New SPCA campaign highlights need for pet-friendly housing in BC

As a result, the province’s long-standing challenge of finding affordable, pet-friendly housing has become increasingly difficult. See also: Vancouver City …

The BC SPCA has launched a new campaign urging people to support more pet-friendly housing in BC.

By signing the Pet Friendly Housing Pledge, British Columbians can voice their support of the initiative to landlords and the government.

In a release, the BC SPCA said the COVID-19 pandemic has caused an uptick in the number of people seeking a new furry friend. As a result, the province’s long-standing challenge of finding affordable, pet-friendly housing has become increasingly difficult.

“Approximately 25% of all animals surrendered to BC SPCA facilities are given up because their guardians can’t find housing that will allow their pet,” said Meghann Cant, BC SPCA manager of companion animal welfare (science and policy), in the release.

Last week, a Vancouver City Council motion proposed to ban “no pets” clauses in rental agreements.

According to the Anxiety and Depressions Association of America (ADAA), pets and therapy animals can help alleviate stress, anxiety, depression, and feelings of loneliness and social isolation in their owners. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that pets can help lower your cholesterol and increase your fitness levels.

In a study, the Foundation for Interdisciplinary Research and Education Promoting Animal Welfare (FIREPAW) found that tenants will stay in pet-friendly housing for an average of 46 months. In comparison, tenants in housing that doesn’t allow pets usually leave after an average of 18 months.

“Not only do people with pets change their housing much less frequently than people without pets, they’re usually willing to pay more,” said Cant in reference to the FIREPAW study.

In addition to the new pledge, the BC SPCA has created a renters guide for those seeking pet-friendly housing, which includes a sample pet policy and a pet resumé template, where owners can list certifications, like completed training classes, and qualities, like being quiet.

Other BC SPCA resources are available for property owners and strata.

“Animals make our communities safer, healthier, and more humane,” said Cant. “It is heartbreaking to see people forced to give up a pet because of housing issues.”

Hollywood Foreign Press Assoc gives out $5.1 million in grants

… more than $5.1 million in funds to over 70 nonprofit organisations during the “HFPA Philanthropy: Empowering the Next Generation” virtual event.

The group that is known for the Golden Globe Awards distributed more than $5.1 million in funds to over 70 nonprofit organisations during the “HFPA Philanthropy: Empowering the Next Generation” virtual event.

Golden Globes signage appears on the red carpet at the 76th annual Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 6, 2019, in Beverly Hills, CA, US.
Golden Globes signage appears on the red carpet at the 76th annual Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 6, 2019, in Beverly Hills, CA, US. (AP)

Some of entertainment’s biggest names, from Nicole Kidman to George Clooney, shared encouraging words for aspiring young creators whose organisations were collectively granted millions by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA).

More than $5.1 million in funds were given to over 70 nonprofit organisations during the “HFPA Philanthropy: Empowering the Next Generation” virtual event on Tuesday.

The event, formerly known as the Grants Banquet, celebrated some of the organisations with aspiring artists, filmmakers and storytellers.

“Self-expression is one of the most important ways we can connect and grow as human beings, particularly for young people,” said “Tenet” star John David Washington. “It is an instrumental part of how we view ourselves as we learn to navigate the world. For those in communities that have suffered from historic lack of representation, this is even more critical.”

Mary J. Blige, Millie Bobby Brown, Billie Eilish, Anna Kendrick, Method Man and others were among the entertainers who appeared to discuss the charities that benefit from HFPA grants. The organisation is known for putting on the Golden Globes.

Each celebrity presenter spoke for a couple minutes during the hour-long ceremony, which was hosted by James Corden. The ceremony also included a performance by Jennifer Hudson, who sang her soulful “Burden Down.”

Billy Porter’s advice to young creators was “honor your craft.” Meanwhile, Lin-Manuel Miranda suggested that aspiring filmmakers should “create what you think is missing.”

READ MORE: Reporter sues Golden Globes organisation over member rules

Kidman acknowledged the importance of the HFPA program and organisation’s efforts saying “the next generation of talent in our industry are important now more than ever before.”

The program will showcase recent work in film, dance, music and spoken word by students of supported schools.

“The faces and creations we see showcased to you remind us that movies and arts will not only continue to help us survive, but will also offer comfort, hope and inspiration to a world that is striving to become more just, peaceful and inclusive,” said Meher Tatna, a chair board member of the HFPA.

Salma Hayek paid homage to the Las Fotos Project, a nonprofit organisation that inspires teenage girls through photography.

“Growing up in Mexico, I have fond memories of not only finding my own creative voice, but also being inspired by my parents who stressed the importance of philanthropy,” Hayek said. “What a pleasure to highlight these young Latinas who channel their creativity through the lens of the camera and become agents of change.”

The HFPA gave a social justice grant to the Urban Peace Institute. The donation of $300,000 was given to the organisation for its diligence in the field of community safety and systems reform to end violence and mass incarceration.

Tracee Ellis Ross presented the grant to UPI founder and civil rights leader Connie Rice.

“This is a profound and deep honor,” Rice said. “The driving vision behind the Urban Peace Institute is the foundational and – first of all – human rights safety.”

READ MORE: Golden Globe boss, Lorenzo Soria, dies aged 68

Source: AP

HFPA Bolsters Grant Giving at YouTube Event

“HFPA Philanthropy: Empowering the Next Generation,” showcased some of the recipients of the HFPA’s largesse with stars such as George Clooney, …

While much of the world knows the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. (HFPA) for the Golden Globes, the annual kudosfest it puts on, it is equally well known for the money from the television contract is spent on philanthropy. Since 1987, the HFPA has disbursed $44.5 million and that tradition continues this year with $5.2 million given to various organizations and schools that work in and with the entertainment industry.

Though the money was given at a big socially distanced event that was presented online on YouTube on Oct. 13, Meher Tatna, board chair of the HFPA, says since the lockdown in March the org has donated $300,000 in three batches to various institutions.

“A lot of students were in distress, they had to leave their dorm rooms, a lot of them are food insecure so we, the HFPA members, voted to give emergency grants to everyone,” she says.

The average gift was about $20,000, mostly to colleges, but “there were other grantees who were going to remove their employees off the payroll because they couldn’t afford to keep them.”

The beneficiaries are in education, including several schools, and press freedom-related and film restoration orgs. The process of selecting grantees did not change from previous years, says Luca Celada, board member and co-producer of “HFPA Philanthropy: Empowering the Next Generation,” the YouTube event that was presented Oct. 13.

The title is a reference to the work the org has been doing with younger people, many in inner-city schools.

“Outreach to what in the end will be our future, the future of the industry, showing them that we want to actively showcase their work and kind of give them a leg up and taking that extra step,” Celada says.

“Throughout the year we have an application process with our grants officer,” he adds. “Many of these 77 are repeat grantees although some are new.

“We usually do it in a ballroom. we present it in person,” Celada says. “Of course, like everyone else, we’ve changed. In a way we are making the most of that with this format and actually highlight some of the work the young people are doing with 11 schools that we are specifically highlighting.”

“HFPA Philanthropy: Empowering the Next Generation,” showcased some of the recipients of the HFPA’s largesse with stars such as George Clooney, Jurnee Smollet and John David Washington, singers including Billie Eilish and Mary J. Blige participating in the event hosted by James Corden. HFPA is considering repeating it.

“The idea is to make it part of our philanthropy effort, to take one further step besides financially supporting also kind of reaching out keeping in mind the kind of year it has been,” Celada says.

Also this year the org added the Social Justice Grant, $300,000 presented to the Urban Peace Institute’s Connie Rice by Tracee Ellis Ross on Oct. 13.

The passing of HFPA president Lorenzo Soria did not affect the HFPA’s grant process as the decisions were made before he died. “All the processes that he put in place, we just continue,” Tatna says.

“The Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. is committed to giving back, and providing grants to deserving organizations and individuals,” says Ali Sar, the new president. “We are committed to continuing our unwavering support of educational, cultural, humanitarian and journalistic efforts.”

The money that the HFPA disburses comes from the goose that lays the Golden Globes but what is going to happen in the future is anybody’s guess.

Tatna points out that the awards were moved, but beyond that, “Who the hell knows? Nobody knows anything. Will there be a second wave? Will there be a flu pandemic?”

Celada adds, “In the long run I would imagine it would affect us as it would the entire industry.”

Looking to the future, the pair would like to expand the HFPA’s philanthropic efforts. For Tatna that means more to refugee organizations. Some of the checks that were given at festivals, including at Cannes, didn’t happen because the event was canceled.

Celada, for his part, would like to go beyond monetary giving to experiences. The HFPA already offers internships, director residencies and fellowships.

“But I think also some of our members could do courses or go and speak at some of these schools, have more interns join us and actually kind of give in experience and not only in money. I think that is, there is room there to become more involved.”

Canada: Ecoation wins World in 2050’s Olympics of Innovation

With major category winners including SpaceX, XPrize, Switzerland-based Climeworks, and many more, Ecoation is honoured to be recognized for its …

After receiving 100+ nominations and applications, Diplomatic Courier has officially announced the World in 2050 Olympics of Innovation winners, naming Ecoation Innovative Solutions Inc. as a Society category winner in response to the company’s commitment to supporting growers through AI advancements. Ecoation is honoured to share the stage with 34 prestigious innovators across 7 categories in the first cohort of 2020 challenge winners, including SpaceX, XPrize, and many more.

Looking decades into the future, the Olympics of Innovation is an annual challenge established in Davos, Switzerland, and presented by the Diplomatic Courier’s digital think tank, World in 2050. The challenge aims to champion the best innovative solutions to change our collective future with each award cluster representing a major trend that forecasts the future for our world: Society, Humanity, Energy, Health, Travel, Off-World, and Artistic Visions. With major category winners including SpaceX, XPrize, Switzerland-based Climeworks, and many more, Ecoation is honoured to be recognized for its Human Knowledge + Machine Precision approach to food production.

Founder & CEO, Dr. Saber Miresmailli [Left] and Founder & CTO, Maryam Antikchi [Right]

From Closed Loop Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to tracking greenhouse climate anomalies to the square meter, Ecoation’s technology contributes major strides towards securing more consistent crop yields, eliminating pesticides, and tackling the prevalent horticulture labour shortage. “We are merging human knowledge with machine precision to assist growers with actionable intelligence and expand their presence and influence beyond the boundaries of time and geography,” said Ecoation Founder and CEO, Dr. Saber Miresmailli. As a winner in the Society category, Ecoation is being recognized for the impact of its advancements beyond the technical capabilities and in terms of what this technology means for the future of society. This award champions advancements that allow for the re-engineering of a better future while supporting those who will consume the technology in the process. In Ecoation’s case, this reflects the company’s farmer-first mentality in everything they do.

“The pandemic showed us the fragility of our food systems and vulnerability of farmworkers,” said Ecoation Founder and CEO, Dr. Saber Miresmailli. “We want to democratize access to clean food and enable anyone anywhere to grow nutrition-packed crops and maximize their yield. I am honored that our small company is recognised on the global stage as a contributor to this dream.”

As a family-owned business with deep agricultural roots, Ecoation not only embodies those who create the knowledge, but also those who consume it. “On a personal note, it is both surreal and exciting for me to share a prize with world-class entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk and Anousheh Ansari,” reflected Ecoation Founder and CEO, Dr. Saber Miresmailli. “When I started the Ecoation journey with my co-founder and life partner a decade ago in our living room, I could not imagine this day.”

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XPrize launches $5M COVID-19 testing competition backed by Amazon, Google, Anthem

XPrize has launched a Rapid Covid Testing competition that will award $5 million to teams that develop faster, cheaper and easier-to-use COVID-19 …

XPrize has launched a Rapid Covid Testing competition that will award $5 million to teams that develop faster, cheaper and easier-to-use COVID-19 testing methods at scale.

A healthcare coalition made up of major payers is backing the initiative, along with supporting partners Google, Amazon, Illumina, Ancestry, Twist Bioscience, Thermo Fisher Scientific and others.

Blue Shield of California and Cambia Health Solutions are founding members of the initiative, along with Health Care Service Corporation, GuideWell Mutual Holding Corporation, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina.

The Anthem Foundation and Anthem serve as founding anchor partners.

The initiative’s aim is to tap the global innovation community to develop a faster, more efficient, low-cost COVID-19 testing method to accelerate the safe return to school and work.

The competition is focused on developing innovations that can support frequent testing with a fast turnaround time and are cost effective and easier to use with the ability of self-collection. Most currently available COVID-19 tests are expensive, slow, invasive and limited by supply chain capacity, according to XPrize officials.

RELATED: Trump health official says COVID-19 patients should not re-test. ‘It’s clogging up the system’

New, low-cost testing solutions could range from testing devices with 15-minute results to distributed lab testing methods with “next morning” results.

The XPrize Rapid Covid Testing aims to meet the need to scale testing capabilities by 100 times past the current standard, the level of increase needed to more safely return to everyday activities, the organization said.

“Any strategy to contain the virus is completely reliant on frequent, fast and reliable testing, but testing supply chains are currently stretched to the limit. When coupled with accelerating demand, test result turnaround times will slow even further unless new solutions are brought to the table,” said Amir Banifatemi, chief innovation and growth officer at XPrize, in a statement.

The organizations also are collaborating with OpenCovidScreen, a nonprofit founded by scientists and business leaders to drive needed innovation through “Open Science.”

“To be successful in working through this, we need to innovate and, working in collaboration with XPrize and the coalition, this is a huge step forward to try to solve for the challenges that COVID-19 presents,” Amy Khan, M.D., executive medical director at Cambia Health Solutions, told Fierce Healthcare.

“It’s essential that as we get back to work and go back to school, we engage these innovators to bring affordable, rapid and accurate tests to communities to effectively manage risk in the population and keep people safe,” she said.

RELATED: Humana to offer home COVID-19 testing, drive-thru testing at Walmart

Khan added, “The importance of this initiative in not only supporting our members and communities health, but also our employer’s businesses and our economy. This competition is a terrific way to more quickly get these needed tests into the hands of those who need them to help us effectively manage our clinical and public health response to this pandemic.”

Teams must register to join the six-month competition by Aug. 31.

The winning teams will develop COVID-19 tests that are radically affordable compared to what’s currently available on the market. For about the price of a latte, the tests will be equal to (or better than) commercial offerings at measuring sensitivity, specificity and limit of detection, according to XPrize.

The winning teams will also be able to successfully deploy and conduct a minimum of 500 tests per week at a live testing site within 60 days, and have the potential to scale their solutions to thousands of tests per week.

Teams in the competition will be required to meet these requirements:

  • A maximum turnaround time of 12 hours from sample to result.
  • Testing method must use a minimally invasive collection procedure.
  • Pilot solutions must cost less than $15 per test, including all materials, and these costs must be further reduced once scaled.

Up to 20 qualifying teams will be announced Sept. 15, and finalist teams will be announced Oct. 13. The final rounds and deployment will happen from early November through mid-January, and the grand prize winners will be announced sometime in the first quarter of 2021.