This kid put a summer tool to good use, holding a leaf blower to propel him across the skating rink.
This kid put a summer tool to good use, holding a leaf blower to propel him across the skating rink.
WASHINGTON — Former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm won Senate confirmation Thursday to be energy secretary, joining President Joe Biden's Cabinet as a leader of Biden’s effort to build a green economy as the United States moves to slow climate change. The vote was 64-35, with all Democrats and 14 Republicans, including GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, voting yes. Granholm, 62, served two terms as governor in a state dominated by the auto industry and devastated by the 2008 recession. She has promoted emerging clean energy technologies, such as electric vehicles and battery manufacturing, as an answer for jobs that will be lost as the U.S. transitions away from oil, coal and other fossil fuels. Granholm, who was sworn in late Thursday, is just the second woman to serve as energy secretary. She tweeted her thanks to senators and said, "I’m obsessed with creating good-paying clean energy jobs in all corners of America in service of addressing our climate crisis. I’m impatient for results. Now let’s get to work!'' Sen. Joe Manchin, chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said Granholm has the leadership skills, vision and compassion needed at the Energy Department to “develop innovative solutions for the climate challenge'' while preserving jobs. Granholm is committed to working every day “to ensure that we don’t leave any workers behind as we move towards a cleaner energy future,'' said Manchin, D-W.Va. During her confirmation hearing last month, Granholm pushed her plans to embrace new wind and solar technologies. But her position caused tension with some Republicans who fear for the future of fossil fuels. “We can buy electric car batteries from Asia, or we can make them in America,” Granholm told senators. “We can install wind turbines from Denmark, or we can make them in America.'' Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate energy committee, said Biden “seems to want to pull the plug on American energy dominance. So I cannot in good conscience vote to approve his nominee for secretary of energy.'' Barrasso and other Republicans have complained that a freeze imposed by Biden on oil and gas leases on federal lands is taking a “sledgehammer” to Western states’ economies. The moratorium could cost tens of thousands of jobs unless rescinded, Barrasso said. He and other Republicans also bemoaned Biden’s rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, saying thousands of jobs will be lost and a friendly source of oil left idle. Granholm assured lawmakers that creating jobs was her top priority — and Biden's. “We cannot leave our people behind. In West Virginia, and in other fossil fuel states, there is an opportunity for us to specialize in the technologies that reduce carbon emissions, to make those technologies here, to put people to work here, and to look at other ways to diversify,'' she said at her Jan. 27 hearing. During her introduction as Biden's nominee, Granholm described arriving in the U.S. at age 4, brought from Canada by a family “seeking opportunity.” She said her father found work as a bank teller and retired as head of the bank. “It’s because of my family’s journey and my experience in fighting for hardworking Michigan families that I have become obsessed ... with gaining good-paying jobs in America in a global economy,” she said. In other action Thursday on Biden's Cabinet nominees: SURGEON GENERAL Surgeon general nominee Dr. Vivek Murthy said Americans must not lose track of opioid addiction and other health emergencies amid the intense national focus on overcoming the coronavirus pandemic. He told senators at a hearing that “we cannot neglect the other public health crises that have been exacerbated by this pandemic, particularly the opioid epidemic, mental illness and racial and geographic health inequities.” After dipping slightly, opioid deaths have risen again, the result of street formulations laced with the powerful painkiller fentanyl. Murthy told the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that the overdose rescue drug naloxone should be even more widely available and that medication-assisted treatment must be expanded. Murthy, who was surgeon general in the Obama administration, has drawn opposition from gun rights groups because of his assessment that gun violence is a public health problem. But he tried to dispel notions that he would launch a crusade against guns. He told Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., that while he supports government studying the problem, “my focus is not on this issue, and if I’m confirmed it will be on COVID, on mental health and substance use disorder.” TRADE REPRESENTATIVE Biden’s pick for U.S. trade representative promised to work with America’s allies to combat China’s aggressive trade policies, indicating a break from the Trump administration’s go-it-alone approach. Katherine Tai told the Senate Finance Committee that rebuilding international alliances would be a priority, as well as "reengaging with international institutions? to present Beijing with “a united front of U.S. allies.? Tai did not address whether the Biden administration would drop former President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum or whether it would revive the Obama administration's Asia-Pacific trade deal, which Trump killed. BUDGET DIRECTOR Another key Republican lawmaker came out against Biden’s embattled pick to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, raising further questions about her viability. Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley told reporters he won't support her nomination. He and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski were two Republicans seen as potentially gettable votes for the White House, as Grassley had previously said he’d had good conversations with Tanden. Murkowski has yet to say how she'd vote. With a handful of other key centrist Republicans coming out against her in recent days, Tanden’s path to confirmation hinges largely on Murkowski and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., neither of whom have made their positions known. The White House was forced to search for a Republican to support Tanden after West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin announced his opposition last week. Lawmakers have largely cited Tanden’s controversial and at times harshly critical tweets about members of both parties in explaining their opposition to her. ___ Associated Press writers Alexandra Jaffe, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Paul Wiseman contributed to this report. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
Saint-Gérard-des-Laurentides – Kevin préparait tranquillement son souper mercredi soir. Francis, lui, déneigeait sa cour avec l'abondante neige qui tombait. Ce qu'ils ont en commun? Les cousins n'ont pas réfléchi longtemps lorsqu'un appel est entré dans leurs maisons respectives pour leur dire que deux femmes étaient disparues dans le bois à Saint-Gérard-des-Laurentides. Ils ont enfourché leurs VTT et motoneige et ont foncé. Kevin St-Arneault et Francis Giroux refusent catégoriquement qu'on les qualifie de «héros», même si, grâce à leur travail bénévole en collaboration des pompiers, ils ont permis de retrouver saines et sauves deux femmes dans la soixantaine qui s'étaient égarées lors d'une expédition à raquettes dans un secteur boisé, au bout du chemin Juneau. «On n'a que fait notre devoir de citoyens», soutiennent simultanément les cousins, qui s'affirment simplement heureux que l'histoire se termine bien. «Les deux dames avaient l'air sous le choc, mais sinon, elles n'avaient pas de blessures», raconte Francis. Les deux hommes ont grandi dans le secteur, alors quand est venu le temps de prêter main-forte aux pompiers qui cherchaient les disparues, ils n'ont pas hésité. «Ça fait 25 ans que je vais dans ce secteur là, près de la montagne. Je le connais par coeur», souligne Kevin. Peu après 17h, Kevin et Francis ont été avisés que deux personnes étaient introuvables et qu'elles avaient communiqué avec les services d'intervention pour leur signaler l'endroit où elles se trouvaient. «Avec le point où elles disaient se trouver sur le GPS, je savais exactement où elles étaient», témoigne Kevin. «Dans ce secteur-là, c'est facile de se perdre si tu ne connais pas les pistes. Les chemins partent un peu dans toutes les directions et ça tourne en rond», ajoute Francis. Si la mésaventure se termine de la bonne façon, le parcours pour retrouver les disparues n'a pas été de tout repos. «Elles étaient dans un ancien chemin qui n'en est plus un aujourd'hui. Il a fallu se faire un trace pour se rendre, mais c'était faisable», explique Kevin, qui précise que leurs machines se sont embourbées à quelques occasions avant d'atteindre le point voulu. «On a même dû bûcher du bois pour passer