This dog is determined to catch snow from a snowblower in Amherstburg, Ontario
This dog is determined to catch snow from a snowblower in Amherstburg, Ontario
COVID-19 infections in Canadian health-care workers have tripled since the summer, according to new data released Thursday from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI). But while cases among health-care workers continue to rise, the spike is happening more slowly than infections among the general population, the CIHI says. Data shows 44,078 COVID cases reported among Canada's health-care workers from July 23, 2020 to Jan. 15, 2021, bringing the total number to 65,920 since the pandemic began. The rise of cases throughout the Canadian population has been more rapid, however. COVID among heath-care workers made up 9.5 per cent of all total Canadian cases from August 2020 to January 2021, down from 19.4 per cent from the start of the pandemic to July 2020. The CIHI says almost all provinces saw an increase in COVID-19 infections in health-care workers with Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C., experiencing larger percentage increases compared with the other provinces and territories. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — The exclusion of The Weeknd's “Blinding Lights" at the 2021 Grammy Awards shocked many, but he's in good company: Prince's “When Doves Cry" never scored a nomination either. Here's a look at every Billboard No. 1 hit of the year since 1958, Grammy-nominated or not. NOTE: Songs with an asterisk represent tracks that earned a Grammy nomination; songs with two asterisks won a Grammy. ______ 2020: The Weeknd, “Blinding Lights” 2019: Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus, “Old Town Road” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2018: Drake, “God’s Plan” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2017: Ed Sheeran, “Shape of You” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2016: Justin Bieber, “Love Yourself” (asterisk) 2015: Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars, “Uptown Funk” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2014: Pharrell Williams, “Happy” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2013: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz, “Thrift Shop” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2012: Gotye featuring Kimbra, “Somebody That I Used to Know” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2011: Adele, “Rolling In the Deep” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2010: Kesha, “Tik Tok” 2009: Black Eyed Peas, “Boom Boom Pow” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2008: Flo Rida featuring T-Pain, “Get Low” (asterisk) 2007: Beyoncé, “Irreplaceable” (asterisk) 2006: Daniel Powter, “Bad Day” (asterisk) 2005: Mariah Carey, “We Belong Together” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2004: Usher featuring Lil Jon and Ludacris, “Yeah!” (asterisk)(asterisk) 2003: 50 Cent, “In Da Club” (asterisk) 2002: Nickelback, “How You Remind Me” (asterisk) 2001: Lifehouse, “Hanging by a Moment” 2000: Faith Hill, “Breathe” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1999: Cher, “Believe” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1998: Next, “Too Close” 1997: Elton John “Candle In the Wind 1997” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1996: Los del Río, “Macarena (Bayside Boys Mix)” 1995: Coolio, “Gangsta’s Paradise” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1994: Ace of Base, “The Sign” (asterisk) 1993: Whitney Houston, “I Will Always Love You”(asterisk)(asterisk) 1992: Boyz II Men, “End of the Road” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1991: Bryan Adams, “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1990: Wilson Phillips, “Hold On” (asterisk) 1989: Chicago, “Look Away” 1988: George Michael, “Faith” 1987: The Bangles, “Walk Like an Egyptian” 1986: Dionne Warwick & Friends, “That’s What Friends Are For” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1985: Wham!, “Careless Whisper” 1984: Prince, “When Doves Cry” 1983: The Police, “Every Breath You Take” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1982: Olivia Newton-John, “Physical” (asterisk) 1981: Kim Carnes, “Bette Davis Eyes” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1980: Blondie, “Call Me” (asterisk) 1979: The Knack, “My Sharona” (asterisk) 1978: Andy Gibb, “Shadow Dancing” 1977: Rod Stewart, “Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright)” 1976: Wings, “Silly Love Songs” 1975: Captain & Tennille, “Love Will Keep Us Together” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1974: Barbra Streisand, “The Way We Were” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1973: Tony Orlando and Dawn, “Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Ole Oak Tree” (asterisk) 1972: Roberta Flack, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1971: Three Dog Night, “Joy to the World” (asterisk) 1970: Simon & Garfunkel, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1969: The Archies, “Sugar, Sugar” 1968: The Beatles, “Hey Jude” (asterisk) 1967: Lulu, “To Sir with Love” 1966: SSgt. Barry Sadler, “Ballad of the Green Berets” 1965: Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs, “Wooly Bully” (asterisk) 1964: The Beatles, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (asterisk) 1963: Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs, “Sugar Shack” 1962: Acker Bilk, “Stranger on the Shore” (asterisk) 1961: Bobby Lewis, “Tossin’ and Turnin’” 1960: Percy Faith, “Theme from A Summer Place” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1959: Johnny Horton, “The Battle of New Orleans” (asterisk)(asterisk) 1958: Domenico Modugno, “Nel Blu Dipinto di Blu (Volare)” (asterisk)(asterisk) Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
