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Actress Olympia Dukakis dies at 89

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Olympia Dukakis

By Jonathan Oatis and Will Dunham

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Olympia Dukakis, who won an Oscar for her performance as a sardonic, middle-aged mother who advises her headstrong daughter on matters of love in the 1987 romantic film comedy “Moonstruck,” died on Saturday at age 89.

Dukakis – a cousin of unsuccessful 1988 Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Michael Dukakis – passed away at her New York City home on Saturday morning after months of failing health, said her agent, Allison Levy. Her daughter, Christina Zorich, was by her side.

The Massachusetts-born daughter of Greek immigrants, Dukakis worked for decades as a stage, TV and film actor before rocketing to fame at age 56 playing the mother of Cher’s character in “Moonstruck.”

Dukakis built on that with roles in films including “Look Who’s Talking” (1989) and its sequels with John Travolta and Kirstie Alley, “Steel Magnolias” (1989) with Shirley MacLaine, Sally Field and Julia Roberts, director Woody Allen’s “Mighty Aphrodite” (1995) and “Mr. Holland’s Opus” (1995) with Richard Dreyfuss.

Dukakis, a master of deadpan humor, also was nominated for Emmy awards for TV roles in 1991, 1998 and 1999.

She also co-founded the Whole Theater in the New York City suburb of Montclair, New Jersey, in the 1970s, after she and her husband, fellow actor Louis Zorich, moved there.

But, for many, her most indelible performance came in director Norman Jewison’s “Moonstruck” as Rose Castorini, a Brooklyn woman with a cheating plumber husband (Vincent Gardenia) and a widowed bookkeeper daughter, Loretta (Cher), who has an affair with her fiance’s opera-buff brother (Nicolas Cage).

Her banter with Cher was among the film’s highlights, including a scene in which Dukakis scolded her daughter during a kitchen dissection of her love life.

“Your life’s going down the toilet,” Dukakis said in her throaty voice.

At another point, she tells Cher it is good she did not love her fiance. “When you love them, they drive you crazy because they know they can.”

“Olympia Dukakis Was An Amazing, Academy Award Winning Actress,” actress and singer Cher wrote on Twitter. “… I talked to her 3Wks Ago. Rip Dear One.”

Another Oscar-winning actress, Viola Davis, called Dukakis “the consummate actress” on Twitter. “You made all around you step up their game. A joy to work with. Rest well.”

“Moonstruck,” considered one of Hollywood’s great romantic comedies, won three Academy Awards, including Cher as best actress, and was nominated in three other categories, including best picture. It also was one of the highest-grossing films of 1987.

In accepting her Oscar as best supporting actress in April 1988, when her cousin was battling to become the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, she thanked Jewison, her husband and a few others.

She then raised the golden statuette over her head and shouted to the worldwide TV audience, “OK, Michael, let’s go.”

Michael Dukakis won the nomination but lost badly in the general election to Republican George H.W. Bush. Olympia Dukakis embraced liberal views like her cousin, advocating for causes including women’s rights, gay rights and the environment.

Dukakis was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, on June 20, 1931 and continued to act into her 80s.

Referring to becoming a movie star at an age when many actresses have a hard time finding good roles, Dukakis told the Guardian newspaper in 2012, “Who knows how that happened? Chance, fate or a bit of both. But I’m very glad I did ‘Moonstruck.’ It meant that I woke up the next day and was finally able to pay the bills.”

Dukakis said she enjoyed her fame after “Moonstruck.”

“The fun part is that people pass me on the street and yell lines from my movies,” she told the Los Angeles Times in 1991. “For ‘Moonstruck’ they say, ‘You’re life is going down the toilet.'”

Her TV appearances included playing a transgender landlady in the 1993 miniseries “Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City” and its 1998 and 2001 follow-ups. Dukakis reprised her role in a 2019 revival of the miniseries for Netflix.

Other films included “Cloudburst” (2011) playing a foul-mouthed lesbian, “Away from Her” (2006) with Julie Christie, “The Event” (2003), “Better Living” (1998) with Roy Scheider, “Never Too Late” (1996) with Cloris Leachman, and “Dad” (1989) with Jack Lemmon and Ted Danson.

Dukakis married Louis Zorich in 1962, with whom she had two sons and a daughter, and who passed away in 2018. She also had four grandchildren.

(Reporting by Jonathan Oatis in New York and Will Dunham in Washington; Editing by Patricia Reaney and Daniel Wallis)

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New Zealand’s Ardern says lockdowns can end with high vaccine uptake

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday the country should aim for a 90%-plus rate of inoculation, and could drop strict coronavirus lockdown measures once enough people were vaccinated.

New Zealand eliminated COVID-19 last year and remained largely virus-free until an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant in August led to a nationwide lockdown.

With its biggest city Auckland still in lockdown and new cases being reported every day, Ardern said vaccinations will replace lockdowns as the main tool against the virus, allowing authorities to isolate only those who are infected.

“If that rate (of vaccinations) is high enough then we will be able to move away from lockdowns as a tool,” she said.

The highest possible vaccine rates will give the most freedoms, Ardern said, adding that the country should be aiming for a 90% plus rate of vaccination.

After a sluggish start to its vaccination campaign, some 40% of adult New Zealanders are fully vaccinated and about 75% have had at least one dose.

Authorities reported 15 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, all in Auckland, taking the total number of cases in the current outbreak to 1,123.

The Director General of Health, Ashley Bloomfield warned earlier this week that New Zealand may not get to zero COVID cases again.

 

(Reporting by Praveen Menon; editing by Richard Pullin)

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Canada fossil fuel workers want victorious Trudeau to keep retraining pledge

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s narrow election victory this week reinforced Canada‘s commitment to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, but workers in the country’s sizable fossil fuel sector said they also expect him to keep his promises to retrain them for jobs in a clean-energy economy.

Oil worker advocacy group Iron & Earth estimates Canada will need around C$10 billion ($7.8 billion) over 10 years to retrain fossil fuel workers, but is sceptical about government promises to help after past pledges failed to materialise.

“At what point do these stop being promises and start being actions? These are people’s livelihoods on the line,” said Luisa Da Silva, executive director of Iron & Earth.

Da Silva said the country risks losing the skilled labour crucial to a clean energy economy if the government does not prioritise transition funding, which the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement recognizes as important to ensure no workers are left behind as the world decarbonizes.

As the clean energy economy takes off, it will generate some 640,000 jobs by 2030, a 50% increase from 2021, with strong growth in Alberta, industry body Clean Energy Canada forecasts.

But Steve MacDonald, CEO of Emissions Reduction Alberta, a provincial government-funded organization that invests in emissions-reducing technology, said it would be difficult to recreate the sustained economic contribution that was associated with the oil and gas sector.

Two years ago, the Liberal Party announced a “Just Transition Act” to support and retrain oil and gas workers, but only launched consultations to shape that legislation in July, and then put it on hold in August when the election was called. Trudeau announced a similar programme worth C$2 billion during the 2021 election campaign.

The oil and gas industry is Canada‘s highest polluting sector, accounting for 26% of all of carbon output. Yet Canada is the world’s No. 4 oil producer and some 450,000 jobs directly or indirectly linked to the industry are at risk over the next three decades as the country slashes climate-warming carbon emissions, TD Bank estimates.

So any talk of shrinking the sector is touchy, particularly in the staunchly conservative energy heartland of Alberta where many oil and gas workers live in remote communities scattered across the prairies and northern boreal forest. Trudeau sparked fury among them in 2017 when he talked about “phasing out” the oil sands.

Those remarks contributed to a wipe-out of Liberals in Alberta during 2019 election, although Liberal candidates are leading or elected in two seats in the just-concluded 2021 election. Failing to help retrain workers could batter local economies and sap support from government efforts to tackle the climate crisis.

“With the loss of any position in the oil and gas industry, the effect trickles down seven times due to the loss of economic spinoff effects,” said Gerald Aalbers, mayor of Lloydminster, a city of 31,000 straddling the Alberta-Saskatchewan border where an estimated 15% of jobs depend on the fossil fuel industry.

“The costs to retool the economy and businesses, let alone employees, will be tremendous.”

‘ONE-INDUSTRY CITY’

Canada‘s petroleum sector, which includes oil and gas extraction and refining, contributes about 5.3% to national GDP.

The Trudeau government is working with major producers like Suncor Energy to develop technologies like carbon capture to allow companies to bury emissions underground rather than cut production.

Still, downsizing of the industry seems inevitable if Canada is to meet its 2050 net zero goal, and an interim target of cutting emissions 40-45% from 2005 levels by 2030.

In the oil sands hub of Fort McMurray, where a nearly a third of all jobs are in fossil fuels, workers are nervous.

“We are a one-industry city,” said Dirk Tolman, 59, a heavy equipment operator and union leader at Suncor, who has worked in the oil sands since 2008. “Without the oil sands I don’t know if anybody would be staying in Fort McMurray.”

Even if clean energy jobs do replace oil and gas jobs, they are unlikely to be in the same location.

Sean Cadigan, a professor of history at Memorial University of Newfoundland, who has studied the impact of the collapse of Atlantic Canada‘s fishing industry in the 1990s, said oil and gas communities need new industries to develop alongside any shutdown of fossil fuels.

“(Otherwise) it will lead to a profound dislocation of people and that will always have grave impact on communities left behind,” he said.

($1 = 1.2822 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Nia Williams; Editing by Denny Thomas and David Gregorio)

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Canada election: several ridings still to close to call – CTV News

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TORONTO / OTTAWA —
While Canadians didn’t have to wait too long on election night to find out who will lead the next government, there are still several individual seats too close to call and it could take a few days to get clear results with mail-in ballots still to be counted.

As of Wednesday evening, nine seats had yet to be called, according to CTVNews.ca’s election tracker, with the Liberals leading in five of the races, the Conservatives leading in one, the Bloc Quebecois leading in one, and the NDP in two.

The number still to be decided won’t affect the overall election result, which saw the Liberals returned with a minority government, the Conservatives the Official Opposition, and both the Bloc and NDP holding enough seats to hold the balance of power when it comes to the Liberals passing key legislation.

But the outcomes of the individual races will have an impact on the people who live in those ridings, and could also end up affecting the outcome of free votes, where members don’t always vote along party lines, as well as the overall demographic breakdown of the House of Commons.

Seat counts can sometimes be seen as a referendum on party leaders, and any last-minute changes to the projected counts will be assessed by the parties as they take stock of their overall electoral showing.

Of course, there are some seats that may hold more symbolic or strategic value for certain parties.

For example, there’s little doubt the Liberals loved winning back the British Columbia seat of Vancouver Granville, which they lost after Jody Wilson-Raybould was expelled from the Liberal caucus over the SNC-Lavalin scandal. She went on to win the seat as an independent in the 2019 federal election, but chose not to run for re-election this year.

CTV News’ Decision Desk declared Liberal Taleeb Noormohamed the winner of the riding on Wednesday evening, beating out NDP candidate Anjali Appadurai by just 258 votes. In Vancouver Granville, 5,359 local mail-in ballot voting kits had been returned to Elections Canada by election day.

Former NDP MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau was hoping to make a political comeback in her home riding of Berthier Maskinongé, and was in a close fight with incumbent Bloc Quebecois MP Yves Perron, but by Wednesday evening, CTV News’ Decision Desk had declared she’d been defeated, by 933 votes.

While it’s not uncommon for some tight races to stretch into the following day after an election, the wild card this year is the record number of mail-in ballots cast due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the latest numbers from Elections Canada, more than 1 million mail-in ballots were returned this year, about 83 per cent—851,213—of which were from people voting in their home ridings. It’s these local mail-in ballots that the agency is still working through.

It’s taking time to get these results because Elections Canada must verify that these voters have not also voted in person, as well as conduct other layers of ballot integrity assessments before these votes can be counted.

The scrutineering process began on Tuesday and the agency has begun to report the results with most expected on Wednesday, though in some ridings it could take until Friday.

The Liberals and NDP are also locking horns in the Toronto riding of Davenport, where incumbent Liberal Julie Dzerowicz leads the NDP’s Alejandra Bravo by 318 votes.

Also hanging on a razor’s edge is the race in Sault Ste. Marie, where Liberal incumbent Terry Sheehan leads Conservative Sonny Spina by just 55 votes, and where 1,660 local mail-in ballots having been returned.

There is still one seat in Edmonton too close to definitively call, which represents a potential defeat of a Conservative incumbent.

In Edmonton Griesbach, NDP candidate Blake Desjarais is leading Conservative Kerry Diotte by 1,006 votes, in a riding where 1,482 mail-in ballots have been received.

Next door, in Edmonton Centre, CTV News’ Decision Desk declared Liberal Randy Boissonnault the winner on Wednesday night, with 616 votes over Conservative James Cumming.

To stay on top of the results as they continue to be reported in real time from Elections Canada, bookmark our live results map.

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