à certains endroits», mentionne Francis. De plus, à mi-chemin de l'opération, les citoyens ont dû rebrousser chemin pour aller mettre de l'essence et chercher du matériel qui les aideraient dans leurs recherches. Tout ça, en pleine tempête. «Nous les avions entendues. Quand on criait, elles nous répondaient. On n'avait pas le choix de revirer de bord pour revenir, sinon on aurait manqué d'essence et ça n'aurait pas aidé la situation», avoue Francis. Une fois le plein effectué et le matériel en place, les deux hommes sont retournés sur les lieux, sur l'adrénaline. «Quand tu es fatigué, que tu es trempé, tu penses aux gens qui sont là, perdus, et ça te donne un boost», exprime Francis. «On avait peur de les retrouver à terre en retournant. Ça faisait quand même plus de 10 heures qu'elles étaient au froid», raconte Kevin. Non seulement les cousins ne sont pas à l'aise que l'on souligne le caractère héroïque de leur geste, ils ajoutent qu'il s'agit d'un travail d'équipe. «On a eu une super belle collaboration avec les pompiers. Mon voisin a prêté une motoneige personnelle pour aider les pompiers. L'entreprise Lamontagne Sport en a aussi prêté une», tiennent-ils à souligner. Ce sont les cousins qui ont retrouvé les femmes, peu avant minuit. «Elles étaient exténuées. J'ai même dû enlever les raquettes à l'une d'entre elles, tellement elles étaient paralysées. Ce qui est facile à comprendre», confie Francis. Plusieurs heures plus tard, les comparses avouaient encore que la nuit avait été courte. «Je n'ai pas dormi longtemps. J'ai viré souvent», affirme Francis. Même chose pour Kevin. «Je dois avoir dormi trois heures», sourit-il. Qu'à cela ne tienne, l'important pour eux, c'est que les dames aient pu être retrouvées, sans conséquences majeures. Marc-André Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nouvelliste
WASHINGTON — The number of sexual harassment and sexual assault cases reported at the military service academies dropped in the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 school year, the Pentagon said Thursday. The report, which is required by law annually, comes as Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has said that reducing sexual assault is one of his top priorities. He was recently briefed on the military service's programs to counter the problem. “We have been working at this for a long time in earnest, but we haven’t gotten it right,” Austin said last week at his first Pentagon news conference. He promised stronger efforts. “You can look for us to take additional steps in looking in detail at ourselves and what has worked, what hasn’t worked and what measures we need to take going forward to ensure that we provide for a safe and secure and productive environment for our teammates,” he said. “Any other approach is, in my view, irresponsible.” Thursday's Pentagon report said the number of reported sexual assault cases at the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy fell to 129 from 149 in the previous academic year. Sexual harassment reports dropped to 12 from 17. The report said the reason for the declines is unclear, but it noted that in-person classes at the military academies were suspended in March because of the coronavirus pandemic. Officials altered most academy activities, including holding graduations virtually and postponing commissioning ceremonies. Thus, it said, the academies offered only about three-quarters of normal levels of interaction. Separately, an in-person survey of military academy students that is normally conducted to give the Pentagon a better understanding of the sexual assault problem and its prevalence was cancelled because of the pandemic. Robert Burns, The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Lady Gaga's dog walker was shot and two of the singer's French bulldogs were stolen in Hollywood during an armed robbery, police said. The singer is offering a $500,000 reward. The dog walker was shot once Wednesday night and is expected to survive his injuries, according to Los Angeles Police Capt. Jonathan Tippett, commanding officer of the department's elite Robbery-Homicide Division. The man was walking three of Lady Gaga's dogs at the time but one escaped. That dog has been recovered safely. Tippett told The Associated Press that the dogs belong to pop star Lady Gaga. It's not yet clear if the dog walker was targeted because of his celebrity client, the captain said. Lady Gaga is offering the reward for the return of her dogs — whose names are Koji and Gustav — with no questions asked, according to her representative. An email address for tips, KojiandGustav@gmail.com, has been set up. The singer is currently in Rome to film a movie. Police were initially called to North Sierra Bonita Avenue, a street off the famed Sunset Boulevard, around 9:40 p.m. Wednesday following several 911 calls reporting a man screaming and the sound of a gunshot, said Capt. Steven Lurie, commanding officer of the department’s Hollywood Division. The victim, whose name has not been released, was walking the dogs when a four-door sedan pulled over and two men tried to steal the animals, Tippett said. The dog walker tried to fight them off and was shot by one of the men wielding a semiautomatic handgun during the struggle. It's not yet known if both men were armed. ___ AP Music Writer Mesfin Fekadu contributed to this report from New York. Stefanie Dazio, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — The Public Health Agency of Canada is launching an investigation and reviewing its practices after two returning travellers were allegedly sexually assaulted during their mandatory quarantine periods. A spokesperson for Health Minister Patty Hajdu said allegations of assaults reported in the media this week are "really concerning." Cole Davidson said the public health agency would review its own procedures as well as those of its service providers to ensure the safety of travellers returning to the country. The response follows reports that a quarantine screening officer as well as a returning traveller have been charged in separate sexual assault cases that allegedly occurred last week. The Opposition Conservatives immediately demanded a suspension of the obligation for travellers to quarantine in hotels until better safety measures are in place, as well as an end to the use of security guards, who they say haven't been properly evaluated, to check on people quarantining at home. Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet says he doesn't necessarily believe the quarantine measures need to be suspended, but he wants to see improvements to ensure the safety of travellers under quarantine. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021 The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Antony Blinken will meet virtually Friday with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau in a day of online diplomacy for the U.S. secretary of state. Blinken will meet with Trudeau, Garneau and other members of the federal cabinet as part of a "virtual trip" to Canada and Mexico, Blinken's first bilateral video conferences since taking office. The visit follows up on Trudeau's own virtual summit this week with U.S. President Joe Biden, which produced a "road map" for plans to collaborate on issues like climate change, the economy and COVID-19. The pandemic made an in-person visit impossible, said Julie Chung, the acting assistant secretary for the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. "We decided to do this virtually instead of waiting for the time when it would be safer to travel," Chung said. "This is the new world we live in through virtual platforms, but we thought it was really important to engage with both Canada and Mexico early on." Agenda items for the two "neighbours, friends and allies" also include "defending human rights in the Western Hemisphere and around the world, and bolstering our shared defence and security," said State Department spokesperson Ned Price. That means the conversations will likely include the plight of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, two Canadians who have spent the last two years in custody in China. Spavor and Kovrig — the "two Michaels," as they are known in Canada — were swept up in the weeks that followed Canada's arrest in December 2018 of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei and daughter of the company's founder. Meng is facing extradition to the U.S., where she has been charged with violating sanctions against Iran — a case some observers believe is sure to keep the two Michaels behind bars indefinitely. On Tuesday, Biden vowed to work with Canada to secure their release, but offered no clues as to what specifically the U.S. is prepared to do. Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi would only say the U.S. will "continue to seek extradition" of Meng, who is under house arrest in Vancouver and due back in court Monday. Earlier this month, Canada, the U.S. and a coalition of 56 other countries collectively denounced the state-sponsored arbitrary detention of foreign nationals for political purposes. "We've been consistently for the past year talking about the two Michaels … and calling for Beijing to release these two individuals and stop the arbitrary detention," Chung said. "Human beings should not be used as pawns. And we stand by Canada, our strong friend and partner, in the issues of arbitrary detention and for the release of the two Canadian citizens." The followup work after Tuesday's bilateral meetings continued this week in other departments as well. Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson spoke Wednesday with John Kerry, Biden's special envoy on climate, to shore up plans for more stringent emissions-reduction targets in advance of a climate summit in April. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Transport Minister Omar Alghabra committed to more stringent vehicle pollution standards to push both countries toward a zero-emissions future on roadways throughout the continent. They are also collaborating on new standards for aviation and for seagoing vessels, as well as efforts to develop new clean-tech solutions with an eye toward the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. Blinken is also scheduled to meet with a group of Canadian students, as well as with Mexico's foreign secretary and secretary of the economy during a "visit" to a port of entry facility along the southern U.S. border. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. James McCarten, The Canadian Press
Advocates behind a campaign for province-wide public transit say it would increase safety and access in underserved rural communities, while others recommend improving competitiveness so the private sector steps up. “There have to be substantive investments made by government all across the province,” said Interim BC Liberal Leader Shirley Bond. “But there also needs to be a climate in British Columbia where we have the private sector looking at filling some of those gaps, as well.” In 2018, Greyhound cancelled bus routes across the province citing low ridership and reduced profitability, the provincial government opened the routes up for bids, and all but two are now covered by private operators, according to a Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure spokesperson. One remaining gap is the former Greyhound route from Kamloops, through Valemount and Jasper, and into Edmonton. “If it's not a medical issue, you can't go to Kamloops or Vancouver or anywhere points south for any sort of pleasure or business, unless you drive,” said Barb Shepherd, a winter bus rider and advocate for increased bus service through Valemount. “Even twice a week like the one going to Prince George would be fine.” When Greyhound cancelled its B.C. routes, the provincial government formed BC Bus North to connect regional centres, including Valemount, Prince George, Smithers, Prince Rupert, Mackenzie, Dawson Creek, Fort St. John and Fort Nelson. “A lot of the rest of the province was left with a kind of a piecemeal bunch of routes that don't necessarily work together and don't run very often,” said Maryann Abbs, one of the volunteers behind the Let’s Ride! campaign to make public transit B.C.-wide. “Why don't we treat the rest of the province like it needs transit, and have it as a public service?” said Abbs. “We think it's a win-win for the government to put some money into providing decent transit service for the rest of the province outside the Lower Mainland.” Transportation dollars tend to focus on massive infrastructure projects and regions of congested traffic, said Bond, a former transportation minister under the Liberal government and current MLA for the rural-urban riding of Prince George-Valemount. “I'm certainly a supporter of those kinds of (urban) investments, (but) transportation issues exist across the entire province.” In fact, nearly 20 per cent of most people’s expenses in B.C. are for transportation costs, according to BC Transit’s 2020 Strategic Plan. “It is far and away the number one thing we're trying to improve on in the province,” said Ed Staples, president of the B.C. Rural Health Network, a collective of communities advocating for improved rural health care delivery. In a survey of British Columbians last year by UBC’s Centre for Rural Health Research, rural residents spent an average of $777 in transportation costs to access healthcare services outside their home communities for their most recent health issue. “For people living rural, to be able to access the care that they need, many have to rely on transportation that they can't provide for themselves,” said Staples. “Even if they can provide transportation, sometimes it's a huge inconvenience.” The province has a mix of public city transit and private-public intercity services. Communities over 10,000 population, and most over 5,000, usually have transit run by local government in partnership with BC Transit. In smaller communities, residents can book custom transit, via Handy Dart or the health authorities, to reach medical appointments as far away as Vancouver. Still, non-medical transport between many rural communities remains a challenge. “Many areas of the province are without any regional transit system, and rely heavily on private transportation services such as taxis and private charters,” said representatives of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (IBCIC) in a letter to Premier John Horgan last November. “We need a unified, provincially-owned and operated public transportation system across BC, bridging communities and making transportation accessible for all.” People need better access to get to work, daycare and medical appointments, said UBCIC secretary-treasurer and Neskonlith Indian Band Chief Judy Wilson. “It should be provided without hardship to families that live below the poverty line.” Some people resort to hitchhiking or finding rides through social media, said Wilson. “(The Province) did a lot of investments in Vancouver, but they need to also invest in the rural and remote areas,” she said. Recently announced Safe Restart funding, provided jointly by the federal and provincial governments, will limit fare increases and provide $86 million, mainly to BC Transit municipal partnerships, according to the ministry. The provincial government also funded 12 mostly Indigenous communities in the north to purchase vehicles and operate their own transportation services. “People question the viability of Greyhound routes, but it depends on how convenient they are; it depends on the frequency of when they come through communities,” Bond said. “How do we make it competitive enough and how do we make it convenient enough that there's room for private sector companies to survive?” According to a ministry source, the application process was simplified to encourage private sector intercity bus operators to serve abandoned Greyhound routes. Thompson Valley Charters, a Kamloops owned and operated transportation company, recently applied to run a twice-a-week bus service from Kamloops to Edmonton. “Public transportation to urban centres is a need for Valemount, particularly in the winter,” said village mayor, Owen Torgerson. “The offer from Thompson Valley Ltd. will provide a partial solution and hopefully will show others in the private sector that rural public transport is a sound business model.” The solutions are up for discussion, but ideally, people would have a public transportation system that runs on a regular basis, that they can count on to get them where they need to go, said Staples. “And that's not what we have right now,” he said. Fran@thegoatnews.ca / @FranYanor Fran Yanor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Rocky Mountain Goat
