Nice sunset over the water by the snowy shore in Indian Harbour, Nova Scotia.
Nice sunset over the water by the snowy shore in Indian Harbour, Nova Scotia.
When the Perseverance rover successfully landed on Mars last month, it arrived with a B.C.-made tool in its figurative tool belt. The six-wheeled, plutonium-powered U.S. rover landed on the red planet on Feb. 18, with a mandate to drill down and collect tiny geological specimens that will be returned to NASA in about 2031. That drilling will be done using a drill bit tip designed and manufactured by a company based in Langford, B.C. "It has great wear and fraction resistance so it is perfect for a Mars application," said Ron Sivorat, business director for Kennametal Inc., during an interview on CBC's All Points West. The drill bit tip is made from K92-grade tungsten carbide blanks, which Sivorat said are one of the toughest grades used for drilling here on earth and he is confident it will be good enough for Mars. According to Sivorat, the company has had a relationship with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 2014, when the space agency first began ordering and testing Kennametal Inc. drill bit tips. In 2018, the company learned NASA wanted to work with it to build a bit for Perseverance. Sivorat said staff built the drill bit to NASA's specifications and then sent it to the agency who finessed it somewhat for its Mars mission. When Perseverance landed safely on the fourth planet from the sun, it was an exciting moment for Kennametal Inc. employees, many of whom watched the landing online and are continuing to check on Perservance's daily progress updates. "We know that we are going to be part of, in one way or another, an historical event that will be remembered for many years to come," said Sivorat. Sivorat said he expects the drill bit built in B.C. to start penetrating the surface of Mars in the next couple of weeks. And B.C. is not the only Canadian province with a connection to Perseverance. Canadian Photonic Labs, based in Minnedosa, Man., manufactured a high-speed and highly-durable camera that played an instrumental role in landing the rover. The Manitoba company's relationship with NASA dates back roughly 15 years, he said — but much of the work that's happened in that time has been cloaked in secrecy.
As COVID-19 vaccine supplies ramp up across the country, most provinces and territories have released details of who can expect to receive a shot in the coming weeks. Here's a list of their plans to date: Newfoundland and Labrador The province says it is in Phase 1 of its vaccine rollout. Health-care workers on the front lines of the pandemic, staff at long-term care homes, people of "advanced age" and adults in remote or isolated Indigenous communities have priority. Chief medical health officer Dr. Janice Fitzgerald has said Phase 2 will begin in April if vaccine supply remains steady. The second phase prioritizes adults over 60 years old, beginning with those over 80, as well as Indigenous adults, first responders, rotational workers and adults in marginalized populations, such as those experiencing homelessness. Adults between 16 and 59 years old will be vaccinated in the third phase of the rollout, and Fitzgerald has said she expects that to begin this summer. --- Nova Scotia Health officials began expanding access to COVID-19 vaccines on Feb. 22, opening community clinics for people aged 80 years and older. Dr. Robert Strang, chief medical officer of health, has said the province's plan is to open another 10 clinics in March for 48,000 people who will be mailed a letter informing them how to book an appointment. Strang said the vaccination program will then expand to the next age group in descending order until everyone in the province is offered the chance to be immunized. The age groups will proceed in five-year blocks. Future community clinics are to be held March 8 in Halifax, New Minas, Sydney and Truro; March 15 in Antigonish, Halifax and Yarmouth; and March 22 in Amherst, Bridgewater and Dartmouth. The province began its vaccination campaign with residents of long-term care homes, those who work directly with patients, those who are 80 and older, and those who are at risk for other reasons including First Nations and African Nova Scotian communities. Nova Scotia plans to have vaccine available to at least 75 per cent of the population by the end of September 2021. --- Prince Edward Island The province says the first phase of its vaccination drive, currently slated to last until the end of March, targets residents and staff of long-term and community care, as well as health-care workers with direct patient contact at higher risk of COVID-19 exposure. Those 80 and older, adults in Indigenous communities, and truck drivers and other rotational workers are also included. The next phase, which is scheduled to begin in April, will target those above 70 and essential workers. The province intends to make the vaccine available to everyone in late summer and fall. --- New Brunswick The province is also focusing on vaccinating those living in long-term care homes, health-care workers with direct patient contact, adults in First Nations communities and older New Brunswickers in the first phase, which lasts until at least March. The next phase is scheduled to begin in the spring and includes residents and staff of communal settings, other health-care workers including pharmacists, first responders and critical infrastructure employees. The government website says once the vaccine supply is continuous and in large enough quantities, the entire population will be offered the shots. --- Quebec Quebec started vaccinating older seniors on Monday, after a first phase that focused largely on health-care workers, remote communities and long-term care. In Montreal, mass vaccine sites including the Olympic Stadium opened their doors to the public as the province began inoculating seniors who live in the hard-hit city. The government announced last week it would begin booking appointments for those aged 85 and up across the province, but that age limit has since dropped to 70 in some regions, including Montreal. The province says the vaccination of children and pregnant women will be determined based on future studies of vaccine safety and efficacy in those populations. --- Ontario The province began vaccinating people with the highest priority, including those in long-term care, high-risk retirement home residents, certain classes of health-care workers and people who live in congregate care settings. Several regions in Ontario moved ahead Monday with their plans to vaccinate the general public, while others used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. Toronto also began vaccinating members of its police force Monday after the province identified front-line officers as a priority group. Constables and sergeants who respond to emergency calls where medical assistance may be required are now included in the ongoing first phase of Ontario's vaccine rollout, a spokeswoman for the force said. A day earlier, Toronto said the province expanded the first phase of its vaccination drive to include residents experiencing homelessness. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. --- Manitoba Manitoba is starting to vaccinate people in the general population. Appointments are now available for most people aged 94 and up, or 74 and up for First Nations people. Until now, vaccines have been directed to certain groups such as health-care workers and people in personal care homes. Health officials plan to reduce the age minimum, bit by bit, over the coming months. Dr. Joss Reimer, medical lead of the province's vaccine task force, has said inoculations could be open to all adults in the province by August if supplies are steady. --- Saskatchewan The province is still in the first phase of its vaccination rollout, which reserves doses for long-term care residents and staff, health-care workers at elevated risk of COVID-19 exposure, seniors over the age of 70 and anyone 50 or older living in a remote area. In all, nearly 400,000 doses are required to finish this stage. The next phase will be focused on vaccinating the general population by age. It hopes to begin its mass vaccination campaign by April, but there if there isn’t enough supply that could be pushed back to June. Saskatchewan will begin immunizing the general population in 10-year increments, starting with those 60 to 69. Also included in this age group will be people living in emergency shelters, individuals with intellectual disabilities in care homes and people who are medically vulnerable. Police, corrections staff and teachers are among the front-line workers not prioritized for early access to shots. The government says supply is scarce. --- Alberta Alberta is now offering vaccines to anyone born in 1946 or earlier, a group representing some 230,000 people. Appointments are being offered through an online portal and the 811 Health Link phone line. Shots are also being offered to this cohort at more than 100 pharmacies in Calgary, Red Deer and Edmonton starting in early March and the government has said there are also plans to include doctors’ offices. Health Minister Tyler Shandro has said all eligible seniors should have their first shots by the end of March. But he said Monday that the province will not give Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to anyone over the age of 65 after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization expressed concerned there is limited data on how well it will work in older populations. The first phase of the vaccine rollout also included anyone over 65 who lives in a First Nations or Metis community, various front-line health care workers, paramedics and emergency medical responders. Phase 2 of the rollout, to begin in April, is to start with those 65 and up, Indigenous people older than 50 and staff and residents of licensed supportive living seniors’ facilities not previously included. --- British Columbia British Columbia will extend the time between the first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines to four months so all adults could get their initial shot by the end of July. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says evidence from the province and around the world shows protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The province launched the second phase of its immunization campaign Monday and health authorities will begin contacting residents and staff of independent living centres, those living in seniors' supportive housing as well as homecare support clients and staff. Seniors aged 90 and up can call to make their appointment starting next Monday, followed a week later by those aged 85 and over, and a week after that by those 80 and up. Henry also says first responders and essential workers may be eligible to get vaccinated starting in April as the province also decides on a strategy for the newly authorized AstraZeneca vaccine. --- Nunavut The territory says it expects enough vaccines for 75 per cent of its population over the age of 18. After a COVID-19 vaccine is administered, patients will be tracked to ensure they are properly notified to receive their second dose. Nunavut's priority populations are being vaccinated first. They include residents of shelters, people ages 60 years and up, staff and inmates and correctional facilities, first responders and front-line health-care staff. --- Northwest Territories The Northwest Territories its priority groups — such as people over 60, front-line health workers and those living in remote communities — are being vaccinated The territory says it expects to vaccine the rest of its adult population starting this month. --- Yukon Yukon says it will receive enough vaccine to immunize 75 per cent of its adult population by the end of March. Priority for vaccinations has been given to residents and staff in long-term care homes, group homes and shelters, as well as health-care workers and personal support workers. People over the age of 80 who are not living in long-term care, and those living in rural and remote communities, including Indigenous Peoples, are also on the priority list for shots. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 2, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Massachusetts financial professional who gained notoriety as GameStop bull "Roaring Kitty" is no longer a broker registered with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, according to the organization's online records. Keith Gill, known as Roaring Kitty on YouTube and DeepF***ingValue on Reddit, is no longer a registered financial broker as of Feb. 26, the FINRA records show. Gill became a central figure in a January trading frenzy in which shares of the ailing videogame retailer surged more than 1,000% in two weeks, driven by interest among retail investors in online forums.
