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
COVID-19. La Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec (FCCQ) demeure vivement préoccupée par l'état des entreprises québécoises et s'inquiète pour la survie de plusieurs. Elle accueille tout de même favorablement l'ouverture du gouvernement pour maintenir certaines activités économiques tout en rappelant qu'une aide financière directe plus importante que ce qui a été annoncé par le passé devrait être prévue. «Les Québécois sont fatigués. La situation actuelle est extrêmement difficile pour de trop nombreux secteurs économiques et les annonces d'aujourd'hui sont un autre coup dur pour des milliers d'entrepreneurs. Nous reconnaissons toutefois que les décisions du gouvernement visent à maintenir le plus d'activités économiques possible sans nuire aux efforts pour lutter contre le virus, notamment pour le secteur manufacturier et celui de la construction. Les entrepreneurs québécois ont fait d'énormes efforts pour rendre les lieux de travail les plus sécuritaires possible. Voici leur chance d'en faire la démonstration», souligne Charles Milliard, président-directeur général de la FCCQ pour qui le gouvernement doit maintenant plancher sur deux priorités nationales : maximiser la distribution et l'administration des vaccins et s'assurer que les aides de soutien aux entreprises soient les plus directes et les plus efficaces possible. «Le gouvernement doit présenter et exécuter rapidement un plan de vaccination cohérent et efficace. En plus de pouvoir compter sur les professionnels de la santé, il devrait aussi prêter rapidement l'oreille aux offres d'aide du secteur privé pour accélérer la vaccination de la population», indique-t-il. Par ailleurs, pour couvrir un maximum d'entreprises ayant besoin d'une aide financière pour survivre, l'enveloppe globale devrait être augmentée et la notion d'aide directe devrait être privilégiée selon le réseau de 130 chambres de commerce et 1 100 membres corporatifs. «Le surendettement des entreprises était déjà une réalité bien présente qui sera aggravée par ces fermetures prolongées de plusieurs entreprises. La situation est exceptionnelle et impose des mesures exceptionnelles comme le couvre-feu, mais nos entreprises n'ont plus la capacité de s'endetter davantage et le gouvernement doit en tenir compte», précise Charles Milliard. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
The Township of Seguin and the other six municipalities that make up west Parry Sound have signed off on a letter, dated Dec. 1, to Ontario’s minister of the environment, conservation and parks. The letter states that they would like the ministry to reconsider the transition of the blue box from 2025 to 2024. What exactly is the blue box transition program? The Blue Box Transition program is being legislated by the Province of Ontario and means the responsibility of collecting and processing recyclable products will be on the manufacturers who make the items. What that means is the duty of recycling is being shifted to the manufacturers who produce the material rather than society. Will this effect how I put out my recycling? The government says there shouldn’t be any change of service. You may have to go to a different location to drop off your recycling, if rural, or you may have a new company that picks up your curbside blue box materials. When is this supposed to come into effect? For the municipalities that make up west Parry Sound — Parry Sound, Archipelago, Seguin, McKellar, McDougall, Carling and Whitestone — the change is supposed to come into effect in 2025; however, all seven municipalities have signed a letter to Minister Jeff Yurek requesting the transition take place in 2024. Why? The District of Muskoka is transitioning in 2024 and, currently, the west Parry Sound municipalities process blue box materials in Bracebridge. They are concerned about issues that may happen if the transition happens at a different time than Muskoka. Another concern is the fact the Greater Toronto Area is transitioning in 2023 and the expanded list of recyclables there will differ from what is offered in west Parry Sound for a time. Residents who migrate north for the summer may expect to recycle the same list of items, which may cause contamination in waste systems. Will this transition raise my taxes? Once the producers and manufacturers take over the recycling process, it’s going to save the taxpayers; however, prices for products may go up to pay for the manufacturers’ cost of processing the recycling. The Township of Seguin said at its Jan. 11 council meeting that the mayors from the seven municipalities would follow up on the letter once a response was received. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
OTTAWA — The Canadian Real Estate Association says home sales in December hit an all-time record for the month to end what was also a record year.It says December sales were up 47.2 per cent compared with December 2019, the largest year-over-year gain in monthly sales in 11 years. Sales for the month were also up 7.2 per cent compared with November.For 2020 as a whole, CREA says some 551,392 homes were sold, up 12.6 per cent from 2019, and a new annual record. The actual national average home price was a record $607,280 in December, up 17.1 per cent from the final month of 2019.CREA says excluding Greater Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area, two of the most active and expensive markets, lowers the national average price by almost $130,000.