Sudbury's first ever COVID-19 mass vaccination event began Thursday at the Carmichael Arena on Bancroft Drive. It's a joint effort of Public Health Sudbury and Districts, Health Sciences North, Greater Sudbury Paramedics Service and the City of Greater Sudbury. The clinic is taking place Thursday and Friday this week. Members of the Sudbury media were ushered through the building Wednesday to see how the vaccinations will be carried out. Media will not be allowed in the building when patients are receiving vaccines. The arena's main area has been transformed into a large room filled with partitions, arrows pasted on the floor, tables and chairs and waiting areas where people will be gathered to get their first shot of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. The target is to vaccinate 1,200 people a day. "So when people come to the arena, the most important thing is that it is by appointment only," said Karly McGibbon, the lead public health nurse assigned to the event. She said all those who are receiving vaccines have been contracted and given a time for when to visit the arena "Once the people are registered and checked in they will come here," McGibbon said at the entrance to the rink surface. "There will be staff members telling them where to go and then they will be sent to one of our twelve vaccine stations." Each person will be screened for any conditions such as allergies or other health matters before the vaccine is given. At each station, a nurse is on hand to swab each patient's arm and then give a needle with the vaccine. McGibbon said the actual needles are the same as the small-gauge sharps used for flu shots. The needles are considered relatively painless for anyone accustomed to getting a flu shot. Once the shot is complete, each patient will be directed to a waiting area to sit for 15 minutes to ensure they're feeling well. There is then a formal check-out area where each patient will be handed a printed receipt outlining the time and place of their first dose. The patients will then be moved out of the building through the back doors to ensure there is no mix up with people coming in the front doors. McGibbon said the entire process should take about 30 minutes. "People should plan to be here for half an hour," she said. "The vaccine itself will take maybe five minutes." She said anyone with a history of allergies might be asked to stay a bit longer so that the health-care staff can check them out before they leave. McGibbons said the target group at this event are priority workers who up until now have not been able to get their first dose of the vaccine. "The people coming this week, Thursday and Friday, are staff members and essential care givers from long-term care homes. So these are people that have been identified by facilities and so their place of work, or where they're an essential care giver, notified them to say, it's your turn. Please call this number and book your appointment." All the booking was done by the City of Greater Sudbury in collaboration with PHSD. Second doses of the Pfizer vaccine will also be booked to take place in about one month's time, said McGibbon. McGibbon said there is no immediate word on future clinics beyond the one happening this week. "Well, we have the two clinics right here this week," said McGibbon. "We may move to other locations. It all depends on vaccine availability when the clinics can be booked. We may use a different venue. We may return to this venue. That hasn't been set up yet." McGibbon said the vaccines are being stored in extreme freezers at Health Sciences North. "What we'll do is pick it up in the morning. We'll bring it here. It has to thaw and then we have to mix it, so it is a little bit of a different process from Moderna," she said, referring to the other vaccine approved by Health Canada. McGibbon said all those who provide the vaccines are well-trained and experienced in giving the needles. "We are using a multitude of immunizers. We are using nurses from public health that have experienced immunizers, we are using nurses from other sectors, so we certainly have nurses from HSN coming, we have nurses from community centres, and we are also using community paramedics." Len Gillis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
A dairy producers' lobbying group is asking farmers to consider alternatives to palm supplements in livestock feed pending the results of an investigation launched in response to consumers' concerns about perceived changes to the consistency of butter.In a statement Thursday, The Dairy Farmers of Canada said academics and industry experts will soon convene to examine the use of palm oil and its derivatives to boost cows' diets, while maintaining that the common practice doesn't raise health or safety concerns.The inquiry comes in response to anecdotal reports that butter has gotten harder, but some experts question whether spreadability is a widespread issue.Quebec Dairy Producers released a statement Wednesday calling on farmers to stop supplementing cattle feed with palm-based products as part of a broader look into the use of these ingredients in human food.The association says while the use of dairy feed supplements is in line with federal standards, there are concerns about the environmental impacts of palm oil production.The Quebec Dairy Producers said it will follow the recommendations of the Dairy Farmers of Canada's working group, which will set out to assess the issue based on scientific literature and feedback from consumers."It is essential that decisions be made on a factual basis and that science guide our sector," Dairy Farmers of Canada said."Notwithstanding this announcement, we stress that all milk produced in Canada is as safe as always to consume and is subject to Canada's robust health and safety standards."At the centre of the churning controversy, which some have dubbed "buttergate," is Calgary food writer Julie Van Rosendaal, whose investigation into the issue has garnered international media attention.Van Rosendaal said her deep dive into the dairy sector began in her own kitchen, when she noticed that it seemed to be taking longer for her butter to soften.She took to social media to see if other bakers were having similar struggles, and was flooded with responses from users who had also detected a change in texture."The fact that it was people across Canada, the fact that it kept coming up throughout the season, indicated to me that it wasn't just me," Van Rosendaal said by phone."A lot of people are asking this question, 'What's up with butter?'"After consulting with experts, Van Rosendaal homed in on a possible explanation for why the spread seemed to be stiffer.Her theory, which she laid out in an article for the Globe and Mail, posits that dairy producers have increased use of palm supplements in cattle feed to keep up with demand for butter amid a pandemic-fuelled baking craze.For about two decades, famers have added palmitic acid, a saturated fat found in palm oil, to dairy rations to boost milk production and fat content. This can affect the makeup of milk fat to increase the melting point of butter, according to researchers, which would make it harder to spread.Van Rosendaal said it's hard to find exact figures on the prevalence of palm supplements in cow feed, but industry stakeholders she spoke to say their use is widespread."Butter isn't something that you really look at the ingredients on, because it is an ingredient," Van Rosendaal said."I think people are always surprised to learn about how the food system works ... and how consumer demand affects how our food is produced and made."Alejandro Marangoni, a food science professor at University of Guelph, said in the absence of solid data, he's skeptical of claims about a sector-wide stiffening of butter."You have a sensationalist statement that is completely based on zero data, just some feelings," Marangoni said. "And now the dairy industry is launching an investigation, for what? It might not be true."Marangoni, who researches fats in food, said it wouldn't take much effort to see if "buttergate" stands up to scientific scrutiny. All one would need to do is take samples of butter, measure their hardness and see if it correlates to palmitic acid content.In recent statements, the Dairy Farmers of Canada said industry data suggests that the proportion of palmitic acid in milk fat has been within the range of expected variations over the past year.The group notes that the use of palm fat in dairy feed has been approved by Health Canada, and dairy farmers in the U.S., the U.K., Australia and New Zealand have also adopted the practice.David Christensen, a professor emeritus of animal and poultry science at the University of Saskatchewan, said if the consistency of butter has changed, the use of palm supplements could be a contributing factor.But he said there's too much uncertainty to rule out other possible explanations, such as new processing methods that can affect the formation of fat crystals in butter.Christensen said of the 75 million metric tonnes of palm oil produced annually, 90 per cent is used by the food industry.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
