The UK is expected to stop selling petrol and diesel cars by 2030. But some car manufacturers are dubious about whether this is possible. Stellantis has even said it could force one of its UK factories to close.
The UK is expected to stop selling petrol and diesel cars by 2030. But some car manufacturers are dubious about whether this is possible. Stellantis has even said it could force one of its UK factories to close.
Canada's health officials spoke about the recent change in guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) on the time between two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and how that may contribute to vaccine hesitancy in Canada.
The dining room in Katie Rioux's Quebec City restaurant has been closed since the fall, and she expected her business would remain a takeout-only operation for weeks to come, if not longer. On Wednesday, though, the owner of Café Krieghoff received some unexpected good news. Premier François Legault announced he was scaling back health restrictions in several regions, allowing Rioux and countless other restaurant owners to serve customers sitting inside for the first time in five months. "Honestly, we could not have gotten better news than this," said Rioux, who also promised to do her part to ensure Quebec City does not go back to being a red zone. "As restaurant owners, we will do everything we can. I think the population is also on our side." Café Krieghoff owner Katie Rioux can't wait to serve sitting customers at her Quebec City restaurant for the first time in five months. (Radio-Canada) However, some public health experts say the Quebec government's decision to roll back restrictions to this extent is too hasty. Following March break, the Quebec City region will be joined by the Eastern Townships, Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec and Chaudières-Appalaches as the latest to be downgraded from red to orange zones. In these regions, gyms and show venues will be allowed to reopen, houses of worship will be able to take in as many as 100 people at a time. The government is also dropping the requirement that all primary school students must wear a medical grade mask. The nightly curfew remains, but will kick in at 9:30 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. "I would have preferred to wait until at least one week after the holiday week, because then we would be able to see the impact of the vacation on the increase of cases everywhere in Quebec," said Dr. Cécile Tremblay, a microbiologist and infectious diseases specialist at the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal. "We know that people from Montreal travel to other regions, and we won't know the result of that until two weeks from now." The race between variants and vaccines Legault's announcement came a day after Health Minister Christian Dubé and Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda held a news conference of their own, during which they warned Quebecers about the growing spread of coronavirus variants. "The ocean is calm at the moment ... but underneath there are sharks," Arruda said, "and I'll tell you what those sharks are: they're the variants." The decision to remove restrictions in places outside of the greater Montreal area seems to reflect data showing that variants are gaining more ground in Montreal than elsewhere in the province. On Wednesday, Legault said spikes in cases and hospitalizations were expected in and around Montreal, and those projections played a major role in the government's most recent announcement. But Prativa Baral, an epidemiologist with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says the province is squandering a golden opportunity to deal a crushing blow to the virus. Seniors arrive for their COVID-19 vaccination at a clinic in the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press) With more and more Quebecers set to get vaccinated, Baral says the government should focus on its inoculation campaign while limiting contacts as much as possible, in an effort to keep the spread of variants under control. "For us to be loosening restrictions now, is too premature. We don't want to be reactive, we want to be proactive for once," Baral said. "At this point, it's more of a virus versus vaccine race, and we really want to make sure that we're pushing the vaccine segment to win, as opposed the variant segment." The province's latest projections for the spread COVID-19 appear to reinforce the importance of winning that race. According to the mathematical modelling published by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) on Thursday, lowering the province's collective guard could provoke a rapid spike in new infections that could reach between 3,000 and 4,000 cases per day. It also seems possible, perhaps even likely given the presence of infectious variants, that Quebec will experience a third wave. Sticking with the low-socialization and low-contact measures that were in place from January and February might not entirely prevent another peak this spring in terms of daily infections, but it could keep hospitalization numbers and fatalities low. Marc Brisson, the director of the Université Laval mathematical modelling group that conducts the INSPQ's COVID-19 forecasts, said the model doesn't account for the government's latest announcement, but does include increased inter-regional travel and social contacts from March break. "If we can accelerate vaccination ... and follow public health guidelines, then at that point our model is saying we could stay at a number of cases that would be relatively stable. However, if vaccination slows down and there's more contact, then a third wave is predicted," he said. There is some good news in the projections, however. The model supports the government's contention that there are two distinct epidemiological realities in Quebec: greater Montreal, and the rest of the province. The fact there is lower community spread outside the province's largest urban agglomeration means it's less likely the variant strains will spread. "The race is how many vulnerable people we can protect with vaccination and ... can that variant infect the most vulnerable among us?" he said. The key, Brisson concluded, is continued adherence to public health measures, which "would buy time for the vaccine to take its effect."
