Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden held their first bilateral talks on Tuesday, committing to work together on climate change and building the economy back up after the pandemic.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden held their first bilateral talks on Tuesday, committing to work together on climate change and building the economy back up after the pandemic.
(Leah Mills/Jennifer Gauthier/Reuters - image credit) Donald Trump's actions will take centre stage in a Vancouver courtroom this week as Meng Wanzhou's lawyers try to prove the former U.S. president poisoned extradition proceedings against the Huawei executive. The case should be tossed out because of alleged political interference, Meng's lawyers are expected to argue at the first of three sets of B.C. Supreme Court hearings scheduled to stretch into mid-May. A decision on the extradition request isn't expected until much later this year. The 49-year-old, who is Huawei's chief financial officer, is charged with fraud and conspiracy in New York in relation to allegations she lied to an HSBC banker in Hong Kong in 2013 about Huawei's control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. The arguments related to the former president concern a statement he made to a Reuters reporter in the weeks after Meng's arrest at Vancouver's airport on Dec. 1, 2018. At the time, Trump said he would "certainly intervene" if he thought it was necessary to help the U.S. reach a trade deal with China. Charter rights argument could be 'decider' The Crown — which represents the U.S. in the proceeding — contends there's no evidence Trump made good on his words and that any possible influence he could have had on the case ended along with his term in office. University of B.C. professor Michael Byers, an expert on international law, says he doubts the defence team will have much success convincing Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes the U.S. Department of Justice has been swayed by political considerations. Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is the daughter of Ren Zhengfei, the founder of the telecommunications giant. She is accused of fraud and conspiracy. But he does think they'll have a better shot in the coming weeks with claims Meng's rights were breached on her arrival when Canada Border Services Agency officers questioned her for three hours before RCMP executed a warrant calling for her "immediate arrest." "That three-hour period could well have constituted a violation of her Section 7 rights to security of the person under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. "And so if the extradition judge is to rule that Ms. Meng should be set free, my expectation is that it's that particular element of the case that will be the decider." Meng is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, the man who became a billionaire by turning his global communications giant into a flagship business prized by the Chinese state. Meng's legal team includes lawyers from firms across Canada. And her case is being spearheaded by Vancouver's Richard Peck, of Peck and Company. Strategy to have case thrown out Along with arguments about Trump's role, the allegations related to Meng's treatment by the CBSA are part of a multi-pronged defence strategy to have the proceedings stayed. Meng's lawyers also claim the U.S. misled Canada about the strength of its case and that American prosecutors are reaching far beyond their jurisdiction by trying a Chinese citizen for a conversation that took place in Hong Kong with an executive for an English bank. Meng Wanzhou's lawyers are expected to claim her charter rights were violated during her first few hours in CBSA custody. Holmes will hear submissions about the events surrounding Meng's arrest during the second stretch of hearings, scheduled to begin in mid-March. The defence claims the CBSA conspired with the RCMP and CBSA to have border agents question Meng without a lawyer. They also seized her cellphones and later gave the passcodes to police, in contravention of policy. The defence has accused the RCMP of sending technical information from Meng's electronic devices to the Americans. A senior officer who was in touch with a legal attache for the FBI has refused to testify — and last month, Meng's lawyers announced their intention to try to force the Crown to disclose their communication with him about that decision. 'An irritant' in U.S.-China relationship In court documents filed in advance of this week's hearing, Meng's lawyers cited comments by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about a need to tie a trade deal between the U.S and China to the resolution of Meng's situation and the fate of two Canadians imprisoned in China. Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor have been accused of spying by the Chinese government in what most observers believe is retaliation for Meng's arrest. Michael Kovrig, left, and Michael Spavor, right, were arrested by China in the wake of charges against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. U.S. President Joe Biden has called for their release. The Crown doesn't make any mention of the so-called "two Michaels" in its submissions, but the defence claims the constellation of factors riding on the case has made it extremely difficult for Meng to defend herself without worrying about the impact on others. U.S. President Joe Biden called on China to release Kovrig and Spavor last week following a bilateral meeting with Trudeau, saying "human beings are not bartering chips." Byers believes Biden may decide to bring an end to efforts to extradite Meng in the coming months as he looks to improve the U.S. relationship with China. "It is in the hands of the Biden administration to end this case. And the Biden administration will be in the process now of resetting the relationship between the United States and China. That is a hugely important relationship, for economic reasons, for security reasons. "Those two superpowers need to get along. They need to get things done. And Ms. Meng's presence in Vancouver is an irritant in that relationship." To that end, reports by the Wall Street Journal and Reuters last December claimed Meng was in discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice to bring an end to the case through a deal that would see her admit to some wrongdoing in exchange for a deferred prosecution agreement. In an exclusive interview with CBC's chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton, newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said any deal would have to be made free of geopolitical considerations. "We follow the law. We follow the facts. "And one of the things that we don't do is have politics or foreign policy interfere in the workings of the Justice Department."
