Wintry conditions in the backyard of a rural area.
Wintry conditions in the backyard of a rural area.
Hello, royal watchers. This is a special edition of The Royal Fascinator, your dose of royal news and analysis. Reading this online? Sign up here to get this delivered to your inbox. The revelations just kept coming Sunday night as Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, gave Oprah Winfrey — and a worldwide television audience — their view on why they had to leave the upper echelons of the Royal Family. The reasons were many, but amid all they had to say, there was one statement that stood out and seems particularly serious for the House of Windsor: Meghan's declaration that a senior member of the Royal Family had worries about the colour of the skin of their first child before he was born. In an interview Monday on CBS This Morning, Winfrey said Harry told her neither Queen Elizabeth nor Prince Philip were part of conversations about Archie's skin colour. "I think it's very damaging — the idea that a senior member of the Royal Family had expressed concern about what Archie might look like," Carolyn Harris, a Toronto-based royal author and historian, said in an interview late Sunday night. Meghan told Winfrey the concern had been relayed to her by Harry, and when questioned further on it, Harry refused to offer more specifics, saying it's a "conversation I'm never going to share." And that, Harris suggests, speaks to the seriousness of the matter. "It's very clear that Harry didn't want to go into details feeling that it would be too damaging for the monarchy." WATCH | Royal Family expressed concerns about son's skin colour, Meghan tells Oprah: It will take time to digest the impact of all that Harry and Meghan had to say to Winfrey. But some early comments in the British media this morning suggest Harry and Meghan's account will have a profound impact. "They have revealed the terrible strains inside the palace. They have drawn a picture of unfeeling individuals lost in an uncaring institution. They have spoken of racism within the Royal Family. This was a devastating interview," the BBC's royal correspondent, Jonny Dymond, wrote in an online analysis. "But Harry describing his brother and father as 'trapped,' and Meghan revealing that she repeatedly sought help within the palace only to be rebuffed is a body blow to the institution." 'A damning allegation' The Guardian reported that Harry and Meghan telling Winfrey of conversations in the Royal Family about Archie's skin colour is "a damning allegation that will send shockwaves through the institution and send relations with the palace to a new low." Many themes and issues developed over the two-hour broadcast, which sprinkled lighter moments — they're expecting a girl, they have rescue chickens and Archie, age almost two, has taken to telling people to "drive safe" — with much more serious concerns, including the lack of support they say they received, particularly as Meghan had suicidal thoughts. WATCH | Meghan had suicidal thoughts during royal life: "A theme that emerges again and again, and it's something that Harry explicitly states in the interview, is the Royal Family being concerned with the opinion of the tabloid press," said Harris. "This may very well have influenced decisions not to speak out about the way Meghan was being treated and that may have influenced some other decisions as well." One of those might be the question of security, something that was of considerable concern to the couple when they learned royal support for it would be withdrawn. "The Royal Family has frequently in the past received bad press regarding minor members ... receiving security,"said Harris. 'Negative headlines' "There were a lot of negative headlines regarding Beatrice and Eugenie continuing to receive security and their father's [Prince Andrew's] insistence they receive security despite being comparatively minor members of the Royal Family who do not undertake public engagements representing the Queen." There was also a sense out of Sunday's interview that issues that troubled the Royal Family in the past may still be a worry now. "Even in the 21st century after all of the problems that the Royal Family encountered in the 1990s with the breakdowns in the marriages of Prince Charles and Prince Andrew … there still doesn't seem to be a consistent means of mentoring new members of the Royal Family," said Harris. Meghan said she had to Google the lyrics for God Save the Queen, and was filled in at the last minute about having to curtsy to Elizabeth just before meeting her for the first time. Queen Elizabeth, Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, pose for a picture at a Buckingham Palace reception following the final Queen's Young Leaders Awards ceremony in London on June 26, 2018. Both Meghan and Harry spoke warmly of the Queen during the interview Sunday night.(John Stillwell/Reuters) Throughout the interview, Harry and Meghan repeatedly expressed respect and admiration for the Queen, if not for how the Royal Family as an institution operates. But there is considerable murkiness around just who may be responsible for some of the more serious issues they raised. "We know they respect the Queen and have a good personal relationship with the Queen. We know that Meghan had a conflict with Kate but says Kate apologized and Meghan forgave her and she doesn't think Kate's a bad person," said Harris. Lacking 'specific details' "But when it comes to who made racist comments about Archie's appearance or who was dismissive directly of Meghan's mental health, [on] that we don't have specific details." High-profile royal interviews such as this — particularly one by Harry's mother Diana, in 1995 — have a track record of not turning out as the royal interviewees may have intended, and it remains to be seen the lasting impact of this one. Harris sees parallels with Diana's interview, as she "spoke frankly" about a lack of support from the family, and felt that she had been let down by Prince Charles. Meghan spoke with Winfrey before they were joined by Harry.(Harpo Productions/Joe Pugliese/Reuters) Harry talked of hoping to repair his relationship with his father — "I will always love him but there's a lot of hurt that happened" — but said he felt really let down, and noted a time when his father wasn't taking his calls. Harris expects the interview will prompt further critical scrutiny of Charles, and Harry's older brother Prince William. The relationship with William has already been under intense scrutiny, and is clearly still a delicate matter for Harry, who hesitated noticeably before responding as Winfrey pressed him on it. "Time heals all things, hopefully," Harry said. How Buckingham Palace responds to all this remains to be seen. Generally, the public approach in matters such as this is silence, and a determination to be seen as carrying on with regular duties. Whether a member of the family might make a more informal comment — say in response to a question from someone at a public event — also remains to be seen. WATCH | Meghan says Royal Family failed to protect her and Prince Harry: But from what did emerge Sunday evening, there is a sense that whatever efforts the House of Windsor has made to put a more modern face on the monarchy, they appear not to have yielded the fruit that might have been hoped. "There's been some elements of modernization, but it's very clear that the institution has difficulty adapting to the needs of individuals who marry into the Royal Family," said Harris. "It's clear that Meghan came away from her experiences feeling that she was not supported or mentored in her new role." Sign up here to have The Royal Fascinator newsletter land in your inbox every other Friday. I'm always happy to hear from you. Send your ideas, comments, feedback and notes to firstname.lastname@example.org. Problems with the newsletter? 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A New Brunswick tree planter is branching his volunteer-based planting efforts to more provinces this year, COVID-19 permitting. Jonathan Clark's tree planting company Replant has an environmental division that plants trees in New Brunswick's forests and develops community parks with the help of volunteers and private donations. "This year there has been so much interest that we're expanding to at least five provinces and possibly seven," said Clark. Clark said the operations will expand to British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. He said Replant had the means to expand in 2020, but couldn't due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Clark is relying on an Atlantic Bubble for it to happen this year. It's nice to think that the trees we're planting are good for just being trees - Jonathan Clark Clark said Replant's environmental division, based in Sackville, planted 10,000 trees in New Brunswick in 2020. This year, it's goal is to plant 250,000 across the country. "There's certainly demand for it, there's a lot of people who want to see more trees in Canada, partly because of the environment and partly because it's good for public recreation," he said. He said donations are growing every year and, because of this will likely have the ability to plant 1 million trees within the next two years, but declined to give figures. Clark said there are a handful of volunteers in New Brunswick who consider themselves professional