En préparation depuis 2019, le Plan d’adaptation aux changements climatiques de la MRC des Sources devrait être conclu pour le mois d’août. « En 2019, on a reçu une subvention [NDLR de 58 000 $] octroyée par la Fédération canadienne des municipalités, explique le coordonnateur en sécurité publique de la MRC des Sources, Jérémy Parent. On nous donnait un délai de deux ans pour réaliser notre plan. Avec la pandémie, il est prévu de le finir cet été. » La MRC reconnaît donc les changements climatiques. « On sait ce qui va arriver et on se prépare, précise M. Parent. On s’adapte tout de suite à ce qui nous attend demain matin. Quand on regarde les prévisions climatiques, même si on réduit drastiquement nos gaz à effet de serre, la situation ne changera pas tant que ça d’ici 2050. La courbe va s’aplatir après 2050. Le scénario pour les 30 prochaines années est connu, il faut agir maintenant. » « Dans une première version d’un plan d’adaptation, je vise des petites victoires, poursuit-il. Il faut réussir à mettre des projets en branle, à rédiger des politiques pour que notre plan connaisse du succès et qu’on ait envie de s’investir encore plus pour les versions subséquentes. » Concrètement Après avoir fait une première ébauche des événements qui se sont déroulés dans la dernière année sur le territoire, Jérémy Parent regarde maintenant avec les municipalités quelle est la capacité d’adaptation. « Nous faisons des ateliers de travail avec les municipalités pour identifier ce qu’ils connaissent des aléas sur le territoire, quelles sont les projections, si nous sommes capables de nous adapter et au final, nous allons revenir avec une appréciation des risques. On prévoit faire une appréciation des risques sur un horizon de cinq ans, qu’on pourra réviser au fil du temps », indique le coordonnateur. Et quelles sont ces projections? « On peut s’attendre à une augmentation des précipitations liquides à l’échelle annuelle et à des augmentations des températures. Les municipalités devront s’adapter. [...] C’est la gestion des cours d’eau. Si on augmente l’intensité et la fréquence des pluies, ça va avoir un impact direct sur le dynamisme de l’eau. Il faut considérer notre aménagement quand on va faire des aménagements en cours d’eau », répond-il, ajoutant que les données sont basées sur le consortium climatique Ouranos. Concrètement, les citoyens pourraient être impactés par ce plan. « On pourrait intégrer des gestions de l’eau à la source en milieu urbain. On pourrait intégrer des jardins d’eau, des cellules de biorétention, qui fait en sorte que l’eau percole sur le terrain de la personne et ne ruisselle pas nécessairement », cite M. Parent en exemple, ajoutant que ce genre de stratégie pourrait être encadrée par un programme de subvention finançant les travaux, un programme de sensibilisation ou un règlement municipal. Les citoyens des Sources d’ailleurs sondés via les réseaux sociaux et le site Web de la MRC, probablement au mois d’avril. « On va aller chercher les intérêts et les préoccupations des citoyens. On va aller sonder pour savoir ce qui devrait être la priorité en termes d’adaptations aux changements climatiques », affirme-t-il, ajoutant que le sondage n’est pas encore terminé. La MRC prévoit également acquérir des connaissances scientifiques sur la corrélation entre les pluies diluviennes à venir et les inondations. Force de frappe Plutôt que de laisser les municipalités s’en charger, la MRC des Sources a décidé de plancher sur ce projet en groupe. « À l’échelle des MRC, on a une vision macro. On a des outils et des compétences qui s’imposent. On peut penser au schéma d’aménagement qui va dicter les réglementations et les grandes affectations du territoire. Avec les changements climatiques, on peut revoir nos cartographies pour élargir nos zones inondables pour ne pas construire dans un secteur qui sera très problématique dans 50 ans », résume M. Parent. Ce programme est issu des préoccupations soulevées dans l’Agenda 21, qui sont les grandes orientations du territoire pour les cinq années à venir. Dans la première version de 2014, la MRC avait identifié la lutte aux changements climatiques, la sécurité et le bien-être des personnes comme étant des préoccupations et des enjeux dans le développement territorial. Tommy Brochu, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
CAMEROON, Cameroon — Linda Thomas-Greenfield presented her credentials as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday, officially taking on one of the most challenging jobs for the Biden administration of helping to restore the United States as a top multilateral player on the global stage after former President Donald Trump’s unilateral “America First” policy. The longtime American career diplomat thanked Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris, who swore her in on Wednesday, for choosing her for the “distinguished position.” “That was made all the more wonderful because I knew you were here,” she told Guterres who served as the U.N.’s refugee chief before his election to the U.N. post. “I worked with you in the past on refugee issues so I’m looking forward very anxiously to getting to work and working on many of the key issues that we know are before the United Nations and we know that people around the globe are looking to us for.” Guterres warmly welcomed Thomas-Greenfield, calling her a “distinguished global citizen" with great compassion for refugees. Thomas-Greenfield and Guterres then moved to his private office on the 38th floor of U.N. headquarters overlooking New York’s East River for private talks. She will be jumping right into her new job, tackling global peace and security issues with Russia, China and a dozen other countries because the United States takes over the rotating presidency of the powerful U.N. Security Council on Monday. And she might even decide to attend a council meeting on Friday. Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador Dmitry Polyansky told a group of reporters Wednesday that “the red carpet” will be rolled out for Thomas-Greenfield and Moscow is ready to work with President Joe Biden’s administration -- but “it takes two to tango.” “We are looking forward to interactions with her,” he told a group of reporters Wednesday. “You can count on our most favourable attitudes and positive emotions towards her as a member of our Security Council family.” Noting Thomas-Greenfield's decades as a U.S. diplomat, he said “it's always easier to interact with professionals." But he said America’s view that Russia is “an enemy” and a “threat” hasn’t changed under Biden, so “it’s very difficult to imagine how the interaction with us might change with such starting points of the positions of the new administration.” Nonetheless, Polyansky said, “there are a lot of things Russia and the United States can do together” and “we will judge the new administration by what it does.” “We’re in favour of co-operation,” he said. But “it takes two to tango, and really we’re ready to dance, but we need a good and reliable partner who knows all the moves and who respects us” as a country with certain positions, “doesn’t view us as a threat” and sees “our obvious national interests in many issues.” Thomas-Greenfield, a retired 35-year veteran of the U.S. foreign service who rose to be assistant secretary of state for Africa, resigned during the Trump administration. She will be the third African-American, and the second African-American woman, to hold the U.N. post. Her confirmation on Tuesday was hailed by Democrats and advocates of the United Nations who had lamented former President Donald Trump’s “America First” unilateral approach to international affairs and rejoiced at President Joe Biden’s return to multilateralism. At the Senate hearing on her nomination, Thomas-Greenfield called China “a strategic adversary” that threatens the world, and called a speech she gave in 2019 that praised China’s initiatives in Africa but made no mention of its human rights abuses a mistake. The Senate voted 78-20 to confirm her with Republican opponents saying she was soft on China and would not stand up for U.S. principles at the U.N. Thomas-Greenfield said at the hearing that Washington will be working not only with allies “but to see where we can find common ground with the Russians and the Chinese to put more pressure on the Iranians to push them back into strict compliance” with the 2015 agreement to rein in their nuclear program. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement in 2018 and Biden has indicated the U.S. will rejoin it, though how that might happen remains a major question. Polyansky said Russia welcomes the “positive developments” on the Iran nuclear deal and the U.S. agreement to extend the START nuclear agreement, adding that Moscow is ready for serious and meaningful discussions “first and foremost in the area of strategic stability.” Thomas-Greenfield stressed at the hearing that the U.S. will be reengaging internationally and promoting American values -- “support for democracy, respect for universal human rights, and the promotion of peace and security.” Louis Charbonneau, United Nations director for Human Rights Watch, told The Associated Press that Thomas-Greenfield should promote human rights as “a top priority.” “She should abandon the Trump administration’s selective approach to human rights – enthusiastically condemning its enemies’ abuses while ignoring rights violations of allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia,” he said. “But there’s room for continuity on China and Syria," Charbonneau said. “She should make expanding the coalition of nations willing to speak out against Beijing’s human rights abuses one of her chief goals at the U.N., above trying to bring African, Asian, and Latin American states into the fold. And she should continue to push for expanded humanitarian access to all parts of Syria.” Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the federal official in charge of delivering vaccines against COVID-19, says he understands why provinces are cautious about expecting big shipments over the coming weeks. But he says that as manufacturers make up for a sharp drop in supplies this winter, the provinces will see they can count on those doses to arrive.