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand said today that global pharmaceutical giant Pfizer will temporarily reduce shipments of its vaccine to Canada, further complicating the slow rollout of doses. Anand said she was told last night that Pfizer will send fewer doses than expected because it is pausing some production lines at its facility in Puurs, Belgium, in order to expand long-term manufacturing capacity. "This expansion work means that Pfizer is temporarily reducing deliveries to all countries receiving vaccines manufactured at its European facility, and that includes Canada," Anand told reporters at a public health briefing. "Pfizer believes that by the end of March it will be able to catch up, such that we will be on track for the total committed doses for Q1," she added, referring to the first quarter of the calendar year. Anand stressed that this is a "temporary reduction" and not a "stoppage," as some doses will still be shipped to Canada when some of Pfizer's manufacturing lines are idle. "It's going to be temporary, it's not a loss, and we will make up those doses," she said, adding deliveries will be disrupted for "two or three weeks." WATCH | Canada affected by Pfizer vaccine production delay in Europe: Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the military commander leading vaccine logistics, said Canada's allotment will be reduced by 50 per cent for four weeks. He said the shipment next week of roughly 208,000 doses will proceed as planned, but shipments over the subsequent four weeks will be substantially smaller as a result of this manufacturing hiccup. Fortin said Canada will experience the "most profound impact" during the week of Jan. 25, when Pfizer will ship just a quarter of what had been promised originally. All told, the delivery of roughly 400,000 doses has been punted to a later date. Fortin stressed that Pfizer's shipments will scale up after that point and "return to what we expected for end-February and onwards." The general has stated previously that Canada was expecting the delivery of 1.4 million Pfizer doses that month. "As numbers increase, Pfizer indicated that they intend to offset the impact of their production dip," he said. "It will hurt in the short-term but ... the manufacturer is committed to the doses it has promised us." A spokesperson for Pfizer Canada said the delay will allow the company to significantly scale up its manufacturing operations and pump out up to 2 billion vaccine doses this year — up from the previous target of 1.3 billion. The company said there will be "fluctuations in orders and shipping schedules" as it works to increase production volumes. "As part of the normal productivity improvements to increase capacity, we must make modifications to the process and facility. Although this will temporarily impact shipments in late January and February, it will provide a significant increase in doses available for patients in late February and March," the spokesperson said. Other countries supplied by Pfizer's European facility provided some rough estimates Friday of how deliveries will be affected as Pfizer retools. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health said it expects deliveries to be reduced by as much as 20 per cent over the coming weeks. Lithuania said it was told its supplies would be halved until mid-February. "The manufacturer told us the cuts are EU-wide," Lithuanian health ministry spokesperson Vytautas Beniusis told Reuters. Anand said the federal government still expects to receive roughly four million doses of the Pfizer product in the first three months of this year. Moderna is expected to deliver another two million doses of its vaccine. Pfizer also has a plant in Kalamazoo, Mich., but all of Canada's doses are being shipped from the company's European operation. "While both our U.S. and European sites are approved by Health Canada to supply the Canadian market, the supply to Canada has been allocated from our Puurs site in Belgium. For the time being, that has not changed," the Pfizer spokesperson said. Later Friday, in an interview with CBC's Power & Politics, Anand said she did try to negotiate with the company to avoid this delay but was unsuccessful. "In my telephone conversation with them, I did raise what other measures we could take," she said. Pfizer's Michigan plant is only 220 kilometres away from the Detroit-Windsor border crossing. Asked if Canada could receive doses from the Michigan plant while the Brussels location is working at reduced capacity, Anand said those products have been earmarked already for the American market. 'Bumps along the way' Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to assure Canadians today that the "temporary" delays won't derail the government's long-term goal of getting everyone who wants a shot vaccinated by the end of September. He also said he doesn't expect the manufacturing pause to "change our second quarter goals. Canada must still get ready for the 'ramp up' phase in Q2." Fortin has said the country is expecting delivery of about one million vaccine shots each week starting in April. In the spring, Canada will shift from phase one of the vaccine rollout — immunizing particularly vulnerable people, such as long-term care home residents, some Indigenous adults and health care providers — to wider distribution among the general population. Trudeau said the government always anticipated some "bumps along the way," given the unprecedented global demand for vaccines. WATCH: Trudeau says Pfizer's reduction is 'just temporary' "This kind of issue is out of our hands and that's why we pursued an aggressive procurement strategy in the first place," Trudeau said, adding Canada is not entirely dependent on Pfizer for shots. Other promising vaccine candidates, such as those from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson's pharmaceutical division, Janssen, are currently being reviewed by regulators at Health Canada.
