LOS ANGELES — When “WandaVision” wraps its initial run next month on the Disney+ streaming service, Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda will make her next appearance in the big-screen “Doctor Strange” sequel. It’s storytelling that determines how and when characters from the Marvel Comics universe hopscotch between TV and movies, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige said Wednesday. “All of the crossover between series, between films, will always vary based on the story,” Feige said. “Sometimes (a series) will go into a season two, sometimes it’ll go into a feature and then back into a series.” Wanda Maximoff, aka Scarlet Witch, plays opposite Benedict Cumberbatch’s title character in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” planned for a 2022 release. Feige wouldn’t say whether “WandaVision,” Marvel Studios' first original series for Disney+, has a future after its March 5 season finale. The riff on generations of TV sitcoms — with the added superhero twist — brought Wanda and Paul Bettany's character, Vision, to the fore from the “Avengers” movie franchise. “I’ve been at Marvel for too long to say a definite no or definite yes to anything,” Feige replied when asked about the show's future during a virtual panel discussion held by the Television Critics Association. But second seasons are being considered and planned for series, he said, without giving away details. There’s a flurry of potential new Disney+ candidates, including “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” debuting March 19 with Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan reprising their roles from “Avengers: Endgame.” “Loki,” starring Tom Hiddleston revisiting his character following the events of “Endgame,” debuts June 11. After “Ms. Marvel” arrives on the streaming service (with the date yet to be announced), the character will move to the next “Captain Marvel” movie, Feige said. He was asked if shifting Marvel stories and characters between film and TV might end up cutting into the potential audience. “I always say when the lights go down and and a movie starts, it’s a clean slate — forget everything that’s come before and be able to enjoy something that’s its own self-contained story line,” Feige said. He acknowledged that as the studio makes more shows and films and introduces new characters, it “becomes harder and harder” to meet that goal. “But it is something that all of our writers and filmmakers pay great attention to, to make sure that fans can follow" the latest chapter and that newcomers can enjoy it too, he said. When the Walt Disney Co. acquired Marvel Entertainment for about $4 billion in 2009, prior deals left some of its properties with other studios. Asked if Marvel Studios might be able to regain them, Feige said he believes it could happen, but added that “rumours online about things reverting” to Marvel aren't always true. Lynn Elber, The Associated Press
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the army seized power and detained civilian government leader Aung San Suu Kyi and much of her party leadership after the military complained of fraud in a November election. Protests and strikes have taken place daily for about three weeks, and students had planned to come out again in the commercial hub Yangon on Thursday. But before many coup opponents congregated, about 1,000 supporters of the military turned up for a rally in the city centre.
En 1901, le maire du village de Saint-Jérôme de Matane est autorisé à aller à Ottawa avec Louis-Joseph Levasseur pour demander le prolongement du chemin de fer de Métis à Matane. En 1910-1911, il atteint Matane et... n'ira jamais plus loin. Il passe par Price, Petit-Métis, Baie-des-Sables et St-Ulric. Il traverse un terrain relativement plat et les ponts à construire sont peu nombreux. La construction de cette voie ferrée ne tarde pas à favoriser l'économie de la région. Ainsi, on délaisse les cultures céréalières au profit de la pomme de terre, fort en demande sur les marchés du pays. Cet intérêt se manifeste aussi pour les produits laitiers. Mais, les coûts de transport sont élevés. Il en coûterait plus cher pour faire circuler un colis entre Mont-Joli et Matane qu'entre Montréal et Mont-Joli. Il se fera donc encore beaucoup de commerce par bateau. En 1902, naissance de Félix-Adrien F.-A. Gauthier qui deviendra maire de Matane de 1960 à 1963. Il est décédé le 3 avril 1985. Propriétaire de la Laiterie de Matane en 1949. Félix-Adrien Gauthier a fondé avec quelques investisseurs la compagnie de navigation Traverse Matane-Godbout ltée en 1959. Selon la Société des traversiers du Québec (STQ), M. Gauthier a été l’initiateur et le promoteur de ce projet vital pour les régions de la Gaspésie et de la Côte-Nord. Le traversier effectuant la liaison entre Matane, Baie-Comeau et Godbout porte maintenant son nom depuis 2015. Romain Pelletier, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane
A remote First Nation in Northern Ontario has declared a state of emergency for its off-reserve members in Thunder Bay after an outbreak among them in the city, where COVID-19 infections continue to surge. In a press release Wednesday, Chief Chris Moonias of Neskantaga First Nation said 12 off-reserve members in Thunder Bay have confirmed infections, affecting six per cent of the 217 members living in the city. Chief Moonias is asking Indigenous Services Canada to provide emergency housing for at least 14 of its members who are among those without adequate housing in Thunder Bay and at higher risk of becoming infected. He says a lack of housing in Neskantaga forces members to leave the community. Minister of Indigenous Services Marc Miller said his department is prepared to offer support to the community and has been in close contact with Thunder Bay authorities as the cases rise. COVID-19 outbreaks have affected the city’s homeless population and schools. Associate Deputy Minister Valerie Gideon said the department has funding available for First Nations affected by COVID-19 while living away from their communities. Chief Moonias said immunizing First Nation members living in Thunder Bay against the virus has to be a priority as soon as more vaccines are available. Ontario has identified all Indigenous adults as among the next priority groups in phase one of its vaccine rollout. In a COVID-19 update Wednesday, Mr. Miller said Ontario’s Ornge air-ambulance service and Weeneebayko Area Health Authority in Northern Ontario are close to vaccinating 70 per cent of members in 31 remote, fly-in First Nations, including Neskantaga, with the first dose. Manitoba has opened up vaccinations to the general public, with appointments now available to people 95 and older and First Nations people older than 75. Mr. Miller said the department is working closely with the National Association of Friendship Centres and provinces and territories in the vaccine rollout for Indigenous adults in urban cities and towns across the country. “Urban Indigenous populations face many if not the same systemic barriers to accessing services of those living in isolated or remote communities or on reserve,” said Mr. Miller. Jocelyn Formsma, the executive director for the National Association of Friendship Centres in Ottawa, has been advocating for safe and accessible vaccination clinics for urban Indigenous populations. She said that because the vaccines are allocated by provinces and territories to local public-health authorities, Friendship Centres are pushing for provincial vaccine rollouts to include a plan for urban Indigenous people. She said it’s encouraging to see vaccine clinics for urban Indigenous adults being set up in places such as the Wabano Centre in Toronto – a result of local public-health authorities partnering with urban Indigenous organizations. However, she added that there need to be vaccine clinics in rural locations, as well, and that Friendship Centres have the resources to facilitate those clinics and ensure that all Indigenous adults have appropriate access. Mr. Miller said that overall COVID-19 case counts in First Nations continue to decline and that more than 103,000 vaccine doses have been administered in about 450 First Nations, Inuit and territorial communities. Tom Wong, Chief Medical Officer of Public Health for Indigenous Services, said that there have been no confirmed cases of the COVID-19 variants in Northern Manitoba. However, Dr. Wong said that it’s a matter of when, not if, the variants arrive in First Nations and that redoubling public-health efforts will be key to stopping the spread to prevent outbreaks. Willow Fiddler, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Globe and Mail