Toronto has cancelled all in-person major events until July 1 to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The cancellations will have a big impact on a number of events that annually take place in East Toronto including Canada Day celebrations and fireworks displays. Cancelled for the second year in a row due to the pandemic will be the East York Canada Day celebration which traditionally includes a large parade, a community festival and a fireworks display. Also cancelled will be the Canada Day picnic that takes place in Woodbine Park in the Beach and the fireworks display at Ashbridges Bay. Also cancelled is the fireworks display that takes place at Ashbridges Bay on Victoria Day. For those events it is also the second year in a row they have been cancelled due to the pandemic. Events may be held virtually and several in-person events have already shifted their plans to such a model. The City of Toronto announced the cancellations on Feb. 24. The announcement was made this week as major festivals and events require lots of advance planning time and rely on city sites with associated permits and other logistics. The major driver of the cancellations is the need to maintain physical distancing to reduce exposure of COVID-19, which also forced cancellations of major in-person events last year. The decision was made in consultation with the city’s medical officer of health, the emergency operations centre, Toronto Police Service, and major event organizers. Other major upcoming events included in this cancellation of in-person gatherings are the Toronto Marathon, Ride for Heart, Luminato, and the Trans March, Dyke March and Pride Parade. It follows an extension of previous cancellations of in-person events up to March 31. Ali Raza, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Beach Metro News
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador health officials are reporting 10 new cases of COVID-19 today.Authorities say the new cases are in the eastern region of the province, where officials have been battling an outbreak in the metro area of St. John’s.Officials say 10 people are in hospital with the disease, and five of them are in intensive care.With 335 active reported infections, Newfoundland and Labrador now has an active infection rate of 64 per 100,000 people.On Wednesday, health officials in the eastern region released a list of schools where students and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 during the recent outbreak.The health authority says there were 185 cases at 22 schools, including 145 infections among staff and students of one high school in Mount Pearl that was an early epicentre of the outbreak.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Ontario had no updated plan for dealing with a pandemic when COVID-19 began cutting a deadly swath through the province last spring, a public commission was told. In testimony before the panel released on Thursday, the province's chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, denied responsibility for the shortcoming. The province had developed a pandemic response plan in 2006 that was updated in 2013, but the process stalled after work started on a "Ready and Resilient" blueprint in 2016. "Do you have any knowledge about the "Ready and Resilient" plan and why it wasn't completed in four years before COVID?" commission co-counsel John Callaghan asked. "The process was in place, and they were doing reviews on it," Williams answered. "Why was it not done?" "Because it was not completed." The commission is delving into the devastating impact of COVID-19 on Ontario's long-term care homes. To date, coronavirus disease has killed 3,753 residents and 11 staff members. Williams said pandemic preparation drifted down the priority list because things had been relatively quiet for several years. Historically, he said, planning focused on influenza A, a situation that hadn't changed as late as 2019 when the World Health Organization said the world is not ready for a pandemic. "For seven years, you never felt the need to increase your pandemic plan, your influenza pandemic plan?" Callaghan asked. "We did quality work back in 2006," Williams said. "You are saying, in your opinion, it was your decision not to upgrade the 2013 plan?" "No, I was not asked to update the plan." Williams said he "took flak" over pushing more robust preparation for a major infectious disease outbreak because others saw the exercise as wasting time and resources for something that would never occur. "It is hard to keep that prevention thing always at the front table because the tyranny of the urgent always pushes things aside," Williams said. "It was to me disappointing to find the lack of depth and breadth of infection prevention and control expertise that was available out there." Williams said he was shocked to discover the poor situation at long-term care homes when it came to masks and other personal protective equipment. The purpose of the provincial stockpile, he said, was to equip front-line doctors and their offices, not long-term care facilities. Nursing homes, he said, were supposed to have their own supplies able to last between four and seven weeks. However, when the pandemic hit in earnest, he learned most of the protective equipment was made in China and global demand had outstripped supply. "That was startling and shocking to me that that had happened in there because it is something that I thought we had in-house; anyways in North America at least," he said. Constant staff turnover of key personnel in nursing homes hampered efforts to ensure adequate infection prevention controls were in place, he said. "The changeover was at times disconcerting," he said. Callaghan called it "vexing" the commission had received 217,000 pages of documents from Williams only in the week before he testified. The co-counsel also noted Williams had provided 2,000 pages of his redacted notes. New Democrat Leader Andrea Horwath said Williams' testimony made it "astoundingly clear" the government was trying to hide its response to COVID-19 in nursing homes. “The Ford government and Dr. Williams are taking great pains to hide, bury and cover up how they dealt with COVID-19 in long-term care homes,” Horwath said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
There has been much community engagement and debate over the proposed Cardston recreation centre through recent letters to the editor and social media posts. The Temple City Star conducted interviews with municipal CAO’s this week in an effort to get straight to the facts, and tidy up any confusion. When a municipality has a large capital project in the works, it can take years to work from conception to completion. During the process, administration inquires with different vendors for preliminary pricing, gets an idea of community need (town halls, surveys and discussion), and researches where to best elicit funds (grants, partnerships, reserves, levies, or a tax increase) before council makes any concrete decisions about the project and approves the tendering process in which companies can bid for the job. As CAO Jeff Shaw shares, the indoor recreation facility project has been somewhat different because “we have a community champion in Gibb Schaffer, and council wants to support the project while we have the momentum.” Still, there are processes that legally have to be followed by any municipal level of government, and the red tape can be confusing to untangle. Town councillors have been interested in building a recreation center since the 2018 election, and a committee of council began pursuing this idea in 2019 with a very large indoor recreation center in mind. The intention of the committee was to commence public consultation in 2020, but due to COVID, the public consultation had to be cancelled. In the fall of 2020 major discussions on the specifics of an indoor recreation building were resurrected around the council table when Mr. Schaffer asked council to pursue it more assertively. As it stands, the Cardston Town Council has made very few official resolutions regarding the project, only those resolutions which direct administration to seek information regarding community need, project scope and size, and preliminary pricing. The recreation center is still just a proposal, but one council is actively seeking more information about before committing fully. Council recently created a short survey gathering community interest in a general use indoor recreation center which includes questions about potential user fees and tax impacts. The potential project scope and size has yet to be determined, as discussions around the council table have ranged from the building being an 8,000 square foot structure to a 19,000 square foot structure. According to CAO Jeff Shaw, the “survey attempts to grasp at basic community need and interest… we can shape what the building will look like once we understand the need better.” Hasegawa engineering group has been consulted as a third party to help determine preliminary costs of a larger building, and these were presented in a public meeting. Cardston town council has publicly, and informally, committed 1 million dollars to the capital funding (or building costs) of the proposed recreation centre, contingent on other funding covering any capital expenses over and above their contribution. At this time it is expected that $700, 000 of the town’s portion of the funding will come from reserves that have been put away for the recreation department, and $300,000 will come from Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) dollars. MSI is funding received from the provincial government to support local infrastructure projects, but has recently been on the chopping block in provincial budgets. Every year town councils wait to set their municipal budgets depending on the ramifications of the provincial