Some Ontario pharmacies could be offering COVID-19 vaccines as early as next week as part of a provincial pilot program rolling out in three regions. Toronto, Kingston and Windsor-Essex are the three areas involved in the project, according to Justin Bates, the CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association (OPA). It's not known yet how many doses would be assigned to pharmacies or how many will be participating. Bates said a comprehensive list of participating stores will be finalized by Monday. Tentatively, however, the plan is for the selected pharmacies to use the newly approved AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. Bates said the three regions were chosen in consultation with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. "The three public health units were very much advanced in their vaccination plans as it related to determining what role pharmacies would play in those regions," he said. "But we're planning to scale up and we'll be adding more stores. We want all pharmacies to be able to participate once the vaccine is available." Vaccine expires at the end of March, says OPA The OPA is currently working on the details of the plan, said Bates, and are aiming to distribute vaccines across 380 stores in total. However, timing is a factor for the supply as the first shipment of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is set to expire at the end of this month. "We have a very short window to operationalise this and get all of those vaccines into arms, and that's part of the reason why we're launching next week," said Bates. "We're doing it on a limited basis because that'll give us enough vaccine for those 380 stores to get it out of their pharmacies by the end of the month." Justin Bates, the CEO of the Ontario Pharmacists Association, says time and supply is limited. The group is aiming to distribute vaccines across 380 stores in total.(Tahmina Aziz/CBC) Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for Windsor and Essex County, said the additional vaccines are "good news." "This means more protection. More vaccines in our community. We really want people to use that opportunity to get vaccinated," said Ahmed. The National Advisory Committee on Immunizations isn't recommending the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine for those 65 and older, and those who are younger will be the target group for these doses. Health Canada has authorized it to be used in adults of all ages. Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for Windsor-Essex, said having additional vaccines is "good news."(Katerina Georgieva/CBC) OPA confirmed that this month's AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccines will be used on people between the ages of 60 and 64. "Then [we] will lower the thresholds — probably in increments of five years — in intervals, when we get into April and we have more supply," Bates said. "It's going to go sequentially." This means following the vaccination of people in the cohort of 60 and 64, the next set of people to be vaccinated would be those between of ages of 55 and 59 years and so forth. "I'm super excited,' says Essex, Ont. pharmacist The pilot project is what some pharmacists, including Tim Brady, the owner of Brady's Drug Stores, in Essex, Ont. have been pushing for. While the OPA is finalizing a list of locations for this project, Brady is hopeful his pharmacies will make the cut. "We know it's happening, it's developing and growing rapidly and we're trying to stay on top of it, but I know everybody will step up and do the best we can to make sure people get the injections they need," he said. "I'm super excited. We've been waiting for this. The pharmacists of Ontario and that of Essex County are ready to put needles in arms and get the people of Essex County back to a normal life again." Pharmacist Tim Brady says he's excited about the pilot project and has been waiting for this.(Amy Dodge/CBC) Brady said the move to allow pharmacists to vaccinate is a good one, given they are equipped for mass vaccinations. "Even over this COVID year, the Ontario pharmacists are giving over a million injections a year for the flu vaccine. So this is just a natural extension of that," he said. Brady said the most challenging part for him is the logistics of the plan and he expects his pharmacy to be busy if it's part of the project. He said his pharmacy will likely follow an appointment system. Brady urges people to stay patient as not all pharmacies will have the vaccine yet. "I want everyone to stay calm. Every pharmacy will inevitably have it," he said.
LONDON — U.K. authorities have launched an investigation into Apple's App Store over concerns it has a dominant role that stifles competition and hurts consumers. The Competition and Markets Authority said Thursday it was looking into “suspected breaches of competition law" by Apple. The announcement adds to regulatory scrutiny of the iPhone maker's app distribution platform, which is also the subject of three antitrust probes by the European Union's executive Commission. Apple said the App Store is “a safe and trusted place for customers” and a “great business opportunity for developers.” The investigation was triggered in part by complaints from app developers that Apple will only let them distribute their apps to iPhone and iPad users through the App Store. The developers also complained that the company requires any purchases of apps, add-ons or upgrades to be made through its Apple Pay system, which charges up to 30% commission. “Millions of us use apps every day to check the weather, play a game or order a takeaway," Andrea Coscelli, the authority's CEO, said in a statement. “So, complaints that Apple is using its market position to set terms which are unfair or may restrict competition and choice – potentially causing customers to lose out when buying and using apps – warrant careful scrutiny." The watchdog said it would consider whether Apple has a “dominant position" in app distribution for Apple devices in the U.K., and, if it does, whether the company “imposes unfair or anti-competitive terms on developers” that results in less choice or higher prices for consumers buying apps and extra. Apple said it looked forward to explaining its App Store guidelines to the U.K. watchdog. “We believe in thriving and competitive markets where any great idea can flourish," the company said by email. “The App Store has been an engine of success for app developers, in part because of the rigorous standards we have in place — applied fairly and equally to all developers — to protect customers from malware and to prevent rampant data collection without their consent." The Associated Press
Toymaker Mattel has unveiled a Barbie doll in the likeness of British presenter Clara Amfo, who made an emotional speech on her BBC radio show following the death of George Floyd, ahead of International Women's Day. The 36-year-old DJ, who was named a "UK Barbie Role Model", spoke about her own mental health when she made an on-air call to tackle racism after the death of Floyd, a Black man, in police custody last May sparked anti-racism protests against police brutality in the United States and around the world. Amfo featured in the September issue of British Vogue magazine which celebrated activists vocal in issues including the Black Lives Matter movement, poverty and gender inequality.
