Roundup: U.S. aircraft carrier expected tomorrow, calls for more COVID vaccination, Antigonish merger marches on, rugby star feted, South Shore hosts Scottish trade delegation
USS Gerald R. Ford. Photo: US Navy
Plus: Our waning sense of community, and why events like parades are more important than they seem
The USS Gerald R. Ford, one of the largest and most advanced war machines on earth, is expected to arrive in Halifax tomorrow afternoon after completing recent exercises in the North Atlantic. It’s the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier’s first visit to a foreign country.
The ship, which has a complement of 508 officers and 3,789 enlisted personnel, cost about US$13 billion but there are ongoing concerns about its value.
A recent report says that its new combat system “has yet to demonstrate that it can effectively” defend the ship from missile attack, and its aircraft launch and recovery systems are of “poor or unknown reliability,” with recent testing identifying “several design shortfalls.”
Calls for more vaccination
COVID-19 remains a worldwide hazard as vaccination rates lag, cautions World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“Nearly one-third of the world’s population has not yet received a single dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, including over half of health workers and about two-thirds of older people in low-income countries,” he says in a recent speech. “This vaccination gap imperils the global recovery and puts us all at risk. The danger of new, more dangerous, and deadly variants emerging is real. We must learn the lessons of this pandemic.”
Nova Scotian health officials say that about 81.9 per cent of people in the province have had two doses of COVID vaccine, but just 53.2 per cent have had the follow-up boosters. Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, hopes that figure will climb now that bookings are open for the latest Pfizer dose.
“We’re hearing more and more Nova Scotians are trying to get an appointment to receive a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine, which is great news,” he says in a press release. “We have plenty of vaccine supply in the province. Today, we have added tens of thousands of appointments to the system across the province.”
WHO reports 371,980 confirmed new COVID cases around the globe in the last 24 hours. So far, the disease is known to have killed at least 6,563,667 people, including 46,025 in Canada and 572 Nova Scotians.
More than just a parade
Halifax’s Holiday Parade of Lights returns next month, and for Unravel Halifax columnist Pauline Dakin, it’s much more than a Christmas celebration — it’s a reminder of something important that’s become rare in Nova Scotia: a large, diverse group uniting for a common purpose.
“Our sense of community, and the ways we reflect that in our activities, has become so decentralized as to be fractured,” she says. “We’ve lost our figurative town square, and maybe any overriding agreement about what’s important … Most people no longer subscribe to local newspapers as their primary source of information, so they’re less likely to have common topics of conversation about what it means to live here. Replacing that news source is free content and endless opinions.”
Antigonish merger marches on
With the Town of Antigonish now set to dissolve — the next step in an effort to merge it with the county to create one local municipal government — council recently approved a motion asking the Houston government to pass special legislation as the next step in the process.
But there remains much outcry, with opponents saying the process has been misleading.
Councillor Donnie MacInnis voted against the request.
“This all started as a merger. It’s now changed from a consolidation to a dissolution process,” he says. “We have not seen any draft financial statements. And lastly, it’s evident to me that the people want to have a plebiscite. This should not be a decision of two councils but a decision of the people.”
Rugby star feted
St. Francis Xavier University has inducted rugby star Courtnay Malcolm into its hall of fame. She captained the team to a 2010 national women’s title, and is quick to share the praise with the rest of the squad.
“It’s really the culture of the team that makes the team,” she says. “We were really excited and motivated to win … We have a saying: for those came before us and those who come after us.”
South Shore hosts Scottish delegation
A group of Scottish business people are on their final day of a trade mission to the Bridgewater area, where they’re seeking partnerships with local companies.
Hosting the delegation is an ambitious move for the local business community.
“It’s encouraging to see this happening,” says Greg Brown, Bridgewater’s economic development officer. “It’s nice to see the chamber (of commerce) taking on something like this that’s fairly aggressive and high profile.”
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