A report by UN special rapporteur Agnès Callamard says families who lost loved ones when Iran shot down Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752 on Jan. 8, 2020, have not received the answers they deserve about why the plane was targeted.
A report by UN special rapporteur Agnès Callamard says families who lost loved ones when Iran shot down Ukrainian International Airlines flight PS752 on Jan. 8, 2020, have not received the answers they deserve about why the plane was targeted.
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.
LIVERPOOL, England — Liverpool’s woeful home form is developing into a full-blown crisis after Chelsea’s 1-0 victory on Thursday inflicted a fifth straight league loss at Anfield on the Premier League champions — the worst run in the club’s 128-year history. With Liverpool's title defence already over, this was billed as a battle for a Champions League place and Mason Mount’s 42nd-minute goal lifted Chelsea back into the top four. Chelsea’s previous win at Anfield, in 2014, effectively ended the title hopes of Brendan Rodgers’ side. This one was a blow to Liverpool’s chances of a top-four finish under Jurgen Klopp. Klopp’s side is four points adrift of Chelsea and with Everton and West Ham also ahead. Liverpool has now gone more than 10 hours without a goal from open play at Anfield. The hosts failed to register an effort on target until the 85th minute and Georginio Wijnaldum’s weak header was never going to beat Edouard Mendy. They have taken one point from the last 21 on offer at home since Christmas and scored just two goals, one of which was a penalty. None of Liverpool's established front three — Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino — impressed but the sight of Salah, the Premier League’s leading scorer, being substituted just past the hour mark was baffling. The Egypt international certainly thought so as he sat shaking his head, having been replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Chelsea, by contrast, looked full of threat with Timo Werner — a player Liverpool was interested in but decided it could not afford last summer — a constant problem. Despite one goal in his previous 17 league outings, he caused problems with his movement, drifting out to the left then popping into the middle to give Fabinho a real headache on his return to the side. The Brazil midfielder, replacing Nat Phillips after he became the latest centre back to pick up an injury, was partnering Ozan Kabak in Liverpool’s 15th different central-defensive starting partnership in 27 league matches. Faced with a statistic like that, it is perhaps understandable why there was a lack of cohesion at the back and Werner should really have profited. He fired one early shot over and then failed to lift his effort over Alisson Becker, back in goal after the death of his father in Brazil last week. Even when Werner did beat Alisson, VAR ruled the Germany international’s arm had been offside 20 yards earlier in the build-up. Liverpool’s one chance fell to Mane but Salah’s first-time ball over the top got caught under his feet and Mane missed his shot with only Mendy to beat. Chelsea was still controlling the game and caught Liverpool on the counterattack when N’Golo Kante quickly sent a loose ball out to the left wing, from where Mount cut inside to beat Alisson having been given far too much time to pick his spot. All five of Mount’s league goals have come away from home. Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel spent the first five minutes of the second half screaming at his players to press harder and play higher up the pitch but Liverpool’s players were equally vocal when Firmino’s cross hit the raised arm of Kante from close range. No penalty was awarded. Andy Robertson cleared off the line from Hakim Ziyech after Alisson parried Ben Chilwell’s shot as Chelsea continued to look more dangerous. Klopp’s attempt to change the direction of the game saw him send on Diogo Jota for his first appearance in three months, along with Oxlade-Chamberlain. Jota’s first touch was a half-chance from a deep cross but he was not sharp enough to take it. Werner, meanwhile, was doing everything but score as Alisson’s leg saved another shot as he bore down on goal. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Vancouver's parks board is taking action to control the increasing numbers of messy and aggressive Canada geese. A statement from the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation says it is developing a management plan to reduce the number of geese in city parks, beaches and on the seawall. The board is particularly concerned about humans feeding the birds, saying it brings flocks of geese to high-traffic areas such as Stanley Park and the beaches of English Bay and Sunset Beach. A key part of the management plan asks residents to identify Canada goose nests on private property so they can be removed or the eggs can be addled, and left in the nest so adults continue to brood, rather than lay again. The board estimates Vancouver's population of more than 3,500 Canada geese grows every year because the habitat is ideal and the birds have no natural predators. Several Okanagan cities are asking permission to cull growing flocks of Canada geese that foul area beaches and parks, but Vancouver's board says egg addling, a measure supported by the SPCA, is its only control measure. In addition to calling for public help in identifying nests, which can be on roofs, balconies or in tall, topped trees, the park board is urging people not to feed Canada geese. “Supplemental feeding by humans can also contribute to geese being able to lay more than one clutch of eight eggs per season; meaning that if one clutch does not hatch, they can replace it," the statement says. "In nature, without food from humans, this wouldn’t happen." Canada geese have inefficient digestive systems and the parks board says the birds produce more excrement for their size than most other species. The park board says it hopes to step up egg addling, saying wildlife specialists believe the practice must be tripled in order to cut Vancouver's goose populations. A web page has been created on the City of Vancouver website to report the location of nests so they can be removed or the eggs can be addled. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador is reporting five new COVID-19 cases today, four of which are in the eastern health region that includes St. John's. Health officials say the four cases in the eastern region involve people between the ages of 40 and 69; three involve close contacts of prior cases while the fourth is related to domestic travel. Officials say the fifth case is located in the western health region, involves a person between the ages of 20 and 39 and is related to international travel. Eight people are in hospital with the disease, including two in intensive care. Officials say they are still investigating the source of an infection involving a health-care worker at a hospital in the rural town of St. Anthony, located on the Northern Peninsula. Newfoundland and Labrador has 121 active reported COVID-19 infections. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