Boeing Co is working with regulators and customers to return the 737 MAX to the skies in Asia, a senior executive said on Thursday, where it remains grounded nearly two years after two deadly crashes even though it has returned in other markets. "We're continuing to work with global regulators and our customers to return the 737 MAX to service worldwide," Boeing Vice President Commercial Marketing Darren Hulst told reporters during a briefing on the Southeast Asian market.
For eight years, Waheeda Giga has struggled with an eating disorder that was triggered by the death of her father. She viewed food as an enemy that needed to be restricted, and if she failed, she’d throw herself into a punishing routine of vigorous exercise. “I use food and exercise to control and feel safe when I can’t deal with heavy emotions or grief,” she says of her ongoing battle with anorexia nervosa and compulsive exercise. Giga, a 37-year-old city of Toronto employee, is now a year into her recovery at the eating disorders outpatient program at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton, which she participates in virtually from home. It’s a journey that took place under the unusual backdrop of the global pandemic, for better and for worse. It’s also a journey that isn’t unique to Giga. Hospital data from the Greater Toronto Area points to an alarming rise in eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia during the pandemic, as people try to cope with widespread grief from losing loved ones, income, or even a sense of routine and normalcy. The pandemic has also disrupted the way eating-disorder care is provided, shedding light on cracks in the system and the continued need for access as more people struggle. Ontario’s public health officials nodded to the issue in their latest COVID-19 projections on Feb. 11, where they noted a substantial increase in eating-disorder-related hospitalizations and emergency department visits among young people aged three to 17. In July 2020, the hospitalization rate for youth was three per 100,000, higher than the average of around 1.8 per 100,000. The National Eating Disorder Information Centre helpline has seen a 70 per cent increase in calls and texts, said Alexa Giorgi, a spokesperson for the University Health Network, which runs the helpline. This includes an 87 per cent increase in chats from individuals 25 and younger. Experts and people with lived experience say it’s a problem that has affected adults too. Dr. Michele Laliberte, a clinical psychologist and lead of the eating disorders program at St. Joseph’s Hospital, which treats adults, said wait-times for the program have doubled from three months to five or six months since the pandemic began, partly due to COVID’s interruption of the admission process while the program was transitioning to virtual care. But a virtual outpatient program may stay for the long-term beyond the pandemic, Laliberte added, as it could improve access to an already-scarce type of eating-disorder care in the region. It’s been especially helpful for Giga, who was able to attend her recovery program from the comfort of her own home instead of commuting weekly to Hamilton — the closest city to Toronto that houses an outpatient eating disorder program covered by OHIP. “I was scared to start because I didn’t know what it would involve with getting accommodations from work, and I was anxious because of the commute,” said Giga, who began treatment a month before the pandemic after being on a five-month long wait-list. At that point, Giga’s Body Mass Index (BMI) reached a critical point of 17.5 — what is considered to be close to severely underweight. She had weighed about 102 lbs. at that time, and was told she would require more intensive treatment if her BMI slipped any further. “I think that was a wake-up call for me,” she said. Limiting barriers to care is now paramount with more people looking to access eating-disorder care as a result of the pandemic. Kyle Ganson, an associate professor at the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, said COVID-19 has presented many triggers for eating disorders, all tied to how our lives have changed in the last year. “The major disruptions in routines for people is key,” Ganson said. We’ve been forced to stay home where opportunities for exercise are limited, which could trigger changes in eating habits for some who worry about maintaining “a healthy lifestyle.” Some anticipate they will gain weight as a result of these changes, Ganson added, which creates stress, anxiety and even feelings of stigma. “There’s also a lot of loss and a lot of trauma,” Ganson said. “Food is a way to control some of that.” Maria Estrada, a 25-year-old woman who struggled with an eating disorder at age 15, said some elements of the disorder have resurfaced during the pandemic, mainly due to isolation and feelings of losing control over her life. “Nobody’s supervising you, nobody’s seeing you, nobody’s gonna notice,” Estrada said. “You’re not seeing your friends. They’re not going to feed you, or ask to go out for lunch. I don’t have that anymore.” Ganson is careful to add that these issues affect both women and men, albeit in different ways. For men, eating disorders can sometimes manifest in the form of seeking masculinity or leanness through excessive exercise or the use of supplements. “In our culture, we are much more OK with these types of behaviours and we don’t necessarily shun them or acknowledge there might be a problem,” Ganson said. For youth in particular, the pandemic has meant more time spent on screens and social media as schools transitioned online. Research has shown that increased time spent consuming social media can lead to issues like body dissatisfaction, Ganson said. “We also know that kids with eating disorders are known to have what we call co-occurring mental health issues, specifically anxiety and depression,” said Christina Bartha, the executive director of the brain and mental health program at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto. At Sick Kids, the number of admissions for eating disorders began to dramatically increase in late August of last year, said Dr. Debra Katzman, co-founder of the hospital’s eating disorders program. It’s a trend that continues to be observed well into 2021. “We’re seeing a 35 per cent increase in the number of kids we are admitting in the hospital, and they’re coming in primarily in the latter half of the year,” Katzman said. Since April of last year, Sick Kids admitted 175 children