Forget using a bike or walking, 15-year-old Jason Riley Evon is hitting the streets of Windsor with his e-scooter. As someone with asthma, Evon says the e-scooter has given him a way of getting around without having to over-exert himself. He said it's also a good alternative mode of transportation for those who don't want to take the bus, but have to reach a destination that's far away And, they're a lot of fun, he said. "The thing I like is the thrill of riding it," Evon said. "It may not seem like much fun but when you get on it and you start like ... it's a really exhilarating and fun experience." Many other Windsorites may soon join Evon sometime this year as city council is set to revisit a 12-month e-scooter pilot project that would allow the devices to be made publicly available and used on the riverfront and select parks. Council had approved the project last February, but discussions on how it would rollout were deferred until spring 2021 due to the pandemic. E-scooters, or electric scooters, involve handlebars and a horizontal board for a rider to stand on. The speed limit for e-scooters approved by the province is 24 kilometres per hour. Evon says he's been riding his e-scooter for about a year now. E-scooter riders must be 16 or older and helmets must be worn for those younger than 18. The last day for public, private and not-for-profit sector companies to submit a bid to the city for bicycle and e-scooter sharing programs was Feb. 8. Now, Ward 9 Counc. Kieran McKenzie says the city is committed to implementing a bylaw that will allow the devices to be used on city trails, which is one of the next steps in moving forward with the program. "I think it's an important component of diversifying the transportation options that we have available to people in our community and proceeding with a pilot project to see what that interaction can be like and should look like," he said, adding that once the pilot wraps up then they can have a better idea as to how to expand the program. The use of e-scooters on the city's trails and sidewalks has been debated, with Windsor's environment, transportation and public safety standing committee having been against endorsing the use of the motorized devices where people walk. Ward 9 Counc. Kieran McKenzie says he's in full support of the e-scooter pilot, adding that council is committed to passing a bylaw this spring that outlines where scooters can be used in the city. At this time, the city says the pilot project will operate in a Phase 1 service area that includes the Riverfront Pathway to the north, Prince Road to the west, Tecumseh Road to the south and Drouillard Road to the east. The city says once a successful vendor is selected, it will allow access to certain sidewalks and other areas where the devices can be used. In total, the city says it is looking to have a maximum of 600 devices. Though the details of Windsor's pilot are still unclear, Ottawa kicked off its e-scooter pilot last summer and plans to bring it back again this year. The program was popular among users, who rode scooters that required an app on a mobile phone to unlock the devices. But, the city said it did receive 250 complaints about the scooters being allowed on sidewalks.
Donwood Park public school is temporarily shutting its doors because of a COVID-19 outbreak that include four cases of variants or concern. Erica Vella has details.
TORONTO — Some Ontario seniors braved frigid temperatures Monday to get a COVID-19 vaccine as several regions in the province moved ahead with their plans to vaccinate the general public. With the broad launch of a provincial booking portal still two weeks away, some local public health units used their own systems to allow residents aged 80 and older to schedule appointments. In York Region, where bookings opened Monday morning for shots that could be administered as early as the afternoon, dozens of seniors and their caregivers lined up outside a sports centre to get the vaccine. Some huddled together for warmth - a winter weather advisory was in effect for the region - as the line to enter the centre in Richmond Hill moved slowly. Hassan Abbas Kara was saving a place in line while his grandmother waited in a car. “I don't want her to wait in the cold, so it’s a little thing I can do right now to help her," he said. Atta Hussain, 82, said the process was "beautiful" and well organized, and expressed relief after receiving his shot. "We thank everybody who is participating," he said. York Region said its vaccination clinics were fully booked just two hours after they started taking appointments. A spokesman said approximately 20,000 appointments were made Monday across five locations in the region. Clinics were also offering shots to those 80 and older in Windsor-Essex County, and to those 85 and older at a hospital in Hamilton, where officials warned of long wait times amid high call volumes to its COVID-19 hotline. Hamilton's top doctor apologized for backlog on the phone line and asked people who don't live in the city to not call about appointments. The provincial government has said it aims to begin vaccinating Ontarians aged 80 and older starting the week of March 15, the same day it plans to launch its vaccine booking system, which will offer a service desk and online portal. It has said the vaccine rollout will look different in each of its 34 public health units. When asked about the lack of provincewide cohesion, Health Minister Christine Elliott said that public health units know their regions best and that's why they have been given responsibility to set the pace locally. "Some of them are already vaccinating the over-80-year-old people that are living within their regions," Elliott said Monday. "I think that's something that we should be celebrating not denigrating." Green party Leader Mike Schreiner said he's happy some public health units are offering shots already, but argued it could cause issues later when health units that have already started making appointments on their own systems have to switch over to the provincial one. The province also said Monday that it has asked the federal government for guidance on possibly extending the intervals between the first and second COVID-19 vaccine doses to four months. It pointed to British Columbia's decision to do so and said there's growing evidence suggesting intervals between the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccine doses can be safely extended. Monday also saw two Ontario regions - Thunder Bay and Simcoe Muskoka - return to lockdowns as a result of rising COVID-19 cases. Restrictions on businesses and gatherings were loosened in seven other health units: Niagara Region, Chatham-Kent; Middlesex-London; Southwestern; Haldimand-Norfolk; Huron Perth; and Grey Bruce. Municipal