son, Casey, 14, who runs his own landscaping business. The inaugural meeting for Jones will be Feb. 8 or earlier if a special meeting is called before then. Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada. Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
NDP MP Charlie Angus urges Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to stop disputing Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings on First Nations child welfare. Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller says the Liberal government is committed to fair compensation for those affected by inequitable First Nations child welfare and welcomes the appointment of a mediator to help Ottawa go through the process.
MADRID — Lionel Messi is back in the Barcelona squad that will face second-division club Rayo Vallecano in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday. Messi has not played in the Copa del Rey this season but coach Ronald Koeman is expected to use him in the round-of-16 game after missing two matches because of a suspension. Messi had been rested before that because of an unspecified minor fitness problem. “He's fresh and isn't feeling any ailments,” Koeman said Tuesday. “To win things we need Messi to be in good shape and playing at the level that he can play. He is excited to play. He is the kind of player who wants to play in every match. We will look at our opponent and tomorrow we will know exactly who will be in the starting 11.” Messi received a two-match suspension for hitting an opponent away from the ball late in the team’s 3-2 loss to Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Super Cup final on Jan. 17. He did not play against Cornellà in the round of 32 of the Copa del Rey last week, nor against Elche in the Spanish league on Sunday. Barcelona won both matches 2-0. The Catalan club trails Spanish league leader Atlético Madrid by 10 points and is three points behind second-place Real Madrid entering the second half of the season. Atlético has a game in hand. Barcelona has played well this year despite the loss to Athletic in the Spanish Super Cup. It has won four straight league matches, all away from home. The Catalan club is unbeaten in nine consecutive league games. Rayo is coming off a loss to Mallorca but previously had won six in a row in all competitions. It sits fourth in the second-division standings, in good position to earn promotion. Barcelona defender Sergiño Dest will not play Wednesday because of a “thigh discomfort,” the club said. The Copa del Rey's round of 16 is still played in one-game matchups. “The Copa is a shorter tournament, with fewer games, and we play to win it," Koeman said. “I want to see my team with this winning mentality, just like it showed until now.” ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press
TBILISI, Georgia — Europe's top human rights court on Thursday found Russia responsible for a swath of violations in Georgia's breakaway regions after the 2008 Russia-Georgia war. Georgia hailed the verdict by the European Court of Human Rights as a major victory. President Salome Zurabishvili described the ruling as “historic,” noting that Georgia was “recognized as a victim of this war and it is a great achievement for our country, our society, our history and our future." Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia also described the verdict as a landmark move, saying that “the case against Russia at the European Court of Human Rights has ended with Georgia’s victory.” The August 2008 war erupted amid rising tensions over the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia, much of which was under control of Russia-backed separatists. Georgia said it launched an artillery barrage on the regional capital after Russian combat troops entered the region and shelled Georgian villages, but Russia claimed the troops entered only in response to the artillery. After the war, Moscow set up military bases in South Ossetia and another breakaway Georgian province, Abkhazia, and recognized them as independent states, while most of the world has continued to consider them part of Georgia. In its case against Russia, Georgia accused it of violating the European Convention on Human Rights both during and after the war, but the ECHR only accepted the Georgian complaints related to the period after the fighting. The Strasbourg-based court ruled that Russia exercised effective control over Georgia's separatist regions after the hostilities and was responsible for ill-treatment and acts of torture against Georgian prisoners of war, arbitrary detentions of Georgians and "inhuman and degrading treatment” of 160 detained Georgian civilians, who were held in crowded confinement for more than two weeks in August 2008. It also held Russia responsible for preventing forcibly displaced ethnic Georgians from returning to the separatist regions after the conflict. The court ordered Moscow to conduct a probe into human rights violations during the hostilities and in their aftermath. Georgia’s Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani hailed the ECHR’s ruling as “an unprecedented international victory of the Georgian state." Russia's Justice Ministry voiced disagreement with some of the court's conclusions blaming Russia for the incidents in South Ossetia and Abkhazia "despite the fact that the Russian troops' direct involvement in them was never proven." At the same time, the ministry emphasized the ECHR's decision that the Georgian complaints related to the period of fighting were inadmissible. ___ Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report. Sophiko Megrelidze, The Associated Press
