Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar sounded an optimistic note as distribution of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being ramped up across the United States (Dec. 21)
Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar sounded an optimistic note as distribution of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being ramped up across the United States (Dec. 21)
The A-list is back. How A-list? Try Lady Gaga and J. Lo. Inauguration officials announced on Thursday that the glittery duo would appear in person on Jan. 20, with Gaga singing the national anthem as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and Jennifer Lopez giving a musical performance. Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen will offer remote performances, and Eva Longoria and and Kerry Washington will introduce segments of the event. Later that day, Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden’s inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons. Despite a raging pandemic that is forcing most inaugural events online, it was a sign that Hollywood was back and eager to embrace the new president-elect four years after many big names stayed away from the inauguration of President Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. The question: How would the star wattage play across the country as Biden seeks to unite a bruised nation? Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant and former Reagan administration official, predicted reaction would fall “along tribal lines.” “I think it all comes down to the reinforcement of pre-existing beliefs,” Dezenhall said. “If you’re a Biden supporter, it’s nice to see Lady Gaga perform.” But, he added, “what rallied Trump supporters was the notion of an uber-elite that had nothing to do at all with them and that they couldn’t relate to.” Presidential historian Tevi Troy quipped that the starry Gaga-J. Lo lineup was not A-list, but D-list — "for Democratic.” "When Democrats win you get the more standard celebrities,” said Troy, author of “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House.” “With Republicans you tend to get country music stars and race-car drivers." Referring to Lady Gaga’s outspoken support for the Biden-Harris ticket, he said he was nostalgic for the days when celebrities were not so political. “Call me a hopeless romantic, but I liked the old days when Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra would come to these events and they were not overtly political,” he said. Still, he said, Biden’s unity message won’t be derailed. “In the end, I don’t think having Lady Gaga or J. Lo is all that divisive,” he said. Attendance at the inauguration will be severely limited, due to both the pandemic and fears of continued violence, following last week’s storming of the Capitol. Outside the official events, one of the more prominent galas each inauguration is The Creative Coalition's quadrennial ball, a benefit for arts education. This year, the ball is entirely virtual. But it is star-studded nonetheless: The event, which will involve food being delivered simultaneously to attendees in multiple cities, will boast celebrity hosts including Jason Alexander, David Arquette, Matt Bomer, Christopher Jackson, Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Keegan Michael-Key, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Patinkin and many others. Robin Bronk, CEO of the non-partisan arts advocacy group, said she's been deluged with celebrities eager to participate in some way. The event typically brings in anywhere from $500,000 to $2.5 million, and this year the arts community is struggling like never before. Bronk noted that planning has been a challenge, given not only the recent political upheaval in the country but also the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic. Given all that, did a celebration make sense? “I was thinking about this when we were trying to phrase the invitation,” Bronk said. “Do we celebrate? This is the most serious time of our lives.” But, she said, especially at a time when the arts community is suffering, it’s crucial to shine a spotlight and recognize that “the right to bear arts is not a red or blue issue. One of the reasons we have this ball is that we have to ensure the arts are not forgotten." The Presidential Inaugural Committee also announced Thursday that the invocation will be given by the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware. On the same platform, Biden sat in 2013 behind pop star Beyoncé as she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama's second inauguration. James Taylor sang “America the Beautiful,” and Kelly Clarkson sang “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” At Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the anthem was performed by 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho. A number of top artists declined the opportunity to perform at the festivities, and one Broadway star, Jennifer Holliday, even said she’d received death threats before she pulled out of her planned appearance. There was indeed star power in 2017, but most of it was centred at the Women’s March on Washington, where attendees included Madonna, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Emma Watson and many others. This year, signs are that Obama-era celebrities are returning. Dezenhall said that in the end, it's logical for organizers to go with the biggest talent. “Lady Gaga is as big as you can get, and she is very talented,” he said. “If I were being inaugurated and I could have Lady Gaga, I would take it.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
After 11 years in the trades – from scaffolding and metal work, to her current role in concrete forming – Mulisius Joe has also become skilled at navigating the male-dominated construction industry. “I've worked with a few men who didn’t think I should be there,” she said, citing times when empty reasons were given to exclude her from contributing to a job. “It’s never said out loud but you could feel it…where you don't know if it’s racist or it’s sexist, but you know it's something.” Calls for equity among construction labourers in the GTA were made decades ago, with African-Canadian carpenters and their allies protesting the exclusion of Black workers from trades unions and construction companies in the early ‘70s. Trade union programs are now slowly helping to change that. Joe said she has seen a shift in how journeypersons, or mentors for trade apprentices, are increasingly focused on the treatment of women and visible minorities on site, and are better prepared to foster an equitable environment. These changes make her hopeful the industry will develop a similar awareness around issues of discrimination and equity, especially after the racist incidents this past summer, when five nooses were found tied onto scaffolding or hanging in view at GTA construction sites. Despite police and union investigations – and the firing of at least one worker – another two nooses were found at Michael Garron Hospital in East York in late September. “It didn't just go away because we said how we feel,” said Brampton resident Chris Campbell, of the Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario. In November, Campbell became the union’s first Equity and Diversity Representative. He will work to include racism in the scope of “toolbox talk” – trades-speak for frank discussions about safety issues – in an attempt to change the culture of silence