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Reps: Singers Kacey Musgraves, Ruston Kelly file for divorce

Fri, 07/03/2020 - 13:23
NEW YORK - Grammy-winning country singer Kacey Musgraves and her musician-husband, Ruston Kelly, have filed for divorce. Representatives for both singers confirmed the news Friday to The Associated Press. In a joint statement, Musgraves and Kelly said "we've made this painful decision together." "With heavy but hopeful hearts we wanted to put our own thoughts into the air about what's happening. These kinds of announcements are always met with scrutiny and speculation and we want to stop that before it even starts. We believe that we were put into each other's lives for a divine reason and have both changed each other infinitely for the better. The love we have for each other goes far beyond the relationship we've shared as husband and wife. It's a soul connection that can never be erased," the emailed statement read. "We've made this painful decision together - a healthy decision that comes after a very long period of trying the best we can. It simply just didn't work. Though we are parting ways in marriage, we will remain true friends for the rest of our lives. We hold no blame, anger, or contempt for each other and we ask for privacy and positive wishes for us both as we learn how to navigate through this," the statement continued. Musgraves and Kelly, both 31, were married in 2017. Musgraves has been a success since releasing her major-label debut album, "Same Trailer Different Park," in 2013. It won her the best country album Grammy and one of its singles, "Merry Go 'Round," won best country song. At the 2019 Grammys, the superstar's critically acclaimed pop-leaning country album, "Golden Hour," won all four awards it was nominated for, including the coveted top prize, album of the year. At the show, she thanked Kelly in her acceptance speech: "I really believe I wouldn't have this album if I hadn't met you and you didn't open my heart like you did, so thank you so much." Musgraves and Kelly have worked together musically. In 2018 they appeared on the song "To June This Morning" from the album "Johnny Cash: Forever Words," a compilation project created from Cash's unknown poetry, lyrics and letters set to music. Musgraves also sang background vocals on Kelly's 2018 full-length debut album, "Dying Star." Kelly will release a new album, "Shape & Destroy," on Aug. 28, and it will include background vocals by Musgraves. Kelly's father and sister are also featured on the album. Kelly has also written songs for other artists, including Tim McGraw, Hayes Carll, Lucie Silvas and Josh Abbott Band. Musgraves co-wrote Miranda Lambert's 2013 country hit, "Mama's Broken Heart," earning herself a Grammy nomination as a songwriter. Mesfin Fekadu, The Associated Press

CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos announce they’ll be retaining their team name

Fri, 07/03/2020 - 13:19
EDMONTON - The Edmonton Eskimos are keeping their team name. The CFL franchise announced Friday it was keeping the Eskimos moniker following "an extensive year-long formal research and engagement program with Inuit leaders and community members across Canada." "The consistent feedback was a desire for more engagement with the club," the Eskimos said in a statement. "There were a range of views regarding the club's name but no consensus emerged to support a name change. "The club has therefore decided to retain its name." However, the Eskimos didn't divulge specific results of its program. Also on Friday, the NFL's Washington Redskins announced they were undergoing a "thorough review" of their nickname. In a statement, the club said recent events in the United States and feedback from the community prompted the review. The Eskimos said their research and engagement program "included meetings with Inuit leaders and community leaders in Iqaluit, Inuvik, Yellowknife and Ottawa; and a research phase with a combination of in-depth interviews with Inuit across the north and in Edmonton, and a telephone survey among a broad group of Inuit across Canada." Janice Agrios, the chair of Edmonton's board of directors, said the survey was a learning experience. "The research program provided the club with many insights," Agrios said in a statement. "A key learning for us was the desire of northern communities to increase the club's engagement with them. "As a result, we have invested the time and resources to create a Northern Community Engagement Program and will continue to engage with Inuit leaders and community members to strengthen the ties between the club and the Inuit community." The CFL club said the engagement program held school visits in Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk in October 2019 while also hosting the Youth Service Award winners that month. It also participated in the Inuvik Sunrise Festival in January. The Edmonton club added seven communities in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region have asked about holding similar programming. "Since launching the Northern Community Engagement Program, we have been warmly welcomed in the communities that we have visited," Agrios said. "The consistent message was 'come back and come more often.' "We are the CFL's most northern team and we want to continue to build our relationship with the Inuit community. This is a very important initiative for us." The franchise says it will be "increasing its engagement in Canada's north," but again didn't provide specific details.   This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 3, 2020. The Canadian Press

RCMP investigating suspicious death in Warman

Fri, 07/03/2020 - 13:06
One person was taken into custody Friday as the RCMP investigated a suspicious death in Warman. The RCMP Major Crimes Unit North and the Warman RCMP were on the scene of a suspicious death that happened in the 200 block of Third Street West. The RCMP said there wasn’t any known threat to the public. The Mounties said residents in the area could expect to see an increased police presence throughout the day Friday.