budget, so these numbers are not yet set in stone for the year. Even if the 2021 provincial budget does not decrease council's expected MSI dollars, the recreation center would still require other funding in order to go ahead as Shaw has shared that “council isn’t willing to extend themselves past the first million.” In discussions with Mr. Shaffer at council meetings, much has been mentioned about easing the financial load by working with local contractors who are willing to donate time and materials, soliciting funds from other partners, and from private donations. However, Cardston Council first needs an idea about the total scope of the project, and the potential price, then they will make a decision about tax rates for the year, all before they will start to officially solicit funds from other partners. As previously reported, Westwind school division has already declined the invitation to become a financial partner this year. In last week's front page article, it was reported that the County was “willing to set aside $250,000 for the project.” Clarification on this point comes from Cardston County CAO Murray Millward, who says that “the County has not received any official funding requests from Cardston, and they will not act until a request comes through the official line”. If they do receive a request, Cardston County may also want to conduct a survey of citizens to gauge the desire for county support. The County has heard Mr. Shaffer’s presentation on the matter and would consider recreation donations for the project. Their recreation funding to any adjacent municipality is determined by an Inter-municipal Collaboration Framework (ICF), and such an agreement with Cardston has been underway and will soon be signed by both councils. Any donations to the recreation center would be over and above the ICF agreement. However if county council votes to not assist in funding the project, and the town of Cardston decides to go ahead with it anyways, the county would not be on the line for future operational costs for the center. Operating costs for most recreation centers make building restrictive to many small municipalities, which is why you don’t find a full sized swimming pool and gym in every single small town. There is sometimes an assumption that the charges to enter a recreation facility cover the operational costs for that facility but this is often not the case. Estimating the operational costs of the facility cannot be done until size and scope are determined, which will not be decided until council receives feedback from the survey about community interest.Once feedback is received, and the taxation levels for the year decided in the budget, then the council can go ahead and solicit funds from partners, knowing more precisely how much capital and operational help they require in order to get the project off the ground. Once enough capital funds have been gathered, it would be time to go ahead with the tendering process, which is when commitments become real and cannot be backed away from (without major financial consequence). It is mandated by trade agreements that council go through a formal process to get bids on jobs that are above a certain price threshold, and this project will inevitably be above the threshold. It is the hope that, if the project goes forward to tender, local contractors would bid for the job, and include the very generous donations of time and labour that some have discussed with Mr. Shaffer during his initial legwork attempting to reduce costs. Contractors willing to donate some of their time and supplies because they believe in the project could score favourably in the evaluation process. However, the financial magnitude of the job disallows the town from favouring any bids by local contractors. The financial magnitude of the project is heavy on the council's mind and has kept them from jumping in with both feet at this point. Time will tell, and budgets dictate, what the future is for this proposal. Elizabeth Thompson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star
Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin told sailors on the USS Nimitz Thursday that he hopes to avoid long ship deployments like the more than 10 months they just spent at sea. But as he made his first aircraft carrier visit as Pentagon chief, he acknowledged the demand for American warships around the globe as he wrestles with security threats from China in the Pacific and Iran in the Middle East. Standing in the ship's hangar bay, Austin said he will make a decision soon on whether to send a carrier back to the Middle East, where the Nimitz had been. But he said there have been times when the U.S. has opted not to have a carrier strike group in that region. “There’s going to be gaps,” he said. “As we do that, we do things to make sure we have resources in the right place so can respond.” The Nimitz, which left its homeport of Bremerton, Washington, last April, has been at sea for nearly 300 days, including several weeks of pre-deployment exercises. By the time it gets home in March, the ship and its strike group — which includes the USS Princeton and the USS Sterett — will have sailed about 99,000 nautical miles around the globe. The ship’s return home has triggered renewed debate over whether the U.S. should keep a persistent aircraft carrier presence in the Middle East as a deterrence to Iran. And it underscores the persistent competition for Navy ships as the U.S. and the Pentagon focus on China as a key threat that has required an escalating presence in the Indo-Pacific. Over the past year, however, military commanders have successfully argued for a carrier presence in the Gulf region because of threats from Iran and Iranian-backed militias. Just a year ago, the U.S. poured more than 20,000 additional troops into the Middle East to counter escalating tensions with Iran that peaked with the missile attack on American forces in Iraq in early 2020. The Nimitz’s lengthy deployment was largely due to decisions to keep it in the Middle East last year and this year to serve as a deterrent to Iran. Sailors late last year were just starting to head home, after being held in the Gulf region for an extended time. But in early December, as the U.S. pulled troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq, then-acting defence chief Christopher Miller announced that they would be staying in the region -- forcing the ship to turn around and head back to the Gulf. On Dec. 31, Miller announced the ship was finally going to head home. It's now off California. President Joe Biden has announced plans for a Pentagon review of national security strategy on China as part of his push to recalibrate the U.S. approach with Beijing. Biden’s call for a new task force to review strategy comes as the new administration shows growing recognition of the challenges that the U.S. faces from China’s modernized and more assertive military. The review will weigh U.S. intelligence, troops levels in the region, defence alliances with China and more. Speaking to reporters travelling with him on the Nimitz, Austin said that as directed by Biden, he is doing a detailed review of how the U.S. forces are positioned around the globe to ensure resources are focused on national security priorities. His visit to the ship came on Austin's first travel as defence secretary. He spent two days on the West Coast, largely visiting military vaccination centres in San Diego and Los Angeles. But as he spoke to sailors on the ship, he acknowledged their sacrifices in being away from families for so long. Recalling his 18-month deployments to Iraq as a commander, the retired Army general said, “I understand the stress that that can place on families. “Any potential adversary out there in this ocean or any other ocean, has to know when they look at what you’ve accomplished, that the United States takes very seriously our security commitments around the world,” Austin said. He added, however, “I don’t want deployments like this one to be the norm, and so we need to take a hard look at that, but you handled it very very well.” Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press
The Canadian Elite Basketball League is pushing back the start of its 2021 season in the hopes of having fans attend games in person. The league announced a reduced 14-game season on Wednesday, with the start date pushed back from mid-May to June 5. A standard CEBL season is 20 games, but the league said it can't go beyond a late-August playoff finish because most of its players must report to their international pro teams by September. The season will kick off with a rematch of the 2020 championship game between the defending champion Edmonton Stingers and the Fraser Valley Bandits, as well as a match in Hamilton between the Honey Badgers and the Ottawa Blackjacks. The other teams in the league are the Saskatchewan Rattlers, Guelph Nighthawks and Niagara River Lions. Each team will play seven home and seven road games during a nine-week period. The CEBL played its second season in a bubble environment in St. Catharines, Ont., last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the first professional sports league to resume play in Canada after the global pandemic shut down sports around the world in March 2020. "Prioritizing the health and safety of our fans, players, staff, and officials is where we began in creating our league schedule for 2021," Mike Morreale, commissioner and chief executive officer of the CEBL, said in a release. "We recognize that attending live events in a safe manner plays a critical role in revitalizing our communities as they begin to emerge from COVID-19 as 2021 unfolds." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
