Snow, ice, and rain mix impacting Atlantic Canada, Chris Mei has more.
Snow, ice, and rain mix impacting Atlantic Canada, Chris Mei has more.
(Leah Mills/Jennifer Gauthier/Reuters - image credit) Donald Trump's actions will take centre stage in a Vancouver courtroom this week as Meng Wanzhou's lawyers try to prove the former U.S. president poisoned extradition proceedings against the Huawei executive. The case should be tossed out because of alleged political interference, Meng's lawyers are expected to argue at the first of three sets of B.C. Supreme Court hearings scheduled to stretch into mid-May. A decision on the extradition request isn't expected until much later this year. The 49-year-old, who is Huawei's chief financial officer, is charged with fraud and conspiracy in New York in relation to allegations she lied to an HSBC banker in Hong Kong in 2013 about Huawei's control of a subsidiary accused of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. The arguments related to the former president concern a statement he made to a Reuters reporter in the weeks after Meng's arrest at Vancouver's airport on Dec. 1, 2018. At the time, Trump said he would "certainly intervene" if he thought it was necessary to help the U.S. reach a trade deal with China. Charter rights argument could be 'decider' The Crown — which represents the U.S. in the proceeding — contends there's no evidence Trump made good on his words and that any possible influence he could have had on the case ended along with his term in office. University of B.C. professor Michael Byers, an expert on international law, says he doubts the defence team will have much success convincing Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes the U.S. Department of Justice has been swayed by political considerations. Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou is the daughter of Ren Zhengfei, the founder of the telecommunications giant. She is accused of fraud and conspiracy. But he does think they'll have a better shot in the coming weeks with claims Meng's rights were breached on her arrival when Canada Border Services Agency officers questioned her for three hours before RCMP executed a warrant calling for her "immediate arrest." "That three-hour period could well have constituted a violation of her Section 7 rights to security of the person under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. "And so if the extradition judge is to rule that Ms. Meng should be set free, my expectation is that it's that particular element of the case that will be the decider." Meng is the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, the man who became a billionaire by turning his global communications giant into a flagship business prized by the Chinese state. Meng's legal team includes lawyers from firms across Canada. And her case is being spearheaded by Vancouver's Richard Peck, of Peck and Company. Strategy to have case thrown out Along with arguments about Trump's role, the allegations related to Meng's treatment by the CBSA are part of a multi-pronged defence strategy to have the proceedings stayed. Meng's lawyers also claim the U.S. misled Canada about the strength of its case and that American prosecutors are reaching far beyond their jurisdiction by trying a Chinese citizen for a conversation that took place in Hong Kong with an executive for an English bank. Meng Wanzhou's lawyers are expected to claim her charter rights were violated during her first few hours in CBSA custody. Holmes will hear submissions about the events surrounding Meng's arrest during the second stretch of hearings, scheduled to begin in mid-March. The defence claims the CBSA conspired with the RCMP and CBSA to have border agents question Meng without a lawyer. They also seized her cellphones and later gave the passcodes to police, in contravention of policy. The defence has accused the RCMP of sending technical information from Meng's electronic devices to the Americans. A senior officer who was in touch with a legal attache for the FBI has refused to testify — and last month, Meng's lawyers announced their intention to try to force the Crown to disclose their communication with him about that decision. 'An irritant' in U.S.-China relationship In court documents filed in advance of this week's hearing, Meng's lawyers cited comments by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about a need to tie a trade deal between the U.S and China to the resolution of Meng's situation and the fate of two Canadians imprisoned in China. Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and entrepreneur Michael Spavor have been accused of spying by the Chinese government in what most observers believe is retaliation for Meng's arrest. Michael Kovrig, left, and Michael Spavor, right, were arrested by China in the wake of charges against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. U.S. President Joe Biden has called for their release. The Crown doesn't make any mention of the so-called "two Michaels" in its submissions, but the defence claims the constellation of factors riding on the case has made it extremely difficult for Meng to defend herself without worrying about the impact on others. U.S. President Joe Biden called on China to release Kovrig and Spavor last week following a bilateral meeting with Trudeau, saying "human beings are not bartering chips." Byers believes Biden may decide to bring an end to efforts to extradite Meng in the coming months as he looks to improve the U.S. relationship with China. "It is in the hands of the Biden administration to end this case. And the Biden administration will be in the process now of resetting the relationship between the United States and China. That is a hugely important relationship, for economic reasons, for security reasons. "Those two superpowers need to get along. They need to get things done. And Ms. Meng's presence in Vancouver is an irritant in that relationship." To that end, reports by the Wall Street Journal and Reuters last December claimed Meng was in discussions with the U.S. Department of Justice to bring an end to the case through a deal that would see her admit to some wrongdoing in exchange for a deferred prosecution agreement. In an exclusive interview with CBC's chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton, newly appointed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said any deal would have to be made free of geopolitical considerations. "We follow the law. We follow the facts. "And one of the things that we don't do is have politics or foreign policy interfere in the workings of the Justice Department."
The U.S. Senate will start debating President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill this week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Monday after Democrats backed down from an effort to raise the minimum wage to $15 as part of it. The backpedaling did not end hopes of addressing the minimum wage issue in Congress. Democrats and some Republicans have voiced support for the idea of raising the federal minimum wage, now at $7.25 an hour, for the first time since 2009, although they disagree on how much.
(Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit) The Northwest Territories needs to do more to ensure its elderly population is vaccinated for diseases like influenza, pneumonia and shingles, according to a new report by a national seniors advocacy group. In the first study of its kind, CanAge looked at the vaccination rates for the elderly in every territory and province and judged them against the federal government's recommendations. "The results were pretty horrible," said Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO of CanAge. The report, Adult Vaccination in Canada: Cross-country report card 2021, shows the N.W.T. got the best grade of the three territories and beat out a number of provinces as well. "But having said that, the grade is still very low," said Tamblyn Watts. The N.W.T. got a D overall, which is slightly higher than the national average of D-. The report says provinces and territories were judged based on which vaccines were funded, the availability and accessibility of vaccines, and on efforts to educate older people about regional immunization programs. "The Northwest Territories got a C+ in funding, a C in awareness, but an F in access, so you can get things funded, but you may not actually get them into your arm," said Tamblyn Watts. Report's recommendations What would help, she added, would be if the N.W.T. allowed pharmacies to administer the different vaccines, which it doesn't right now. "There's really no good reason for it," she said. Tamblyn Watts said it would also help if the territory made the adult vaccination schedule public. She said just like for children, there is a vaccination schedule for adults that shows which vaccines seniors need to be taking and when they're going to take them. "So that's just an easy fix that they could fix right away," she said. She added that the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine in the territory, including in the remote communities, can be copied to deliver influenza, pneumonia and shingles vaccines by having a team go to a community, set up and then do a mass vaccination. "We know that with COVID-19, people are really interested in vaccinations. So this is an opportunity to fix the system once and not have the system broken even after we do the COVID-19 vaccination system," she said. Territory pushes back In an email to CBC, N.W.T. Health Minister Julie Green said her department was provided the report on Feb. 22 but was never asked to provide any information for the report or verify its findings. "We are currently reviewing the findings and will formally respond in partnership with the other territories. Our initial observation notes a number of inaccuracies, incomplete information, broken links in their reference section, and questions regarding their methodologies and conclusions," she wrote. N.W.T. Health Minister Julie Green said her department's initial observations about the report are that it has a number of inaccuracies and incomplete information. She also questioned the report's methodologies and conclusions. She said the recommendation about having pharmacists administer vaccines doesn't take into account regulations that don't permit it to happen. "There is misleading information about specific vaccinations formulations which doesn't take into account the role of the CPHO [chief public health officer] and the population health approach," she added. Green said the timing of the report's release raises questions as all provinces and territories are focusing their efforts on their COVID-19 vaccination rollouts. She said the N.W.T. made "good progress" in immunizing residents who are 60 and over against COVID-19, and added the territory has strong partnerships with seniors organizations "and a range of programs and services to support seniors to access the care and supports they need."
Despite the U.S. economy's near miss with a depression last year and an ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has brought travel to a virtual halt, Jeff Hurst, the chief executive of vacation rental firm VRBO, sees a boom on the horizon. "Every house is going to be taken this summer," Hurst said, as the expected protection from vaccines arrives in step with warmer weather, unleashing a cooped-up population with record savings stashed away.
(Submitted by Cape Breton Regional Police - image credit) Theft of catalytic converters from the exhaust system of vehicles has become a growing problem in Canada. It's not a new issue, says Bryan Gast, the national director of investigative services at the Insurance Bureau of Canada, but as the price of certain metals has risen, so have thefts. "Catalytic converters have been stolen for years," he said. "The difference lately is the price of precious metals, and obviously it's the precious metals inside those catalytic converters that they're looking to steal and then sell on the black market," he said. A catalytic converter is part of a vehicle's exhaust system. It converts pollutants to less toxic material. New cars, used cars — nearly any vehicle with a catalytic converter can be a target, Gast says. The exception is electric vehicles, which don't have them, because they don't produce any emissions. Metals precious The thefts have been happening across the country for the last year and thieves appear to be after three precious metals inside the converter: platinum, rhodium and palladium. "That's really what the rise is about," said Gast. Those metals are "more valuable than gold right now." According to the website for Montreal-based Kitco Metals, which buys and sells metals and also reports on market trends, palladium is currently selling for just over $2,800 Cdn an ounce, although the Kitco 2021 outlook says it could rise to $3,000 by the end of the year. Platinum was selling for $1,500 an ounce on Monday, while rhodium was going for about $30,000 US an ounce at the end of February. An example of a catalytic converter. Thieves typically crawl under vehicles to cut them out. By comparison, an ounce of gold is currently selling for about $2,200. One reason for the rising value of platinum, rhodium and palladium is that as automakers make vehicles to meet tightening emission standards, manufacturers need more of those metals inside the new catalytic converter to do that work. In the Waterloo region, police say there were 81 reports of catalytic converter thefts between Jan. 1 and Feb. 12 of this year, most of them happening in Kitchener, Ont. "We are asking the community to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to police immediately," Const. Andre Johnson of the Waterloo Regional Police Service told CBC. "We are also asking anyone who may have been a victim of a converter theft, who has not yet reported it to police, to please do so," he said. Stolen from mechanic shops, dealerships Nearby in Guelph, Ont., there have been at least 20 reports of catalytic converters being stolen from vehicles since Christmas. Scott Tracey, a spokesperson for the Guelph Police Service, says thieves will crawl under a vehicle and cut out the tubular catalytic converter at both ends, leaving a missing section of the exhaust pipe. The most recent theft in that city was from a group of vans parked together, but Tracey says they've seen thefts reported from vehicles parked overnight at mechanic shops, sometimes at private residences and also at vehicle dealerships. Tracey says after the catalytic converter has been stolen, "[drivers] come in the morning and start warming the vehicles up and it makes a terrible noise because there's essentially no exhaust system on the vehicle." National rash of thefts RCMP in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island have warned people this year about a rash of thefts. In P.E.I. last month, five people were charged in a string of thefts that police estimate caused damages of more than $100,000. Last June, 20 Canada Post vehicles were targeted by thieves in Ottawa. In July, 27 people were arrested and 68 criminal charges were laid in Hamilton following a two-week project by police targeting catalytic converter thefts. Police in Sudbury reported 52 thefts of catalytic converters between June 1 and Dec. 31, 2020. This photo shows some of the catalytic converters police in Edmonton have seized as evidence following an investigation that led to charges against a 24-year-old man. "This is a substantial increase in comparison to the 12 reports of thefts of catalytic converters reported in the same time period in 2019," Sudbury police said in a release. Thieves have cut converters out of school buses in Winnipeg, hundreds have been stolen in Edmonton and in Calgary, a man died in Feb. 2020 after it appeared he was trying to steal a catalytic converter and the vehicle fell on top of him. Tips to avoid theft Gast says thefts from vehicles that are higher off the ground appear to happen more frequently, but even so, it doesn't take much for a thief to jack up a car and remove the converter "in just minutes." He says there are some measures drivers can take to protect their vehicles. The two cheapest and most cost-effective ways are: Park in a garage when possible. If you can't park in a garage, park in a well-lit area. He says there are third-party companies that can etch an ID number onto a vehicle's catalytic converter and enter that information into a database. The database is available for concerned salvage operators to check. Gast said while black-market scrap metal dealers would likely still take an engraved converter, "it really helps with minimizing the ability for [thieves] to get rid of their product." He said he has also heard of people going to their local garage to have the converter welded to the vehicle frame or have mechanics put a screen over it. That may be a bit extreme, he says, but anything that makes it more difficult to cut out the converter can help deter a would-be thief.