Canada’s long-term care system failed elders, before and during COVID-19: report

Fri, 07/03/2020 - 12:54
MONTREAL - A new report on the COVID-19 crisis in long-term care homes has concluded that Canada failed in its duty to protect its elders.    The report released today by the Royal Society of Canada found the pandemic was a "shock wave" that exposed many long-standing deficiencies in the system. The group's COVID-19 task force of scientists and researchers said the causes of the failure are complex but are rooted in what they call systemic and deeply institutionalized attitudes about age and gender. It found that 81 per cent of Canada's COVID-19 deaths have come in long-term care homes, far higher than what is reported in comparable countries, including a 31 per cent figure in the United States and 66 per cent in Spain. The authors say Canadian homes have allowed staff-to-patient ratios to drop and have increasingly shifted to an unregulated workforce in recent years, even as patients are living longer with diseases that require increasingly complex care. Their recommendations include implementing national standards for care homes, better data collection and infection-control standards, as well as higher pay, more full-time positions and better benefits for workers, including sick leave and mental health support. This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 3, 2020 The Canadian Press

Presidential hopeful Biden could be swayed to supporting Keystone XL: Kenney

Fri, 07/03/2020 - 12:43
OYEN, Alta. - Alberta Premier Jason Kenney says he believes United States presidential hopeful Joe Biden can be swayed to supporting the Keystone XL pipeline. The presumptive Democratic nominee has vowed to rip up President Donald Trump's approval of the Alberta-to-Texas crude oil conduit if his party wins back the White House this fall.    Kenney says his government would be reaching out to Democrats who support the project, as well as unions with members who would be put to work building it. The premier says he believes those allies would impress upon Biden's campaign the importance of the project to North American energy independence and national security. He adds the federal government should remind Biden's team that cancelling the $8 billion pipeline expansion would mean a "terrible blow" to the Canada-U.S. trading relationship. Kenney made his remarks at a TC Energy pipe yard in Oyen, Alta., where he and industry officials celebrated the beginning of construction on the pipeline's Canadian segment. "We will use every tool at our disposal to get this project done," the premier said Friday. He said that involves doing what the province can to help TC Energy fight U.S. court battles against the project and stepping up Alberta's presence south of the border, including with a new office in Houston. Keystone XL is an expansion to an existing pipeline network to increase the flow of Alberta heavy oil to Gulf Coast refineries by up to 830,000 barrels a day. It was first proposed in 2008 and has been dealt a litany of legal and regulatory setbacks over the years. It has been met with fierce opposition on environmental grounds.   Calgary-based TC Energy green-lighted Keystone XL in March, following the Alberta government's pledge to take a $1.5 billion equity stake and provide a $6 billion loan guarantee to ensure work started immediately. "This is about leadership and you can't do that without taking risks," Kenney said. "And so we have taken a conscious risk to get construction started, to create facts on the ground and we look forward to working with the many key leaders in the United States to support that." - By Lauren Krugel in Calgary This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 3, 2020. Companies in this story: (TSX:TRP) The Canadian Press