If there is a universal language, one method of communicating emotion, culture, heritage and welcoming, it’s the language of food. At Sudbury.com, we’re always looking for ways to share the stories of the community of Greater Sudbury and the many smaller communities that make up the fabric of this city. What better way, then through your stomach. Welcome to the first edition of Communities Eat. It’s a chance to meet wonderful members of this community and to enjoy some great food – maybe even learn a little something new. This edition features Tibila Sandiwidi, who is a school settlement worker in Sudbury. Originally from Burkina Faso, Sandiwidi arrived in Sudbury almost 20 years ago. He is an excellent cook, even though he is largely self-taught. In his home country, men must be invited into the kitchen, as it is not only the domain of women, but every grain of rice is accounted for and when there isn’t much to go around, a little unpermitted snack can mean one less meal. He is cooking a common meal from his homeland, one that would be cooked for celebrations and events, when family would come together to dine. Called Riz Gras, it translates as Fat Rice, but only because it requires slightly more oil than you might expect. Sandiwidi’s home country of Burkina Faso, in West Africa, did not always go by that name. For many years it bore the name of the colonizers who named the Volta River that flows through the area, then naming their colonies based on the proximity to the river’s flow. In 1960, it gained independence from France, but remained as Haute or ‘Upper’ Volta. Later, the impoverished country weighed down by government corruption needed a fresh start. Landlocked and poor, as well as irrevocably changed by colonialism, the president of the country from 1983 to 1987, Thomas Sankara, decided it needed to be renamed, and a name that was chosen by its people, the communities that lived there. It became known as Burkina Faso, which means ‘Land of Incorruptible People’ or ‘The People of Integrity.’ When Sankara spoke to the United Nations for the first time as leader, he said, “I am here to bring you fraternal greetings from a country that covers 274,000 square kilometers, and whose seven million children, women and men refuse henceforth to die from ignorance, hunger and thirst. These are people who, despite a quarter century of existence as a sovereign state represented here at the UN, are still not able to really live.” We hope you enjoy this taste of Burkina Faso and a little more information about The People of Integrity. Thanks to the Centre de santé communautaire du Grand Sudbury for allowing Sudbury.com to film in their kitchen. You can watch the video here or click the Play button to watch the video below. For the puree: For the main Preparation Instructions: Add onion, green onion, garlic, parsley, ginger, and peppers to the blender or food processor. If using blender, add oil to help the mixture blend. Blend until ingredients are fully combined. Add half of this mixture to large bowl, set aside the rest to add to recipe later. Toss cubed meat, fish or poultry in the bowl with half of the puree mixture. Set aside while you prepare other ingredients. In large pot, add enough oil to coat one inch on bottom of pot Fry leftover puree mixture in oil, 1-2 minutes. Add medium can of tomato paste, stir to fully combine. Add cubed meat and its puree mix, scraping all juice and puree into pot. Add water to the pot until the meat is just covered. (Some would sear meat before add liquid, but Sandiwidi prefers that the meat simmer without searing, “to let the flavours go in and the juices come into the pot.”) Simmer until meat is nearing your desired level of tenderness (longer = more tender) Add vegetables, in this case Okra, Manioc, eggplant, cabbage and carrots. Add Manioc and carrots first to allow a few extra minutes of cook time, and then add the remaining vegetables. (Any vegetables you have on hand can be used, as long as they are added in order of their cooking time, longest to shortest, to allow even cooking of all.) Add bouillon cube, any extra salt you feel is needed after the bouillon, pepper to taste, and 2 Bay leaves. (remove Bay before serving.) Simmer until the meat is cooked and vegetables are fork tender, or to your preference Remove the meat and vegetables to another bowl, tent with aluminum foil to keep warm while rice cooks. To the liquid remaining in pan, add your desired amount of rice. 2 cups is common for 2-4 portions. Add water “Until the liquid amount sits 1-1.4 inches about the level of rice in the pot” Simmer until rice is cooked, checking to ensure doneness and level of water remaining. When the rice is almost done, put your fork underneath the rice to the bottom of the pot, lifting the rice and allowing the liquid to move underneath, covering the bottom and keep the rice from sticking. Serve the rice alongside the cooked meat and vegetables. Jenny Lamothe, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Sudbury.com
The Strathmore town hall solar project is proceeding, dependent on grant funding and after the establishment of a reserve to meet the eventual costs of decommissioning. During its regular meeting on Feb. 17, Strathmore town council voted to approve a proposal to construct a solar power array on the rooftop of the new Strathmore Municipal Building. The 73.5-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system will be installed by SkyFire Energy Inc. at an estimated cost of about $120,000. However, the decision was made dependent on the receipt of a grant from the Alberta Municipal Solar Program that, if received, will limit the town’s cost of the project to less than $70,000. The estimated program funding will be a $36,000 rebate ($0.75 per watt) plus a first-time applicant bonus of about $18,000 ($0.25 per watt). The cost will be sourced from unspent funds allocated to the town hall. The decision comes after proposals for rooftop solar for the building have come to council before, with different project details and suppliers. Council voted to approve a solar panel array for the building on May 20, 2020, but this decision was deferred on Sept. 2, due to uncertainty of grant funding for the project. But then on Oct. 21, town council directed administration to again pursue the concept of installing solar panels on the building’s roof. Given SkyFire’s new proposal and the availability of the grant funding, council decided the financials for the project now work. The project is projected to provide the town about $4,500 per year in savings, while reducing the building’s dependence on the electrical grid by about 55 per cent. The panels will require about $1,000 per year of maintenance, however. Administration returned with this new proposal on Feb. 3, but council wanted answers to several inquiries before deciding, so the proposal was postponed to the following meeting, on Feb. 17. One of the questions during the Feb. 3 meeting, raised by Councillor Tari Cockx, was whether the solar panel project would affect the view of residents of Lambert Village, located across Second Avenue from the new municipal building. But as the top (third) floor at Lambert Village is below the roof level of the municipal building, residents there will not be able to see the panels or see any reflection from them, explained Ethan Wilson, the town’s infrastructure manager, during the Feb, 17 meeting. The panels are static, being arranged at an optimum angle for Strathmore, meaning there will be no noise as in some other systems. There will be rooftop access to the solar panels, so the array can be maintained throughout the year, including the clearing of snow, as necessary. No changes are needed to the current roof layout to install the panels, said Wilson. Another issue brought up during the Feb. 3 meeting, by Councillor Jason Montgomery, was the cost of recycling the panels at the end of their estimated 30-year lifespan. SkyFire will provide a full three-year warranty, alongside manufacturer and product warranties ranging between 10 and 25 years in duration. There are currently options to recycle the panel materials, said Wilson. But the panels would still need to be removed from the building and disassembled at the end of their lifetime. However, there is indication the programs available now will be improved in 30 years, with the Alberta Recycling Management Authority starting a two-year pilot program for electronics recycling, including solar panels, he said. But in response to this uncertainty, Montgomery requested the establishment of a reserve fund to pay for the ultimate removal and disposal of the solar array at the end of its lifetime. “Something that’s been very important to me is just that whenever we embark on a new project or new idea, that we are looking down the road of what our future obligations are,” he said. As part of the motion to approve the project, town council directed the creation of a restricted reserve fund for end-of-life disposal of the solar array, to which $1,500 will be allocated yearly. The motion to approve the project then passed unanimously. Proceeding with the project is an achievement 10 years after the town hired a consulting firm to produce a report, called the Strathmore Community Sustainability Plan, identifying ways the town could be more sustainable, recounted Councillor Bob Sobol, during the Feb. 17 meeting. One of the recommendations was to establish a sustainability committee. “They believe, as do I, that it is time for the town to take more aggressive steps regarding dealing with solar energy,” he said. Other benefits of the project include reducing the building’s electrical bill, thereby insuring against rising power prices, it being an environmentally friendly project, and providing leadership in sustainability, said Sobol. “I support this project, which I see as a pilot, and encourage council to support our municipality’s first journey into clean, sustainable energy.” Sean Feagan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times