More than two weeks after Canada implemented a rule that incoming airline passengers must show a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding a plane, the country still appears to be seeing some travel-related cases and the federal government is exploring ways to make it harder to go on trips. As more transmissible variants of the COVID virus emerge across the globe, experts say tightening the leaks around travel becomes even more important, and that the new testing requirements are not likely to catch all cases. COVID projections from Caroline Colijn, a mathematician and epidemiologist with Simon Fraser University, show a potentially grim picture for the next few months, with a skyrocketing spring wave fuelled by community spread of a more contagious variant. Colijn says clamping down on travel is her "top recommendation right now." "There's still a good chance that we can prevent — or at least really delay — large numbers of this high-transmission variant coming into Canada," she said. "And if we can push that peak out to September, we may be able to avert it if most of us are vaccinated by then." Colijn says essential travel needs to be more clearly defined by leaders, and quarantine rules more strongly enforced once people arrive. More stringent restrictions on land border crossings and further limitations on travel within the country will also help, she adds. While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said Canadians should cancel all upcoming non-essential trips they may have planned, other options the government is looking at include implementing a mandatory quarantine in hotels for returning travellers. On Jan. 7, the government implemented a requirement that airline passengers entering Canada must show proof of a negative PCR test that was taken within 72 hours before their flight. Colijn and other experts are hopeful this rule is catching a large number of positive COVID cases, but the 72-hour window — necessary to ensure people have enough time to get results back — also allows the virus more chances to wiggle through. In some cases, very small amounts of the virus, which could grow to infectious levels days later, aren't picked up in testing. Others cases could contract the virus between taking the test and boarding the plane. Dr. Christopher Mody, the head of the microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases department at the University of Calgary, says PCR tests offer "a snapshot in time," meaning the result is only valid on the day the test is taken. "A positive test means you're infected, but a negative test doesn't absolutely exclude infection," Mody said. A Government of Canada online database that keeps track of possible exposure on domestic and international flights shows that since Jan. 7, hundreds of planes have had at least one passenger on board who tested positive for the virus days after landing, and may have been contagious on their flight. Dr. Zain Chagla, an associate professor of medicine at McMaster University, says while the negative test requirement is likely helping on a large scale, "it's gonna miss a few people for sure." "Clearly it isn't a perfect system, but there are also a number of people who have been rejected for flights based on their tests," he said. "This just isn't enough to say everyone coming into Canada is completely not infectious at the border." Some experts have suggested the use of rapid antigen tests at airports, either right before boarding or right after landing, as a potential way to ensure positive cases aren't travelling between countries or regions. Dr. Don Sin, a respirologist and UBC professor who's co-leading a rapid test pilot project with WestJet at Vancouver International Airport, says rapid testing could offer a measure of insurance — a second step to be used in addition to the PCR negative test requirement. Rapid antigen tests, which turn results around in 15 minutes, aren't as sensitive as the PCR nasal swab, Sin says, but they work very well in catching positive cases. "If you test positive on the antigen test, you'll test positive with a PCR," he said. "So I think the public can have confidence in the ability of these tests to accurately pick up those who are infectious." Experts say testing can only be part of the strategy to contain the spread of new cases though. The mandatory 14-day quarantine period, which Canada is still implementing, needs to be followed properly. Mody says people also need to understand that a negative test taken days before flying isn't a free pass to skip that isolation period. "We are in a very tenuous time with these variants," Mody said. "If there is community transmission of the variants, we will be in a very serious situation." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version erroneously reported that travellers flying from city to city within Canada must show a negative COVID-19 test. In fact, the requirement is for air travellers coming from international destinations.