Ethiopia’s PM accuses dissidents of taking up arms in unrest

Fri, 07/03/2020 - 12:39
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - Ethiopia's prime minister on Friday said dissidents he recently extended an offer of peace have "taken up arms" in revolt against the government in a week of deadly unrest that followed the killing of a popular singer. Those who participate "in the destruction of the nation cannot be considered guardians of the nation," Abiy Ahmed said. Police earlier this week told the state broadcaster more than 80 people were killed following the shooting death on Monday of Hachalu Hundessa, a prominent voice in anti-government protests that led to Abiy coming to power in 2018. The military has been deployed, and hundreds of cars this week were burned or damaged in the tense capital, Addis Ababa. The new unrest poses the prime minister's greatest domestic test since he took office. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year for dramatic reforms, including welcoming home once-banned exile groups, but the more open political space has seen some Ethiopians air ethnic and other grievances. At times it has led to deadly violence, and human rights groups have accused security forces of abuses. Ethiopia's internet service has been cut again this week, making it difficult for rights monitor and others to track the scores of killings. "It's a moment when people need to pause and de-escalate," said Murithi Mutiga, project director for the Horn of Africa with the International Crisis Group. He cited a series of challenges in Ethiopia including an armed insurgency in parts of the country and tension over the timing of the next election. The government recently delayed the vote, citing the coronavirus pandemic. "This is not the first but one in a long line of grave provocations by an actor not yet identified," Mutiga said, adding that the "wiser course of action is to strive to create an atmosphere of reconciliation and dialogue." Ethiopia's prime minister on Thursday hinted there could be links between this unrest and the killing of the army chief last year as well as the grenade thrown at one of his own rallies in 2018. Police late Wednesday said three people had been arrested in the death of the singer, who was buried Thursday in a ceremony shown on national television. The past few days appear to be the most serious challenge yet to Ethiopia's transition to multifaceted democracy, Mutiga said. "Thankfully, the situation seems to have calmed down in Addis and parts of Oromia but the scale of the violence, the degree of grievance witnessed on the streets and the danger of instability was quite high." Abiy in comments after meeting with officials on Friday said those behind the unrest should "rethink their motives," and those responsible for destructive actions will be held accountable. He added that those opposed to the government should contest power through "ideas and policy options." Arrests this week included that of a well-known Oromo activist, Jawar Mohammed, and more than 30 supporters. It is not clear what charges they might face. The Oromo make up Ethiopia's largest ethnic group but had never held the country's top post until they helped bring Abiy to power. The arrest of opposition figures "could make a volatile situation even worse," Human Rights Watch has said. ___ Cara Anna in Johannesburg contributed. Elias Meseret, The Associated Press

Five things to watch as Blue Jays open training camp in Toronto

Fri, 07/03/2020 - 12:32
Most MLB players are beginning their summer training camps Friday in preparation for the abbreviated season, but the Blue Jays will be slightly delayed. Toronto's location north of the currently closed Canada-U.S. border made things more difficult for the team, which needed permission from the Canadian government to hold camp here. The Blue Jays got the OK Thursday night - so far for training only. A decision is still to be made on whether the team can host regular-season games at Rogers Centre when they begin later this month. Here are five things to watch from Blue Jays camp over the next couple weeks:  COVID CASES Professional athletes have been testing positive for the novel coronavirus at an alarming rate over the last few weeks, including several Blue Jays players and staff. Florida reported a record-high 10,109 new cases Thursday. Pinellas County, where the Blue Jays' spring training facility is located in Dunedin, Fla., recorded 358 new cases the same day. The Blue Jays have been undergoing intake and screening procedures at their Dunedin facility this week in preparation to head north. Team president and CEO Mark Shapiro said players will need two negative COVID-19 tests before they can leave for Toronto. MLB says players will be tested every other day for COVID both in camp and throughout the regular season. Daily temperature and symptom checks and a monthly blood-drawn antibody test will also be the norm. BACKLASH POTENTIAL MLB's plan to travel between cities during the regular season and playoffs means there's a greater chance of spreading COVID-19 from one area to another. And if the Blue Jays are cleared to host games in Toronto there could be backlash from that. Ontario, which has been reopening in phases throughout the province, has been averaging well under 200 new daily cases over the last week. Regions the Blue Jays will be travelling to vary in terms of their COVID prevalence. As of Thursday, there were 872 new cases in the state of New York (Yankees and Mets); 195 in Massachusetts (Boston Red Sox); 513 in Maryland (Baltimore Orioles); 839 in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia Phillies); 25 in Washington, D.C. (Nationals); 2,886 in Georgia (Atlanta Braves); and 10,109 in Florida (Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins).  They will play 60 regular-season games (including 30 on the road) in 66 days. Players are being asked to self-isolate in a hotel when not at the field, but separating them entirely from other members of society - including hotel staff and security guards at the stadium, for example - could prove difficult. Regular testing should help isolate positive cases quickly, however. NEW RULES There will be no high-fiving or spitting on the field this summer and no showers after games, part of MLB's new rules aimed to help mitigate a COVID-19 outbreak. The league sent a 101-page health protocol document to teams last week that players are expected to abide by, but some of the new regulations may take more getting used to than others. Clubhouses are also getting a makeover as lockers move the appropriate two metres apart, and kitchens can no longer operate buffet style. Players are expected to keep distance during training drills on the field and safe protocols are to be in place for boarding team buses. There are also some new rules for play itself, including the use of a designated hitter in both leagues. Extra innings will begin with a runner on second base in an effort to speed things up. PROSPECT WATCH The Blue Jays' unveiled a prospect-loaded player pool last week, naming the players (teams can have up to 60) that will train with the team at camp. Among the list is Toronto's top prospect, right-handed pitcher Nate Pearson, who was expected to begin the season in triple-A. But with the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling minor-league baseball, there's nowhere for him to play but in the big leagues. The same goes for players like right-handers Alek Manoah and Simeon Woods Richardson, the prospects returned to Toronto in the Marcus Stroman trade last season. Shortstop Jordan Groshans, the Blue Jays' first-round pick in 2018, and catching prospect Alejandro Kirk also made the list.  Sunday was the deadline for teams to submit player pools, but additions can be made later. This gives the Blue Jays flexibility to add more players, including their first-round draft pick this year, 21-year-old infielder Austin Martin of Vanderbilt who is still unsigned. Active rosters will allow up to 30 players to start the season, then reduce to 28 after two weeks. A 26-man active roster will come into play two weeks after that. SHAKING OFF THE RUST Players will have been out of action for 16 weeks when camps officially begin Friday - roughly three weeks less than a regular off-season from October to February. And this hasn't been a regular three-and-a-half months off.  Players who chose not to stay near their respective teams' spring training facilities when the pre-season was cancelled in March have likely had limited access to gyms and training centres. MLB teams have worked on revised fitness plans for their players throughout the layoff, but pitchers who've been unable to throw to live hitters, and hitters unable to face live pitching will likely be rusty. Players will have three weeks to get up to game speed before the regular season is scheduled to begin - that's about half the time they usually get with spring training. This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 3, 2020. Melissa Couto, The Canadian Press