Political leaders in New Caledonia on Thursday agreed new terms for the sale of Vale's nickel business, including a majority stakeholding for local interests, seeking to resolve unrest over the planned sale. The deal signed by pro-independence and loyalist leaders in the French Pacific territory also cited a "technical and industrial partnership" with Tesla, under which the electric car company would source raw materials for batteries. Brazilian miner Vale's decision last year to sell its nickel mine and processing plant to a consortium including Swiss commodity trader Trafigura sparked fierce opposition from pro-independence groups.
WASHINGTON — A key Senate committee on Thursday approved the nomination of New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland to be interior secretary, clearing the way for a Senate vote that is likely to make her the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved Haaland's nomination, 11-9, sending it to the Senate floor. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski was the lone Republican to support Haaland, who won unanimous backing from committee Democrats. Murkowski, a former chair of the committee, said she had “some real misgivings” about Haaland, because of her support for policies that Murkowski said could impede Alaska's reliance on oil and other fossil fuels. But the senator said she would place her “trust” in Haaland's word that she would work with her and other Alaskans to support the state. Her vote comes with a warning, Murkowski added: She expects Haaland “will be true to her word” to help Alaska. Haaland was not in the committee room, but Murkowski addressed her directly, saying, "I will hold you to your commitments.'' “Quite honestly,'' Murkowski added, ”we need you to be a success.'' Democratic Sens. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Maria Cantwell of Washington state both called the committee vote historic, and both said they were disappointed at the anti-Haaland rhetoric used by several Republicans. Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, the panel's top Republican, and other GOP senators have repeatedly called Haaland's views “radical” and extreme. Heinrich said two interior secretaries nominated by former President Donald Trump could be called “radical” for their support of expanded drilling and other resource extraction, but he never used that word to describe them. Under the leadership of Cantwell and Murkowski, the energy panel has been bipartisan and productive in recent years, Heinrich said, adding that he hopes that tradition continues. The committee vote follows an announcement Wednesday by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, that she will support Haaland in the full Senate. Her vote, along with Murkowski's, makes Haaland’s confirmation by the Senate nearly certain. The panel's chairman, Sen. Joe Manchin, announced his support for Haaland last week. Manchin, a moderate Democrat from West Virginia, said Thursday that he does not agree with Haaland on a variety of issues, including the Keystone XL oil pipeline, but was impressed by the strong endorsement by Alaska Rep. Don Young, a conservative Republican who is the longest-serving member of the House and has forged a strong working relationship with the liberal Haaland. As a former governor, Manchin also said he knows how important it is for a president to have his “team on board” in the Cabinet. “It is long past time to give a Native American woman a seat at the Cabinet table,'' he said. Interior oversees the nation’s public lands and waters and leads relations with nearly 600 federally recognized tribes. Barrasso, who has led opposition to Haaland, said her hostility to fracking, the Keystone XL oil pipeline and other issues made her unfit to serve in a position in which she will oversee energy development on vast swaths of federal lands, mostly in the West, as well as offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. Barrasso said a moratorium imposed by Biden on oil and gas leases on federal lands “is taking a sledgehammer to Western states’ economies.? The moratorium, which Haaland supports, could cost thousands of jobs in West, Barrasso said. Matthew Daly, The Associated Press
Heart inflammation is uncommon in pro athletes who’ve had mostly mild COVID-19 and most don’t need to be sidelined, a study conducted by major professional sports leagues suggests. The results are not definitive, outside experts say, and more independent research is needed. But the study published Thursday in JAMA Cardiology is the largest to examine the potential problem. The coronavirus can cause inflammation in many organs, including the heart. The research involved professional athletes who play football, hockey, soccer, baseball and men's and women's basketball. All tested positive for COVID-19 before October and were given guideline-recommended heart tests, nearly 800 total. None had severe COVID-19 and 40% had few or no symptoms — what might be expected from a group of healthy elite athletes with an average age of 25. Severe COVID-19 is more common in older people and those with chronic health conditions. Almost 4% had abnormal results on heart tests done after they recovered but subsequent MRI exams found heart inflammation in less than 1% of the athletes. These five athletes all had COVID-19 symptoms. Whether their heart problems were caused by the virus is unknown although the researchers think that is likely. They were sidelined for about three months and returned to play without any problems, said Dr. Mathew Martinez of Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey. He's the study’s lead author and team cardiologist for football's New York Jets. Two previous smaller studies in college athletes recovering from the virus suggested heart inflammation might be more common. The question is of key interest to athletes, who put extra stress on their hearts during play, and undetected heart inflammation has been linked with sudden death. Whether mild COVID-19 can cause heart damage ‘’is the million-dollar question,’’ said Dr. Richard Kovacs, co-founder of the American College of