around workplace discrimination in the construction industry. The Carpenters’ District Council of Ontario represents more than 30,000 workers across 16 affiliated trades unions. Campbell completed his apprenticeship in the early ‘90s, and became a project supervisor at various sites across the GTA before teaching at the College of Carpenters and Allied Trades, based in Woodbridge. An active member in the Jamaican Canadian Association and other Black community organizations, Campbell went on to become a Local 27 Toronto Carpenters’ Union rep prior to his current appointment. Following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last spring, Black Lives Matter demonstrations underscored the urgent need to confront anti-Black racism in the workplace. Campbell said he and other union representatives marched in the downtown Toronto protests in June, sporting the union flag. Mulisius joined the marches, and commended the union for making their presence visible. “It feels good, because as a woman on site, and also as a Black person, I’m always the minority. To see our union jump behind this, it makes me feel so much prouder to be a Local 27 member,” she said. But later that month, the first noose was found at the Eglinton Crosstown LRT job site. Campbell said one of the union’s members admitted to tying it and was fired, had his union membership revoked and was banned from working on projects operated by Crosslinx Transit Solutions. “It’s not just a noose for some people. It’s a health issue, because they’re traumatized, they can’t mentally handle it,” Johnson said, adding that there were Black workers at the site. “Some people, they become emotional and they cannot go back to work because to them, it symbolizes an extreme aggression. To them, it symbolizes what their grandparents went through a few decades ago.” According to 2016 Census data, close to one-fifth of Brampton’s workforce was in the trades, transport and equipment operations industry, compared to about 12 percent in Mississauga. Peel Region also has the highest proportion of immigrants compared to its bordering regions – at about 52 percent of the population – and the highest proportion of visible minorities, at 62 percent, compared to 51 percent in Toronto, and the GTA average of 48 percent. The booming construction industry holds the potential to dramatically improve the employment prospects of Peel’s large visible minority communities. Many of these residents have not been well represented in the trades, traditionally. The BOLT (Building Opportunities for Life Today) program was launched by construction giant Tridel in 2009, and in 2013 it was established as a charitable foundation aimed at introducing career opportunities to marginalized and other “under-resourced” youth across the GTA. It has provided more than 400 post-secondary scholarships for construction-related programs, in an effort to help young people from all backgrounds pursue a career in the trades. Opening up one of Ontario’s largest industries to reflect the province’s population, is a challenge the unions are now taking up as well. Whether it’s because of cultural issues, for example the view among some South Asian-Canadian communities that trades jobs are not traditionally socially acceptable, or because of discriminatory dynamics within the industry, the lack of representation means many Peel residents are being cut off from highly lucrative careers. In 2018, the average wage of workers in the construction industry across the country was almost $32 an hour, according to Statistics Canada. The average minimum wage in the country (which is what many newcomers earn) at the time sat at about $12 an hour. A 2016 Peel-Halton Workforce Characteristics Report notes that women, racialized minorities and newcomers face disadvantages when holding precarious positions in Peel, with the largest proportions of people earning lower incomes located in Brampton and Mississauga compared to Halton municipalities. In the construction and industrial sectors, about 97 percent of Peel and Halton journeypersons and apprentices are male, though there is no race-based data provided or notes on discrimination trends in the workplace. The recent rash of racist incidents raises questions about what the industry is doing to confront discrimination. At the large LRT construction site where the Fairbank Station in Toronto, near Dufferin Street and Eglinton Avenue will open in 2022, Campbell said the union interviewed people on site and had a “toolbox talk” after a noose was tied there. The union has partnered with the Toronto and York Region Labour Council to create a charter document and establish standards for an inclusive workplace that rejects racism, xenophobia and discrimination. The document is now posted at some construction sites, Campbell said, adding that the union is planning to address racism in the workplace through new educational initiatives and training for members and senior leadership. In his new role, Campbell will be notified and involved in the complaints resolution process related to racism in the workplace, and encourages workers to report these incidents. “It’s a health and safety issue,” he said. With the work of craft and trade unions based in skill development, at the forefront of efforts to address racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination is the question of whose skills are being recognized, said Tania Das Gupta, a professor in the School of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at York University. As part of her research into racism in the labour movement, Das Gupta interviewed visible minority workers in leadership roles within larger unions, who expressed feeling obstructed in their work. “In other words, you could have diversity, but sometimes it becomes tokenism and the [union] structures are not conducive to inclusion,” she said. Education is integral to making anti-racism programs a success, she added. “If the workers are prepared, and they’re educated on why these changes are happening, then they're likely not to feel threatened.” Professional associations and developers such as Tridel and Ellis Don have launched anti-racism campaigns in response to the incidents this past summer, including quarterly roundtable discussions with 21 industry partners, spearheaded by the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). The group is meeting for the second time this month. “These incidents didn’t happen in isolation, and it wasn’t just one incident…so we realized that this is an issue that we need to dive deeper into combatting,” said Amina Dibe, manager of government and stakeholder relations at RESCON. The collective launched the Construction Against Racism Everyone (CARE) Campaign, distributing more than 2,000 hardhat stickers for workers to show their solidarity, while launching educational webinars and subcommittees to tackle education, communication and training within the industry. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @LaVjosa COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.Vjosa Isai, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
Bumble Inc's plans to go public come at a time when companies are seeking to capitalize on what has been the strongest IPO market in two decades. Companies raised a record $168 billion through IPOs on U.S. stock exchanges in 2020, according to Dealogic data. "The deficiency we identified relates to a lack of defined processes and controls over information technology," it said in the filing.
The deal will be largely paid through cash and Lazy Audio's management team will get post-acquisition equity-settled awards, Tencent said. The acquisition comes at a time when the music streaming site is looking to bolster its content library in order to put it behind a paywall and add more paid users.
During a COVID-19 modelling update on Friday, Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said the rise in case numbers is largely due to Canadians gathering during the holidays. She added that measures must be “further intensified,” in order to help stop the spread.
South River and Machar residents should have a better idea over the next few weeks what will happen to the ice at their arena in the wake of the province's 28-day stay-at-home order. South River council will discuss the issue at its Jan. 25 meeting. South River clerk-administrator Don McArthur says the municipality developed COVID-19 protocols for the arena's four user groups that were working prior to the latest lockdown. The arena was used by the Junior A Spartans, boys' minor hockey, girls' minor hockey and figure skating. The protocols were explained to the users last fall and McArthur says when the arena opened in October, everything “worked wonderfully. “We really felt comfortable with the protocols and with the cooperation of the groups where they took on a lot of the responsibilities,” McArthur says. “They looked after their own contact tracing and what we did was buy disinfectant and sanitized the equipment.” This approach worked well, he says, and the municipality didn't have to put any extra staff at the arena. It would have been a different story had council opened the arena to public skating. “If we allowed public skating, protocols like who's coming and going would have to have been done by us,” McArthur says. “So the staffing level would have gone up considerably in order to police and look after all that information flow.” That would have become too expensive for the municipality, he says. The protocols the municipality has in place are good and “everyone feels confident that we can operate safely. “But we don't have that option (to operate) under the lockdown,” McArthur says. The South River-Machar Community Centre and Arena has been closed since Dec. 21. Assuming there's a reopening in the near future, the user groups will operate under the same protocols in place prior to Dec. 21. McArthur says staff and council are looking at various scenarios depending on when the latest lockdown ends. In the best-case scenario, the lockdown could be lifted earlier in the North, in which case “if we're delayed only two to four weeks then maybe we can add that time and run the season a little later into March or to the end of March. “Council's challenge is we don't know if or when we'll get a green light,” McArthur says. “So at what point does it become too late or no longer economically feasible for us and the user groups?” This is now a waiting game and it's not easy as options are weighed. “The big cost, beyond wages, at the arena is maintaining the ice,” he says. “If there isn't going to be anyone using it and no revenue coming in, then how long do we maintain that ice for?” McArthur adds the arena isn't only used for winter activities. It's also used for a hockey opportunity camp during the summer. In fact, the arena is at its busiest during the eight to 10 weeks of the hockey camp. The facility is only without ice from mid April to mid June. When the lockdowns first started last March, McArthur says the hockey camp “was one of the first (activities) to take a direct hit.” With the arena in shutdown mode, staff were able to carry out considerable maintenance at the site that normally would not be achievable. But with the arena down for the entire summer, it meant no revenue to the municipality. McArthur says 2020 saw the arena lose about $40,000 over and above its normal expenses. McArthur says the province's safe restart agreement helped offset part of the arena loss and council is grateful for that. Council also was able to offset the remainder of the loss by reducing the number of capital projects it had scheduled for 2020. One of those projects involved a compressor rebuild at the arena. So, while the village will still have a balanced budget for 2020, it comes at a cost because it now has to delay some of the scheduled capital projects into the future, McArthur says. Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative, The North Bay Nugget
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
Tanya Bogatin's once pristine home is no longer quite so organized, and she's waiting a little longer between loads of laundry, but it's no skin off her back. Her priorities have shifted now that she'll be helping her two young kids attend classes from their home in Vaughan, Ont., for another month. "Things are gonna fall to the backburner," she said. "I tell my kids, don't stress about it ... relax, relax. We're happy, we're safe, we're healthy." With online learning extended until late January across southern Ontario, and for even longer in Toronto, York, Peel, Durham and Windsor-Essex, parents like Bogatin are finding a litany of strategies to manage all their responsibilities. She said she briefly panicked when she found out her kids would be learning remotely until at least Feb. 10, but then she came up with a game plan. Each morning, she and her kids get up at around 8:20 a.m., with half an hour to spare before classes begin. Once classes start, her son -- who is in Grade 4 -- stations himself in the dining room, and her daughter -- in Grade 2 -- sets up her laptop at the desk in the toy room. Bogatin sits on the stairs between them, listening in case they call for help. At recess, she said, she bundles them up in winter gear and sends them out to play in the backyard. Right after classes end, they get to work on homework. Bogatin works part-time, and as of this week she's able to do that from home. "I'm very, very lucky that I have a very flexible job," she said, noting that she's mostly able to set her own schedule, and will sometimes retreat into her bedroom for online meetings. Her days are busy, she said, but they're "good busy." Parents are making it work, said Rachel Huot with the Ontario Parent Action Network, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's easy. "It's extremely challenging to try and support children learning remotely," she said. "Your kids are not meant to learn sitting in front of a computer screen for six hours a day." Parents who have to juggle supervising kids and working -- either in or out of the home -- are stretched even thinner, she said. "Then there's the fact that we're watching the government fail us day after day. And there's no clear end in sight," she said. Huot echoed calls from teachers' unions that are requesting broader testing of asymptomatic students, smaller class sizes and better ventilation systems in schools so that kids can safely return to the classroom. A spokeswoman for Education Minister Stephen Lecce said student safety is the government's top priority. "We know that parents want their children back in class and we firmly agree, and our commitment to deliver on that is to further enhance our safety protocols and provincewide targeted surveillance testing to ensure our students can safely go back to class," she said. The government has cited rising COVID-19 positivity rates amongst children as well as soaring daily infections for its decision to have students learn virtually for longer. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
Ce n’est rien de moins qu’une onzième victoire consécutive qu’a mérité il y a quelques jours le groupe Robert, de Boucherville, en raflant encore une fois le « TCA Fleet Awards » C’est évidemment avec beaucoup de fierté que Groupe Robert, spécialisé dans l’industrie du camionnage et du transport, s’est vu décerné le premier prix de sa catégorie pour une 11e année consécutive. Le prix a été créé par la Truckload carriers association, qui regroupe plus de 200 000 camionneurs en Amérique du Nord. Ces prix identifient les entreprises de camionnage qui ont démontré un engagement sans précédent envers la sécurité. Groupe Robert est donc l’entreprise de sa catégorie avec le ratio de fréquence d’accidents le plus bas par million de miles parcourus depuis 11 ans. « La sécurité étant au centre de toutes nos initiatives, ce prix est à l’honneur de tous nos employés » a indiqué la direction du groupe lors de l’annonce de leur nomination Le groupe Robert, qui emploie environ 3500 personnes, est bien implanté à Boucherville, sur le boulevard Marie-Victorin avec un important centre de distribution et de transit de camion. Il possède également d’importantes installations à Rougemont, là même ou la famille Robert possède aussi un domaine viticole. François Laramée, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
CORNWALL – The first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in the region. Eastern Ontario Health Unit staff along with medical staff and paramedics have begun to deliver the first of two doses of the vaccine at Long-Term Care homes in the region. The first shipment of the vaccine arrived on Wednesday and more shipments of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are expected this month. Meanwhile, COVID-19 infection numbers continue to increase in the region but the trend is slowing. During his January 14th media availability, Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said the rolling seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 was decreasing. "I'm actually encouraged and hoping to see this trend continue," he told reporters. According to the January 14th EOHU numbers, the average for cases was 120.6, which would still be considered at the Grey-Lockdown level under the province's colour-coded COVID-19 restrictions system. Forty or more cases per 100,000 is the level for Red, 25 cases for Orange. Currently there are 623 active cases of the Novel Coronavirus in the EOHU region, and the overall case count has increased to 2,046 people infected since the pandemic began. Locally, there have been 21 cases in South Dundas, but only four cases are active. North Dundas has had 40 cases overall, five of which are active. Cases still continue to increase in Cornwall and in South Glengarry. Cornwall has 227 active cases, or one in case in every 207 people in the city. South Glengarry has 54 active cases, most of which are due to a large-scale outbreak at a LTC home in Lancaster. Lancaster is one of 13 LTC homes or residences that have COVID-19 outbreaks listed on the EOHU's Facility Outbreak page. One facility that is not in a COVID-19 outbreak is the Community Living Dundas County facility in Winchester. The Leader reported this week that the facility was listed as having a respiratory outbreak that the source was unknown and that the outbreak was COVID-19 related. In fact, all residents and staff have had COVID-19 tests and the results for all tests were negative. Community Living Dundas County executive director Debbie Boardman said that the people were tested for COVID-19 as a precautionary measure. "They have been treated medically for the respiratory condition and are recovering well," Boardman said. "We have also received verbal confirmation that the(unknown) respiratory outbreak is over." She explained that CLDC staff and family members of people who live in CLDC supported homes have been following protocols, requirements and direction received from the EOHU and the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. "Everyone has been doing a fantastic job of following the guidelines," Boardman said. "They have been diligent and to date, no one has had a positive COVID-19 test. She added that they were looking forward to a vaccine being available to people living and working in Dundas County. The EOHU's COVID-19 numbers are updated weekdays (Monday to Friday, except statutory holidays) and are available on the organization's website. Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
Laval police have confirmed they have arrested the mother of the seven-year-old girl who died in Laval earlier this month. The woman, in her mid-30s, was arrested just before 7 a.m. Friday, a police spokesperson said. The woman is expected to make a court appearance by video-conference this afternoon to face charges of assault and criminal negligence causing death. According to Radio-Canada, the child was found Jan. 3 with bruises and burns on her body. First responders performed CPR on the child, but she was later pronounced dead at Sacré-Coeur hospital in Montreal. An autopsy was ordered, but results have not been made public. Ambulance workers who responded to the call were offered peer support from colleagues trained to help those suffering from shock.
A carbon monoxide leak from a boiler in a Saskatoon apartment building sent 29 people to hospital Thursday. It all began when an emergency room doctor at Royal University Hospital became concerned when assessing a patient Thursday night. "It was a very close call," acting battalion chief Matthew Murray said in an interview Friday. "We're very thankful for the doctor at RUH who made that extra effort to just follow through in the situation." Murray said the doctor suspected carbon monoxide poisoning and contacted the fire department, which sent a team to an apartment building at 12 Bateman Cres. "When the captain and crew went inside with detectors, the field levels went up to 300 parts per million," he said. "At that point, they started shouting for people to evacuate while they backed out and put on their self-contained breathing apparatus." People from the building were taken to City Hospital and Royal University Hospital. There were no fatalities. Fire Chief Morgan Hackl said the evacuation involved 50 people, including some children. He confirmed the building did not have a carbon monoxide detector. Fire crews found the highest levels of carbon monoxide were in the building's boiler room, where they were at 400 parts part million. Typically the department evacuates a building when it's at 50 parts per million. Hackl said with levels that high, people can die within two to three hours of exposure. Troy Davies with Medavie Health Service West said that paramedics were called to the east-side building just after 6 p.m. CST. Given the number of patients, it used a special transport to get patients to the two hospitals — 25 to City Hospital and four to RUH. The Saskatoon Fire Department also assisted. "Paramedics would like to personally thank Dr. [Mark] Wahba for his quick response that could have turned out much worse," Davies said in a news release. Carbon monoxide, a colourless and tasteless gas, is produced when natural gas is burned in a furnace. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include nausea, dizziness, confusion and vision or hearing loss. A second building in the complex was evacuated Friday morning after the fire department completed it's inspection. The second building was also not equipped with carbon monoxide detectors. There is no timeline for when residents will be allowed back inside, but the department says the buildings will remain evacuated at least until tomorrow.
WASHINGTON — Federal watchdogs launched a sweeping review of how the FBI, the Pentagon and other law enforcement agencies responded to the riot at the U.S. Capitol, including whether there were failures in information sharing and other preparations that left the historic symbol of democracy vulnerable to assault by a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters. The inquiries, undertaken by the inspectors general for the departments of Justice, Homeland Security, Interior and Defence, carry the potential of yielding searing criticism of the government's handling of a deadly breach at the Capitol in which armed loyalists of Trump overran the police and came in close contact with elected officials. The reviews will encompass everything from whether the FBI adequately shared information with other law enforcement agencies about the potential for violence to how the Pentagon mobilized for the Jan. 6 crisis. The initiation of multiple, simultaneous inquiries comes as failings in the government's preparation, co-ordination and response are coming into sharper focus more than a week after the riot. The Capitol Police, for instance, has said it had prepared for only First Amendment activity at the Capitol on the day that lawmakers had assembled to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Trump, even though Trump himself had for weeks encouraged his supporters to come to Washington and had called on them to “fight like hell" at a rally shortly before the riot. The Pentagon has said the Capitol Police turned down an offer for help days before the riot. Once it became clear on the day of the event that its help would be needed, the Defence Department had to scramble to bring in a larger force to back up the police. An FBI official who initially said there was no intelligence suggesting out-of-control violence later acknowledged that the bureau was aware of a warning on an internet message board, though the official said the message was not attributable to an individual person. At the Justice Department, the inspector general investigation will examine whether information was adequately shared by Justice to other agencies, including the Capitol Police, about the potential for violence. The inspector general said it “also will assess whether there are any weaknesses in DOJ protocols, policies, or procedures that adversely affected the ability of DOJ or its components to prepare effectively for and respond to the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.” The review will almost certainly include an assessment of intelligence that the Justice Department — and particularly the FBI — had collected before and after the riot. It comes days after the FBI conceded that one of its field offices compiled an internal bulletin that warned of potential violence aimed at Congress. The Washington Post reported that the Jan. 5 report from the FBI’s field office in Norfolk, said the bulletin detailed threats from extremists to commit a “war.” Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington field office, said that once he received the warning, the information was quickly shared with other law enforcement agencies through the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Washington, D.C. The Department of Homeland Security's inspector general office said it would look into the response of its component agencies, focusing in part on the Office of Intelligence and Analysis. That unit issues alerts to law enforcement agencies around the country. The Interior Department’s internal watchdog, meanwhile, will review the actions of the Park Police on the Ellipse, the site of Trump's speech to supporters at a rally before the riot. And the Defence Department's inspector general announced it is launching a review of the Pentagon’s “roles, responsibilities and actions” to prepare for and respond to the protest at which Trump spoke and the subsequent insurrection at the Capitol. ____ Associated Press writers Ellen Knickmeyer and Ben Fox contributed to this report. Eric Tucker And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
P.E.I. RCMP say they impounded a vehicle in Cornwall Friday morning after catching the driver going close to double the speed limit. Const. Jamie Parsons tweeted the vehicle was travelling 166 km/h in a 90 zone. The incident happened at 9 a.m. In the spring RCMP on P.E.I. dealt with a spate of excessive speeding, including three incidents of vehicles driven over 180 km/h in just two days at the end of May. RCMP warn that at high speeds it can take up to 250 metres to stop in an emergency, and that vehicles are not designed to keep passengers safe at those speeds. More from CBC P.E.I.
Nova Scotia will continue to hold back second doses of COVID-19 vaccine until it is guaranteed there will be no interruption in supply. "We cannot waste a single dose of this vaccine and we are continuing to give the first shot and hold back the second shot to guarantee people a full vaccination," Premier Stephen McNeil said in a news briefing Friday. McNeil said he understands the concerns people have with the rollout, but stressed the importance of moving the vaccine throughout the province safely and effectively. He said the province has administered 7,600 doses of the vaccine as of late Thursday, which includes 2,200 front-line health-care workers who have received their second dose. CBC News is tracking vaccine administration across Canada. McNeil also said all front-line workers and residents at Northwood's Halifax campus, the long-term care home where 53 people died due to the virus last spring, have received their first dose of the vaccine. Dr. Robert Strang, the province's chief medical officer of health, said the province had received 13,000 doses of vaccine prior to Thursday. Most of that supply has been administered or has been scheduled for second doses. The province has since received another 10,000 doses, which will be administered starting Monday. Strang expects all of those doses to be used by the end of next week. "Our goal is to make sure that we have a constant and steady supply of vaccines going to clinics," Strang said. "We don't want to have a surplus of vaccines in the province but also we have to be cognizant that we have to make sure that people have access across the province … it's an ongoing balancing act." Strang said health-care workers in the Annapolis Valley and Cape Breton have started receiving the first doses of the vaccine. Staff, residents and designated caregivers at Shannex's Harbourstone Enhanced Care and Northside Community Guest Home, two of Nova Scotia's largest long-term care homes, are expected to start being immunized next week. Strang said immunizations are expected to begin in the northern zone by early February as three new cold-storage units are being set up in Antigonish, Amherst and Bridgewater. Vaccine shipments reduced Strang also mentioned during the briefing that there would be a meeting Friday to discuss a delay in shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Pfizer had recently said it will temporarily reduce shipments of its vaccine to Canada. The pharmaceutical giant is pausing some production lines at a facility in Belgium in order to expand long-term manufacturing capacity. In an email, a spokesperson from Nova Scotia Health said it has been notified it should expect fewer Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses each week for a month. "We have solid processes in place to manage a decrease or increase in vaccine supply. We can adjust our clinics to accommodate the amount of vaccine we receive," the email said. Ineligible people tried to book appointments In an email Friday, Nova Scotia Health said some people signed up to book vaccine appointments when they were ineligible. In a statement from Angela Keenan with Nova Scotia Health, a registration link provided to health-care staff who are eligible to receive the vaccination at the Valley Regional Hospital Clinic was circulated in the community and used by people who were ineligible. Keenan said three days of vaccination appointments were scheduled for that clinic during the week of Jan. 18, based on initial expectations around vaccine delivery, but those appointments will now be rebooked for later dates because of "updated information." "As we rebook appointments, we will ensure that no one who may have registered in error through the circulated link is booked for vaccination at this time," the statement said. "Screening was put in place at the vaccine clinic to confirm those booked were in fact eligible before they were vaccinated. We do not believe anyone who was ineligible received the vaccine. We are auditing our records to verify this." Keenan also said they have heard reports of a phone number circulating that people are using to book vaccination appointments, but said there is no phone number available for that purpose. "We recognize that Nova Scotians are eager to receive the vaccine. There will be enough vaccine for all Nova Scotians who wish to receive it. Please be patient as we work through this process," she said. 2 new cases Friday Nova Scotia reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Friday. One case was detected in the northern health zone and the other was identified in the central zone. Both are close contacts of previously reported cases, according to a news release from the Department of Health and Wellness. There are now 32 known active cases in the province. No one is in hospital with the virus. Mandatory testing for rotational workers came into effect Friday. Workers will now be required to get a test within two days of returning to Nova Scotia and again about a week later. If rotational workers do not get tested, they will be fined $1,000. Regardless of the test result, they must still complete their 14-day modified self-isolation. Second positive case at Cape Breton University On Friday, Cape Breton University said a second positive case has been found on campus. "The student arrived this week, and since then has been isolating on-campus and following mandatory public health requirements," read a statement on the school's website. "As with the first case, it was during this isolation time the student chose to participate in asymptomatic testing, which did produce a positive result." The province is continuing to urge students who have returned from outside of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland or P.E.I. to book a COVID-19 test on the sixth, seventh or eighth day of their quarantine, regardless of whether they have symptoms. Strang said more than 3,500 students have arrived in Nova Scotia from other provinces and more than half have been tested. So far, there have been 10 cases identified at Nova Scotia universities this month. Any students experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 must complete a self-assessment online or call 811. Students still must complete their 14-day isolation period even with a negative test result. The two new cases announced Friday were discovered after Nova Scotia Health Authority's labs completed 2,010 tests on Thursday. The province also completed 808 rapid tests between Jan. 8 and 14 at pop-up sites in Halifax, Lower Sackville and Yarmouth. A mobile health unit was also set up in Truro , N.S., on Thursday in response to an increase in the number of potential exposures in the area in the last week. A full list of exposures in the province can be found here. On Friday, Nova Scotia Health said the unit will be expanded for four more days of testing. Drop-in testing will be available on Saturday at the NSCC Truro Campus from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sunday through Tuesday at the convention centre in the Best Western Glengarry from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Strang said it has been two weeks since the new year began and Nova Scotia's epidemiology looks promising, but now is not the time to slack off. He said he was disappointed to hear that some individuals who contracted COVID-19 haven't been following public health regulations and haven't been honest when disclosing their movement, or the people they've been in contact with while infected. "This lack of information has delayed investigations and is leaving more time for the virus to spread in communities," he said. Strang reminded Nova Scotians to follow public health regulations like hand-washing, mask-wearing, physical distancing and keeping social circles consistent with no more than 10 people. "We are in a very precarious situation," he said. "We are one of the safest places certainly in the country, if not globally, but we can only stay here if we continue to stay committed." Atlantic Canada case numbers MORE TOP STORIES
RESTAURATION. Québec solidaire dénonce tant les frais pouvant aller jusqu’à 30% imposés par des applications de livraison de repas que le refus du gouvernement Legault d'imposer une limite à Uber Eats, Skip et DoorDash. Le député de Rosemont Vincent Marissal voudrait qu’on impose un plafond de 20% comme l'ont fait l'Ontario et la Colombie-Britannique. «Nos restos de quartier ferment à gauche, à droite, et tout ce que la CAQ trouve à faire, c'est de demander gentiment aux applications de réduire leurs frais abusifs. Quel aveu d'impuissance! Le gouvernement Legault a pris assez de retard. Aujourd'hui, il doit choisir entre les profits de Uber Eats, Skip et DoorDash et la survie pure et simple de nos restaurants de quartier. Le milieu de la restauration est déjà accablé par des mois de fermeture et l'indifférence du ministre Fitzgibbon. Des frais de 30%, c'est la goutte de trop», plaide le responsable solidaire en matière de justice fiscale. Pour Québec solidaire, le gouvernement doit éviter de répéter les erreurs commises avec le projet de loi sur les taxis. «En donnant à Uber un beau projet de loi fait sur mesure, on a fait entrer le loup dans la bergerie. Bien maintenant, le loup a fait le tour de la bergerie et il est entré dans le resto du village! Tout le monde commande plus souvent depuis le début de la pandémie, c'est normal. Ce qui est moins normal, c'est qu'on laisse les applications de livraison fixer les règles du jeu. Alors que les restaurants et les clients paient des frais qui coûtent les yeux de la tête, les livreurs touchent des salaires dérisoires. S'il n'est pas encadré, le modèle économique de Uber Eats, Skip et DoorDash est ruineux pour le Québec», martèle Vincent Marissal. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
NEW YORK — The nation’s largest retail trade group said Friday that holiday sales soared 8.3%, far exceeding its forecast even as the coronavirus kept shoppers away from physical stores. The National Retail Federation had expected growth in a range of 3.6% to 5.2% for the November and December period compared to the year-ago period. The outsized gains show how the pandemic has caused a major shift in spending away from restaurants and travel and more toward buying goods that focus on activities around the home like home furnishings, food and activewear. That trend has benefited retailers. The retail sales figures exclude sales from autos, restaurants and gas. Moreover, even within the retail industry, big box stores like Walmart and Target are dominating the landscape, enjoying big sales gains at the expense of mall-based stores that were forced to temporarily close during the spring and early summer and still face restrictions. Shoppers are consolidating their trips and favouring stores that offer a wide range of goods under one roof as they look to minimize the exposure of the virus. The National Retail Federation also said that shoppers are looking for opportunities to celebrate during tough times. “Faced with rising transmission of the virus, state restrictions on retailers and heightened political and economic uncertainty, consumers chose to spend on gifts that lifted the spirits of their families and friends and provided a sense of normalcy given the challenging year, ” said Matt Shay, CEO of the trade group, in a statement. The holiday figures contrast with a downbeat report Friday from the Commerce Department that retail sales fell a seasonally adjusted 0.7% in December from the month before. The numbers, which include restaurants, gas and autos, also fell in October and November, even though many retailers tried to get people shopping early for their Christmas gifts by offering deals before Halloween. However, the government reported a 3.7% retail sales gain in November and a 2.9% gain in December compared to the year-ago periods. Anne D'Innocenzio, The Associated Press
COPENHAGEN — U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer confirmed Friday it will temporarily reduce deliveries to Europe of its COVID-19 vaccine while it upgrades production capacity to 2 billion doses per year. “This temporary reduction will affect all European countries,” a spokeswoman for Pfizer Denmark said in a statement to The Associated Press. Line Fedders said that to meet the new 2 billion dose target, Pfizer is upscaling production at its plant in Puurs, Belgium, which “presupposes adaptation of facilities and processes at the factory which requires new quality tests and approvals from the authorities.” “As a consequence, fewer doses will be available for European countries at the end of January and the beginning of February,” she said. Germany’s Health Ministry said Friday Pfizer had informed the European Commission, which was responsible for ordering vaccines from the company, that it won’t be able to fulfil all of the promised deliveries in the coming three to four weeks. The ministry said German officials took note of the unexpected announcement by the Commission ” with regret” because the company had made binding delivery commitments by mid-February. “The federal and state governments expect the EU Commission to provide clarity and certainty as soon as possible in negotiations with Pfizer about further deliveries and delivery dates,” the statement said. The Commission sealed the vaccine deals on behalf of all 27 member states, but is not responsible for the timetable and deliveries. Asked Friday whether Brussels has been informed by Pfizer about delays in the EU, Commission health policy spokesman Stefan de Keersmaecker said all questions on production and production capacity should be directed to the company. “The Commission stands ready to support and facilitate contacts between the company and member states whenever needed,” he said. De Keersmaecker said deliveries are made on the basis of purchase orders and specific contracts that are concluded between the member states and the companies. "The specificities of these arrangements are laid down in these purchase orders or contracts,” he said. The Commission has secured up to 600 million extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine that's produced in partnership with Germany's BioNTech. Norwegian authorities also said Friday they had been notified by Pfizer about the reduction that will start next week as the company raises its annual dose target from the current 1.3 billion. “We had predicted 43,875 vaccine doses from Pfizer in week 3. Now it seems that we get 36,075 doses,” said Geir Bukholm, director of infection control at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. ”The stock we now have will be able to compensate for a reduction in the planned deliveries for a few weeks ahead if there is a need for this,” he said. In Finland, broadcaster YLE said the delay would cause domestic delivery problems at the end of January and the beginning of February. “We expect that this will mean that in the coming time we can vaccinate fewer than first assumed,” said Henrik Ullum, head of Statens Serum Institut, a government agency that maps the spread of the coronavirus in Denmark. ___ Samuel Petrequin in Brussels and Frank Jordans in Berlin contributed. Jan M. Olsen, The Associated Press
MOSCOW — Russia said on Friday that it will withdraw from an international treaty allowing surveillance flights over military facilities after the U.S. exit from the pact, compounding the challenges faced by the incoming administration of president-elect Joe Biden. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the U.S. withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty last year “significantly upended the balance of interests of signatory states,” adding that Moscow’s proposals to keep the treaty alive after the U.S. exit have been cold-shouldered by Washington’s allies. The ministry said that Russia is now launching the relevant procedures to withdraw from the pact "due to the lack of progress in removing the obstacles for the treaty's functioning in the new conditions.” The Russian parliament, which ratified the treaty in 2001, will now have to vote to leave it. The treaty was intended to build trust between Russia and the West by allowing the accord’s more than three dozen signatories to conduct reconnaissance flights over each other’s territories to collect information about military forces and activities. More than 1,500 flights have been conducted under the treaty, aimed at fostering transparency about military activity and helping monitor arms control and other agreements. U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the Open Skies Treaty, arguing that Russian violations made it untenable for the United States to remain a party. The U.S. completed its withdrawal from the pact in November. Russia denied breaching the treaty, which came into force in 2002. The European Union has urged the U.S. to reconsider and called on Russia to stay in the pact and lift flight restrictions, notably over its westernmost Kaliningrad region, which lies between NATO allies Lithuania and Poland. Russia has argued that the limits on flights over Kaliningrad, which hosts sizable military forces, are permissible under the treaty’s terms, noting that the U.S. has imposed more sweeping restrictions on observation flights over Alaska. As a condition for staying in the pact after the U.S. pullout, Moscow unsuccessfully sought guarantees from NATO allies that they wouldn't transfer the data collected during their observation flights over Russia to the U.S. Leonid Slutsky, head of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of the Russian parliament, said in televised remarks Friday that Russia could review its decision to withdraw if the U.S. decides to return to the pact, but acknowledged that the prospect looks “utopian.” Moscow has warned that the U.S. withdrawal will erode global security by making it more difficult for governments to interpret the intentions of other nations, particularly amid Russia-West tensions after the Russian annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014. The demise of the Open Skies Treaty follows the U.S. and Russian withdrawal in 2019 from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The INF Treaty, which was signed in 1987 by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, banned land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometres (310 to 3,410 miles), weapons seen as particularly destabilizing because of the shorter time they take to reach targets compared with intercontinental ballistic missiles. The only U.S.-Russian arms control pact still standing is the New START treaty that expires in three weeks. Moscow and Washington have discussed the possibility of its extension, but have so far failed to overcome their differences. Biden has spoken for the preservation of the New START treaty and Russia has said it's open for its quick and unconditional extension. But negotiating the deal before the pact expires on Feb. 5 appears extremely challenging. New START was signed in 2010 by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. It limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, and envisages sweeping on-site inspections to verify compliance. Arms control advocates have warned that its expiration would remove any checks on U.S. and Russian nuclear forces, striking a blow to global stability. Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press
Brandon Sun readers request specific questions be asked about COVID-19. Question: What is Brandon’s test positivity rate? We are anxious for loosening restrictions and feel we should be counting on our own numbers rather than the rest of Manitoba’s stats. I got a little worried yesterday when seeing Winnipeg’s positivity rate has dropped, but the rest of Manitoba of which we are part of didn’t. Dr. Jazz Atwal: Sorry, I don’t have all the test positivity rates off the top of my head or on a paper in front of me right now. So I do apologize. I do know, Manitoba test positivity is 10 per cent, Winnipeg is 7.1 per cent. I think it’s somewhat intuitive to know that the Northern RHA (regional health authority) likely has a high positivity rate with all the new cases and a smaller population. Again, I think we need to understand that test positivity is just one indicator that public health looks at, right? So, when we look at our epidemiology, we look at test positivity, we look at cases, we look at risk. We look at a whole bunch of different things when we’re looking at restrictions and orders and what should be done from an orders perspective, to look at those things. So, again, we don’t look at one indicator. I know people get fixated on a case number or just test positivity, or both, but there are many other indicators on top of that, that we look at. We look at hospitalizations, etc. to take those next steps, to create a sound plan for Manitobans. Follow-up question: Is it nevertheless possible to provide the region’s positivity rate or even just Brandon’s? Is it possible to tease that out for the area? Atwal: I have to come back to you on that. We’ll have to seek out that information and see what we can provide. Do you have a question about something in your community? Send your questions to email@example.com with the subject line: Readers Ask.Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun