Here's the latest for Friday December 18th: Officials say some states will get less COVID-19 vaccine than expected; Panel endorses Moderna-NIH vaccine; McConnell, Pelosi, Pence to get vaccine; Northeast digs out from big snow.
Here's the latest for Friday December 18th: Officials say some states will get less COVID-19 vaccine than expected; Panel endorses Moderna-NIH vaccine; McConnell, Pelosi, Pence to get vaccine; Northeast digs out from big snow.
WASHINGTON — Joe Biden and Kamala Harris took their oaths of office on Wednesday using Bibles that are laden with personal meaning, writing new chapters in a long-running American tradition — and one that appears nowhere in the law. The Constitution does not require the use of a specific text for swearing-in ceremonies and specifies only the wording of the president’s oath. That wording does not include the phrase “so help me God,” but every modern president has appended it to their oaths and most have chosen symbolically significant Bibles for their inaugurations. That includes Biden, who used the same family Bible he has used twice when swearing in as vice-president and seven times as senator from Delaware. The book, several inches thick, and which his late son Beau also used when swearing in as Delaware attorney general, has been a “family heirloom” since 1893 and “every important date is in there,” Biden told late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert last month. “Why is your Bible bigger than mine? Do you have more Jesus than I do?” quipped Colbert, who like Biden is a practicing Catholic. Biden’s use of his family Bible underscores the prominent role his faith has played in his personal and professional lives — and will continue to do so as he becomes the second Catholic president in U.S. history. He follows in a tradition of many other presidents who used family-owned scriptures to take their oaths, including Ronald Reagan and Franklin D. Roosevelt, according to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. Some have had their Bibles opened to personally relevant passages during their ceremonies. Bill Clinton, for example, chose Isaiah 58:12 — which urges the devout to be a “repairer of the breach” — for his second inauguration after a first term marked by political schisms with conservatives. Others took their oaths on closed Bibles, like John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president, who in 1961 used his family’s century-old tome with a large cross on the front, similar to Biden’s. The tradition of using a Bible dates as far back as the presidency itself, with the holy book used by George Washington later appearing on exhibit at the Smithsonian on loan from the Masonic lodge that provided it in 1789. Washington’s Bible was later used for the oaths by Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. But not every president has used a Bible. Theodore Roosevelt took his 1901 oath without one after the death of William McKinley, while John Quincy Adams used a law book in 1825, according to his own account. Some have employed multiple Bibles during their ceremonies: Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump chose to use, along with others, the copy that Abraham Lincoln was sworn in on in 1861. Harris did the same for her vice-presidential oath, using a Bible owned by a close family friend and one that belonged to the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Harris has spoken of her admiration of Marshall, a fellow Howard University graduate and trailblazer in government as the high court’s first African American justice. “When I raise my right hand and take the oath of office tomorrow, I carry with me two heroes who’d speak up for the voiceless and help those in need,” Harris tweeted Tuesday, referring to Marshall and friend Regina Shelton, whose Bible she swore on when becoming attorney general of California and later senator. Harris, who attended both Baptist and Hindu services as a child, worships in the Baptist faith as an adult. While U.S. lawmakers have typically used Bibles for their oaths, some have chosen alternatives that reflect their religious diversity. Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim elected to Congress, in 2007 used a Qur’an that belonged to Thomas Jefferson, prompting objections from some Christian conservatives. Jefferson’s Qur’an made a return in 2019 at the oath for Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., chose a Hebrew Bible in 2005 to reflect her Jewish faith. Newly elected Georgia Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff, who is also Jewish and who swears in Wednesday, used Hebrew scripture belonging to Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, an ally of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement. Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, opted for the Bhagavad Gita in 2013 after becoming the first Hindu elected to Congress. And Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., the only member of the current Congress who identifies as “religiously unaffiliated,” took her oath on the Constitution in 2018. ___ Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through The Conversation U.S. The AP is solely responsible for this content. Elana Schor, The Associated Press
At the South Algonquin Township council meeting on Jan. 13, Councillor Bongo Bongo proposed a notice of motion to adopt an official social media engagement policy for the township, to improve their searchability online and their engagement with constituents overall. After hearing his proposal, and discussing it a little, Mayor Jane Dumas suggested having a more thorough discussion about it at the township’s next Economic Development Committee meeting on Jan. 20, which was agreed to by Bongo and the rest of council. Bongo says that he’s gained a new appreciation for social media since COVID-19 emerged, and has gone from thinking of it as a digital distraction to having a crucial role in government operations going forward. His proposal for a social media strategy is to involve the township with more online public engagement. “I am fully prepared for an uphill battle because I can see how this might be a tough sell. My impression is that most members of the township (council and staff) are skeptical of social media. Let’s be honest, it can be terrifying. To face criticism of yourself online is a very tough thing. But regardless of how social media makes me feel, as an elected official, I truly feel it is part of my duty to connect with the public, so I’m simply going to have to embrace the challenges of social media,” he says. While Bongo thinks that the township has used Facebook and other social media well to broadcast time sensitive messages, he would like to see a set posting schedule for information to be posted. “I’d love to see posting schedule of at least two to three posts a week. Right now, messages are broadcasted sporadically. The basis of my social media proposal is that the quarterly newsletter is not enough. Rather than publish important information four times a year, we should be using social media to publish messages every week,” he says. Bongo formally proposed the social media engagement policy to council during the council meeting on Jan. 13, acknowledging that a lot of people on council and the staff have differing opinions on social media and its usefulness and the role that it plays. “But in my motion, I’d like to recommend that we have comments on our livestream YouTube videos and that we somehow incorporate a step where we nominate bits of information that come up in meetings that would be scheduled to be posted on some kind of routine schedule in our social media routine,” he says. Bongo also suggested to council that the forthcoming economic development intern dedicate around 25 per cent of their time to social media engagement. He also put forward the idea of using software such as Hootsuite to help manage the township’s social media communications. “I totally understand that this would probably be discussed at a committee meeting but I just wanted to throw this out there,” he says. Dumas thanked Bongo for his proposal and agreed that what he had suggested would need to be taken to an Economic Development Committee meeting. “It would need fulsome conversation and perhaps some investigation as well. We should have that dialogue at the committee level and then decide on a plan as how you’d like to go forward with that,” she says. Holly Hayes, the clerk and treasurer, had a comment on Bongo’s proposal, specifically with the idea of allowing people to comment on the YouTube livestream of the council meetings. She thought that people could already do so, and mentioned that she had seen comments there in the past. Bongo replied that he hadn’t, and had thought that the ability to comment was unavailable, but that he would take another look. Hayes also wondered if Bongo’s proposed social media engagement was necessary, as residents can already get in touch with their councillors or the town office by phone or by email. Bongo was adamant that it was, and that it would improve the township’s searchability and their overall engagement. “I want our meetings to be as transparent as possible and as public as possible. I think it helps our analytics if that engagement appears on our YouTube videos. I agree there is a formal process for us to accept feedback from the public. To me, allowing comments on the YouTube council meeting video, that’s an open public forum and I don’t see how that would hurt,” he says. Dumas interjected, and reiterated that further discussion should be had at the next Economic Development meeting. “I would want to know what my responsibilities would be as mayor and as a member of council if we make this commitment. So, I think we have to have this discussion at the committee level,” she says. With that comment, she thanked Bongo for his proposal and Hayes for her input on the issue. After the meeting, Bongo reflected on his proposal and thought the limited discussion on it was very useful. “Our procedure is set up in a way that the committee meetings serve as the venue for discussion and the general meetings are where the actual decisions are confirmed. We didn’t talk about the social media at length when I pitched the notice of motion, although the seed for this discussion has been planted, which is key if I want to get the ball rolling with this discussion,” he says. That discussion will take place at the next Economic Development meeting on Jan. 20, right after the township’s 9 a.m. EMS meeting. “We will have a discussion about my proposed initiative and I’m looking forward to hearing what my colleagues think!” Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
A 59-year-old man has died in hospital after the vehicle he was driving collided with two others in Etobicoke on Tuesday afternoon, Toronto police say. The crash happened in the intersection of Kipling Avenue and Belfield Road. Emergency crews were called to the area for reports of a crash at about 1:35 p.m. According to police, the man was driving a blue 2019 Volkswagen Jetta westbound on Highway 409 and was exiting onto the Kipling off-ramp when he struck a 2015 Toyota RAV-4 northbound on Kipling Avenue. Police said the man then struck a 2017 cargo van southbound on Kipling Avenue. The man suffered life-threatening injuries. Toronto paramedics took him to hospital, where he was pronounced dead later in the day. A 64-year-old woman, who was a passenger in the Volkswagen Jetta, suffered non-life-threatening injuries. The drivers of the two other vehicles suffered minor injuries and remained at the scene. Police said they are urging residents, businesses and drivers, who may have security or dashboard camera footage of the area or crash, or saw the vehicle before the collision, to come forward.
The United States swore in its 46th President on Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attended their inauguration in Washington, D.C. with a slew of distinguished guests, but few onlookers as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a need for social distancing.Several past presidents were in attendance, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., however the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, did not attend. Trump flew to his golf club in Florida earlier in the day. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence did attend the ceremony with his wife.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
Local reactions to the provincial government’s latest lockdown restrictions have been mixed to say the least, and moving into another nearly total shutter on small business operations has many concerned for their future. After Premier Doug Ford announced the second provincial emergency and stay-at-home orders on Jan. 12 in response to alarming surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the province, there was near immediate confusion. Timmins MPP Gilles Bisson said there was a major lack of details from the province. “A lot of people are left scratching their heads, trying to figure out exactly what this staying-at-home order is. The Premier says, ‘I don't believe in curfews’ but he’s doing a stay-at-home order, and quite frankly a stay-at-home order is a type of curfew,” Bisson told The Daily Press. The province's release read that the stay-at-home order was “requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for permitted purposes or activities, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for work where the work cannot be done remotely.” Bisson wondered why there was no stringent travel restrictions included in the plan. “I was told there was no ban on travel between regions. So, somebody can go from Timmins to Sudbury or Toronto or wherever. I was also told by the Minister of Solicitor General that if you’ve got to pick up your son or daughter at university and bring them back home, you can do that.” He said the plan is rife with confusion and mixed messages. “The staying-at-home order needs to be clarified. Northerners are prepared to do their bit, but we need to know why government does things, based on good medical and scientific evidence, and make sure that what their orders make sense.” Bisson said he's received lot of calls from constituents over the past few days, critical of the provincial orders. “They’re saying, ‘How come I can go into Walmart and buy something, but I can’t go into my local business and buy the same thing?’ They can provide the same type of security and probably better safety when it comes to COVID, than what Walmart and other large stores are doing. “People are wondering about this stay-at-home order. They’re thinking this is rather ridiculous. If there's a five-person limit on meetings and gatherings, why are we putting kids on buses that have more than five people and putting them in classrooms of more than five people? A lot of people are just very confused.” Bisson said he is also concerned with the recent surge in cases, but this latest approach might not be the right move. “Do we need to do something? Absolutely. But what the government needs to do is be clear about what it is they’re asking us to do — and they’re not doing so.” Loralee Boucher, who operates a hair salon as well as a private party lounge in Downtown Timmins, is very concerned about the next few weeks until a new announcement comes from the province. Hair appointments are not considered essential at this time, which is a massive portion of her income. She has been unable to provide her services since Dec. 26. Her hair salon has been in operation for more than nine years. Her second venture, above the salon, is the Top Shelf Lounge which is a licensed rental space popular for parties and private functions, and sometimes offers live entertainment. It opened in August 2019. Boucher said it has been a brutal stretch for the lounge. “Top Shelf has had a minimum 80 per cent decrease in revenue over the holidays, compared to last year, because I wasn't able to rent it out nearly as much as I did last year,” she said. In the meantime she has been applying for the various assistance programs offered by the federal government. “I applied for the $900 every two weeks, which is what they gave us, online through the government, and then I applied for the grant that they’re offering, somewhere between 10 to 20 thousand,” she said, still awaiting the results. She said it would be a much-needed financial boost. “I’m hoping some kind of funds become available. I own the building. So on a single income, by myself, I have two mortgages, my home and my business. I also have double the bills, two hydro bills, two gas bills, two property tax bills and I have multiple insurances, because you have to have two business insurances, health insurance, you name it; car insurance; my vehicle payment on top of that. “I need to make a minimum of $10,000 a month just to pay that.” Boucher expressed frustration at the blanket approach the feds took with programs like The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). “The government treats everybody like they’re the same, offering everybody just 900 bucks every two weeks. Well how do you explain that I can’t pay my mortgage now, or I can’t get groceries now, things like that off just a tiny amount? For some people, it’s OK, but you’re treating everybody equally and some people have a lot more bills than others to account for.” The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) is a program offered to help businesses and landlords to cover part of their commercial rent or property expenses. “You can apply for a property tax rebate, but the percentage of that is not clear. I guess it’s for them to decide. I know somebody applied for a hydro rebate, and they got $21.” Before the pandemic, her salon was booked full nearly every day. She shudders to think about the total of her lost business. “I’m losing so much money, it’s crazy.” To make it sting a little more, Boucher had also recently made a major investment by adding spa facilities to her salon, including another employee, and some very pricey equipment, only to be shut down a few months later. The only current income is selling some of the hair care products online. “They said they initially closed small businesses to stop the spread of the virus, but after our initial two week shutdown, our numbers went up dramatically.” She realized the blame will be on the holiday season, which is likely accurate, but that it proves some people will gather in large groups regardless of provincial orders, which essentially has nothing to do with small businesses. “Small businesses follow the rules. We don’t want to get closed down. We don’t want to get fines. We wear our masks. We wash our hands. For example, a salon, we’re working one on one. There’s no more risk going into a hair salon than there is going into a grocery store or Walmart.” Boucher said the vast majority of small- to medium-sized businesses have taken the protocols very seriously, and have made the necessary adjustments to their operations in order to be able to provide services safely. “There is no reason why any small business should be shut down, if you’re following protocol. If you’re not following protocol, that’s when you should be shut down.” Boucher said she started a local Facebook group called Outside The Box where small business owners can share ideas, supports, advice on grants, and other initiatives. “It’s all about helping each other. That’s why I created the group in the first place.” Although her online sales have been decent, it is but a small fraction of her standard income which relies on personal appointments. However, she does appreciate the support she is getting and feels a silver lining of this whole thing might be a renewed appreciation for local businesses. “The community has been very supportive. A lot of people are doing their part to support local, so that is a very positive outcome.” said Boucher. Another downtown business and building owner, Matthew Poulin of Total Martial Arts Centre, is irked by the fact his business can’t operate, despite the province stating that people can go out for exercise purposes. “We're actually not sure why. Based on government data, which is on their site, transmission from gyms is under 2.2 per cent and other things that are still open contributed a much higher percentage. Also the restrictions we had in place make us even safer than most gyms. Booking systems, high amount of cleaning daily, 50 per cent capacity for us is 18 people, which is extremely low for a facility of our size,” he said. In the meantime, TMAC has attempted to generate some revenue by opening up some online gear sales. “Currently we’re bringing back our online gym, which isn’t ideal but it’s something nonetheless. Also we will be selling memberships for the online gym too,” said Poulin. He said he has also applied for “as many grants as possible” to keep his business afloat. “Some of our members were able to keep their accounts open with us to support the gym during this time. Really, if it wasn’t for that, we would likely have to close. This second lockdown is scary but we’re confident we will make it through.” Andrew Autio, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Daily Press
The Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority (NITHA) announced on Jan. 17 that they were ending the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak declared in Sturgeon Lake First Nation on Dec. 30, 2020. Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka, Medical Health Officer with NITHA, has declared the outbreak over after the standard 28-day period has passed after the onset of the last case that had the potential to contribute to transmission in Sturgeon Lake First Nation. “This does not mean there are no cases in the community. The public is reminded that during the COVID-19 pandemic it is important to continue to take precautions to protect yourself, your families and everyone who lives in the community. COVID-19 is present in Saskatchewan and we all have a responsibility to minimize the spread of the disease,” the release stated. They reminded people that masking in all indoor public spaces and physical distancing should be done at all times to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Another reminder was for everyone to follow the public health guidelines for hand washing, physical distancing, self-monitoring and self-isolating to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect our most vulnerable populations. “Together we can make a positive difference in our community by reducing the spread.” Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
WASHINGTON — Three new senators were sworn into office Wednesday after President Joe Biden's inauguration, securing the majority for Democrats in the Senate and across a unified government to tackle the new president's agenda at a time of unprecedented national challenges. In a first vote, the Senate confirmed Biden's nominee for Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines. Senators worked into the evening and overcame some Republican opposition to approve his first Cabinet member, in what's traditionally a show of good faith on Inauguration Day to confirm at least some nominees for a new president's administration. Haines, a former CIA deputy director, will become a core member of Biden’s security team, overseeing the agencies that make up the nation’s intelligence community. She was confirmed 84-10. The new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged colleagues to turn the spirit of the new president’s call for unity into action. “President Biden, we heard you loud and clear,” Schumer said in his first . “We have a lengthy agenda. And we need to get it done together.” Vice-President Kamala Harris drew applause as she entered the chamber to deliver the oath of office to the new Democratic senators — Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock and Alex Padilla — just hours after taking her own oath at the Capitol alongside Biden. The three Democrats join a Senate narrowly split 50-50 between the parties, but giving Democrats the majority with Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote. Ossoff, a former congressional aide and investigative journalist, and Warnock, a pastor from the late Martin Luther King Jr.'s church in Atlanta, won run-off elections in Georgia this month, defeating two Republicans. Padilla was tapped by California’s governor to finish the remainder of Harris’ term. “Today, America is turning over a new leaf. We are turning the page on the last four years, we’re going to reunite the country, defeat COVID-19, rush economic relief to the people,” Ossoff told reporters earlier at the Capitol. “That’s what they sent us here to do.” Taken together, their arrival gives Democrats for the first time in a decade control of the Senate, the House and the White House, as Biden faces the unparalleled challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout, and the nation's painful political divisions from the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol by a mob loyal to Donald Trump. Congress is being called on to consider Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID recovery package, to distribute vaccines and shore up an economy as more than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus. At the same time, the Senate is about to launch an impeachment trial of Trump, charged by the House of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol as rioters tried to interrupt the Electoral College tally and overturn Biden’s election. The Senate will need to confirm other Biden Cabinet nominees. To “restore the soul” of the country, Biden said in his inaugural speech, requires “unity.” Yet as Washington looks to turn the page from Trump to the Biden administration, Republican leader Mitch McConnell is not relinquishing power without a fight. Haines' nomination was temporarily blocked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Okla., as he sought information about the CIA's enhanced interrogation program. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is holding back the Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas over Biden's proposed immigration changes. And McConnell is refusing to enter a power-sharing agreement with Senate Democrats unless they meet his demands, chiefly to preserve the Senate filibuster — the procedural tool often used by the minority party to block bills under rules that require 60 votes to advance legislation. McConnell, in his first speech as the minority party leader, said the election results with narrow Democratic control of the House and Senate showed that Americans “intentionally entrusted both political parties with significant power.” The Republican leader said he looked forward working with the new president “wherever possible.” At her first White House briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s desire to have his Cabinet confirmed and in place is “front and centre for the president,” and she said he was hoping to have his national security nominees in place Thursday or Friday. Psaki said the president will be “quite involved” in negotiations over the COVID relief package, but left the details of the upcoming impeachment trial to Congress. The Senate can “multitask,” she said. That’s a tall order for a Senate under normal circumstances, but even more so now in the post-Trump era, with Republicans badly split between their loyalties to the defeated president and wealthy donors who are distancing themselves from Republicans who back Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to soon transmit to the Senate the House-passed article of impeachment against Trump, charged with incitement of insurrection, a step that will launch the Senate impeachment trial. Meantime, the power-sharing talks between Schumer and McConnell have hit a stalemate. It’s an arcane fight McConnell has inserted into what has traditionally been a more routine organizing resolution over committee assignments and staffing resources, but a power play by the outgoing Republican leader grabbing at tools that can be used to block Biden’s agenda. Progressive and liberal Democrats are eager to do away with the filibuster to more quickly advance Biden’s priorities, but not all rank-and-file Senate Democrats are on board. Schumer has not agreed to any changes but McConnell is taking no chances. For now, it will take unanimous consent among senators to toggle between conducting votes on legislative business and serving as jurors in the impeachment trial. The House last week impeached Trump for having sent the mob to the Capitol to “fight like hell” during the tally of Electoral College votes to overturn Biden’s election. __ Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Testimony by Jeffrey Epstein’s ex-girlfriend about her sexual experiences with consenting adults can remain secret when a transcript is released next week, a judge said Tuesday. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska in Manhattan pertained to a July 2016 deposition of Ghislaine Maxwell in a civil lawsuit brought by one of Maxwell's accusers that has since been settled. “Although the prurient interest of some may be left un-satiated as a result, Ms. Maxwell’s interest in keeping private the details of her sexual relationships with consenting adults warrants the sealing of those portions of her testimony,” Preska said at a hearing conducted electronically because of the coronavirus. Lawyers for the 59-year-old British socialite had objected to the transcript being made public on the grounds that it could damage her chance at a fair trial on charges that she recruited three underage girls in the 1990s for Epstein. Preska said Maxwell's lawyers had failed to show how the unsealing of the deposition transcript will jeopardize a trial that isn't slated to begin until July or why publicity about the document cannot be overcome through a fair jury selection process. The judge also ordered the release in eight days of dozens of other documents sought by the Miami Herald. A message seeking comment was left with a lawyer for Maxwell. Epstein, a wealthy financier and convicted sex offender, killed himself in a Manhattan jail in 2019 as he awaited a sex trafficking trial. Maxwell, who is held without bail at a Brooklyn federal lockup, has pleaded not guilty to charges that she recruited girls for Epstein and sometimes joined in the abuse of them. The hearing Tuesday was briefly interrupted when the judge was told that audio of the proceeding was being aired online. “Whoever is doing it, you are operating against the law. I suspect there is a way to find out. So I will ask you, most respectfully, to stop doing it. We have had enough of lack of the rule of law around here. Let’s try to observe it,” Preska said. The audio was online on a page that included comments by individuals who seemed to embrace QAnon, a far-right conspiracy theory. Larry Neumeister, The Associated Press
Premier Scott Moe floated further enforcement of ‘bad actors’ Tuesday in response to videos circulating of alleged flagrant violations of COVID-19 restrictions at restaurants and bars. Moe said he has asked public health to look at stricter enforcement, including ordering businesses to close. In a press conference on Tuesday Moe addressed a video that surfaced of the Tap Brewhouse and Liquor Store in Regina over the weekend. “I’m sure many saw the video this past weekend with patrons in a bar or restaurant here in Regina where they were evidently and flagrantly outside of what the public health orders recommend and certainly outside of what the public health laws allow for. But the vast majority of our restaurants in this province are adhering to our public health orders that are in place but there are these few outliers that are not,” Moe gave the example of sports still being restricted in the province and a petition circulating for a return of sports in the province. “I have sitting on my desk right now a petition with over 10,000 signatures on it, signatures from parents, form adults that are asking to allow their children to play hockey or to have the opportunity for competitive youth recreation,” Moe said. Moe explained that he asks himself if all restaurants need to be punished for the actions of a few who don’t adhere to public health restrictions. “We don’t need to punish all of those that are following the public health orders. But to those establishments and those individuals who flagrantly operating outside of the public health orders — they do need to be punished,” he said. However introducing new measures was off the table until the current measures have completed on Jan. 29. “I don’t believe that we need new measures put in place to bend the COVID curve here in Saskatchewan. We do need everyone to follow the measures that are in place and enough is enough. It is time for us to start enforcing those that are not following those measures,” Moe said. Moe said that children are making sacrifices