Former U.S. interim coach Dave Sarachan has been hired as coach of Puerto Rico's soccer team. The 66-year-old Sarachan will lead Puerto Rico in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, the Puerto Rican Football Federation said Wednesday. Puerto Rico, which competes separately from the United States, is in Group F of the pandemic-delayed first round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region. It opens March 24 at St. Kitts and Nevis, then hosts Trinidad and Tobago four days later. The group also includes Bahamas and Guyana, and the group winner opens the final round at home against the U.S. in September. Sarachan was Bruce Arena's top assistant with the U.S. team from 1999-2002 and again in 2017. He took over as interim coach when Arena quit following the October 2017 loss at Trinidad that prevented the Americans from qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. Sarachan was interim head coach through 2018 and led the U.S. to three wins, five losses and four ties in 12 exhibitions. He transitioned to a younger roster, giving debuts to 22 players, a group that included Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Josh Sargent, Antonee Robinson, Tim Weah, Reggie Cannon and Aaron Long. Sarachan was coach of the Chicago Fire from 2003-07 and was Arena's assistant at the LA Galaxy from 2008-16. “The playoffs for a World Cup are incredibly special to me,” Sarachan said in a statement. “So, with Puerto Rico, the challenge right now is to move this group in a positive direction and that excites me." ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
JUNEAU, Alaska — The Alaska Marine Highway System is working to finalize the sale of its fast ferries to an overseas bidder, officials said. Mediterranean-based catamaran operator Trasmapi SA offered about $4.6 million for the M/V Fairweather and M/V Chenega ferries, CoastAlaska reported Wednesday. The offer was less than half the $10 million reserve price set by the state. Bids were opened Jan. 13, and a state procurement officer at the time said a lower price could still be negotiated. John Falvey, general manager of the state-run ferry system, told the Senate Transportation Committee Tuesday that the state has “a responsive bidder” and that officials were continuing to work to close the deal. Alaska commissioned the fast ferries in the mid-2000s. They were popular because they completed voyages in about half the time as conventional ships. The ferries were taken out of service in 2015 and 2019. The marine highway system cited rising fuel costs and poor performance in rough seas. The amount the state is seeking for the purchase of the ferries was not clear. The price for the 235-foot (72-meter) catamarans when they are first sold is $68 million. Trasmapi operates ferries between mainland Spain and the country's island of Ibiza. The Spanish company also offered about $411,000 for a pair of diesel engines, which cost about $3 million new. “The two swing engines which are in our warehouse and hermetically sealed containers, unused, they were also part of the sale,” Falvey said. The Associated Press
BALA — When Linda and Jack Hutton opened Bala’s Museum nearly 30 years ago, they never dreamed the year a pandemic occurred would be good for business. Bala’s Museum — with memories of Lucy Maud Montgomery is tucked away on Maple Avenue, but for a slew of new and returning customers this summer, its location is on Facebook. Adapting to a digital-friendly operation during the COVID-19 lockdown has turned a stressful year into a record-breaking one thanks to worldwide sales from a converted home office. The museum has always had a loyal following on social media, said Linda, who — stocked up on memorabilia for the museum’s gift shop — turned to the social platform to see if there might be interest in purchasing items there. On the heels of the cancellation of the biennial Lucy Maud Montgomery conference held in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, messages from fans and collectors started pouring in. “All of a sudden they have some extra money and they were really willing to support our museum because they realized what a tenuous situation we were in,” Linda said. Because the museum is such an interactive experience — visitors can dress in costume, participate in re-enactments from Anne of Green Gables and children’s games — coronavirus was a real cause for concern. As well, the Huttons are seniors and more vulnerable to the virus. With the help of their son, who taught them how to read Facebook’s analytics, Linda began posting items for sale. Buyers have appeared from as far away as Argentina, Australia, the Philippines and Poland. “They all realized how vulnerable we are since we don’t get any government money and never have,” Linda explained. “Every single sale, whether it’s just five dollars and I have to mail it, it’s another five dollars in the pot.” International connections are nothing new for the museum, it is outfitted with Japanese translation and the Huttons have welcomed more than 120,000 guests from 30 different countries over three decades. Still, the transition to e-commerce has been a “huge learning curve” said Linda, as she manages international shipping and how to gauge the growth of the business through Facebook. Jack admits he was skeptical at first, unsure at just how many bites they would get online. According to stats he compiled, the museum’s Facebook page saw a 459 per cent jump in likes during May. Before coronavirus the average post reached 400 people; it now reaches an average of 700 users. “We had the best financial return we have ever had for the month of May thanks to Linda’s idea,” he said. As for the museum, the Huttons anticipate opening by appointment only when COVID restrictions lift. There have been disappointments, including a group of women from Arkansas unable to cross the closed border. “I’m very thankful,” Linda said. “I feel very blessed and very honoured that people who have known about our museum are looking in on us every day. It is a huge help.” Kristyn Anthony reports for Muskokaregion.com through the Local Journalism Initiative, a program funded by the Canadian government. Kristyn Anthony, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet is calling for reform after news that defence chief Admiral Art McDonald is being investigated for misconduct, only weeks after military police began investigating his predecessor. Blanchet says a history of harassment accusations in the Canadian Armed Forces reveals a problem of leadership.