officials in Simcoe Muskoka raised concerns about pressure on small businesses and the effects of yet another lockdown on the public during a public meeting with the health unit on Monday. The region's top doctor said he's heard concerns about the strict measures from people in areas with fewer cases. Dr. Charles Gardner said he'll be in touch with the province's chief medical officer about whether a full lockdown is required for the region. In Thunder Bay, which entered a lockdown after reporting more COVID-19 cases in February than all of 2020, a local hospital reported it was expanding its COVID-19 and intensive care units to meet the needs of the community. Meanwhile, a spokesman for federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu said the Public Health Agency of Canada was reviewing a funding application for an isolation site in Thunder Bay after the city said it could no longer afford to keep it running. Ontario reported 1,023 new cases of COVID-19 and six more deaths from the virus on Monday. - With files from Cole Burston This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press
After two full weeks of virtual events and activities, Bonhomme Carnaval has come to an end and the identity of this year's mascot has been unveiled. The annual carnival wrapped up with a virtual concert and unveiling of the Bonhomme last Saturday, Feb. 27. Emma Bertrand, a dance teacher at Dansons La Ronde and Melissa Kelly Dance Academy, was this year's Bonhomme Carnaval. The carnival was held virtually this year. Centre Culturel La Ronde’s executive director Lisa Bertrand said she didn’t expect such a big turnout and she was very happy with how many people tuned in online. “I’m super happy that the community supported (us). With the window contest, teachers and the principals were so supportive and the French community as well,” she said. “When I mentioned doing a virtual carnival to the board, I didn’t think it was going to be as much work as it was but I’m very, very happy with the result.” The evening show featuring the Lapointe family and Dayv Poulin and the reveal of Bonhomme reached 6,794 people on Facebook and garnered 1,770 engagements, 189 comments and 35 shares. Bertrand said the cooking workshops, as well as the Sip and Paint workshop, were a “great hit.” For the next year’s carnival, the centre is looking into offering virtual events again. “If we have our building, it will definitely be at our Centre Culturel La Ronde. If not, I’ll do a couple of events virtually. It was different and we had a lot of participation,” Bertrand said. “It was fun because we did have people from Montreal that joined, a few people from Cochrane, Iroquois Falls.” Hosting the carnival from a technical perspective has been challenging, Bertrand said, but it was also fun getting together virtually, seeing interactions between people and receiving love and support from the community. “It was virtual but we definitely felt the love,” said Bertrand. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
La Fédération canadienne de l’entreprise indépendante (FCEI) exhorte Ottawa à communiquer les nouveaux critères de la Subvention salariale d’urgence du Canada (SSUC) et de la Subvention d’urgence du Canada pour le loyer (SUCL) avant le 14 mars, date de la prochaine période de demande. Selon cette corporation, les nouveaux critères d’admissibilité devraient être connus au moins 30 jours à l’avance pour permettre aux PME de planifier. « Les entrepreneurs font face à une tonne d’incertitudes en ce moment, notamment en raison des restrictions gouvernementales en cours, a affirmé Jasmin Guénette, vice-président des affaires nationales à la FCEI. « La subvention salariale et l’aide au loyer demeurent essentielles à la survie de beaucoup de PME. Voilà pourquoi les propriétaires ont besoin de connaître les règles rapidement afin de prendre les décisions appropriées pour leur entreprise », a-t-elle ajouté. Plus de la moitié des PME (53 %) dépendent toujours de la SSUC et 27 % bénéficient de la SUCL selon la FCEI qui a établi que seulement un quart des entreprises ont retrouvé leur rythme normal au Canada. Dans un communiqué, elle a plaidé pour le prolongement de ces deux programmes au-delà de juin étant donné qu’il est probable que certaines restrictions soient toujours en vigueur à ce moment-là et qu’une bonne partie des entreprises risquent de ne pas avoir encore retrouvé un niveau de ventes normal La fédération a également exhorté le gouvernement fédéral CEI à repousser la date limite pour les demandes du Compte d’urgence pour les entreprises canadiennes au-delà du 31 mars, mais aussi à augmenter le montant accordé par ce compte à 80 000 $ ainsi que la portion pardonnée à 50 %. De janvier à mars, le taux compensatoire maximum de la subvention salariale est de 35 % et le montant maximum de la subvention pour les employés en congé payé est de 595 $. Les entreprises, les organismes à but non lucratif ou les organismes de bienfaisance canadiens qui ont subi une baisse de revenus pendant la pandémie de COVID-19 peuvent aussi avoir droit à une subvention pour couvrir une partie de leur loyer commercial ou de leurs dépenses immobilières jusqu’au mois de juin 2021. Cette subvention doit fournir des paiements directement aux locataires et aux propriétaires de biens admissibles, sans passer par les locateurs. Godlove Kamwa, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Canada Français
MADRID — It was a tactical change that didn't last more than 15 minutes, but it was just long enough to cost Real Madrid a chance to fight for the Spanish league lead in the derby against Atlético Madrid next weekend. Coach Zinedine Zidane's attempt to push Madrid forward by switching formations midway through the game against Real Sociedad backfired on Monday, leading to a 1-1 home draw that kept the defending champions from getting within range of the city rival going into the derby at Atlético's Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Sunday. Madrid conceded after Zidane changed a 4-3-3 formation to 3-5-2 at halftime, leaving Madrid more exposed defensively. It needed an 89th-minute equalizer by Vinícius Júnior to salvage the draw. “We changed to three defenders because I didn't like how we were pressing forward, but then we changed it back quickly,” Zidane said. “Maybe it hurt us. I was trying to change the dynamic of the game.” The draw halted Madrid’s four-game winning streak in the league and left the club five points from its city rival, which has a game in hand. Madrid has the same points total as second-placed Barcelona but trails on goal difference. A win would have moved Madrid within three points of Atlético entering the derby. “We had our chances but couldn't capitalize on them and in the end we lost two points at home,” Zidane said. “We can't forget that we were up against a great rival and it played very well.” Sociedad, which had won three in a row in the league, stayed in fifth place, six points from fourth-placed Sevilla in the final Champions League place. “We leave with a bad taste in our mouth,” Sociedad forward Cristian Portu said. “We deserved more. Usually an away draw against Real Madrid is a good thing, but not with the way that the game developed.” Madrid, still without injured players such as Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos, struggled against Sociedad’s well-organized team at Alfredo Di Stéfano Stadium. Portu opened the scoring for the visitors with a header into the top corner in the 55th minute, taking advantage of some soft defending by Madrid left back Ferland Mendy. “There was some disconnection after the change to three defenders,” Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois said. “We were a bit lost and they had more space. In the end, Mendy couldn’t get to the cross in time and they scored a great goal.” Zidane said he made the tactical change because he wasn’t happy with how the team had been playing. “It was only for about 10 or 15 minutes and then I changed it back to a 4-3-3 formation and we played better,” he said. Vinícius Júnior, in his 100th match with Madrid, equalized with a shot from inside the area. Madrid forward Mariano Díaz came close by hitting the crossbar earlier in the game, and midfielder Casemiro also wasted a couple of good opportunities with second-half headers that flew wide. It was Madrid’s first draw at home in the league, adding to three losses. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — As President Joe Biden looks to dismantle the last administration’s hardline immigration agenda, he worked Monday to build a partnership with someone who found an unexpected understanding with Donald Trump: Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Biden and López Obrador met for a virtual bilateral meeting, with immigration, the coronavirus pandemic and climate issues on the agenda. Looming large was how the two leaders would get along in what has become an increasingly complicated relationship. “We haven’t been perfect neighbours to each other,” Biden acknowledged in brief remarks at the start of his video conference meeting with the Mexican president. López Obrador, for his part, told Biden that he was thankful that the new president was “willing to maintain good relations for the good of our people in North America.” The Mexican president also gave a wink to a rueful observation attributed to José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori, the Mexican general who served seven terms as the country’s president, about the two countries’ relationship: “Poor Mexico, so far from God, so close to the U.S.” “I can now say ‘It’s wonderful for Mexico to be close to God and not so far from the United States’” López Obrador said. Lopez Obrador came to the meeting with his own checklist of priorities, including pressing Biden to give pharmaceutical company Pfizer permission to sell his country vaccine produced in the United States, something that Canada has also requested from the White House. “We want to have an answer about a request we made,” Lopez Obrador told reporters at his daily news conference, hours before speaking with Biden. Ahead of the meeting, White House officials reiterated that Biden remained focused on first vaccinating U.S. citizens before turning his attention to assisting other nations. Biden, in a brief exchange with reporters at the start of the meeting, said the two leaders would be discussing vaccines. Relations with Biden will be much more complex and multi-faceted than they were with Trump. As a candidate, Trump referred to Mexicans as rapists. The Republican's signature campaign promise was building a “big, beautiful wall’ across the length of the southern border. And leaked conversations showed Trump hectoring López Obrador's predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto, against publicly saying that Mexico would never pay for a southern border wall. But López Obrador appeared to reach a one-issue understanding with Trump: Mexico stopped the flow of Central American migrants trying to reach the U.S. border, and Trump often appeared to turn a blind eye to just about every other facet in the complicated relationship. There was no shortage of issues that Trump largely overlooked or played down in exchange for Mexico slowing the flow of undocumented immigrants from the border. López Obrador, who took office in 2018, accused U.S. officials of fabricating drug trafficking charges against the country’s former defence secretary, Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos, and demanded the general's return after he was arrested in Los Angeles in October. U.S. prosecutors eventually acquiesced. Under his watch, López Obrador has attempted to consolidate the position of Mexico’s national oil company and national electric utility, and prioritized fossil fuel companies amid a global push to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Early in his term, the Mexican president pursued a counter-narcotics strategy that largely ended the pursuit of high-profile arrests and focused more on poverty alleviation. Still, Trump heaped praise on López Obrador, calling him a “friend” and “great president” in one of his final presidential speeches, an address from the border to celebrate progress made on building the wall. The effort to reset the U.S.-Mexico relationship under Biden comes as a flood of migrants have rushed to the border since his victory in November. Biden has backed a bill to give legal status and a path to citizenship to the estimated 11 million people living in the country illegally. Biden also broke with Trump by supporting efforts to allow hundreds of thousands of people who came to the U.S. illegally as young children to remain in the country. Border Patrol agents are apprehending an average of more than 200 children crossing the border without a parent per day, but nearly all 7,100 beds for immigrant children maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services are full. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Monday sought to push back against the notion that the situation at the border was spinning out of control. “The men and women of the Department of Homeland Security are working around the clock seven days a week to ensure that we do not have a crisis at the border, that we manage the challenge as acute as the challenge is, and they are not doing that alone,” Mayorkas said. Ahead of the meeting, López Obrador also floated a proposal for a Bracero-style immigrant work visa program for 600,000 to 800,000 Mexican and Central American workers annually. Asked about the Mexican president’s proposal, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that reinstituting the Bracero program would require action by Congress. The original Bracero program allowed Mexicans to work temporarily in the United States to fill labour shortages during World War II and for a couple of decades after the war. López Obrador said the U.S. economy needs Mexican workers because of “their strength, their youth.” On Monday, López Obrador added that his new proposal would be a program not only for agriculture workers but for other sectors and professionals. ___ Stevenson reported from Mexico City and Madhani from Chicago. Associated Press writers Elliot Spagat and Josh Boak contributed reporting. Mark Stevenson, Zeke Miller And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
BARRIE, Ont. — Police say they have closed Highway 400 in both directions due to a series of vehicle collisions. Ontario Provincial Police have shut down the major artery from Highway 88 outside of Bradford, Ont., to Mapleview Drive in Barrie, Ont. Whiteout conditions on the highway north of Toronto have limited visibility and made driving treacherous. Police and paramedics are on the scene, although they say no serious injuries have been reported yet. Sgt. Kerry Schmidt of the OPP estimates that dozens of vehicles have been involved in accidents on the 30-kilometre stretch of Highway 400. Schmidt says that police have begun to remove cars from the road, but they're asking commuters to avoid the area as high winds and poor visibility continue. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
SIX NATIONS OF THE GRAND RIVER, ONTARIO, CANADA — The Six Nations of the Grand River says that all students in the First Nations territory will finish this school year online. The Six Nations Council says it will reopen schools in September for in-person learning. Six Nations, a predominantly Haudenosaunee community, has the largest population of any First Nations reserve in Canada. It closed its territorial borders to non-band members in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Kathleen Manderville, director of federal schools, said in a statement last month that the decision is not a reflection on the hard work done to prepare the schools for in-person learning this spring. Manderville says that school buildings will be accessed for essential work only. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
CHARLOTTETOWN — Prince Edward Island entered a 72-hour, provincewide lockdown Monday meant to stop two clusters of COVID-19 cases from spreading, and officials reopened a financial aid program for workers affected by the new health orders. Chief medical officer Dr. Heather Morrison has said the clusters don't have a known source, which according to health experts is a possible sign of community spread. Morrison has said the clusters, which are in Charlottetown and Summerside, appear to be connected. On Monday, Morrison said a total of 6,632 COVID-19 tests were completed over the weekend, adding that health officials received 2,250 test results — all negative — from a clinic in Summerside, P.E.I., where one cluster has been identified. She said 1,600 results from the area are pending. She reported no new cases on the Island Monday. Prince Edward Island has 18 active known cases of COVID-19 and more than 190 people who were identified as close contacts of reported infections have been ordered to isolate for 14 days. Officials said the three-day lockdown will help public health officials contact trace and ramp up testing. Schools and most non-essential businesses are closed until Thursday. The new rules also require Islanders to practice physical distancing with anyone outside their immediate households. Exceptions are being made for people who live alone or require essential support. Health officials announced the lockdown order on Sunday after reporting five new COVID-19 infections, for a total of 17 cases over five days. On Saturday, officials announced so-called "circuit breaker" measures, cutting store and gym capacities in half, banning indoor dining and cancelling many sporting events. Those measures are set to be in effect until at least March 14. The CEO of the Charlottetown Chamber of Commerce says many business owners are frustrated and a bit deflated by the new health orders. "P.E.I. was doing so well and our freedoms were different than that of other parts of the country, so it's a tough blow that we find ourselves in this situation, but we recognize the need to manage the cases of COVID-19 and clusters we see in the province," Penny Walsh-McGuire said in an interview Monday. She said while some members feel the measures are overkill, moving quickly has proven effective in slowing the transmission of the virus. "We've seen the results unfortunately in other jurisdictions in our country and globally when that's not done," Walsh-McGuire said. Economic Growth Minister Matthew MacKay, said Monday the province was relaunching a program to help workers who lost income due to the new government-mandated restrictions. The aid measures include a $500 payment for people who lost their income entirely or who had their hours reduced by at least 12 hours a week between Feb. 28 and March 14. Employees who are laid off during that period will also be eligible for a $100 grocery gift card. "In the coming days we'll be rolling out a $1 million fund to help Islanders who are off sick and don't have access to paid sick leave and may experience a gap trying to access other federal supports," MacKay said. On Monday, Health PEI announced new restrictions for hospitals, allowing patients to have visits from a maximum of three separate people. Exceptions will be made for compassionate circumstances including end of life and in pediatrics, obstetrics and palliative care. Premier Dennis King said on Sunday it's better to "go harder and stronger" with protective health orders than to delay and risk the kind of outbreaks seen in other provinces. "With hard work, with time, and with your continued support we will get through this," King said in a statement. He encouraged anyone with any symptoms to stay home from work. "We don't need work heroes," he said. "We need you to be careful and do your part for your community and our province." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. — By Kevin Bissett in Fredericton. The Canadian Press
Compass, which runs an integrated software platform that serves real estate agents in the residential real estate market, has been lifted by the COVID-19 pandemic as more people prefer to buy and sell homes online. Compass was founded in 2012 by Ori Allon, a former director of engineering at Twitter Inc, and Robert Reffkin, who worked at Goldman Sachs earlier.
The Biden administration backed Democrats' efforts to overhaul voting rules and turn over the process of drawing congressional districts to independent commissions on Monday, weighing in on a political fight that is likely to dominate Washington in coming years. The United States is facing an "an unprecedented assault on our democracy, a never before seen effort to ignore, undermine, and undo the will of the people, and a newly aggressive attack on voting rights taking place right now all across the country," President Joe Biden's Office of Management and Budget said in a statement. The House of Representatives is set to vote and likely to pass a sweeping election reform bill, HR-1, as soon as this week.
TORONTO — The show must go on at the Stratford Festival, but this summer it'll be happening outdoors. Organizers say they've made tentative plans for "about a dozen" live productions held in-person at the renowned southwestern Ontario festival between late June and the end of September. The plays and cabarets will take place beneath two canopies, one at the Festival Theatre and the other at the new Tom Patterson Theatre. The idea was inspired by the original tent where the Stratford Festival first performed in the early 1950s. Under the outdoors model, the festival's organizers expect to seat up to 100 people in "socially distanced pods," double the usual number of audience members who could be seated at the indoor theatre. The full slate of plays and cabarets will be announced in the spring. The plan will keep the Stratford Festival in operation throughout this summer after COVID-19 forced the entire 2020 season to be cancelled, leading the organization to dip into its endowment and secure a line of credit to stay afloat. Stratford Festival's executive director Anita Gaffney says this summer's schedule is designed so that it can be modified to either shrink or grow in size, depending on provincial and community health guidelines. She added that it's "only through significant and thorough advance planning that we can put in place the safety measures that will be essential for any eventuality." Performances will be streamed online for those who cannot attend in-person shows. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
Abundant with meadows of colourful flowers and other pristine wildlife, a remote Salish Sea island is being returned to its rightful owners — the W̱SÁNEĆ people. The Land Conservancy of British Columbia (TLC) recently purchased SISȻENEM, a four-hectare island off the eastern side of Sidney Island, from a private owner for $1.55 million. On Friday, the charitable land trust signed an agreement with the W̱SÁNEĆ Leadership Council (WLC) to transfer title and to commit to shared management of the site, also known as Halibut Island. Those behind the agreement believe it to be the first of its kind between a land trust and an Indigenous community in Canada. Tsartlip (W̱JOȽEȽP) Chief and Chairman of the WLC board Don Tom says the transfer is historic — and a tangible way the Land Back movement has become a reality. “This is the first time W̱SÁNEĆ First Nations have been asked about land acquisition unprompted,” Tom says, speaking during a signing ceremony over Zoom. “To me it is history in the making. It’s a history that will be told.” Tom points out that the land itself was never given up by his people, who are protected by the Douglas Treaties and their inherent Aboriginal rights and title. Still, the island was owned privately for many years. When it went up for sale in 2019, TLC approached W̱SÁNEĆ leaders about returning rightful title to SISȻENEM and did most of the legwork in the transaction, Tom says. It was facilitated in part by Tara Martin, a conservation scientist with the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Forestry, who contacted TLC and sought out a major unnamed donor to fund the purchase. Martin grew up on Salt Spring Island, and remembers being curious about SISȻENEM since she was a child. “I could see from the boat that it was something special. It had not been logged, it had not been developed,” she says. “I could see with my binoculars even at a young age that there were some extraordinary wildflowers on the island.” When Martin became a scientist, she continued to think about SISȻENEM and wanted to study the wildlife there, but she says she was denied permission by the landowner at the time. When the island came up for sale and she was finally able to visit the island to do a survey last year, Martin says what greeted her was “extraordinary.” She was greeted by an abundance of important plants — there were meadows carpeted with wildflowers such as camas, barestem desert parsley, chocolate and fawn lilies, as well as plentiful shellfish, Saskatoon berries and more. The island was also rich with old-growth Douglas firs, Garry oak, pollinators, and other animals such as eagles and ducks. “These ecosystems don’t exist in very many places anymore,” Martin says. “They used to be extensive and these were the gardens of First Nations across this region.” Tom says, to him, the island’s pristine condition and diversity of wildlife feels “like going back in time.” W̱SÁNEĆ Elder SELILIYE (Belinda Claxton) says she has good memories of SISȻENEM as a place of bountiful harvesting. She recalls, when she was younger, going from island to island to gather everything from seagull eggs and boxwood to sea urchins and stick shoes (chitons) and being struck by the smell of wildflowers on SISȻENEM. “It brings back such beautiful childhood memories. It was so natural and so pleasant to be able to see that when I was a child,” she shares in a statement. “This is the sort of experience I want my children and my grandchildren to have … There are not many places like this left.” Fellow W̱SÁNEĆ Elder J’SIṈTEN (John Elliott) says that the name of the island in the SENĆOŦEN language loosely translates to “sitting out for pleasure of the weather.” “This little island we call SISȻENEM, it comes from the word SISḴ, which in our language it means, you know when you’re out enjoying the sun? That’s what that word comes from,” he says. “That’s a place where you go to enjoy the beautiful sun and be just there for the enjoyment of the beautiful weather.” TLC executive director Cathy Armstrong says now that the agreement has been signed and the land is being transferred back to W̱SÁNEĆ leaders — the council represents Tsartlip, Tseycum, and Tsawout Nations — work can begin on an eco-cultural restoration plan. TLC will work on the plan with W̱SÁNEĆ Elders and community members as well as Martin and her team at UBC. “TLC is humbly grateful for the opportunity to facilitate this ground-breaking transfer of title for the benefit of future generations,” Armstrong says. A press release about the title transfer adds that TLC will be fundraising this spring to assist efforts of restoration and monitoring. “Most importantly for W̱SÁNEĆ people today, SISȻENEM will be a place where W̱SÁNEĆ people can be in peace,” the release states. Cara McKenna, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
OTTAWA — MPs will hear from federal ministers and officials as early as this week on the safety of returning travellers after two women were allegedly sexually assaulted during mandatory COVID-19 quarantine. The House of Commons public safety committee voted to hold a hearing with the federal public safety and health ministers as well as officials from the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency and Public Health Agency of Canada. The Opposition Conservatives proposed the hearing following reports that a quarantine screening officer as well as a returning traveller had been charged in separate sexual assault cases that allegedly occurred last month. Last week the Conservatives called for 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 Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet said he doesn't necessarily believe the quarantine measures need to be suspended, but he wanted to see improvements to ensure the safety of travellers under quarantine. Liberal MP John McKay, the committee chairman, said Monday the hearing could take place this week but cautioned it would be a challenge to schedule witnesses in time. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. The Canadian Press
Nio, which makes the ES8 and ES6 electric sport-utility vehicles, said it expects to deliver 20,000 to 20,500 vehicles in the first quarter - up 15% to 18% from the fourth quarter. The forecast, however, is slower than the 42% growth it reported between the third and the fourth quarter, in line with seasonal slowing in auto sales in China overall. Last April, Nio received a $1 billion funding injection from the Chinese government, which has also helped the company tame recalls and stem falling sales.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida officials are recommending that the state's antiquated unemployment processing system be replaced after a review confirmed what had long been known: a broken system full of glitches that was incapable of handling the unprecedented deluge of jobless claims spawned by the coronavirus outbreak. The state's Department of Economic Opportunity is recommending that the current system, known as CONNECT, be discarded and replaced with a more robust and modern system that employs cloud-based technology that could allow the system to more nimbly respond to increased demands. The department, which oversees the state's unemployment system, is asking lawmakers for $73 million over the next two years to modernize the system that left hundreds of thousands of jobless Floridians without unemployment checks for weeks and sometimes months. The director of the agency, Dane Eagle, told lawmakers Monday that Florida was not alone in its struggles. “We are far behind in where we need to be,” he said. “Florida is not the only state to experience these challenges." But as the unemployment rate surged when businesses closed, Florida was among the slowest states — if not the slowest — in getting unemployment checks to those with no other income to pay mortgages, rents and other necessities. Gov. Ron DeSantis, who likened the benefits claim system to an “old jalopy” breaking down at the Daytona 500, ordered the inspector general to investigate. The Economic Opportunity Department launched a review of its own, and the results were presented Monday to the legislative select committee on pandemic preparedness and response. The report makes clear that the system was neither prepared nor responsive at a time of crisis, when some 1.3 million Floridians, at the peak of unemployment in April, tried to access benefits through online portals that continually crashed or phone systems that only added to frustrations. The long awaited inspector general’s report could be released in a matter of weeks. The inspector general’s findings are current being reviewed by economic opportunity officials. The CONNECT system prompted concern from the start. Soon after the online portal launched in October 2013, it was beset by system crashes that prevented people from claiming benefits. Despite previous audits that identified numerous glitches, many of the problems were never addressed. Those same system failures prevented people from accessing the system. Critics warned that the system was doomed to fail. “Unfortunately, as it turns out, we were absolutely correct," said Democratic state Rep. Evan Jenne, the House minority co-leader. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 3.1 million people have filed unemployment claims in Florida. The state has paid out more than $23.1 billion in benefits — less than a fourth of that from the state's reemployment assistance program. The rest of the funds came from federal pandemic relief packages, some of it earmarked to supplement meagre unemployment checks and to provide benefits to gig workers and others who were not eligible for traditional state benefits. The state's electronic portal was initially unable to process claims filed by freelancers and other independent contractors, adding to confusion, frustration and anger. The state eventually put in place a parallel electronic system to handle claims from nontraditional workers. In fact the state's electronic portal was so overwhelmed that state officials reverted to filing claims on paper forms. As part of its just-completed review, the Department of Economic Opportunity is also asking lawmakers for authority to establish an Office of Accountability and Transparency, but it was unclear in a presentation submitted to the pandemic committee exactly what its role would be. In addition, it wants to create a Reemployment Assistance Modernization Strategic Planning Office to oversee the modernization effort. The new money requested by the Economic Opportunity Department adds to the $39 million COVID-19-related outlays in its current year budget. The $73 billion being requested for the next two years would nearly double the department’s budget during the same time period. A more modest $8 million is also being requested to supplement the department's typical annual budget of $41.3 million in the three years after. Before the pandemic, the Reemployment Assistance System budget was about $12 million annually. Meanwhile, the state’s Unemployment Benefit Trust Fund has been dramatically depleted. Its balance is now just $777 million -- less than a fifth of the $4 billion it had before the pandemic. Bobby Caina Calvan, The Associated Press