Journalist Maria Ressa, CEO of news outlet Rappler, became the first Filipino recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize award on Friday. She shares the prestigious honor with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov.
Press freedom advocates: On Friday, the pair, who both angered their respective local rulers with their work, received the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021 in recognition of the significance of press freedom in modern times, reported CNN.
Norwegian Nobel Committee chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said the pair were honored for their efforts in safeguarding “freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy, and lasting peace.”
Rappler, which Ressa heads, is a staunch critic of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte‘s administration, while Muratov heads the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.
Ressa and Muratov both faced legal threats amid crackdowns on journalists’ rights in their countries. Both the Philippines and Russia are countries that have consistently ranked among the deadliest countries for journalists.
Struggle for truth: Ressa, who was recognized as TIME’s “Person of the Year” in 2018, lamented that the Duterte government has targeted her due to her reports on Duterte’s drug war and other issues critical of the regime.
She has been convicted of cyber libel and is currently restricted from leaving the country while she appeals her conviction.
Ressa has seven other active court cases that stem from the government’s attempted shutdown of her news site because of its Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs), which are similar to a company’s shares.
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EDMONTON — The last time Cam Talbot faced the Edmonton Oilers, he was throwing punches at center ice with Oilers goaltender Mike Smith in an infamous brawl in a Battle of Alberta between the Calgary Flames and Oilers, two seasons ago that made highlight reels all across North America.
On Tuesday night, Talbot made the highlight reel for all the reasons he’s paid for. Stopping pucks.
The former Oilers goaltender was spectacular, making 38 saves as the Wild beat Edmonton 4-1 at Rogers Place.
Joel Eriksson Ek, Marcus Foligno, Victor Rask and Dmitry Kulikov tallied for the Wild, while Jesse Puljujarvi scored the lone marker for the Oilers as Minnesota extended its win-streak to seven games, while the Oilers have dropped three straight contests.
The Wild improve to 18-6-1 and remain in top spot in the Central division.
“I’ve been back in this building a couple of times, but never got the start,” Talbot said. “It’s nice, this place will always have a place in our heart, we started our family here and it was a great building to play in and I still have a lot of great friends here. It’s one of those things where you look to come back here every time and it’s even more fun when you get a big win.
“I can’t say enough about the way we closed out the game. You don’t want to have lulls in the game, but give the guys credit, they just found a way to battle and win the hockey game.”
The Wild’s special teams haven’t been great this season, but they clearly won the special teams battle against Edmonton, which boasts the league’s best power play and its penalty kill is in the top-5.
Minnesota scored once on the power play and denied the Oilers potent power play on all five of their opportunities.
“Our penalty kill was outstanding tonight, I can’t say enough about them,” said Talbot, who is 2-0 in three appearances since being dealt away from the Oilers two seasons ago. “We weren’t giving them those Grade A chances that they’re accustomed to, and with the statistics coming in you wouldn’t think the power-play match-up would favor us, but we got a big one (power play goal) early, and our penalty kill did a great job, so give our special teams a ton of credit tonight.”
The Oilers have been notoriously slow starters out of the gate, giving up the first goal in 14 of the team’s first 23 games, and the Wild made it 15 as Eriksson Ek scored a power-play marker just 1:11 into the contest.
They went up 2-0 just 6:03 later as Foligno buried a cross-ice feed from Matt Dumba.
Edmonton’s high-octane offence, led by superstars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl got rolling in the second period as they put all kinds of pressure on the Wild, who continue to play without top defenseman and captain Jared Spurgeon, but the Oilers were only able to cut their deficit in half, despite outshooting Minnesota 20-6 in the middle frame.
“They played really well in the second period, but we really liked our regroup and how we played in the third period. We did a lot of real, real good things,” said Wild coach Dean Evason. “They’re going to get shots and to not give that second and third gritty ones to them. Obviously Draisaitl and McDavid are special players. They’re going to get their opportunities to shoot pucks, but it’s that second and third one, that not only did Cam do a good job of smothering, but our second forward, we got pucks the heck out of that area, so they didn’t have more opportunities like that.”
Talbot made several big saves in the second period. He robbed Draisaitl with a left pad save as the former Hart Trophy winner tried to beat him with a one-timer, backdoor. In the final minute of the period, he stretched out to make a right pad save off of Tyson Barrie, who was wide open in the slot.
But his best save came early in the third when he dove across to deny Darnell Nurse of the tying goal.
“I knew that he was there, but obviously you have to stay patient with the guy in the slot first,” recalled Talbot. “But our guy did a good job of going down and taking away the lower part of the net, and I was able to see the pass right away and I knew Nurse was down there and I just tried to get everything in front of it.”
Moments after the big save off Nurse, the Wild scored on a delayed penalty as Victor Rask scored his fourth goal of the season to give Minnesota some breathing room and then Kulikov showed off some slick hands on a breakaway goal to give the Wild a 4-1 lead with 5:03 remaining to put the game away.
Minnesota moved another step closer this week to unlocking roughly $300 million from a settlement with Johnson & Johnson and the three major U.S. drug distributors in connection to the nation’s opioid painkiller addiction crisis.
Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Monday that the state had reached an agreement with Minnesota counties and cities on how to distribute the state’s share of a pending $26 billion national settlement agreement. The state and local governments had to reach an agreement by Jan. 2, 2022, in order to maximize the amount they receive from the national settlement.
Municipal governments will receive 75% of the settlement funds while the state will receive 25% to help pay for opioid addiction treatment and prevention. The most recent estimate from Ellison’s office projects Minnesota state and local governments will receive $296 million over the next 18 years.
The settlement agreement with Johnson & Johnson and the “big three” drug distributors — Cardinal, McKesson and AmerisourceBergen — is just one of several fronts in ongoing nationwide litigation against drug makers, marketers and wholesalers in connection to an epidemic of opioid painkiller addiction across the U.S.
The settlement stems from investigations by state attorneys general from across the U.S. into whether the distributors failed to screen and stop suspicious drug orders, and whether Johnson & Johnson misled patients and doctors about the addictive nature of opioid painkillers.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 38 people died a day in 2019 of prescription opioid overdoses, totaling about 14,000 deaths. Lawsuits filed against drug makers such as Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, estimate hundreds of thousands of Americans died of opioid painkiller overdoses between 1999 and 2015, while millions became addicted. About 5,500 Minnesotans died as a result of the addiction crisis, Ellison said.
In a statement issued with Ellison’s announcement, Pat Baustian, president of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities and mayor of Luverne, noted the addiction epidemic’s “devastating impact on families and communities throughout Greater Minnesota,” and expressed appreciation for the state’s efforts to cooperate with local governments on distributing the funds.
“Although no amount of money can make up for the loss of life, the funding from these national settlement agreements will help our communities provide services and resources to address this crisis,” Baustian said.
The state settlement fund will be overseen and distributed by the Opioid Epidemic Response Advisory Council, according to Ellison’s office. Under current state law, the state opioid abatement fund distributes to local governments, but the agreement between the state and local governments requires the parties to change the law in the 2022 legislative session, according to Ellison’s office.
The local government abatement fund created by the settlement money will be allocated to all counties that participated in the settlement. It will also include municipalities that have a population of 30,000 or more, have a public health department or filed a lawsuit against the defendants in the settlement.
City leaders in Centennial expressed strong and unanimous support Tuesday night for a plan to allow The Streets at SouthGlenn shopping center to add a lot more housing while curtailing the amount of square footage dedicated to shopping — a reflection of the rapid adjustments that commercial property owners here, and nationwide, continue to make amid ongoing upheaval in the retail sector.
The council did all but take a final vote, which won’t occur until Monday. But it was clear from comments from every council member Tuesday that they will be voting in favor next week.
Centennial’s discussion comes less than a month after Littleton narrowly approved a redevelopment plan for the Aspen Grove shopping center that will allow up to 2,000 residential units where none exist now. It also allows retail space to be reduced by half.
And just last month, East West Partners announced plans to pump life into a 13-acre area west of Denver’s Cherry Creek Shopping Center, an effort the developer said will include a “significant residential” component.
David Garcia, policy director at the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at the University of California at Berkeley, said what is happening in metro Denver is part of an “emerging trend” in the country, where the changing retail landscape is dovetailing with an acute housing shortage in many urban areas.
Earlier this year, several lawmakers in California introduced legislation to make it easier to convert commercially zoned property into residential use to address the state’s housing shortage, he said. Metro Denver has its own housing crunch to deal with.
“There is such a demand for housing,” Garcia said. “It follows the trend of trying to put existing land to the highest and best use.”
At The Streets at SouthGlenn, a 77-acre outdoor shopping district laid out on a street grid with familiar brands like Whole Foods, Best Buy and Snooze, the maximum number of allowable housing units would go from 350 to 1,125, while the minimum amount of retail space as outlined in the shopping center’s agreement with the city would drop from just over 900,000 square feet to 621,000 square feet.
There are approximately 750,000 square feet of retail at The Streets at SouthGlenn now and just over 200 housing units, said Don Provost, founding partner at Denver-based Alberta Development Partners. The shopping center, owned by Alberta, opened a dozen years ago at the southwest corner of East Arapahoe Avenue and South University Boulevard, replacing the long-forlorn SouthGlenn Mall that sat at the location for decades.
He said the reconfiguration at SouthGlenn is necessary in a retail environment that has been battered by consumers moving their dollars online, a phenomenon that has only quickened during a pandemic that complicates face-to-face transactions.
“There has been an acceleration in the last 15 years, and especially in the last five years, with online shopping,” Provost said. “We want the existing retail (at SouthGlenn) to thrive. The core of the retail remains.”
The plan to add hundreds of homes to The Streets at SouthGlenn largely revolves around finding a way to best fill space opened up by a recently shuttered Sears store at the site, and a Macy’s that is set to close in March — two big box retail formats that have fallen out of favor among shoppers.
Alberta is partnering with Northwood Investors, which owns the empty Sears building. Construction on the new housing could begin late next year, with new residents moving in in 2023 or 2024, Provost said.
“We need to look at enhancing the long-term viability of SouthGlenn,” he said.
And that means determining what the mix of shopping, entertainment and residences needs to be to “make that retail more productive,” said Neil Marciniak, Centennial’s economic development director.
The Streets at Southglenn contributes around $3 million a year to Centennial’s overall $40 million sales tax haul, Marciniak said. While he said cities “live and die” by their sales tax collections, their shopping centers have to evolve with the larger market.
“What is that appropriate mix to prepare for the future?” Marciniak said. “All shopping centers need to be looking at their tenant mix, their land use mix. Consumers want an experience.
“The mixed-use model across the country is a difficult formula to figure out.”
And not an always easy sell. Alberta consulted with neighbors for three years or so before putting their plan before Centennial City Council. Despite providing setbacks and tiered building heights to make new apartment buildings less intrusive to the surrounding neighborhood, not all residents are happy with Tuesday’s outcome.
Linda Nixon, chair of the Southglenn Civic Association, still worries about too much density and the traffic those new residents will produce. The shopping center is largely surrounded by single-family homes built in the 1970s and 1980s.
“You’re talking a lot of cars,” she said. “It’s going to totally increase traffic.”
But Andrew Spaulding, a long-time resident of the area long before there was a city of Centennial and who worked at the former Southglenn Mall, said Alberta worked diligently with the community to blunt impacts.
“We’re hoping it is less intrusive than other developments in the city, where they build right up to the street,” he said. “It’s one of those — it’s coming, how do we soften it? I think ultimately, it will be a benefit to the community.”