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Monday stood by an unidentified Cabinet minister against calls for him to step down over an allegation he raped a 16-year-old girl more than 30 years ago. The accusation has created a cloud over the 16 men in Morrison’s 22-minister Cabinet and is feeding complaints of a culture within Parliament that is toxic for women. The allegation was contained in an anonymous letter sent to the prime minister’s office and to three female lawmakers last week. The letter contained a statement from a complainant that detailed her allegation of a rape she said occurred in New South Wales state in 1988. The woman, who has not been publicly identified, reported the allegation to police before taking her own life in June at age 49. Morrison said the Cabinet minister “vigorously and completely denied the allegations.” Morrison said he forwarded the letter to police and discussed the allegation with the federal police commissioner. Morrison said he did not intend to take any further action. “We can’t have a situation where the mere making of an allegation and that being publicized through the media is grounds for ... governments to stand people down simply on the basis of that,” Morrison said. The Ministerial Code of Conduct states a “minister should stand aside if that minister becomes the subject of an official investigation of alleged illegal or improper conduct.” Some within the government argue that because the complainant is dead, her allegation is no longer under official police investigation because a conviction is unlikely. Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, a minor Greens party lawmaker who received the anonymous letter, said the minister must step down pending an independent investigation by a former judge. “It is just not right to suggest that this type of allegation could linger, hang over the heads of the entire Cabinet,” Hanson-Young said. She said the accusation erodes the belief that the government takes sexual assault seriously. Marque Lawyers managing partner Michael Bradley, who represented the complainant when she took her accusation to police, said the allegation cannot be resolved through the criminal justice system because she has died. The minister should step down while some independent inquiry investigates the evidence, Bradley said. “His position is pretty clearly untenable and he should step aside or be stood aside until this matter can be addressed and resolved,” Bradley said. The disclosure comes two weeks after Morrison apologized in Parliament to a former government staffer who alleged she was raped by a more senior colleague in a minister’s office two years ago. Brittany Higgins quit her job in January and reactivated her complaint to police after initially not pursuing the case because she felt it would have affected her employment. The colleague, who has not been named publicly, was fired for breaching security by taking Higgins into a minister’s office following a night of heavy drinking. Three other women have made sexual misconduct allegations against the same man since Higgins went public with her complaint. A government staffer who alleged she was raped by the man last year told The Weekend Australian newspaper the attack wouldn’t have happened if the government had supported Higgins’ initial complaint. Morrison responded to Higgins’ public complaints by appointing government lawmaker Celia Hammond to work with political parties to investigate Parliament House culture, improve workplace standards and protect staff. Hammond and opposition Labor Party Sen. Penny Wong also received anonymous letters about the 1988 rape allegation. Wong said she met the complainant in 2019 and the complainant detailed her allegation against the man, who was not in Parliament in 1988. “I facilitated her referral to rape support services and confirmed she was being supported in reporting the matter to NSW Police,” Wong said. Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, whom Morrison replaced in a power struggle within the ruling conservative Liberal Party in 2018, said the complainant wrote to him in 2019 seeking advice on what she should do with her allegations. Turnbull described her allegations as “pretty harrowing” and said Morrison should remove the minister. Turnbull said he had sent the woman's email and his reply to police in the woman's home state of South Australia in expectation that they would be used as evidence in a coroner's investigation into her death. An investigation has not yet been announced. Morrison said that before he was told of the rape allegation last week, he had heard “rumours” that an Australian Broadcasting Corp. investigative reporter was “making some inquiries” about a rape around November last year when the ABC’s Four Corners program broadcast its “Inside the Canberra Bubble” investigation. The program accused the Liberal Party of tolerating and condoning inappropriate sexual behaviour. The program exposed an extramarital affair between Population Minister Alan Tudge and a female adviser in 2017. It also alleged Attorney General Christian Porter had been seen “cuddling and kissing” a female staffer in a Canberra bar, which he denies. The government has condemned the program. Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has asked the ABC board to explain how the program was in the public interest and complied with the state-owned broadcaster’s obligation to produce accurate and impartial journalism. Minister for Women Marise Payne on Monday described the recent allegations of sexual misbehaviour as a low point of her 24 years in Parliament. “This is most definitely the most difficult, most confronting and most distressing period of my work life in this environment,” Payne told Sky News. “But distressing for me is meaningless in comparison to those people who have had to endure issues around sexual assault, the experience of sexual assault or harassment in its many forms, and we want to make sure that that stops now,” she added. Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press
(Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit) Flavoured vape and e-cigarette products are now banned on Prince Edward Island. The regulation changes are part of a private members bill from PC MLA Cory Deagle, which received unanimous support from the legislature in 2019. "The only flavour you'll be able to use would be tobacco flavoured so all those other flavours will be gone," Deagle said. "This is probably one of the biggest steps that we're going to see trying to get rid of, or at least reduce, the amount of youth that are vaping." 'Reverse the trend' P.E.I. has already made two other changes to the Tobacco and Electronic Smoking Devices Sales and Access Act as part of Deagle's bill. Effective March 2020, the age of access for tobacco and vaping products increased to 21, and the points of purchase became more regulated — with products only available through vape shops and tobacconists. "Obviously the age was big, and restricting the access to it was big as well. But the flavours are, I think, clearly what draws youth to it and keeps them on the product as well as being addicted to nicotine," Deagle said. "Really the flavours is what keeps them coming back." Manager J-K Thorne said Wild Impulse carries more than 45 flavours for vaping, but as of March 1st, they will only be able to sell ones that are tobacco flavoured, flavourless or labelled clear. Deagle received some online threats when the bill was being discussed in the legislature in November 2019. "With the flavour ban coming, I imagine that I'll probably receive a bit more criticism, that's to be expected, but hopefully it won't be what we saw when I first passed the bill," Deagle said. "I understand that some people might be upset. I believe this is the right thing to do. Despite that criticism, hopefully it stays respectful, and and it doesn't translate into threats or anything like that." Deagle's bill received unanimous support from the legislature in 2019, to crack down on nicotine use among young people. Six months notice Vendors were notified of the upcoming ban on flavoured products in August 2020, in a letter distributed by the Department of Health and Wellness. The letter said the department believed that with six month advance notice, "tobacconist shops have sufficient time to deplete their inventory of flavoured electronic smoking device products". Wild Impulse manager J-K Thorne said some customers stocked up on the flavours, but others will be turning elsewhere. At Wild Impulse in Charlottetown, the shelves were still full of flavoured products on Friday afternoon, with the ban just days away. Manager J-K Thorne said the store carries more than 45 flavours for vaping, but as of March 1st, they will only be able to sell ones that are tobacco flavoured, flavourless or labelled clear. "Customers are a little disappointed. They feel that they have something to lean on if they wanted to get off cigarettes," Thorne said. "They found that the tobacco flavour actually reminded them of cigarettes, but it wasn't good enough, and it actually brought them back to buying cigarettes, which is a little unfortunate." At Wild Impulse in Charlottetown, the shelves were still full of flavoured products on Friday afternoon, with the ban just days away. Thorne said some customers stocked up on the flavours, but others will be turning elsewhere. "They also said that they'll be looking online, to get it shipped here," Thorne said. "So it's taking some customers away as well, which is a little disappointing." Important step The co-ordinator of the P.E.I. Lung Association, Julia Hartley, called the ban on flavours a "really important step." According to the Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey in 2018-2019, 39.3 per cent of Island teens in grades 10 to 12 had used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days. The co-ordinator of the P.E.I. Lung Association, Julia Hartley, called the ban on flavours a 'really important step'. "We know that flavoured products are a huge driver for youth. We know that youth between the ages 12 and 20 are using these products in a huge way," Hartley said, referring to a survey conducted by the Lung Association and Heart and Stroke, of more than 800 youth across Canada. "We found that 95 percent of those youth prefer the flavoured product, and of those participants, 50 percent said that they would quit if the products were no longer available." "So we think that this is going to have a huge impact on our youth." According to the Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey in 2018-2019, 39.3 per cent of Island teens in grades 10 to12 had used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days As a next step, Hartley would like to see the provincial government increase the prices of vaping products and e-cigarettes. "These products, although they do have the flavours removed, are still very, very cheap," Hartley said. "So what we would like to see is a 20 percent tax, at least, on vaping products, be implemented by the provincial government to ensure that these products are not affordable for youth, and to deter initiation, as well as encourage current smokers to quit." Lead the country Deagle said he hopes the changes on P.E.I. will inspire other provinces to take similar actions. "I think it went quite far, it'll be some of the strictest regulations in Canada," Deagle said. "I realize that this isn't going to eliminate youth vaping overnight, but hopefully over the next two, three, four years, that will start to be able to reverse the trend of the staggering increase of the amount of youth that are vaping." More P.E.I. news
Celebrity birthdays for the week of March 7-13: March 7: TV personality Willard Scott (“Today”) is 87. Actor Daniel J. Travanti (“Hill Street Blues”) is 81. Bassist Chris White of The Zombies is 78. Singer Peter Wolf of The J. Geils Band is 75. Keyboardist Matthew Fisher of Procol Harum is 75. Guitarist Ernie Isley of The Isley Brothers is 69. Actor Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”) is 65. Actor Donna Murphy (“Mercy Street,” ?Murder One”) is 62. Actor Nick Searcy (“Justified”) is 62. Actor Mary Beth Evans (“Days of Our Lives”) is 60. Singer Taylor Dayne is 59. Actor Bill Brochtrup (“Major Crimes,” ?NYPD Blue”) is 58. Opera singer Denyce Graves is 57. Comedian Wanda Sykes is 57. Actor Jonathan Del Arco (“Major Crimes”) is 55. Drummer Randy Guss of Toad The Wet Sprocket is 54. Actor Rachel Weisz (WYS) is 50. Actor Peter Sarsgaard (“Kinsey,” ?Garden State”) is 50. Actor Jay Duplass (“The Mindy Project”) is 48. Singer Sebastien Izambard of Il Divo is 48. Singer Hugo Ferreira of Tantric is 47. Actor Jenna Fischer (“The Office”) is 47. Actor Tobias Menzies (“Outlander,” ?Game of Thrones”) is 47. Actor Audrey Marie Anderson (“The Unit”) is 46. Actor TJ Thyne (“Bones”) is 46. Actor Laura Prepon (“Orange Is The New Black,” ?That ’70s Show”) is 41. Actor Bel Powley (Film: “Diary of a Teenage Girl”) is 29. Actor Giselle Eisenberg (“Life in Pieces”) is 24. March 8: Jazz saxophonist George Coleman is 86. Actor Sue Ane Langdon is 85. Songwriter Carole Bayer Sager is 77. Actor-director Micky Dolenz of The Monkees is 76. Bassist Randy Meisner (The Eagles, Poco) is 75. Singer Peggy March is 73. Jazz pianist Billy Childs is 64. Singer Gary Numan is 63. NBC News anchor Lester Holt is 62. Actor Aidan Quinn is 62. Guitarist Jimmy Dormire (Confederate Railroad) is 61. Actor Camryn Manheim (“The Practice”) is 60. Actor Leon (“Cool Runnings”) is 60. Singer Shawn Mullins is 53. Actor Andrea Parker (“Less Than Perfect”) is 51. Actor Boris Kodjoe (“Code Black,” ?Madea’s Family Reunion”) is 48. Actor Freddie Prinze Jr. is 45. Actor Laura Main (“Call the Midwife”) is 44. Actor James Van Der Beek (“CSI: Cyber,” ?Dawson’s Creek”) is 44. Singer Kameelah Williams of 702 is 43. Actor Nick Zano (“Minority Report,” ?2 Broke Girls”) is 43. Singer Tom Chaplin of Keane is 42. Guitarist Andy Ross of OK Go is 42. Singer Kristinia DeBarge is 31. March 9: Singer Lloyd Price is 88. Actor Joyce Van Patten is 87. Country singer Mickey Gilley is 85. Actor Trish Van Devere is 80. Singer John Cale (The Velvet Underground) is 79. Singer Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders is 79. TV anchor Charles Gibson is 78. Guitarist Robin Trower (Procol Harum) is 76. Singer Jeffrey Osborne is 73. Guitarist Jimmie Fadden of The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is 73. Actor Linda Fiorentino (“Men In Black”) is 63. Actor Tom Amandes (“Eli Stone,” ?Parenthood”) is 62. Guitarist Rusty Hendrix of Confederate Railroad is 61. Actor Juliette Binoche (“Chocolat,” ?The English Patient”) is 57. Bassist Robert Sledge of Ben Folds Five is 53. Drummer Shannon Leto of 30 Seconds To Mars is 51. Rapper C-Murder (aka C-Miller) is 50. Actor Emmanuel Lewis (“Webster”) is 50. Actor Jean Louisa Kelly (“Yes, Dear,” ?Mr. Holland’s Opus”) is 49. Actor Kerr Smith (“Life Unexpected,” ?Dawson’s Creek”) is 49. Actor Oscar Isaac (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”) is 42. Comedian Jordan Klepper (“The Daily Show”) is 42. Rapper Chingy is 41. Actor Matthew Gray Gubler (“Criminal Minds”) is 41. Guitarist Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory is 40. Keyboardist Ben Tanner of Alabama Shakes is 38. Actor Brittany Snow (“American Dreams,” ?Hairspray”) is 35. Rapper Bow Wow is 34. Rapper YG is 31. Actor Luis Armand Garcia (“George Lopez”) is 29. Actor Cierra Ramirez (“The Fosters”) is 26. March 10: Country talk show host Ralph Emery is 88. Bluegrass musician Norman Blake is 83. Actor Chuck Norris is 81. Singer Dean Torrence of Jan and Dean is 81. Actor Katharine Houghton (“Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?”) is 79. Actor Richard Gant is 77. Guitarist Tom Scholz of Boston is 74. TV personality-businesswoman Barbara Corcoran (“Shark Tank”) is 72. Actor Aloma Wright (“Scrubs”) is 71. Singer-guitarist Gary Louris of The Jayhawks is 66. Actor Shannon Tweed is 64. Actor Sharon Stone is 63. Bassist Gail Greenwood of L7 (and of Belly) is 61. Magician Lance Burton is 61. Actor Jasmine Guy is 59. Bassist Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam is 58. Music producer Rick Rubin is 58. Singer Edie Brickell is 55. Actor Stephen Mailer (“Reversal of Fortune”) is 55. Actor Philip Anthony-Rodriguez (“Grimm”) is 53. Actor Paget Brewster (“Criminal Minds”) is 52. Actor Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”) is 50. Rapper-producer Timbaland is 49. Actor Cristian de la Fuente is 47. Guitarist Jerry Horton of Papa Roach is 46. Actor Jeff Branson (“The Young and the Restless”) is 44. Singer Robin Thicke is 44. Actor Bree Turner (“Grimm”) is 44. Singer Michael Barnes of Red is 42. Actor Edi Gathegi (“Twilight” films) is 42. Bassist Matt Asti of MGMT is 41. Actor Thomas Middleditch (“Silicon Valley”) is 39. Singer Carrie Underwood is 38. Actor Olivia Wilde is 37. Singer Emeli Sande is 34. Country singer Rachel Reinert is 32. Keyboardist Jared Hampton of LANCO is 30. Actor Emily Osment (“Hannah Montana”) is 29. March 11: TV journalist Sam Donaldson is 87. Accordionist Flaco Jimenez of Texas Tornadoes is 82. Actor Tricia O’Neil (“Genghis Khan”) is 76. Actor Mark Metcalf (“Animal House”) is 75. Singer Mark Stein of Vanilla Fudge is 74. Singer Bobby McFerrin is 71. Movie director Jerry Zucker (“Airplane!” ?Ghost”) is 71. Singer Cheryl Lynn is 70. Actor Susan Richardson (“Eight Is Enough”) is 69. Recording executive Jimmy Iovine (“American Idol”) is 68. Country singer Jimmy Fortune of The Statler Brothers is 66. Singer Nina Hagen is 66. Actor Elias Koteas (“Chicago P.D.”) is 60. Actor Peter Berg (“Chicago Hope”) is 59. Actor Jeffrey Nordling (“Desperate Housewives”) is 59. Actor Alex Kingston (“ER”) is 58. Actor Wallace Langham (“CSI”) is 56. Actor John Barrowman (“Arrow”) is 54. Singer Lisa Loeb is 53. Keyboardist Al Gamble of St. Paul and the Broken Bones is 52. Singer Pete Droge is 52. Actor Terrence Howard (“Empire”) is 52. Actor Johnny Knoxville is 50. Musicians Joel and Benji Madden of Good Charlotte are 42. Actor David Anders (“iZombie,” ?The Vampire Diaries”) is 40. Singer LeToya Luckett (Destiny’s Child) is 40. Actor Thora Birch (“Ghost World,” ?American Beauty”) is 39. TV personality Melissa Rycroft is 38. Actor Rob Brown (“Blindspot,” “Treme”) is 37. Actor Jodie Comer (“Killing Eve”) is 28. March 12: Actor Barbara Feldon (“Get Smart”) is 88. Actor-singer Liza Minnelli is 75. Singer-songwriter James Taylor is 73. Singer Bill Payne of Little Feat is 72. Actor Jon Provost (TV: “Lassie”) is 71. Bassist Steve Harris of Iron Maiden is 65. Actor Lesley Manville (“Phantom Thread”) is 65. Singer Marlon Jackson of The Jackson Five is 64. Actor Courtney B. Vance is 61. Actor Titus Welliver (“Deadwood”) is 59. Actor Julia Campbell (“Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion”) is 58. Actor Jake Weber (TV’s “Medium,” film’s “Dawn of the Dead”) is 58. Actor Aaron Eckhart (“The Dark Knight”) is 53. Guitarist Graham Coxon of Blur is 52. Drummer Tommy Bales of Flynnville Train is 48. Actor Rhys Coiro (“Hostages,” “Entourage”) is 42. Country singer Holly Williams is 40. Actor Samm Levine (“Freaks and Geeks”) is 39. Actor Jaimie Alexander (TV’s “Blindspot”) is 37. Actor Tyler Patrick Jones (“Ghost Whisperer”) is 27. Actor Kendall Applegate (“Desperate Housewives”) is 22. March 13: Jazz drummer Roy Haynes is 96. Songwriter Mike Stoller is 88. Singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka is 82. Singer Candi Staton is 81. Actor William H. Macy is 71. Comedian Robin Duke is 67. Actor Dana Delaney (“Body of Proof” ?China Beach”) is 65. Bassist Adam Clayton of U2 is 61. Jazz trumpeter Terence Blanchard is 59. Drummer Matt McDonough of Mudvayne is 52. Actor Annabeth Gish (“The West Wing,” ?The X-Files”) is 50. Actor Tracy Wells (“Mr. Belvedere”) is 50. Rapper Common is 49. Rapper Khujo of Goodie Mob is 49. Singer Glenn Lewis is 46. Actor Danny Masterson (“That ’70s Show”) is 45. Musicians Natalie and Nicole Albino of Nina Sky are 37. Actor Noel Fisher (“Shameless”) is 37. Actor Emile Hirsch (“Into the Wild”) is 36. The Associated Press
For much of last year, the coronavirus crept, undetected, across eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Buyers in the United States and Canada are paying $30 to $50 for each cartridge, according to laboratory sources in North America and a regional Canadian policy document.
(Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit) THE LATEST: Every eligible adult in B.C. should receive a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by July, the province said. B.C. has extended the acceptable time between the first and second dose of a vaccine to four months. B.C. recorded 589 new cases and seven more deaths on Friday. A total of 1,478 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths were announced on Monday. There were 42 new variants of concern identified in B.C. over the weekend. There are now 236 people in hospital due to COVID-19 with 65 in intensive care. A total of 1,363 people in B.C. have lost their lives due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. There are currently 4,464 active cases of coronavirus in the province, Public health is monitoring 8,210 people across B.C. who are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure. So far, 275,681 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C. — around four per cent of the population — with 83,777 of those being second doses. Every eligible adult in British Columbia should be able to receive a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by late July after the approval of a new vaccine and a decision to delay second doses. Health officials announced the accelerated timeline Monday as the province moved into the second, seniors-focused phase. Seniors 80 and older, Indigenous seniors 65 and older, hospital staff and medical specialists, vulnerable populations living and working in congregated settings, and staff providing in-home support to seniors will begin getting their shots this month. The province's vaccination plan is focused on inoculating high-risk and most elderly populations by April, followed by younger age groups in the spring and summer. Also on Monday, the province announced it is immediately extending the time between first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccine to four months. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said data from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control — and countries around the world such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand — shows "miraculous" protection of at least 90 per cent from the first dose of the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Variants in schools Fraser Health said on Sunday that additional testing is underway at two Surrey schools after one person at École Woodward Hill Elementary and two at Surrey Traditional Elementary tested positive for a variant of concern. One class at Woodward Hill is already isolating and will remain in isolation until March 4. Two classes at Surrey Traditional will self-isolate until March 4. Both schools remain open. Mass testing of classrooms at two other Surrey schools affected by a variant case, James Ardiel Elementary and Tamanawis Secondary, identified no new cases. On Friday, Fraser Health announced that positive variant cases have been confirmed at an additional three schools: Queen Elizabeth Secondary School, Frank Hurt Secondary School and M.B. Sanford Elementary School. Police say they fined the Riverside Calvary Chapel in Langley, B.C., for not following provincial health orders. Churches in court Three Fraser Valley churches were in court Monday seeking to overturn provincial health orders barring in-person religious gatherings. The orders were put in place by Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry last year as a way to curtail the spread of COVID-19 and were last extended on Feb. 10. In January, pastors with Langley's Riverside Calvary Chapel, Abbotsford's Immanuel Covenant Reformed Church and the Free Reformed Church of Chilliwack filed a petition claiming Henry had violated their guaranteed constitutional right to expression and religious worship by shutting down all in-person religious gatherings and worship services while allowing restaurants and businesses to remain open. Wastewater tool Metro Vancouver on Monday launched an online tool allowing residents to track the viral load of COVID-19 that researchers have found in untreated water at the region's wastewater treatment plants. The region said the data is meant to help health authorities better understand how present the virus might be in a given area and to evaluate the effectiveness of public health restrictions. Residents can click on a specific wastewater treatment plant on a map to see a snapshot of the COVID-19 virus trend for that area. Case breakdown Cases of COVID-19 variants continue to increase in B.C. with 42 more identified over the weekend for a total now of 158. A total of 1,478 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths were announced on Monday. In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix put the number of hospitalized patients at 236 people, 65 of whom are in intensive care. A total of 1,363 people in B.C. have lost their lives due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. There are currently 4,464 active cases of coronavirus in the province, with public health monitoring 8,210 people across B.C. who are in self-isolation due to COVID-19 exposure. More than 74,776 people who tested positive have recovered. So far, 275,681 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C. — around four per cent of the population — with 83,777 of those being second doses. READ MORE: What's happening elsewhere in Canada As of 4 p.m. PT Sunday, Canada had reported 866,503 cases of COVID-19, with 30,731 cases considered active. A total of 21,994 people have died. What are the symptoms of COVID-19? Common symptoms include: Fever. Cough. Tiredness. Shortness of breath. Loss of taste or smell. Headache. But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia. What should I do if I feel sick? Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they're mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or other extreme symptoms should call 911. What can I do to protect myself? Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean. Keep at least two metres away from people outside your bubble. Keep your distance from people who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Wear a mask in indoor public spaces. More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.
(Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit) The Northwest Territories needs to do more to ensure its elderly population is vaccinated for diseases like influenza, pneumonia and shingles, according to a new report by a national seniors advocacy group. In the first study of its kind, CanAge looked at the vaccination rates for the elderly in every territory and province and judged them against the federal government's recommendations. "The results were pretty horrible," said Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO of CanAge. The report, Adult Vaccination in Canada: Cross-country report card 2021, shows the N.W.T. got the best grade of the three territories and beat out a number of provinces as well. "But having said that, the grade is still very low," said Tamblyn Watts. The N.W.T. got a D overall, which is slightly higher than the national average of D-. The report says provinces and territories were judged based on which vaccines were funded, the availability and accessibility of vaccines, and on efforts to educate older people about regional immunization programs. "The Northwest Territories got a C+ in funding, a C in awareness, but an F in access, so you can get things funded, but you may not actually get them into your arm," said Tamblyn Watts. Report's recommendations What would help, she added, would be if the N.W.T. allowed pharmacies to administer the different vaccines, which it doesn't right now. "There's really no good reason for it," she said. Tamblyn Watts said it would also help if the territory made the adult vaccination schedule public. She said just like for children, there is a vaccination schedule for adults that shows which vaccines seniors need to be taking and when they're going to take them. "So that's just an easy fix that they could fix right away," she said. She added that the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine in the territory, including in the remote communities, can be copied to deliver influenza, pneumonia and shingles vaccines by having a team go to a community, set up and then do a mass vaccination. "We know that with COVID-19, people are really interested in vaccinations. So this is an opportunity to fix the system once and not have the system broken even after we do the COVID-19 vaccination system," she said. Territory pushes back In an email to CBC, N.W.T. Health Minister Julie Green said her department was provided the report on Feb. 22 but was never asked to provide any information for the report or verify its findings. "We are currently reviewing the findings and will formally respond in partnership with the other territories. Our initial observation notes a number of inaccuracies, incomplete information, broken links in their reference section, and questions regarding their methodologies and conclusions," she wrote. N.W.T. Health Minister Julie Green said her department's initial observations about the report are that it has a number of inaccuracies and incomplete information. She also questioned the report's methodologies and conclusions. She said the recommendation about having pharmacists administer vaccines doesn't take into account regulations that don't permit it to happen. "There is misleading information about specific vaccinations formulations which doesn't take into account the role of the CPHO [chief public health officer] and the population health approach," she added. Green said the timing of the report's release raises questions as all provinces and territories are focusing their efforts on their COVID-19 vaccination rollouts. She said the N.W.T. made "good progress" in immunizing residents who are 60 and over against COVID-19, and added the territory has strong partnerships with seniors organizations "and a range of programs and services to support seniors to access the care and supports they need."
“Later,” by Stephen King (Hard Case Crime) Stephen King gets a lot of credit for creating the monsters under kids’ beds (here’s looking at you, Pennywise), but not enough for this simple fact: The guy gets kids. Their fears, certainly, but also their voices, the way they see the world differently than adults. To a long list that includes Danny Torrance from “The Shining” and Gordie Lachance from “The Body,” we can now add Jamie Conklin, the star of King’s most recent novel, “Later.” Published under the Hard Case Crime imprint, which also distributed “The Colorado Kid” (2005) and “Joyland” (2013) — “Later” is narrated by 22-year-old Jamie, looking back on his formative years. He begins his story at age 6, when he first figured out he could see and talk to the dead. It’s that gift which propels the plot of this slim novel. Encouraged by his mother’s NYPD girlfriend, Liz, Jamie gets tied up in the pursuit of a serial bomber in New York. It’s not giving too much away to say he helps crack the case, but to say what happens after that would spoil all the fun. There’s classic King here for fans. Imagine the carnage on any given day in the Big Apple and then imagine being a young man seeing the mangled dead walking around in the afterlife, with holes in their heads “as big as a dessert plate and surrounded by irregular fangs of bone.” But even amid the gore and escalating tension, King finds moments to make Jamie relatable. As Liz and his mom argue at the scene of a crime, we pop inside Jamie’s head before he screams at them. “One of the worst things about being a kid, maybe the very worst, is how grownups ignore you when they get going" on their own issues, writes King. In the end, the story Jamie narrates to readers climaxes in a thrilling whodunit, while uncovering truths about Jamie’s life that might have been better left buried. For as the novel’s cover declares: “Only the dead have no secrets.” Rob Merrill, The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — From Jason Sudeikis’ hoodie to Jodie Foster’s bare feet, the stars embraced a virtual Golden Globes, and still found ways to cut loose. There was no red carpet and logjam of celebrities outside the show’s usual location at the Beverly Hilton. No boozy camaraderie at the jammed-in tables inside the ballroom, either. The coronavirus pandemic made certain of that. Instead, most of Sunday night’s winners accepted from their own homes or hotel rooms in laidback settings unheard of for Hollywood's biggest awards shows. Many were surrounded by spouses, parents, kids, pets or support staff. Several winners welcomed the change. “This is the best Globes ever, to be able to be home, but also it just felt really real,” a giddy Foster said in virtual comments after her win. “It didn’t feel like it was filled with so much artifice. I think people were kind of thrilled by the newness and the sort of live theatre.” Foster cozied up on a sofa, cuddling her white dog while sharing a kiss with her wife. Friends watching on television downstairs raised a delayed shout when she was announced as the winner for supporting actress in a motion picture drama. Foster stuck her bare foot in the air, showing media that she wasn’t wearing any shoes. She was headed downstairs to eat dinner after her win. “It was really fun,” said Aaron Sorkin, winner for motion picture screenplay. “There was an intimacy to it.” Sacha Baron Cohen won two trophies for “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” with wife Isla Fisher smiling next to him. He donned a traditional tuxedo and she wore a gown and red lips. “The virtual experience was different, but a lot more relaxing,” Baron Cohen said. “You didn’t have to do the red carpet, which I’m not sure a lot of people enjoy.” In London, Sudeikis won best actor in a television series, musical or comedy for “Ted Lasso.” He wore a white hoodie promoting his sister's dance and workout studio in New York City. “When people you care about do cool, interesting things you should support them, so this is no different than that,” Sudeikis later told reporters. Clearly surprised by his win, the actor hesitated and rambled during his acceptance remarks. Fellow nominee Don Cheadle was shown whirling his finger in the air, a joking signal that Sudeikis should wrap up. “The guy's got chops,” Sudeikis said. “He's an ex-stage manager.” Nominee Kate Hudson hosted a family get-together. Wearing a strapless gown, she sat with her kids, her partner Danny Fujikawa, her mother Goldie Hawn, as well as Kurt Russell and brother Oliver Hudson. Her 2-year-old daughter, Rani, blurted out, “Hi, everybody!” as the telecast went to a commercial break. Nicole Kidman and musician-husband Keith Urban got glammed up to sit on their couch. Their daughters, Sunday and Faith, both wore white dresses while making a rare appearance. A shocked Andra Day had a crowd that included two co-stars from “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” her manager, her publicist, her parents and some of her cousin's family. Known for her singing career, Day became the second Black woman to win for actress in a motion picture drama in her acting debut. “There's cake outside, so I'm going to eat with that, and with my family and my team,” she said after her win. “We're just going to eat so much food.” Beth Harris, The Associated Press
The European Commission will propose this month an EU-wide digital certificate providing proof of a COVID-19 vaccination that could allow Europeans to travel more freely over the summer. The EU executive aims to present its plans for a "digital green pass" on March 17 and to cooperate with international organisations to ensure that its system also works beyond the European Union. "The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad - for work or tourism," Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet on Monday.
This kitty is captivated by the newborn chicks in the box. So sweet and gentle!
Britain on Monday appealed for a mystery individual infected with a highly transmissible Brazilian variant of the novel coronavirus to come forward, more than two weeks after they tested positive but failed to give proper contact details. Britain said six cases had been detected of the "P.1" variant identified in the Brazilian city of Manaus, against which current vaccines appear to be less effective. Two were in South Gloucestershire in England and three in Scotland.
(Dan Taekema/CBC - image credit) Windsor police say officers made an arrest Friday in the killing of a 55-year-old man. Police said a 33-year-old Windsor man was arrested without incident at about 10:30 p.m. on Friday in the area of Erie Street West and Ouellette Avenue. He has been charged with first-degree murder and possession of fentanyl, police said in a news release on Saturday. The investigation into the death of Lamont Rhue, 55, is ongoing and police are seeking tips from the public. He was found dead in a home in the area of Louis Avenue and Cataraqui Street on Tuesday afternoon. Officers are looking to speak with anyone who had contact with the victim on or before Tuesday, Feb. 23. Those in the area who have surveillance cameras are being asked to check their footage from 2 p.m. Monday, Feb. 22, to 2 p.m. the following day. More from CBC Windsor
MONTREAL — CAE Inc. says it has signed a deal with U.S. company L3Harris Technologies to buy the company's military training business for US$1.05 billion. The L3Harris military training business includes Link Simulation & Training, Doss Aviation and AMI. CAE says the L3Harris businesses will add experience in the development and delivery of training systems for fighter and bomber aircraft, army rotary-wing platforms, submarines and remotely piloted aircraft. To help pay for the deal, CAE will raise C$700 million in an agreement with Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec and GIC Private Ltd., a sovereign wealth fund based in Singapore. CDPQ has agreed to invest $475 million in CAE in a move that it says will make it the company's largest shareholder, while GIC will contribute $225 million. The closing of the acquisition is expected in the second half of this year, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:CAE) The Canadian Press
LOS ANGELES — Chloé Zhao became the second woman to win best director at the Golden Globes and the first female winner of Asian descent on a night in which her film “Nomadland” was crowned the top drama film. Zhao, who was among three women nominated in the directing category, was honoured for her work on “Nomadland,” about people who take to the road and move from place to place seeking work for usually low wages. It stars two-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand and includes nonprofessional actors. “I especially want to thank the nomads who shared their stories with us,” Zhao said, accepting the directing honour virtually on Sunday night. She singled out real-life nomad Bob Wells, who appears in the movie, for help with her remarks. “This is what he said about compassion,” Zhao said. “Compassion is the breakdown of all the barriers between us. A heart to heart pounding. Your pain is my pain. It’s mingled and shared between us.” The 38-year-old director who lives in Los Angeles is a leading Oscar contender for “Nomadland,” which is in select theatres and streaming on Hulu. “Now this is why I fell in love with making movies and telling stories because it gives us a chance to laugh and cry together and it gives us a chance to learn from each other and to have more compassion for each other,” Zhao said in her acceptance remarks. “So thank you everyone who made it possible to do what I love.” She joins Barbra Streisand, who won in 1984 for “Yentl,” as the only women to win directing honours at the Globes. Until this year, just five women had been nominated in the category. “Sometimes a first feels like a long time coming. You feel like, it’s about time,” Zhao said in virtual backstage comments. “I’m sure there’s many others before me that deserve the same recognition. If this means more people like me get to live their dreams and do what I do, I’m happy.” Regina King ("One Night in Miami...") and Emerald Fennell ("Promising Young Woman") were the other female director nominees. Zhao also was nominated for best motion picture screenplay and lost to Aaron Sorkin. McDormand received a nod for actress in a motion picture drama, but lost. Born in China, Zhao made her feature directing debut in 2015 with “Songs My Brother Taught Me.” She broke out in 2017 with “The Rider.” Next up for her is the big-budget Marvel film “Eternals,” set for release this fall. Beth Harris, The Associated Press
YANGON, Myanmar — Police in Myanmar’s biggest city fired tear gas Monday at defiant crowds who returned to the streets to protest last month's coup, despite reports that security forces had killed at least 18 people a day earlier. The protesters in Yangon were chased as they tried to gather at their usual meeting spot at the Hledan Center intersection. Demonstrators scattered and sought in vain to rinse the irritating gas from their eyes, but later regrouped. The coup reversed years of slow progress toward democracy in Myanmar after five decades of military rule. It came Feb. 1, the same day a newly elected Parliament was supposed to take office. Ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party would have led that government, but instead she was detained along with President Win Myint and other senior officials. The army has levelled several charges against Suu Kyi — an apparent effort by the military to provide a legal veneer for her detention and potentially to bar her from running in the election the junta has promised to hold in one year. On Monday, Suu Kyi made a court appearance via videoconference and was charged with two more offences, her lawyer Khin Maung Zaw told reporters. Accused of inciting unrest, she was charged under a law that dates from British colonial days and has long been criticized as a vaguely defined catch-all law that inhibits freedom of expression. That charge carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison. The other charge from Monday carries a one-year sentence. Following her detention on the day of the coup, the 75-year-old Suu Kyi was initially held at her residence in the capital of Naypyitaw, but members of her National League for Democracy party now say they don't know where she is. Since the takeover, a movement of protests in cities across the country has been growing — and the junta's response has become increasingly violent. The U.N. said it had “credible information” that at least 18 people were killed and 30 were wounded across Myanmar on Sunday. Counts from other sources, such the Democratic Voice of Burma, an independent television and online news outlet, put the death toll in the 20s. Any of the reports would make it the highest single-day death toll since the military takeover. The junta has also made mass arrests, and the independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners reported that as many as 1,000 people were detained Sunday, though it has only confirmed 270 of those. Several journalists have been among those detained, including one for The Associated Press. At least five people are believed to have been killed Sunday in Yangon when police shot at protesters, who have remained non-violent despite provocation from the security forces and pro-military counter-demonstrators. People erected makeshift sidewalk shrines Monday at the spots where several of the victims were shot and also paid their respects by standing outside the hospitals where the bodies were being released to families. In Dawei, a small city in southeastern Myanmar where an estimated five people were killed Sunday, the number of protesters on the streets Monday was lower than usual. Marchers there split into smaller groups, parading through the city to the applause of bystanders who also made the three-finger salutes adopted by the resistance movement to show their support. Confirming the deaths of protesters has been difficult amid the chaos and general lack of news from official sources, especially in areas outside Yangon, Mandalay and Naypyitaw. But in many cases, there was evidence posted online such as videos of shootings, photos of bullet casings collected afterwards and gruesome pictures of bodies. In a statement published Monday in the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper, Myanmar’s Foreign Ministry declared that the junta “is exercising utmost restraint to avoid the use of force in managing the violent protests systematically, in accordance with domestic and international laws in order to keep minimum casualties.” But U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the crackdown, calling the use of lethal force against peaceful protesters and arbitrary arrests “unacceptable,” and expressed serious concern at the increase in deaths and serious injuries, said U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric. “What the world is watching in Myanmar is outrageous and unacceptable,” the U.N.’s independent expert on human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, said in a separate statement. “Words of condemnation are necessary and welcome but insufficient. The world must act. We must all act.” He proposed that countries could institute a global embargo on the sale of arms to Myanmar, “tough targeted and co-ordinated sanctions” against those responsible for the coup, the crackdown and other rights abuses, and sanctions against the business interests of the military. Social media posts from Myanmar have increasingly urged the international community to invoke the doctrine of the “responsibility to protect” to intervene directly to restrain the junta. Any kind of co-ordinated measures, however, would be difficult to implement as two permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, China and Russia, would almost certainly veto them on the basis of being opposed to interference in the internal affairs of other countries. In Washington, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan issued a statement saying the U.S. is “alarmed” by the violence and stands in solidarity with Myanmar's people, “who continue to bravely voice their aspirations for democracy, rule of law, and respect for human rights.” Washington has imposed sanctions on Myanmar because of the coup, and Sullivan said it would “impose further costs on those responsible,” promising details “in the coming days.” Security forces began employing rougher tactics on Saturday, taking preemptive action to break up protests and make mass arrests. Many of those detained were taken to Insein Prison in Yangon’s northern outskirts, historically notorious for holding political prisoners. Among the arrests made Sunday, the independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners was able to identify about 270 people, bringing to 1,132 the total number of people the group has confirmed being arrested, charged or sentenced since the coup. An AP journalist was taken into police custody on Saturday morning while providing news coverage of the protests. The journalist, Thein Zaw, remains in police custody. The AP called for his immediate release. “Independent journalists must be allowed to freely and safely report the news without fear of retribution. AP decries in the strongest terms the arbitrary detention of Thein Zaw,” said Ian Phillips, the AP's vice-president for international news. The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Myanmar also condemned the arrest. The Associated Press
As Bolivia struggled late last year to secure deals with large drug firms to supply COVID-19 vaccines, the incoming president, Luis Arce, turned to Russia for help. By the end of December, Bolivia clinched its first major COVID-19 vaccine deal, with enough shots for some 20% of the population. The first Sputnik V doses arrived in the country in late January, just as virus cases were spiking.
(Submitted by Chip Taylor - image credit) A new report says monarch butterfly populations in Mexico have decreased, but according to one expert, the number of butterflies Canada will see this year depends on what happens this month as they embark on their migrations north. The presence of the monarch butterfly in the Mexican hibernation forests declined by 26 per cent due to a reduction of its habitat, according to the recent report by WWF-Telmex Telcel Foundation. According to the report, the species occupied 2.1 hectares in December 2020 compared to the 2.83 hectares in December 2019. These numbers are unsurprising to Chip Taylor, the director of Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas. "They were about as I expected," he said. "But that tells us that we are dealing with a population that fluctuates with the weather conditions, but it's also dependent on the amount of habitat available. Had there been a lot more habitat available last year in the form of nectar plants, then it's likely we would have seen a higher population," he said. Taylor said that monarchs need nectar plants and milkweed, which he said Canada provides a lot of. The presence of the monarch butterfly declined by 26% in the Mexican hibernation forests due to a reduction of its habitat, according to a recent report by WWF-Telmex Telcel Foundation. "As we get into Canada ... we get a lot more common milkweed. And one of the things that happens in Canada is that the monarchs who have reached Canada in May and June develop a population of common milkweed and that population tends to move along the lakes and eventually move through Point Pelee in fairly large numbers," he explains. Every fall, Point Pelee plays host to thousands of monarch butterflies on their migrations. The insects make their way across Lake Erie to the mountains of Mexico, roughly 3,000 kilometres south, for the winter. In late spring, their offspring return to Canada, and the cycle continues. According to Parks Canada, monarchs have a life span of about a month but the ones who emerge late in the summer are born to migrate and stay alive for over six months to make the journey. Taylor said it's hard to predict what the population of the monarch butterfly will be like this spring until he sees how conditions are like in Texas. "The Canadian situation is highly dependent on what happens in March in Texas. So if the returning butterflies are abundant and they have good conditions in Texas, there are good conditions as they move north in May and June and they encounter good conditions in Canada, the population does well," he said. "If they get off to a bad start in Texas. It's going to be a bad year in Canada." - Chip Taylor, director of Monarch Watch Taylor said the butterflies have already left the overwintering sites in Mexico and should reach Texas in about two weeks. "The question is, what are they going to find when they get there?" He asks, pointing to the massive winter freeze that took place just weeks ago. "The question I'm asking all my colleagues in Texas is that vegetation going to come back in time, so they're going to be milkweeds above ground and nectar plants for the butterflies to feed on," he said. Chip Taylor, the director of Monarch Watch, says how conditions will look in Canada is highly dependent on how conditions will be like in Texas in two weeks. Taylor said he's watching the weather and monitoring plant development carefully and can better predict how things will look in two weeks. "What we've learned in the past is that what happens in March in Texas has a big influence that that determines everything that happens, including what happens in Canada, on the rest of the year," he said. "So it's very important for the population to get off to a good start. If they don't, if the population doesn't get off to a good start, then it's very likely that it's never going to be able to recover. There just aren't enough generations," he said. What you can do Taylor says people can help preserve the monarch butterfly by creating a lot of habitat for the species. Point Pelee National Park also encourages local residents to plant a butterfly garden with native plants, milkweed for monarch butterflies and caterpillars. "Create a habitat and they will come, they will use it," Taylor said.
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government launched a vaccination campaign on Monday to contain one of Southeast Asia’s worst coronavirus outbreaks but faces supply problems and public resistance, which it hopes to ease by inoculating top officials. Cabinet officials, along with health workers and military and police personnel, were among the first to be vaccinated at six hospitals in Metropolitan Manila, after the arrival Sunday of 600,000 doses of vaccine donated by China. At the state-run Philippine General Hospital in Manila, hospital director Dr. Gerardo Legaspi was inoculated first in a televised event and was followed by Cabinet and Department of Health officials. “Let’s get vaccinated, let’s save lives every day. We need to move on,” Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said in a speech at the hospital, adding he would get vaccinated in about a week after the health workers. The Philippines was among the last Southeast Asian countries to receive vaccines due to delivery delays, although it has reported more than 578,300 infections, including 12,322 deaths, the second-highest totals in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. Lockdowns and quarantine restrictions have set back the country's economy in one of the worst recessions in the region and sparked unemployment and hunger. “Our economy is really down, so the earlier these vaccinations gain speed, the better,” President Rodrigo Duterte told a televised news conference late Sunday after witnessing the delivery of the vaccines at an air base in the capital. Duterte said he was considering a further easing of quarantine restrictions in the capital and elsewhere once the vaccination campaign gains momentum. With just 600,000 doses available, Monday’s immunizations were billed as symbolic. Aside from the donated vaccine from China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd., the government has ordered 25 million more doses from the company but no date has been set for the deliveries. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the arrival of an initial 525,600 doses of vaccine from AstraZeneca that was initially scheduled for Monday would be delayed by a week due to supply problems. China’s donation is a tiny fraction of at least 148 million doses the government has been negotiating to secure from Western and Asian companies to vaccinate about 70 million Filipinos for free in a massive campaign funded by foreign and domestic loans. Most of the shipments are expected to arrive later this year amid a global scramble for COVID-19 vaccines. Duterte’s administration has come under criticism for lagging behind most other Southeast Asian countries in securing the vaccines, but the president has said wealthy Western countries have cornered massive doses for their citizens, leaving poorer nations scrambling for the rest. Aside from supply problems, there have been concerns over the vaccine’s safety, largely due to a dengue vaccine scare that prompted the Duterte administration to stop a massive immunization drive in 2017. There have also been concerns even among health workers over the Sinovac vaccine because of its lower efficacy rate compared to others developed in the West and Russia. Carlito Galvez Jr, who leads government efforts to secure the vaccines, said Duterte saw some surveys showing low public confidence in the Sinovac vaccine and ordered him and other top officials to be inoculated with it. At the Philippine General Hospital, where he was inoculated with the Sinovac vaccine, Galvez said Filipinos could not return to their normal lives and the economy would not recover if people refuse to get immunized and prefer Western vaccines, which would come later in the year. “We should not wait for the so-called best vaccine. There is no best vaccine because the best vaccines are those which are effective and efficient and come early,” Galvez said at the hospital. ___ Associated Press journalists Aaron Favila and Joeal Calupitan contributed to this report. Jim Gomez, The Associated Press
Swedish payments firm Klarna has nearly tripled its valuation to $31 billion in less than six months with a new $1 billion private fundraising round, the company said on Monday. The new round, which was oversubscribed four times and will make the "buy now pay later" firm the most valuable European startup, confirms a Reuters story last week that it was finalising another private funding round.. It also puts the Swedish fintech on a par with many of Europe's biggest listed financial houses.