Cardiology’s Sports & Exercise Council. And whether severe COVID-19 symptoms increase the chances of having fleeting or long-lasting heart damage ‘’is part of the puzzle,’’ he said. Kovacs said the study has several weaknesses. Testing was done at centres affiliated or selected by each team, and results were interpreted by team-affiliated cardiologists, increasing the chances of bias. More rigorous research would have had standardized testing done at a central location and more objective specialists interpret the results, he said. Also, many of the athletes had no previous imaging exams to compare the results with, so there is no way to know for certain if abnormalities found during the study were related to the virus. ’’There is clearly more work to do but I think it is very helpful additional evidence,” said Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, president-elect of the American Heart Association. Dr. Dial Hewlett, a member of a COVID-19 task force at the National Medical Association, which represents Black physicians, said the study ‘’is extremely timely.’’ Hewlett is a deputy health commissioner for New York's Westchester County and advises high schools and colleges on when to allow young athletes to return to play after COVID-19 infections. ‘’I’m grateful that we are starting to get some data to help guide us in some of our decisions,’’ Hewlett said. ___ Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at @LindseyTanner. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Lindsey Tanner, The Associated Press
The Peace River Regional District will be going ahead with plans for a new public library in Chetwynd, after board directors voted in favour of issuing requests for proposals for design and construction at their Feb. 25 meeting. The new library is a joint effort between Area E and Chetwynd. A lean-to style building is being floated as one possible option. Costs are capped at $5 million. “This has been going on for awhile, we’re trying to get costs down to something we can afford,” said Director Dan Rose. “We’ve got floor plans and ideas of what it might look like, so they’re not starting from scratch.” He added the library has extensive experience working remotely as a satellite office. "We’re certainly willing to accommodate as many communities as we can, with our services. I’m sure we could make agreements with everybody on how to do that,” said Rose. Fort St John Mayor Ackerman agreed a regional approach could be a good move for libraries in the Peace. “I’m totally open to having that conversation, even though the library in Fort St John is not a municipal library,” said Ackerman. “If you’re suggesting a regional library, I’m on that bandwagon.” Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead says the city will lend a hand if Chetwynd needs. “I appreciate how busy it is in Chetwynd right now. If they have any trouble at all in locating a site or land for this Chetwynd Public Library, we’d be happy to help facilitate that partnership with them, and construct it in Dawson Creek,” said Bumstead, jokingly. firstname.lastname@example.org Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News
OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada will review a decision to order a new trial for an Alberta man convicted of murder. Russell Steven Tessier was charged with first-degree murder in 2015, eight years after Allan Gerald Berdahl's body was found in a ditch near Carstairs. Berdahl died from gunshot wounds to the head, and there were tire tracks, footprints and two cigarette butts near the scene. Tessier was convicted in 2018 but Alberta's Court of Appeal later ordered a new trial. The appeal court said the trial judge made legal errors concerning the voluntariness of statements Tessier made to police. As usual, the Supreme Court gave no reasons for agreeing to hear the case. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
POLITIQUE. Le député de Nicolet-Bécancour accueille favorablement le passage du Centre-du-Québec au palier d’alerte orange annoncé par le premier ministre François Legault. Bien qu’heureux de la décision, Donald Martel a certaines inquiétudes. «Je suis content pour les restaurateurs et les gyms. J’ai un mélange de joie, ça va nous faire du bien, mais j’ai aussi des inquiétudes. J’ai peur que les gens voient dans ce changement-là un relâchement des mesures de base de prévention. Il faut rester très très vigilant. Dans le comté, on a été exemplaire au niveau de nos comportements et je souhaite que ça reste comme ça», souligne Donald Martel. Pour ce qui est du sport, le député de Nicolet-Bécancour comprend les jeunes athlètes qui veulent renouer avec leur passion. «J’ai fait du sport toute ma vie. J’ai de la difficulté à m’imaginer jeune avoir été privé de jouer au hockey ou au baseball. On n’a pas fait ça de gaieté de cœur. Ça nous brise le cœur, mais c’est essentiel. Mais le premier ministre a promis qu’il ferait une intervention avant le 15 mars. On peut être optimiste face à l’avenir», indique-t-il. À ce sujet, certaines activités parascolaires au préscolaire, au primaire et au secondaire pourront reprendre, dès le 15 mars, en groupe-classe uniquement, et ce, partout au Québec, tant en zone orange qu’en zone rouge. Ajoutons qu’à partir du 8 mars, au Centre-du-Québec, le couvre-feu demeurera en vigueur. Il sera cependant repoussé de 20 h à 21 h 30. Cela signifie également, pour ces régions, la réouverture des salles d’entrainement, des salles de spectacle et des restaurants (maximum de deux adultes par table, accompagnés, s’il y a lieu, de leurs enfants d’âge mineur). Aussi, la pratique en solo, à deux ou par les occupants d’une même résidence privée d’activités sportives et de loisirs dans les lieux publics intérieurs ouverts sera permise. Également, en zone orange, les lieux de culte pourront accueillir un maximum de 100 personnes, à compter du 8 mars prochain, à la condition de l’application stricte des mesures sanitaires. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
County council agreed to support a movement for improvements at long-term care (LTC) homes, though disagreed with local advocates’ desire to end for-profit homes. Council voted to write a letter of support for the Haliburton-CKL (City of Kawartha Lakes) Long-Term Care Coalition. The advocacy group is joining with others across the province to push for improvements, including amending the Canada Health Act to include LTC, guaranteeing four hours of direct care per day for residents, stronger enforcement and a culture change. Councillors spoke in favour of those ideas. But the coalition’s desire to end private LTC did not garner support and was specifically excluded in the resolution. “The first four points that you have, I think, are a bold initiative and a great start,” Coun. Brent Devolin said. “The supply going forward, will public initiatives alone be enough to look after all of us?” Coalition co-chair, Bonnie Roe, cited the Ontario Health Coalition, a province-wide organization also calling for the end to for-profit long-term care. Its May 2020 analysis found COVID-19 deaths in homes with outbreaks were higher in private (nine per cent) versus non-profit (5.25 per cent) or publicly-owned (3.62 per cent). The Canadian military also released a report about terrible conditions at homes it intervened in last May, which prompted the province to start an independent commission. Four of those homes were privately-owned. “There are some for-profits that are excellent, but generally speaking, they do not follow the standards,” Roe said. “People are asking, ‘why are there private profits attached to us as a society caring for our elders’?” co-chair, Mike Perry, said. “Why was that ever seen as a profit-making venture?” Warden Liz Danielsen said the Eastern Ontario Warden’s Caucus has identified LTC as a priority. But she added the caucus is not yet in favour of ending private facilities. Coun. Carol Moffatt said she can attest to the challenges of eldercare and there is a drastic need for better support for health workers. “More people to do the job,” Moffatt said. “We also maybe need to be careful of what you wish for in terms of potential downloading. How do we all as a province push for the changes that are required, without it going off the cliff and then landing in the laps of municipalities for increased costs?” Perry thanked council for the support. “There’s so much common room and so much common ground for this moving forward,” he said. “That’s where we find hope in all this tragedy recently." Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
SAO PAULO — Three Brazilian states have halted their professional soccer local leagues due to a spike in hospitalizations and deaths caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The state government of Ceará, in northeastern Brazil, on Thursday ordered the local league to stop playing, but is still allowing its clubs to take part in the Brazilian Cup. The soccer bodies in Paraná and Santa Catarina, both in the country's south, also suspended their leagues. Almost 260,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Brazil, whose death toll is second only to the United States. Many Brazilian governors expect the next two weeks to be the deadliest in the South American nation since the pandemic hit one year ago. A handful of coaches and players have started a public debate on whether soccer should be stopped all together. Lisca, the coach of recently promoted America, was the most vocal proponent for a suspension of play. “I am appealing to the Brazilian FA to give the Brazilian Cup a break so we can postpone these matches for a little time,” Lisca said after his team's 1-0 win over Athletic in the local state championship on Wednesday. “I am losing friends. I know that soccer is entertainment, and it is important for people at home. But our lives are more important, we are not super heroes.” Gremio coach Renato Portaluppi disagreed in a news conference Wednesday night, saying tests and constant medical follow-ups make the sport very safe to play. “Also, we are doing people a favour because when we play it is another reason for fans to stay home,” Portaluppi said. Portaluppi is a friend of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has long downplayed the risks of the virus. On Tuesday, Sao Paulo-based Corinthians said eight players had tested positive one day before its local league derby against rivals Palmeiras, which requested the game to be postponed. The match went ahead anyway and ended in a 2-2 draw. Brazil halted all professional soccer in March 2020, with training sessions resuming in some states in May. The main national championship, which traditionally begins in May, started in August and finished in February with Flamengo defending its title. Brazil's soccer confederation has not commented on the renewed requests for games to be suspended. Bolsonaro is against any form of lockdown and is pushing for fans to return to games. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Mauricio Savarese, The Associated Press
Richard Grecco, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Charlottetown, announced his resignation Thursday. In a letter to his diocese, Grecco said canon law requires that he submit his resignation at the age of 75. Thursday is his 75th birthday, and he said Pope Francis had accepted his resignation. Grecco goes on to say that his retirement comes at a time when his health has been failing. "By co-incidence or by providence, today, on the occasion of my 75th birthday, I begin a four-month program of chemotherapy," Grecco wrote. "This follows a week-long radiation program, which helped the painful symptoms considerably." Grecco said he has been comforted by the support of his congregation since his diagnosis in December. He added that a high percentage of patients in his situation achieve remission. Grecco was installed as the 13th bishop of Charlottetown on Sept. 21, 2009. After his resignation, he will retain the title of bishop, but relinquish the responsibilities of managing the Charlottetown diocese. A priest from the diocese will be appointed as a new administrator within the next two weeks, he said, and will continue in that role until the appointment of a new bishop. More from CBC P.E.I.
NASA's Perseverance Mars rover has continued to send stunning images of the red planet back to Earth. In this moment, an incredible shot of the Sun from the Martian surface was captured. Credit to "NASA/JPL-Caltech".
TORONTO — About 13 years ago, screen acting coach Dean Armstrong got a phone call from a prominent talent agent asking him for a favour. The agent had come across "a very unique, very special, very exceptional" young actor from Toronto who needed monetary support to learn the craft, and Armstrong agreed to provide a rare scholarship for him at his Armstrong Acting Studios in the city. That actor was Jahmil French, who proved to be one of the "great ones," says Armstrong: a gifted performer with an insatiable appetite for deepening his skills; a bright light in any room he entered; a dance lover who busted a move virtually anywhere he went; and a supportive colleague who raised the bar for everyone around him. "He had such a raw, intuitive and natural ability for emotional access," Armstrong, director of the acting school, said in an interview. "There was a real physiological ownership of roles that he tackled." "It's very sad when someone like Jahmil, as young as he was, who truly hadn't reached his full potential, had it all disappear so quickly," he said. Armstrong is among many in the film and TV industry sharing fond memories of the actor who rose to fame on "Degrassi: The Next Generation," after news of his death at the age of 29. The circumstances surrounding French's death haven't been revealed by his representatives, but Armstrong says it happened last weekend. "He was very mature for his age but also very hungry to be challenged," said actor Salvatore Antonio, who started teaching French over a decade ago at Armstrong Acting Studios, which has had several "Degrassi" alumni as students. "After meeting with him, I saw almost instantly that he was above the rest in terms of his willingness to challenge himself." French grew up in Toronto with a single mom who was "very supportive" and "quite pivotal in helping to get him in acting classes," said Antonio. Those classes led to his role as high-school student Dave Turner from 2009 to 2013 on the Toronto-shot "Degrassi: The Next Generation," and a slew of other credits, including the Netflix series "Soundtrack," the Pop TV show "Let's Get Physical," and the Canadian film "Boost," for which he earned a 2018 Canadian Screen Award nomination. When he was performing, French had instincts far beyond his years, said Antonio, artistic director at the school, which plans to create a scholarship in French's name. French once performed scenes from the film "Requiem for a Dream" in class, which sent chills up Antonio's spine and had the other students wiping away tears and watching "with their mouths agape." "I may have been in the role as a teacher, but he taught me a lot about acting, especially in terms of being brave and courageous in the choices that he made," Antonio said. "Some of the most beautiful work that I've seen done on camera happened in some of those classes in terms of what Jahmil did." French's vulnerability and magnetic energy in his acting elevated the work of his scene partners and inspired others "to bring their A-game," said Antonio. Toronto actor Craig Arnold, who played Luke Baker on "Degrassi: The Next Generation," was inspired by French's skills. "Everyone talks about how he was just so good. It really made me feel like, 'OK, this is possible, I can do this,'" Arnold said from the set of "The Expanse" in Toronto. "He was so supportive of me and nice to me, so open and wanted everyone to do well," said Arnold. "It really inspired me early on and gave me a lot of confidence." French was also an "amazing dancer" who could hardly sit still in a chair and would often display moves between takes, said Antonio. Arnold recalled dining out with French and others after an acting class and seeing him spring into action when music started playing. "He stood up and went into this huge dance routine in the middle of the restaurant," Arnold said. "Everyone in the whole place was smiling and loving it." French was also driven, intensely tuned in, and hungry to learn, said Antonio. "He wanted to be great. He articulated that more than once. He's like, 'I just want to be really, really good at what I do,' and I respected that," Antonio said from Montreal, where he's shooting the upcoming CW series "The Republic of Sarah." "He had an effortless charm to him, which I know a lot of people have spoken about. And he could have rested on those laurels, you know — good looking kid, natural charm, very outgoing. He could have rested on those inherent qualities and stayed in the same lane for the majority of his career. But he really wanted something more." Antonio stopped working with French as his teacher three or four years ago but they kept in touch regularly, seeing movies together and texting back and forth about acting questions French had. "I was so proud of what Jahmil had accomplished in such a short period of time, and I was really looking forward to more — and that's the part that is the saddest for me," he said. Armstrong last spoke with French in December, when the rising star reached out asking for advice on a confusing passage in one of the popular acting books by Konstantin Stanislavski. "It's interesting to have a talent — in his pastime, on the heels of so much wonderful success — to continue his development, his journey as an artist, by reading books about his craft," said Armstrong. "He was always hungry for insight, always hungry for thoughts, ideas on how to be better, and to better understand himself. A real sign of a true artist — never satisfied, always wanting more." This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Composer Gene Scheer, whose song “American Anthem” was quoted by President Joe Biden during his inaugural address, is returning the favour. The picture book “American Anthem” will be released June 29, Penguin Young Readers announced Thursday. It will feature Scheer's lyrics and illustrations by 13 artists, including Fahmida Azim, Matt Faulkner, Veronica Jamison and Christine Almeda. While speaking in January, Biden cited Scheer's lyrics “Let me know in my heart when my days are through, America, America, I gave my best to you.” “I was taken by surprise, and incredibly moved, when President Biden cited my song ‘American Anthem’ at the conclusion of his inaugural speech,” Scheer said in a statement. “When I sat down to write this song more than 20 years ago, I could hardly imagine where it would go. I can’t think of a better destination than in a book for children. When I think of this beautiful visual tapestry of the American story, created by a diverse team of talented artists, I am brought back to the original idea that inspired ‘American Anthem’ in the first place: We are all in this together.” Scheer wrote the ballad in 1998. It was later popularized by Norah Jones, whose version was heard in the Ken Burns documentary “War." The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Long before she became a Tony Award-winning choreographer, Ann Reinking waited tables to save up enough money to move to New York City. She arrived with $500, no job lined up and no connections. When she died at 71 last year, Reinking left behind many fans, friends and students as well as a legacy of a cool, muscular dance hybrid of jazz and burlesque. In her honour, friends and admirers have established The Ann Reinking Scholarship, a $5,000 annual award and mentorship for a young dancer moving to New York City to help support them in their artistic endeavours. “She was one of the most profoundly generous people that I’ve known,” says Bebe Neuwirth, a two-time Tony winner who co-starred with Reinking in “Chicago” on Broadway. “This honours that in a way that also references her story of coming to New York.” The scholarship is being awarded by Off the Lane, a mentorship program for young performers moving to New York. It will be open to anyone, from anywhere, with a cut-off age of 21. “Teaching to her was such an important part of her, mentoring and nurturing new artists and helping them along the way,” said Neuwirth. “I think to have a scholarship in her name keeps that generosity of spirit going.” Trained as a ballet dancer in her native Seattle, Reinking was known for her bold style of dance epitomized by her work in the hit revival of “Chicago,” complete with net stockings, chair dancing and plenty of pelvic thrusts. Reinking co-starred as Roxie Hart along with Neuwirth’s Velma, and created the choreography “in the style of Bob Fosse,” the show’s original director and choreographer who died in 1987. She and Fosse worked together for 15 years and she was also his lover for several of them. Her movie credits include “Annie” (1982), “Movie, Movie” (1978) and the documentary “Mad Hot Ballroom” (2005), which portrayed Reinking as a ballroom-dance competition judge for New York City kids. Reinking’s work on “Chicago” earned her a 1997 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards. Reinking replicated its choreography in productions throughout the world. Mindy Cooper, who was a swing in that 1996 “Chicago” revival, recalls once asking Reinking career advice that changed the arc of her career. She also remembers Reinking one day bringing her son to rehearsals at “Chicago,” an encouraging signal that Broadway dancers could also have a family life. “She created such a safe environment for performers to bring to the room with courage and artistry,” said Cooper, now a professor of theatre and dance at University of California, Davis. “Annie grew up in the ballet world like myself and came to theatre from ballet. So we wanted to make a scholarship that could embrace all forms of dance.” The advisory board for the scholarship includes Cooper, Neuwirth and such Broadway luminaries as Chita Rivera, Joel Grey, Tommy Tune, Marilu Henner, Hinton Battle, Charlotte d’Amboise, Reinking's husband, Peter Talbert, and son, Chris Reinking Stuart. ___ Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada says poor weather and visibility were factors in a fatal plane crash in northeast Kingston, Ont., in November 2019. Pilot Otabek Oblokulov, his wife and their children ages five, 10 and 14 from Houston, Texas, were killed. Oblokulov's brother-in-law Bobomurod Nabiev and his wife Sabina Usmanova from Toronto also died in the crash. The Piper PA-32 plane, better known as a Cherokee Six, was travelling Nov. 27, 2019 from Buttonville Municipal Airport in Markham, Ont., to Quebec City, said the Transportation Safety Board (TSB). The plane made contact with Kingston's flight service station — a facility that provides information to pilots — before crashing some time after 5 p.m. ET in a heavily wooded, swampy area in the city's northwest. In its report released Thursday, the TSB said the pilot gave the wrong position to his contact in Kingston about two minutes before impact. He was turning away from the airport when they last spoke, before climbing, rolling and dropping. TSB said he had only flown in Texas and it doesn't know if he checked any other weather sources than an app showing a wider look at the United States and areas along the Canadian border, which showed mixed precipitation. If he had, the TSB said he would likely have seen forecasts that would have required the use of instruments to determine the plane's altitude. There was mist and moderate to severe turbulence in the area at the time of the crash, along with a relative lack of lights on the ground. "At that point, there would be little or no visual reference to the surface during the portions of this flight. And that can be a difficult thing for a pilot who does not have an instrument rating," said Ken Webster, lead TSB investigator on the crash. The flight plan map, starting in Markham, Ont.() Oblokulov had received his private pilot certificate in 2018 and had little experience flying with instruments, according to the report. This means he was flying under visual flight rules (VFR), which relies on eyesight. "Given the pilot's limited flying experience ... it's likely they did not recognize all of the hazards associated with flying a night VFR flight into deteriorating weather conditions," Webster said. "He likely became especially disoriented and lost control of the aircraft." The Transportation safety Board removed the wreckage from an area near Creekford Road and Bayridge Drive in Kingston, Ont. (Transportation Safety Board) The TSB said it has investigated five similar fatal crashes since 2013 and has recommended Transport Canada clarify its rules around flying under VFR at night. The board said Transport Canada is in the process of drafting changes to its rules and has sent reminders to pilots about the risks of those kinds of flights.
Most of us are familiar with the three Rs associated with limiting our waste: reduce, reuse and recycle. As it turns out, there’s a fourth R: renew the recycling licence. During the Feb. 22 regular council meeting for the Town of Pincher Creek, Coun. Scott Korbett formally announced the town would not be renewing its recycling contract with KJ Cameron Service Industries. Come June 30, only empty beverage containers will be accepted at the bottle depot. “The Town of Pincher Creek intends to continue to offer a recycling program,” the town’s official statement reads. “We are currently working with our regional partners to have a smooth transition to a new program by the end of June.” While understanding the town is obligated to make economic decisions when it comes to contracts, Weston Whitfield, owner and manager of KJ Cameron, worries consolidating services on a regional basis might result in an inefficient service to taxpayers. The process of gathering, transporting, then re-sorting material, Mr. Whitfield adds, might decrease the price recycling facilities are willing to pay. “My concern is in the past, places that have done collaborations like that end up with a little bit of contamination and it can affect the resale of the product,” he says. Although no official details have been released, the plan for future recycling appears to involve the Crowsnest/Pincher Creek Landfill Association. Discussion recorded in the minutes of the Jan. 20, 2021, regular meeting of the landfill association includes “Recycling Update” as an agenda item. The minutes describe proposals being sent to each of the municipalities and note that, despite no reply being received, each of the municipal representatives — Coun. Dean Ward from Crowsnest Pass, Coun. Brian McGillivray from Pincher Creek and Reeve Brian Hammond from the MD of Pincher Creek — indicated their respective councils are still considering or interested in the landfill’s recycling proposal. Recycling was also a topic during last week’s council meetings for both the MD of Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass. During the MD of Pincher Creek’s Feb. 23 council meeting, chief administrative officer Troy MacCulloch updated council on plans to move collection bins from outside the MD office to a site off Bighorn Avenue and Highway 507, near the Co-op lumberyard. The site will cover recycling needs for residents from both the MD and town. “This will be a site that the MD will build,” said CAO MacCulloch. “We will cost-share it with the town, and then going forward it would be operated and manned by the Crowsnest/Pincher Creek Landfill.” Plans for the new recycling site are still tentative as the MD is working with the current landowner to develop a lease that would permit the property to be used as a transfer station for garbage and recyclables. The garbage bins by the MD office, he added, could also be removed. This will allow for further development and easier access of the standpipe, which will remain at the location. Meetings with Pincher Creek administration have discussed the possibility of the MD taking over the composting facility, which would be included on the site. Crowsnest Pass council also voted Feb. 23 to direct administration to find a location for their own recycling bin. Ease of access, along with being sheltered from the weather and from travellers’ field of vision, were identified as main priorities. Administration was asked to present a location at the March 16 council meeting with hopes that users could begin dropping off recycling by the end of the month. The goal is to eventually have three sites in the municipality to gather recycling. Beginning with one, said CAO Patrick Thomas, was a good place to “at least start and see what the challenges are,” especially to “see how [building] the fencing and screening goes.” The Town of Pincher Creek’s full official statement regarding the recycling licence can be found online at http://bit.ly/PC-Recycle. More information on Pincher Creek Bottle Depot and Recycling can be found at www.facebook.com/pcbottledepot. Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze