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Chinese communities worldwide usher in Lunar New Year | China News

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Chinese communities on Tuesday began celebrating the Lunar New Year, an occasion for families to get together for intimate dinners and welcome the last of the Chinese zodiac’s signs, the Pig.

The Lunar New Year is the most important holiday of the Chinese calendar, with hundreds of millions of people travelling to celebrate it with their families in what is the world’s largest annual human migration.

In mainland China, authorities were expecting a total of almost three billion trips by car, train and aeroplane in the 40 days surrounding the holiday.

On Chinese New Year’s Eve, families hold traditional dinners and watch a marathon televised gala. Children receive red envelopes filled with money for good luck.

Events such as traditional lion dances are held in decorated public spaces while supermarkets stock up on mooncakes and tangerines.





A woman holding a flower-shape candle prays on the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year at the Tanzhe temple in Beijing’s Mentougou District [Andy Wong/The Associated Press]

Festivities will take place across the globe, from Southeast Asia’s centuries-old Chinese communities to the more recently established Chinatowns of Sydney, London, Vancouver, Los Angeles and beyond.

Despite a slowing economy, more Chinese are travelling abroad during the holidays, booking family trips to Thailand, Japan and other top destinations.

Authorities were expecting an average of 1.77 million international trips per day this week – an 8.9-per-cent increase compared to last year.

Celebrations in major Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, were more quiet than usual after authorities last year banned fireworks due to pollution and safety concerns.





People rush to plant the first joss stick of the Lunar New Year at the stroke of midnight at the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho temple in Singapore [Feline Lim/Reuters]

In Hong Kong, flower markets were filled with residents picking out orchids, mandarins and peach blossoms to decorate their homes – with stalls also boasting a dizzying array of pig-themed pillows, tote bags and stuffed toys.

Thousands of incense-carrying petitioners crammed into the city’s famous Wong Tai Sin temple overnight, a popular location to mark the first prayers of the New Year.

In Japan, the capital’s famous Tokyo Tower was due to turn red in celebration of the New Year – a first for the city. 

Parades and lion dances in Western cities such as New York and London were expected to draw large crowds.





Performers rehearse a re-enactment of a Chinese New Year Qing Dynasty ceremony at the Temple of Earth in Beijing’s Ditan Park in Beijing [Thomas Peter/Reuters]

Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen used her social media accounts to deliver a political sideswipe at Beijing with a message highlighting the island’s democratic credentials and linguistic pluralism.

“In Taiwan, we are able to maintain our cultural traditions,” she said in a video in which she delivered the traditional new year greeting in five Chinese languages: Mandarin, Taiwanese, Hakka, Teochew and Cantonese.

China still sees Taiwan as part of its territory to be reunified, despite the two sides being ruled separately since the end of a civil war in 1949.

Relations between Taipei and Beijing have had a rocky start to 2019 after Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a bellicose speech last month describing the island’s unification with the mainland as “inevitable”.


SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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When Ontario declared a COVID-19 health emergency last spring, the first instinct of Ottawa entrepreneur Peter O’Blenis was to preserve cash.

“We basically stopped our discretionary spending,” said O’Blenis, the co-founder and CEO of Evidence Partners, which makes software for accelerating the review of scientific and medical literature, using artificial intelligence. “We cut investments in things meant to help us grow.”

It was a defensive posture born of experience. O’Blenis had 12 years earlier nearly been crushed by the global financial crisis. Another looked to be on the way.

In 2008, O’Blenis and his colleagues, Jonathan Barker and Ian Stefanison, hit a brick wall with their first venture, TrialStat, which helped hospitals manage patients’ electronic data. While TrialStat had secured $5.5 million in venture financing just a couple of years earlier, the founders had burned through most of it during a rapid expansion. When the financial world collapsed, so did their firm.

The trio played things far more conservatively with Evidence Partners, which has relied almost exclusively on customer revenues to finance expansion.

The caution proved unnecessary. Like so many other businesses, O’Blenis underestimated the government’s willingness to keep the economy afloat with easy money. Nor did he anticipate that COVID-19 would prove a significant catalyst for the firm’s revenues so soon.

Evidence Partners is hardly the only local firm with technology particularly suited for the war against COVID-19. Spartan Bioscience and DNA Genotek adapted existing products to create technology for identifying the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Ottawa-based units of Abbott Laboratories and Siemens Healthineers make portable blood analyzers that diagnose patients afflicted by the virus.

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Shepherds of Good Hope wants to expand ByWard Market operation with eight-storey housing complex

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The Shepherds of Good Hope plans to build an eight-storey building near its current shelter for the homeless in the ByWard Market that would include supportive housing for up to 48 people, a soup kitchen and a drop-in centre.

The organization says it wants to be part of the solution to the housing crisis that has fuelled a rise in homelessness in Ottawa.

People would be moved out of the emergency shelters and into their own tiny apartments in the complex, which would include a communal dining hall and staff available to help with mental health, addiction and medical problems, said Caroline Cox, senior manager of communications for the Shepherds.

Some residents in the neighbourhood are opposed, saying services for the homeless and vulnerable should not be concentrated in one area of the city.

“I was flabbergasted,” said homeowner Brian Nolan, who lives one block from the development proposed for 216 Murray St., where currently a one-story building houses offices for the Shepherds of Good Hope.

Nolan said that, in the 15 years he’s lived in the area, it has become increasingly unsafe, with home and car thefts, drug dealing, loitering, aggressive and erratic behaviour, urinating, defecating and vomiting on sidewalks and yards and sexual acts conducted in public on his dead-end street. Before he lets his son play basketball in the yard, he checks the ground for needles and his home security camera to see who is nearby.

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Carleton University Hosts the Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City

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evehe Carleton University Forum Lecture: Towards a Feminist Post-COVID City given by Leslie Kern launches Ottawa Architecture Week. Urban geographer, author and academic, Kern will discuss how the pandemic has highlighted long-standing inequalities in the design, use and inclusivity of urban spaces. The talk will share some of the core principles behind a feminist urban vision to inform a wider vision of justice, equity and sustainability.

When
: Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.
Registration: https://alumni.carleton.ca/event-registration-architecture-forum-series-with-leslie-kern-2/.

About the Speaker

Kern holds a PhD in Women’s Studies from York University. She is currently an associate professor of Geography and Environment and director of Women’s and Gender Studies at Mount Allison University.

Kern is the author of two books on gender and cities, including Feminist City: Claiming Space in a Man-Made World (Verso). The book discusses how our cities have failed in terms of fear, motherhood, friendship, activism, the joy and perils of being alone, and also imagines what they could become.

Kern argues, “The pandemic has shown us that society can be radically reorganized if necessary. Let’s carry that lesson into creating the non-sexist city.”

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