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
SILVER SPRING, Md. — U.S. industrial production rose 1.6% in December, a third straight monthly gain, but remains below its pre-pandemic level. The December gain in industrial output followed a 0.5% increase in November and a 1% increase in October, the Federal Reserve reported Friday. Even with those gains, industrial output is still about 3.3% below its level in February before the pandemic hit. Manufacturing increased 0.9% while mining production rose 1.6%. Utilities' output rose 6.2% as a rebound in December demand followed unseasonably warm weather in November. U.S. industry operated at 74.5% of capacity in December, still below the pre-pandemic rate of 76.9% in February. Matt Ott, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — U.S. wholesale prices rose 0.3% in December led by a the biggest jump in energy costs since June. The Labor Department reported Friday that the gain in its producer price index, which measures inflation pressures before they reach consumers, followed a modest 0.1% gain in November and matched the 0.3% rise in October. The December increase reflected a 5.5% surge in energy costs, the biggest gain since a 9.6% jump in June. That offset a 0.1% drop in food costs, the first decline since August. Gasoline prices rose 16.1% in December and accounted for nearly half of the increase in goods prices last month. Over the past 12 months, inflation at the wholesale level has risen a modest 0.8%. The government reported Wednesday that consumer inflation was also well-behaved last year, rising just 1.4% over the past 12 months. These low inflation reading are giving the Federal Reserve room to keep interest rates at ultra-low levels in an effort to help lift the economy out of a pandemic-induced recession. Inflation has remained below the Fed’s 2% annual target for much of the past decade. “Inflation is still largely a no-show,” said Mahir Rasheed, an economist with Oxford Economics. “While some sectors have seen prices start to heat up, broader inflation measures continue to fall short of the Fed's 2% goalpost as the economy entered the new year in a slump.” Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
Three Innu men from Quebec were fined on Jan. 7 after being found guilty of illegally hunting caribou in Labrador in 2015. The three men, Roger Mark, Jacques Mark and Jean-Phillipe Vollant, were found guilty of violating the Wildlife Act and fined $1,000 each. Vollant was also found guilty of obstructing a wildlife officer and fined $200. Prosecutor Jim Clarke had asked Judge Kari Ann Pike to impose penalties on the lower end of the range because the three men co-operated with the wildlife officers. “It was non-confrontational is what I’d suggest and that is why the Crown is leaning towards the lower end of those scales and recommending the court impose minimum fines,” he told the court at the sentencing hearing. The incident that lead to the charges happened on Oct. 25, 2015. The Fish and Wildlife enforcement division in Happy Valley-Goose Bay received a complaint that three men were illegally hunting caribou in the Birchy Lake area. Four officers were sent out to do a helicopter patrol of the area and saw a tent set up near the edge of Birchy Lake. They landed, went to the campsite and found the Mark brothers there, with Vollant offshore in a canoe. When asked to come ashore by the officers, he initially refused before complying. That refusal is what led to his obstruction charge. The officers seized hunting gear, a rifle, a shotgun, and meat and animal parts at the campsite. The meat was sent to Trent University to be identified and it was verified to be caribou. A report entered into evidence verified that the camp location and hunt was within the range of the Mealy Mountain population, which are listed as endangered. During the sentencing, defence lawyer Francois Levesque said the men, who have hunted caribou since they were children, had acted respectfully to the caribou, which the Innu have traditionally hunted for generations. “It was a very respectful manner of doing the infraction, if I may put it that way,” Levesque said. “It’s not the worst case we’ve seen of poaching, if I can put it like that. Of course, the remaining fact is that caribou is endangered. Whether it is Red Wine caribou, George River caribou, it was endangered.” Pike said it was an aggravating factor that the men had planned the trip knowing they were not allowed to hunt caribou in the area, but there were also a number of mitigating factors. There was no indication the hunt was for anything but subsistence, she said, and on land the Innu have traditionally used for that purpose for a long time.Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden has picked a former Food and Drug commissioner to lead vaccine science in his drive to put 100 million shots into the arms of Americans in his administration's first 100 days and stem the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. David Kessler, who will have the title of chief science officer of COVID response, headed the Food and Drug Administration in the 1990s under presidents of both political parties. He has been acting as a top pandemic adviser to Biden and his appointment was announced Friday by the presidential transition office. Kessler will work out of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, assuming responsibility for the scientific side of Operation Warp Speed, an effort launched under the Trump administration to rapidly develop vaccines and treatments. The drive has already produced two highly effective vaccines, and more are on the way. Nonetheless, the nation's vaccination campaign has gotten off to a slow start, and most of the vaccine being delivered to states by the federal government is not being used right away. A person advising the Biden transition team said Kessler will take on the role now being carried out by Dr. Moncef Slaoui, a prominent vaccine scientist and innovator who has been serving as chief advisor to Operation Warp Speed. Several vaccine candidates in the pipeline are in final clinical trials, and one company is expected to soon apply for FDA emergency approval for its formulation. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. Kessler will co-ordinate vaccine review and approval, as well as the logistics of manufacturing millions more doses. Experts say the U.S. will need to vaccinate upwards of 250 million people to approach the goal of “herd immunity," where there is widespread resistance to virus allowing for a return to normal life. So far fewer than 12 million doses have been administered. Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, The Associated Press
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A partnership with the Trump administration has reduced disparities in Alaska Native access to COVID-19 testing, treatment and protective equipment, tribal health care leaders said. The administration’s coronavirus initiative has treated Indigenous tribes as sovereign governments and set aside special vaccine shipments, Alaska Public Media reported Thursday. Operation Warp Speed, as the initiative is known, designated vaccine doses for tribes in the same manner as for the Department of Defence, Veterans Health Administration and Bureau of Prisons. The federal government distributed more than 35,000 doses to Alaska tribes, in addition to 78,000 doses to Alaska’s state government. More than 250,000 doses were dedicated to tribes nationwide through the Indian Health Service. “It’s something to celebrate,” Alaska Native Health Board CEO Verné Boerner. “When you embrace tribes and tribal sovereignty, you can bring so much more to the state.” Tribal shipments have afforded broad vaccine access for rural and Indigenous Alaskans and expanded availability of doses beyond older people. Providers acknowledge part of their ability to offer expanded access is because about a third of health care workers and older residents have declined to immediately take vaccines. While tribal providers are vaccinating Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, state and Native leaders said there is a legal basis for separate shipments because of longstanding recognition of tribes as sovereign governments. Officials said the decision also is appropriate from a scientific and medical standpoint because of the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on Alaska Native people and the dynamics in many rural communities that make the virus difficult to control. Factors include crowded, multi-generational homes, lack of running water and sewer and distance from advanced medical care. “It’s never been about equal distribution of the vaccine. It’s about equitable distribution,” said Dr. Ellen Hodges, Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. chief of staff. “The congregate living settings that exist in most of our villages are a setup for the virus to just spread like wildfire, and there’s no defence against that.” For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The Associated Press
L’acquisition de Metro Industrial Tires doit permettre à Camso de développer ses filières de distribution et de manutention en Amérique du Nord. Metro Industrial est une société américaine qui possède deux centres de distribution dans les couronnes nord et sud de Chicago. Chaque site dispose d’une flotte de camions munis d’une presse. Un créneau que Camso espérait renforcer au sud de la frontière. «Camso cherche par cette acquisition à accroître sa présence dans le service et la distribution de pneus de transport hors route. Chicago est l’un des plus grands marchés de la manutention aux États-Unis», explique Bob Bulger, vice-président et directeur général de Camso Amérique du Nord. «L’acquisition des activités de solutions de manutention de Metro permettra d’élargir et de renforcer la chaîne entre la fabrication des pneus, leur distribution et les services de Camso, dit-il. Tous nos clients, qu’il s’agisse de flottes, de comptes nationaux, de fabricants d’équipements d’origine ou de concessionnaires d’équipements, pourront en tirer avantage». Cette acquisition n’aura cependant aucune incidence sur les effectifs de Camso à Magog. Mais elle doit sur le moyen terme permettre à Camso de nourrir de nouveaux projets, de dire Martine Cormier, chef de service, marque et communications internes chez Camso. «Nous recherchons toujours des moyens de mieux servir et de développer notre service de pneus et notre présence de distribution aux États-Unis et ailleurs.» Pourquoi avoir opté pour l’acquisition de Metro Industrial Tires alors que Camso aurait simplement pu agir comme un sous-traitant? Mme Cormier répond que «notre relation à long terme à travers de multiples canaux confirme qu’ensemble, nous continuerons à fournir le plus haut niveau de service dans la fourniture et l’installation de solutions de manutention. Leur modèle de service exceptionnel nous permettra de trouver des moyens nouveaux et innovants pour répondre aux besoins en constante évolution de nos clients.» Camso, récemment rachetée par le groupe français Michelin au coût de 1,9 milliard de dollars, se spécialise dans la fabrication de pneus hors route, de roues, de chenilles en caoutchouc, ainsi que de systèmes de trains roulants. L’entreprise accapare 11 % du marché mondial dans les secteurs de la manutention, de la construction, de l’agriculture et des produits récréatifs. Près de 7500 personnes travaillent chez Camso en Amérique du Nord et du Sud, en Europe et en Asie. L’entreprise compte près de 400 employés au Canada, dont 300, à Magog. L’entreprise compte trois centres de R & D et une vingtaine d’usines de fabrication dans le monde. Boris Chassagne, Initiative de journalisme local, La Voix du Sud
Chinese technology firm Huawei plans to establish a flagship store in Riyadh, the largest such store outside China, the Saudi government said on Friday. Huawei has signed a leasing contract with Saudi Arabia's Kaden Investment for the store that will allow the Chinese company to have direct access to consumers amid rising demand for digital products and services in the kingdom, the statement said, without giving a date for the opening. Saudi Arabia expects internet usage in the kingdom to increase from covering 82.6% of the population in 2022 from 73.2% in 2017, the Ministry of Investment statement said.
Codiac RCMP say 22 people were arrested when a massive police operation disrupted an illicit drug network this week. Drugs, cash and handguns were seized in the raids Thursday at seven locations in Moncton, one in Dieppe and one in Riverview, Superintendent Tom Critchlow said. "We target those that, based on our intelligence, are causing the most harm to our communities," Critchlow told the Codiac Regional Policing Authority on Thursday night. "That has to be the focus. A lot of the property crimes and the drivers of crime in this area is because of dependency on illicit drugs and feeding that habit." Five women and six men are to appear in court in July, but the RCMP would not say what charges they're facing. They have been released from custody. The other 11 who were arrested are still being interviewed. Critchlow said the arrests are all related to one organization, but he would not be specific. Critchlow said more needs to be done to address addiction as a social issue, and that he's concerned about the of firearms found during recent drug enforcement operations. The raids followed the seizure earlier in the week of a kilogram of methamphetamine. A woman is facing drug and firearms charges.
Montreal's Sainte-Justine Hospital is pleading with parents to bring their children to the ER as quickly as possible when needed, even if it means breaking curfew. The province is almost seven days into into its four-week overnight curfew, with only essential movement allowed between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., and the head of Sainte-Justine's emergency room services says he's noticed a dip in the number of families coming in during the evening. "Illness doesn't stop because of a curfew," said Antonio D'Angelo, the hospital's head of emergency services. "Some parents are keeping [their children] at home with conditions that might require urgent care." Some parents have waited before bringing in children that have suffered lacerations or to deal with issues related to their diabetic condition, D'Angelo said. He says parents who do show up will be given a certificate to justify why they are outside during curfew hours as they head back home. As for parents who could be stopped on their way to hospital, D'Angelo is hoping police will be understanding. "We're still seeing patients in the evenings and nights, but we're just worried that some patients are concerned about going outside because they'll break curfew," he said. "The measures are in place to protect the population, but each individual should make the choice, if their children are ill, to come to the emergency room anyway."
Fears of a post-holiday COVID-19 surge appear not to have materialized in Alberta, and experts say current trends are encouraging, but the province still has some way to go before major public-health measures can be safely lifted. "We look at this big picture and what it's suggesting is that what we're doing in Alberta is working," said Dr. Craig Jenne, an associate professor of microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases at the University of Calgary. He noted that new daily case numbers have been steadily coming down for several weeks now and, while hospitalizations remain relatively high, they appear to have peaked and have started to decline, as well, albeit somewhat slowly. "They're not coming down as fast as we want," Jenne said. "But at least they're not going up." The province plans to relax, slightly, the limits on outdoor gatherings, funerals and personal-care services effective Monday, but Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said it's too soon to lift the major restrictions that were put in effect in December. Some people have questioned whether Alberta's lower test volumes recently are behind the decrease in cases. Hinshaw acknowledged the province has been doing fewer tests lately, but noted the percentage of tests coming back positive has also been steadily declining, which suggests the viral spread is indeed slowing. "We have no backlog in our lab," Hinshaw said earlier this week. "So our lab is processing all of the samples in a timely way." Before the holidays, Premier Jason Kenney admitted he was concerned that Albertans might misunderstand or disregard the rules restricting family gatherings. "I am concerned, to be blunt, about what we might see coming out of Christmas," he said in December. But it appears Albertans generally followed the rules and limited the spread of the virus. A post-holiday spike in cases would be expected to have shown up in the data by now, but so far there has been no major increase. "The reduction in our positivity rate is encouraging," Hinshaw said. "The reduction in our new daily cases is also encouraging." Still, Jenne believes the numbers need to come down a lot more before public-health measures can be significantly relaxed. "It's unclear if we've gotten the numbers down far enough to fully reopen things, but the plan is working," he said. "And if we can stick to it, if we can continue with this plan, we should expect these trends of declining numbers to continue." Hinshaw echoed that. "Albertans, again, have shown that when we've worked together and followed these restrictions, we have brought our cases down," she said. "But we can't ease up on following those public health measures, or our trends will start to rise again."
MILAN — Italy’s fashion chamber is opening on Friday the first Milan Fashion Week that won't have VIPS populating runway front rows, as the reality of Italy's persistent resurgence of the coronavirus has forced an all-virtual format for presenting menswear previews. The National Fashion Chamber maintained a live element during the July and September fashion weeks in Milan. But after planning to stage live shows with guests during this round, Fendi, Etro and outdoor brand Kway announced their events will be livestreamed from behind closed doors. Dolce & Gabbana cancelled its runway show entirely, citing restrictions in place due to COVID-19. The other 36 participating fashion houses on the pared-down calendar -- including Zegna and Prada -- will all have digital-only presentations. “We did everything to preserve some runway shows, but the anti-COVID norms in this moment don’t allow us to have guests, and therefore, the runway shows will be closed-door,” fashion chamber president Carlo Capasa said. The organizers of Paris Fashion Week plan to hold audience-free men’s and haute couture shows later this month. Prospects for Milan's February shows of mostly womenswear previews remain unclear; the Italian government on Friday announced a new round of virus-control restrictions through Feb. 15 that extend a ban on travelling between regions. Capasa acknowledged that closed-door shows deprive fashion of some of its energy. But the pandemic, which has all but shut down global travel and closed retail stores for long periods , has made fashion houses quickly update their digital communication strategies and e-commerce platforms, he said. There is some evidence the investments are paying off, with one-quarter of online luxury sales last year to consumers who went high-end for the first-time, Capasa said. The Italian fashion chamber found that 45 million people streamed Milan Fashion Week shows in September, a number that Capasa said was beyond his wildest dreams a year ago. Still, the fashion industry is in dire financial straits. The Italian industry recorded a 25% drop in revenues to 50.5 billion euros ($61.2 billion) in 2020 compared with 2019, with exports down 22% to nearly 43 billion euros ($52.1 billion). A more drastic decline was avoided thanks to so-called “revenge shopping” in China, with eager consumers returning to luxury shopping as soon as lockdowns expired, and moves toward e-commerce and a bump in global luxury sales in October, Capasa said. In Europe, where governments have ordered new lockdowns, the market remained weakest. Capasa said the industry, one of the biggest generators of Italy's gross domestic product, is seeking a share of the government’s recovery funds to help improve innovation and to keep small artisanal businesses from failing. He said he hopes to see a gradual return to normality in fashion show calendars and travel this summer, as vaccines reduce the threat of the coronavirus. “For now, we need to do the best we can, in the moment we are living,’’ Capasa said. Colleen Barry, The Associated Press
Canadians are reporting feeling frustrated, anxious and depressed after months of COVID-19 restrictions. Registered psychologist Christine Purdon answers audience questions about the mental health impacts of the pandemic.
In a blog post published on Friday, the EU's top diplomat Josep Borrell said Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed now needed to live up to the Nobel Peace Prize he was awarded in 2019 by doing all it takes to end the conflict in Tigray. "We are ready to help, but unless there is access for humanitarian aid operators, the EU cannot disburse the planned budget support to the Ethiopian government," Borrell said.
Two-year-old Yesmin Anayeli Perez died this week of illnesses linked to malnutrition, the third small child to die from similar causes in an impoverished mountain village in eastern Guatemala within weeks, residents and health officials said. Residents of the indigenous Mayan village, La Palmilla, and other parts of a region known as the Dry Corridor sunk deeper into poverty last year when economic damage wrought by droughts and two devastating hurricanes was compounded by the coronavirus lockdown. The situation in La Palmilla is a stark example of the depth of the crisis in Central America, where governments are hoping for a rapid restoration of U.S. aid under incoming president Joe Biden to stem a new migration wave.