for eating-disorder-related issues, compared to 120 children in the same time-frame before the pandemic. The wait-times for the outpatient program at Sick Kids have also more than doubled as a result, Katzman said. “Our systems were not designed for this sort of level of necessary clinical intervention, so we’re trying to adjust to that,” she said. Eating disorders are hard to treat, Katzman added. It’s not a health issue that is treated with prescription medication, but rather one that requires intensive care with a multidisciplinary team of experts that can continue for weeks to months on end. “I think we are taxing the system right now given the number of kids that are presenting to care,” Katzman said. The Ontario government announced a few funding initiatives geared towards eating disorders last October, though none involve directly supporting existing services. One includes $3.7 million for a new eating disorders program for youth aged 25 and under, with four pilot sites to start. “At this time, the program is in development as it is brand new,” said Alexandra Hilkene, spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, in an email. Another $800,000 has been put forward to support the creation of Eating Disorders Ontario, a pilot program to train and deploy eating disorder prevention experts who will work with local communities and schools in the province. The program is also currently in development, Hilkene said. At St. Joseph’s Hospital’s eating disorders program, demand has quadrupled since 2010, Laliberte said. Despite that, staffing hasn’t increased in that time due to lack of resources. “Eating disorders are never at the table,” Laliberte said. But the pandemic hasn’t been all bad, especially for patients like Giga who have endured lengthy waits to receive adequate treatment. For example, the closure of gyms in Toronto heightened her anxiety as she tried to increase her food intake, a necessary and early component of her recovery plan. But gym closures also meant she had to increase her calorie-count knowing she wouldn’t be able to offset it by vigorous exercise — a feat that would have been harder to achieve with the temptation of open gyms and yoga studios. Being able to receive treatment in her own home, she added, meant she could receive treatment in a space she considered safe without the pressure of commuting. “My nutritionist at treatment called it a divine intervention,” Giga said. “Sometimes I feel like it honestly probably took a pandemic for me to recover.” Giga is now close to a fully-restored weight of 112 lbs. and a BMI of 20.3. It’s a small hopeful note in an otherwise difficult time for many. With a renewed focus on eating disorders, Laliberte and others hope the pandemic could be an opportunity to revamp what has been traditionally an inaccessible care system for the long term. Nadine Yousif is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering mental health. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Follow her on Twitter: @nadineyousif_ Nadine Yousif, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
LOS ANGELES — The U.S. military on Wednesday began delivering shots at coronavirus vaccination centres in Texas and New York and announced that service members will start staffing four centres in Florida and one in Philadelphia next week. The expanded vaccination effort came as Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin met with military commanders overseeing the COVID-19 response effort. He also visited the vaccination centre in Los Angeles, the first staffed by the new active-duty military teams that are being developed. The Biden administration has said that delivering the vaccine to Americans is a top priority. The Pentagon is ramping up the deployment of what federal authorities say could be up to 100 vaccination teams around the country. The stepped-up efforts reflect the extent to which the coronavirus has devastated the United States, killing more than 500,000 Americans. While average daily deaths and new infections have been falling, some experts say too few Americans have been inoculated for the vaccine to be making enough of a difference. The decline instead is attributed to the passing of the holidays, more people staying indoors during the winter and better adherence to mask rules and social distancing. California has the highest coronavirus death toll in the nation, at more than 49,000. Austin is touring the federally run vaccination site that is set up on the campus of California State University of Los Angeles, which opened last week. The site, on the east side of LA, is staffed by a 222-member military team from Fort Carson, Colorado, and it highlights an effort by state leaders to make the vaccinations more available to communities hit hard by the pandemic. Watching the line of cars file slowly through the parking area on campus as people in their cars got shots, Austin spoke with troops who have been giving out vaccines. One soldier from the area told Austin how thrilled he was to be able to give his own mother a shot. “It almost brought me to tears,” Austin said later, recounting the story. Speaking to another group of service members working at the walk-up vaccination site, Austin said they need to take the leadership, co-ordination and compassionate skills they have learned doing this to their next mission. Austin told reporters later that the military is learning every day how to make the process more efficient. And he said one thing that has proved successful has been the mobile vaccination teams, and he intends to talk to agency leaders about expanding those. Despite the state's high death toll, the rates of new infections and hospitalizations continue to plummet across the state. Health officials said Sunday that the number of patients in California hospitals with COVID-19 has slipped below 7,000, a drop of more than a third over two weeks. Total cases are approaching 3.45 million. The positivity rate for people being tested has been falling for weeks, which means fewer people will end up in hospitals. In his first trip outside Washington as defence chief, Austin stopped in Colorado at U.S. Northern Command and met with its commander, Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck, who also heads the North American Aerospace Defence Command. Military officials there told reporters travelling with Austin that service members are delivering 6,000 shots a day in Los Angeles and will build to that number at the centre in Houston, where the 222-member team started working Wednesday. Smaller, 139-member teams began operations in the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, and in Dallas, which has two. They are expected to soon be delivering 3,000 shots a day. Austin has so far approved the deployment of 25 military vaccination teams, which come in two sizes, 222 members and 139 members, and total about 4,700 service members. So far, 11 have either started or will begin next week. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has asked for 100 such teams, which would put the Defence Department on pace to deploy as many as 19,000 troops if all are needed. The troop number is almost double what federal authorities initially thought would be needed. The five military teams moving into cities this week include 139-member units going to Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville in Florida, and a 222-member team going to Philadelphia. The military has also sent three 25-member medical units to cities in New Jersey and is sending one to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Military officials said developing new sites will depend on how much vaccine becomes available and whether states request the aid and can provide proper locations. Separately, in a video message to the military force, Austin urged service members to get the vaccine. The shot is voluntary because the vaccines have not yet gotten final approval from the Food and Drug Administration. And while rates vary, military units around the world say 30 to 60% per cent of their troops who are offered the vaccine are declining. Military leaders said last week that they believe the overall declination rate is about 30%, but they say they do not have good data. Speaking to reporters in Los Angeles, Austin also acknowledged the reluctance in the Black community to the vaccine. As the first Black person to serve as defence chief, Austin said that he believes the vaccine is safe and that with enough information people will make the right decision. Lolita C. Baldor, The Associated Press