One of Canada's top public health officials sought to reassure Canadians today that a recommendation from a federal vaccine advisory committee to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses is a sound one. Yesterday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended that the maximum interval between the first and second doses of all three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in Canada should increase to four months due to limited supplies. Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Howard Njoo said the advice is based on real-world data that shows doing so would lead to more people being protected from COVID-19 in a shorter time period. "This recommendation is based on clinical trial reports and emerging real-world evidence from around the world. Data shows that several weeks after being administered, first doses of vaccines provide highly effective protection against symptomatic disease, hospitalization and death," Njoo told a technical briefing today. Confusion over conflicting advice Njoo's comments appeared to be addressing the confusion created by the fact that NACI's recommendation conflicts with those issued by Health Canada when it granted regulatory approvals for the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines. Regulatory documents provided by Health Canada upon approval of each vaccine state that the second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech should be taken three weeks after the first, the second Moderna shot should come four weeks after the first, and the second AstraZeneca dose should be delivered between four and 12 weeks after the first. All of those recommendations are in line with the product monograph provided by the manufacturers. Adding to the confusion, NACI recommended on Monday against giving the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine to people 65 and older, although Health Canada has authorized it for use in adults of all ages. But Njoo said the discrepancies can be explained by the fact that Health Canada is a regulator and NACI is an advisory body made up of medical experts. "You have likely noticed that NACI's recommendations are sometimes different, possibly broader or narrower than the conditions of vaccine use that Health Canada has authorized. As the regulator, Health Canada authorizes each vaccine for use in Canada according to factors based on clinical trial evidence, whereas NACI bases its guidance on the available and evolving evidence in a real-world context, including the availability of other vaccines," Njoo said. "What we expect is that NACI recommendations will complement — not mirror — those of Health Canada." WATCH: Njoo comments on NACI recommendation to delay second COVID-19 vaccine doses The issue burst into the open on Monday when B.C.'s Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced that the province would be extending the interval between doses of the Moderna, Pfizer and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines to 16 weeks. Some medical experts questioned that decision. Canada's chief science adviser, Mona Nemer, said doing so without proper clinical trials amounts to a "population level experiment." Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the U.S., told the Washington Post that the science doesn't support delaying a second dose for the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. He said there isn't enough evidence to determine how much protection is provided by one dose of those vaccines, and how long it lasts. Despite those warnings, several provinces followed Henry's lead and even more have indicated they intend to stretch the dosage interval. While it appeared to some at the time that Henry was moving faster than the science, Njoo said that NACI's experts briefed provincial medical officers of health over the weekend on the results of their analysis before releasing their recommendations publicly. NACI concluded that stretching the dosing interval to four months would allow up to 80 per cent of Canadians over the age of 16 to receive a single dose of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of June, without compromising vaccine effectiveness. "While studies have not yet collected four months of data on vaccine effectiveness after the first dose, the first two months of real world effectiveness are showing sustained high levels of protection," NACI said. As for the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, Njoo said it is safe and that evidence shows it provides protection against very serious disease and death in people of all ages. He said Health Canada has a rigorous scientific review process and only approves vaccines that meet high standards for safety, efficacy and quality. Dr. Supriya Sharma, Health Canada's chief medical adviser, said expert advice will continue to change as more data becomes available from ongoing mass vaccination campaigns, and she urged provinces and territories to consider recommendations and evidence from both bodies when making decisions about their vaccine strategies. "The messaging would be simpler if we had one set of data and we had one message and it never changed, but that's not what science does," said Sharma. Decision on Johnson and Johnson imminent At today's briefing, health officials also indicated that a regulatory decision on whether to approve Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine is expected soon. "The review of the Johnson & Johnson submission is going very well, it's progressing, and we're expecting to have that completed and a decision in the next few days. I would say in the next seven days or so," said Sharma. The company has said its vaccine is 66 per cent effective at preventing moderate to severe illness in a global clinical trial, and much more effective — 85 per cent — against the most serious symptoms. Canada has agreed to purchase up to 38 million doses if it is approved. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it for use in that country last Saturday. The approval of a fourth vaccine would give a significant boost to Canada's vaccine rollout. Johnson and Johnson's vaccine is widely seen as one of the easiest to administer because it requires only one dose and can be stored for long periods of time at regular refrigerator temperatures. Njoo said additional vaccines, coupled with the NACI recommendation on dosage intervals, could allow Canada to meet the goal of inoculating all adults who want a vaccine "several weeks" before the current target date of the end of September. Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading Canada's COVID-19 vaccine logistics, said that while more vaccines would be good news, the current target remains the end of September.
Nova Scotia may be facing a massive pandemic-related deficit but when Finance Minister Labi Kousoulis tables his first budget later this month, it will include no program cuts or staff layoffs. Although a date has not been finalized for the budget introduction, Kousoulis told reporters on Thursday he's aiming for the week of March 22. Just before leaving office, former premier Stephen McNeil told reporters the provincial deficit had decreased to about $500 million. While he wouldn't provide details about where things are now, Kousoulis said he's pleased with the province's financial position. "I'm actually very comfortable with the budget and I'm comfortable with the future of Nova Scotia," he said. "When you compare us to other provinces across the country, I think many of them would much rather be in the position we're in versus the one they are in." Cuts would send the wrong message Kousoulis said the province's strong financial position going into the pandemic has helped it respond better than some areas. Noting that the deficit is not structural, the minister said the upcoming budget would not include program cuts or staff layoffs because it would "push the economy down even further." "If we started cutting our spending, then that exacerbates the problem we're facing and it sends the wrong message to the private sector," he said. "We are funding departments to move their programs forward. We're not sitting back and pushing against programs and items that are important to Nova Scotia." The budget process usually takes two months, but Kousoulis, Premier Iain Rankin and the rest of their team have only had two weeks since being sworn in to put their stamp on the document. Despite the quick turnaround, the minister said they've been able to incorporate priorities from Rankin's Liberal leadership campaign platform into the budget. Rankin and his leadership rivals, Kousoulis and Randy Delorey, each met with Finance Department officials during the campaign to broadly outline their hopes for the budget, should they become leader and premier. The budget document will be finalized Friday before going to the office of the auditor general for review, said Kousoulis. MORE TOP STORIES
Lennox & Addington Seniors Outreach Services (SOS) 55 Plus Activity Centre, located in Greater Napanee, is receiving an influx of funding to support the health and well-being of local seniors during COVID-19. The organization helps seniors remain independent, in their homes and active within their community by providing quality, integrated services. MPP Daryl Kramp has announced that SOS will be receiving $42,700.00 for 2020-21 operations and maintenance and also a grant of $7,995.52 for a total of $50,695.52, according to a release from his office, dated Tuesday, Mar. 2, 2021. “This is a local organization which has helped multiple generations of local seniors stay in touch and engaged for many years and that says a lot about the community it serves,” said MPP Kramp. “These funds will be important both as they operate now and as they look forward to resuming their important in-person community roles.” Kramp says this year’s investment will focus on virtual programs such as teleconferences, online videos, one-on-one phone calls to help seniors stay connected from home, and support projects such as: According to the release, the seniors population in Ontario is the fastest growing age group. By 2023, there will be 3 million Ontarians over the age of 65. Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility says the past year has been especially challenging for Seniors. “Given the social isolation that COVID-19 has brought to many seniors, it is important that we look to programs that will keep them safe and connected,” said Minister Cho. “Our government’s investment in Seniors Active Living Centres helps older adults stay virtually engaged with their friends, family and communities while combatting social isolation during the pandemic.” This year’s ongoing funding has supported the application of safety control measures against the spread of COVID-19, and provided more remote and virtual programming, according to the release. Learn more about Lennox & Addington Seniors Outreach Services (SOS) on their website. Jessica Foley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, kingstonist.com
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".
HARDCOVER FICTION 1. “The Four Winds” by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press) 2. “A Court of Silver Flames” by Sarah J. Maas (Bloomsbury) 3. “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig (Viking) 4. “The Sanatorium” by Sarah Pearse (Viking/Dorman) 5. “The Vanishing Half” by Brit Bennett (Riverhead) 6. “The Kaiser's Web” by Steve Berry (Minotaur) 7. “The Invisible Life of Addie Larue” by V.E. Schwab (Tor) 8. “The Russian” by Patterson/Born (Little, Brown) 9. “Faithless in Death” by J.D. Robb (St. Martin’s Press) 10. “Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Murder” by Joanne Fluke (Kensington) 11. “Kingdom of Shadow and Light” by Karen Marie Moning (Delacorte) 12. “The Return” by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing) 13. “Missing and Endangered” by J.A. Jance (William Morrow) 14. “A Time for Mercy” by John Grisham (Doubleday) 15. “Anxious People” by Fredrik Backman (Atria) HARDCOVER NONFICTION 1. “Believe It” by Jamie Kern Lima (Gallery) 2. “The Pegan Diet” by Mark Hyman (Little, Brown Spark) 3. “Walk in My Combat Boots” by Patterson/Eversmann (Little, Brown) 4. “Think Again” by Adam Grant (Viking) 5. “Just As I Am: A Memoir” by Cicely Tyson (HarperCollins) 6. “Greenlights” by Matthew McConaughey (Crown) 7. “Keep Sharp” by Sanjay Gupta (Simon & Schuster) 8. “The Sum of Us” by Heather McGhee (One World) 9. “A Promised Land” by Barack Obama (Crown) 10. “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson (Random House) 11. “Intuitive Fasting” by Will Cole (Rodale) 12. “Winning the War in Your Mind” by Craig Groeschel (Zondervan) 13. “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle (Dial) 14. “Four Hundred Souls” by Kendi/Blain (One World) 15. “Magnolia Table, Vol. 2” by Joanna Gaines (William Morrow) MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS 1. “The Numbers Game” by Danielle Steel (Dell) 2. “Camino Winds” by John Grisham (Dell) 3. “By the Neck” by William W. Johnstone (Pinnacle) 4. “A Quiet, Little Town” by William W. Johnstone (Pinnacle) 5. “Bridgerton: The Duke and I” (TV tie-in) by Julia Quinn (Avon) 6. “Reckless Road” by Christine Feehan (Berkley) 7. “Journey of the Pharaohs” by Cussler/Brown (G.P. Putnam's Sons) 8. “A Timeless Christmas” by Alexis Stanton (Hallmark) 9. “Western Stars” by Nora Roberts (St. Martin’s Press) 10. “Hush” by Patterson/Fox (Grand Central Publishing) 11. “A Secret Amish Crush” by Marta Perry (Love Inspired) 12. “Perfect Partners” by Debbie Macomber (Mira) 13. “The Lost and Found Bookshop” by Susan Wiggs (Avon) 14. “From the Shadows” by B.J. Daniels (HQN) 15. “Revenge” by Patterson/Holmes (Grand Central Publishing) TRADE PAPERBACKS 1. “The 20th Victim” by Patterson/Paetro (Grand Central Publishing) 2. “Burn After Writing” (pink) by Sharon Jones (TarcherPerigee) 3. “Bridgerton: The Duke and I” (TV tie-in) by Julia Quinn (Avon) 4. “Fair Warning” by Michael Connelly (Grand Central Publishing) 5. “Home Body” by Rupi Kaur (Andrews McMeel) 6. “28 Summers” by Elin Hilderbrand (Back Bay) 7. “The Girl from the Channel Islands” by Jenny Lecoat (Graydon House) 8. “Camino Winds” by John Grisham (G.P. Putnam's Sons) 9. “The Step-by-Step Instant Pot Cookbook” by Jeffrey Eisner (Voracious) 10. “Circe” by Madeline Miller (Back Bay) 11. “A Court of Thorns and Roses” by Sarah J. Maas (Bloomsbury) 12. “Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Rift Omnibus” by Yang/Gurihiru/Heisler (Dark Horse) 13. “The Order” by Daniel Silva (Harper) 14. “Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun, Vol. 7” by Aidairo (Yen) 15. “The Body” by Bill Bryson (Anchor) The Associated Press
YELLOWKNIFE — Residents of the Northwest Territories who are from Norman Wells and Fort Simpson can now self-isolate at home if they leave the territory. A previous public-health order required anyone who left N.W.T. to isolate for 14 days in Yellowknife, Fort Smith, Hay River or Inuvik. The territory's chief public health officer, Dr. Kami Kandola, says the order was changed because Norman Wells and Fort Simpson both have a wastewater surveillance program to test for COVID-19. The two communities also have adequate medical resources to support new infections. Kandola says only residents of Normal Wells and Fort Simpson will be allowed to self-isolate there. They must also submit a self-isolation plan to the territory's public-health office. There are currently two active cases of COVID-19 in the territory. The Canadian Press
Sherbrooke — Un petit marathon attend les restaurateurs de Sherbrooke d’ici leur ouverture, la semaine prochaine. Mais la joie et le soulagement sont bel et bien au rendez-vous, assure la propriétaire du restaurant Auguste, Anik Beaudoin. « C’est certain qu’on ne s’attendait pas à ce que ce soit bien d’avance quand on a vu comment ça fonctionnait depuis un bout. On se retrousse les manches et il faut accélérer tout ça, mais on est contents », indique celle qui prévoit ouvrir son restaurant de la rue Wellington Nord les 11, 12 et 13 mars. Les restaurateurs qui ouvrent leur salle à manger devront se plier à plusieurs règles : en plus de fixer la limite à deux adultes (pouvant être accompagnés de leurs enfants) par table, de tenir un registre et d’imposer la réservation obligatoire, ils devront s’assurer que les clients demeurent bel et bien dans une zone du même palier que l’Estrie. C’est surtout cette dernière consigne qui inquiète Mme Beaudoin. « Ça va être quelque chose à gérer, mais on le dit quand les gens réservent et je pense qu’ils sont assez respectueux pour comprendre les règles, alors ça devrait bien se passer. La seule crainte que j’ai, c’est qu’on prenne des réservations dans le vide, par exemple certains pourraient réserver et quand on va leur dire qu’ils doivent présenter une pièce d’identité, ils vont décider de ne pas se présenter tout simplement. » Mme Beaudoin rouvrira son établissement avec une plage horaire rétrécie. En attendant, elle devra planifier ses commandes rapidement et procéder à des embauches pour compléter sa brigade. « J’ai eu un départ en congé de maternité et deux réorientations, alors j’ai quand même perdu trois personnes depuis un an. Mais mon équipe a bien bien hâte! » s’exclame-t-elle. Interrogé mercredi sur la possibilité de faire basculer certaines régions au rouge à nouveau, François Legault a assuré qu’il s’agissait d’un « risque bien calculé » et qu’une marge de manœuvre était prévue en cas de propagation accélérée durant la semaine de relâche. Mme Beaudoin ne craint pas non plus de devoir refermer. « Je suis assez confiante que cette fois-ci soit la bonne, dit-elle. Les restaurants, honnêtement, ils font bien leur travail. On n’a jamais été une zone d’éclosion. Ça n’a jamais été nous le problème. On va continuer à faire notre beau travail et à appliquer nos règles. » Au centre-ville Comme coprésidente de l’Association des gens d’affaires du centre-ville de Sherbrooke, Mme Beaudoin témoigne de la même effervescence au cœur de la ville. « Tout le monde est un peu stressé et tout le monde trouve ça un peu rapide. Ça nous demande de nous revirer de bord assez rapidement, et certains devront comme moi embaucher, mais tout le monde est content de rouvrir. On est vraiment rendus là », rapporte-t-elle. La réouverture des restaurants devrait apporter un vent de fraicheur au quartier et aider à faire monter les ventes des détaillants déjà ouverts, mais pourquoi ne pas donner un coup de pouce final et permettre à nouveau le stationnement gratuit au centre-ville? suggère celle qui avait beaucoup apprécié cette initiative de la Ville durant le temps des Fêtes. Pour la suite, l’entrepreneure est remplie d’espoir malgré les grands travaux qui teinteront le centre-ville encore un bon moment ainsi que les multiples fermetures et déménagements. « On s’engage dans de gros travaux et on s’en va dans une période qui va brasser, mais on sait pertinemment que c’est pour le mieux. Tout le monde a le souci de se serrer les coudes. C’est assez impressionnant ce qui va se passer dans les prochains mois. Il ne faut pas juste voir les travaux et les problèmes que ça apporte. Ça fait des années et des années qu’on attend ça à Sherbrooke et ça fait des décennies que le centre-ville crie. Il doit recevoir de l’amour et ça passe par un peu de souffrance. Il y a des mesures d’atténuation avec la Ville et on est toujours en communication avec eux pour exprimer nos besoins pendant les travaux. » Jasmine Rondeau, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
PORTLAND, Ore. — Jean Andrade, an 88-year-old who lives alone, has been waiting for her COVID-19 vaccine since she became eligible under state guidelines nearly a month ago. She assumed her caseworker would contact her about getting one, especially after she spent nearly two days stuck in an electric recliner during a recent power outage. It was only after she saw a TV news report about competition for the limited supply of shots in Portland, Oregon, that she realized no one was scheduling her dose. A grocery delivery service for homebound older people eventually provided a flyer with vaccine information, and Andrade asked a helper who comes by for four hours a week to try to snag her an appointment. “I thought it would be a priority when you’re 88 years old and that someone would inform me," said Andrade, who has lived in the same house for 40 years and has no family members able to assist her. “You ask anybody else who's 88, 89, and don’t have anybody to help them, ask them what to do. Well, I’ve still got my brain, thank God. But I am very angry.” Older adults have top priority in COVID-19 immunization drives the world over right now, and hundreds of thousands of them are spending hours online, enlisting their children’s help and travelling hours to far-flung pharmacies in a desperate bid to secure a COVID-19 vaccine. But an untold number like Andrade are getting left behind, unseen, because they are too overwhelmed, too frail or too poor to fend for themselves. The urgency of reaching this vulnerable population before the nation's focus turns elsewhere is growing as more Americans in other age and priority groups become eligible for vaccines. With the clock ticking and many states extending shots to people as young as 55, nonprofits, churches and advocacy groups are scrambling to find isolated elders and get them inoculated before they have to compete with an even bigger pool — and are potentially forgotten about as vaccination campaigns move on. An extreme imbalance between vaccine supply and demand in almost every part of the United States makes securing a shot a gamble. In Oregon, Andrade is vying with as many as 750,000 residents age 65 and older, and demand is so high that appointments for the weekly allotment of doses in Portland are snapped up in less than an hour. On Monday, the city's inundated vaccine information call line shut down by 9 a.m., and online booking sites have crashed. Amid such frenzy, the vaccine rollout here and elsewhere has strongly favoured healthier seniors with resources “who are able to jump in their car at a moment’s notice and drive two hours” while more vulnerable older adults are overlooked, said James Stowe, the director of aging and adult services for an association of city and county governments in the bistate Kansas City area. "Why weren’t they the thrust of our efforts, the very core of what we wanted to do? Why didn’t it include this group from the very outset?” he said of the most vulnerable seniors. Some of the older adults who have not received vaccines yet are so disconnected they don't even know they are eligible. Others realize they qualify, but without internet service and often email accounts, they don't know how to make an appointment and can't get to one anyway — so they haven't tried. Still others have debilitating health issues that make leaving home an insurmountable task, or they are so terrified of exposure to COVID-19 that they'd rather go unvaccinated than risk venturing out in public to get a shot. In Kansas City, Missouri, 75-year-old Pat Brown knows she needs the vaccine because her asthma and diabetes put her at higher risk of serious COVID-19 complications. But Brown hasn’t attempted to schedule an appointment and didn’t even know if they were being offered in her area yet; she says she is too overwhelmed. “I don’t have no car, and it’s hard for me to get around places. I just don’t like to go to clinics and have to wait because you have to wait so long,” Brown said, adding that she is in constant pain because of spinal arthritis. “I couldn’t do it. My back would give out...and I don’t have the money to take a cab.” The pandemic has also closed senior centres, libraries and churches — all places where older Americans might remain visible in their communities and get information about the vaccine. And some public health departments at first relied on mass emails and text messages to alert residents they were eligible, thereby missing huge chunks of the senior population. “Do you think everyone has internet access? Do you really think everyone has email?” Denise LaBuda, spokeswoman for the Council on Aging of Central Oregon, said. “We just don’t know where they all are. They have to raise their hand — and how do they raise their hand?” To counter access disparities, the Biden administration said Wednesday that it will partner with health insurance companies to help vulnerable older people get vaccinated for COVID-19. The goal is to get 2 million of the most at-risk seniors vaccinated soon, White House coronavirus special adviser Andy Slavitt said. Slavitt says insurers will use their networks to contact Medicare recipients with information about COVID-19 vaccines, answer questions, find and schedule appointments for first and second doses and co-ordinate transportation. The focus will be on reaching people in medically underserved areas. Non-profits, churches and advocates for older people have already spent weeks figuring out how to reach disadvantaged Americans over age 65 through a patchwork and grassroots effort that varies widely by location. Some are partnering with charities like Meals on Wheels to distribute vaccine information or grocery-delivery programs like the one which alerted Andrade. Others are mining library card rosters, senior centre membership lists and voter registration databases to find disconnected older people. Reaching out through organizations and faith groups that marginalized older Americans already trust is key, said Margaret Scharle, who developed a vaccine outreach toolkit for her Roman Catholic parish in Oregon. The “low-tech” approach, which other charities started using, relies on door-knocking, paper brochures and scripted phone calls to communicate with residents over 65. “Once you’ve been blocked so many times in trying to make an appointment, you might give up. So we are working as hard as we can to penetrate the most marginalized communities, to activate networks that are already existing,” said Scharle, who after the initial contact offers assistance with scheduling appointments and transportation. In Georgetown, South Carolina, a rural community where many of the 10,000 residents are the descendants of slaves, the local NAACP chapter is using its rolls from a November get-out-the-vote drive to get the oldest citizens out for the vaccine. Chapter president Marvin Neal said they are trying to reach 2,700 people to let them know they are eligible for a shot and to offer help booking appointments. Many of those individuals don’t have internet service or transportation, or suffer from medical issues like dementia, he said. “Some are not even aware that the vaccine is even in their community, that’s the challenge,” Neal said. “It’s like they’re just throwing up their hands in the air and hoping somebody steps in. Because all the ones I have talked to want the vaccine. I haven’t had one yet that didn’t say, ‘Sign me up.’” Outreach workers are also identifying holes in the system that prevent the most vulnerable seniors from accessing shots. For example, a dial-a-ride service in a rural part of Oregon doesn't take passengers beyond their town limits, meaning they can't get to their county's mass vaccination site. In the same region, only the largest city has a public bus system. Such obstacles underscore what outreach workers say is a huge demand for mobile vaccine clinics. Some local governments and non-profit organizations are partnering with paramedics and volunteer groups that specialize in disaster response to inoculate the hardest-to-reach seniors. In South Carolina, pharmacist Raymond Paschal purchased a van and a $3,000 refrigerator to start a mobile clinic for underserved areas, but his independent pharmacy in Georgetown can't get ahold of any vaccine. “There’s a lot of people falling through the cracks,” Paschal said. “These older people who have still not received their vaccine, they’re going to have all this younger generation they have to compete with. So we’ve got to get to these older people first.” ____ Hollingsworth reported from Kansas City, Missouri. Bynum reported from Savannah, Georgia. Associated Press reporter Sara Cline in Portland, Oregon contributed to this report. Gillian Flaccus, Heather Hollingsworth And Russ Bynum, The Associated Press
Tl’etinqox First Nation burst with excitement following the grand opening Wednesday, March 3, of its newly built, $4.5-million gas bar — Chilcotin River Trading. “We don’t do ribbons,” Tl'etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse said prior to Tl’etinqox elder Melanie Bobby cutting a string made of deer hide and dream catchers in recognition of the opening. “We do hide—it’s the Indigenous way.” Alphonse said had they not had to keep the grand opening small due to the pandemic, they would have invited all of Tl’etinqox and surrounding communities to celebrate. The project’s completion west of Williams Lake had been years in the making. “We had hoped we would get it up and running in 2017, and then the fires hit, and it seemed like we had to start all over again, but it’s here,” Alphonse said. Coun. and manager of Chilcotin River Trading, Alana Bobby told Black Press Media she was excited about the “bigger, better building,” which has a kitchen and allows for more product, including Spirit Bear Coffee and Mr. Bannock. She had been promoted to manager after starting as a gas jockey at the nearby Tl’etinqox Trading many years ago. Tl’etinqox Trading, which Bobby said was in need of extensive upgrades, will remain open until the remaining inventory is sold. “Everyone is excited for the new store,” she said. Alphonse praised gas bar staff for their hard work and dedication, noting they are always trying to bring on new employees. He also thanked Tl'etinqox Government staff, including finance manager Dawn Bursey, for ensuring the completion of Chilcotin River Trading. “For the first time in Canada Esso delivered fuel to Tl’etinqox tax-free,” he added. Rebecca Dyok, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Williams Lake Tribune
The Town of Magrath is the newest partner to team up with the recently created Ridge Utilities as a marketing associate. “Council wanted to explore innovative ways to support the long term financial sustainability of recreation in our community,” said Magrath CAO James Suffredine in a recent media release. Ridge Utilities and the village of Stirling have made a number of presentations to councils in the region about their new venture and plan to improve community sustainability in Southern Alberta. Magrath council is excited to join in this initiative, and Suffredine shares that “a partnership with Ridge Utilities allows us to create a new and incremental revenue stream beyond property taxes and user fees” (https://www.ridgeutilities.net/townofmagrath.html). Elizabeth Thompson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star
Alphabet Inc's YouTube will lift its suspension on former U.S. President Donald Trump's channel when it determines the risk of real-world violence has decreased, the company's CEO, Susan Wojcicki, said on Thursday. YouTube suspended Trump's channel for violating policies against inciting violence after the assault on the U.S. Capitol by the former president's supporters in January. "The channel remains suspended due to the risk of incitement to violence," said Wojcicki, speaking in an interview with the head of the Atlantic Council think tank.
Calgary MLA Muhammad Yaseen is proposing the province declare rodeo the official sport of Alberta, calling it an important thread in the rich cultural fabric of the province. Yaseen has presented a private member's bill to the legislative standing committee. The UCP MLA for Calgary-North, and parliamentary secretary for immigration, says rodeo is not just about competition, but for many in the province, it's about identity, income and culture. "Alberta has the richest rodeo culture in all of Canada," Yaseen told the Calgary Eyeopener. "Ranchers are compassionate stewards of the land and their livestock. So it's a cultural thing." Yaseen says it's the culture of rodeo that best defines this province. "I have had the chance to live in rural Alberta many years ago in connection with my oil and gas work, and there I became very familiar with the rural culture, a culture of hospitality and collaboration, a culture of generosity and co-operation, with rodeo being the most favourite sport," he said. "This is many moons ago, but it still goes on with the same spirit. And I think it's a good time to recognize this as an official sport." Yaseen cited the economic importance of rodeo events, and not just in rural areas. "Don't forget, we have the biggest rodeo here in Calgary," he said. Yasee acknowledged that rodeo on its own is not one sport but a group of sports under the umbrella of rodeo. Yaseen is not the first MLA to suggest embracing the rodeo brand for the province. In 2008, Liberal Party leader Kevin Taft introduced a similar motion, but it did not move forward. Yaseen hopes his bill will have more traction. Calgary-North MLA Muhammad Yaseen has brought forth a private member's bill to declare rodeo Alberta's official sport.(UCP) "Well, that motion, to the best of my recollection, the motion by member Taft was a private member's motion … and it received overwhelming support," he said. "But that was not a binding motion, and it's just a private member's motion. I don't think it was a bill as it is being done now." It's a topic that is sure to bring on debate, as member's of CBC's Unconventional Panel confirmed during Wednesday's Calgary Eyeopener. Listen to the full panel discussion on the Calgary Eyeopener here: Calgary writer and columnist Val Fortney has covered rodeo events during her newspaper career, even travelling with the chuckwagon drivers on tour one summer. "It was an absolutely fascinating look into a culture that exists in this province that we see in Calgary for those 10 days, every Stampede, that is just so distinct," she told the panel. "When I heard about this, I thought, yeah, a lot of people are not going to like this, and I know the animal rights activists aren't going to like it. The urban people say, you know, we play hockey. You know, what about curling … It's an interesting idea. It's a nod to the past and to part of a very deeply ingrained, very distinct and different culture that you can find only in Alberta — that revolves around a sport." Darryl Stanier, the founder of FMI Logistics, said while he's not the biggest rodeo fan himself, he can see the merits of the rodeo brand. "What better way to support the branding of Alberta, steeped in tradition and heritage," he said. "Our pioneer forefathers were involved in the cattle drive, and bringing livestock into this part of the country. They, with the First Nations people, came together in 1902 for the first rodeo in Canada, and the first formal stampede in 1912." Stanier credited Yaseen with having a vision for Alberta. "It celebrates our heritage and it's clearly what Alberta is about. It's an awesome branding program. I think it's genius," he said. Khalil Kabani, a barber and northeast community leader, is not a fan of rodeo — or telling the world that that's what Alberta is all about. Part of it is animal rights issues, and part of it is the idea of leaving the past behind. A young cowboy finds the perfect vantage point during bull riding rodeo action at the Calgary Stampede in 2019.(Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press) "A lot of people don't love the rodeo, and I'm one of them," he said. "But if, and I think this is a very big if, we have to declare a sport that is the official sport to Alberta, then I think it needs to be a little bit more inclusive, something that's affordable and maybe being able to reach out there to the masses." Kabani suggests that canoeing or paddle boarding would be a better indication of what Albertans engage in. "Where Alberta was 100 years ago to where Alberta is right now is two different things," he said, adding he is not opposed to the tradition of the Stampede itself. "The Stampede is a wonderful thing, and if we do a few tweaks here and there, like the calf roping and maybe the horse breaking, yeah, I think we can make it even better," he said. "I think we can definitely work together with that. But whether rodeo should be the official sport of Alberta? That's the real question." Given the economic and cultural importance of rodeo across the province, Stanier said it's too significant to dismiss. "There's all kinds of talk out there about different types of cancel culture right now, and when things are truly controversial for the right reason, I'm in for review and and regeneration and rebirth," he said. "But Stampede is just a brand that is who we have been. And it doesn't need to be about animal cruelty. I think the Stampede board and the various animal rights activist groups have a great opportunity to help rewrite some of how aspects of it are managed." Yaseen's private member's bill is now in committee, and the members will decide whether it will move forward to second reading. With files from the Calgary Eyeopener.
Since Aurora began enforcing a three-bag limit on garbage collection, the community has seen a significant reduction in the amount of waste going to landfill. But, in some cases, a three-bag limit isn’t cutting it for residents and some flexibility is in order. This was the view that Mayor Tom Mrakas and Councillor Harold Kim presented to Council last week in a joint motion which could lead to a bag tag program for the Town of Aurora. Approved by Council on February 23, the motion has tasked municipal staff with drafting a report on various options for a garbage bag tag policy to be implemented “as soon as possible.” Among the reasons citied by lawmakers for adding some flexibility for waste collection were households with large families and homes that have tenanted secondary suites such as basement apartments. “It just seems like a more pragmatic solution to have a tag system,” said Councillor Kim. “There are a lot of options out there and this motion is asking staff to look at those options and see which is the best solution for Aurora.” Mayor Mrakas, however, already had one particular option in mind: allocating households a specific number of tags each year and letting them use them as they see fit. “There is one thing that is in common with almost every single municipality that provides a limit and that is there is a tag policy in place,” he said. “The difference with some of them [is] you get a full amount for the year and I believe that is probably the best approach. I think if we provide everyone with a full amount for the year… we have 26 weeks of garbage [collection]…you provide 78 tags to everyone. It becomes a very simple process for GFL and our waste diversion: if you don’t have a sticker, it does not get picked up. You can still get extra tags on top of that, but this also, I believe, allows us to follow our strategic goals [from an environmental perspective].” Although Council has not yet pinned down a specific bag tag method, the motion calling for options was warmly received. Councillor Wendy Gaertner, for instance, said she has received feedback on the three-bag limit from a resident with “quite a large family” and options would be welcome. “There will be families who have more than one generation and they need that,” she said. “For homes that have registered secondary dwelling units… I don’t think we should be charging them for extra bags of garbage because they are providing affordable housing.” Al Downey, Aurora’s Director of Operations, said legal secondary units are a “challenge” with the three-bag limit and there are a variety of ways to address that. “One of the options that we provided to Council was to provide tags to those residents so they could tag the additional bags,” he said. “If you had three dwelling units, you would be able to put out nine bags. Six of those bags would be tagged. There is also a system where you can put an icon on the building itself identifying the number of dwelling units on that icon and when the garbage collector comes to that site, they are aware there [is more than one] dwelling unit.” Whatever options ultimately come forward, however, Councillor Michael Thompson sought re-assurances they would fit into the Town’s stated commitments on waste reduction. “As a whole, we have made a strategic commitment to reduce waste and continue to look at ways to do that,” he said. “We all know there are some costs to it… not just from a financial perspective, but a social perspective as well. I would be interested seeing in that report any evidence or anecdotal information that supports a bag tag policy as being able to reduce our waste or not. I would be interested in knowing how this can help us further align with our strategic goals when it comes to the reduction of waste in the environment.” Since Aurora began looking at ways to reduce the amount of waste going into landfill, the figures have dropped by 31 per cent, said Mr. Downey, a five-year low. “We have never put so little garbage in landfill, so it has had a very positive impact,” said Mr. Downey. “There are some challenges and I think that we need to address those challenges and [the report will tackle] some of those challenges. Secondary dwelling units are an issue and people want to know how we can deal with secondary units more effectively. I believe the bag tag system will help with that. We will be providing some options. As you know, Aurora has the highest bag limit within York Region, so no one [municipality] has more than three bags. We are already at the upper level, however there are situations where people may want to put out more bags and this report will help address those things. “I am very happy to say we have had a very dramatic impact in just the first month.” Brock Weir, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Auroran
CALGARY — The move by U.S. President Joe Biden to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline in January continues to plague Canadian oil companies, with Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. forced to digest a related $143-million charge on its fourth-quarter results on Thursday. If not for the blemish on its earnings in the last three months of 2020, analysts said the company would have registered a solid beat on expectations driven by strong oilsands mining production and operating cost cuts. "In 2020, we were nimble, quickly lowering our capital," said president Tim McKay told a conference call, referring to Canadian Natural's move to cut its 2020 budget to $2.68 billion last May from its original $4.05 billion in view of plunging oil prices. "With our long-life, low-decline and high-quality asset base, we still achieved record annual corporate boe (barrels of oil equivalent) production of 1.16 million boe per day, or an approximately 65,000 boe/d increase over 2019 levels." McKay said the company's production of synthetic crude from its oilsands mining and upgrading operations reached a record of 490,800 barrels per day in December due to high utilization rates and ongoing incremental production growth projects. Meanwhile, he added, 2020 operating costs fell by $2.10 to $20.46 per barrel of synthetic crude. Last month, oilsands rivals Cenovus Energy Inc. and Suncor Energy Inc. reported $100 million and $142 million charges against fourth-quarter earnings, respectively, related to their roles as Keystone XL backers. Pipeline builder TC Energy has warned it expects to take a "substantive'' charge on the Keystone XL pipeline project when it reports first-quarter results. Canadian Natural reiterated its 2021 capital budget of about $3.2 billion, which is expected to add about 61,000 boe/d of production over 2020 levels. On the call, McKay said he's confident that export capacity into the United States will continue to improve with Enbridge Inc.'s Line 3 replacement pipeline project starting up late this year and the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion set to be in service by the end of 2022. Canadian Natural says it has 94,000 bpd of committed capacity on the latter. The company announced it is increasing its quarterly dividend for the 21st consecutive year by 11 per cent to 47 cents per share after resisting calls last year to lower it as oil prices fell. It also plans to buy back shares this year as a way to provide returns to shareholders. Any other excess cash will be applied to debt repayment, McKay said, adding he would "never say never" in response to a question about more acquisitions following the $111-million buyout of Painted Pony Energy Ltd. which closed in October. Canadian Natural reported fourth-quarter net earnings of $749 million or 63 cents per share on sales of $5.2 billion, up from $597 million or 50 cents per share in the year-earlier period on sales of $6.3 billion. In reports, analysts said Canadian Natural matched their expectations with production of 1.2 million barrels of oil equivalent per day in the quarter, up from 1.16 million boe/d in the fourth quarter of 2019. "Of note, excluding a provision for the cancellation of Keystone XL (something other companies also recorded), cash flow per share would have been a nice beat," pointed out analyst Phil Skolnick of Eight Capital in a report to shareholders. National Bank analyst Travis Wood said the company is well-funded for its 2021 programs. "With an abundance of free cash flow, Canadian Natural has significant optionality for free cash flow allocation across debt reduction, returns to shareholders, organic growth, and opportunistic acquisitions," he said in a report. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:CNQ, TSX:CVE, TSX:SU) Dan Healing, The Canadian Press
HALIFAX — A compensation agreement has been reached between Glen Assoun and the Nova Scotia and federal governments for his wrongful conviction and the almost 17 years he spent in prison. Nova Scotia Justice Minister Randy Delorey said today the recently signed deal is confidential, and Assoun's lawyers Sean MacDonald and Phil Campbell said the amount of the settlement and its details are not being released. Assoun's lawyers, however, praised the two levels of government for the settlement, and Campbell said federal Justice Minister David Lametti had done all that can be expected. Campbell says he hopes the deal serves as an example for similar cases in the future. Assoun lived under strict parole conditions for nearly five years after he was released from prison, before a Nova Scotia Supreme Court ruling in March 2019 reversed his 1999 conviction for the murder of Brenda Way in Halifax. The 1995 killing has never been solved. Assoun suffered mental illness in prison, and he said he was diagnosed with a heart condition that required the insertion of stents — small mesh tubes that are placed in a narrowed coronary artery. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
LONDON — Banksy appears to have thrown his support behind a campaign to turn a former prison in the English town of Reading into an arts venue, a town spokesman said on Thursday, after the street artist confirmed that artwork that appeared on a red brick wall of the prison was of his making. The elusive artist confirmed the picture was his when he posted a video of him creating it on his Instagram account. The monochrome picture shows a man escaping using a rope made of paper from a typewriter. It appeared Monday outside Reading Prison, famous as the location where writer Oscar Wilde served two years for “gross indecency” in the 1890s. The prison closed in 2013, and campaigners want it turned into an arts venue. Britain’s Ministry of Justice, which owns the building, is due to decide mid-March on its future. In his Instagram video, Banksy is shown stealthily stenciling and spraying paint to create the artwork, titled “Create Escape.” The footage is juxtaposed with an episode of a traditional art instruction video called “The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross.” The campaign to turn the former prison into an arts venue has won the backing of actors including Judi Dench, Stephen Fry and Kenneth Branagh. A spokesman for Reading Borough Council said it was “thrilled that Banksy appears to have thrown his support behind the council’s desire to transform the vacant Reading Gaol into a beacon of arts, heritage and culture with this piece of artwork he has aptly called ‘Create Escape’.” “The Council is pushing the Ministry of Justice, who own the site, to make suitable arrangements to protect the image,” the authority said. The Associated Press