Gary Longhi, Canada’s flag-bearer at 2000 Paralympics, dies at age 56

Fri, 07/03/2020 - 12:22
Gary Longhi, a four-time Paralympian and Canada's flag-bearer for the opening ceremonies of the 2000 Sydney Paralympics, has died at the age of 56. The road cyclist competed in the 1988, 1992, 1996 and 2000 Games, winning gold and bronze in '96 in Atlanta and silver in '92 in Barcelona. The Montreal native was the first Paralympic athlete to be inducted into the Canadian Cycling Hall of Fame in 2017. Ahead of his induction Longhi said that he cherished the camaraderie of cycling for the Canadian team. "Sometimes in society I feel like an outsider," he said. "On the bike I'm normal. Everything is smooth, not as  harsh as usual. It's freedom for me." Longhi took up elite-level cycling as part of his rehabilitation following a 1983 motorcycle crash that nearly claimed his life and left him in a coma for three months. His brain injury qualified him for Para cerebral palsy category of competition. This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 3, 2020. The Canadian Press

AL MVP Trout still doesn’t feel comfortable about this year

Fri, 07/03/2020 - 12:20
ANAHEIM, Calif. - Reigning American League MVP Mike Trout participated in the Los Angeles Angels first workout of summer camp, but said before Friday's practice that he hasn't made a final decision on playing this year. Trout and his wife, Jessica, are expecting the couple's first child in August. The outfielder said his mindset is to play in the virus-delayed season, but a lot will hinge on how he feels the next couple weeks. "Honestly, I still don't feel that comfortable," he said. "It's going to be tough. I don't want to test positive. I don't want to bring it back to my wife. If I test positive and we have the baby, I have to be there. That's my first child. If I or Jess don't see the baby for 14 days, we're going to be upset. "It's a tough situation we're in. I have to play it by ear. You don't know what is going to happen with the number of positive tests," he said. The three-time AL MVP continues to have discussions with general manager Billy Eppler and manager Joe Maddon. Trout wore an N-95 mask throughout the two-hour workout at Angel Stadium. Trout did leave open the possibility of possibly not playing until the baby arrives. Maddon, in his first season with the Angels after four years with the Chicago Cubs, said he had a good conversation with Trout last night and that he empathizes with everything he is facing. "Everybody's truth matters right now. That's the one thing I have appealed to our guys," Maddon said. "There's so much buried information I've encouraged everyone to think for themselves. I'm appealing to our guys to be as informed as they can and then arrive at their own truth. Tell me what they feel." ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Joe Reedy, The Associated Press