CAMEROON, Cameroon — Russian supermodel and philanthropist Natalia Vodianova became a United Nations goodwill ambassador on Wednesday, pledging to promote the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls and tackle stigmas surrounding their bodies. She will be a campaigner for the U.N. Population Fund, which now calls itself the U.N.’s sexual and reproductive health agency, known as UNFPA. UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem, who announced her appointment, called Vodianova “above all a passionate, longtime advocate for the rights and the needs of women and girls and in particular people living with disabilities.” Working with UNFPA for the last three years, Kanem said, Vodianova has focused on “breaking harmful taboos and tackling the stigmas that surround women’s bodies and health, including menstrual health even during humanitarian crises, and all forms of gender-based violence.” Vodianova, who will celebrate her 39th birthday on Sunday, said she was honoured by her new role and told a U.N. press conference by video link: “I look forward to continuing my work to tackle the myths and taboos that billions of women, girls and vulnerable young people have to live with and raise the standards of women’s health and dignity.” Vodianova was raised in poverty by a single mother with a half-sister who has cerebral palsy and autism. She signed with Viva Model Management at the age of 17 and has worked for fashion companies including Calvin Klein, Balmain, Stella McCartney and Louis Vuitton and appeared on many magazine covers, including Vogue. She made the Forbes top models list in 2012 and is nicknamed Supernova. Vodianova founded the Naked Heart Foundation to help children with special needs and their families in 2004 and is a member of the Special Olympics International board of directors. She told reporters that one focus of her work as a goodwill ambassador will be on the taboo and stigma surrounding menstruation, a monthly challenge for girls and women. On any given day, UNFPA said more than 800 million girls and women between ages 15 and 49 are menstruating, and may face exclusion from public life, barriers to opportunities, lack of proper sanitation and health, and neglect. “These stigmas and taboos are deeply rooted in our cultures and held there with such an overwhelming power,” Vodianova said. “And it doesn’t matter where you’re born ... you will face these issues growing up in one way or another.” She said a good example is that “period products, something that is a right for women, not just something nice to have” are still not widely publicly available in many countries. “It is now our responsibility to culturally redefine what is normal,” Vodianova said. “As UNFPA goodwill ambassador, I want to work to build a world where we no longer need to explain this.” Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press
Canada's main stock index is expected to extend its record-setting rally this year as a global economic recovery boosts the outlook for the index's heavily weighted financial and resource stocks, a Reuters poll found. "The TSX Composite with its heavy makeup of financials, energy and material stocks should be a perfect proxy and beneficiary of a global economic reopening," said Matt Skipp, president of SW8 Asset Management. Investors expected the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, historically low interest rates and fiscal stimulus to support an economic recovery.
Provincial police demonstrated life-saving measures when falling through ice at Lower Reach Park in Smiths Falls last week, on Friday, Feb. 18. After a hole was cut into the ice, Ontario Provincial Police Constable Sean McCaffrey jumped into the Rideau River waters to exhibit how to survive such an incident. The 1-10-1 rule was used as a helpful reminder for best course of action. The first 1 is for one minute, when a person is to likely gasp with shock. Breathing calmly is important in this first minute. The 10 is for the first 10 minutes, which is how long effective use of fingers, arms and legs will likely last. Because of this, it is in the first 10 minutes that self-rescue is at its most critical. The second 1 is for one hour, which is the time before hypothermia could potentially set in. Self-rescue is still recommended past the 10-minute mark, but police note it is important to be calling for help and continuing to focus on breathing. Other tips recommended by PC McCaffrey include ensuring anyone venturing out onto ice carries ice picks, wears appropriate clothing and never goes alone or at night. Assisting PC McCaffrey with the demonstration was the Ontario Provincial Police's East Region Snowmobile, ATV, and Vessel Enforcement (SAVE) Unit, Smiths Falls police and other emergency services. More safety tips can be found online at www.redcross.ca/. Marshall Healey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
Plastic bags have been overtaken by face masks as one of the most common pieces of plastic waste. In fact, 102 million are thrown every week in the UK alone. View on euronews
Timmins MPP Gilles Bisson hosted a virtual town hall meeting on Tuesday evening to allow the public to discuss how they've been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and everything relating to the government imposed restrictions and lockdowns. Lasting approximately 70 minutes, the veteran NDP MPP fielded many questions, and allowed people to vent on various frustrations. A wide range of topics were covered. VACCINES A citizen named Gladys called in and asked: “How will I be notified, as to when and where, I'm going to go and get this vaccine?” Bisson said it was a great question, and one that he receives many times each day. He prefaced his response by acknowledging that regardless of political stripe, every government is facing a tremendous amount of challenges in handling the pandemic. “Currently we're in what they call 'Phase 1' – which means to say they are going to vaccinate, as vaccines become available, and we've started in Timmins already, people living in long-term care homes, people living in some retirement homes that are higher risk...and then they move to healthcare workers, people living in alternate levels of care at the hospital, hospital workers, ambulance people, paramedics, police, and others. People at risk,” said Bisson. He said once that step is done, the government will likely set priorities for the general public by age or other risk factors. He noted that the Province of Quebec has said they will be vaccinating those 85 years of age and up beginning next week. “I think that's how they're going to do it. They're going to say everybody over a certain age, get them done, and then they'll move to the second, third, fourth, and so on.” Gladys followed up by stating that she believes she is a “high risk” individual due to a compromised immune system, but doesn't feel she will be included in the higher priority category. “More than likely, you should be able to go ahead of others,” replied Bisson, adding that he is personally immunosuppressed due to a medication he takes for his psoriatic arthritis, but that at only 63 years of age, he will likely be well down the priority list. He added that the province has yet to release the full details of the immunization plan, and how exactly people will be notified. Later on, a citizen who identified himself as Wayne asked what will happen to people who outright refuse the vaccine. “I'm going to go over there Wayne, and tackle you if you don't take your vaccine,” joked Bisson. “People have the right to refuse vaccines. Nobody is going to be forced to take a vaccine if they don't want to take it. I would highly encourage you to take the vaccine, but that is a personal choice, and people have the right to make that decision themselves,” he explained. MENTAL HEALTH A question came in regarding the strong likelihood that mental health and addiction issues have been exacerbated during the pandemic, and what exactly has the province done to assist those struggling. “I think the short answer is, even at the best of times, we do not have the capacity in the system to respond to both addictions and mental health problems the way that they should be,” responded Bisson. “During this pandemic, it has certainly gotten worse. People who are under stress, and are having a difficulty dealing with this from a mental health or an addiction perspective, don't have a lot of extra services to be able to provide the kind of support they need to get them through this. This has been a real problem.” PUBLIC EVENTS With some aspects of the economy now re-opened, there are some wondering if Ontarians can expect to see live entertainment, such as concerts and sporting events, made available any time soon. “The government, because of the recommendations they're getting from health officials, like Chief Medical Officers, and other health experts, and the health panel, are reluctant to open up sporting events in a big way until we reach a certain point of people being vaccinated,” said Bisson. “So this whole term they call 'herd immunity' is when 70 or 80 per cent of the population is vaccinated, the chances of people being able to spread the disease is much lower. So they'll be able to get back to a more normal setting when it comes to going to concerts, and going to sporting events, and doing the various things we used to do.” He said the short answer is, the government is in no hurry to relax on their current restrictions regarding large public events. “I think it will be in stages, and it will be slow to come until we get to the point of having a good part of our population vaccinated.” ENERGY BILLS There were several questions and comments regarding increased bills for utilities such as natural gas and hydro electricity throughout the past year, particularly with people spending most of their time at home. Bisson stated bluntly that the fluctuation in hydro bills, including his own, over the past year have been “extremely annoying.” “I don't think there is anybody in Ontario who supports what has happened to our hydro system, and what it means to us. The private sector, when it comes to natural gas and others, there has been absolutely no push on the part of the province for them to give any kind of respite to people when it comes to their energy bills, other than what we control, which is Hydro One.” He added that during the last provincial election campaign, both the Ontario Progressive Conservatives and the NDP had very specific plans to how to deal with hydro, and to lower the rates. “The Conservatives won the government on the basis of their promises, and their campaigning, and rates have gone up every year since they've been in office. “They should have, for the time of the pandemic, left electricity rates at the 10 cents per kilowatt, no matter what time or day of the week it is, as a way for people to cope.” TRAVEL BARRIERS A citizen named Jason called in to ask about the possibility of the province implementing travel barriers to mitigate the spread of possible new COVID-19 variants. “With the springtime coming up, a lot of people from Southern Ontario come up to Northern Ontario to enjoy all of our splendour up here. Is there anything we're going to do to stop that, or is there any contingency plan there?” he said. Bisson replied that any measures like that are extremely complicated to put in place. “We started looking at that ourselves, sometime before Christmas, and a number of our Northern colleagues started looking at it. “It gets quite complicated because, if you're the mine operator, and you have to have somebody come up and do specific work to keep the mine running, do you prevent those people from coming up? Doctors travelling, truckers moving goods, it gets really complicated when it comes to shutting down regions of the province.” Bisson said that although it was looked at, the government ultimately decided not to go that route. “Was that the right decision? I think only time will tell.” GENERAL REMARKS Bisson acknowledged that it is very easy to criticize government currently, whose members have a very tough job, and not a lot of of precedence to work with in dealing with a major public health crisis. But the provincial government's performance, led by Premier Doug Ford, has been a mixed bag. “Mr. Ford, I've got to tell you, I give him full marks, when he goes in front of a camera, he says the right things,” said Bisson. “The problem with Mr. Ford, I find, is that he doesn't deliver on what he has talked about, and then it becomes sort of an undeliverable.” Bisson said overall, the chatter among those at Queen's Park, is that the Ford government isn't doing a very good job of listening to the concerns of its constituents that have been brought forward by MPPs. “It's unfortunate, but that's kind of the direction this government has taken.” Andrew Autio is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for The Daily Press. LJI is a federally funded program. Andrew Autio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Daily Press
Paramount Pictures is joining other major Hollywood studios in slashing the traditional 90-day theatrical window. ViacomCBS on Wednesday announced that some of the studio’s films, including “Mission: Impossible 7” and “A Quiet Place Part II,” will go to its fledgling streaming service, Paramount+, after 45 days in theatres. Like all studios in the past year, Paramount has had to adapt. Paramount sold some of its films to streaming services, including “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” which went to Netflix, and “Coming 2 America” to Amazon, but held back its biggest titles, including “Mission: Impossible 7” and “Top Gun: Maverick” for more traditional theatrical releases. “A Quiet Place Part II” has been delayed several times over the past year. It was originally set to come out last March, but was pulled from the schedule when theatres closed nationwide. Both it and “Mission: Impossible 7” are currently scheduled to open in the fall. The 45-day plan is yet another sign of how quickly the pandemic has changed the business of Hollywood. In the past theatre owners have been able to insist upon exclusive 90-day theatrical windows, but most have had to compromise to stay afloat during the pandemic. In the past few months, Universal Pictures reached an agreement with many theatre chains to shorten the theatrical window for its films. Warner Bros. and parent company WarnerMedia followed with the more controversial decision to debut films simultaneously in theatres and on HBO Max. And there's also the pressure to get premium content to new streaming services faster. Paramount+ launches March 4 and has some hefty competition for audience dollars and attention in Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Apple TV+ and HBO Max. A few films are being produced to go directly to to the service, including a new “Paranormal Activity” and a new “Pet Sematary” origin story. The company has also struck a deal with EPIX that will add thousands of other movies to Paramount+. Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
The Chinese military criticised the United States on Thursday for undermining regional peace and stability after a U.S. Navy warship sailed through the Taiwan Strait a day earlier. A spokesman for the People's Liberation Army's Eastern Theater Command said in a statement the Chinese military tracked the USS Curtis Wilbur as the destroyer made what the U.S. Navy called a "routine Taiwan Strait transit".
DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa House Republicans cast the final vote needed Wednesday to send a bill to the governor that sharply limits early voting in the state, months after a general election overseen by a Republican secretary of state resulted in record turnout and overwhelming victories by GOP candidates. The bill passed with only Republican votes just a day after it similarly passed the Senate. Supporters of the legislation cited fraud concerns as the reason early voting must be reined in. However, like in many other Republican-led states where similar steps are being considered, there historically haven't been widespread concerns about irregularities in the election system. “When we go back home and talk to people in the gas stations, at the grocery stores and at the hardware stores there is no disputing there are tens of thousands of Iowans that tell this Republican caucus every single week when we go home we emphatically support this bill, we want this bill, we think this bill is necessary and we support it,” said Rep. Bobby Kaufmann, who managed the bill in the House. Democrats who are outnumbered in both chambers were left aghast but in no position to stop the changes. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds, a strong supporter of former President Donald Trump, has indicated she'd consider them. “Last fall we had elections overseen by a Republican secretary of state in which Republicans gained seats in the Iowa House and the U.S. House, so if there is any significant voter fraud in this state then two things are true," Democratic Sen. Herman Quirmbach of Ames said. “It’s your fault, and second, it raises questions of the legitimacy of your own elections.” The bill written by Republicans would shorten the early voting period to 20 days from the current 29, just three years after Republicans reduced the period from 40 days. It also would require most mail ballots to be received by county election officials by the time polls close on Election Day, rather than counting votes as long as they were postmarked by Election Day and arrived by noon on the Monday following the election. The bill prohibits the use of a U.S. Postal Service postmark as a way to verify when a ballot was mailed. Polling times also would be reduced by an hour, closing at 8 p.m. rather than 9 p.m. And there would be new rules on absentee ballot request forms, banning officials from sending out the forms unless a voter requests one. Satellite voting sites also could only be set up if enough voters petition for one, and voters would be removed from active voting lists if they miss a single general election and don't report a change in address or registered as a voter again. Rep. Chris Hall during House debate told Kaufmann his bill “is a cruel trick on the very voters we are here to serve. It is morally hollow.” The Brennan Center for Justice, a public policy group, has counted 253 bills across the country this year meant to limit access to voting. Republican lawmakers have said the proposals are meant to bolster confidence in future elections, though they have been the loudest proponents of meritless claims that the previous election was fraudulent. Sylvia Albert, director of the voting and elections project at Common Cause, a nonpartisan organization that advocates to expand access to voting, said the GOP is moving to depress turnout following their losses in the last election cycle. “Instead of dealing with real issues these legislatures are revoking access to the ballot,” she said. “The motivation is not to secure an election, the motivation is to undermine access to the ballot.” Democratic Sen. Pam Jochum pointed out that 76% of Iowa Democrats voted by mail in November and 52% of Republicans as mail voting surged in popularity amid the coronavirus pandemic. Iowa Republicans backing the bill argue there was voter fraud in states where Trump narrowly lost to Democrat Joe Biden, though courts have repeatedly ruled there was no significant fraud. Still, Republicans said that belief has caused their constituents to lose faith in the integrity of elections, so changes are needed. Their action follows repeated claims by Trump that mail balloting was vulnerable to fraud, again without any evidence. During Senate debate, Sioux City Republican Sen. Jim Carlin said “most of the Republican caucus believe the election was stolen.” He added, “Who believes that Joe Biden got 12 million more votes than Obama on his best day? I don’t believe that he did better than Barack Obama.” Iowa City Democratic Sen. Joe Bolkcom said those kind of conspiracy theories and cult behaviour toward Trump are what has led some people to lose faith in elections. “I for one am not going to normalize this bizarre irrational conspiracy theory thinking and behaviour,” he said. In a public hearing held Monday night nearly 1,200 people signed up to comment on the measure. All but 28 opposed the legislation. Janice Weiner, a retired U.S. foreign service officer, said the section of the bill that shortens the time for absentee voting will hurt people who go south for Iowa winters, victims of domestic violence, voters in rural areas and the elderly. She cautioned lawmakers against believing debunked lies about election fraud. “Just as Sen. (Joni) Ernst won her election and each of you won yours, President Biden won freely and fairly,” she said. “The remedy for the big lie of a stolen election is not to take an axe to election laws that worked exceedingly well, it’s simply to tell the truth.” Gary Leffler, a West Des Moines resident who supports the bill, said he was at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and could attest that people are concerned about voter integrity. “Right now you’ve got half the people who voted in a national election who are feeling like yesterday’s newspaper in the bottom of a birdcage and they’re trying to figure out how in the world did this happen. You must restore integrity back into our voting. I think this bill goes a long way to getting that done," he said. ___ Associated Press writer Anthony Izaguirre in Lindenhurst, New York, contributed to this report. David Pitt, The Associated Press
There’s a special recipe for “meat-counter economics” that’s simmering across grocery stores in Canada. The not-so-secret ingredient? COVID-19. Leading food economists believe spiralling pricing and consumption trends won’t just last during the course of the pandemic, but will likely result in sticker shocks for any kind of protein for many years to come. That includes plant-based products along with the “industry trifecta” of chicken, pork and beef, said Sylvain Charlebois, speaking to more than 700 nutritionists and food-sector professionals at a virtual conference Tuesday. Charlebois, a keynote speaker at the event hosted by the Canadian Nutrition Society and senior director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab, talked at length about the many ways in which the coronavirus has “rampaged” the trajectory of food-related commerce. “Before the crisis, vegetable proteins were truly rising and very much in fashion, plastics were the new threat and shopping online was seen by many as a far-fetched idea,” said the supply management professor, based at Dalhousie University in Halifax. “That hasn’t only changed now, but it’s impacted everyone — from restaurants, grocers, abattoirs, online services and those that are customers for them, down to the suppliers and manufacturers, and even delivery people.” Through studies and polls conducted last year, food experts have many reasons to believe meat prices will likely continue to rise. At the same time, pricing for plant-based products is expected to remain stagnant, with fewer competitors in the market. “I like to think of those two food categories as the different dimensions of proteins,” said Charlebois. “Right now, there’s no equilibrium between them. Prior to the pandemic, we were thinking that would happen very soon. And it seems that that peace might still come, it just won’t happen for a while.” According to polling from the Agri-Food Analytics Lab shared Tuesday, the Prairies rank the highest across Canada in terms of daily consumption for meat — with 72.58 per cent saying they consume meat daily, 17.74 per cent once or twice a week, and 4.84 per cent monthly. Although they’re about 20 points down for daily consumption in other provinces such as Quebec or British Columbia, those trends are fairly consistent across Canada. In Manitoba, data from Statistics Canada for beef prices alone shows that, stewing cuts jumped to $17.20 per kilogram from $13.50; sirloin cuts climbed to $24.04 from $17.84; and striploin cuts came to a staggering $31.57 from $18.15. But those are figures from the summer of 2020, and experts believe they will continue bumping up across the board for several years. For Charlebois, a lot of that has to do with “the many economic anomalies” created by the pandemic. “We’ve never seen our trifecta of meats on sale with rising prices at the same time really, never ever before,” he said. “The only way I see this changing though is if consumption itself changes, and there’s some inclinations to show it could happen.” Since the pandemic has caused meat prices to rise, Charlebois believes Canadians might eventually start buying more plant-based products not just due to dietary desires, but also because of comparatively cheaper costs. “Think about it this way,” he said. “You’re doing your groceries and about to buy some meat, but you’re sticker-shocked at the price. Wouldn’t you want the cheaper alternative, which in this case is the greener choice and probably even healthier for you?” At the end of Tuesday’s presentations, moderator Mary L’Abbé asked questions on behalf of the attendees, poring from more than 50 that came in. L’Abbé is a much-lauded nutritional science professor at the University of Toronto. Questions ranged from how to navigate post-pandemic markets to the language that could be used to create awareness for nutritional products which aren’t performing well in terms of sales. It all depends on how companies and store chains market their products, Charlebois said, and whether nutritionists can fulfil the “heavy task” of educating widely and readily. “We’ve seen that food literacy is a pretty big issue for Canadians through our polls across the year,” he said. “We’d expected people would become more aware because of the pandemic, but the reality is, they’re just not. It’s like they know it’s good to be vegan or vegetarian and they respect those who are, they just don’t know why they should be one themselves. “To combat many of these interesting consumption and economic issues, I think it may be time to realize the entire trajectory has changed. Maybe then we can find the solutions.” Temur Durrani, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
ORLANDO, Fla. — Megan Rapinoe scored twice and the United States won the SheBelieves Cup title with a 6-0 victory over Argentina on Wednesday night The United States is undefeated in 37 games in a row overall and 53 on American soil. Carli Lloyd, Kristie Mewis, Alex Morgan and Christen Press also scored, and the U.S. women also become the first team to have three straight shutouts in the SheBelieves Cup, which is in its sixth year. The United States shut out Canada in the round-robin tournament opener and then downed Brazil 2-0 on Sunday. Earlier Wednesday, Brazil beat Canada 2-0 at Exploria Stadium. Brazil finished second. Argentina, a late addition after Japan dropped out because of coronavirus concerns, did not win a match but did impress with gritty performances. Rapinoe scored in the 16th minute with a well-timed strike on a through ball from Rose Lavelle for the early lead. Rapinoe added another in the 26th minute, tapping in a cross from Lloyd. Rapinoe is the top all-time SheBelieves scorer with seven goals, including three in this edition. Lloyd added a goal in the 34th. It was Lloyd's 124th international goal and it came in her 299th appearance with the national team. Kristie Mewis scored on an angle into the far corner for her fourth career international goal in the 41st minute, and the United States took a 4-0 lead into the half. Morgan scored in 84th, her first goal since giving birth to her daughter Charlie last May. It was her 108th international goal, moving her into sole possession of fifth place on the team's career list. Press scored on a header a short time later for her 11th goal in her last 15 games. The United States improved to 4-0 against Argentina. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
(Tahmina Aziz/CBC - image credit) A week into the province's COVID-19 red zone, Windsor-Essex business owners and customers are taking advantage of the services that are now open. Some businesses had to close for two months due to the COVID-19 lockdown in the region. While those who spoke with CBC News say they're glad to finally reopen their doors, some hope restrictions will ease up even more. Tina Ngoc Tram, owner of Paris Nails in Windsor, says the first week back was "busy" but she's excited to be in the chair and playing with nail designs again. Headline Barbershop owner Hussein Tehaili also said business is booming, with his days fully booked since the reopening. WATCH: To hear more about how local businesses are doing a week into the red zone, tap the player below. Under the province's 'red-control' zone, these sorts of personal services are allowed to open, though customers can't remove their mask. Restaurants and bars are also allowed to open their indoor dining sections with a limit of 10 guests at a time. As of February, the province also expanded the capacity limits of retailers under the red-control zone. This meant that supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores and pharmacies could have 75 per cent capacity limits. Meanwhile, all other retailers could open at 50 per cent capacity.