tree planters. He expects to have a dozen volunteers in the province this year. Group is working on 2 community forest projects Replant's environmental division is currently working on two community forest projects in New Brunswick, that will take three years to complete. These parks will have picnic areas and trails for public use. Clark said another part of Replant's volunteer work involves buying privately-owned woodlots that have been harvested for firewood and other purposes. Once they're fully cleared, the owners no longer has a use for the land and typically look to sell the lots cheap. A Replant volunteer poses with 12,000 seedlings. (Submitted by Jonathan Clark) He said he uses this opportunity to buy and refill these harvested plots. "Our expectation is we don't want to let those trees be harvested in the future. We want to have a lot more forest that just becomes an old-grown forest eventually," he said. "It's nice to think that the trees we're planting are good for just being trees." He said Replant is looking to expand its operations through New Brunswick, by partnering with Fundy National Park and provincial parks throughout. Replant contacts these parks offering to provide its volunteers and cover the cost to replenish the forests and add diversity in tree populations. Current tree populations not sustainable Balsam fir are New Brunswick's most common tree species, which are best-suited for extremely cold climates. As temperatures rise, this species becomes more vulnerable. Clark said Replant is putting a focus on planting hardwood trees, including Birch and Mountain Ash species, as they're more adaptable to the climate, better at collecting and storing carbon, and are preferable for Canada's wildlife. "This is good for climate change adaptation, certainly a lot of wildlife prefer to see hardwood trees," said Clark. He said the challenge is these seedlings aren't popular or easy to find. A longtime tree planter Clark began his 30-year-long tree planting career travelling between British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Replant began as an educational website for prospering tree planters, to learn about job opportunities and planting techniques. Clark said the company grew to offer larger scale commercial reforestation contracts and forestry consulting engagements. Just a few years ago, he opened the environmental branch of Replant in Sackville.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — In his first public address since the end of the Trump administration, former Vice-President Mike Pence is travelling to South Carolina, set to speak to a conservative Christian non-profit in the state that plays a crucial role in the presidential nominating process. Next month, Pence will keynote a dinner hosted by the Palmetto Family Council, a Pence aide told The Associated Press on Sunday. The aide spoke on the condition of anonymity due to a lack of permission to discuss the plans publicly. The Palmetto Family lobbies for what it considers to be “biblical values,” such as heterosexual marriage, and most recently helped push through a ban on most abortions in South Carolina. That law is now being challenged in court. Pence, who since leaving the administration has been doing work with the Heritage Foundation and Young America's Foundation, has not indicated if he plans a future run for office, but his choice of making his post-administration debut in South Carolina helps set down a marker for a potential 2024 presidential bid. The state holds the first presidential primaries in the South, and candidates of both major parties typically spend more than a year in the state ahead of those votes, introducing themselves and trying to secure support. As vice-president, Pence made numerous trips to South Carolina, meeting several times with Gov. Henry McMaster for coronavirus-related forums. He also recently campaigned in the state for U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace. Throughout his political career, beginning as an Indiana congressman-turned-governor, Pence has long advocated for restrictions on abortion and has voiced support for the overturn of Roe v. Wade. The speech to Palmetto Family is advantageous for Pence in a state that Republican candidates use as a proving ground to test their “pro-life” mettle. The Pence aide described the former vice-president's speech as one that will focus on traditional conservative talking points but will also tout what Pence sees as the accomplishments of the Trump administration. According to Dave Wilson, president of Palmetto Family, Pence will speak to between 450 and 600 guests at a ticketed, sponsored dinner at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center on April 29. Wilson told AP that he considered Pence a “prime person” to address the organization due to the “level of faith” the former vice-president embodied while in office. “Vice-President Mike Pence ... is very reflective of the ideas, policies and direction that we at Palmetto Family want to see in South Carolina: bringing faith to the forefront and growing the next generation of conservative leaders for our state,” Wilson said. ___ Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com.MegKinnardAP. Meg Kinnard, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Newly released documents show Statistics Canada considered delaying this year's census until 2022 over pandemic-related health concerns that could erode the quality of data relied on by policymakers across the country. An agency document noted the plan for the 2021 census was developed in a "normal operating context" where tens of thousands of staff and temporary hires would interact with each other and Canadians. In a pandemic, the document noted, that plan had "a high probability of failure." The behind-the-scenes look at how Statistics Canada rethought this year's census operation is contained in 50 pages of internal reports and presentations obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act. The agency ultimately decided to forge ahead with the census for this year using a plan that relies more heavily on Canadians filling out census forms online than on face-to-face interactions. Jan Kestle, president and CEO of Environics Analytics, said the census needed to go ahead as planned this year to get a baseline reading on how families, communities and businesses are faring to guide decision-making for a post-pandemic recovery. "It's not like we're in a period where there's something weird for a month. We have lived for a year (with the pandemic) and we're going to live with the implications of this for a long time," she said. "Having a census that's as good as it can be, is extremely important to the economic recovery, and the health of Canadians." Census results can help reshape electoral ridings and determine federal funding to provinces for health care, and to cities for infrastructure. Local officials use the census to decide where to plan new transit services, roads, schools and hospitals. A census takes seven years between the start of planning to the release of data. "This is a large piece of machinery that does not turn on a dime," said Michael Haan, an associate professor of sociology from Western University, and director of the school's Statistcs Canada Research Data Centre. "If they were going to shift courses by perhaps extending the census for a year, or whatever they may have chosen to do, they needed to have those deliberations well in advance of the census moment." Waiting until 2022, after the widespread distribution of vaccines, could lead to a more "normal" operation , officials wrote in one document, adding that results would better reflect typical trends rather than "an atypical year of widespread societal disruption." But it would also miss some impacts of COVID-19, including connecting detailed income data from the Canada Revenue Agency to different neighbourhoods to see the full effects of pandemic aid programs. "We have a bit of a sense of this already, but nothing as accurate and as complete as the census for giving a true picture of how much hardship the (Canada Emergency Response Benefit) may have saved us," Haan said. In July, officials said no to adding any pandemic-specific questions to the census form because it was "not the right vehicle" for collecting the information. As well, adding a question on short notice could be problematic since every question has to be thoroughly tested. "When you introduce new subject matter into a questionnaire, you run the risk of changing the way people respond to other questions," Haan said. It also takes the agency months before it can release the data for public consumption, meaning the information could be far out of date by 2022 given the fluidity of the pandemic. Statistics Canada's plan for this year's census relies more on online responses and telephone follow-ups than going door-to-door, opening up the internet option to everyone in the country for the first time. Geoff Bowlby, director general at Statistics Canada responsible for the census, said the agency expects about eight in every 10 people to respond to the census online. Enumerators going door-to-door will be masked and get responses from outside the home rather than inside as in previous census cycles, Bowlby said. Hundreds of workers hired as administrators for enumerators are going to work from home rather than temporary office space, he added. Some work can't be done remotely, such as in the scanning centres that turn paper returns into digital data. Bowlby said the agency has adjusted the number of workers in the facility, split them into cohorts, and put in a health and safety plan that includes the provision of N95 masks. "At the end of the day, we do expect to have high response to the census and that data will be of high quality, the same quality that Canadians expect from the census, and it will be a safe operation," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2021. Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
NEW DELHI — Thousands of female farmers held sit-ins and a hunger strike in India's capital on Monday in protests on International Women's Day against new agricultural laws. The demonstrations were held at multiple sites on the fringes of New Delhi where tens of thousands of farmers have camped for more than three months to protest against the laws they say will leave them poorer and at the mercy of big corporations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government says the laws are necessary to modernize agriculture. About 100 women wearing yellow and green scarfs sat cross-legged in front of a makeshift stage in Ghazipur, one of the many protest sites. Holding the flags of farm unions, they listened to female farm leaders speak from the stage and chanted slogans against the laws. At least 17 took part in a day-long hunger strike. “Women are sitting here, out in the open, in protest, but Modi doesn’t care. He doesn’t care about mothers, sisters, and daughters. He doesn’t care about women. That’s clear,” said Mandeep Kaur, a female farmer who travelled 1,100 kilometres (680 miles) from Chhattisgarh state to participate in the protests. Multiple rounds of talks between the government and farmers have failed to end the stalemate. The farmers have rejected an offer from the government to put the laws on hold for 18 months, saying they won’t settle for anything less than a complete repeal. They fear the laws will make family-owned farms unviable, eventually leaving them landless. Women have been at the forefront of the protests, which have posed one of the biggest challenges to Modi since he took office in 2014. Many accompanied thousands of male farmers who arrived at the protest sites in late November and have since organized and led protest marches, run medical camps and massive soup kitchens that feed thousands, and raised demands for gender equality. “Today Modi is sending wishes to women across the country on International Women’s Day. Who are these women he is sending wishes to? We are also like his daughters, but he clearly doesn’t care about us,” said Babli Singh, a farm leader. International Women’s Day, sponsored by the United Nations since 1975, celebrates women’s achievements and aims to further their rights. Women often embody what agricultural experts call an “invisible workforce” on India’s vast farmlands that often goes unnoticed. Nearly 75% of rural women in India who work full-time are farmers, according to the anti-poverty group Oxfam India, and the numbers are expected to rise as more men migrate to cities for jobs. Yet, less than 13% of women own the land they till. Demonstrations were also held at Jantar Mantar, an area of New Delhi near Parliament where about 100 women held placards denouncing the new laws and calling for their withdrawal. “Today we are finding ourselves under attack at all fronts. As women, as peasants, as workers, as youth and students," said women rights activist Sucharita, who uses one name. “We are opposed to the laws that have been passed in favour of corporations." ___ Associated Press video journalist Shonal Ganguly contributed to this report. Neha Mehrotra And Rishi Lekhi, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — It wasn’t “You get a car!” but Oprah Winfrey gave TV executive Jesse Collins something equally, if not even more, cool: “You get to produce the Oscars!” Emmy-nominated Collins has had success over the years with the BET Awards, the Grammy Awards and various TV specials, and now he’s bringing his magical touch to the 2021 Academy Awards, thanks to a co-sign from the queen of all media. “I got an email from Oprah saying, ‘What’s your cell?,’” Collins recalled to The Associated Press. “She had a conversation with Bob Iger and Disney, and she had recommended me for the Oscars. “It’s interesting because (the Academy and I) had met in previous years but then this was the year. I think the Oprah stamp definitely helped push it,” he added. “It’s like the greatest reference you could ever have. You know, on a job reference you put your mom and your best friend who you know won’t say something stupid and your cousin, who also has a good job. Oprah trumps all of that.” Collins’ Oscars gig will come weeks after the March 14 Grammys — this year he's been promoted to co-executive producer — and two months after he became the first Black executive producer of the Super Bowl halftime show. “I did not expect them to all line up like this,” he said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime moment.” He’s the busiest and most-requested man in showbiz. The 50-year-old is the CEO of Jesse Collins Entertainment, the production company he founded in 2012. He earned an Emmy nomination for producing the 2019 Grammys, and he’s had major success with the Soul Train Awards, Netflix’s “Rhythm + Flow,” “Black Girls Rock!” and the three-part “The New Edition Story,” which pulled in record ratings for BET in 2017. He and his all-star team hit new heights with last year’s BET Awards, one of the first awards shows produced during the pandemic. The event was a critical success, as Collins and producers put together a show featuring highly produced and well-crafted pre-taped performances, with some centred around the Black experience highlighted by the Black Lives Matter movement, civil rights and the lives of those lost because of police officers, including George Floyd. “I think the BET Awards were a jumping off point for a lot of stuff. All of a sudden people just wanted to know how we did it and what made us go that way. The phone definitely lit up the day after we did the show,” he said. One of those calls came from Desiree Perez, the CEO of Roc Nation, Jay-Z's entertainment company that started producing the halftime show last year. “It was life changing to work on something so prestigious with so much history,” Collins said of the spectacle starring The Weeknd. “Just to see how the machine works that pulls that thing together was amazing. Now I understand how the mechanics of a halftime show work. It’s not like anything else.” Next is the Grammys, which were originally supposed to take place on Jan. 31 but were delayed due to the pandemic. It will mark Collins' 10th year working on the show, where he's held positions like segment producer, consulting producer and producer. Performers include Taylor Swift, Cardi B, BTS, Billie Eilish, Megan Thee Stallion and Harry Styles. “It’s going to be entertaining. It’s going to be everything we need it to be at this moment,” he said. “That’s what we’ve been focused on and that’s what we’re going to deliver.” Collins has a long history of working directly with musicians and booking A-listers for big events. He’s collaborated with Cardi B on both “Cardi Tries” on Facebook Watch and “Rhythm + Flow.” The latter series was a 2019 hit for Netflix, and the winner of the show — bilingual rapper D Smoke — is competing for two Grammys, including best rap album and best new artist. “Rhythm + Flow” contrasts recent seasons of “American Idol” and “The Voice,” where its winners find little success and the spotlight remains on the celebrity judges. “It’s a testament to the show,” Collins said, adding that he hopes the series gets renewed for a second season. “We really wanted to create a show where the show would become a steppingstone for the artist to go on and have a legit career.” But the show will have to wait until Collins' schedule clears up. Just hours after he wraps the Grammys, the nominees for the Oscars will be announced: “That’s when it’s like a horse race. The three of us (producers) are coming out the gate.” Collins is the fourth Black producer in the show's 93rd history, and soon after the April 25 event celebrating the year’s best in film, he would have completed his trifecta. And then he can rest. Sort of. “When the Oscars are over, we’re going right into BET Awards,” he said of the event that typically airs in June. “I think I’ll go on vacation to my couch. I’m going to take a strong nap, like a nice old person nap where you say it’s only going to be 15 minutes and you wake up a day later.” Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press
Humans have degraded or destroyed roughly two-thirds of the world's original tropical rainforest cover, new data reveals – raising alarm that a key natural buffer against climate change is quickly vanishing. The forest loss is also a major contributor of climate-warming emissions, with the dense tropical forest vegetation representing the largest living reservoir of carbon. Logging and land conversion, mainly for agriculture, have wiped out 34% of the world's original old-growth tropical rainforests, and degraded another 30%, leaving them more vulnerable to fire and future destruction, according to an analysis by the non-profit Rainforest Foundation Norway.
TORONTO — A group including all four of Ontario's main teachers unions is urging the provincial government to offer free menstrual products in all publicly funded schools. The group, led by the Toronto Youth Cabinet, made the call in an open letter to Education Minister Stephen Lecce on Monday. It says some Ontario school boards -- such as the Toronto District School Board and the Waterloo Region District School Board -- have taken action on their own, but the group is calling for the province to expand that to all 72 of Ontario's boards. The group notes that British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island offer free menstrual products to all students. The letter says menstrual products are a necessity, not a luxury. It says a lack of access to period products can lead to students missing school and work. "Every woman, girl, trans man and gender non-binary person should be able to focus on their education and be active participants without having to worry about inadequate access to tampons, pads, and other menstrual products," the letter reads. The group, which also includes the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Ontario Student Trustees Association, is calling on the province to fully fund the initiative and ensure it's in place by the end of 2021. "These products must not only be free of charge, but be provided in ways that also protect privacy, are barrier free and easily accessible, are consistent in delivery and availability, and are non-stigmatizing," the letter reads. A spokeswoman for Lecce said the ministry knows that a lack of access to period products "creates significant stress in students' lives," particularly in lower income communities. "We remain open and committed to finding innovative solutions to help girls and young women access menstrual products and support their social-emotional well-being," Caitlin Clark wrote in an email. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2021. The Canadian Press
Bishop Richard Howell Jr. thundered from his North Minneapolis pulpit Sunday that the city "is under great stress right now" as the George Floyd murder trial tests how much, if anything, will change in the U.S. almost 10 months after the killing sparked global outrage. Jury selection for the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, whose knee pressing on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes was captured on graphic video last May, is expected to get underway this week. "This officer coldly refused to respond to his plea and kept his knee on Mr. Floyd's neck, snuffing the very life out of him," preached Howell as his congregants shouted out their acknowledgement. "A senseless, cold, hideous act of hate, bigotry and brutality," said Howell, who is opening his church to those who may struggle watching the live-streamed trial. WATCH | Security high in advance of trial in George Floyd's killing: Benjamin Crump, the Floyd family's lawyer, told CBC News that the upcoming case is "one of the most important civil rights cases in the last 100 years. It is the Emmett Till of today." Till, a 14-year-old Black teenager, was brutally murdered in Mississippi in 1955 after allegedly flirting with a white woman in a grocery store. His killers were swiftly acquitted. "Mississippi or Minnesota, I don't see much difference," Deborah Watts, one of Till's cousins, said at a Minneapolis news conference on Friday surrounded by dozens of families whose relatives have been shot or killed by police. "Emmett Till was murdered in August 1955, and we are still fighting for justice. "Something is wrong with that ... we have not made much progress." Last summer, millions of people protested across the U.S. against Floyd's killing in scenes not witnessed since the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Protests against racial injustice and police brutality spread to Canada and many cities internationally. WATCH | Lawyer for George Floyd's family discusses upcoming trial: Crump said the video of Floyd — handcuffed, face down on the pavement, gasping for breath — is "ocular proof" of a man being "tortured to death by the very people who are supposed to protect and defend." "The world had gotten used to seeing reality TV, but we were still shocked," he told CBC News from his office in Tallahassee, Fla. The criminal trial against Chauvin will be prosecuted by the state of Minnesota. While Crump is not directly involved in this case, its outcome will inevitably impact the family's civil case against the city of Minneapolis and the four police officers involved in Floyd's death. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter, with the potential addition of a third-degree murder charge. The Minnesota Court of Appeals last week ordered the judge in the case to reconsider a request by prosecutors to reinstate a third-degree murder charge, which means jury selection will not begin until at least Tuesday. Three other officers involved in Floyd's death go on trial in August. Increased security around courthouse Cameras in the courtroom will capture the trial and live stream it for broadcast on some TV channels — a first for Minnesota. The trial is being compared to that of the Los Angeles police officers who were acquitted in the beating of Rodney King 30 years ago, as well as the O.J. Simpson murder trial, which commanded large TV audiences. "The killing of George Floyd by Officer Chauvin is akin for many Americans to some type of public lynching, the likes of which we haven't seen for decades," said Kami Chavis, a law professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. "I don't want people to underestimate the power and the importance of this case and what might happen," she said. "It's a huge signal, I think, to law enforcement about what they can and can't do." The Hennepin County courthouse and many federal buildings in Minneapolis are barricaded and surrounded by concertina wire ahead of the trial.(Sylvia Thomson/CBC) The Hennepin County courthouse in Minneapolis is now surrounded by three rings of cement barriers, three-metre high fencing and concertina wire. The state has allocated $36 million US to security and has activated the Minnesota National Guard. Staff in the building, which includes the county government office, have been told to stay home. The courtroom has been modified to accommodate physical distancing due to COVID-19, restricting the number of people allowed inside. One person per family, four each for the defence and prosecution teams and two media members are allowed in at a time. Masks are mandatory, but cannot have anything written on them. Challenges in selecting a jury Three weeks have been allotted to jury selection as lawyers try to screen potential jurors for bias, a complicated task in such a highly publicized case. Activists in Minneapolis say Chauvin is the fourth police officer to be prosecuted in the death of a citizen in Minnesota. Two were acquitted, while one other was convicted in the death of a white woman. "For the most part, officers are pretty sympathetic figures in a lot of these cases. And juries give a great deal of deference to what police officers do. So that will be a challenge as well," Chavis said. The courtroom for Chauvin's trial has been modified to allow for physical distancing due to COVID-19.(Hennepin County) One of those acquittals involved the death of Philando Castile, who was shot and killed by police in July 2016 in a St. Paul suburb while stopped at a traffic light with his girlfriend and a four-year-old in the car. The officer, who was charged with second-degree manslaughter, was acquitted — but fired from the force. Castile's mother, Valerie Castile, sent a message to legislators during Friday's emotional news conference. "We're gonna have to be brutally honest about what's going on in this country", she said. "To the State of Minnesota: we are not going to shut up, we are not going to sit down, we are going to stand in unity and we're going to bring it to you". 'Many other people were murdered before George Floyd' The death of Floyd, who was originally from Texas, has propelled the fight against anti-Black racism and police brutality back into the forefront.. Artwork of the 46-year-old's face has popped up on billboards, buildings and in museums, and his death has become a lightning rod for thousands of Black families whose relatives have been stopped, shot or killed by police in their communities. "What happened after George Floyd's death — the riots, the uproar — did not happen as a result of one man's life. It happened because many other people were murdered before George Floyd. And nothing happened. Nothing changed", Toshira Garraway, founder of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, told CBC News. Garraway's fiancé, Justin Teigen, died following a run-in with police 12 years ago. According to St. Paul police, Teigen was fleeing police and did not die in their custody. A mural showing his face along with dozens of others, including Floyd's, covers the side of a building in North Minneapolis. It serves as a visual reminder of the more than 400 people who've been killed in altercations with police in Minnesota in the last 20 years, according to the Communities United Against Police Brutality advocacy group. "If George Floyd did something wrong, if all the rest of our loved ones did something wrong, [police] were to arrest them. Not take their lives, not destroy our lives," Garraway said. Toshira Garraway, who founded Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, stands in front of a mural of Minnesotans who have died after police encounters.(Sylvia Thomson/CBC) Crump said the Floyd family is "very, very anxious" and wants "a conviction to the fullest extent of the law." He said anything less has the potential to unleash more unrest. Violence and riots last summer in the days after Floyd's killing burned blocks of the city, with damage estimated at $350 million US. Minneapolis is bracing against heightened tensions when the case goes to the jury, which is expected to happen late April or May. "Historically in America, the police have not been held accountable for killing African Americans," said Crump, who has taken on dozens of cases where Black men and women have been shot or injured by police. "The George Floyd case will be a referendum on how far America has come in this quest for equal justice under the law."
Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker Xpeng Inc said on Monday its net loss in the fourth quarter of last year narrowed 42% from the same period in 2019, as EV sales increased in the world's biggest car market. New York-listed Xpeng, which sells mainly in China and competes with Tesla Inc and Nio Inc, said its net loss attributable to ordinary shareholders was 787.4 million yuan ($120.7 million) for the quarter, compared with 1,354.6 million yuan a year earlier. In the final three months last year, revenue jumped 346% year-on-year to 2.85 billion yuan.
NEW YORK — Before posting a selfie with her COVID-19 vaccination card on Twitter, Aditi Juneja debated whether to include an explanation for why she was eligible for a shot. “The first draft of the tweet had an explanation,” says Juneja, a 30-year-old lawyer in New York City. After some thought, she decided to leave out out that her body mass index is considered obese, putting her at higher risk of serious illness if infected. A friend who disclosed the same reason on social media was greeted with hateful comments, and Juneja wanted to avoid that. The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. is offering hope that the pandemic that has upended life around the world will finally draw to an end. But as distribution widens in the U.S., varying eligibility rules and unequal access to the coveted doses are also breeding guilt, envy and judgement among those who’ve had their doses — particularly the seemingly young and healthy — and the millions still anxiously awaiting their turn. Adding to the second-guessing about who should be getting shots is the scattershot feel of the rollout, and the sense that some might be gaming the system. Faced with a patchwork of confusing scheduling systems, many who aren’t as technically savvy or socially connected have been left waiting even as new swaths of people become eligible. The envy and moral judgements about whether others deserve to be prioritized are understandable and could reflect anxieties about being able to get vaccines for ourselves or our loved ones, says Nancy Berlinger, a bioethicist with the Hastings Center. “There’s the fear of missing out, or fear of missing out on behalf of your parents,” she says. Stereotypes about what illness looks are also feeding into doubts about people's eligibility, even though the reason a person got a shot won't always be obvious. In other cases, Berlinger says judgements could reflect entrenched biases about smoking and obesity, compared with conditions that society might deem more “virtuous,” such as cancer. Yet even though a mass vaccination campaign is bound to have imperfections, Berlinger noted the goal is to prioritize people based on medical evidence on who’s most at risk if infected. Nevertheless, the uneven rollout and varying rules across the country have some questioning decisions by local officials. In New Jersey, 58-year-old software developer Mike Lyncheski was surprised when he learned in January that smokers of any age were eligible, since he knew older people at the time who were still waiting for shots. “It didn’t seem like there was medical rationale for it,” says Lyncheski, who isn't yet eligible for the vaccines. He also noted there's no way to confirm that people are smokers, leaving the door open for cheating. The suspicions are being fueled by reports of line jumpers or those stretching the definitions for eligibility. In New York, a Soul Cycle instructor got vaccinated after teachers became eligible in January, the Daily Beast reported, and later apologized for her “terrible error in judgement.” In Florida, two women wore bonnets and glasses to disguise themselves as elderly in hopes of scoring shots. Hospital board members, trustees and donors have also gotten shots early on, raising complaints about unfair access. It's why some feel obligated to explain why they were able to get the vaccine. In an Instagram post, Jeff Klein held up his vaccination card and noted he was given a shot as a volunteer at a mass vaccination hub. “I definitely mentioned it on purpose, because I didn’t want people to get the wrong idea,” says Klein, a 44-year-old musician in Austin, Texas. As she waited for a shot in Jacksonville, Florida, 33-year-old Amanda Billy said it could be frustrating seeing people her age in other states posting about getting vaccinated. She understood that state rollouts vary, but felt anxious because she has a medical condition that makes COVID-19 “very real and scary.” “I’m just happy for them that they got it. But also, I want it,” she said in an interview before getting her first shot. Others are finding they are opening themselves up to criticism when sharing news that they got a shot. Public figures in particular might become targets of second-guessing by strangers. In New York, local TV news co-host Jamie Stelter posted a photo of herself after getting the first shot earlier this month. Many replies were positive, but others noted that she didn’t look old enough or that she must “have connections.” Afterward, Stelter's co-host Pat Kiernan weighed in and tweeted that the “you don't look that sick to me” commentary she received was “evidence of the hell that COVID has placed us in.” For Juneja, the decision to get a shot after becoming eligible wasn't easy, given the struggles she knew others were having securing appointments because of technology, language or other barriers. But she realized it wouldn't help for her to refrain from getting vaccinated. “It’s not like with other types of things where I could give my spot to someone else who I think is more in need,” she says. “We are sort of all in this situation where we can only really decide for ourselves.” ___ Candice Choi, a reporter on The Associated Press' Health & Science team, has been covering the pandemic and vaccine rollout in the United States. Candice Choi, The Associated Press
Ontario pharmacists start a COVID-19 vaccine program this week at 330 locations to provide the AstraZeneca vaccine to customers aged 60 to 64 as lockdown restrictions ease in two major regions.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Monday March 8, 2021. There are 886,574 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 886,574 confirmed cases (30,268 active, 834,067 resolved, 22,239 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 2,489 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 79.64 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 18,880 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,697. There were 26 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 245 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 35. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.09 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 58.52 per 100,000 people. There have been 25,159,921 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 1,006 confirmed cases (91 active, 909 resolved, six deaths). There was one new case Sunday. The rate of active cases is 17.43 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 19 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 1.15 per 100,000 people. There have been 201,814 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 141 confirmed cases (26 active, 115 resolved, zero deaths). There were two new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 16.29 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of nine new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 112,416 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,659 confirmed cases (29 active, 1,565 resolved, 65 deaths). There were two new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 2.96 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 18 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.64 per 100,000 people. There have been 366,679 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,455 confirmed cases (36 active, 1,391 resolved, 28 deaths). There were two new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 4.61 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 25 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.02 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 3.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 242,695 tests completed. _ Quebec: 292,631 confirmed cases (7,100 active, 275,059 resolved, 10,472 deaths). There were 707 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 82.8 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 4,891 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 699. There were seven new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 79 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 11. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.13 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 122.13 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,452,036 tests completed. _ Ontario: 308,296 confirmed cases (10,389 active, 290,840 resolved, 7,067 deaths). There were 1,299 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 70.51 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 7,480 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,069. There were 15 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 87 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 12. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.08 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.96 per 100,000 people. There have been 11,205,314 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 32,225 confirmed cases (1,130 active, 30,188 resolved, 907 deaths). There were 56 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 81.93 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 366 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 52. There were two new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 12 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.12 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 65.76 per 100,000 people. There have been 541,269 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 29,709 confirmed cases (1,517 active, 27,794 resolved, 398 deaths). There were 116 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 128.7 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,062 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 152. There were two new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 13 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is two. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.16 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 590,938 tests completed. _ Alberta: 135,837 confirmed cases (4,949 active, 128,974 resolved, 1,914 deaths). There were 300 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 111.92 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,333 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 333. There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 28 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.09 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 43.28 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,445,307 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 83,107 confirmed cases (4,975 active, 76,752 resolved, 1,380 deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 96.64 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,653 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 379. There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 25 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.07 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 26.81 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,969,444 tests completed. _ Yukon: 72 confirmed cases (zero active, 71 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.38 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,232 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 42 confirmed cases (one active, 41 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 2.21 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 14,849 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 381 confirmed cases (25 active, 355 resolved, one deaths). There were four new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 63.53 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 24 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,852 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 8, 2021. The Canadian Press
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Monday March 8, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 57,567 new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,387,189 doses given. Nationwide, 565,719 people or 1.5 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 6,298.772 per 100,000. There were 316,360 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 2,938,570 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 81.24 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 4,472 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 24,757 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 47.279 per 1,000. In the province, 1.61 per cent (8,427) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 5,850 new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 41,470 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 59.7 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,105 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 13,281 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 83.724 per 1,000. In the province, 3.32 per cent (5,273) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 1,170 new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 15,885 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 10 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 83.61 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 6,657 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 38,676 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 39.631 per 1,000. In the province, 1.48 per cent (14,395) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 11,700 new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 73,680 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 52.49 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 7,424 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 33,741 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 43.255 per 1,000. In the province, 1.56 per cent (12,142) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 9,360 new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 56,135 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 60.11 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 16,124 new vaccinations administered for a total of 548,136 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 64.06 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 638,445 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 85.85 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 30,192 new vaccinations administered for a total of 890,604 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 60.63 per 1,000. In the province, 1.85 per cent (271,807) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 183,460 new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 1,086,745 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 81.95 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 2,106 new vaccinations administered for a total of 89,728 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 65.162 per 1,000. In the province, 2.20 per cent (30,334) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 124,840 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 9.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 71.87 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 1,428 new vaccinations administered for a total of 91,884 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 77.924 per 1,000. In the province, 2.38 per cent (28,011) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 18,540 new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 93,145 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 98.65 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 7,717 new vaccinations administered for a total of 290,391 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 65.967 per 1,000. In the province, 2.07 per cent (90,937) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 51,480 new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 326,445 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 88.96 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 311,208 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 60.646 per 1,000. In the province, 1.69 per cent (86,865) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 385,080 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 7.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 80.82 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 21,097 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 505.547 per 1,000. In the territory, 18.75 per cent (7,826) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 16,100 new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 35,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 84 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 60.28 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 19,775 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 438.285 per 1,000. In the territory, 10.10 per cent (4,558) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 16,200 new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 35,300 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 78 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 56.02 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,911 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 359.216 per 1,000. In the territory, 13.28 per cent (5,144) of the population has been fully vaccinated. There were 2,500 new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 26,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 68 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 52.69 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. In some cases the number of doses administered may appear to exceed the number of doses distributed as some provinces have been drawing extra doses per vial. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published March 8, 2021. The Canadian Press
BANGKOK — Prosecutors in Thailand charged 18 pro-democracy activists with sedition on Monday, while lodging additional charges of insulting the monarchy against three of them. The sedition charges, which carry a maximum penalty of up to seven years in prison, stem from an antigovernment rally in September, though details on the alleged offences were not immediately clear. The three charged with violating the lese majeste law, which outlaws criticism of senior members of the royal family, are Panusaya Sithijirawattanakul, Jatupat Boonpattararaksa and Panupong Jadnok. Thai authorities have stepped up their legal offensive against those involved in a student-led protest movement that is pushing for Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha and his government to step down, the constitution to be amended to make it more democratic and the monarchy to be reformed to make it more accountable. The latter demand is the most radical and controversial because the monarchy has rarely faced any public scrutiny and is considered by many to be an untouchable pillar of Thai identity. Those found guilty of violating the law against criticizing or insulting key royals face up to 15 years in prison per offence. The protest movement has struck a chord with many Thais but alienated others, especially royalists shocked at its criticisms of the monarchy. The movement began to lose steam late last year amid differences among its factions, and because of a resurgence of the coronavirus in Thailand. Prosecutors last month charged four protest leaders with lese majeste and they were denied bail. Jatupat, who was imprisoned for violating the lese majeste law in 2017, said that if he and the other activists charged Monday are unable to post bail they will keep fighting from jail. “The movement outside will surely continue no matter what happens,” he said. Jatupat on Sunday completed a nearly 250-kilometre (155-mile) walk from Thailand's northeast to Bangkok's Democracy Monument. Along the way, he campaigned and talked to people about ousting Prayuth, amending the constitution and abolishing the lese majeste law. According to the group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights, at least 382 people, including 13 minors, have been charged in connection with the protests, which picked up momentum last summer. At least 60 of those people have been charged with lese majeste. ___ Associated Press writer Bill Bredesen contributed to this report. Chalida Ekvitthayavechnukul, The Associated Press
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A Harvard University professor has ignited an international uproar and faces mounting scrutiny for alleging that Korean women who were kept as sex slaves in wartime Japan had actually chosen to work as prostitutes. In a recent academic paper, J. Mark Ramseyer rejected a wide body of research finding that Japan’s so-called “comfort women” were forced to work at military brothels during World War II. Ramseyer instead argued that the women willingly entered into contracts as sex workers. His paper has intensified a political dispute between Japan, whose leaders deny that the women were coerced, and South Korea, which has long pressed Japan to provide apologies and compensation to women who have shared accounts of rape and abuse. Decades of research has explored the abuses inflicted on comfort women from Korea and other nations previously occupied by Japan. In the 1990s, women began sharing accounts detailing how they were taken to comfort stations and forced to provide sexual services for the Japanese military. Hundreds of scholars have signed letters condemning Ramseyer's article, which united North and South Korea in sparking outrage. Last Tuesday, North Korea’s state-run DPRK Today published an article calling Ramseyer a “repulsive money grubber” and a “pseudo scholar.” Ramseyer, a professor of Japanese legal studies at Harvard Law School, declined to comment. Ramseyer’s article, titled “Contracting for sex in the Pacific War,” was published online in December and was scheduled to appear in the March issue of the International Review of Law and Economics. The issue has been suspended, however, and the journal issued an “expression of concern” saying the piece is under investigation. Most alarming to historians is what they say is a lack of evidence in the paper: Scholars at Harvard and other institutions have combed though Ramseyer's sources and say there is no historical evidence of the contracts he describes. In a statement calling for the article to be retracted, Harvard historians Andrew Gordon and Carter Eckert said Ramseyer “has not consulted a single actual contract” dealing with comfort women. “We do not see how Ramseyer can make credible claims, in extremely emphatic wording, about contracts he has not read,” they wrote. Alexis Dudden, a historian of modern Japan and Korea at the University of Connecticut, called the article a “total fabrication” that disregards decades of research. Although some have invoked academic freedom to defend Ramseyer, Dudden counters that the article “does not meet the requirements of academic integrity.” “These are assertions out of thin air,” she said. “It’s very clear from his writing and his sources that he has never seen a contract.” More than 1,000 economists have signed a separate letter condemning the article, saying it misuses economic theory “as a cover to legitimize horrific atrocities.” A separate group of historians of Japan issued a 30-page article explaining why the article should be retracted “on grounds of academic misconduct.” At Harvard, hundreds of students signed a petition demanding an apology from Ramseyer and a university response to the complaints against him. Harvard Law School declined to comment. A United Nations report from 1996 concluded that the comfort women were sex slaves taken through “violence and outright coercion.” A statement from Japan in 1993 acknowledged that women were taken “against their own will,” although the nation’s leaders later denied it. Tensions flared again in January when a South Korean court ruled that the Japanese government must give 100 million won ($90,000) to each of 12 women who sued in 2013 over their wartime sufferings. Japan insists all wartime compensation issues were settled under a 1965 treaty normalizing relations with South Korea. In South Korea, activists have denounced Ramseyer and called for his resignation from Harvard. Chung Young-ai, South Korea’s minister of gender equality and family, expressed dismay over the article last week. “There is an attempt to distort (the facts about) the Japanese military’s ‘comfort women’ issue and tarnish the honours and dignity of victims,” Chung said, according to comments provided by her ministry. Lee Yong-soo, a 92-year-old South Korean and survivor, described Ramseyer’s assertion as “ludicrous” and demanded he apologize. An influential activist, Lee is campaigning for South Korea and Japan to settle their decadeslong impasse by seeking judgment from the International Court of Justice. When asked about Ramseyer last Wednesday, Lee said: “That professor should be dragged to (the ICJ) too.” The controversy, amplified by its source at an Ivy League university, has yielded new scrutiny of Ramseyer's other work. In response to new concerns raised by scholars, The European Journal of Law and Economics added an editor's note saying it's investigating a recent piece by Ramseyer — this one studying Koreans living in early 20th century Japan. Cambridge University Press said a forthcoming book chapter by Ramseyer is “being revised by the author after consultation between the author and the editors of the book.” Ramseyer repeated his claims about comfort women in a submission to a Japanese news site in January. In it, he alleged the women entered into contracts similar to those used under a separate, licensed system of prostitution in Japan. He rejected accounts of forced labour as “pure fiction,” saying the Japanese army “did not dragoon Korean women to work in its brothels.” “Expressing sympathy to elderly women who have had a rough life is fine,” he wrote. “Paying money to an ally in order to rebuild a stable relationship is fine. But the claims about enslaved Korean comfort women are historically untrue.” Opponents counter that many of the women were so young they would have been unable to consent to sex even if there was evidence of contracts. “We're really talking about 15-year-olds,” said Dudden, at the University of Connecticut. “This article further victimizes the very few number of survivors by asserting claims that even the author knows cannot be substantiated.” ___ Associated Press writers Hyung-jin Kim and Kim Tong-hyung contributed from Seoul. Collin Binkley, The Associated Press
Windsor city council has approved the final design for a parkette in Olde Walkerville. The parkette will be located at the corner of Devonshire Road and Riverside Drive and feature a bronze statue of Hiram Walker. The statue depicts Hiram Walker in a walking pose atop six whiskey barrels. He has blueprints under his arm and he's headed into Walkerville to build the town. "Normally, you see Hiram Walker depicted as an older fellow. I wanted him to be young and youthful, more, in his 50s when he was just getting out, developing Walkerville," said sculptor Mark Williams, who created the eight-foot statue two years ago. The bronze statue of Hiram Walker will be the centre piece of the new parkette.(Mark Williams) It took the city that length of time to find the right location and then negotiate with the Hiram Walker distillery for the small parcel of land. It will act as a cornerstone of the city's planned distillery district. "Having him be kind of a key piece in this gateway into old Walkerville is a really good fit," said Heidi Baillargeon, manager of parks development. Baillargeon said the design by architectural firm Brook McIlroy also features cobblestone paving, benches, lighting, landscaping and some decorative granite retaining walls with planters. The statue is currently in storage awaiting the completion of the parkette. The corner of Devonshire Road and Riverside Drive is where the parkette will be located.(Dale Molnar/CBC) Chris Edwards, publisher of Walkerville Publishing says Walker was a humble man who would probably be a little uncomfortable with the honour, but Edwards says it will be a real asset to the area. "I think it brings a lot of attention to Walkerville.It should certainly, once COVID settles down and people sort of get back to normal, should drive a lot of traffic ... People will want to see it." Even though in real life Hiram Walker was only about five feet tall or so Williams made the statue eight feet tall on purpose to reflect how much larger than life Walker was. "When you think of everything he's done ... Walker farms that used to be out there and all the trains all the way through the county. So, yeah, he was pretty big for a little guy," said Williams laughing. Now that council has approved the project, it will be tendered out — with the $1,174,432 parkette expected to be finished by July, just in time for Walker's birthday.
An old storage shed with no heat or electricity is where the bodies are kept in Gjoa Haven, Nunavut. "It is not a very nice place to put someone you love," said the community's MLA, Tony Akoak to CBC. Tony Akoak, MLA for Gjoa Haven has been raising the issue for years. Still nothing has been done. (Courtesy Tony Akoak) The shed is used as the local morgue with none of the convenience of a real facility. "It's not a pretty sight to see if you go into that building," said Akoak, in the legislature Thursday. The interior is covered in dust and there is cut up wood on the floor. The lack of electricity makes it cold and dark, said Akoak. This shed has been the local morgue ever since he can remember. He brought the issue to the legislature in 2019 and again this October. Still, nothing has been done. Resident said he was shocked at the condition Akoak received a letter from a Gjoa Haven resident, James Dulac, in January, outlining a horrific experience with the building. A friend of his died by suicide and with the family's permission he was going there to dress the body for the burial. "I was shocked for what I saw," said Dulac, in the letter. His friend lay on the floor in an plastic RCMP bag, and a different body lay on his friend's feet. Dulac opened his friend's body bag to find him covered in blood with his shoes still on, his arms and legs twisted and frozen in place. It was a "clear indication that he did not get cleaned properly prior to be taken to the [morgue]," Dulac wrote. His friend's body would not fit into the coffin, because of how his friend was placed. They had to use a large plywood box, he said. The inside of the shed used as a morgue. Empty boxes are piled to the roof. (Submitted by James Dulac ) "Our loved ones, our people when saying goodbye to this world, deserve respect, deserve to be treated with dignity, deserve better treatment," said Dulac in the letter. "Having a morgue at least with all the necessary needs, it is not a [luxury], it is a right, it is a need," he wrote. Dulac said he brought the issue to the municipality but has not seen any solution yet. In an email to Akoak, Dulac offers two weeks of his salary to be put toward getting a proper morgue. Akoak says this space has been used as a morgue ever since he can remember. (Submitted by James Dulac ) Government has unused portable morgues The Department of Community and Government Services bought two portable morgues in May 2020. The morgues cost $77,520 and the department said they are part of an inventory the government is building to respond to community emergencies. The containers arrived in June and have been sitting in Iqaluit ever since. Community and Government Services Minister Jeannie Ehaloak committed to contact the municipality of Gjoa Haven about the issue.
Seabird biologists are concerned about medical masks ending up in the province's waterways and entangling birds and other wildlife after images were posted online of a gull at Quidi Vidi Lake trapped in the ear loop of a mask. "It's incredibly disheartening and discouraging. It would be anyway, but this lake has an international designation as an important bird area," said Holly Hogan, who has been studying marine birds for 30 years. Hogan told CBC Radio's The Broadcast another image from the same set shows another gull with the plastic rings from beer cans around its beak. Hogan said an awareness around plastic pollution in the environment, specifically the ocean, already exists, but when single-use personal protective equipment became a staple during the COVID-19 pandemic, she said pollution was the first thought that occurred to her. "Everybody disposing of these single-use masks, I thought 'where are they going to go?' and well, we know where some of them are ending up, unfortunately," she said. Hogan said about 129 billion face masks and 69 billion disposable gloves were used every month in 2020. "Not surprisingly, a large number of these ended up in the ocean, and there are very conservative estimates between 1.5 and two billion face masks ended up in the ocean in 2020," she said. Single-use mentality Hogan said there's a feeling of stepping backwards in the public's attempt to limit plastic use. Using bulk food retailer Bulk Barn as an example, she said people used to be able to bring reusable containers to the store, but during the pandemic, the store handed out single-use plastic gloves to be worn while shopping and didn't allow reusable containers. "Some of it is certainly justified, people need to protect their health and that is the number one priority," Hogan said. "Not to pick on the Bulk Barn, I mean they're doing it for our safety, but it seems like in the face of the pandemic, people are almost in a state of panic." A second gull was entangled in plastic rings used for soda or beer cans. (Lancy Cheng/Facebook) Not many people are aware that the single-use non-medical masks they're buying and discarding are made from plastics, meaning they won't break down in a landfill, Hogan noted. She said masks break down into micro-plastics, creating other health problems for the environment. "As an intact mask, with its loops, it entangles creatures, potentially. But it is, and it remains, plastic waste in the environment doing the damage that all plastics do," she said. So, what's the solution? Hogan says awareness and education should be the main focus. "These things don't disappear when they leave your hands or when they leave your face," said Hogan. "Cut off the ear loops so that if they do unintentionally end up in the environment then they're not suddenly a nuisance for some animal." Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Russia accused Facebook on Monday of violating citizens' rights by blocking some media outlets' content in the latest standoff between a government and Big Tech. Communications watchdog Roskomnadzor at the weekend threatened Facebook with a minimum 1 million rouble ($13,433) fine and demanded it restore access to content posted by TASS news agency, RBC business daily and Vzglyad newspaper. It said Facebook blocked posts pertaining to Russia's detention of alleged supporters of a Ukrainian far-right group.