Tony Bennett is going public with his four-year battle with Alzheimer's disease. The 94-year-old singer revealed his diagnosis in a lengthy article in AARP magazine on Monday.
Tony Bennett is going public with his four-year battle with Alzheimer's disease. The 94-year-old singer revealed his diagnosis in a lengthy article in AARP magazine on Monday.
Most provinces, including British Columbia, announced this week they expect every adult will receive a first COVID-19 vaccine dose by June or July. The move came after a recommendation by the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) to delay a second dose for four months, following evidence of high levels of protection from one dose. All provinces have adopted the recommendation, potentially accelerating Canada's vaccination timeline by two months. But where does that leave kids? Close to one million people in B.C. are 19 or younger, and they make up nearly one-fifth of the province's population. Here's what you need to know about where they fall in the vaccination plan. Can kids get vaccinated? Not yet. Health Canada has approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people aged 16 and older, while the Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are approved for those 18 and up. Health Canada's chief medical adviser, Supriya Sharma, has said there's not enough data from the initial clinical trials to know how the vaccines affect kids. So far, B.C.'s immunization plan is focused on residents 18 and older. B.C.'s health ministry said it will administer Pfizer vaccines to teens between the ages of 16 and 17 who are severely clinically vulnerable, and whose care provider has determined vaccination is the best course of action. Do kids need to be immunized? Dr. Manish Sadarangani, a pediatric infectious disease specialist and director of the Vaccine Evaluation Centre at B.C. Children's Hospital, said it's not yet not clear whether all kids need to get vaccinated. He is currently leading research that is testing children across B.C. for COVID-19 antibodies to understand asymptomatic infections and better estimate the true infection rate among younger people. Experts will also have a clearer picture once most adults are vaccinated, Sadarangani said. At that point, health officials can look at the number of cases among kids, whether severe cases are showing up and whether kids are a source of ongoing community transmission. Researchers are testing children across B.C. for COVID-19 antibodies to understand asymptomatic infections and better estimate the true infection rate among younger people.(Ben Nelms/CBC) Fiona Brinkman, a professor in the molecular biology and biochemistry department at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, said children should "definitely" be vaccinated. "Getting COVID is much worse in terms of potential for long-term side effects than getting the vaccine," said Brinkman, who is also working on Canada's variant containment efforts through the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network. When will kids receive a vaccine? The four pharmaceutical companies are at all different stages of testing the vaccines on kids. It's unclear when exactly those vaccines could be approved for kids. Sharma said Friday that data from teenagers will come first, followed by kids under 12. "Potentially, by the end of the calendar year, we might have some answers for children." Clinical trials are underway to determine vaccine effectiveness on children.(Evan Mitsui/CBC) Sadarangani said the first clinical trial data from older kids is expected to come by the end of August. If the Health Canada approves the vaccines on kids, NACI will then recommend how to best deploy the doses, he said. Sadarangani said rolling out the vaccine as part of school immunizations will be far more efficient than immunizing adults, noting the system is "better set up" to vaccinate kids. Is achieving 'herd immunity' possible without vaccinating kids? Some experts have suggested that achieving "herd immunity" — the point at which the virus can no longer spread in the community because enough people have either been infected or vaccinated — may not be feasible without vaccinating kids. Brinkman said it's a reasonable concern, but the degree of protection to society from vaccines make them a powerful tool, even before they're available to children. "We have vaccines that have incredible efficacy. In fact, they're astounding," she said. "When you have vaccines that work that well, you don't actually have to vaccinate as many people in the population to have it be effective." A nurse administers a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination in Vancouver on March 4. B.C. says it expects every adult to receive a first vaccine dose by July.(Ben Nelms/CBC) Anna Blakney, an assistant professor at University of British Columbia's school of biomedical engineering, said herd immunity is often thought of as a percentage of a population that must be protected to ensure safety for all. But it's actually a more dynamic concept, she said, especially since it's unknown how long immunity from COVID-19 will last. "With herd immunity, you don't just reach that level and then it's there forever," she said. "People can lose their immunity over time, so most likely what's going to happen is that it will be a combination of natural infections and the vaccine that get us to that kind of steady state of herd immunity." Are there safety concerns for kids? Blakney, who also runs a popular TikTok account that educates viewers about COVID-19, said she's received many questions about the safety of the vaccine in children. She said clinical trials are generally designed with less vulnerable populations in mind — those between the age of 18 and 55. (Because COVID-19 disproportionately affects the elderly, older people were included in vaccine trials.) Once a vaccine is found to be safe in those populations, they're expanded out to children and pregnant women. "It's routine for children and babies to get vaccines. That's when you get the most vaccines in your life. They're just waiting for that safety to be proven," Blakney said. "We want to first test it in the less vulnerable population in case there are any side effects. That doesn't mean we expect there to be — that's just how it's evolved over time." Sadarangani explained that the dose may be adjusted to ensure the best protection possible for children. "Some vaccines do need a bit more because they need a bit more to stimulate their immune systems than adults do. And some vaccines, they need a bit less," he said. "This is one of the reasons in the trial for going down through the age groups, starting with the older kids that are likely to be most like adults." What about parents who are hesitant to vaccinate their kids? In a UBC study last fall, about 43 per cent of 2,500 families across Canada surveyed said they would accept less rigorous testing and expedited approval of a vaccine for their kids. Blakney said she finds some degree of vaccine hesitancy normal, especially because people are not accustomed to the speed with which the vaccine was developed. A B.C. COVID-19 vaccination immunization record card. Sadarangani says school immunizations will be far more time efficient than immunizing adults.(Ben Nelms/CBC) But she said the vaccine research involved an unprecedented level of funding and effort from scientists, doctors, and governments alike. "We have lots of safety data on this because not only were they trialled in tens of thousands of people, but now they've been implemented to millions of people," she said. "So we have a pretty good idea of the safety profile of them thus far, which is what gives us that extra confidence to go into other populations. These vaccines are incredibly safe in the data we have so far." What can parents do in the meantime? Brinkman said, for now, parents can ensure that their children's other vaccinations and booster shots are up to date, while also following public health orders until restrictions can safely be lifted. "That will help protect them and give their system the best chance against other diseases," she said, adding some people may have fallen behind schedule on immunizations while B.C. has been partially shut down. "It's very important at this stage that we keep the numbers of cases as low as we can because we really need to reduce the chance of the viral variant spreading."