(Submitted by The Front Yard Flower Co. - image credit) Flower vendors are worried B.C.'s COVID-19 rules for farmers' markets could lead to greenhouses full of blooms going to waste. Farmers' markets are considered an essential service and have been allowed to continue operating throughout the pandemic. However, non-food vendors like potters, jewelry and soap makers and flower sellers are excluded from in-person sales. This rule was lifted for a time last summer before being reinstated in December. Flower farmers plan months ahead, ordering seeds and growing plants throughout the winter, said Rachel Ryall, who owns River and Sea Flowers in Ladner. "We planted the current flowers that will be blooming over the next month back in September and October, assuming things would be alright to sell them again," Ryall said. "I can't stop them from flowering. They're coming." Rose Dykstra, owner of The Front Yard Flower Co. in Richmond, says it was never clear why non-food vendors were excluded from selling in farmers' markets. She has started a petition urging non-food vendors be allowed back. She has sold her flowers at the Vancouver Farmers Market for years and says the market has maintained strict rules throughout the pandemic to keep visitors and vendors safe. Spring flowers like tulips, narcissus, ranunculus and anemones will be ready soon and she's worried about lost sales and wasted blooms — she says she's not equipped for large-scale delivery across the Lower Mainland. "I feel like maybe we've been forgotten, because we're not vegetable farmers, we're kind of a smaller segment of vendors," Dykstra said. Rose Dykstra, owner of The Front Yard Flower Co. in Richmond, says it was never clear why non-food vendors were excluded from selling in farmers' markets. She has started a petition asking that non-food vendors be allowed back. Laura Smit, executive director of Vancouver Farmers Market, says although she is grateful the province has permitted markets to continue operating, it's never been made clear why non-food vendors aren't allowed. The farmers' market has been working since December to bring back non-food vendors, and she says if the rule is not overturned, it will have a big impact on the bottom line for flower vendors in particular. "Their product is absolutely seasonal," Smit said. "It's not something that is shelf-stable and can sit around to be sold later on in August. Literally the spring time is when these flower farmers are planning for, preparing for, and they don't understand why they can't come to market and we don't either." Spring flowers like tulips, narcissus, ranunculus and anemones will be ready soon and Rose Dykstra is worried about lost sales and wasted blooms if she can't bring them to the market. In an email to CBC News, the B.C. Ministry of Health said the rule is in an effort to keep the risk of COVID-19 transmission down, and added that non-food vendors can do online sales and pick-up orders. "The reason that food vendors are allowed is that farmers' markets are essential food and agriculture service providers," a spokesperson said. "The B.C. government will continue to listen to feedback from the community and stakeholders and adjust our response to support businesses as needed." Soap also not allowed — during a pandemic It's not just flower farmers who are concerned. Shea Hogan hopes he will be able to sell his natural bar soap at farmers' markets again this spring. The owner of PoCo Soap Co. says farmers' markets used to be a big part of his business and a way to build relationships with customers. He says it's ironic that, as a non-food vendor, he can't sell soap in a pandemic. He believes buying items from an outdoor farmers' market is among the safest ways to shop. "It was frustrating because other than being arbitrary and general, we're being told to wash our hands with soap and water," Hogan said. "And as a maker and seller of soap, to not be allowed to sell soap somewhere seems ... extra weird."
(The Canadian Press - image credit) Ontario's Special Investigations Unit (SIU) says two police officers in Belleville, Ont., have been charged with assault causing bodily harm for a man's serious injuries in September. In a news release, the SIU said Belleville Police Service officers had a search warrant for a home on Coleman Street and arrested three men Sept. 22, 2020. One of the men arrested was later diagnosed with serious injuries. SIU director Joseph Martino has reasonable grounds to believe two of the officers involved broke the law, the news release said. Const. Matthew Sweet and Sgt. Kyle King are expected to appear in court March 18. The SIU is an independent agency that investigates when police are involved in a death, serious injury, shooting or allegations of sexual assault.
As the f rst ever cannabis store in Alliston, Green Grove Cannabis is very happy with the response they have received from the public since opening the doors on December 29. Managers Michael Spaziani and Catalina Duque Perez are both Alliston residents who take pride in the fact that they are local, as are all their staff, and that they are an independently owned store. The store interior was all built by local tradespeople as well. As a relatively new industry in Canada and one that is heavily regulated, getting into the cannabis business can be quite a challenge. The cannabis industry in the Province is regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and there are plenty of rules that have to be followed. “After you get your operating license, the next step is to get your retail store authorization,” Michael explained of what it takes to open a cannabis retail location. “You need to establish a lease and they come in and make sure everything is up to snuff.” There is a myriad of details that must be followed when you open a cannabis store.The retail outlet must be at least 150 metres from a school. The store must be built in such a fashion that kids can’t see into the store, and you aren’t allowed to have a traditional storefront window to display products. Green Grove has all the regulations in place to be both in compliance with the regulations and have a successful opera-tion. The store also has an extensive security system in place for both their product and for staff and customers. Rules do not allow for commercial advertising so word of mouth and social media is the way they spread the word that they are open for business. “We can’t do print advertisements, we can’t do radio or billboards or anything like that,” Michael said. “We can advertise on our social media platforms, our website and in our store, and that’s it. There’s a lot of red tape involved.” When you enter the store there is a menu of products available to choose from. The store sells around 300 different varieties of cannabis. “From a customer’s perspective you have the option of ordering ahead of time,” Michael explained. “You can pay by credit card on our website, and we set your product aside for you. Or you can just walk in our store and browse around our menu or some of the products on our shelves.” The staff have all been thoroughly trained through a government training course. “We all had to be trained,” Catalina ex-plained. “It’s similar to if you want to serve liquor in a bar – this is the equivalent. It’s a course you have to take and they teach all the rules in Ontario. They also teach you about the products you’re going to sell. It’s really in depth.” “You want to be responsible to your customers,” Michael added. The cannabis industry is a thriving enterprise in Canada with farms located across the country and more planning to open. Customers are allowed to buy 30 grams per visit – that is also the legal limit you can carry with you. After almost two months in business, both Michael and Catalina are pleased with the response they have received from customers, their business neighbors, and the town .“We’ve had no problems at all,” Michael said. “We went to the Town Hall to get their blessing and we wanted to talk to them. They seemed to be really on board and they helped us out a lot. And the community has been very receptive.” Brian Lockhart, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, New Tecumseth Times
WASHINGTON — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell sharply last week in a sign that layoffs may have eased, though applications for aid remain at a historically high level. Jobless claims declined by 111,000 from the previous week to a seasonally adjusted 730,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. It is the lowest figure since late November and the sharpest one-week decline since August. Still, before the virus erupted in the United States last March, weekly applications for unemployment benefits had never topped 700,000. The latest figures coincide with a weakened job market that has made scant progress in the past three months. Hiring averaged just 29,000 a month from November through January. Though the unemployment rate was 6.3% in January, a broader measure that includes people who have given up on their job searches is closer to 10%. All told, 19 million people were receiving unemployment aid as of Feb. 6, up from 18.3 million the previous week. About three-quarters of those recipients are receiving checks from federal benefit programs, including programs that provide jobless aid beyond the 26 weeks given by most states. Last week's drop in applications was concentrated in two states, California and Ohio, where they fell by a combined 96,000. Ohio officials had said earlier this month that a surge in new applications was driven in part by a jump in potentially fraudulent claims. That now appears to have faded. California's system operates on a biweekly bases, which can make its weekly data choppy. This month's devastating winter storms and power outages in Texas and some neighbouring states might have also disrupted the filing or processing of some claims. Applications for jobless aid fell by one-sixth in Texas to about 35,000. Yet last week's decline in applications was broad-based, with 36 states and the District of Columbia reporting fewer people seeking unemployment benefits. That suggests that employers might be cutting fewer jobs. "The drop may be signalling a turning point for labour market conditions,” said Nancy Vanden Houten, lead economist at Oxford Economics. Still, she cautioned, "the data continue to suffer from noise related to issues of backlogs and fraud. We expect a more sustainable labour market recovery to take hold closer to mid-year with broader vaccine distribution and the arrival of more fiscal support." In the meantime, economists say, widespread business shutdowns in states hit by the ice storms could cause an increase in applications for jobless aid in coming weeks. Despite the weakened job market, key sectors of the economy are showing signs of picking up as vaccinations increase and government rescue aid works its way through the economy. The Federal Reserve's ultra-low-rate policy is providing important support as well. Retail sales soared last month as many Americans spent the $600 checks that were included in a relief package enacted in December. Factory output also rose and has nearly regained its pre-pandemic levels. And sales of newly-built homes soared last month. Michelle Meyer, an economist at Bank of America, on Monday upgraded her forecast for growth this year to 6.5%, which would be the fastest since 1984. Daily coronavirus infections are down more than 70% from their peak, Meyer noted, which should lead to more states and cities relaxing business restrictions. Further economic relief is also likely, she said, as Congress considers President Joe Biden's proposal for a new aid package amounting to $1.9 trillion. The Fed has pegged its short-term interest rate near zero to encourage more borrowing and spending. Chair Jerome Powell stressed in testimony to Congress this week that the Fed plans to keep its rate ultra-low until the job market has recovered – even if inflation has begun to surpass the Fed’s 2% target level by then. That soothed the stock market, which had fallen in the past week on fears that rising interest rates and the threat of inflation might lead the Fed to raise rates too quickly and potentially derail the economy. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note has risen sharply in anticipation of more robust economic growth and is now 1.45%. At the start of the year, the 10-year yield was below 1%. In his testimony this week, Powell downplayed the inflation risk and instead underscored the economy’s struggles, including the 10 million jobs that remain lost since the pandemic erupted nearly a year ago. That’s a deeper job loss than was inflicted by the Great Recession of 2008-2009. But on Wednesday, Richard Clarida, a Fed vice chair, sounded a more optimistic note in remarks to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Clarida pointed to the distribution of vaccines and the economic relief package that the government enacted late last year as reasons for a sunnier outlook. “The prospects for the economy in 2021 and beyond,” Clarida said, “have brightened, and the downside risk to the outlook has diminished.” Even the ice storms and widespread power outages in Texas, damaging as they were to residents and businesses there, are unlikely to inflict a major blow on the overall U.S. economy, according to Oxford Economics. Oren Klachkin, lead U.S. economist at Oxford, estimates that the harsh winter weather will slightly lower growth in the January-March quarter to a still-blistering 6.8% annual rate, down from a previous estimate of 7.1%. Christopher Rugaber, The Associated Press
LONDON — Police in eastern England say they have received a long-delayed letter from an Emirati princess asking them to investigate the disappearance of her sister 20 years ago. The letter is the latest episode in the long-running family drama of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the hereditary ruler of Dubai and a horse-racing acquaintance of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II. One of his daughters, Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, made headlines last week when the BBC broadcast video diaries she said were recorded inside a Dubai villa where she claimed she was being held against her will. Sheikha Latifa was detained by commandos in 2018 after she tried to flee Dubai in a yacht. Now Sheikha Latifa’s friends have given police in Cambridgeshire a letter from the princess asking authorities to look into the abduction of her sister Shamsa, now 38, who was snatched from Cambridge on Aug. 19, 2000, and hasn’t been seen since, the BBC reported Thursday. “We can confirm officers have recently received a letter, dated February 2018, in relation to this case which will be looked at as part of the ongoing review,” Cambridgeshire police said in a statement. “In addition to this, we are also looking at the contents of the recent BBC Panorama documentary to identify whether it includes anything of significance to our case.” Police declined to release further information, saying this is a “complex and serious” case that would be “inappropriate to discuss publicly.” The BBC reported that friends of the princess turned the letter over to police on Wednesday. It was written in 2019 after Latifa had been detained, but she dated it February 2018 so that her captors wouldn’t know she had a way of communicating with the outside world, the BBC said. “All I ask of you is to please give attention on her case because it could get her her freedom,” Latifa, 35, wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by the BBC. “Your help and attention on her case could free her.” Shamsa was staying at her father’s estate in the village of Longcross, west of London, in the summer of 2000 when she tried to escape. She later disappeared from a hotel in Cambridge and was spirited back to Dubai. The cases are particularly sensitive in Britain because of economic and historic links to Dubai, a member of the United Arab Emirates that has built hotels and resorts to diversify an economy once based on exploiting large energy reserves. Sheikh Mohammed is the founder of the successful Godolphin horse-racing stable and is on friendly terms with Queen Elizabeth II. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab last week called Latifa’s videos “very distressing” but suggested there was little the government could do because she is not a U.K. national. The United Nations human rights office on Feb. 19 said it had raised concerns about Latifa’s treatment with the UAE and asked it to provide evidence that the princess was still alive. In response, the UAE’s embassy in London issued a statement saying the princess was being cared for by her family and medical professionals. The sheikh’s family life was thrust into the news in 2019, when his estranged wife, Princess Haya, fled to London and sought custody of her two children through the British courts. Last year, the judge hearing that case ruled that Sheikh Mohammed had conducted a campaign of fear and intimidation against Princess Haya and had ordered the abduction of Shamsa and Latifa. The sheikh had told the the court he was relieved at having found his “vulnerable” daughter Shamsa after she went missing. Latifa’s supporters last week urged Joe Biden to pressure Sheikh Mohammed to release her, saying the U.S. president is one of the few world leaders with the stature to win her freedom. Danica Kirka, The Associated Press
PARIS — A rare painting by Dutch impressionist master Vincent van Gogh of a street scene in the Parisian neighbourhood of Montmartre will be publicly displayed for the first time before its auction next month. Sotheby's auction house said the work, painted in 1887, has remained in the same family collection for more than 100 years — out of the public eye. It will be exhibited next month in Amsterdam, Hong Kong and Paris ahead of an auction scheduled on March 25 in the French capital. “It’s an important painting in the oeuvre of Vincent van Gogh because it dates from the period in which he’s living in Paris with his brother, Theo," Etienne Hellman, senior director of Impressionist and Modern Art at Sotheby's, told the Associated Press. Van Gogh moved to Paris in 1886 and lived in Montmartre. He left the capital in 1888 for southern France, where he lived until his death in 1890. “Before this, his paintings are much darker... In Paris he discovers colour,” Hellman said. “Colour blows up into the painting." “Street Scene in Montmartre” depicts a windmill named the Pepper Mill, seen from the street under a bright sky, with a man, a women and a little girl walking in front of wooden palisades that surrounded the place. “Paris marks this period where... the major impressionists influence his work,” Hellman said. Sotheby’s said the painting has been published in seven catalogues before but has never been exhibited. Claudia Mercier, auctioneer of Mirabaud Mercier house, said “it is also an important painting because there are very, very few of them remaining in private hands... especially from that period, most are in museums now.” Sotheby's has estimated the painting’s value between 5 and 8 million euros (between $6.1 and $9.8 million). It which did not reveal the identity of the owner. It will be on display in Amsterdam on March 1-3, Hong-King on March 9-12 and Paris on March 16-23. The Pepper Mill was destroyed during the construction of an avenue in 1911, but two similar windmills are still present today on the Montmartre hill. Sylvie Corbet And Oleg Cetinic, The Associated Press
(CBC - image credit) Six Prince Edward Islanders are being honoured by the Governor General's office for their service to others, with their names appearing Thursday on a list of 98 recipients of the Meritorious Service Decoration. They are: Carolyn Bateman said receiving the honour has been "a little surreal, nothing I ever expected that's for sure." In an interview with CBC News: Compass's Louise Martin, Bateman said when she received the email about the award she thought it was a hoax. Bateman recalled how she and teRaa both had children with autism, and started the Autism Society. As the children grew up, the women had to figure out how best to support them as adults. There's nothing like putting a mother in a corner! — Carolyn Bateman "Once they left the school system there was nothing for them to do, no place to go, no place to live if their parents were aging," Bateman said. Her son Adam was "very bright" and graduated high school, Bateman said. "We just thought he deserved more than sitting at home all day, he needed a life. And others like him needed a life too," she said. "There's nothing like putting a mother in a corner!" So they started the Stars for Life Foundation, a home for adults with autism. Adam Bateman is now 39 and enjoys volunteering and socializing, she said. Much has been learned about autism since then and with robust fundraising, the foundation continues to be a success. Bateman was also named to the Order of P.E.I. in 2016. Betty Begg-Brooks is one of six people from Prince Edward Island being honoured by the Governor General of Canada's Office for their work helping others. "Honourees announced today have undertaken a variety of inspiring initiatives to support the most vulnerable in their communities," said a news release from the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. It continues: "Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to extraordinary and unprecedented times, and many Canadians rose to the challenge to support and help others." More from CBC P.E.I.
Many people dream of their retirement day, and finally find time to pick up new hobbies or travel but for Dr. Robert Lidkea, it is the last thing on his mind. Lidkea was born in North Bay and came to Fort Frances after he graduated from university. He said he would have stayed in North Bay but there were no openings for an optometrist and he was forced to find a job elsewhere. Lidkea came to Fort Frances in 1952 to become part of the Fort Frances Clinic. At the time the clinic only had two M. D’s, a dentist, an optometrist who was looking to retire and a pharmacy. In 1952 Lidkea was the youngest practicing optometrist in Ontario and now in 2021, he is the oldest optometrist at 90. He graduated as a registered optometrist in 1952 from the College of Optometrists in Toronto and in 1957, he returned for his post graduate studies and earned his doctor of optometry. Lidkea said jokingly he continues to work because he needs the money, but in reality he said he could not stay home all day. Lidkea said he officially retired on Jan.1 and went back to work on Jan. 21. “I just enjoy doing what I’m doing, that’s all,” Lidkea said. “I’m happy to come to work.” It may only be for one day a week, but Lidkea said he always looks forward to it. Lidkea was president of the Ontario Association of Optometrists from 1975 to 1976. He was accepted as a fellow in the American Academy of Optometrists in 1983 and was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Waterloo in 1987. Lidkea said when he first began practicing, an eye exam was $3. “It’s quite a long stretch since then,” Lidkea said. “A lot of knowledge and a lot of changes, knowledge and training, everything’s changed.” Lidkea said he has been learning all his life as the training never stops. “When I graduated there was not even such a thing as calculator so it’s been a very long learning process but it’s not all at once, it’s been very gradual,” Lidkea said. He adds that is has been helpful working with his son Bruce who has been able to coach him through all the new technology. Bruce is now the primary practitioner. Lidkea has also been an active member in the community, through clubs and volunteer work. He has been a member of the Kiwanis Club of Fort Frances since he came in 1952 and has 60 years of perfect attendance. He became president of the club in 1961 and was elected Lt. Governor in 1973. He has now been the secretary for many years. Lidkea was also elected to town council for two terms and has served on many local boards. In 2004, Lidkea was honoured with the Ontario Association of Optometrists 2004 Milenium Award for Public Service. The award recognizes a member of the Ontario Association of Optometrists who has performed extraordinary public service in either a professional or non-professional capacity. In 2007, Lidkea received the Fort Frances Citizen of the Year award. Lidkea said his favourite part of the job is interacting with people in the community, adding that in some families, he has cared for five generations. “It’s been an interesting life,” Lidkea said. “My wife and I have been blessed with good health and we’re getting by quite well.” Lidkea said he gets to see his two sons quite often and has coffee with his friends every morning at 10 a.m. sharp. The secret to a long career, according to Lidkea, is being passionate about what you do. “If you’re eager to get to work in the morning, you’ve got the right job,” Lidkea said. “If you aren’t happy going to work, you got the wrong job.” Natali Trivuncic, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
YEREVAN, Armenia — Armenia's prime minister accused top military officers on Thursday of attempting a coup after they demanded he step down, adding fuel to months of protests calling for his resignation following the country's defeat in a conflict with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has faced opposition calls to step down ever since he signed a Nov. 10 peace deal that saw Azerbaijan reclaim control over large parts of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding areas that had been held by Armenian forces for more than a quarter-century. The opposition protests gathered pace this week, and the feud with his top military commanders has weakened Pashinyan's position, raising concerns about stability in the strategic South Caucasus region, where shipments of Azerbaijan’s Caspian crude oil pass through on their way to Western markets. The immediate trigger for the latest tensions was Pashinyan’s decision earlier this week to oust the first deputy chief of the military's General Staff that includes the armed forces' top officers. In response, the General Staff called for Pashinyan's resignation, but he doubled down and ordered that the chief of the General Staff be dismissed. After denouncing the military’s statement as a “coup attempt,” Pashinyan led his supporters at a rally in the capital, and he addressed them in a dramatic speech in which he said he had considered — but rejected — calls to resign. “I became the prime minister not on my own will, but because people decided so,” he shouted to the crowd of more than 20,000 people in Republic Square. “Let people demand my resignation or shoot me in the square.” He warned that the latest developments have led to an “explosive situation, which is fraught with unpredictable consequences.” In nearby Freedom Square, over 20,000 opposition supporters held a parallel rally, and some vowed to stay there until Pashinyan stepped down. Demonstrators paralyzed traffic all around Yerevan, chanting “Nikol, you traitor!” and “Nikol, resign!” There were sporadic scuffles in the streets between the sides, but the rival demonstrations led by Pashinyan and his foes later in the day went on in different parts of the capital. As the evening fell, some opposition supporters built barricades on the central avenue to step up pressure on Pashinyan. The crisis has its roots in Armenia's humiliating defeat in heavy fighting with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh that erupted in late September and lasted 44 days. A Russia-brokered agreement ended the conflict in which the Azerbaijani army routed Armenian forces — but only after more than 6,000 people died on both sides. Pashinyan has defended the peace deal as a painful but necessary move to prevent Azerbaijan from overrunning the entire Nagorno-Karabakh region, which lies within Azerbaijan but was under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by Armenia since a separatist war there ended in 1994. Despite the simmering public anger over the military defeat, Pashinyan has manoeuvred to shore up his rule and the protests died down during winter. But the opposition demonstrations resumed with new