Attorneys spar over powers held by Britney Spears' father; Chick Corea, jazz great with 23 Grammy Awards, dies at 79; Singer Ricky Martin joins efforts to build Pulse memorial. (Feb. 12)
Attorneys spar over powers held by Britney Spears' father; Chick Corea, jazz great with 23 Grammy Awards, dies at 79; Singer Ricky Martin joins efforts to build Pulse memorial. (Feb. 12)
In the opening moments of a Golden Globes night even more chaotic and confounding than usual, co-host Tina Fey raised a theoretical question: “Could this whole night have been an email?” Only the next three hours would tell. Well, sure, it could have been an email. But then you wouldn't have had Chadwick Boseman’s eloquent widow, bringing many to tears as she explained how she could never be as eloquent as her late husband. Or Jane Fonda, sharply calling out Hollywood for its lack of diversity on a night when her very hosts were under fire for exactly that. Or Chloé Zhao, making history as the first woman of Asian descent to win best director (and the first woman since 1984.) Or 98-year-old Norman Lear, giving the simplest explanation for his longevity: never living or laughing alone. Or Jodie Foster kissing her wife joyfully, eight years after very tentatively coming out on the same telecast. Of course, there were the usual confounding results and baffling snubs, compounded here by some epic Zoom fails. But then we had the kids and the dogs. And they were adorable. Next year, can we still have the kids and the dogs, please? Some key moments of the first and hopefully last virtual Globes night: AN OVERDUE RECKONING The evening began under a cloud of embarrassing revelations about the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and its lack of inclusion, including the damaging fact that there are no Black members in the 87-person body. Fey and co-host Amy Poehler addressed it early: “Even with stupid things, inclusivity is important." Winners like Daniel Levy of “Schitt's Creek” and presenters like Sterling K. Brown referred to it. Jane Fonda made it a theme of her powerful speech accepting the Cecil B. DeMille award. And the HFPA made a hasty onstage pledge to change. “We recognize we have our own work to do,” said vice-president Helen Hoehne. “We must have Black journalists in our organization.” “I DON'T HAVE HIS WORDS” The best-actor award to Chadwick Boseman for “Ma Rainey's Black Bottom” had been expected. That did not dull the emotional impact of his victory. His widow, Taylor Simone Ledward, tearfully accepted in his honour, telling viewers that her husband, who died of colon cancer at 43 before the film was released, “would say something beautiful, something inspiring, something that would amplify that little voice inside of all of us that tells you you can. That tells you to keep going, that calls you back to what you are meant to be doing at this moment in history.” But, she said poignantly, “I don't have his words." Co-star Viola Davis could be seen weeping as Ledward spoke. She was not alone. PREDICTABLE ZOOM FAILS It was obvious there were going to be awkward Zoom fails. It started early, when the very first winner, Daniel Kaluuya for “Judas and the Black Messiah,” was on mute as he accepted his award, leaving presenter Laura Dern to apologize for technical difficulties. Thankfully, the problem was resolved in time for the actor to speak. Jason Sudeikis, whose charmingly rambling speech ("This is nuts!") and rumpled hoodie signalled he hadn't expected to win, finally realized he needed to “wrap this puppy up.” And winner Catherine O'Hara ("Schitt's Creek") had some perhaps unwelcome help from her husband, whose efforts to provide applause sounds and play-off music on his phone while she spoke lost something in translation, causing confusion on social media. Oh yes, and there were those conversations between nominees before commercials — did they know we heard them? KIDS AND PETS, STILL BRINGING JOY Still, the virtual acceptances from winners stuck at home had a huge silver lining: happy kids and cute pets. When Mark Ruffalo won for “I Know This Much is True,” two of his teens could not control their joy enough to stay out of the camera shot. Not to be outdone, the adorable young daughter of Lee Isaac Chung, writer-director of the Korean-American family drama “Minari,” sat in his lap and hugged him throughout his acceptance for best foreign language film. “She’s the reason I made this film,” said Chung. Winner Jodie Foster ("The Mauritanian") also had a family member in her lap: her dog. Also seen: Sarah Paulson's dog, and Emma Corrin's cat. LOVE FOR BORAT, SNUB FOR BAKALOVA ... AND EXPOSURE FOR GIULIANI Bulgarian actress Maria Bakalova, breakout star of Amazon’s “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” had been widely expected to win, but lost out to Rosamund Pike ("I Care a Lot") who saluted Bakalova's bravery. In her movie, Pike said, “I had to swim up from a sinking car. I think I still would rather do that than have been in a room with Rudy Giuliani.” The former New York mayor's infamous cameo was also the butt of jokes from “Borat” star Sacha Baron Cohen, who called Giuliani “a fresh new talent who came from nowhere and turned out to be a comedy genius ... I mean, who could get more laughs from one unzipping?” Baron Cohen, who won for best actor in a comedy, also joked that Donald Trump was “contesting the result” of his win. A FIERY FONDA Did you expect anything less from Fonda? In her memorable DeMille award speech, the multiple Globe winner extolled the virtues of cinematic storytelling — “stories can change our hearts and our minds” — then pivoted to admonishing Hollywood. “There's a story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves,” she said, “a story about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out: a story about who’s offered a seat at the table and who’s kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.” She said the arts should not merely keep step with society, but lead the way. “Let's be leaders,” she said. ZHAO MAKES HISTORY When Zhao won best director for her haunting and elegant “Nomadland,” she was the first Asian American woman ever to win that award. But that wasn't the only way she made history: it was the first directing Globe for a woman in nearly 40 years, since Barbra Streisand won for “Yentl." Her film, a look at itinerant Americans, “at its core for me is a pilgrimage through grief and healing,” Zhao said. “For everyone who has gone through this difficult and beautiful journey at some point in their lives, we don’t say goodbye, we say: See you down the road.” With Zhao's win, the road widens for other female directors. ___ This story has been corrected to show that Norman Lear is 98, not 99. Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
Emma Corrin just won a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Princess Diana.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials in Nova Scotia announced Tuesday that vaccination rollout plans for the month included the province's first pharmacy clinics. Prototype pharmacy clinics will launch in Halifax and Shelburne on March 9, Port Hawkesbury on March 16 and Springhill on March 23. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer Heather Morrison has said people over the age of 80 will get a second dose based on their existing appointments. Going forward, she said, other residents will get a longer interval between their first and second doses, but she didn’t specific how long that will be. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. Quebec announced Tuesday it had reached a deal with pharmacies that will allow them to start administering COVID-19 vaccines by mid-March. Health Minister Christian Dube said about 350 pharmacies in the Montreal area will start taking appointments by March 15 for people as young as 70. The program will eventually expand to more than 1,400 pharmacies across the province that will administer about two million doses. The Montreal region is being prioritized in part because of the presence of more contagious variants, such as the one first identified in the United Kingdom, Dube has said. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. She also says the province will soon share an updated vaccine plan that factors in expected shipments of the newly approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. The province will do that after getting guidance from the federal government on potentially extending the time between first and second doses, like B.C. is doing, of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines to four months, Elliott says She also says Ontario seniors won't receive the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine since there's limited data on its effectiveness in older populations. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. The province said this week that it may follow British Columbia's lead in delaying a second dose of COVID-19 vaccine to speed up immunizations. The government says it hopes a national committee that provides guidance on immunizations will support waiting up to four months to give people a second dose. If that happens, the province could speed up how soon residents get their first shot. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry says the approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine means some people will get their first shot sooner than planned. She says B.C. will focus its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine among essential workers, first responders and younger people with more social interactions who would have to wait longer to receive their first doses of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. It's now possible that all adults could get their first shot by July, Henry says. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2021. The Canadian Press
It’s hard to say what is the more impressive feat — remotely landing a spacecraft on Mars, or a kid from Norfolk County landing a job at NASA. Christopher Heirwegh’s unlikely trajectory took him from a Simcoe Composite School physics class to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where an instrument he helped design is scanning the surface of Mars for signs of ancient life. “It’s been a very exciting past couple of weeks, starting with the anticipation leading up to the landing, followed by the joy of knowing it made it successfully,” said Heirwegh, 39, a few days after watching the Mars rover Perseverance complete its 300 million-mile journey to the Red Planet on Feb. 18. As Perseverance floated down to the surface, Heirwegh was on the edge of his seat at his home in Pasadena, Calif. His wife, Meagan, and their six-year-old daughter, Harper, were by his side, with the rest of Heirwegh’s JPL team sharing in the suspense on a video call. “It hit me right at that moment before landing, around the parachute phase, that things are going to come in fast, and oh boy, if this doesn’t make it, where do we go from here?” Heirwegh said. “There was certainly some tension.” Perseverance’s thrusters soon kicked in to start its powered descent, and a sky crane took over to gently place the rover on Mars. While mission control filled with the cheers of relieved scientists, the Heirweghs tucked into celebratory shawarma and cake. Now that Perseverance is trundling around the Jezero crater, Heirwegh’s work has just begun. The physicist is keeping a close eye on PIXL, a high-tech X-ray machine that has been his sole professional focus since joining NASA in 2016. PIXL — the Planetary Instrument for X-ray Lithochemistry — is one of two instruments mounted on the lander’s robotic arm that will help answer the mission’s central question — has there been life on Mars? About the size of a lunch box, PIXL’s job is to scan Martian rocks for trace elements that could point to the presence of ancient life, while taking what Heirwegh describes as “super close-up pictures of rock and soil textures” that could reveal microbial evidence smaller than a grain of salt. PIXL has an X-ray tube at its heart, similar to what dentists use when photographing teeth. The scanner shoots pinpoint-sized X-ray beams into the rock, a process not unlike how artwork investigators chemically analyze paintings to detect forgeries. “We’re looking at things that tell us what the rock is made of, where the rock might have come from, if it was exposed to water, and also if it might have potentially harboured very primitive forms of life at one time,” Heirwegh explained. PIXL is best at finding evidence of inorganic material — heavier elements like calcium, lead and strontium — while another instrument on the rover, called SHERLOC, looks for “the building blocks of life,” lighter organic molecules like carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Together, they search for “biosignatures” suggestive of fossilized bacteria that may have called a Martian ocean home billions of years ago. “Our two instruments can each produce two-dimensional elemental maps,” Heirwegh said, likening each pinpoint of data collected to the pixels on a television