Winter windsurfing on Lake Ontario during a snowstorm, not a lot of people would jump on that board.
Winter windsurfing on Lake Ontario during a snowstorm, not a lot of people would jump on that board.
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.
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Thursday made it harder for longtime immigrants who have been convicted of a crime to avoid deportation. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the opinion for a 5-3 conservative majority that ruled against a Mexican citizen who entered the U.S. illegally and has lived in the country for 25 years. The man, Clemente Avelino Pereida, had been charged in Nebraska with using a fraudulent Social Security card to get a job and convicted under a state law against criminal impersonation. Not all criminal convictions inevitability lead to deportation, but Gorsuch wrote for the court that Pereida failed to prove he was not convicted of a serious crime. Under immigration law, “certain nonpermanent aliens seeking to cancel a lawful removal order must prove that they have not been convicted of a disqualifying crime,” Gorsuch wrote. In a dissent for the three liberal justices, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that the court instead should have ruled for Pereida because he was convicted under a law that includes serious offences, falling into the category of crimes of moral turpitude, and less serious ones. “The relevant documents in this case do not show that the previous conviction at issue necessarily was for a crime involving moral turpitude," Breyer wrote. Immigrants with criminal convictions who are facing deportation can ask the attorney general to allow them to remain in the country, if the conviction wasn't for a serious crime and they have lived here at least 10 years, among other criteria. Based on Thursday's ruling, Pereida can't seek that relief. Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not take part in the case because she had not yet joined the court when the case was argued in October. The Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO — Financial technology company Square, Inc. said Thursday that it has reached an agreement to acquire majority ownership of Tidal, the music streaming service partly owned by Jay-Z. Under the deal, Square will pay $297 million in cash and stock for Tidal, Jay-Z will be named to Square's board of directors, and he and other artists who currently own shares in Tidal will remain stakeholders. Tidal will operate as a distinct entity alongside the point-of-sale hardware and software offerings of San Francisco-based Square, the payments company founded by CEO Jack Dorsey, who is also co-founder and chief executive of Twitter. Tidal has presented itself as the artist-friendly alternative to other music streamers, and Square says it will take that phenomenon further for musicians just as it has for businesses with its financial systems. “It comes down to one simple idea: finding new ways for artists to support their work,” Dorsey said in the statement announcing the deal. . Jay-Z said in the statement that the “partnership will be a game-changer for many.” I look forward to all this new chapter has to offer!" The Associated Press
With the Simcoe-Muskoka region entering a lockdown this week, for the third time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Lake of Bays' mayor Terry Glover says the move could have a "devastating" effect on already hard-hit local businesses in the otherwise COVID-free township. The province moved the region back into the grey zone March 1. Glover is among many regional mayors who've voiced their frustration with the lockdown, noting the majority of cases in the health unit's catchment area were found in Barrie, Simcoe and the southernmost communities. Lake of Bays has had six COVID-19 cases among its residents since the beginning of the pandemic. "We're so seasonal and everything is so fragile as it is," he said. "The implications for businesses are just devastating." Glover is himself a business owner: he owns Fork in the Road, a restaurant in Baysville. Glover said the township is doing "everything we can" to help local businesses navigate this third lockdown. He said it's been difficult to tackle and advocate for the division of Simcoe County and Muskoka region under the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit during this pandemic. His council has decided to aim at smaller, more "tangible" goals to mitigate the effects of the lockdown. "Nobody expected to have a pandemic like this," he said. "At this late stage in the game, you can't change the way it's divided up, I get that, but you can alter the way you look at the situation based on regions." On March 2, Lake of Bays council passed a resolution in favour of asking the provincial government to reconsider the capacity limits for restaurants across the province to be based on the size of the square footage of the seating area instead of occupancy. Before the lockdown, indoor gatherings, including restaurants, were only allowed to accommodate 10 people at a time. "It's ridiculous when any size restaurant can only have 10. That doesn't make a whole heap of sense and it doesn't help the bottom line of these people," he said. Zahraa Hmood is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering the municipalities of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. , Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
K-pop sensation BTS, whose catchy, upbeat songs have won legions of fans around the world, have scooped the 2020 Global Recording Artist of the Year Award from IFPI, the recorded music industry representative body said on Thursday. The seven-member group had a hugely successful 2020, becoming the first Korean pop act to reach no.1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, with English-language single "Dynamite", and securing its first major Grammy nomination. IFPI said the award takes account of an act's worldwide performance in digital and physical music formats during the year.
OTTAWA — Unifor president Jerry Dias says Air Canada continues to promise refunds for passengers whose flights were cancelled during the COVID-19 pandemic. The airline has made the pledge repeatedly during negotiations with the federal government over an aid package for the battered sector, said Dias, who noted talks are ongoing. "I spoke to the CEO of Air Canada last night. So I know that this commitment has been made for quite a while." Air Canada took issue with Dias's take, saying no such conversation took place within the past week or beyond. The airline said that discussions are ongoing, but no deal has been reached. The Finance Department did not respond immediately to questions about the refund commitment. Then-chief executive Calin Rovinescu said in November the airline would not hesitate to reimburse customers stuck with unused tickets if the conditions of a federal bailout were reasonable. After a halting start nearly four months ago, talks ramped up over the past month, reaching a pace that he called a negotiation. Any deal would include a resolution on passenger refunds, a plan for returning service to regional markets and financial support for the aerospace sector, Rovinescu said last month. Air Canada says there are no updates since then, with no agreement yet in place. Dias said only about 4,000 of the union's 15,000 aviation workers remain fully employed a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, lending urgency to discussions in Ottawa. “We can’t get more urgent than now," he said. "Frankly, getting a little frustrated hearing that it’s imminent, just around the corner. Like, it’s been a year — I’ve grown two beards since hearing this." Ottawa has put reimbursement of travellers on the table as a key demand in exchange for financial relief for airlines, on top of asking carriers to maintain regional routes. Air Canada posted a staggering $1.16 billion loss in the fourth quarter of 2020, a result that caps what Rovinescu called the bleakest year in aviation history. "While there is no assurance at this stage that we will arrive at a definitive agreement on sector support, I am more optimistic on this front for the first time," Rovinescu said on a conference call with analysts Feb. 12, three days before he passed Air Canada's controls to new CEO Michael Rousseau. Unifor and two pilot unions are calling for federal loans totalling $7 billion at one per cent interest over 10 years. Unifor is also asking Ottawa to waive a fuel tax for Canadian carriers and suspend additional landing and gate fees on passenger and cargo flights. Air Canada, Rouge, WestJet, Swoop and Sunwing agreed in January to suspend service to Mexico and the Caribbean at the request of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to help fight viral spread. The moves resulted in the temporary layoffs of thousands of airline workers. Last month Air Canada announced it will temporarily lay off 1,500 unionized employees and an unspecified number of management staff as it cut 17 more routes to the U.S. and international destinations. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:AC) The Canadian Press
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".
Heart inflammation is uncommon in pro athletes who’ve had mostly mild COVID-19 and most don’t need to be sidelined, a study conducted by major professional sports leagues suggests. The results are not definitive, outside experts say, and more independent research is needed. But the study published Thursday in JAMA Cardiology is the largest to examine the potential problem. The coronavirus can cause inflammation in many organs, including the heart. The research involved professional athletes who play football, hockey, soccer, baseball and men's and women's basketball. All tested positive for COVID-19 before October and were given guideline-recommended heart tests, nearly 800 total. None had severe COVID-19 and 40% had few or no symptoms — what might be expected from a group of healthy elite athletes with an average age of 25. Severe COVID-19 is more common in older people and those with chronic health conditions. Almost 4% had abnormal results on heart tests done after they recovered but subsequent MRI exams found heart inflammation in less than 1% of the athletes. These five athletes all had COVID-19 symptoms. Whether their heart problems were caused by the virus is unknown although the researchers think that is likely. They were sidelined for about three months and returned to play without any problems, said Dr. Mathew Martinez of Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey. He's the study’s lead author and team cardiologist for football's New York Jets. Two previous smaller studies in college athletes recovering from the virus suggested heart inflammation might be more common. The question is of key interest to athletes, who put extra stress on their hearts during play, and undetected heart inflammation has been linked with sudden death. Whether mild COVID-19 can cause heart damage ‘’is the million-dollar question,’’ said Dr. Richard Kovacs, co-founder of the American College of Cardiology’s Sports & Exercise Council. And whether severe COVID-19 symptoms increase the chances of having fleeting or long-lasting heart damage ‘’is part of the puzzle,’’ he said. Kovacs said the study has several weaknesses. Testing was done at centres affiliated or selected by each team, and results were interpreted by team-affiliated cardiologists, increasing the chances of bias. More rigorous research would have had standardized testing done at a central location and more objective specialists interpret the results, he said. Also, many of the athletes had no previous imaging exams to compare the results with, so there is no way to know for certain if abnormalities found during the study were related to the virus. ’’There is clearly more work to do but I think it is very helpful additional evidence,” said Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, president-elect of the American Heart Association. Dr. Dial Hewlett, a member of a COVID-19 task force at the National Medical Association, which represents Black physicians, said the study ‘’is extremely timely.’’ Hewlett is a deputy health commissioner for New York's Westchester County and advises high schools and colleges on when to allow young athletes to return to play after COVID-19 infections. ‘’I’m grateful that we are starting to get some data to help guide us in some of our decisions,’’ Hewlett said. ___ Follow AP Medical Writer Lindsey Tanner at @LindseyTanner. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Lindsey Tanner, The Associated Press
U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on Thursday repeated his pledge to keep credit loose and flowing until Americans are back to work, rebutting investors who have openly doubted he can stick to that promise once the pandemic passes and the economy surges on its own. With vaccines rolling out and the government fiscal taps open "there is good reason to think we will make more progress soon" toward the Fed's goals of maximum employment and 2% sustained inflation, Powell told a Wall Street Journal forum. "I want to be clear about this," Powell said in anchoring the Fed's promise to keep its near zero interest rates and monthly bondbuying intact.
The dining room in Katie Rioux's Quebec City restaurant has been closed since the fall, and she expected her business would remain a takeout-only operation for weeks to come, if not longer. On Wednesday, though, the owner of Café Krieghoff received some unexpected good news. Premier François Legault announced he was scaling back health restrictions in several regions, allowing Rioux and countless other restaurant owners to serve customers sitting inside for the first time in five months. "Honestly, we could not have gotten better news than this," said Rioux, who also promised to do her part to ensure Quebec City does not go back to being a red zone. "As restaurant owners, we will do everything we can. I think the population is also on our side." Café Krieghoff owner Katie Rioux can't wait to serve sitting customers at her Quebec City restaurant for the first time in five months. (Radio-Canada) However, some public health experts say the Quebec government's decision to roll back restrictions to this extent is too hasty. Following March break, the Quebec City region will be joined by the Eastern Townships, Mauricie-et-Centre-du-Québec and Chaudières-Appalaches as the latest to be downgraded from red to orange zones. In these regions, gyms and show venues will be allowed to reopen, houses of worship will be able to take in as many as 100 people at a time. The government is also dropping the requirement that all primary school students must wear a medical grade mask. The nightly curfew remains, but will kick in at 9:30 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. "I would have preferred to wait until at least one week after the holiday week, because then we would be able to see the impact of the vacation on the increase of cases everywhere in Quebec," said Dr. Cécile Tremblay, a microbiologist and infectious diseases specialist at the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal. "We know that people from Montreal travel to other regions, and we won't know the result of that until two weeks from now." The race between variants and vaccines Legault's announcement came a day after Health Minister Christian Dubé and Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda held a news conference of their own, during which they warned Quebecers about the growing spread of coronavirus variants. "The ocean is calm at the moment ... but underneath there are sharks," Arruda said, "and I'll tell you what those sharks are: they're the variants." The decision to remove restrictions in places outside of the greater Montreal area seems to reflect data showing that variants are gaining more ground in Montreal than elsewhere in the province. On Wednesday, Legault said spikes in cases and hospitalizations were expected in and around Montreal, and those projections played a major role in the government's most recent announcement. But Prativa Baral, an epidemiologist with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says the province is squandering a golden opportunity to deal a crushing blow to the virus. Seniors arrive for their COVID-19 vaccination at a clinic in the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.(Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press) With more and more Quebecers set to get vaccinated, Baral says the government should focus on its inoculation campaign while limiting contacts as much as possible, in an effort to keep the spread of variants under control. "For us to be loosening restrictions now, is too premature. We don't want to be reactive, we want to be proactive for once," Baral said. "At this point, it's more of a virus versus vaccine race, and we really want to make sure that we're pushing the vaccine segment to win, as opposed the variant segment." The province's latest projections for the spread COVID-19 appear to reinforce the importance of winning that race. According to the mathematical modelling published by the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ) on Thursday, lowering the province's collective guard could provoke a rapid spike in new infections that could reach between 3,000 and 4,000 cases per day. It also seems possible, perhaps even likely given the presence of infectious variants, that Quebec will experience a third wave. Sticking with the low-socialization and low-contact measures that were in place from January and February might not entirely prevent another peak this spring in terms of daily infections, but it could keep hospitalization numbers and fatalities low. Marc Brisson, the director of the Université Laval mathematical modelling group that conducts the INSPQ's COVID-19 forecasts, said the model doesn't account for the government's latest announcement, but does include increased inter-regional travel and social contacts from March break. "If we can accelerate vaccination ... and follow public health guidelines, then at that point our model is saying we could stay at a number of cases that would be relatively stable. However, if vaccination slows down and there's more contact, then a third wave is predicted," he said. There is some good news in the projections, however. The model supports the government's contention that there are two distinct epidemiological realities in Quebec: greater Montreal, and the rest of the province. The fact there is lower community spread outside the province's largest urban agglomeration means it's less likely the variant strains will spread. "The race is how many vulnerable people we can protect with vaccination and ... can that variant infect the most vulnerable among us?" he said. The key, Brisson concluded, is continued adherence to public health measures, which "would buy time for the vaccine to take its effect."
Rails End Gallery and Arts Centre seeks to help bridge the gaps between people with its first-ever online exhibition launched Feb. 27. Titled “Connection,” the show presents submissions from its members, featuring a wide array of mediums. Besides a physical gallery still viewable at the centre under additional public protocols, it is also available on the centre’s website, with a guided virtual tour. Curator Laurie Jones said she learned about the format from the Ontario Society of Artists and it was a way to improve access. “Not everybody’s comfortable yet with being around, especially in public spaces,” Jones said. The exhibition is an annual salon show, drawing from local talent, Jones said. The pandemic prompted the move to an online addition – and the theme for the show itself. “It came up out of my own cravings for connections and missing people,” Jones said. “In many ways, we’re looking for alternate ways to connect.” Artist Rosanna Dewey’s exhibition piece depicts one of those ways. It is an oil painting entitled “Zoom Room” depicting a call on the online meeting platform. She said the show’s theme was poignant. “It’s so hard to be connected,” Dewey said. “It really made me think about what was going on and what my connections were.” She said she had some skepticism about the online concept but found it turned out appealing. “You want to be able to get up close to the artwork and you get more of a sense of the piece,” Dewey said. “But I found that people were still interested. People still needed to go and experience art, even if it was through a Zoom format.” Arts and Crafts Festival on pause But the community will miss one big way to connect with art in the summer. The Haliburton Art and Craft Festival – the gallery’s flagship event and fundraiser – is cancelled for the second straight year due to the pandemic, Jones said. She said it would be too logistically challenging to ensure safety amidst the pandemic. “We don’t want to introduce any risk to our volunteers or staff or vendors or patrons,” Jones said. “Maintaining sanitary conditions would be impossible.” Jones said the centre needs to decide early to inform artists and give them time to plan. She said there might be alternate programming, but that is being worked out. For now, the Rails End is still putting on exhibitions and bringing arts to the community. “We’re not trying to sell anything. We’re trying to provide an experience,” Jones said. “Hopefully, they feel the connection with the creative arts.” “Connection” runs until April 17 and is available at the centre itself or railsendgallery.com. Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander
WASHINGTON — U.S. productivity fell at an annual rate of 4.2% in the fourth quarter, the largest quarterly decline in nearly four decades. The revised figure released by the Labor Department Thursday was slightly smaller than the 4.7% decline estimated a month ago. But it was still the biggest drop since the second quarter of 1981, when productivity fell at a rate of 5.1%. Labour costs rose at a 6% rate in the fourth quarter, slightly lower than the 6.8% first estimated. Productivity is the amount of output per hour of work. The revisions reflected the fact that the government made changes to its estimate gross domestic product, the country's total output of goods and services, to show an increase of 4.1% at an annual rate in the fourth quarter, slightly higher than its initial estimate of 4% growth. For all of 2020, productivity rose 2.5%, up from an annual gain of 1.8% in 2019. In recent years, productivity growth has been exceptionally weak and economists are uncertain about the cause. Analysts say that finding ways to boost productivity in coming years will be critical to raising living standards. In the short term, productivity is likely to continue swinging wildly due to disruptions from the pandemic. “The data have been distorted by the impact of COVID-19 on output, hours and compensation, a trend that is likely to continue in the near term,” said Rubeela Farooqi, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics. Some economists believe that once the country emerges from the pandemic, there may be a sustained and elevated levels of productivity, in part from workplace efficiencies gained from businesses finding ways to deal with the a year of related restrictions. Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
“The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” “Minari,” “Da 5 Bloods” and “One Night in Miami” are among the films AARP is honouring at its annual Movies for Grownups Awards, the non-profit organization said Thursday. Director Lee Daniels’ “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” starring Andra Day as the jazz singer, was named best picture, while the Korean American family drama “Minari” got best intergenerational film. Spike Lee’s Vietnam-themed “Da 5 Bloods” picked up best buddy picture and Regina King’s “One Night in Miami...,” about the fictional meeting of Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, Cassius Clay and Jim Brown, got best ensemble. “We focus on films made by and for grownups,” said Tim Appelo, the film and television critic for AARP. “When we started this a couple of decades ago, it was hard to find first movies about people of our age. I’m very pleased to see that we’ve got a bumper crop of movies and performances to choose from this year.” George Clooney is being honoured this year with the career achievement award. The 59-year-old both directed and acted in his most recent film, “The Midnight Sky.” “He’s the Cary Grant of our day, but he’s also a fast-rising director,” Appelo said. “He’s perfect because he’s just a slam dunk argument against ageism.” Jodie Foster too is singled out for her supporting performance in “The Mauritanian,” for which she also won the Golden Globe this week. Appelo said that the 58-year-old has said that she’s glad to be her age and is looking forward to playing characters in their 60s and beyond. “That’s a big theme of ours, that life opens up after you turn 50,” Appelo said. Aaron Sorkin is a double honoree for writing and directing “The Trial of the Chicago 7.” The top acting awards went to Sophia Loren, for “The Life Ahead,” and Anthony Hopkins, for “The Father.” “The Trial of the Chicago 7” and “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” are two films Appelo said are particularly significant because of their historical value to a 50-plus audience. He also noted that this year included several important and nuanced depictions of Alzheimer’s, including in “The Father” and in “Supernova,” with Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci, which was named best grownup love story. For the first time the organization is also recognizing television shows and performances. Catherine O’Hara took best actress for “Schitt’s Creek,” Mark Ruffalo got best actor for “I Know This Much is True” and “This Is Us” was named best series. Netflix's “The Queen's Gambit” got best limited series. The virtual awards show will be broadcast by Great Performances on PBS on March 28 at 8 p.m. ET. ___ Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY — With Democrats controlling the presidency and Congress, Republican state lawmakers concerned about the possibility of new federal gun control laws aren't waiting to react. Legislation in at least a dozen states seeks to nullify any new restrictions, such as ammunition limits or a ban on certain types of weapons. Some bills would make it a crime for local police officers to enforce federal gun laws. That can create confusion for officers who often work with federal law enforcement, said Daniel Isom, a former chief of the St. Louis Police Department who is now a senior advisor for Everytown for Gun Safety. Federal law plays a big role in some areas, such as keeping guns away from domestic violence offenders. Putting local officers in a position to decide which laws to enforce is the last thing police need at a time when cities such as St. Louis are experiencing a rise in violent crime, Isom said. “This has been an extremely challenging year for both communities and law enforcement, and to ask any more mental strain on officers at this point in time seems to be quite displaced," he said. Gun sales also have set monthly records nationwide since the coronavirus pandemic took hold. Isom is concerned about a Missouri measure passed by the state House that would allow police departments with officers who enforce federal gun laws to be sued and face a $50,000 fine. It's not the first time Missouri has considered such a bill, but supporters pointed to President Joe Biden taking office as a reason to pass it now. In Utah, Republican Rep. Cory Maloy also referenced the incoming administration after the state House passed his bill with a similar provision forbidding the enforcement of federal gun laws. Many Republican state lawmakers see attempts to pass federal firearms restrictions as a threat to the Second Amendment. “We really feel the need to protect those rights,” he said. Several states passed similar laws under then-president Barack Obama, although judges have ruled against them in court. Most of the latest crop of federal nullification proposals focus on police officers inside their states who primarily enforce state rather than federal laws. While Biden has called for a ban on assault weapons, any new gun legislation will likely face an uphill climb given the political polarization that has tripped up past administrations. Democratic lawmakers from conservative-leaning states also could join Republicans in opposing new gun restrictions. Any measures likely to pass would have broad support, like background checks on all gun sales, said Everytown President John Feinblatt. Those dynamics haven't stopped state lawmakers who want to make the first move to protect gun rights in their states. Federal nullification bills have been introduced in more than a dozen other states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wyoming, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia and Iowa. In Texas, the governor has called for the state to become a Second Amendment sanctuary. In Arizona, a Senate proposal that passed the chamber on Wednesday would allow officers to be sued for enforcing federal gun restrictions that the state considers violations of the Second Amendment. They potentially could face criminal charges. A bill in the House doesn't include those punishments, but its sponsor, Republican Rep. Leo Biasiucci, said it would be a clear rejection of federal restrictions on assault-style weapons, high-capacity magazines or other firearms. "They can do that at a federal level, but in Arizona it’s not going to fly,” he said. His proposal passed the state House last week over the objections of Democrats such as Rep. Daniel Hernandez of Tucson, who was present at the 2011 shooting that severely injured former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords. If signed into law, the measure would be unconstitutional and lead to an expensive court fight, he said. Biasiucci compares his plan to Arizona voters' move to legalize recreational marijuana even though it remains against federal law. Gun-control groups see it differently. “Guns kill people and are used to create a public safety issue, whereas marijuana is really not,” said Allison Anderman, senior counsel with the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “What is likely to happen if gun laws are not followed is people get killed as a result.” Similar measures passed by the Republican Legislature in Montana were vetoed in previous years by the former Democratic governor. Now working with a Republican governor, the state House passed a bill last week to bar state officials from enforcing federal bans on certain firearms, ammunition or magazines. Under Obama's presidency, the Legislature passed a law in 2009 that made guns and ammunition manufactured in Montana exempt from federal law. It eventually was struck down in court, but several states still followed with their own nullification measures. In 2013, two Kansas men tried to use that state's nullification law to overturn their federal convictions for possessing unregistered firearms, but the challenge was rejected. “The main issue there is the Supremacy Clause," the part of the Constitution that says federal law supersedes state law, said Jacob Charles, executive director of the Center for Firearms Law at Duke Law School. Even so, the bills focused on what local police can and can't do could pass legal muster. “States have no obligation to enforce federal law," he said. ___ Associated Press writer Bob Christie in Phoenix contributed to this report. Lindsay Whitehurst, The Associated Press
Most of us are familiar with the three Rs associated with limiting our waste: reduce, reuse and recycle. As it turns out, there’s a fourth R: renew the recycling licence. During the Feb. 22 regular council meeting for the Town of Pincher Creek, Coun. Scott Korbett formally announced the town would not be renewing its recycling contract with KJ Cameron Service Industries. Come June 30, only empty beverage containers will be accepted at the bottle depot. “The Town of Pincher Creek intends to continue to offer a recycling program,” the town’s official statement reads. “We are currently working with our regional partners to have a smooth transition to a new program by the end of June.” While understanding the town is obligated to make economic decisions when it comes to contracts, Weston Whitfield, owner and manager of KJ Cameron, worries consolidating services on a regional basis might result in an inefficient service to taxpayers. The process of gathering, transporting, then re-sorting material, Mr. Whitfield adds, might decrease the price recycling facilities are willing to pay. “My concern is in the past, places that have done collaborations like that end up with a little bit of contamination and it can affect the resale of the product,” he says. Although no official details have been released, the plan for future recycling appears to involve the Crowsnest/Pincher Creek Landfill Association. Discussion recorded in the minutes of the Jan. 20, 2021, regular meeting of the landfill association includes “Recycling Update” as an agenda item. The minutes describe proposals being sent to each of the municipalities and note that, despite no reply being received, each of the municipal representatives — Coun. Dean Ward from Crowsnest Pass, Coun. Brian McGillivray from Pincher Creek and Reeve Brian Hammond from the MD of Pincher Creek — indicated their respective councils are still considering or interested in the landfill’s recycling proposal. Recycling was also a topic during last week’s council meetings for both the MD of Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass. During the MD of Pincher Creek’s Feb. 23 council meeting, chief administrative officer Troy MacCulloch updated council on plans to move collection bins from outside the MD office to a site off Bighorn Avenue and Highway 507, near the Co-op lumberyard. The site will cover recycling needs for residents from both the MD and town. “This will be a site that the MD will build,” said CAO MacCulloch. “We will cost-share it with the town, and then going forward it would be operated and manned by the Crowsnest/Pincher Creek Landfill.” Plans for the new recycling site are still tentative as the MD is working with the current landowner to develop a lease that would permit the property to be used as a transfer station for garbage and recyclables. The garbage bins by the MD office, he added, could also be removed. This will allow for further development and easier access of the standpipe, which will remain at the location. Meetings with Pincher Creek administration have discussed the possibility of the MD taking over the composting facility, which would be included on the site. Crowsnest Pass council also voted Feb. 23 to direct administration to find a location for their own recycling bin. Ease of access, along with being sheltered from the weather and from travellers’ field of vision, were identified as main priorities. Administration was asked to present a location at the March 16 council meeting with hopes that users could begin dropping off recycling by the end of the month. The goal is to eventually have three sites in the municipality to gather recycling. Beginning with one, said CAO Patrick Thomas, was a good place to “at least start and see what the challenges are,” especially to “see how [building] the fencing and screening goes.” The Town of Pincher Creek’s full official statement regarding the recycling licence can be found online at http://bit.ly/PC-Recycle. More information on Pincher Creek Bottle Depot and Recycling can be found at www.facebook.com/pcbottledepot. Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze
NEW YORK — Long before she became a Tony Award-winning choreographer, Ann Reinking waited tables to save up enough money to move to New York City. She arrived with $500, no job lined up and no connections. When she died at 71 last year, Reinking left behind many fans, friends and students as well as a legacy of a cool, muscular dance hybrid of jazz and burlesque. In her honour, friends and admirers have established The Ann Reinking Scholarship, a $5,000 annual award and mentorship for a young dancer moving to New York City to help support them in their artistic endeavours. “She was one of the most profoundly generous people that I’ve known,” says Bebe Neuwirth, a two-time Tony winner who co-starred with Reinking in “Chicago” on Broadway. “This honours that in a way that also references her story of coming to New York.” The scholarship is being awarded by Off the Lane, a mentorship program for young performers moving to New York. It will be open to anyone, from anywhere, with a cut-off age of 21. “Teaching to her was such an important part of her, mentoring and nurturing new artists and helping them along the way,” said Neuwirth. “I think to have a scholarship in her name keeps that generosity of spirit going.” Trained as a ballet dancer in her native Seattle, Reinking was known for her bold style of dance epitomized by her work in the hit revival of “Chicago,” complete with net stockings, chair dancing and plenty of pelvic thrusts. Reinking co-starred as Roxie Hart along with Neuwirth’s Velma, and created the choreography “in the style of Bob Fosse,” the show’s original director and choreographer who died in 1987. She and Fosse worked together for 15 years and she was also his lover for several of them. Her movie credits include “Annie” (1982), “Movie, Movie” (1978) and the documentary “Mad Hot Ballroom” (2005), which portrayed Reinking as a ballroom-dance competition judge for New York City kids. Reinking’s work on “Chicago” earned her a 1997 Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards. Reinking replicated its choreography in productions throughout the world. Mindy Cooper, who was a swing in that 1996 “Chicago” revival, recalls once asking Reinking career advice that changed the arc of her career. She also remembers Reinking one day bringing her son to rehearsals at “Chicago,” an encouraging signal that Broadway dancers could also have a family life. “She created such a safe environment for performers to bring to the room with courage and artistry,” said Cooper, now a professor of theatre and dance at University of California, Davis. “Annie grew up in the ballet world like myself and came to theatre from ballet. So we wanted to make a scholarship that could embrace all forms of dance.” The advisory board for the scholarship includes Cooper, Neuwirth and such Broadway luminaries as Chita Rivera, Joel Grey, Tommy Tune, Marilu Henner, Hinton Battle, Charlotte d’Amboise, Reinking's husband, Peter Talbert, and son, Chris Reinking Stuart. ___ Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press
Ottawa has come up with a simpler way to claim expenses for that spare room or corner that became a makeshift office last spring when pandemic lockdowns went into effect across the country. In addition to the detailed method for claiming home office costs, the federal government announced a new temporary flat rate method last year with the specific aim of making taxes a little easier in these trying times. Experts say the new flat rate method is quick and easy, but using the detailed method may yield a better outcome, depending on your circumstances and it is worth checking out both ways to make sure you're getting the best deal. Edward Rajaratnam, executive director at EY Canada, said the detailed method may be better for renters than homeowners because of their ability to claim a portion of their rent, which could increase the size of their deduction beyond the $400 cap placed on the flat rate option. However, he said, the temporary flat rate method is simpler as the name would imply. "The beauty of this is it is a flat rate, it is $2 a day up to a maximum of $400 and the second beauty of that is that you actually do not need to maintain receipts," he said. "Everybody who has been working from home, they have been busy with work, so just imagine them trying to find receipts." You don't get to count days off, vacation days, sick leave days or other leaves of absence, so you might not reach the 200 days needed to max out the flat rate claim of $400. However, they don't have to be full days of work to qualify. Even if you only worked part of the day, you can claim the $2 for that day. While the flat rate method is easy, Gerry Vittoratos, national tax specialist at UFile, says you still should ask your employer to complete the Canada Revenue Agency form that allows you to use the detailed method if it turns out to yield you a better return. "You might get more if you go with the detailed method, don't prevent yourself from claiming that," Vittoratos said, noting that CRA has simplified the forms this year to make it easier for companies to provide them for employees. "Do the comparison between the two and see which one is better for you. It might turn out the detailed method is a lot better." To qualify under both methods you need to have worked more than 50 per cent of the time from home for a period of at least four consecutive weeks in 2020. Unlike the flat rate method, The detailed method requires a thorough accounting of actual expenses which need to be supported by receipts. But, unlike the flat rate method your total deduction is not capped at $400, so you could end up saving more. Eligible expenses include things like office supplies but also a share of expenses such as utilities, home internet access fees, maintenance and minor repairs. Renters can claim a potion of their rent, but homeowners cannot claim mortgage payments. You cannot claim expenses for which you were reimbursed by your employer. If you're using the detailed method and looking to claim some of your utilities or rent, you'll need to figure out how much of your home was used for work. If you had a spare room that became your designated office, the proportion that you can claim is the same as the proportion that space takes up in your house. So if your spare bedroom turned office makes up 10 per cent of the square footage of your home, then you get to claim 10 per cent of expenses like utilities for the time you spend working at home. But the calculation becomes more complicated if you were using your kitchen table or dining room, spaces that also served another purpose in your home in addition to a workspace as you can only claim for the time the space was used for work. Vittoratos says if you're considering using the detailed method it is important to know how big your home is and what proportion was used for work, as your accountant will need it to figure out what is best for you. "Have all the information in front of you. Make sure that everything is in order so you get the maximum return possible," he said. Rajaratnam noted that the flat rate deduction is per individual. So if you live with someone and you both worked from home you could both make a flat rate claim. "If you and your spouse are both working from home ... both of you can claim $400 each and you do not need to show expenses, as long as you have been working from home," he said. However, he says, everybody needs to consider their own circumstances to figure out what is best for their tax return. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. Craig Wong, The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — Composer Gene Scheer, whose song “American Anthem” was quoted by President Joe Biden during his inaugural address, is returning the favour. The picture book “American Anthem” will be released June 29, Penguin Young Readers announced Thursday. It will feature Scheer's lyrics and illustrations by 13 artists, including Fahmida Azim, Matt Faulkner, Veronica Jamison and Christine Almeda. While speaking in January, Biden cited Scheer's lyrics “Let me know in my heart when my days are through, America, America, I gave my best to you.” “I was taken by surprise, and incredibly moved, when President Biden cited my song ‘American Anthem’ at the conclusion of his inaugural speech,” Scheer said in a statement. “When I sat down to write this song more than 20 years ago, I could hardly imagine where it would go. I can’t think of a better destination than in a book for children. When I think of this beautiful visual tapestry of the American story, created by a diverse team of talented artists, I am brought back to the original idea that inspired ‘American Anthem’ in the first place: We are all in this together.” Scheer wrote the ballad in 1998. It was later popularized by Norah Jones, whose version was heard in the Ken Burns documentary “War." The Associated Press
OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada will review a decision to order a new trial for an Alberta man convicted of murder. Russell Steven Tessier was charged with first-degree murder in 2015, eight years after Allan Gerald Berdahl's body was found in a ditch near Carstairs. Berdahl died from gunshot wounds to the head, and there were tire tracks, footprints and two cigarette butts near the scene. Tessier was convicted in 2018 but Alberta's Court of Appeal later ordered a new trial. The appeal court said the trial judge made legal errors concerning the voluntariness of statements Tessier made to police. As usual, the Supreme Court gave no reasons for agreeing to hear the case. This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 4, 2021. The Canadian Press
People returning to the Northwest Territories will now be able to isolate in Norman Wells and Fort Simpson, says the territorial government. Premier Caroline Cochrane and Dr. Kami Kandola, the territory's chief public health officer, made the announcement during a news conference on Thursday. The changes come into effect at 5 p.m. Previously, anyone arriving in the N.W.T. had to self-isolate for 14 days in Fort Smith, Hay River, Inuvik or Yellowknife, with few exceptions. The self-isolation rules differ for essential workers. "Allowing the residents of Fort Simpson and … Norman Wells to safely isolate in their home communities will address some of the challenges that come with self-isolation," Cochrane said, adding that this includes having better access to family and isolating in a more familiar setting. "We've been in this for over a year and people are past COVID fatigue, they're COVID exhausted. So being able to open it up will help improve it with mental health issues we are seeing across the Northwest Territories." Missed the update? Watch it here: Kandola says the territory had been reviewing exemption requests over the months since the travel restrictions were in place, and many came from those two communities. They also got correspondence from leaders there. Kandola says the territory was, in part, waiting for wastewater surveillance to be added to Norman Wells and for the second dose clinics to roll out, which are set to be complete by end of day Thursday, before changing isolation rules. She added both communities have adequate medical resources to support potential COVID-19 patients, including the stabilization of any severe cases, pending transport to another centre. Cochrane says there are local enforcement officers in each community to ensure people comply with self-isolation rules. Restrictions could be further eased later in Spring There were three active COVID-19 cases and 66 recovered as of Thursday. These numbers include cases in residents and non-residents. Kandola says the territory is still in phase 2 of its Emerging Wisely plan, but that it could move to phase 3 in late spring. She says that depends on vaccination uptake and if it's safe to do so. So far, 44 per cent of the territory's adult population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. The territory's goal is to get at least 75 per cent of the adult population vaccinated. "We won't get to phase 3 all at once," she said, "and maybe it's not happening as quickly as some would like, but we are getting there."