Willie Nelson’s July Fourth picnic is virtual in virus era

Fri, 07/03/2020 - 12:10
SPICEWOOD, Texas - Willie Nelson's annual Fourth of July Picnic is going ahead this year, but to reduce concerns about the coronavirus the event will be virtual. Fans can tune in to the nearly 50-year-old music bash Saturday via luck.stream and williepicnic.com. Tickets for the picnic are on sale at williepicnic.com. Other performers expected to play include Sheryl Crow, Ziggy Marley, Steve Earle and Nelson's fellow Texas-based singers Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen and Kinky Friedman. Some of the artists will perform at Nelson's Luck Ranch in Spicewood, northwest of Austin. Others will stream live from elsewhere. Nelson's event started in 1972 and has been held most years since, moving around Texas and occasionally outside the Lone Star State. It typically draws thousands. The 87-year-old Nelson's 70th album was released Friday. "First Rose of Spring" features two new tunes plus Nelson's take on songs by Toby Keith and Chris Stapleton. The Associated Press

‘Moments like this:’ Cowboy finishes Alaska-Calgary trek with Stampede honour

Fri, 07/03/2020 - 12:02
CALGARY - It wasn’t quite a parade, but Brazilian long rider Filipe Masetti Leite was still happy to reach the finish line. The 33-year-old completed a 3,400-kilometre journey on horseback from Alaska to Calgary on Friday morning, the same day the Calgary Stampede was supposed to begin. Although the annual event and a parade to kick it off were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Filipe Leite was crowned this year’s parade marshal. The usual parade pomp was replaced with a small group of supporters that included girlfriend Clara Davel, Stampede president Dana Peers and two uniformed police officers as Masetti Leite plodded through the city toward the Stampede grounds. “I can see the emotion in people’s eyes, having all these volunteers here. This is what it’s all about. We’re in a tough situation but we’re making the best of it, like Calgary did in 2013 with the floods,” he said. “It’s moments like this that you understand what community spirit is.” Masetti Leite was given an award for being the parade’s fan favourite along with a marshal badge, which he proudly tacked onto his shirt. “Wow. This is beautiful. It’s got my name on it. I’m not going to take it off,” he said. “What kind of perks can I get in Calgary with this?” Masetti Leite moved with his family from Brazil to Calgary when he was nine and later grew up in Toronto. He said he was inspired to become a long rider by Aime Tschiffely, a Swiss school teacher who rode 16,000 kilometres alone from Buenos Aires to New York City in 1925 and wrote about his experiences. Masetti Leite covered about 16,000 kilometres riding from Calgary to his parents’ home of Espirito Santo do Pinhal, Sao Paulo, between 2012 and 2014. In 2016, he rode 7,350 kilometres from Brazil to Patagonia. He documented his travels and written the book “Long Ride Home: Guts and Guns and Grizzlies, 800 Days Through the Americas in a Saddle.” His journey from Alaska to Calgary had its challenges, he said, but he focused on the destination. “In those tough moments, when those grizzlies are following us, when we’re crossing the mountains in the middle of three feet of snow and the cold and the wind and the mosquitoes trying to pick me up and carry me away, I was here. My mind was here. My heart was here,” he said. Peers said he’s been fascinated with the Masetti Leite’s journey, as he epitomizes the cowboy way of life. “I thought you know, he’ll make a terrific parade marshal, considering everything that’s gone on in the past four months I feel very fortunate that we’re able to enjoy the day, able to welcome him to Calgary,” Peers said. “We had incredible plans and unfortunately those weren’t possible, but you learn to adapt and find a way to make it work considering the circumstances.” Masetti Leite said he intends to spend the next couple of days sleeping and taking about a dozen showers. He also plans to retire from long riding so he can focus on new challenges. He intends to write another book about his travels and work on a movie about his Calgary-Brazil trip. He wants to be “the next Anthony Bourdain with a cowboy hat” and tell stories from countries around the world. Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

Toronto FC delays Florida departure by one day citing test result delays

Fri, 07/03/2020 - 12:02
Toronto FC pushed back its departure to Florida for the MLS is Back Tournament to Saturday, saying more time was needed to complete pre-travel COVID-19 testing. The MLS team had been scheduled to leave by charter Friday. Toronto opens the World Cup-style tournament on July 10 against D.C. United. Establishing a secure MLS bubble in Florida has proved challenging. Six players from FC Dallas and one from Columbus Crew SC have already tested positive in the Sunshine state. They have been isolated and are receiving care while the other members of their delegations are in quarantine pending more testing. Major League Soccer had required teams to arrive in Florida no later than a week before their first game at the tournament, which runs July 8 to Aug. 11 at Disney's Wide World of Sport Complex in the Orlando area. But issues with test results have caused several delays. Nashville SC delayed its Florida flight until Friday due to delays in getting results of its pre-travel screening tests. The Vancouver Whitecaps were slated to fly Wednesday but held off after the inconclusive COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test results required follow-up tests. The club said subsequent test results were confirmed to be negative. Still the Whitecaps postponed their flight to permit additional testing. Toronto was forced to call off training Wednesday after problems getting test results in time. FC Dallas made it to Florida last Saturday, only to have two players test positive upon their arrival at the league's host hotel. Four other players tested positive soon after. All six were assessed and moved to the isolation area of the hotel where they continue to receive "remote care from a health-care provider,'' the league said. Coincidentally, Vancouver and Dallas meet Thursday in the first match at the tournament for both. On Thursday, Columbus confirmed that one of its players had tested positive in Florida. The Montreal Impact arrived Thursday. They open next Thursday against the New England Revolution. Eleven other teams had arrived in Florida as of Thursday: San Jose Earthquakes, Orlando City, Dallas, Columbus, Minnesota United, FC Cincinnati, Chicago Fire, Inter Miami, New York City FC, Philadelphia Union and New England Revolution.  While all 25 teams are staying in the same hotel, they are not supposed to have contact with each other. League protocols include regular screening, testing, social distancing, person protective equipment and a mandatory quarantine for all individuals upon arrival at the hotel until they have a negative test. MLS has been on hiatus since March 12 when play was suspended two weeks into its season.   This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 3, 2020. --- Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

‘A bonanza:’ researchers find evidence of ancient ochre mine in Mexican caves

Fri, 07/03/2020 - 12:00
The caves are vast, pitch black, full of twists and turns and treacherously tight in spots. New research reveals why ancient inhabitants of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula may have ventured deep into the underground labyrinths despite the danger: to mine red ochre. A paper published Friday in the journal Science Advances says there is evidence of people prospecting for the red pigment thousands of years ago in what is today the state of Quintana Roo. It seems the resource was especially abundant in a part of the cave network known as La Mina Roja, said Eduard Reinhardt, one of the study's authors. "This was a bonanza," said the McMaster University geo-archaeologist and expert cave diver.  "This activity of mining, finding the ochre, extracting the ochre would have been a pretty big endeavour." For a hunter-gatherer society to put in so much effort, he said, "it must have been pretty valuable." The researchers say humans were frequenting the cave networks between 10,000 and 12,000 years ago. They would have shared the landscape with now-extinct megafauna like sabre-toothed tigers and giant ground sloths. Back then, the caves were dry and further inland. Today, they are underwater and accessible via openings called cenotes. Ancient human remains have previously been found in Quintana Roo caves, including the 13,000-year-old skeleton of a teenage girl in the Hoyo Negro cavern in 2007. But, until now, scientists didn't know the reasons behind the risky subterranean excursions.   Members of CINDAQ, a local cave diving team, were exploring an area of deep tunnels in 2017 and found what they thought could be human disturbances. They reached out to Mexican cultural authorities and academic experts were brought in to investigate. Reinhardt, who has been in the caves, compared them to "Swiss cheese" or a "rabbit warren."  "You have to be very, very careful about not getting lost," he said. "You've got passages that kind of loop around and interconnect and then branch off and then connect into other systems." Many of the passages are a comfortable 25 metres wide, but have ceilings less than two metres high. Some areas are a tight squeeze at just 70 centimetres wide. "You've really got to basically get on your back and kind of wiggle your way through." The paper describes cairns and broken-off stalagmites and stalactites that could have been used as route-markers, as well as the remnants of fires likely used to illuminate passages up to 650 metres away from sunlight. At mining sites, divers have found orderly rock piles and tools used to smash up the stone. The hot, humid climate of the Yucatan has destroyed most above-ground evidence of those who lived there during an age known as the Pleistocene-Holocene transition. But artifacts have been remarkably well-preserved in caverns that became submerged as sea levels rose 7,000 to 8,000 years ago. "It's this kind of time capsule," said study co-author Brandi MacDonald, an archaeological scientist at the University of Missouri who studies ochre deposits around the world. "We're able to see what it looked like more or less as it was when it was abandoned." MacDonald said evidence of the mine's intensive use over a 2,000-year span suggests knowledge and skills were being passed generation-to-generation. It's also possible ochre-mining was a large-scale regional industry, as there is evidence of prospecting in multiple locations. Reinhardt and MacDonald said further exploration of the caves could reveal how extensive and long-lasting ochre-mining was. MacDonald said ochre - a mix of iron oxide, clay and other minerals - is most often associated with ancient cave and rock paintings. The researchers don't know how early Yucatan residents used the material, but elsewhere in the world there is evidence of it being used in mortuary practices and rituals. It might have had utilititarian uses on top of religious ones. The ochre found at La Mina Roja, for instance, contained enough arsenic to perhaps be an effective insect repellent. "It's the kind of material that humans have been using for literally hundreds of thousands of years," said MacDonald. "Ochre is such a universal material in terms of human history." This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 3, 2020 Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press