WASHINGTON — With President Joe Biden on the verge of his first big legislative victory, a key moderate Democrat said Sunday he's open to changing Senate rules that could allow for more party-line votes to push through other parts of the White House’s agenda such as voting rights. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin stressed that he wants to keep the procedural hurdle known as the filibuster, saying major legislation should always have significant input from the minority party. But he noted there are other ways to change the rules that now effectively require 60 votes for most legislation. One example: the “talking filibuster,” which that requires senators to slow a bill by holding the floor, but then grants an “up or down” simple majority vote if they give up. “The filibuster should be painful, it really should be painful and we’ve made it more comfortable over the years,” Manchin said. “Maybe it has to be more painful.” “If you want to make it a little bit more painful, make him stand there and talk,” Manchin added. “I’m willing to look at any way we can, but I’m not willing to take away the involvement of the minority.” Democrats are beginning to look to their next legislative priorities after an early signature win for Biden on Saturday, with the Senate approving a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan on a party-line 50-49 vote. Final passage is expected Tuesday in the House if leaders can hold the support of progressives frustrated that the Senate narrowed unemployment benefits and stripped out an increase to the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Over the weekend, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, representing around 100 House liberals, called the Senate’s weakening of some provisions “bad policy and bad politics." But Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., also characterized the changes as “relatively minor concessions” and emphasized the bill retained its “core bold, progressive elements.” Biden says he would sign the measure immediately if the House passed it. The legislation would allow many Americans to receive $1,400 in direct checks from the government this month. “Lessons learned: If we have unity, we can do big things,” a jubilant Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told The Associated Press in an interview after Saturday's vote. Still, the Democrats’ approach required a last-minute call from Biden to Manchin to secure his vote after he raised late resistance to the breadth of unemployment benefits. That immediately raised questions about the path ahead in a partisan environment where few, if any, Republicans are expected to back planks of the president’s agenda. Democrats used a fast-track budget process known as reconciliation to approve Biden’s top priority without Republican support, a strategy that succeeded despite the reservations of some moderates. But work in the coming months on other issues such as voting rights and immigration could prove more difficult. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., pledged that Senate Republicans would block passage of a sweeping House-passed bill on voting rights. The measure, known as HR 1, would restrict partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, strike down hurdles to voting and bring transparency to the campaign finance system. It would serve as a counterweight to voting rights restrictions advancing in Republican-controlled statehouses across the country in the wake of Donald Trump’s repeated false claims about a “stolen” election. “Not one Republican is going to vote for HR 1 because it’s a federal takeover of elections, it sets up a system where there is no real voter security or verification,” Graham said. “It is a liberal wish list in terms of how you vote.” When asked about the voting rights bill, Manchin on Sunday left the door open to supporting some kind of a workaround, suggesting he could support “reconciliation” if he was satisfied that Republicans had the ability to provide input. But it was unclear how that would work as voting rights are not budget-related and would not qualify for the reconciliation process. “I’m not going to go there until my Republican friends have the ability to have their say also,” Manchin said. On Sunday, the anti-filibuster advocacy group “Fix Our Senate” praised Manchin’s comments as a viable way to get past “pure partisan obstruction" in the Senate. “Sen. Manchin just saw Senate Republicans unanimously oppose a wildly popular and desperately-needed COVID relief bill that only passed because it couldn’t be filibustered, so it’s encouraging to hear him express openness to reforms to ensure that voting rights and other critical bills can’t be blocked by a purely obstructionist minority,” the group said in a statement. Manchin spoke on NBC's “Meet the Press,” “Fox News Sunday,” CNN's “State of the Union” and ABC's “This Week,” and Graham appeared on Fox News Channel's “Sunday Morning Futures." ___ Associated Press writers Alan Fram and Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report. Hope Yen, The Associated Press
TEHRAN, Iran — A British-Iranian woman held in an Iranian prison for five years on widely refuted spying charges ended her sentence on Sunday, her lawyer said, although she faces a new trial and cannot yet return home to London. The twists and turns of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe's years-long case have sparked international outrage and strained already fraught diplomatic ties between Britain and Iran. Although Zaghari-Ratcliffe completed her full sentence and was allowed to remove her ankle monitor and leave house arrest, her future remains uncertain amid a long-running debt dispute between Britain and Iran and rising regional tensions. “It feels to me like they have made one blockage just as they have removed another, and we very clearly remain in the middle of this government game of chess,” her husband Richard Ratcliffe said. Iranian state-run media reported that she has been summoned to court on March 14 over murky new charges, including “spreading propaganda," which were first announced last fall. Her trial was then indefinitely postponed, stirring hopes for her return home when her sentence ended. Authorities released her on furlough last March due to surging coronavirus pandemic, and she has remained in detention at her parent's home in Tehran since. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, 43, was sentenced to five years in jail after being convicted of plotting to overthrow Iran’s government, a charge that she, her supporters and rights groups vigorously deny. She was taken into custody at the airport with her toddler daughter after visiting family on holiday in the capital of Tehran in 2016. At the time, she was working for Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the news agency. The United Nations has described her arrest as arbitrary, and reported that her treatment, including stints in solitary confinement and deprivation of medical care, could amount to torture. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the removal of Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s ankle tag but called for her to be allowed to return home. “Her continued confinement remains totally unacceptable,” he said on Twitter. “She must be released permanently so she can return to her family in the UK, and we continue to do all we can to achieve this.” The latest setback in Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case comes as Britain and Iran negotiate a spat over a debt of some 400 million pounds ($530 million) owed to Iran by London, a payment the late Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi made for Chieftain tanks that were never delivered. The shah abandoned the throne in 1979 and the Islamic Revolution installed the clerically overseen system that endures today. Ratcliffe, who for years has campaigned vocally for his wife’s release, has said that Iran was holding Zaghari-Ratcliffe as “collateral” in the dispute. Authorities in London and Tehran deny that Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s case is linked to the repayment deal. But a prisoner exchange that freed four American citizens in 2016 saw the U.S. pay a similar sum to Iran the same day of their release. Her case has also played out against rising tensions over Iran's tattered atomic deal with world powers. Since former U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal in 2018, Iran has been accelerating its breaches of the pact by enriching more uranium than allowed, among other actions. Tehran is seeking to press the other signatories to the deal, including Britain, to help offset the economic devastation wrought by American sanctions. As for Zaghari-Ratcliffe, exactly what will happen next weekend in court remains uncertain. Her family and supporters fear the worst. "We don’t know how to interpret being summoned ... Is it that they’re just going to finish off all the paperwork and release her and give her passport back? Or Is it that they are going to whack her with that second sentence?” her sister-in-law Rebecca Ratcliffe told U.K’s Sky News. The uncertainty means “there are a few more sleepless nights ahead of us," she added. In what the U.N. has criticized as an “emerging pattern,” Iran frequently has arrested dual citizens in recent years, often using their cases as bargaining chips for money or influence in negotiations with the West, something Tehran denies. Several other dual nationals, including at least one other British citizen and three Americans, remain in prison. Iran refuses to recognize dual nationality, so detainees like Zaghari-Ratcliffe cannot receive consular assistance. Meanwhile, with her ankle tag off for the first time, Zaghari-Ratcliffe spent the afternoon visiting her grandmother and the family of one of the other British-Iranians held in prison, her husband said. “It's a mixed day for us," Ratcliffe added. "She is having a nice afternoon, has turned her phone off and is not thinking about the rest of it.” ___ Associated Press writer Kelvin Chan contributed from London. DeBre reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Amir Vahdat And Isabel Debre, The Associated Press
A 27-year-old Halifax man is facing a charge of assaulting a Moncton, N.B., police officer after resisting arrest and attempting to flee in a stolen cruiser. New Brunswick RCMP say the charge stems from a Saturday night incident at a convenience store. Officers were called to a shop on Killam Drive in Moncton around 5 p.m. AT after a report of a disturbance, according to a news release. After arriving, police spotted a man and a woman walking nearby. Both were believed to be involved in the incident. Codiac Regional RCMP attempted to arrest him. Police say the Halifax resident resisted and managed to get inside the police cruiser. He attempted to flee, but hit a second police car that had just arrived. No one was seriously injured. The man then fled on foot, but was arrested nearby, said RCMP. The accused is in custody and will appear in provincial court for a bail hearing on March 13. RCMP continue to investigate.
The Democratic leader of New York’s Senate called for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign Sunday amid mounting allegations of sexual harassment and undercounting COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins added her voice to a growing number of Cuomo’s foes and allies who believe the three-term Democrat should step down. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, also a Democrat, stopped short of echoing Stewart-Cousins but said in a statement that “it is time for the Governor to seriously consider whether he can effectively meet the needs of the people of New York.” On Saturday, another woman who worked for Cuomo publicly accused him of inappropriate behaviour, on the heels of other allegations in recent weeks. “Every day there is another account that is drawing away from the business of government,” Stewart-Cousins said in a statement. “New York is still in the midst of this pandemic and is still facing the societal, health and economic impacts of it. We need to govern without daily distraction. For the good of the state Governor Cuomo must resign.” Her push for his resignation came shortly after a Sunday press conference where Cuomo said it would be “anti-democratic” for him to step down. “They don’t override the people's will, they don’t get to override elections," Cuomo said during a conference call with reporters when asked about members of his own party calling for him to step down. "I was elected by the people of New York state. I wasn’t elected by politicians.” Cuomo said the next six months will determine how successfully New York emerges from the coronavirus pandemic. “I’m not going to be distracted because there is too much to do for the people,” he said, noting that the state must pass a budget within three weeks and administer 15 million more COVID-19 vaccines. Asked about Ana Liss, who told The Wall Street Journal in a story published Saturday that when she worked as a policy aide to the governor between 2013 and 2015, Cuomo called her “sweetheart,” kissed her hand and asked personal questions including whether she had a boyfriend, Cuomo said such talk was “my way of doing friendly banter.” He acknowledged that societal norms have evolved and noted: "I never meant to make anyone feel any uncomfortable.” Liss told the Journal she initially thought of Cuomo’s behaviour as harmless and never made a formal complaint about it, but it increasingly bothered her and she felt it was patronizing. “It’s not appropriate, really, in any setting,” she said. “I wish that he took me seriously.” Cuomo’s workplace conduct has been under intense scrutiny in recent days as several women have publicly told of feeling sexually harassed, or at least made to feel demeaned and uncomfortable by him. The state's attorney general is investigating. Former adviser Lindsey Boylan, 36, said he made inappropriate comments on her appearance, once kissed her on the lips at the end of a meeting and suggested a game of strip poker as they sat with other aides on a jet flight. Another former aide, 25-year-old Charlotte Bennett, said Cuomo asked if she ever had sex with older men and made other comments she interpreted as gauging her interest in an affair. Another woman, who did not work for the state, described Cuomo putting his hands on her face and asking if he could kiss her after they met at a wedding. In a news conference last week, Cuomo denied ever touching anyone inappropriately, but apologized for behaving in a way that he now realized had upset people. He said he’d made jokes and asked personal questions in an attempt to be playful and frequently greeted people with hugs and kisses, as his father, Mario Cuomo, had done when he was governor. Karen Matthews And David Porter, The Associated Press
Three deaths related to COVID-19 reported Saturday All three deaths were reported in the Saskatoon zone and were in the 80 plus age group, 70 to 79 age group and 50 to 59 age group. There were 163 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the province on Sunday. The North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, reported 20 new cases. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 38 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 38 active cases and North Central 3 has 20 active cases. Three cases with pending residence information were added to North Central.Two cases were found to be out-of-province residents and were removed from the counts. There are currently 142 people in hospital overall in the province. Of the 120 reported as receiving in patient care there are eight in North Central. Of the 22 people reported as being in intensive care there are two in North Central. The current seven-day average 155, or 12.7 cases per 100,000 population. Of the 29,593 reported COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan, 1,613 are considered active. The recovered number now sits at 27,584 after 52 more recoveries were reported. The total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic is 29,593 of those 7,539 cases are from the North area (3,065 North West, 3,309 North Central and 1,165 North East). There were 3,577 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered yesterday in Saskatchewan bringing the total number of vaccines administered in the province to 90,456. There were 967 doses administered in the North Central reported, the most of any zone reporting. Doses were also administered in the Central East, North West, South East, Saskatoon and Regina. There were 2,744 COVID-19 tests processed in Saskatchewan on March 5. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Just one week after Alberta reported its first case of COVID-19 on March 5, 2020, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi took to the podium to announce the city would invoke its municipal emergency plan. "This is going to get worse. There will certainly be more cases, and we will certainly have serious cases," Nenshi said at the time. One year later, Calgary has seen more than 500 deaths from COVID-19. Nenshi said at the time the first presumptive case was announced, he was in India with a local delegation to seek out economic opportunities. "We had a press conference [when I got back], and I was asked, 'What do you think about this virus?'" Nenshi said. "And I said, 'You know what, we probably shouldn't be shaking hands anymore.'" Soon after, the NBA and NHL sports leagues cancelled their seasons, and city staff were sent home and told that they should be prepared to work from home. "And we signed our second-ever state of [local] emergency," Nenshi said. "That [all] happened in five days." WATCH | Calgary officials look back on the past year as the city responded to the COVID-19 pandemic: Sue Henry, the head of the Calgary Emergency Management Agency, said the city's preparations for a pandemic paid off — but it remains a disaster like none ever faced in the city. "It's the only event that we've had as CEMA that truly affects every single person," Henry said. "So it's affecting everyone in Calgary, it's affecting everyone in the world." "But it's also affecting all of our staff members and all of our team members on a personal level." Nenshi said he was proud of Calgarians for the work they have done over the past year to keep each other safe, and of city staff — such as bus drivers, police officers and firefighters — who provided essential services throughout the pandemic. "We didn't miss a beat. The city continued to operate incredibly well through the whole thing," Nenshi said. "We never cancelled a council meeting — other cities just stopped for a month or two. "So I'm just really, really proud of how Calgarians have responded." Public opinion polls According to a phone survey conducted by Leger from Jan. 14 to 24 via random digit dialling of 500 Calgarians, 74 per cent of residents are satisfied with the city's COVID-19 response. That's down 10 per cent from last spring. Nenshi says public support for most policies remains high — especially for the mask mandate, which retains more than 90 per cent support. "Where we saw people softening in their support was mostly people who said, 'You're not going far enough or you're not enforcing enough,'" Nenshi said. "As COVID fatigue has set in over the last couple of months, we have seen a little bit of slipping in those numbers. "But the vast majority of Calgarians are saying: stay disciplined." WATCH | Calgarians weigh in on what they're looking forward to once the pandemic ends: Henry said she knows COVID has been polarizing on a number of different fronts for Calgarians, but added that the job of those at the city is to make sure public safety is front and centre. "So even though a decision is polarizing, if it's the right decision to make in the interest in public safety, we have to make that," she said. "And we know that most of the Calgarians are behind the decisions that we're making, and are willing to do what we need to do." Though vaccine supplies are on the way, Nenshi said he was asking Calgarians to keep following advice to limit the spread of COVID-19. "I really want to highlight that you don't want to be the soldier injured in the last week of the war," he said. "Discipline is critical." Nenshi added that Calgary's economic recovery from the pandemic may be slow, so he's hoping all governments remain focused on job creation.
TORONTO — Three major health care worker unions are launching a campaign to press the Ontario government for increased wages and better access to personal protective equipment. The unions say the campaign will launch on Monday in workplaces across the province ahead of the Ontario budget, which is expected to be delivered later this month. They say they are asking the government to raise the wages of personal support workers in all health care settings to $25 an hour as the pandemic continues. They also say the province has a stockpile of 12.4 million pieces of personal protective equipment such as N95 masks, but say staff still struggle to access what they need in some long-term care homes. The unions are calling on the province to ensure employers distribute the protective gear to staff as needed. The call for action is being led by members of Unifor, Service Employees International Union - Healthcare, and the Canadian Union of Public Employees. Meanwhile, Ontario reported 1,299 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, along with 15 more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott said there were 329 new cases in Toronto, 192 in Peel Region, and 116 in York Region. Sunday's data is based on 46,586 completed tests. The province also reported administering 30,192 doses of COVID-19 vaccine on Saturday, for a total of 890,604 doses handed out so far. There have been 308,296 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Ontario since the pandemic began, including 290,840 classified as resolved and 7,067 that have resulted in death. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2021. The Canadian Press
“A book,” author Neil Gaiman may or may not have said, “is a dream you hold in your hand.” And right now, in an era of pandemic and polarization, Americans have — and need — a lot of dreams. We dream of unfettered travel, of a world free of face masks and hand sanitizer, of days that are exciting and new and not the grinding tedium of spending hour after hour staring, horrified, at the TV news. We dream of going back to school. Of eating a meal with family. Of hugs. And some of us — well, some of us dream of murder. Small-town murder. Gentle murder. Quiet murder. For those who find their dreams in books, there’s a group of readers who are hungrily consuming a particular style of narrative to escape from the past year's reality: “cozy” mysteries. In an unfathomably complex year, a gently told tale of murder and mayhem whittles the sharp edges of reality to a manageable, smooth surface. “Murder is definitely dark, but in a cozy the reader is with the protagonist every step of the way as each clue is revealed,” says Michelle Vega, executive editor of Berkley, who works with several cozy authors. “You can enjoy the perfect cup of tea and pretend you’re sitting in that comfy bookshop with the protagonist, smiling along with the banter as she and friends figure out whodunit. It is escapist perfection.” In television form, the cozy can be seen in popular shows such as “Murder, She Wrote,” “Midsomer Murders” and “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.” Cozies claim roots in early 20th-century British mysteries by such writers as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers. But with the advent of the e-book, authors are setting their gentle crime scenes in RV campgrounds in the American South, tourist towns in the Pacific northwest and in neighbourhoods in Brooklyn, to name a few. The genre’s parameters are few: no swearing, no sex, and little to no gore. Just what the pandemic-era doctor ordered. “The cozy mystery is a familiar way to encounter the two seemingly unreconcilable realities of death and country peace at the same time,” says Sarah Allison, an associate professor of English at Loyola New Orleans who is working on a book about “escape reading.” “The restoration of order at the end of the novel might be less significant than the way this genre makes beautiful scenery and grisly details feel like they go together naturally,” she said in an email. Such mysteries, she says, promise a messy murder and a tidy resolution, “a welcome contrast to the way we’ve all been suspended between life as it was before COVID and life as it will be after.” Kelly Vaiman, a longtime cozy fan, has tried to avoid thinking about real life this past year. First she was wary of going places due to the pandemic, then her elderly mother’s health declined while in a Pennsylvania nursing home. Vaiman couldn’t travel to say goodbye, and her mother died. “After her passing, during the mourning period, I just couldn’t handle the grief,” Vaiman says. “So I’d pick up a cozy mystery to take my mind off everything.” She estimates that she reads 120 books a year. They're not all all cozies, but those are what she turns to when she needs a comforting read. Valerie Burns writes gentle murder mysteries under the pen name of V.M. Burns, and her “Mystery Bookshop” series is now six stories long. Since the pandemic began in early 2020, she’s noticed more readers are taking the time to email her about her work, seeking that human connection that’s sorely missing. Burns, who lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is an avid cozy reader as well as a writer of them. She acknowledges the unusual nature of cozies — that they revolve around a murder yet are also soothing to read. But, she adds, trying to solve a mystery gives a feeling of accomplishment when so much of life seems stalled. “It’s basically a puzzle, but there’s that safety net in knowing there’s not going to be a whole lot of blood and guts and violence,” she says, laughing. “It’s contradictory. A murder mystery with no violence. But I can pick up a cozy, and can figure out clues and try to figure out whodunit but I don’t have to live in all of the horror associated with true crime or a noir.” Esi Sogah, a senior editor at Kensington Books, says she’s seen an uptick in cozy mystery sales in the past year. She believes that the genre’s settings — often picturesque small towns, quirky villages, or unique neighbourhoods — allow homebound readers to travel in their minds. “Sitting in cafes, going book clubs. Browsing in a bookstore in fictional world,” she says. “All the stuff you can’t do right now.” Unlike big blockbuster stories that revolve around one near-superhuman character (who is usually a man), cozy series cultivate an amateur sleuth (usually a woman) and a cast of quirky secondary characters. Readers become attached to the entire ensemble, says author Bree Baker, and consider them old friends. That's why readers love series that stretch to multiple books. “I think we all need a place to belong, at the core of everything. We need to have our people,” Baker says. And at a time when we can’t see our own people in real life, fictional stand-ins will have to do. Solving a murder in one’s mind, dreaming of the day when we can languidly enjoy a coffee and conversation with friends, knowing that what’s right will prevail in the end — those are the reasons people turn to cozies. And, not coincidentally, they overlap with the ways people are coping at this moment in history. “We have enough horror in our day to day lives,” Burns says. “Right now, that’s all I want to do is escape. Escape into a world where justice prevails.” ___ Former Associated Press journalist Tamara Lush, who worked for the AP from 2008 to 2021, is the author, under the pseudonym Tara Lush, of “Grounds for Murder (A Coffee Lover's Mystery)” (2020), a cozy mystery published by Crooked Lane Books. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/TamaraLush Tamara Lush, The Associated Press
Two more people have died from COVID-19 in Saskatchewan, including someone under the age of 19. The person in the 19-and-under age group who died was from the North West zone. The other person who died was in their 40s and from the Far North West zone. The deaths bring the total reported since the pandemic began to 398. This is the first time a death has been recorded for the 19-and-under age group. The province reported 116 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday in the following zones: Far north west: six. Far north central: one. Far north east: three. North west: six. North central: eight. Saskatoon: 19. Central west: two. Central east: eight. Regina: 50. South east: two. South central: five. South east: six. One case with pending residence information was assigned to the Regina zone. The seven-day average of daily new cases is now 152, or 12.4 cases per 100,000 people. As of Sunday, there were 1,518 cases of COVID-19 considered active in Saskatchewan. Another 209 recoveries were reported, bringing the total number of recoveries to 27,794 as of Sunday. Another 1,428 vaccine doses have been administered in Saskatchewan, the Sunday update said, bringing the province's total number of vaccines administered to 91,884. The government update said a Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine shipment is expected on Tuesday to Saskatoon and Regina, with 3,510 does to each city, and on Wednesday to North Battleford (4,680 doses), Yorkton (1,170 doses) and Prince Albert (1,170 doses). There are 136 people in the hospital due to COVID-19, including 22 in intensive care. There were 2,263 COVID-19 tests processed on Saturday. (CBC News Graphics) CBC Saskatchewan wants to hear how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted you. Share your story with our online questionnaire.
French billionaire Olivier Dassault was killed on Sunday in a helicopter crash, a police source said, with President Emmanuel Macron paying tribute to the 69-year old conservative politician. Dassault was the eldest son of late French billionaire industrialist Serge Dassault, whose namesake Dassault Aviation, builds the Rafale war planes and owns Le Figaro newspaper.
A semi-trailer caught fire Sunday morning on Highway 1 near Scott Lake Hill, around 50 kilometres west of Calgary. Shortly after 9 a.m., Cochrane RCMP responded with fire services from Springbank to the report of the ablaze vehicle in the westbound lanes of Highway 1, just west of Highway 68, according to an RCMP news release. The driver of the semi-trailer was hauling frozen foods. Police say he was able to stop and get out of the vehicle. No injuries were reported. Rocky View County's fire department said the fire was put out at 10 a.m. and that the driver stayed on scene. The cause is still unknown. RCMP says westbound traffic on the highway is delayed and advises motorists to take an alternate route.
The White House on Sunday urged computer network operators to take further steps to gauge whether their systems were targeted amid a hack of Microsoft Corp's Outlook email program, saying a recent software patch still left serious vulnerabilities. "This is an active threat still developing and we urge network operators to take it very seriously," a White House official said, adding that top U.S. security officials were working to decide what next steps to take following the breach. The White House official, in a statement, said the administration was making "a whole of government response."
OBERSTDORF, Germany — Canadians Antoine Cyr and Russell Kennedy posted top-30 finishes in the 50-kilometre classic ski mass event Sunday at the world nordic championships.Cyr, of Gatineau, Que., finished 27th in the race, one spot ahead of Kenned of Canmore, Alta."For sure I wanted more (Sunday) but I made a few tactical mistakes that cost me a lot of energy," said Kennedy, who appeared ready for the world event before suffering an ear infection. "I'm stoked with how well I recovered and was able to perform."And it was fun to watch Antoine have a really good race and make some really good moves out there."Cyr, 22, completed the eight laps in two hours 15 minutes 31.2 seconds. He was the third-fastest athlete under the age of 23 in the field of 57."I haven’t done much racing at the World Cup level and I don’t have a lot of mass start experience," Cyr said. "Mass starts are chaos here in Europe."It is nothing like we race at Canada and I learned so much."Kennedy, 30, finished in 2:15:45.6. Remi Drolet, 20, of Rossland B.C., was 31st in 2:17:05.7 while Philippe Boucher, of Levis, Que., did not finish.This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 7, 2021. The Canadian Press
Canada's chief public health officer is expressing hope for the future as the world prepares to mark the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 crisis. The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic last March 11, and Dr. Theresa Tam says it's been a difficult 12 months marked by hardship and sacrifice. But she says it's been "a good week" for Canada's vaccination program thanks to the recent approvals of the Johnson & Johnson and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines. Tam says the addition of the two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster and help ease the worries surrounding supply disruptions or setbacks. The anniversary comes as all provinces are expanding their mass vaccination programs and some are loosening restrictions aimed at limiting the spread of the virus. A stay-at-home order in Ontario's Toronto, Peel and North Bay regions will lift on Monday, while five Quebec regions will be downgraded from red to orange on the province's colour-coded regional alert system. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March. 7, 2021 The Canadian Press
"His brutal death is a great loss," said French President Emmanuel Macron.View on euronews
A recent survey revealed most British Columbians want to end heckling during Question Period, and if the first week of the 2021 legislative session was any indication, the Speaker is no fan either. The session began with two days of restrained civility, led by Interim Opposition Leader Shirley Bond and Premier John Horgan as they parried through each day’s Question Period openers. The wheels flew off the bus on day three, Mar. 3, when heckling, desk banging, and insults throughout Question Period caused Speaker Raj Chouhan to issue a rare admonishment to MLAs in the Chamber afterwards. “Members, you may think that making a big noise is a good way of doing Question Period. The Chair doesn't appreciate it,” he said. Chouhan, the NDP MLA for Burnaby-Edmonds since 2005, was appointed Speaker last December after serving as Deputy Speaker since 2017. “I heard the words competence, incompetence, incompetent, numerous times,” Chouhan said. “So?!” fired back a member of the Liberal caucus. “So, the point is… let's be temperate in our language in our debate, because the public is watching,” Chouhan said. “Opposition members have every right to ask questions. I understand their passion and all that, but be careful. Be careful.” His comments followed a 32-minute long Question Period in which ‘incompetent’ or its derivative was used in every question asked by a Liberal Opposition member and in one response by a government minister, for an average of once every two minutes. Ravi Kahlon, minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation, was in the hot seat for much of the week about his ministry’s handling of COVID-19 relief funding for small and medium-sized businesses which, at that point, had disbursed $50 million of the total budgeted $300 million. By the time the last questioner, Liberal House Leader and Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Peter Milobar, unleashed a string of insults and the Premier forcefully responded, the Chamber reverberated with shouts of support and heckling on both sides of the aisle. A far cry from the previous day’s Question Period, which Horgan had hailed for its “respectful dialogue” and wrapped up with a team-building, all-party unity message about how progress could be made on the opioid crisis if every MLA took responsibility and worked together. According to recent survey results, most British Columbian want their legislators to work together, and heckling, a long-held acceptable partisan behaviour in the political theatre known as Question Period, no longer enjoys popular public support. “Desk banging, heckling, a majority of people say, we don't want to see this happening,” said Mario Canseco, president of Research Co., a Canadian public opinion polling and research company. “The appetite’s not there.” Research Co recently polled 800 British Columbians for their opinion on heckling, desk banging, reform of parliamentary decorum, and several other recommendations made by former Speaker Darryl Plecas in his final report to the B.C. Legislative Assembly entitled, Speaker’s Forum on the Role of Members: Actioning Proposals for Change. Aimed at legislative reform, the Plecas report made dozens of recommendations including the formation of an all-party committee to consider how to discipline unacceptable behaviour in the Chamber and whether to eliminate heckling, desk banging, clapping and interruptions during Question Period. “Improving decorum during proceedings of the Legislative Assembly has been a hallmark of my tenure as Speaker,” wrote Plecas in his December 2020 report. In the Research Co survey, 57 per cent of British Columbians thought an all-party committee to examine parliamentary decorum was a good idea. Of the BC Green supporters who responded, 57 per cent were in favour, while 62 per cent of NDP voters and 66 per cent of Liberals were supportive. “Ultimately, this is about figuring out a way to discuss policies that is not going to be drowned by clapping or heckling,” said Canseco. It’s unclear whether the government would consider these reforms, but change could begin with the Speaker establishing rules with the house leaders, said Canseco, likening it to when a judge speaks privately with the defence and prosecution lawyers to curb courtroom overacting. “Where the Speaker discusses this with the house leaders pre-emptively and says, ‘This is the way it's going to go from now on, so please advise your sides,’” Canseco said. “But it's definitely something that people want,” said Canseco. “People want to see some sort of decorum back in the legislature.” Fran@thegoatnews.ca / @FranYanor Fran Yanor, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Rocky Mountain Goat
WASHINGTON — The board that oversees the U.S. Capitol Police is beginning a search for a permanent police chief, a person familiar with the matter said, as the fallout from the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol continues. Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman has faced scrutiny from Capitol Hill leaders and congressional committees over law enforcement failures that allowed thousands of rioters to overtake police officers during the insurrection. The search for the permanent leader of the force, which has more than 2,300 sworn officers and civilian employees, will be nationwide, and while Pittman can apply for the position, she is not guaranteed it, according to the person, who had direct knowledge of the search. This person was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies are trying to determine the best way to secure the Capitol over the long term. Officials last week quibbled over requesting National Guard reinforcements to remain in the District of Columbia and whether to remove the massive fence that has encircled the Capitol grounds since January. The Capitol Police Board, which includes the House and Senate sergeant at arms and the Architect of the Capitol, is charged with oversight of the police force. ___ Merchant reported from Houston. Michael Balsamo, Nomaan Merchant And Colleen Long, The Associated Press
A little grant money has helped take the chill out of winter in several Calgary communities. Parks Foundation Calgary launched the Embrace the Outdoors Grant last year but quickly ran out of capital as the grant was snapped up by enthusiastic groups. Now, the foundation can offer the grant again. Each group can apply for up to $4,500 as long as they meet all the criteria and can create an experience for citizens that adheres to Alberta's COVID-19 health and safety guidelines. Projects must be carried out before the end of April. For the first round, there were approximately nine projects, and the foundation hopes with this second offering they can fund 15 additional ideas. "Winter is long and people spend a lot of time indoors," said Sheila Taylor, the foundation's CEO. "Coming out of this past summer … outdoor spaces became more important to people's physical health and mental health, and there was a strong desire to find ways to help people continue to go outside." One of the first projects made hay with the grant — literally. Larry Leach with the Phoenix Education Foundation School said they quickly agreed that a hay maze would be a fun way to get kids outside. It's quickly become a favourite activity for students and has even created some fun conversations online. Leach said on Twitter someone asked him how many passes it would take through the maze to make 10,000 steps. He immediately had to try it out. The Phoenix Education Foundation School created a hay maze with the help from a grant from Parks Foundation Calgary.(Helen Pike/CBC) With the extra funds, Leach said they will create a music wall that can become a permanent fixture outside of the school. "This music wall will be something that's permanent and will be, you know, used forevermore," Leach said. Taylor said this was a theme — many communities fit their applications within the winter mandate, but chose to come up with projects they can continue to use. "If a community purchased dozens of sets of snowshoes, they'll be able to continue to use that next winter, too," she said. While the doors to Fort Calgary remain closed at this time, an outdoor storytelling exhibit takes walkers back through time with help from a grant from Parks Foundation Calgary.(Helen Pike/CBC) Fort Calgary may be closed, but outside its doors, there's a storytelling exhibit taking walkers through time. Dating way back, before the fort walls went up — told through the Indigenous storytellers and their connection to the confluence. Those passing by can scan a QR code to listen to audio stories. "Going into this project we just really wanted to find out the real significance of this site," said Troy Patenaude, director of cultural development at Fort Calgary. "In that regard, the staff at Fort Calgary are very much learning alongside the public." At the fort, they've worked to deepen relationships with Indigenous groups. Patenaude added while the outdoor grant helped get this project started, it's something Fort Calgary plans to build off of to include more stories and voices. After adopting a rink in Bridgeland, lead volunteer Keith Hlewka said the funding helped bring the 9A Street N.W. rink to life. Now, it's a fixture — with public art, games, seating and fire pits, it's a space the community is now going to that didn't exist last year. "We get notes all the time and comments from people that they never would have made it through winter without this," Hlewka said. The group was even able to buy yarn for residents in nearby seniors homes who, in turn, adorned the trees with colourful creations. The seniors are now renting a bus to drive by and see their work. "It's really, really interesting how it's sort of taken on a life of its own and never really anticipated," Hlewka said. The group was able to make it happen in partnership with the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society. While the grant isn't a permanent fixture, Taylor said it's made an impact. The foundation hopes to bring it back. "What does it take to create habits and people?" she said. "Or to inspire people to change how they're doing things? I hope that if a family got in the habit of going outside and enjoying winter in a different way, that would be something that could continue as well."
Trois-Rivières – À l'aube de la Journée internationale des droits des femmes, les combats demeurent légion afin de faire en sorte que «l'égalité concrète» soit atteinte, selon la directrice de la Table de concertation du mouvement des femmes de la Mauricie. Joanne Blais estime que l'autonomie économique de celles-ci, comme l'accès égalitaire à l'emploi ou le travail à temps partiel figurent encore et toujours sur la pile de travail à accomplir. Sans parler de l'impact de la pandémie sur les femmes. Déjà fortement touchées avant que la COVID-19 ne surgissent dans leurs vies, les femmes doivent, depuis plus d'un an, composer avec ce nouvel ennemi. «Certaines femmes n'ont pu retourner sur le marché du travail et sont plus dépendantes de leur conjoint parce qu'elles ont perdu leur emploi», souligne Joanne Blais. La situation est encore plus préoccupante lorsqu'il s'agit de femmes issues de l'immigration. «Ces femmes vivaient déjà d'autres questions par rapport à leurs origines. C'est la même chose pour celles qui sont réfugiées ou monoparentales.» Cette insécurité, elle ne se fait pas seulement ressentir sur le plan économique, mais aussi sur le plan physique. «Il y a encore beaucoup de travail à faire pour vivre dans un monde sans violence faites aux femmes, pour qu'elles n'aient pas peur de marcher dans la rue, de prendre le transport en commun, qu'elles n'aient pas à vivre de violence conjugale ou de comportements inappropriés au travail. Bref, pour qu'elles puissent vivre dans un monde qui est plus paisible», insiste-t-elle. Pour Mme Blais, chaque 8 mars est une occasion de rappeler les gestes qui restent à poser pour les droits des femmes. «Il y a l'autonomie économique, les femmes gagnent encore moins que les hommes; l'accès égalitaire à l'emploi, certaines femmes sont discriminées en raison de leur sexe; le travail, elles sont souvent à temps partiel; elles se retrouvent souvent dans des conditions difficiles parce qu'elles travaillent dans le domaine des soins ou des services», énumère la directrice. Ces «soins ou services» peuvent comprendre les hôtels par exemple, la restauration etc. «On n'a pas encore atteint l'égalité concrète, dans les faits», rappelle-t-elle. Joanne Blais souligne également que la situation délicate dans laquelle se retrouvent les soins de santé et de services sociaux avait été rapportée plusieurs années en avance par des groupes de femmes, sans pourtant être prise en considération. «Ça fait des années qu'elles dénoncent la situation», observe-t-elle, soulignant au passage que la thématique de l'édition 2021 de la Journée internationale des droits des femmes est «Écoutons les femmes». Marc-André Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Nouvelliste