vigour this week — and then came the spat with the military brass. Pashinyan fired the deputy chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Tiran Khachatryan, earlier this week after he derided the prime minister's claim that only 10% of Russia-supplied Iskander missiles that Armenia used in the conflict exploded on impact. The General Staff responded Thursday with a statement demanding Pashinyan's resignation and warned the government against trying to use force against the opposition demonstrators. Immediately after the statement, Pashinyan dismissed the General Staff chief, Col. Gen. Onik Gasparyan. The order is subject to approval by the nation's largely ceremonial president, Armen Sarkissian, who hasn't endorsed it yet, prompting an angry outburst from Pashinyan. “If he doesn't sign my proposal to dismiss Gasparyan, does it mean that he joins the coup?” Pashinyan asked at the rally of his supporters. He urged the chief of the General Staff to resign voluntarily, adding that “I won’t let him lead the army against the people.” Facing the top military officers' demand to step down, Pashinyan relied on his defence minister, a loyal ally. The Defence Ministry warned against any attempt to draw the military into political infighting. Amid the spiraling tensions, the chief prosecutor's office denied claims it had received instructions to arrest the top military officers. The prime minister warned that authorities now will move more forcefully to disperse the opposition protests and arrest its participants. He bluntly rejected their demand for early parliamentary elections. The political crisis is being watched closely, particularly in Russia and Turkey, which have been competing for influence in the South Caucasus region. Russia, worried about its ally plunging deeper into turmoil, voiced concern about the tensions and emphasized that Armenia must sort out its problems itself. “We are calling for calm and believe that the situation should remain in the constitutional field,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. Armenia has relied on Moscow's financial and military support and hosts a Russian military base — ties that will keep the two nations closely allied regardless of the outcome of the political infighting. And even though the peace deal is widely reviled in Armenia with many calling it a betrayal, it's unlikely to be revised — no matter who is in charge — following the fighting that demonstrated Azerbaijan's overwhelming military edge. Turkey, which backed its ally Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, would relish instability that would further weaken Armenia. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said his country strongly condemns the coup attempt in Armenia and stands against all coup attempts anywhere in the world. —- Associated Press writers Vladimir Isachenkov and Daria Litvinova in Moscow and Zeynep Bilginsoy in Istanbul, Turkey, contributed. Avet Demourian, The Associated Press
The latest developments on the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada (all times eastern): 11:15 a.m. Quebec is reporting 858 new COVID-19 infections and 16 more deaths due to the novel coronavirus. Health authorities say the number of patients requiring hospitalization has declined by 22 to 633, with eight fewer patients in intensive care. The latest numbers come as the province began accepting appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations for those 85 and older. Officials also say primary school students in Quebec's red pandemic-alert zones -- which includes the greater Montreal area -- will be required to wear a mask at all times beginning March 8. --- 10:40 a.m. Ontario is reporting 1,138 new cases of COVID-19. The province is also reporting 1,094 cases have been resolved since yesterday's update and there have been 23 more deaths linked to the virus. Ontario is set to release new COVID-19 projections this afternoon. Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, co-chair of Ontario's science advisory group, is presenting the data. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
Some talents come naturally, whether that is sports, singing, helping others, or in Cher Pruys’ case, hyperrealism painting. If you have ever seen Pruys’ paintings, you are sure to have done a double take, easily mistaking it for a photograph. Cher Pruys was born in Regina and has lived in many places across Canada from Saskatoon to Ottawa, Fort Frances and now Devlin where she lives with her husband, four dogs and two cats. She is also a musician, playing both the piano and guitar, and has been teaching music for 35 years. Pruys began drawing when she was three. Over the years she has worked with pencil, charcoal and ink but it wasn’t until she was 35 that she began painting. “I just decided to pick up some paints one day and see what the difference was between them and drawing and it was just great,” Pruys said. “It just came natural and it was even nicer than drawing everything out.” Pruys started out with oil paints but she said it gave her a headache and with a tendency to lick her paint brushes to get a precise point, oil paints did not taste great either. Pruys found her chosen mediums in acrylic, water colour and gouache. Diving into the world of hyperrealism art was a gradual process for Pruys. She's dabbled in abstract art, but found that she enjoyed painting what was in front of her more. Hyperrealism is an art form that resembles high resolution photography. This art form includes sculptures and paintings that focus on detail to look like real life. Looking at Pruys’ work you would have expected her to have taken years of classes, but she is self-taught. Her work has been juried into 132 international exhibits as well as numerous non juried shows and has earned her 115 awards for her work at the International Juried Exhibits. Included in these awards, the first recipient of a major Canadian National Award, The Mary Pratt Crystal Award of Excellence at the 2014 SCA Open Juried Exhibition and The Gold Medal recipient for Figurative Painting in The Mondial Art Academia’s International 2018 Competition. Pruys has had 14 solo exhibits and her work has adorned the covers of three books, 21 magazines, and has been featured in over 84 international publications. Her works have found a permanent home in private and public collections worldwide. Hyperrealism is not for the impatient. Pruys said the least number of hours she’s spent on a painting was 60 and some can take up to 250 hours, but the end result is worth every tiny brush stroke. “I’m a stickler for detail but it’s just a whole lot of time and patience,” Pruys said. “You can’t rush it, it’s just layer on layer and also you have to be able to draw to do realism in order to the perspective and everything right.” Pruys said the process before painting can require a lot of research. “If I’m doing a portrait, even if there’s a particular photo that somebody wants me to paint, I like to have a number of photos so I can get a feeling of their personality,” Pruys said. “It goes beyond just making it look like the person, is has to capture some of the person’s personality in there.” Pruys said now that she is semi-retired, she has more time to paint and has been enjoying the process more. Pruys said she loves to paint reflections and shiny surfaces, which can be the most difficult details to paint. Pruys said she likes a challenge and what others might dread painting, she enjoys the most. Painting makes it possible to recapture the magic of a memory or a feeling, Pruys said, adding that it is her motivation and reason for being. Natali Trivuncic, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
The Township of Muskoka Lakes voted this week to stall the reopening of its community centres, electing to assess the situation in 30 days time. The Township’s municipal buildings have been closed to the public since March 17 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Municipal services are available as staff work from home, but groups like the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) chapter that meets weekly at the Milford Bay Community Centre have suffered with the loss of the physical space. “I think that this group needs to be given a priority so that they can restart their meetings,” Coun. Gordon Roberts said during the meeting, suggesting they meet in the evenings to allow time for the building to be empty and cleaned. This is health-related programming and needs to be addressed soon, he added. A staff report outlined three options for reopening the buildings that included adjusting hours of operation and rotating the use of specific locations in a phasing process. Councillors Ruth Nishikawa and Frank Jaglowitz expressed support in a model that would slowly see priority community centres opened, particularly those with early-years child care and wellness programming for seniors. “There’s an awful lot of depression going on right now,” said Coun. Nishikawa. Doug, who asked we not publish his last name due to the anonymous nature of the organization, is the co-ordinator of the 20-odd person AA group that meets weekly at the Milford Bay Community Centre. Disappointed, he understands the decision, but feels council is being too cautious. For nearly 25 years Doug — 30 years sober himself — has led the meetings at the community centre and cannot recall a time when in-person meetings were outright cancelled like they have been during the pandemic. “From an AA point of view,” he said, “online meetings just don’t cut it. AA meetings are a very personal thing.” Some of the group have continued to connect via Zoom meetings or by phone. But not everyone has the resources, he pointed out, nor does he feel virtual replacements are sufficient. There is an important social element to the meetings, he explained. “Rural-wise, we’re already isolated somewhat, so all these community centres become very focal as a meeting spot.” This has to be a no-brainer, Coun. Glenn Zavitz said during the meeting, stressing he would not vote in favour of opening any of the township’s 13 community centres. “I can’t imagine we could entertain letting people in there now,” he said. Currently, a maximum of 50 physically-distanced people adhering to hygiene requirements may gather in an indoor space, according to the provincial government. Part of the staff report determined the cost to maintain cleaning and sanitation protocols which could run as high as $9,100 weekly if all 13 community centres reopened at 50 per cent utilization. On the same day as the Aug. 12 council meeting, the provincial government announced the Safe Restart Agreement. The $695 million investment with the federal government will “address operating pressures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.” In the first round of funding, $660,000 is slated for the Township of Muskoka Lakes. Adhering to COVID-19 requirements is fine with Doug, who also welcomes moving the group to a larger room within the community centre in order to physically distance and accommodate new members. A spokesperson for Alcoholics Anonymous said there has been an influx of calls from people seeking meetings across Muskoka. Doug’s phone has also been ringing. “A newcomer in the throes of serious alcoholism, they need the one-on-one connection,” he said. “That’s something that is seriously lacking right now.” At the start of the pandemic, both alcohol sales and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings were deemed essential services. The liquor store never did close, said Doug. According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction, stress and boredom have driven a rise in alcohol consumption during the pandemic. More than 20 per cent of Canadians who drink alcohol reported an increase in consumption since the start of the pandemic. “All you have to do is go into town and look at the lineup at the beer store or the liquor store,” Doug said. “(There are) a lot of people.” Ultimately, council voted 8-2 in favour of postponing the return to community spaces, directing staff to return to council with a new report in September. STORY BEHIND THE STORY Long-term community centre closures are having an impact on the groups who use the space. Research shows those who struggle with substance issues are uniquely challenged right now because of isolation and the loss of in-person contact for support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, so we reached out to them to explore that. At the time of this writing, Kristyn Anthony was a Local Journalism Initiative reporter, funded by the Government of Canada. Kristyn Anthony, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Before COVID-19, visits to Greece's paper-strewn labour offices were a ordeal of queues and case files, often for basic matters that in less than a year have moved online as the pandemic upended old administrative routines. "Essentially overnight, two thirds of the visits were no longer necessary," said Spiros Protopsaltis, head of OAED, the Organization of Employment and Unemployment Insurance. Crammed with thousands of folders and blue OAED registration cards spilling out onto desks and floor space, the corridors of the building where he spoke still offer a daunting vision of the challenge to overhauling public services in Greece.
The authorities expect to have 70% of the population vaccinated by the end of the summerView on euronews