Premier promises to keep a close watch on people in vehicles with U.S. plates

Fri, 07/03/2020 - 11:27
HALIFAX - With an increasing number of Nova Scotians complaining on social media about seeing cars with American plates entering the province, Premier Stephen McNeil has pledged to keep a closer watch on those showing up at the border from outside Atlantic Canada. However, McNeil also warned Nova Scotians not to jump to conclusions about the people in those cars, saying most of them are probably Canadian citizens coming home after living or working abroad. The premier made the comments today as the four Atlantic provinces lifted travel restrictions for residents to reflect the region's relatively low and stable COVID-19 infection rates. Residents of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and Newfoundland and Labrador can now travel to any of the other three provinces without self-isolating for 14 days after arriving - but isolation remains the rule for anyone arriving from outside the region. Even though the Canada-U.S. border is closed to non-essential travel, Canadians citizens living in the United States are allowed to enter Canada, as long as they have a passport. McNeil says Nova Scotians' growing concerns about people coming from the United States has prompted his government to ramp up its efforts to keep track of those entering the province who are not coming from another part of Atlantic Canada. This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 3, 2020. The Canadian Press

Saskatchewan Rattlers’ CEBL schedule released

Fri, 07/03/2020 - 11:10
The Saskatchewan Rattlers will begin their quest to defend their league title on July 26. The Canadian Elite Basketball League (CEBL) has released its Summer Series schedule. On June 25, the CEBL announced it would return to action on July 15 with the opening of training camps. The Summer Series will consist of a 26-game round-robin competition culminating with the championship game set for Aug. 9. The Meridian Centre in St. Catharines, Ont., is to serve as the hub city for the tournament, with all games closed to fans. The Rattlers will play on the following dates (all times are Saskatchewan time): July 26: Versus Niagara at 11:30 a.m. July 28: Versus Fraser Valley at 5:30 p.m. July 31: Versus Guelph at 3:30 p.m. Aug. 1: Versus Edmonton at 1:50 p.m. Aug. 4: Versus Hamilton at 3 p.m. Aug. 5: Versus Ottawa at 5:30 p.m. The playoffs are to begin Aug. 6.

Dalton Kellett’s long wait for IndyCar debut finally ends with GMR Grand Prix

Fri, 07/03/2020 - 11:05
Dalton Kellett's long wait to make his IndyCar debut will finally come to an end on Saturday afternoon. The 26-year-old Kellett, a product of Stouffville, Ont., will be on the grid at the GMR Grand Prix at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He started racing go-karts at the age of 13 and has made it a goal to reach North America's top open-wheel circuit - with a few more months tacked on because of the COVID-19 pandemic. "It's really exciting to finally get the chance to step up into the NTT IndyCar Series," said Kellett. "Obviously honoured to represent Canada as our next Canadian guy. "It's a culmination of a lifetime dream for me so it's a big weekend." Of course, it won't quite be as Kellet pictured it without fans in the stands. The GMR Grand Prix as well as the Xfinity's Pennzoil 150 and the Brickyard 400 the following day in the first-ever IndyCar-NASCAR doubleheader, will have no spectators in the stands at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Speedway, Ind., is in Marion County which is behind schedule for the state of Indiana's reopening plan, preventing event organizers from selling tickets to any of the three races. "It's unfortunate that the fans won't be able to experience the race with us," said Kellett. "The silver lining is that, in the U.S., the broadcast shifted to network television so more people will be exposed to it, will get the chance to watch the race." Kellett will be behind the wheel of the No. 14 car for A.J. Foyt Enterprises and racing against some of the biggest names in IndyCar including Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud, and Josef Newgarden, who are ranked first through third. Fellow Canadian James Hinchcliffe of Oakville, Ont., is also in the field racing the No. 29 car for Andretti Autosport. Although it's a star-studded lineup, Kellet said he is not intimidated. He's faced all of these drivers before, albeit in iRacing simulations which IndyCar televised in the early stages of the pandemic when most people were completely housebound. "It was definitely a toe-in-the-water experience," said Kellett. "With the caveat that some guys aren't going to race how they would in real life on iRacing. Some may be more bold or do stuff they wouldn't normally do. "But I think that overall you get a sense of who is really aggressive, who is more methodical." Kellett's IndyCar experience will triple within the week as he's also signed up for Road America on July 11 and 12. Competing in two races on the weekend is a different challenge altogether, he said. "It's a little nerve-racking because in the junior leagues you do tend to do double-headers, but it's a different level in IndyCar," said Kellett, who noted that IndyCar has had to schedule more double-headers than usual with its condensed schedule this year. "So physically the Road America and all the double-header weekends are going to be very challenging." This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 3, 2020. ___ Follow @jchidleyhill on Twitter John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press

CFL denies reports that Winnipeg would be hub city for shortened 2020 season

Fri, 07/03/2020 - 10:40
TORONTO - The CFL says no decision has been made regarding a hub city for an abbreviated 2020 regular season. On Friday, a CFL spokesman denied reports the league had settled upon Winnipeg as a hub city in the event football was played this year. The spokesman added the CFL also hasn’t reached a decision whether or not a season will even be held this year. The ’20 regular season was scheduled to kick off June 11 but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie has stated the earliest a shortened 2020 season would begin is September but that a cancelled campaign is also possible. Currently, the CFL and CFLPA are discussing amendments to the collective bargaining agreement that would allow for an abbreviated season to be played. Both sides must sign off on any CBA changes for them to be implemented. The Canadian Press

Two men facing human trafficking charges

Fri, 07/03/2020 - 10:35
Two men are facing charges after an investigation by the Saskatoon Police Service’s VICE-Human Trafficking Unit. It began on Monday, when police responded to a domestic complaint in the 200 block of Willis Crescent. It had been reported that a 23-year-old woman had been held in a home for a period of time. After further investigation, the VICE-Human Trafficking Unit was called in to help. The whereabouts of the two suspects was not known at the time, so warrants were issued. At around 1 p.m. on Thursday, members of the Guns and Gangs Unit went to the 1500 block of Rayner Avenue, where both men were taken into custody without incident. A 23-year-old Kindersley man is charged with two counts of uttering threats and one count each of trafficking persons, material benefit (trafficking), theft under $5,000, breach of a release order, and breach of a conditional sentence order. A 30-year-old Saskatoon man is facing two charges of breaching a release order and one each of trafficking persons and uttering threats.

Crops of some Sask. producers damaged after too much rain

Fri, 07/03/2020 - 10:34
Rain improved moisture conditions in Saskatchewan fields this week, but some areas of the province got too much precipitation. In the weekly crop report released Friday, Saskatchewan Agriculture said there was localized flooding and standing water in fields in some northern areas of the province, which caused crop damage in that region. Crops also were harmed by dry conditions in the southern and east-central regions, wind, insect and animal feeding, and disease. Even so, the report said the majority of crops in the province are in fair to excellent condition. Across Saskatchewan, 67 per cent of fall cereals, 72 per cent of spring cereals, 65 per cent of oilseed crops and 81 per cent of pulse crops are developing normally for this time of year. Haying has just started in the province, with one per cent of the hay crop cut and one per cent baled or put into silage. Hay quality was rated as eight per cent excellent, 59 per cent good, 24 per cent fair and nine per cent poor.

Major league baseball cancells all-star game for first time since 1945

Fri, 07/03/2020 - 10:13
LOS ANGELES - Dodger Stadium's 40-year wait to host baseball's all-star same is going to last even longer. The game scheduled for July 14 was cancelled Friday because of the coronavirus pandemic, and Dodger Stadium was awarded the 2022 Midsummer Classic. The 2021 game is set for Atlanta's Truist Park, home of the Braves since 2017. Due to the pandemic, opening day has been delayed from March 26 to July 23 or 24. This will be the first time since 1945 that no game will be held. Travel restrictions because of the Second World War kept the game scheduled for Boston's Fenway Park and any player selections from taking place that year. It was pushed back to the next season. The Dodgers hosted the only the Mid-Summer Classic in Dodger Stadium history in 1980, won 4-2 by the National League. ___ More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Beth Harris, The Associated Press

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