that combine to form a clear picture. “We’re hoping we can eventually overlay the two maps so we can really get a good idea of what the rock is all about.” Reaching for the stars The grandson of tobacco farmers who immigrated to Norfolk County from Belgium, Heirwegh grew up enthralled by the stars in the night sky and the vastness of space. He never missed an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation — “mostly just the Rodenberry years,” he clarified — and pored over images of the solar system captured by the Voyager probes. “I found that pretty fascinating, and that kind of led me to what I do now,” he said. Mike and Laurie Heirwegh have followed their son’s career with pride. “Some of the stuff is way above what we understand. Christopher always keeps it as simple as possible for us,” Mike said with a laugh. Mike, a retired pharmacist and business owner, said his “studious” and “reserved” son excelled in a science-heavy course load at Simcoe Composite School. “Whitney, our daughter, said he had this microscope he got at Christmas and would project images up in his room and explain what was on the slides to her and her sister Danielle,” added Laurie, who owns a gift shop in Simcoe. Four years studying undergraduate science at McMaster University in Hamilton led to a master’s in medical physics at Mac, where Heirwegh first tried his hand at X-ray technology. He further studied X-ray fluorescence and radiation science while doing his PhD and post-doctoral fellowship in applied physics at the University of Guelph, which involved analyzing data collected by the Opportunity and Curiosity Mars rovers. That piqued NASA’s interest, creating a rare opportunity for a Canadian to join the Jet Propulsion Lab. “There were not too many people who were doing that,” Mike Heirwegh said. “To get a job like he’s doing in NASA, you have to be uniquely different than any American.” The family left their house in Guelph to make a new life in America, with Meagan Heirwegh, herself an accomplished academic, putting her career on hold so her husband could follow his dream. “She was extremely supportive of taking this step,” Heirwegh said. “That’s been a really key part of it, and something that helped me to have the courage to make such a drastic move.” While navigating the immigration process, Heirwegh got to work calibrating PIXL years ahead of its launch on Perseverance. Past Mars rovers have used X-ray fluorescence spectrometers, but PIXL is the first with an X-ray tube, a technological milestone Heirwegh finds “quite rewarding.” In the months ahead, Heirwegh and his fellow scientists will analyze the trove of scientific data Perseverance will transmit across space to the Jet Propulsion Lab, while making sure their high-tech scanner stays properly calibrated. To keep himself calibrated in what can be a high-pressure job, Heirwegh exercises every morning, and he and Meagan solve a Mensa puzzle together over breakfast. “It’s a nice way to jump-start the physical and mental gears,” he said. Heirwegh could not have known what the future held when he decided to leave Canada and boldly go to NASA to reach for the stars. But his parents say their son was destined to work on the Mars project. “I think the term ‘perseverance’ is very much like Christopher,” Mike said. “He persevered to get to where he is.” J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Wednesday: SPAIN Two days after former president Josep Maria Bartomeu was arrested in an investigation into alleged irregularities during his administration, Barcelona tries to reverse a 2-0 first-leg loss to Sevilla in the semifinals of the Copa del Rey. The teams met in the Spanish league on Saturday, with Barcelona winning 2-0 in Seville. Wednesday's match will be at the Camp Nou Stadium. The Copa del Rey is the tournament in which Barcelona is the closest to ending its title drought. It lost 4-1 to Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of the round of 16 of the Champions League and is five points off the lead in the Spanish league. Sevilla, sitting fourth in the Spanish league, was coming off a nine-game winning streak in all competitions but has won only one of its last three games. ENGLAND Injury-hit Leicester is looking to ward off another late-season collapse as Brendan Rodgers' team heads to Burnley in the Premier League. Leicester is third and five points clear of fifth-place Chelsea in the race for Champions League qualification but has seen key players like James Maddison, Harvey Barnes, James Justin and Jonny Evans get injured in recent weeks. Injuries contributed to a loss of form late last season as Leicester dropped out of the top four in the final days. Second-place Manchester United, which is a point ahead of Leicester, visits Crystal Palace and last-place Sheffield United is 15 points from safety ahead of a home match against Aston Villa. ITALY AC Milan will be without key forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic as it attempts to close the gap to league leader Inter Milan. Second-place Milan will be looking to win at home against Udinese to move to within one point of its city rival, with Inter playing at Parma the following day. Atalanta should keep hold of fourth place as it hosts bottom club Crotone but Roma and Napoli will want to take advantage of any slip up and they visit Fiorentina and Sassuolo, respectively. At the other end of the table, Cagliari could move out of the relegation zone with a victory over Bologna. Benevento and Genoa are also far from safe and they host Hellas Verona and Sampdoria, respectively. FRANCE After dropping points with draws last weekend, Lille and Lyon need wins to pressure Paris Saint-Germain and hold off Monaco. Lille remains in first place but only leads second-place PSG by two points, while fourth-place Monaco has moved to just one behind third-place Lyon in a fascinating title race much closer than most observers had anticipated. Defending champion PSG is away at Bordeaux, and Monaco is in Alsace to play Strasbourg, while Lille hosts seventh-place Marseille, and Lyon welcomes a visiting Rennes side in the ninth spot after three straight league losses. GERMANY Leipzig hosts Wolfsburg in the quarterfinals of the German Cup with the daunting task of beating a Wolfsburg defence which hasn't conceded a goal in eight league and cup games. The two teams are also battling in the league, where Leipzig is second and Wolfsburg third. Leipzig is on its own run of good form, with six wins from its last seven games, the only blip being a 2-0 loss to Liverpool in the Champions League. Leipzig left-back Angelino is set to miss the game for fitness reasons. Fourth-tier Rot-Weiss Essen is by far the lowest-level team left in the cup as it hosts second-division Holstein Kiel. Both teams pulled off surprise wins earlier in the competition as Essen eliminated Bayer Leverkusen and Kiel knocked out reigning champion Bayern Munich. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Regina– When government spending not allocated within an approved budget takes place, the government must use “special warrants.” On March 1, the Government of Saskatchewan announced a number of these warrants. Typically the provincial Legislature meets in February, and a budget is released in March. However, the first sitting of this spring’s session will be on April 6, which will also be budget day. In the meantime, the government said in a release, “To help protect Saskatchewan people and businesses through the global COVID-19 pandemic, the $200 million health and public safety contingency has been drawn down, with $160 million in new contingency allocations. Combined with other spending needs for the 2020-21 fiscal year, this required the issuing of February special warrants totaling $322.8 million.” “These special warrants are needed for pandemic-related costs, as well as for health system requirements, AgriInvest Program payments, and highways construction and winter maintenance,” Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Donna Harpauer said in a release. “In part through these special warrants, as well as in-year appropriation approved earlier in the fiscal year, our government has drawn down the Health and Public Safety Contingency.” Trent Wotherspoon, NDP Finance Critic, said in an emailed statement on March 1, “The government’s announcement strengthens our call today to open the books and provide the 3rd Quarter financial report. They’re spending another $300 million without this basic act of accountability and transparency. We have called for the contingency fund to be used to fight COVID-19 and support families, businesses and jobs for months. The Sask. Party has failed to make that happen. There should have been a plan in place long ago to make much-needed investments in an open and transparent manner. “This province is at a critical point in our economic history. “The people of Saskatchewan deserve to have all the information available. All we get from the Sask. Party is more delays, more mismanagement and less transparency.” Details The new contingency allocations totaling $160 million, consist of: The first $40 million of the $200 million contingency was allocated to the Safe School Plan in the first quarter of the 2020-21 fiscal year, to support the safe re-opening on K-12 schools in the province. Six ministries required special warrants, including: Special warrant amounts will be included in the Supplementary Estimates No. 2, which will be tabled on budget day, April 6, 2021. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
KYIV, Ukraine — A court in Belarus on Tuesday handed a half-year prison sentence to a journalist on charges of revealing personal data in her report on the death of a protester, part of authorities’ crackdown on demonstrations against authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko. Katsiaryna Barysevich of the independent Tut.by online news portal has been in custody since November, following the publication of an article in which she cited medical documents indicating that protester Raman Bandarenka died of severe injuries and wasn’t drunk — contrary to official claims. Bandarenka died in a hospital on Nov. 12 of brain and other injuries. The opposition alleged that he was brutally beaten by police who dispersed a protest in the Belarusian capital, Minsk. Bandarenka’s death caused public outrage and fueled more demonstrations. On Tuesday, the Moskovsky District Court in Minsk sentenced Barysevich to six months in prison and a fine equivalent to $1,100. It also handed a two-year suspended sentence to Artsyom Sarokin, a doctor who treated Bandarenka and shared his medical records with Barysevich, and fined him the equivalent of $550. The U.S. Embassy strongly condemned the sentence, saying in a statement that “the authorities’ assault against the truth, and against journalists and others who reveal those truths, continues unabated.” The Belarusian Association of Journalists denounced the court's verdict as part of government efforts to silence the independent media. “The authorities have unleashed unprecedented repressions against journalists, jailing some, scaring others and expelling them from the country,” said its leader, Andrei Bastunets. Barysevich's colleagues from her media outlet condemned the charges against her as “cynical and absurd” and demanded her immediate release. Last month, two other journalists in Belarus were convicted of violating public order and sentenced to two years in prison after they covered an opposition protest. Several other reporters are awaiting trial. Belarus has been shaken by protests ever since official results from the Aug. 9 presidential election gave Lukashenko a sixth term in office by a landslide. The opposition and some poll workers have said the election was rigged. Lukashenko’s government has unleashed a sweeping crackdown on post-election protests, the biggest of which attracted up to 200,000 people. Human rights activists say more than 30,000 people have been detained since the demonstrations began, with thousands beaten. The United States and the European Union have responded to the election and the crackdown by introducing sanctions against Belarusian officials. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the main opposition challenger in the vote who was forced to leave the country under pressure from authorities, said that Tuesday’s sentence demonstrated that “the truth has become a crime for the regime.” “Lukashenko's resignation and new elections are needed to end the horrible political and legal crisis,” Tsikhanouskaya said. “We are confident that after he steps down all those who were convicted on political grounds will be rehabilitated.” On Tuesday, the Belarusian authorities demanded the extradition of Tsikhanouskaya, who has lived in neighbouring Lithuania, on charges of plotting violent riots. Tsikhanouskaya's team rejected the charges, saying in a statement that she has always supported only peaceful protests. The Associated Press
Another GTA region has begun inoculating seniors 80 years of age and older. Shallima Maharaj has the story.
HALIFAX — Rapper Classified and singer-songwriter Rose Cousins lead the list of nominees for the 2021 East Coast Music Awards. Classified, from Enfield, N.S., has eight nominations including Album of the Year, Rap-Hip Hop Recording of the Year and Song of the Year for "Good News." Halifax-based Cousins has six nominations including Songwriter of the Year, Solo Recording of the Year and Album of the Year for "Bravado." Beolach, Catherine MacLellan, David Myles, Neon Dreams and Rich Aucoin each have four nominations. This year's awards lineup features a new category — African Canadian Artist of the Year — with Joe Bowden, Keonte Beals, Miokal, Owen O'Sound Lee, Shelley Hamilton and Zamani vying for the honour. The awards festival week is scheduled for May 5-9 in Sydney, N.S. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
CHARLOTTETOWN — Health officials in Prince Edward Island say they will shift their focus to getting a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine to all adults by July 1, even if it means delaying the second shot for some. Chief medical officer of health Dr. Heather Morrison says all people over 80 will get their second dose based on existing appointments, but after that the interval between doses will be extended. She says having everyone over 16 partially vaccinated by July would bring "the finish line" into much sharper focus. Morrison reported four new cases of COVID-19 in the province today involving three men and one woman, all in their 20s. There are now 22 active cases on the Island, and there have been a total of 136 cases since the onset of the pandemic. Morrison said test results from the National Microbiology Laboratory have confirmed that two earlier COVID-19 cases involving two women in Charlottetown are linked to the more transmissible variant first identified in the United Kingdom. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
Most coastal residents are suitably enthralled with charismatic or charming marine animals such as killer whales, the iconic Pacific salmon or furry sea otters. But what of the lowly sea cucumber? It’s likely most people don’t give much thought to the fairly ubiquitous and possibly misunderstood invertebrate, said scientist Emaline Montgomery. She along with other researchers on the West Coast of Canada are exploring how some unsung heroes of the seabed may be the ticket to a more sustainable form of aquaculture. Apostichopus californicus, or the giant red sea cucumber, is a slightly alarming, spiky, squishy creature that can grow 50 centimetres long and sustains itself by eating detritus off the ocean floor and using its butt to breathe. But it’s the sea cucumber’s ability to remove excess organic matter from surrounding water and sediment that makes it interesting for aquaculture, said Montgomery, a research associate and instructor at North Island College (NIC). Montgomery’s research focus is on the co-cultivation of various species together to improve the sustainability and profitability of aquaculture. Known popularly as regenerative ocean farming, Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) uses extractive species like sea cucumbers or seaweed to filter or absorb the uneaten feed or waste from fish farms or shellfish operations. The aim of regenerative aquaculture is to mimic the natural food web to both improve marine ecosystem health and increase the number of products that can be grown at one site. The giant red sea cucumber is an attractive candidate for co-cultivation because it hoovers up deposits off the sea floor, and it can fetch a good price in international markets, said Montgomery. “I think of them as nature’s recyclers,” she said, adding sea cucumbers don’t need to be fed, as they extract what they need from their surroundings with a set of specialized tentacles. “It’s why sea cucumbers are so valuable,” she added. “They're able to consume the waste products, either excess food or feces that are being produced by shellfish or fin fish, and they're able to take that organic material, assimilate it, use it for their own nutritional benefits.” And what the sea cucumber spits out the other side of its digestive system has less impact on the marine environment, Montgomery said. Plus, sea cucumbers have long been a highly valued food item with sought-after health benefits in Asian markets, she said. Montgomery is working with shellfish growers to find cheap, easy-to-use containment systems to raise shellfish and sea cucumbers together to increase growers’ incomes. But this spring, she is also slated to begin research with Fisheries and Oceans Canada to examine the commercial feasibility of raising sea cucumbers in conjunction with salmon farms. “One of the questions that we're going to be looking at is whether there are any risks to the salmon or the cucumbers from each other,” Montgomery said. There’s a solid history of theoretical research done in Canada exploring the idea of using sea cucumbers alongside fish farms, said Montgomery. When grown solely on the sable fish waste sediment, juvenile sea cucumbers showed good growth and survival rates and reduced the organic carbon and nitrogen content in byproduct materials by 60 per cent. “But nothing's been done at a large enough scale to determine if this is feasible to integrate with our current industries or not,” Montgomery said. “That's one of our goals, over the next year.” The scientist said she first became entranced with studying sea cucumbers in university. “What I discovered is this organism that looks like a blob, and might be written off by a lot of people, actually has a lot of complexity,” Montgomery said. Besides their interesting qualities, sea cucumbers have a lot to offer ecologically, she said. “But there is also a king of missing opportunity in Canada to grow these species where there are really good markets,” Montgomery said, adding both the economy and the environment stand to benefit. “Some of the (aquaculture) practices we already have in place are experiencing a lot of criticism,” she added. “If we can continue to improve that, I think it’s good for all Canadians.” Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National Observer Rochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Which Canadian political party has the best interests of Black people at heart?
Having spent a year living under the added pressure of COVID, many British Columbians are extremely keen for a vacation. Yet that’s not easy (or for that matter, allowed) under current provincial restrictions and recommendations. As a way to generate revenue during this difficult period, local hotels are filling the gap, offering reduced room rates and packages aimed people who live in the Kamloops region. The idea is for people to enjoy a “staycation”—that is, a vacation in one’s own backyard. Over at the Thompson Hotel and Conference Centre, there has been a big push to attract families looking for a safe environment to spend some quality time. In December, the independently owned hotel transformed one of its conference rooms into a small movie theatre. As part of a package deal, families can book this theatre. Families are also given the opportunity to book time at the hotel pool and games room. Pav Moore, co-owner and operations manager at the Thompson, said that families are loving the opportunity to do something novel and fun in a way that ensures their health and safety. “They’re loving that they can enjoy some time with their family, not cooped up in their homes, but not feel like they’re putting themselves at risk,” said Moore. Moore said that the theatre is an excellent draw, with guests invited to select from an in-house selection of films or bring their own if they prefer. She added that the package has gotten lots of buzz by word-of mouth and through social media posts. The hotel is also offering a package called Dinner and Dance. It includes a dance instruction session with an instructor from Let’s Move Dance Studio. Moore said that the packages are largely sold out, but there is some availability mid-week for March. Over at the Delta Hotels Kamloops, staff cooked up a sexy package in honour of Valentine’s Day. But instead of relegating it to the week of the 14th, they’ve offered the package throughout the month. Aptly named the Couples Escape Package (because at this point, who doesn’t need to escape) the package includes a one night accomodation in a king guestroom or one bedroom suite, Prosecco, a mini charcuterie board, a $75 gift certificate for Cordo Resto & Bar and an in-room movie. But the pièce de résistance has been the opportunity for couples to have a chance to enjoy the hotel’s rooftop jacuzzi all by themselves. Due to the popularity of the promotion, the hotel has extended the package until the end of March. The hotel is also offering a family-focussed package geared at families, beginning in March. It includes a night’s accommodation in a two-queen guest room or family suite, a $75 room dine-in credit or gift card for Cordo Resto Bar, a guaranteed rooftop pool and jacuzzi reservation and an in-room movie and snack pack. With provincial restrictions in place, hotel staff are making the best of it, offering fun ways to relax close to home. “Our target area right now is within Kamloops and about 50 kilometers outside of the Kamloops market for the next couple of months,” said Darcia Ball, marketing director of the hotel. For a full list of good travel deals, the good people over at Tourism Kamloops have put out a handy resource list to check out. Joel Barde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sun Peaks Independent News Inc.
Corinne Tougas, Vincent Marcoux, Vincent Lafleur et Mélisande Leblanc forment un joyeux quatuor à l’œuvre derrière Le Jardin des Funambules. Ils se sont lancés dans un projet de serres froides ! L’autonomie alimentaire et la santé environnementale, des enjeux clés aujourd’hui, reposent notamment sur une agriculture locale et bio pour une alimentation saine et durable. Et ce, quatre saisons par année ! Rencontre avec Vincent Marcoux. Ces quatre anciens urbains formés en agriculture biologique ont acquis leur terre en 2016, et ont commencé leur production l’année suivante. « On trouvait ça un peu désolant d’avoir des serres vides l’hiver. On a donc plongé dans les cultures hivernales, raconte Vincent. Il existe plusieurs façons de faire. D’abord, les serres doivent pouvoir supporter la charge de la neige. Nous en exploitons cinq, certaines très peu chauffées, entre 1 et 5 degrés, et d’autres pas du tout. Dès qu’il y a une percée de soleil, rapidement, l’effet de serre se fait sentir ! Plus besoin de chauffage, il faut même ventiler. Ce n’est pas tant la température que le manque de lumière qui agit sur les cultures. » Une oasis dans le désert Des légumes verts, sains et frais au cœur de l’hiver, ça ressemble à un rêve qui devient réalité ! « Au Québec, pour l’instant, peu prennent les devants. Mais plus au sud comme dans le Maine et le Vermont ayant des climats similaires aux nôtres, plusieurs maraîchers l’expérimentent depuis longtemps et obtiennent d’excellents résultats, se réjouit M. Marcoux. On y va par essais et ajustements en utilisant le minimum de ressources et de technologies, le tout en phase avec notre objectif d’équilibre ! De plus, tirer des revenus l’hiver réduit notre charge de travail durant l’été. Trouver la bonne combinaison entre le travail, la famille et la vie personnelle était au cœur de nos réflexions initiales. Vivre décemment de ce métier en harmonie avec nos valeurs, c’est possible ! » Mesclun, laitue, roquette, oignons verts, céleri, chou kale, épinards, etc. qui ne viennent pas du bout du monde, voilà une véritable révolution alimentaire nordique ! Et ce, grâce à des défricheurs passionnés. « Dès le début de notre entreprise, on tenait à notre mission éducative. Il ne s’agit pas seulement de nourrir les gens, mais également d’aider ceux qui voudraient emboiter le pas ! Une agriculture en santé au Québec, voilà un projet qui aide à traverser des périodes comme celle que nous vivons », conclut-il. Suivez-les de près ! Leur site regorge d’infos et d’espoir en quelque sorte. Et c’est bientôt le moment de s’inscrire pour les paniers estivaux. lejardindesfunambules.com facebook.com/Lejardindesfunambules Mireille Fréjeau, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal L'Étincelle
The federal government says the door is open to help producers affected by the closure of a central Alberta pork plant where an outbreak of COVID-19 has infected hundreds of workers and resulted in three deaths. Olymel temporarily closed its plant in Red Deer more than two weeks ago. The company is moving its own pigs that would normally be slaughtered at the plant to its operations in the United States to free up capacity for independent producers in Canada. It estimates there's a backlog of 80,000 to 90,000 animals that should be cleared within four to five weeks once the plant reopens. Cabinet minister Jim Carr held a virtual news conference from his home in Winnipeg on Tuesday to provide an update on an emergency fund for meat-processing companies and to address the situation at Olymel. "Last spring, when outbreaks caused plants to slow down or close, we moved quickly to help livestock producers manage the growing backlog of animals on their farms," said Carr, who is the government's special representative to the Prairies. "Our government stands ready to help producers affected by the temporary closure of the Olymel plant in Red Deer, Alberta. If needed, federal funding will be there to assist pork producers with extraordinary herd management costs such as additional feed costs." Carr was vague when asked for details on what the assistance would look like. "We'll have to see what the needs are moving forward. The point we wanted to make is that the door is open for assistance if required." The federal government set up a $77.5 million emergency fund in September to help food processors deal with COVID-19 by adapting new safety protocols, including acquiring more protective equipment for workers. Another $10 million has been added since. The fund is also supposed to help upgrade and reopen meat facilities shuttered due to outbreaks of the novel coronavirus. Carr said the program has provided more than $7.8 million to 24 meat-processing companies across the Prairies, but is no longer taking applications. "We were out of the gate quickly. We adjusted as we learned what elements of programs were working and what elements were working less well," he said. "The same thing is true now as we move forward into the next phase of the pandemic." The meat-packing sector has been hard hit by the health crisis. Cargill temporarily shut down plants in High River, Alta., and Chambly, Que., last year after COVID-19 outbreaks. Olymel shut down its hog slaughter and processing plant in Yamachiche, Que., and the JBS beef plant in Brooks, Alta., temporarily went down to one shift daily from two. Cargill and JBS operations in Alberta account for 70 per cent of Canada's beef production. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021 — Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
Dr. Seuss Enterprises released a statement that the company will stop the sale and publication of six books that "portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong."
WASHINGTON — Emergency loans made to small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic have been added to a list of government programs considered at high risk of waste, fraud or mismanagement. The most common of those emergency loans, PPP loans, are provided at a low interest rate and are fully forgivable under conditions that include spending a certain percentage on payroll costs. The loans were created by Congress and have proven exceedingly popular as shops, restaurants and other small businesses try to survive the pandemic. The Government Accountability Office said Tuesday that millions of small businesses benefitted from the emergency loans, but the speed with which the relief programs were set up limited safeguards necessary to identify risks, “including susceptibility to improper payments and potential fraud.” The Small Business Administration made or guaranteed more than 14.7 million loans and grants totalling about $744 billion between March and December. Congress approved an additional $304 billion in emergency loans in December. The GAO said in the report that, as of January, it continues to experience delays in obtaining key information about the loans, including detailed oversight plans and documentation for estimating improper payments. “There's no doubt they’ve had a positive impact. However, the management of these programs needs to be dramatically improved," U.S. Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro told reporters in previewing the report. Government auditors release a high-risk list near the beginning of every new Congress. The list is designed to increase attention on the shortfalls cited by the GAO, and to prompt action that can often save taxpayer dollars and improve government operations. Auditors also added the government’s efforts to prevent drug misuse to the high-risk list. The GAO had warned as the pandemic began that it would be doing so. At the time, it noted that the pandemic could fuel the conditions that contribute to drug misuse, such as unemployment. In December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the largest ever increase of drug overdose deaths during a 12-month period that ended the previous May. The CDC noted a particular acceleration in drug overdose deaths as widespread mitigation measures kicked in. “This is heartbreaking," said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. Portman said that the country and his home state had finally seen a drop in overdose deaths in 2018 for the first time in decades. “Substantial progress. And yet now, with the pandemic, under this horrible pandemic, we have this horrible addiction crisis that has grown," Portman said. Auditors said that maintaining sustained attention to the problem of drug abuse will be challenging in the coming months with agencies focused on addressing the pandemic. “This makes developing and implementing a co-ordinated, strategic approach even more important as agencies’ resources are also being diverted, in part, to pandemic priorities,” the report said. On a positive note, the GAO said the Department of Defence had made concerted progress in how it aligns its support infrastructure with the needs of the country’s military forces, It dropped the support program from it's high-risk list. For example, in citing, progress, auditors said the Army reduced its leased footprint in the Washington D.C. region from a peak of 3.9 million square feet in 2011 to roughly 1 million square feet as of September 2019. Kevin Freking, The Associated Press
The BC Coroners Service says 165 people died of a suspected illicit drug overdose in January, marking the largest-ever number of lives lost due to illicit drugs in the first month of a calendar year. The figure represents an increase of 104 per cent from the number of deaths in the same month last year, and a seven per cent increase over the number of deaths in December 2020. It also equates to more than five deaths every day of the month. "These figures are heartbreaking, both in scale and for the number of families who are grieving the loss of a loved one," said Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe. Nearly one in five deaths — 18 per cent, the highest level to date — involved an "extreme" concentration of fentanyl. The coroner also said etizolam, an unlicensed type of benzodiazepine, was found in nearly half of samples tested in B.C. There were 14 deaths in which carfentanil was detected, the largest monthly figure involving the more lethal analogue of fentanyl since May 2019. "We're particularly concerned about the toxicity of the drugs detected in many of the deaths recorded in January," Lapointe said in a statement. "The findings suggest that the already unstable drug supply in B.C. is becoming even deadlier, underscoring the urgent need for supervised consumption options, prescribing for safe supply, and accessible treatment and recovery services." The highest rates of deadly overdoses, by health authority, were in the Northern Health and Vancouver Coastal Health areas. There were 71 deaths for every 100,000 people in the north, and 52 for every 100,000 in the Vancouver area. 2020 was deadliest year on record Last year was the deadliest year ever for overdoses in B.C. In 2020, 1,716 people died due to illicit drug use — a 74 per cent increase over 2019, when 984 people died. It means more people died of drug overdoses last year than car crashes, homicides, suicides and prescription drug-related deaths combined. Decades of criminalization, an increasingly toxic illicit drug market and a lack of timely access to treatment and recovery services contributed to the deaths of thousands of British Columbians, Lapointe said in her annual report. A memorial in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside is pictured on Feb. 11.(Ben Nelms/CBC) The illicit drug supply in the province has only become more toxic and dangerous during the COVID-19 pandemic, as borders remain closed and more drugs are manufactured or altered locally. B.C. Mental Health and Addictions Minister Sheila Malcolmson said the pandemic has pushed people further into isolation, compounding the effects of stigma that drives people to use drugs alone. Public health restrictions, first introduced in March and tightened since November, mean fewer people are visiting overdose prevention sites, where staff can intervene to reverse an overdose. More than half of deadly overdoses in January happened inside a home. Men accounted for 83 per cent of the deaths. Premier John Horgan and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart have written letters to the federal government asking for an exemption that would allow for the decriminalization of drug possession for personal use. Malcolmson said B.C. is working to add more treatment and recovery options, more services and supports, and to work with the federal government on decriminalization.
Two recent graduates of the Civil Engineering Technology program at St. Lawrence College have launched a bursary to support upper year Civil Engineering students. Braedan Rogers and David Logan, 2020 graduates of the program, wanted to give something back to future students in the Civil Engineering Technology program. Last year was the inaugural year for the bursary, and the duo hope to increase the amount available to the recipients through donations. “We found most, if not all, of our classmates never applied for any funding as the prevailing thoughts on most bursaries was they were so competitive, what was the point," Logan said. "Our classmates worked in industry during summer breaks, and really struggled hard to get decent grades as it is very challenging subject material." The list of bursaries available at St. Lawrence College is quite lengthy, but the duo say most rely on grades, extra-curricular activities, and volunteering, which students with jobs find difficult to fit into their days. The Solid Ground Award is awarded to returning students who are enrolled full-time in the Civil Engineering Technology program, are passionate about their field, and interested in pursuing a career in Civil Engineering. When asked how they fund the bursary, Logan said they decided to run it through SLC Alumni. “It keeps everything really easy and allows for donors to get charitable tax receipts,” he said. “When talking with the coordinators, we expressed how the main goal of this was to support a Civil student who was passionate about future work in the Engineering field,” Logan continued. “As such, we really only had one criteria: the student had to be a second or third year civil engineering student in good standing. This allows the most amount of students to apply. With help from the Civil faculty, one student is selected.” Last year the Solid Ground Award provided $500 to the recipient. The duo say their ultimate goal is to provide a full year’s tuition. “Breadan and I have committed to fund this for a minimum of three years. We each donate $250 a year, with my share coming through my business ‘Wise Cracks Kingston’,” Logan shared. “We feel this is worthwhile and important. There are many roles in the civil [engineering] world that need new bright talented workers,” he said. “Kingston, and eastern Ontario, have many companies that need people with the skills learned through the Civil Engineering program at SLC. The hope is that each year we can grow the amount of donors, and in doing so help the donors get the skilled workers they need!" “We hope to make this a sustainable award that can be counted on for years,” Logan added. Those interested in donating to this bursary are asked to contact SLC Alumni. Mention the Solid Ground Award to ensure your donation goes directly to support the Civil Engineering bursary. Students can apply for the bursary through the SLC website. Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
TORONTO — Ontario's health minister says the province won't administer the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to seniors. Christine Elliott says the province plans to follow the advice of a national panel recommending against using that vaccine on people aged 65 and older. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization has recommended the shot not be used for seniors due to concern about limited data on how it will work in older populations. Elliott says the vaccine could more easily be used in sites like correctional facilities because it does not need to be stored at the same cold temperatures as other vaccines already in use. She also says the province is waiting for recommendations from the immunization committee on whether Ontario can extend the interval between administering first and second vaccine doses to four months. Elliott says Ontario will share its updated vaccine rollout plan once that advice is received, factoring in expected supply of Oxford-AstraZeneca doses as well. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press