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s laws forcing Google and Facebook to pay for news are ready to take effect, though the laws' architect said it will take time for the digital giants to strike media deals. The Parliament on Thursday passed amendments to the so-called News Media Bargaining Code agreed between Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday. In return for the changes, Facebook agreed to lift a ban on Australians accessing and sharing news. Rod Sims, the competition regulator who drafted the code, said he was happy that the amended legislation would address the market imbalance between Australian news publishers and the two gateways to the internet. “All signs are good,” Sims told Australian Broadcasting Corp. “The purpose of the code is to address the market power that clearly Google and Facebook have. Google and Facebook need media, but they don’t need any particular media company, and that meant media companies couldn’t do commercial deals,” the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chair added. The rest of the laws had passed earlier, so they can now be implemented. Google has already struck deals with major Australian news businesses in recent weeks including News Corp. and Seven West Media. Frydenberg said he was pleased to see progress by Google and more recently Facebook in reaching commercial deals with Australian news businesses. But Country Press Australia, which represents 161 regional newspapers across the country, has raised concerns that tiny publications outside large cities might miss out. Sims said he was not surprised that the platforms would strike deals with the large city businesses first. “I don’t see any reason why anybody should doubt that all journalism will benefit,” Sims said. “There things take time. Google and Facebook don’t have unlimited resources to go around talking to everybody. I think this has got a long way to play out,” he added. Chris Moos, a lecturer at Oxford University’s Business School, said the latest amendments amounted to a “small victory” for Zuckerberg. Moos said the legislation would likely result in small payouts for most Australian news publishers. But Facebook could again block Australian news if negotiations broke down. The legislation was designed to curb the outsized bargaining power of Facebook and Google in their negotiations with Australian news providers. The digital giants would not be able to abuse their positions by making take-it-or-leave-it payment offers to news businesses for their journalism. Instead, in the case of a standoff, an arbitration panel would make a binding decision on a winning offer. Frydenberg and Facebook confirmed that the two sides agreed to amendments to the proposed legislation. The changes would give digital platforms one month’s notice before they are formally designated under the code. That would give those involved more time to broker agreements before they are forced to enter binding arbitration arrangements. A statement Tuesday by Campbell Brown, Facebook’s vice-president for news partnerships, added that the deal allows the company to choose which publishers it will support, including small and local ones. Frydenberg said his department will review the code within a year to “ensure it is delivering outcomes that are consistent with government's policy intent.” Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press
President Joe Biden on Wednesday formally revoked a series of presidential orders and memorandum signed by Donald Trump, including one that sought to cut funding from several cities the 45th president deemed “anarchist” havens and another mandating that federal buildings should be designed in a classical esthetic. Since taking office last month, Biden has revoked dozens of Trump orders and issued dozens more of his own as he’s sought to target foundational aspects of Trump's legacy and promote aspect of his own agenda without going through Congress. The latest slate of revocations targeted a grab-bag of issues, including a few that Trump signed in his last months in office. Trump issued a memorandum in September that sought to identify municipal governments that permit “anarchy, violence and destruction in American cities.” The memorandum followed riots during anti-police and anti-racism protests over George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police. The Justice Department identified New York City, Portland, Oregon, and Seattle as three cities that could have federal funding slashed. Those cities in turn filed a lawsuit to invalidate the designation and fight off the Trump administration’s efforts to withhold federal dollars. Seattle city attorney Pete Holmes welcomed the Biden revocation, saying he was “glad to have this nonsense cleared from the decks." Trump in his “Promoting Beautiful Federal Civic Architecture” intoned that America’s forefathers “wanted public buildings to inspire the American people and encourage civic virtue." The memorandum added that architects should look to “America’s beloved landmark buildings” such as the White House, the U.S. Capitol, the Supreme Court, the Department of the Treasury and the Lincoln Memorial for inspiration. Another order halted was one Trump issued in the final days of his presidency dubbed the “Ensuring Democratic Accountability in Agency Rulemaking." It called for limiting the ability of federal agency employees in making regulatory decisions. Biden also revoked a 2018 order that called for agency heads across the government to review welfare programs — such as food stamps, Medicaid and housing aid — and strengthening work requirements for certain recipients. ___ Associated Press writer Gene Johnson in Seattle contributed to this report. Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press