When drug companies like Pfizer and Moderna learned to successfully incorporate messenger RNA technology into a COVID-19 vaccine, experts say they likely opened the door to a significant shift in the future of immunization.The milestone in vaccine development was met with enthusiasm from most, but the seemingly swift pace and novel approach is causing hesitancy in others. Experts say the new technique shouldn't dissuade people from getting the vaccine. While the mRNA method is new to inoculations, the actual technology has been around for decades. The difference now, they say, is scientists have ironed out the kinks to make a useful product."It sounds fancy, mRNA, but there's nothing outlandish about it," said Dr. Earl Brown, a virology and microbiology specialist with the University of Ottawa. "This is the way our cells operate — we live by mRNA."Vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna were the first inoculations approved for humans to use mRNA, which provides our cells with instructions to make proteins. In the case of COVID vaccines, the injected material shows cells how to make a harmless piece of the coronavirus spike protein, which then teaches our immune system to recognize the virus and fight off a future infection.Scientists made the vaccine by programming genetic material from the spike protein into mRNA, a process that theoretically could work for other viruses."As long as you know how to create those instructions — that genetic code you need to convince your body to create that target — you can design an mRNA vaccine against any antigen," said Nicole Basta, an associate professor of epidemiology at McGill."But the question is whether it will be effective, and whether it will be safe."The development of future mRNA vaccines might be quick, Basta says, but they would need to go through the usual evaluation process and clinical trials to ensure safety and efficacy. So vaccines for other viruses won't be popping up overnight.Still, Basta adds, there's potential for using mRNA to either improve upon existing vaccines or to develop new ones against other pathogens.Dr. Scott Halperin, a professor at Dalhousie University and the director of the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology, sees mRNA vaccines as "evolutionary rather than revolutionary."Part of the reason COVID vaccines came together so quickly was the technology had been developing for years, Halperin said. The global pandemic offered scientists a pressing opportunity — and unprecedented funding and collaboration — to try again for a viable injection.Previous research had been done on creating mRNA vaccines against Zika and other viruses, Halperin added, and there were earlier efforts focused on cancer treatments. Coronavirus-specific research was further sped up by spike protein analysis from SARS and MERS.While the mRNA technology itself is impressive, Halperin says improvements need to be made to create a more temperature-stable product before these types of vaccines and treatments "truly take over.""The logistics of delivering mRNA vaccines right now, we wouldn't want to have to do that for every vaccine we produce," he said, referencing the ultra-cold storage temperature that's currently needed. "But I do think it's an important milestone."Scientists are expected to continue advancing the technology, just as they did recently in solving two confounding problems with mRNA — its fragility and instability.Brown says fragility was resolved by packaging the mRNA in a fat coating, giving it something to help bind onto cells so it wouldn't disintegrate upon injection. The instability was conquered by modifying the uracil component of RNA, one of the four units of its genetic code."The technology application is new, but the science is mature," Brown said. "We've just reached the point at which we can apply it." Traditional vaccines typically contain a killed or weakened virus, Brown said. Those methods are still being used in COVID vaccine development, including by AstraZeneca-Oxford, whose product has not yet been approved in Canada.A benefit to using mRNA is the speed at which a vaccine can be developed or updated once scientists know what to target, Brown says. While experts believe current vaccines will work against recent variants of the COVID virus — including one originating in the U.K. that's more transmissible — Brown says mRNA's adaptability could theoretically come in handy if new strains emerged that necessitated an update. "In six weeks they could produce something," he said. "It would still have to go through Phase 3 trials, but it does give you more flexibility and a big leg up."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
Canada will soon make foreign travel harder in a bid to clamp down on the coronavirus, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday without giving details, prompting major provinces to demand action. A second wave of coronavirus is sweeping Canada and health officials say some hospitals run the risk of being overwhelmed. Trudeau is urging Canadians not to travel abroad and said Ottawa intended to introduce more restrictions.
Organizers of a food bank for Black Edmontonians say there will be many families left behind if the service ends in March. Each week, dozens of families of African and Caribbean descent ranging from two to 10 members collect hampers packed with culturally relevant food. Despite demand, organizers had to cap the program at 90 families so staff and volunteers could keep up with collection, packing and distribution. The service was launched in May thanks to the collaboration of multiple Black-led Alberta organizations under the banner of African Diaspora COVID-19 Relief. But the funding and food from donors such as the Edmonton Community Foundation, Islamic Relief Canada, The Ghana Friendship Society and Loblaws, as well as personal donations, will soon run out. "It is a need that needs to be filled," said Emmanuel Onah, youth program manager at the Africa Centre, where the program is coordinated, clients pick up hampers and donations are being accepted. "It's a gaping hole in all of the resources that are currently available." The Liberia Friendship Society of Canada, the Jamaica Association of Northern Alberta and the Black Students Association University of Alberta are also among more than a dozen groups involved that will meet Sunday to determine next steps. Nii Koney, executive director of the Nile Valley Foundation, who rallied the coalition to action, said the program emerged from weekly meetings among Black organizations looking for ways to best respond to the pandemic. Initially they were surprised by all the middle-class community members who needed help. "People are bringing nice cars, they will come and park in the front, they will come with their wife and husband, they will sometimes come, the whole family," Koney said. "So now I know that if we didn't provide these services, it would be a great disservice to the community." Onah said a large part of the appeal comes from offering culturally relevant food tailor-made for each family whether it's injera, an Ethiopian fermented flatbread, or turtle beans, popular in the Caribbean. "The peace of mind you get when you're eating something that you're familiar with or you grew up with and is inline with your culture and your background — that all contributes to overall wellness. That all contributes to mental wellness, especially in the time where we're in a pandemic," said Onah. The initiative also supports local businesses largely by sourcing food from community stores on 118th Avenue and Stony Plain Road.
If Nick Legault could play disc golf everyday, he would. He gets his fix throwing his shiny discs at large five-gallon buckets, hanging off trees on the temporary nine-hole course at Langholm Park in St. Albert. A UDisc app showed the course, set up in June, was popular with players last summer. "We had over 500 recorded rounds," said Legault, who monitored usage via the app. "We know that not everyone's recording their rounds so that number's greater, so it worked out to be about three to four rounds per day," said Legault. He says the St. Albert Disc golf Facebook page now sits at over 100 members. In December Legault made a presentation to St. Albert councillors on the popularity of the sport and the need for a permanent location. Legault says the mature trees in Langholm Park and the size of the park make it an ideal spot. "After a successful summer of being able to measure how many people have used the course through the UDisc app, we wanted to present that report back to city council because their request was to help us understand the need, so we hope we demonstrated that," Legault said. The popularity of the sport is growing in surrounding communities too, with established courses in Beaumont, Spruce Grove, Wetaskiwin, Strathcona County, and several in Edmonton. 'Hole in one' The course in Edmonton's Rundle Park is busy 365 days a year. "It doesn't matter if it's warm, cold, rainy, sunny, just it's fresh air and friends, and trying to get a hole in one, " said Michael Elliot who was getting in a round with two friends last week. The rules are simple. Players throw discs at a target several hundred yards away. There are no fees, golf carts or wait times. Disc golf uses weighted discs. Some players carry more than 20 in their bags which can be worth as much as $500. Beginners, however, can find discs for as little as $12. "I actually had never heard about it before," said Kenny Cardinal, who's new to the sport. "The scene at Rundle Park is getting really big. I met these guys here this year and they're kind of showing me the ropes." The Hills at Charlesworth in southeast Edmonton is one city's newest courses. 'Don't have to pay for fees' Each hole has a concrete launching area, much like a tee box, with the rolling hills and trees providing an added challenge to golfers. With the pandemic, Eric Hanson was looking for something that wouldn't break AHS protocols. "This is different. It's just more casual; there's no tee times; there's no booking; I don't have to pay for fees," said Hanson who picked up his first set of discs last summer. "It allows us to be six feet apart and be with your friends outside safely, so that's good," he said. Morgan Chase is also a beginner. "I just started with two discs," he said. "They're like golf clubs, they do different things some turn, some dive so I've just been collecting discs and having fun out here." Others have taken their passion for the game one step further. Aaron Biblow moved into the neighbourhood two blocks away from The Hills last summer, saying the disc golf course was a huge selling point. "I figured that it was an outdoor sport I could get into and then just living nearby, I'll just run out on my break and throw a quick round and head home," Biblow said. Legault has also played at The Hills at Charlesworth course and says Langholm Park, if made permanent, would have a similar feel. "We're hoping we can get through the public engagement and park assessment over the winter and then hopefully get some baskets in for the summer so that people can come and try it out with a real target.
Plusieurs pays ont pris l’engagement de réduire leurs émissions de gaz à effet de serre à zéro d’ici le milieu du siècle. Mais de nouvelles recherches montrent que ce n’est pas suffisant.
Movies US charts: 1. Tenet 2. News of the World 3. Promising Young Woman 4. American Skin 5. The War with Grandpa 6. National Treasure 7. Honest Thief 8. The Croods: A New Age 9. National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets 10. Let Him Go Movies US charts - Independent: 1. Promising Young Woman 2. Our Friend 3. MLKFBI 4. The Dissident 5. No Man’s Land 6. Some Kind of Heaven 7. Love Sarah 8. Assassins 9. Kajillionaire 10. PG: Psycho Goreman The Associated Press
Canada will seek exemptions to a U.S. effort to ensure federal agencies buy American-produced goods, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday, as business groups expressed concern about the potential impact. U.S. President Joe Biden vowed on Monday to leverage Washington's purchasing power to strengthen domestic manufacturing by clamping down on foreign suppliers. Asked whether he would seek exemptions to the "Buy American" program when it is unveiled, Trudeau told reporters: "We will continue to be effective in advocating for Canada's interests with this new administration."
African Heritage Month in Nova Scotia kicked off with a virtual celebration on Tuesday featuring musical performances, speeches from members of the African Nova Scotian community and tributes from politicians and the lieutenant-governor. The theme for this year's African Heritage Month is Black History Matters: Listen, Learn, Share, Act. Tony Ince, the minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs and the emcee for the virtual launch, said the theme calls on Nova Scotians to recognize the history and legacy of African Nova Scotians, but also to acknowledge the "racialized issues" and adversity faced by people of African descent. "The theme reminds me of an African proverb: 'For tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.' This means the change we seek will not happen until we teach and educate ourselves, which will ultimately lead to better awareness, empathy and respect towards each other. We must do this together," Ince said. Lt.-Gov. Arthur LeBlanc noted that the year 2020 was significant. "I speak not of the pandemic, which has touched all of our lives, but of the Black Lives Matter movement, that has prominently raised the issues of systemic racism and prejudice that exist in our world," he said. "The movement has burned into our consciousness that what has transpired in the past cannot be allowed to occur going forward and that we must take steps now to address this systemic racism." Premier Stephen McNeil noted progress on some issues including the land title initiative, the restorative inquiry into the Nova Scotia Home for Colored Children and the apology for systemic racism in the justice system. "But we have more work to do. The Black Lives Matter movement motivated us to look inward and confront the systemic issues we have been overlooking for centuries," McNeil said. "It is important that government continue to collaborate with the African Nova Scotian community to build stronger relationships and an even stronger province." The virtual launch also included leaders of municipalities reading the proclamation of African Heritage Month. A list of African Heritage Month events can be found here. MORE TOP STORIES
New results extend hopes for drugs that supply antibodies to fight COVID-19, suggesting they can help keep patients out of the hospital and possibly prevent illness in some uninfected people. Eli Lilly said Tuesday that a two-antibody combo reduced the risk of hospitalizations or death by 70% in newly diagnosed, non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients at high risk of serious illness because of age or other health conditions. All 10 deaths that occurred in the study were among those receiving placebo rather than the antibodies. Separately, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. said partial results from an ongoing study suggest its drug combo completely prevented symptomatic infections in housemates of someone with COVID-19. Importantly, the drug was given as multiple shots rather than through an IV. The need for an infusion has greatly limited the use of antibody drugs in the pandemic because of health care shortages. None of the new results have been published or reviewed by other scientists, and the Regeneron ones were based on only one quarter of patients in its study and were not a planned early analysis. Antibodies are proteins that attach to a virus and block it from infecting cells, but it takes several weeks after infection or vaccination for the most effective ones to form. The drugs aim to help right away, by supplying concentrated doses of one or two antibodies that worked best against the coronavirus in lab tests. U.S. regulators have allowed emergency use of some Lilly and Regeneron antibodies for mild or moderate COVID-19 cases that do not require hospitalization while studies of them continued. The drugs are also being tested to prevent infection in those at high risk of it. That’s called “passive vaccination” because it supplies antibodies rather than prompts the body to make them. Both companies are asking regulators to expand authorization of their drugs based on the new findings. Regeneron’s results were on the first 409 people in a study that has enrolled more than 2,000 so far. All tested negative for the virus but live with someone who has COVID-19. There were roughly half as many infections among those given the drug versus a placebo, and none on the drug developed any symptoms. Infections also were shorter and the amount of virus lower among those given the drug. Lilly’s new results were from a study of 1,035 non-hospitalized patients recently diagnosed with COVID-19. About 2% on the drug were later hospitalized or died versus 7% of the placebo group. Last week, Lilly said one of the two antibodies helped prevent illness among residents and staff of nursing homes in a different study. The four deaths that occurred in that study were all among those given placebo. ___ Marilynn Marchione can be followed on Twitter: @MMarchioneAP ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press
This story is part of a new initiative to provide content to our Chinese readers. You can find the English version here. 展望2021年，人們希望新冠肺炎大流行能盡快過去，生活可以早日如常。但我們身邊正在經歷入睡困難、焦慮、憤怒或情緒低沉的人比比皆是。疫情的持續所帶給所有人的壓力不言而喻，恢復身心健康之路任重道遠。 在封城和禁止社交的大環境下，如何幫助他人和自己提高的心理的靈活性，增強應對疫情的復原力？ 保泰社區抗疫行動(Project PROTECH)作為加拿大政府的新前沿研究基金(NFRF) 資助的研究項目，現正在招募加拿大講英語、國語或粵語的華人，參加一個名為「應對全球流行病 - 接受，承諾，與賦權」的免費培訓項目(PACER: Pandemic Acceptance and Commitment to Empowerment Response Training)，希望幫助受新冠病毒影響的人提高復原能力。 滿足條件的人，還能獲得相應的報酬。 這個項目自2020年下半年展開以來，以英語培訓了近一百位參加者, 現在保泰團隊持續加強培訓內容, 發展出了中、英、粵三種語言的培訓模式, 推出第二階段的培訓，讓更多社區內的新移民、留學 生、非居民等不同群體都能參與其中。 萬錦市民張女士在參加完培訓後，認為這個項目增強了自己價值觀的建設。「比如我喜歡旅遊，但因為疫情不能去了，我學會了可以用其他事替代，同時依然保持該價值觀在心裏。」 她開始重新思考，自己為什麼喜歡旅遊？是希望尋找快樂，以及和遠方的家人、朋友團聚。「疫情之下，我可以通過看一些書籍、紀錄片，和親友視頻聊天，達到相同的效果。同時我做了未來的旅遊計劃，往這個方向去努力。其實我還是在追求這個價值和東西，這是疫情期間的一種別樣的疏導自己的方式。」 要參加PACER培訓，你須年滿18歲，來自加拿大華人社區，並且至少能流利使用英語、國語或粵語中的一種。你可以是上班族，居家學習的大學生，社區領袖，或是感染了新冠病毒的人士，照顧患病家人的受影響者等。 參加本研究完全是自願的。所有在小組分享的私人信息將被嚴格保密。因此，參與者均須簽署一份保密協議。該培訓項目為期 6 周，以在線自學的模塊進行，每周與其他參與者一同參加由培訓者帶領的在線小組討論。 通過這個培訓，參與者將會學習到正念、接受與承諾療法(ACT)，以及集體賦權心理教育等專業的心理應對技能。Project PROTECH還將邀請你完成培訓前、後以及後續的跟進問卷調查。你還可以誌願選擇參加線上的焦點小組，以幫助評估該項目的有效性。 為表示對該研究項目參與者的謝意，每完成一份問卷，你將獲得$20加幣。參加培訓結束三個月後的後續線上焦點小組，你還將再獲得$30加幣。這項研究已由瑞爾森(Ryerson)大學研究倫理委員會(REB 2020-12)和大學健康網絡(UHN)研究倫理委員會批準，旨在與華裔社區一起共同應對新冠肺炎的持續影響。 下期培訓的每周在線小組討論將於1月27開始，連續 6 周，以中、英、粵三種語言，在每周三晚8點到9點半舉行。培訓人數有限，請在培訓開始前盡早註冊，保泰稍後將推出更多培訓時間表。 想獲得有關保泰社區抗疫行動培訓的相關信息，或有意參與培訓，請訪問網頁 www.projectPROTECH.ca。 Scarlett Liu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Economist & Sun
Valeria Melia felt a tug on her heartstrings when her daughter asked if the pandemic would force Santa Claus to cancel his visit to their Toronto home this year. Seven-year-old Michela and her four-year-old brother Massimo had seen other holiday events nixed over the last nine months, and their mother wanted to make sure they knew Christmas was still on the table. So Melia turned to her computer, typing up a letter from Santa that would ensure her children he was safe and on his way. "I wanted to tell them Santa's been given the all-clear to fly, saying 'don't worry, I'm still coming,'" Melia said. "Even before Christmas, (Michela) would say things like: 'I can't wait until this virus is over so I can go hug my friends again.' So when she asked about Christmas, it was heartbreaking." Melia's children are among many Canadian kids who will experience the holidays differently this year as public health officials urge us to modify our traditions. While some families don't want pandemic reminders to cloud Christmas within their own homes, others are finding whimsical ways to incorporate COVID-related elements into their rituals. London, Ont., mom Ursula Goncalves is leaving hand sanitizer for Santa this year, placing a bottle next to the milk and cookies her eight-year-old daughter Halina and six-year-old son Daniel usually set out for the clandestine gift-giver. "I thought it would be kinda cute, considering the year we're having," Goncalves said. "It was my idea, but the kids actually did wonder about Santa's safety, asking if he was still coming." Dr. Todd Cunningham, a child psychology expert at the University of Toronto, says adding pandemic themes to our merry festivities can be helpful by reinforcing messages kids have been hearing for months. "We've talked often about ways of keeping ourselves safe," he said. "So it would make sense to them in terms of our current context to (incorporate) those things." It also isn't surprising some kids are expressing concern for Santa's safety, Cunningham added, especially if they understand his advanced age might make him more susceptible to the virus. So it's a good thing Santa is a magical being, as some of Canada's top doctors have clarified. B.C.'s Dr. Bonnie Henry said recently Kris Kringle is likely immune to COVID-19, while Prince Edward Island's Dr. Heather Morrison announced that Santa and Mrs. Claus had been granted essential worker status along with their elves and reindeer. Sheri Madigan, a child development researcher at the University of Calgary, says introducing COVID safety elements may help calm worried youngsters, and further their understanding of the virus. "A lot of these concepts around COVID are hard to grasp because it's this germ they can't see," she said. "So Santa coming presents an opportunity to say: 'we're leaving sanitizer so he can wash his hands, and that keeps another family safe.'" Melia won't be doling out the Purell for Santa, but she did purchase an Elf on the Shelf for the first time, adding a pandemic twist by sealing it in a glass jar to "quarantine" for 14 days. Goncalves did the same, sequestering her family's elf for one week. The mischievous doll is meant to be a scout for Santa, typically arriving from the North Pole a month before Christmas. Parents place the elf in quirky tableaus each night for kids to spot in the morning. While the elf isolation is a charming reminder of pandemic precautions, Melia admitted that keeping Sugarpuff in a jar for two weeks serves another purpose. "This is gonna sound terrible," she said with a laugh, "but it's nice to not have to figure out what to do with it for 14 days." The quarantined sprite has added an element of excitement for Melia's children, with Michela periodically checking in on the "isolation station" and gleefully counting down the days until Sugarpuff is free. The Goncalves's elf, named Sparkle, was liberated from quarantine last week. "Oh God, there was so much excitement in this house when we let her out," Goncalves chuckled. Dr. Martha Fulford, an infectious disease pediatrician at McMaster Children's Hospital, says another option for parents of anxious children is to double down on the messaging that Santa and his helpers are immune from the virus. "You can leave the hand sanitizer or you can say: 'Santa is not affected by COVID and elves are not human so you don't need to worry," she said. Fulford cautions, however, that adding pandemic motifs to holiday flair could dampen some kids' Christmas spirit. It's up to individual families to determine how their children would react to those inclusions, she added. Fulford says she's more concerned with children feeling disappointed in having certain Christmas traditions, like gathering with family, taken away — though she suspects that might be harder on some parents and grandparents than the kids themselves. Cunningham agrees, adding it's important that parents "give themselves a pass" this year when it comes to trying to replicate extravagant celebrations of the past, especially for families facing financial hardships. He suggests parents welcome input from their children on ways to modify their favourite traditions. "A lot of the holidays is about anticipation of what's to come, and we can continue that excitement by co-planning activities together," Cunningham said. "When we invite children into those conversations, it's amazing what they come up with." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 14, 2020. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version had the incorrect surname for Valeria Melia's children.
While two-thirds of Canadians believe the new U.S. president's cancellation of a key permit for the Keystone XL pipeline expansion is bad for Alberta, most outside that province and Saskatchewan believe it's time to accept the decision and move on, a new poll suggests. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has called President Joe Biden's decision to effectively kill the $8 billion US project an insult from the United States to its biggest trading partner and wants Ottawa to slap sanctions against the U.S. However, according to a poll released Tuesday by the Angus Reid Institute, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must balance support for Alberta's economy against national public sentiment that is deeply divided along regional lines. The institute says its latest polling data found that 65 per cent of Canadians say Biden's decision is a "bad thing" for Alberta. At the same time, the majority of respondents in B.C., Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada feel it is time to accept the decision and focus instead on other issues affecting the Canada-U.S. relationship. "Despite majorities in each province recognizing the negative consequences the cancellation has for Alberta, and to a lesser extent, Canada as whole, the will to push back and try to reverse this decision is more milquetoast," said the institute's report. The poll found that three out of five Canadians are inclined to accept the pipeline's cancellation. In Quebec, 74 per cent of respondents are of that view. However, on the Prairies, a strong majority — 72 per cent in Alberta, and 67 per cent in Saskatchewan — would like to see the Biden White House undo the cancellation. People in Manitoba are split on the issue. Institute president Shachi Kurl says people in the rest of Canada feel there are other, more pressing issues. "And it's important to note this is not the issue that Canadians want to put first and foremost in terms of how they frame the next four years of Canada-U.S. relations," she said. The polling data also suggests that the Keystone XL issue is viewed through a different lens depending on where in the country respondents are from. Among Albertans, the poll found that 73 per cent see it more as an issue of jobs and the economy, while 27 per cent believe it should be seen as an issue related to climate change and the environment. In Quebec, 63 per cent view the issue more through the lens of the environment and climate change, versus 37 per cent that see it as a jobs and economy issue, the poll suggests. Political party allegiances also seemed to affect how respondents view the issue. "Given the strong support the federal Conservatives have in Alberta and Saskatchewan, it is unsurprising that four in five past Conservative voters would apply pressure to reauthorize Keystone XL. Roughly the same proportion of Liberal, NDP and Bloc Québécois supporters say the opposite," the report said. The view that the cancellation of Keystone XL will hurt Alberta's economy is highest among past Conservative Party of Canada voters, at 87 per cent, a concentration of whom are from Alberta, the poll suggests. By contrast, among past NDP voters, 52 per cent are of that view. The 1,897-kilometre pipeline, first proposed in 2005, would have carried 830,000 barrels of oilsands crude from Hardisty, Alta., to Nebraska, where it would then connect with the original Keystone that runs to U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. Emergency Keystone XL debate in Commons The House of Commons held an emergency debate Monday night regarding the scuttling of the pipeline project. Seamus O'Regan, Canada's natural resources minister, argued that while the loss of Keystone XL is a disappointment, the new U.S. administration represents an opportunity to work together with a government aligned with Canada's priorities on clean energy. Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole accused the government of not doing enough to advocate for the project that was creating thousands of good-paying jobs. "Canada has been dealt a serious blow…. These are Canadians, thousands of them, being totally forgotten and left behind by this government," he said. The Angus Reid Institute conducted its online survey from Jan. 20 to 24 among a representative randomized sample of 1,559 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. The institute says that for comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error is larger for subsamples by province in the methodology statement.