This kitty is captivated by the newborn chicks in the box. So sweet and gentle!
LOS ANGELES — Chloé Zhao became the second woman to win best director at the Golden Globes and the first female winner of Asian descent on a night in which her film “Nomadland” was crowned the top drama film. Zhao, who was among three women nominated in the directing category, was honoured for her work on “Nomadland,” about people who take to the road and move from place to place seeking work for usually low wages. It stars two-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand and includes nonprofessional actors. “I especially want to thank the nomads who shared their stories with us,” Zhao said, accepting the directing honour virtually on Sunday night. She singled out real-life nomad Bob Wells, who appears in the movie, for help with her remarks. “This is what he said about compassion,” Zhao said. “Compassion is the breakdown of all the barriers between us. A heart to heart pounding. Your pain is my pain. It’s mingled and shared between us.” The 38-year-old director who lives in Los Angeles is a leading Oscar contender for “Nomadland,” which is in select theatres and streaming on Hulu. “Now this is why I fell in love with making movies and telling stories because it gives us a chance to laugh and cry together and it gives us a chance to learn from each other and to have more compassion for each other,” Zhao said in her acceptance remarks. “So thank you everyone who made it possible to do what I love.” She joins Barbra Streisand, who won in 1984 for “Yentl,” as the only women to win directing honours at the Globes. Until this year, just five women had been nominated in the category. “Sometimes a first feels like a long time coming. You feel like, it’s about time,” Zhao said in virtual backstage comments. “I’m sure there’s many others before me that deserve the same recognition. If this means more people like me get to live their dreams and do what I do, I’m happy.” Regina King ("One Night in Miami...") and Emerald Fennell ("Promising Young Woman") were the other female director nominees. Zhao also was nominated for best motion picture screenplay and lost to Aaron Sorkin. McDormand received a nod for actress in a motion picture drama, but lost. Born in China, Zhao made her feature directing debut in 2015 with “Songs My Brother Taught Me.” She broke out in 2017 with “The Rider.” Next up for her is the big-budget Marvel film “Eternals,” set for release this fall. Beth Harris, The Associated Press
(Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit) Melanie Whitlow says she and her family had only recently started to get ahead financially when a complication with their immigration forms caused her husband to be fired from his job. "We're down at least half our income," said Whitlow, 39. "We've had to stop being able to save money for future endeavours and our future life plans." Whitlow and her husband, Steve Whitlow, 43, moved their family of four to Vancouver in August 2019 from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as part of British Columbia's provincial nominee program, which offers a path to permanent residency for skilled and semi-skilled workers in high-demand occupations. It was a plan eight years in the making. Whitlow is a registered nurse and had to complete the B.C. licensing process before finding an employer willing to nominate her. She eventually secured a position with Vancouver General Hospital, giving the family a path to permanent residency. Steve, 43, did not have a job waiting for him, but accompanied his wife and found a job in July of last year with a steel company in Richmond. The pair says things were going "pretty good," until a few weeks ago when, on Family Day, an oversight in their work permit renewal forms resulted in Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada denying their extension. Melanie Whitlow has since had her work permit restored, allowing her to work until 2023. Her husband, Steve, is still waiting for a decision from IRCC. Whitlow says she completed the IRCC forms well in advance of the Feb. 4 deadline, but failed to include the necessary Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) exemption number from her employer. She says it was an "oversight," given her employer had paid the corresponding fee and had the number, but that she was still able to submit the paperwork without this crucial bit of information. Documents shared with CBC show IRCC followed up with them on a separate issue, regarding a different $100 fee from her employer, but never mentioned the missing LMIA number. An email to IRCC about the outstanding $100 balance shows the couple requested a follow-up phone call with IRCC staff. Eleven days later their permits were denied, making it illegal for the couple to work. But while Melanie says VGH chose to "keep an eye" on the situation, Steve's employer opted to terminate him. Legal experts say that while IRCC had the right to reject the couple's application over the missing number, their case reflects the sometimes impersonal touch of a department tasked with approving complicated forms — ones capable of throwing lives into turmoil if completed incorrectly. "A human had to have read my note where I was clearly confused," said Melanie. "I don't know why they would deny a work permit instead of reaching out." In its response to CBC's inquiry about the Whitlow file, IRCC acknowledged that both permits had been refused due to the missing LMIA exemption number "as well as the employer compliance fee." "Mrs. Whitlow was advised by IRCC of her eligibility to apply for restoration and she reapplied," writes the department. "Her work permit has since been approved and is valid until February 18, 2023 ... Mr. Whitlow also applied for a restoration of his temporary status and this application is in progress." Immigration officers quick to 'move on' One immigration lawyer tells CBC that IRCC officers will reject applications that are missing information in order to "move on to their next task." "Normally folks would hope that an officer would pick up the phone and call them," said Joshua Slayen of Larlee Rosenberg, Barristers & Solicitors. "It's very disheartening to see someone so negatively impacted by it." Immigration lawyer Joshua Slayen says IRCC forms are not necessarily designed for easy use, and that applicants should review their details closely. Slayen says applicants have three options when their paperwork is refused or rejected, including restoration, reconsideration, or an appeal in Federal Court. "There has to be some smarter way to do this," said Melanie Whitlow, acknowledging that many of those who interact with the IRCC may not speak English and therefore require more assistance. While the couple is confident Steve's work permit will be restored, the couple says it's unlikely he will get his old job back. "The IRCC doesn't pick the dominos up," said Steve Whitlow. "They only let them fall."
Top U.N. human rights experts said on Monday that Russia was to blame for attempting to kill Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, and called for an international investigation into his poisoning with a "signature compound" last year. The attempt to kill Navalny was part of a pattern of attacks on critics at home and abroad, and intended to send a "sinister warning" to quash dissent, Agnes Callamard, U.N. special rapporteur on summary killings, and Irene Khan, U.N. expert on freedom of opinion and expression, said in a statement.
LEVERKUSEN, Germany — Bayer Leverkusen right back Timothy Fosu-Mensah will be out for several months with a cruciate ligament tear in his right knee, the German club said Monday. Fosu-Mensah was injured just before halftime in Leverkusen's 2-1 loss to Freiburg on Sunday. The club said he will need an operation and is expected to spend “the coming months” on the sidelines. It’s the second serious knee injury of the Dutch defender's career. He also needed ligament surgery while on loan at Fulham in April 2019 and missed most of Manchester United's 2019-20 season. “It is a hard blow for Timothy,” Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes said. “We will do everything we can to support him, so that he can come back stronger from this difficult situation.” Fosu-Mensah, who signed from Manchester United less than two months ago, has played every minute of Leverkusen's last six Bundesliga games. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
(Shane Hennessey/CBC - image credit) Flavoured vape and e-cigarette products are now banned on Prince Edward Island. The regulation changes are part of a private members bill from PC MLA Cory Deagle, which received unanimous support from the legislature in 2019. "The only flavour you'll be able to use would be tobacco flavoured so all those other flavours will be gone," Deagle said. "This is probably one of the biggest steps that we're going to see trying to get rid of, or at least reduce, the amount of youth that are vaping." 'Reverse the trend' P.E.I. has already made two other changes to the Tobacco and Electronic Smoking Devices Sales and Access Act as part of Deagle's bill. Effective March 2020, the age of access for tobacco and vaping products increased to 21, and the points of purchase became more regulated — with products only available through vape shops and tobacconists. "Obviously the age was big, and restricting the access to it was big as well. But the flavours are, I think, clearly what draws youth to it and keeps them on the product as well as being addicted to nicotine," Deagle said. "Really the flavours is what keeps them coming back." Manager J-K Thorne said Wild Impulse carries more than 45 flavours for vaping, but as of March 1st, they will only be able to sell ones that are tobacco flavoured, flavourless or labelled clear. Deagle received some online threats when the bill was being discussed in the legislature in November 2019. "With the flavour ban coming, I imagine that I'll probably receive a bit more criticism, that's to be expected, but hopefully it won't be what we saw when I first passed the bill," Deagle said. "I understand that some people might be upset. I believe this is the right thing to do. Despite that criticism, hopefully it stays respectful, and and it doesn't translate into threats or anything like that." Deagle's bill received unanimous support from the legislature in 2019, to crack down on nicotine use among young people. Six months notice Vendors were notified of the upcoming ban on flavoured products in August 2020, in a letter distributed by the Department of Health and Wellness. The letter said the department believed that with six month advance notice, "tobacconist shops have sufficient time to deplete their inventory of flavoured electronic smoking device products". Wild Impulse manager J-K Thorne said some customers stocked up on the flavours, but others will be turning elsewhere. At Wild Impulse in Charlottetown, the shelves were still full of flavoured products on Friday afternoon, with the ban just days away. Manager J-K Thorne said the store carries more than 45 flavours for vaping, but as of March 1st, they will only be able to sell ones that are tobacco flavoured, flavourless or labelled clear. "Customers are a little disappointed. They feel that they have something to lean on if they wanted to get off cigarettes," Thorne said. "They found that the tobacco flavour actually reminded them of cigarettes, but it wasn't good enough, and it actually brought them back to buying cigarettes, which is a little unfortunate." At Wild Impulse in Charlottetown, the shelves were still full of flavoured products on Friday afternoon, with the ban just days away. Thorne said some customers stocked up on the flavours, but others will be turning elsewhere. "They also said that they'll be looking online, to get it shipped here," Thorne said. "So it's taking some customers away as well, which is a little disappointing." Important step The co-ordinator of the P.E.I. Lung Association, Julia Hartley, called the ban on flavours a "really important step." According to the Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey in 2018-2019, 39.3 per cent of Island teens in grades 10 to 12 had used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days. The co-ordinator of the P.E.I. Lung Association, Julia Hartley, called the ban on flavours a 'really important step'. "We know that flavoured products are a huge driver for youth. We know that youth between the ages 12 and 20 are using these products in a huge way," Hartley said, referring to a survey conducted by the Lung Association and Heart and Stroke, of more than 800 youth across Canada. "We found that 95 percent of those youth prefer the flavoured product, and of those participants, 50 percent said that they would quit if the products were no longer available." "So we think that this is going to have a huge impact on our youth." According to the Canadian Student Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey in 2018-2019, 39.3 per cent of Island teens in grades 10 to12 had used e-cigarettes in the last 30 days As a next step, Hartley would like to see the provincial government increase the prices of vaping products and e-cigarettes. "These products, although they do have the flavours removed, are still very, very cheap," Hartley said. "So what we would like to see is a 20 percent tax, at least, on vaping products, be implemented by the provincial government to ensure that these products are not affordable for youth, and to deter initiation, as well as encourage current smokers to quit." Lead the country Deagle said he hopes the changes on P.E.I. will inspire other provinces to take similar actions. "I think it went quite far, it'll be some of the strictest regulations in Canada," Deagle said. "I realize that this isn't going to eliminate youth vaping overnight, but hopefully over the next two, three, four years, that will start to be able to reverse the trend of the staggering increase of the amount of youth that are vaping." More P.E.I. news
LOS ANGELES — Just like in her career, Jane Fonda used the Golden Globes’ platform to speak on deeper issues calling for greater diversity in Hollywood while praising the “community of storytellers” as she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award. While wearing an all-white suit, Fonda raised the Globes’ highest honour above her head Sunday before commending storytellers for their vital role in troubled times. She said stories let us “have empathy, to recognize that for all our diversity, we are all humans.” “We are a community of storytellers, aren’t we, and in turbulent, crisis-torn times like these, story-telling has always been essential,” Fonda said. The actor and social activist went on to call for Hollywood’s leaders to try to “expand that tent” for more diverse voices. Fonda, 83, said there’s another “story we’ve been afraid to see and hear about ourselves in this industry, about which voices we respect and elevate and which we tune out, who is offered a seat at the table and who is kept out of the rooms where decisions are made.” Her acceptance speech earned applause from Viola Davis, Glenn Close and Andra Day, who won best actress for her role in “The United States vs. Billie Holiday." Fonda was one of the few honorees to accept an award in person at the ceremony in Beverly Hills, California. In a video package, Ted Danson called Fonda “confident and independent” while “Captain Marvel” actor Brie Larson referred to her as a “real life superhero.” Kerry Washington and Laverne Cox also paid homage in the video that offered several clips of Fonda's activism and critically-acclaimed film roles such as “Klute,” “Coming Home” and “The Electric Horseman.” Tina Fey and Amy Poehler presented Fonda the Globes’ version of a lifetime achievement award. Fey — who starred alongside Fonda in the 2014 film “This is Where I Leave You” — called her a movie star who is “open, generous and a hardworking actor.” The DeMille award is given annually to an “individual who has made an incredible impact on the world of entertainment.” Past recipients include Tom Hanks, Jeff Bridges, Oprah Winfrey, Morgan Freeman, Meryl Streep, Barbra Streisand, Sidney Poitier and Lucille Ball. Fonda is a member of one of America’s most distinguished acting families. She is the daughter of Oscar winner Henry Fonda, who died in 1982, and sister of Peter Fonda, who died in 2019. “He would be very proud of me,” she said backstage about her father. “I feel that he is here. I feel his spirit.” Fonda made an impact off-screen by creating organizations to support women’s equality and prevent teen pregnancy and improve adolescent health. She released a workout video in 1982 and was active on behalf of liberal political causes. For her on-screen efforts, Fonda has been nominated for five Academy Awards and won for the thriller “Klute” and the compassionate anti-war drama “Coming Home.” Her other prominent films include “The China Syndrome,” “The Electric Horseman” with Robert Redford, and “9 to 5” with Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton. She stars in the Netflix television series “Grace & Frankie.” Fonda gained notoriety in the 1970s when she travelled to North Vietnam during the height of the anti-Vietnam War protests and posed for photos next to an anti-aircraft gun. She fell under hefty criticism for her decision — one she repeatedly apologized for — to pose in the photo that gave her the nickname “Hanoi Jane.” In 2014, Fonda was given a lifetime achievement award by the American Film Institute. She launched IndieCollect’s Jane Fonda Fund for Women Directors, an organization aimed to support the restoration of films helmed by women from around the world. Fonda was arrested at the U.S. Capito l while peacefully protesting climate change in 2019, an action dubbed Fire Drill Fridays. For her 80th birthday, Fonda raised $1 million for each of her nonprofits, the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power & Potential and the Women’s Media Center. She also serves on the board of directors and made a $1 million donation to Donor Direct Action, an organization that supports front-line women’s organizations to promote women’s equality. Fonda’s book, “What Can I Do? My Path from Climate Despair to Action,” released last year, details her personal journey with Fire Drill Fridays. Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Associated Press
(Submitted by Chip Taylor - image credit) A new report says monarch butterfly populations in Mexico have decreased, but according to one expert, the number of butterflies Canada will see this year depends on what happens this month as they embark on their migrations north. The presence of the monarch butterfly in the Mexican hibernation forests declined by 26 per cent due to a reduction of its habitat, according to the recent report by WWF-Telmex Telcel Foundation. According to the report, the species occupied 2.1 hectares in December 2020 compared to the 2.83 hectares in December 2019. These numbers are unsurprising to Chip Taylor, the director of Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas. "They were about as I expected," he said. "But that tells us that we are dealing with a population that fluctuates with the weather conditions, but it's also dependent on the amount of habitat available. Had there been a lot more habitat available last year in the form of nectar plants, then it's likely we would have seen a higher population," he said. Taylor said that monarchs need nectar plants and milkweed, which he said Canada provides a lot of. The presence of the monarch butterfly declined by 26% in the Mexican hibernation forests due to a reduction of its habitat, according to a recent report by WWF-Telmex Telcel Foundation. "As we get into Canada ... we get a lot more common milkweed. And one of the things that happens in Canada is that the monarchs who have reached Canada in May and June develop a population of common milkweed and that population tends to move along the lakes and eventually move through Point Pelee in fairly large numbers," he explains. Every fall, Point Pelee plays host to thousands of monarch butterflies on their migrations. The insects make their way across Lake Erie to the mountains of Mexico, roughly 3,000 kilometres south, for the winter. In late spring, their offspring return to Canada, and the cycle continues. According to Parks Canada, monarchs have a life span of about a month but the ones who emerge late in the summer are born to migrate and stay alive for over six months to make the journey. Taylor said it's hard to predict what the population of the monarch butterfly will be like this spring until he sees how conditions are like in Texas. "The Canadian situation is highly dependent on what happens in March in Texas. So if the returning butterflies are abundant and they have good conditions in Texas, there are good conditions as they move north in May and June and they encounter good conditions in Canada, the population does well," he said. "If they get off to a bad start in Texas. It's going to be a bad year in Canada." - Chip Taylor, director of Monarch Watch Taylor said the butterflies have already left the overwintering sites in Mexico and should reach Texas in about two weeks. "The question is, what are they going to find when they get there?" He asks, pointing to the massive winter freeze that took place just weeks ago. "The question I'm asking all my colleagues in Texas is that vegetation going to come back in time, so they're going to be milkweeds above ground and nectar plants for the butterflies to feed on," he said. Chip Taylor, the director of Monarch Watch, says how conditions will look in Canada is highly dependent on how conditions will be like in Texas in two weeks. Taylor said he's watching the weather and monitoring plant development carefully and can better predict how things will look in two weeks. "What we've learned in the past is that what happens in March in Texas has a big influence that that determines everything that happens, including what happens in Canada, on the rest of the year," he said. "So it's very important for the population to get off to a good start. If they don't, if the population doesn't get off to a good start, then it's very likely that it's never going to be able to recover. There just aren't enough generations," he said. What you can do Taylor says people can help preserve the monarch butterfly by creating a lot of habitat for the species. Point Pelee National Park also encourages local residents to plant a butterfly garden with native plants, milkweed for monarch butterflies and caterpillars. "Create a habitat and they will come, they will use it," Taylor said.
ISLAMABAD — The United States wasted billions of dollars in war-torn Afghanistan on buildings and vehicles that were either abandoned or destroyed, according to a report released Monday by a U.S. government watchdog. The agency said it reviewed $7.8 billion spent since 2008 on buildings and vehicles. Only $343.2 million worth of buildings and vehicles “were maintained in good condition,” said the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, which oversees American taxpayer money spent on the protracted conflict. The report said that just $1.2 billion of the $7.8 billion went to pay for buildings and vehicles that were used as intended. “The fact that so many capital assets wound up not used, deteriorated or abandoned should have been a major cause of concern for the agencies financing these projects," John F. Sopko, the special inspector general, said in his report. The U.S. public is weary of the nearly 20-year-old war and President Joe Biden is reviewing a peace deal his predecessor, Donald Trump, signed with the Taliban a year ago. He must decide whether to withdraw all troops by May 1, as promised in the deal, or stay and possibly prolong the war. Officials say no decision has been made but on Monday, Washington's peace envoy and the American who brokered the U.S.-Taliban deal, Zalmay Khalilzad, was back in the Afghan capital for a tour of the region. Taliban insurgents and the Afghan government have been holding on-again-off-again talks in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar but a deal that could bring peace to Afghanistan after 40 years of relentless war seems far off. After Kabul, Khalilzad will travel to Qatar's capital of Doha and neighbouring countries, including Pakistan, to push anew for progress in the Doha talks and a cease-fire to end the relentless violence. Analyst Bill Roggio of the Long War Journal said the findings by SIGAR are not surprising. The reasons for the financial losses include Taliban attacks, corruption and “throwing money at the problem without considering the implications,” he said. “It is one thing to build a clinic and school, it is another to operate, maintain, and in many cases defend this infrastructure from Taliban attacks,” said Roggio. "Additionally, the West has wildly underestimated the impact of Afghan corruption and in many cases incompetence. It was always a recipe for failure.” U.S. agencies responsible for construction didn't even ask the Afghans if they wanted or needed the buildings they ordered built, or if they had the technical ability to keep them running, Sopko said in his report. The waste occurred in violation of “multiple laws stating that U.S. agencies should not construct or procure capital assets until they can show that the benefiting country has the financial and technical resources and capability to use and maintain those assets effectively,” he said. Torek Farhadi, a former adviser to the Afghan government, said a "donor-knows-best” mentality often prevailed and it routinely meant little to no consultation with the Afghan government on projects. He said a lack of co-ordination among the many international donors aided the wastefulness. For example, he said schools were on occasion built alongside other newly constructed schools financed by other donors. The construction went ahead because once the decision was made — contract awarded and money allocated — the school was built regardless of the need, said Farhadi. The injection of billions of dollars, largely unmonitored, fueled runaway corruption among both Afghans and international contractors. But experts say that despite the waste, the need for assistance is real, given the Afghan governments heavy dependence on international money. The worsening security situation in Afghanistan also greatly impeded the monitoring of projects, with shoddy construction going undetected, said Farhadi, the former Afghan government adviser. “Consult with the locals about their needs and sustainability of the project once the project is complete,” he urged U.S. funding agencies looking to future projects. “Supervise, supervise, supervise project progress and implementation and audit every single layer of expenditure.” Going forward, Roggio said smaller, more manageable projects should be the order of the day. To build big unmanageable projects that Afghanistan has neither the capacity nor technical expertise for after 40 years of relentless war “feeds into the Taliban narrative that the government is corrupt, incompetent, and incapable of providing for the Afghan people,” he said. Kathy Gannon, The Associated Press
CROTONE, Italy — Crotone fired coach Giovanni Stroppa on Monday, with the Serie A club bottom of the standings and eight points from safety. The 53-year-old Stroppa had been in charge since 2018 and led Crotone to promotion from Serie B last season. Sunday’s 2-0 defeat at home to Cagliari was Crotone’s sixth straight loss and its 18th in 24 matches this campaign. “So ends a beautiful and intense journey, that lasted almost three years, and that wasn’t without difficult moments but that culminated in the extraordinary survival in Serie B and furthermore in the second, historic, promotion to Serie A,” Crotone said in a statement. Stroppa took charge of Crotone in June 2018, with the team in the second division, but was fired in October of that year after collecting just 11 points from nine matches. He was rehired two months later and steered the team to safety before guiding it to a second-place finish in Serie B the following season and promotion to the top flight. It is the sixth coaching change in Serie A this season. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine government launched a vaccination campaign on Monday to contain one of Southeast Asia’s worst coronavirus outbreaks but faces supply problems and public resistance, which it hopes to ease by inoculating top officials. Cabinet officials, along with health workers and military and police personnel, were among the first to be vaccinated at six hospitals in Metropolitan Manila, after the arrival Sunday of 600,000 doses of vaccine donated by China. At the state-run Philippine General Hospital in Manila, hospital director Dr. Gerardo Legaspi was inoculated first in a televised event and was followed by Cabinet and Department of Health officials. “Let’s get vaccinated, let’s save lives every day. We need to move on,” Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said in a speech at the hospital, adding he would get vaccinated in about a week after the health workers. The Philippines was among the last Southeast Asian countries to receive vaccines due to delivery delays, although it has reported more than 578,300 infections, including 12,322 deaths, the second-highest totals in Southeast Asia after Indonesia. Lockdowns and quarantine restrictions have set back the country's economy in one of the worst recessions in the region and sparked unemployment and hunger. “Our economy is really down, so the earlier these vaccinations gain speed, the better,” President Rodrigo Duterte told a televised news conference late Sunday after witnessing the delivery of the vaccines at an air base in the capital. Duterte said he was considering a further easing of quarantine restrictions in the capital and elsewhere once the vaccination campaign gains momentum. With just 600,000 doses available, Monday’s immunizations were billed as symbolic. Aside from the donated vaccine from China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd., the government has ordered 25 million more doses from the company but no date has been set for the deliveries. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the arrival of an initial 525,600 doses of vaccine from AstraZeneca that was initially scheduled for Monday would be delayed by a week due to supply problems. China’s donation is a tiny fraction of at least 148 million doses the government has been negotiating to secure from Western and Asian companies to vaccinate about 70 million Filipinos for free in a massive campaign funded by foreign and domestic loans. Most of the shipments are expected to arrive later this year amid a global scramble for COVID-19 vaccines. Duterte’s administration has come under criticism for lagging behind most other Southeast Asian countries in securing the vaccines, but the president has said wealthy Western countries have cornered massive doses for their citizens, leaving poorer nations scrambling for the rest. Aside from supply problems, there have been concerns over the vaccine’s safety, largely due to a dengue vaccine scare that prompted the Duterte administration to stop a massive immunization drive in 2017. There have also been concerns even among health workers over the Sinovac vaccine because of its lower efficacy rate compared to others developed in the West and Russia. Carlito Galvez Jr, who leads government efforts to secure the vaccines, said Duterte saw some surveys showing low public confidence in the Sinovac vaccine and ordered him and other top officials to be inoculated with it. At the Philippine General Hospital, where he was inoculated with the Sinovac vaccine, Galvez said Filipinos could not return to their normal lives and the economy would not recover if people refuse to get immunized and prefer Western vaccines, which would come later in the year. “We should not wait for the so-called best vaccine. There is no best vaccine because the best vaccines are those which are effective and efficient and come early,” Galvez said at the hospital. ___ Associated Press journalists Aaron Favila and Joeal Calupitan contributed to this report. Jim Gomez, The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — From Jason Sudeikis’ hoodie to Jodie Foster’s bare feet, the stars embraced a virtual Golden Globes, and still found ways to cut loose. There was no red carpet and logjam of celebrities outside the show’s usual location at the Beverly Hilton. No boozy camaraderie at the jammed-in tables inside the ballroom, either. The coronavirus pandemic made certain of that. Instead, most of Sunday night’s winners accepted from their own homes or hotel rooms in laidback settings unheard of for Hollywood's biggest awards shows. Many were surrounded by spouses, parents, kids, pets or support staff. Several winners welcomed the change. “This is the best Globes ever, to be able to be home, but also it just felt really real,” a giddy Foster said in virtual comments after her win. “It didn’t feel like it was filled with so much artifice. I think people were kind of thrilled by the newness and the sort of live theatre.” Foster cozied up on a sofa, cuddling her white dog while sharing a kiss with her wife. Friends watching on television downstairs raised a delayed shout when she was announced as the winner for supporting actress in a motion picture drama. Foster stuck her bare foot in the air, showing media that she wasn’t wearing any shoes. She was headed downstairs to eat dinner after her win. “It was really fun,” said Aaron Sorkin, winner for motion picture screenplay. “There was an intimacy to it.” Sacha Baron Cohen won two trophies for “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” with wife Isla Fisher smiling next to him. He donned a traditional tuxedo and she wore a gown and red lips. “The virtual experience was different, but a lot more relaxing,” Baron Cohen said. “You didn’t have to do the red carpet, which I’m not sure a lot of people enjoy.” In London, Sudeikis won best actor in a television series, musical or comedy for “Ted Lasso.” He wore a white hoodie promoting his sister's dance and workout studio in New York City. “When people you care about do cool, interesting things you should support them, so this is no different than that,” Sudeikis later told reporters. Clearly surprised by his win, the actor hesitated and rambled during his acceptance remarks. Fellow nominee Don Cheadle was shown whirling his finger in the air, a joking signal that Sudeikis should wrap up. “The guy's got chops,” Sudeikis said. “He's an ex-stage manager.” Nominee Kate Hudson hosted a family get-together. Wearing a strapless gown, she sat with her kids, her partner Danny Fujikawa, her mother Goldie Hawn, as well as Kurt Russell and brother Oliver Hudson. Her 2-year-old daughter, Rani, blurted out, “Hi, everybody!” as the telecast went to a commercial break. Nicole Kidman and musician-husband Keith Urban got glammed up to sit on their couch. Their daughters, Sunday and Faith, both wore white dresses while making a rare appearance. A shocked Andra Day had a crowd that included two co-stars from “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” her manager, her publicist, her parents and some of her cousin's family. Known for her singing career, Day became the second Black woman to win for actress in a motion picture drama in her acting debut. “There's cake outside, so I'm going to eat with that, and with my family and my team,” she said after her win. “We're just going to eat so much food.” Beth Harris, The Associated Press
The European Commission will propose this month an EU-wide digital certificate providing proof of a COVID-19 vaccination that could allow Europeans to travel more freely over the summer. The EU executive aims to present its plans for a "digital green pass" on March 17 and to cooperate with international organisations to ensure that its system also works beyond the European Union. "The aim is to gradually enable them to move safely in the European Union or abroad - for work or tourism," Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said in a tweet on Monday.
La MRC de Nicolet-Yamaska doit au cours des prochains mois cartographier sa résilience face aux changements climatiques. Les inondations, canicules, sécheresses et grands vents observés ces dernières années laissent des traces. Et la MRC cherche à les recenser. La MRC va faire le diagnostic de l’impact qu’a le climat sur l’ensemble de ses équipements, services et infrastructures. «On veut évaluer la vulnérabilité de notre territoire, voir en quoi elles sont impactées par ces différents événements climatiques. La MRC va tenter de classifier les risques et tenir compte de cette vulnérabilité dans la gestion future de ses actifs», explique Michel Côté, directeur général de la MRC. «Les changements climatiques constituent l’un des enjeux majeurs auxquels les municipalités sont confrontées. Leurs effets exigent des mesures d’adaptation fortes et innovantes. Cela nous conduira très certainement à revoir certaines de ces manières de faire, et à penser différemment nos modes de développement», soutient Geneviève Dubois, préfète de la MRC de Nicolet-Yamaska. L’ensemble des professionnels des différentes municipalités de la MRC de Nicolet-Yamaska sera mobilisé. Une conseillère en environnement a été embauchée par la MRC pour travailler le dossier. Le bureau de génie de la Fédération québécoise des municipalités va lui donner un coup de main avec le concours des différents départements de Travaux publics et d’urbanisme du territoire. Le gouvernement du Québec finance le projet à hauteur de 64 500$. La MRC assume quant à elle 35% de la facture. Ce diagnostic de vulnérabilité doit être complété d’ici 12 mois. Des sommes additionnelles seront requises lors de la phase de mise en oeuvre du Plan d’action qui en découlera. La MRC affirme rester à l’affût de nouvelles possibilités de financement. Boris Chassagne, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix du Sud
ORLANDO, Fla. — Taking the stage for the first time since leaving office, former President Donald Trump called for GOP unity, even as he exacerbated intraparty divisions by attacking fellow Republicans and promoting lies about the election in a speech that made clear he intends to remain a dominant political force. Speaking Sunday at the Conservative Political Action Conference, where he was hailed as a returning hero, Trump blasted his successor, President Joe Biden, and tried to lay out a vision for the future of the GOP that revolves firmly around him, despite his loss in November. “Do you miss me yet?” Trump said after taking the stage to his old rally soundtrack and cheers from the supportive crowd. Trump, in his speech, tried to downplay the civil war gripping the party over the extent to which Republicans should embrace him, even as he unfurled an enemies list, calling out by name the 10 House Republicans and seven GOP senators who voted to impeach or convict him for inciting the U.S. Capitol riot. He ended by singling out Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, who has faced tremendous backlash in Wyoming for saying Trump should no longer play a role in the party or headline the event. While he insisted the division was merely a spat “between a handful of Washington, D.C., establishment political hacks and everybody else, all over the country," Trump had a message for the incumbents who had dared to cross him: “Get rid of ’em all." The conference, held this year in Orlando instead of the Washington suburbs to evade COVID-19 restrictions, served as a tribute to Trump and Trumpism, complete with a golden statue in his likeness on display. Speakers, including many potential 2024 hopefuls, argued that the party must embrace the former president and his followers, even after the deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6. They also repeated in panel after panel his unfounded claims that he lost reelection only because of mass voter fraud, even though such claims have been rejected by judges, Republican state officials and Trump’s own administration. Trump, too, continued to repeat what Democrats have dubbed the “big lie," calling the election “rigged” and insisting that he won in November, even though he lost by more than 7 million votes. “As you know, they just lost the White House,” he said of Biden, rewriting history. It is highly unusual for past American presidents to publicly criticize their successors in the months after leaving office. Ex-presidents typically step out of the spotlight for at least a while: Barack Obama was famously seen kitesurfing on vacation after he departed, while George W. Bush said he believed Obama “deserves my silence” and took up painting. Not Trump. He delivered a sharp rebuke of what he framed as the new administration’s first month of failures, especially Biden’s approach to immigration and the border. “Joe Biden has had the most disastrous first month of any president in modern history,” Trump said. White House press secretary Jen Psaki had brushed off the expected criticism last week. “We’ll see what he says, but our focus is certainly not on what President Trump is saying at CPAC,” she told reporters. Aside from criticizing Biden, Trump used the speech to crown himself the future of the Republican Party, even as many leaders argue they must move in a new, less divisive direction after Republicans lost not just the White House, but both chambers of Congress. Though Trump has flirted with the the idea of creating a third party, he pledged Sunday to remain part of “our beloved" GOP. “I’m going to continue to fight right by your side. We’re not starting new parties,” he said. “We have the Republican Party. It’s going to be strong and united like never before.” Yet Trump spent much of the speech lashing out at those he has deemed insufficiently loyal and dubbed “RINOs” — Republican in name only — for failing to stand with him. “We cannot have leaders who show more passion for condemning their fellow Americans than they have ever shown for standing up to Democrats, the media and the radicals who want to turn America into a socialist country,” Trump said. Trump did not use his speech to announce plans to run again, but he repeatedly teased the prospect as he predicted a Republican would win back the White House in 2024. “And I wonder who that will be,” he offered. “Who, who, who will that be? I wonder.” It remains unclear, however, how much appetite there would be for another Trump term, even in the room of staunch supporters. The conference's annual unscientific straw poll of just over 1,000 attendees found that 97% approved of the job Trump did as president. But they were much more ambiguous when asked whether he should run again, with only 68% saying he should. If the 2024 primary were held today and Trump were in the race, just 55% said they would vote for him, followed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at 21%. Without Trump in the field, DeSantis garnered 43% support, followed by 8% for South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and 7% each for former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. While he no longer has his social media megaphone after being barred from Twitter and Facebook, Trump had been inching back into public life even before the speech. He called into conservative news outlets after talk radio star Rush Limbaugh's death and has issued statements, including one blasting Mitch McConnell after the Senate Republican leader excoriated Trump for inciting the Capitol riot. McConnell has since said he would “absolutely” support Trump if he were the GOP nominee in 2024. At his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, Trump has also been quietly meeting with aides and senior party leaders as he builds his post-presidential political operation. While he has already backed several pro-Trump candidates, including one challenging an impeachment supporter, aides have been working this past week to develop benchmarks for those seeking his endorsement to make sure the candidates are serious and have set up full-fledged political and fundraising organizations before he gets involved. They are also planning a new super PAC that could raise unlimited amounts of money, though one aide cautioned they were still deciding whether to create a new entity or repurpose an existing America First super PAC. Trump hinted at the effort Sunday, voicing his commitment to helping elect Republicans and calling on attendees to join him. “I stand before you today to declare that the incredible journey we begun together ... is far from being over," he said. Jill Colvin, The Associated Press