including sports and it is time for adults to make the same. Moe said he has talked to public health and encourages law enforcement, when there is flagrant violations of orders in establishments, to ramp enforcement up. “We are not going to punish everyone for the acts of a few,” Moe said. Chief Medical Health Officer Saqib Shahab described his own dilemma regarding case numbers. “It is a hard and difficult situation because we continue to be stuck in this 300 range and you know like I said before we want to be heading down below 250, below 200, below 150 that is where we need to go and in December we were heading in that direction and over the holidays we really went down but that was artificial because our testing went down,” he said. Shahab said that case numbers so far in January are spiking due to a lack of compliance with public health orders over the Holiday season. “We saw cases over 300 or 400. Now, we are not seeing those numbers so much but we are seeing examples where people aren’t complying with the guidance and it seems to be mostly younger people or in situations where people seem compelled to go because of the death of a loved one and we are seeing transmission there.” Baseline transmission is high at 300 cases a day. Shahab said small gatherings can create transmissions. There have also been outbreaks connected to funerals and wakes in the north that have created uncontrolled spread. “I think we need to pay our respects virtually as much as possible. Guidance allows for close family and friends to get together for those occasions. But I think overall we have to be very cautious,” The trend numbers also show hospitalization numbers creeping up to a level that is unsustainable. “They are creeping up and over time I think that creates its own pressures on the health care system and unfortunately it generates deaths as well,” Shahab said. Moe reiterated that the measures are significant and did show some success after they were enacted in December and before the holiday increase “We peaked in the time after the holiday bump, which we had predicted would occur, with about 328 cases per day on the seven day rolling average and we are down now to about 300 so we need to continue that downward trajectory,” he said, Moe explained that he thought the cases were trending down those trends will be watched in light of the extension of public health measures to Jan. 29. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
MEXICO CITY — Mexico reported its highest daily death toll since the coronavirus pandemic began, with 1,584 deaths confirmed Tuesday. There was also a near-record one-day rise in new virus cases of 18,894. Mexico has seen almost 1.67 million confirmed coronavirus infections and almost 143,000 test-confirmed deaths related to COVID-19. With the country’s extremely low testing rate, official estimates suggest the real death toll is closer to 195,000. The country’s Defence Department, meanwhile, said four doses of coronavirus vaccine were stolen at a public hospital in Cuernavaca, south of Mexico City, probably by a hospital employee or with the aid of an employee. “This theft was able to be carried out through the dishonesty and greed of a member of the hospital's vaccination staff,” the department said in a statement. The army has been given responsibility for transporting and guarding vaccines in Mexico, but a private security firm was apparently in charge inside the hospital. Before Tuesday, Mexico had received only about 750,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and several people have been sanctioned for cutting lines to get doses. Mexico's total amount so far is enough to vaccinate about half of the country's 750,000 front-line medical personnel, all of whom will need two doses. Also Tuesday, authorities launched a campaign urging people to return rented oxygen tanks they no longer need, saying enormous demand amid the pandemic has created a shortage of the cylinders. The consumer affairs agency launched an online campaign under the slogan “Return Your Tank, For The Love of Life.” With hospitals in Mexico City and other states overwhelmed by a wave of COVID-19 cases, many families have turned to treating their relatives at home with supplementary oxygen, creating spot shortages of tanks and oxygen for refills. But once patients recover, the agency said, many people simply keep the cannisters just in case someone else falls ill. “By doing this they are depriving other patients of something they need at a given moment, and cannot get,” the agency said. The shortages of oxygen, like those of vaccines, has also led to thefts. On Tuesday, police in the town of Tultepec, just north of Mexico City, chased down a small freight truck carrying dozens of oxygen tanks, after the truck was reported stolen. Two suspects were detained at the scene. The Associated Press
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa's trailblazing Black food writer Dorah Sitole's latest cookbook was widely hailed in December as a moving chronicle of her journey from humble township cook to famous, well-travelled author. The country's new Black celebrity chefs lined up to praise her as a mentor who encouraged them to succeed by highlighting what they knew best: tasty African food. Now they are mourning Sitole's death this month from COVID-19. She was 65. In “40 Years of Iconic Food,” Sitole engagingly described how she quietly battled South Africa's racist apartheid system to find appreciation, and a market, for African cuisine. Her book became a holiday bestseller, purchased by Blacks and whites alike. Sitole's career started in 1980 at the height of apartheid when she was hired by a canned foods company to promote sales of their products by giving cooking classes in Black townships. She found that she loved the work. In 1987, Sitole became the country's first Black food writer when she was appointed food editor for True Love, one of the few publications for the country's Black majority. The magazine, and its competitor Drum, were known for giving Black writers, photographers and editors the freedom to write about the Black condition and experience. With stories that were about much more than food, Sitole described how traditional African dishes brought pleasure to families and communities in troubled times. She was known for her distinctive takes on well-known recipes and tips on how to make them on a budget. She won an avid readership and became a household name, even as South Africa's townships were roiled by anti-apartheid violence. When apartheid ended and Nelson Mandela became president in 1994, Sitole found new opportunities. She trained as a Cordon Bleu chef and got a diploma in marketing. She travelled across Africa to learn about the continent's cuisine, producing the book “Cooking from Cape to Cairo.” In interviews, she pointed out her East African fish dish with basmati rice that she developed while travelling through that region, and the seafood samp recipe, which is basically a paella using chopped corn kernels instead of the traditional rice. In 2008, Sitole's success was acknowledged when she was appointed True Love's editor-in-chief. Sitole's warmth and generosity is credited with opening doors for many Black chefs, food writers and influencers who are thriving in South Africa today. “Mam (mother) Dorah’s approach to food was a mixture of things. First, it was something that was driven by her background, she was very true to who she was," said Siba Mtongana, one of South Africa's brightest new chefs, who started out as food editor for Drum magazine and now has a television series and cookbooks. “She would take what we grew up eating and add a twist to them, and add flavours that we would not ordinarily have thought of putting together,” said Mtongana who has opened a restaurant in Cape Town, featuring food from all over Africa. She said Sitole imbued her with a passion for exposing the world to Africa's many cuisines saying she loved describing to her readers what others enjoy eating across Africa, and around the world. Another chef who credits Sitole for assisting her is Khanya Mzongwana, a contributing editor for food retailer Woolworths’ Taste magazine. “Mam Dorah wore so many hats — she was a writer, a creator, a mother, a friend, a real artist. I remember just how awesome it was to see a Black woman blazing trails in food media. Nobody was doing that," said Mzongwana. “What made Mam Dorah the best was definitely how she could fill a space with pleasantness," said Mzongwana. “She was so generous with her resources and wanted to see all of us — her daughters — win. Paying it forward in meaningful ways is something I saw Mam Dorah do first," she said. “She loved and respected everybody and made what seemed like such a wild dream appear so reachable and normal. She was one of the most impactful Black women in the food world.” Sitole received numerous awards for her contribution to South African culture. In one of her last interviews, Sitole said the highlight of her four-decade career was her trip across the continent. “I had always wanted to travel through Africa and I had no clue what to expect," she said on Radio 702. "It was almost like you don’t know what you are going into, and then you find it. I loved every moment and every country that I went to, I loved the food and the experience." Sitole is survived by her children Nonhlanhla, Phumzile and Ayanda. Mogomotsi Magome, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Two of Fox News Channel's top news executives involved in the controversial — but correct — election night call of Arizona for Democrat Joe Biden are out at the network. Bill Sammon, senior vice-president and managing editor at Fox's Washington bureau, announced his retirement to staff members on Monday. On Tuesday, as part of a restructuring of Fox's digital operations, politics editor Chris Stirewalt was let go. Fox's decision to call Arizona for Biden took the network's anchors by surprise and infuriated the White House, which believed the determination was premature. Stirewalt and Fox's decision desk chief, Arnon Mishkin, were the two most visible people defending the decision on the air amidst heat from President Donald Trump and his supporters. Mishkin, who worked the election on a contractual basis, is not a Fox employee. Two days after the call, Stirewalt said on the air that “Arizona is doing just what we expected it to do and we remain serene and pristine.” He hasn't been on the air at Fox since the post-election period. Reached on Tuesday, both Stirewalt and Sammon declined comment. Fox, in a statement on Tuesday, said that “as we conclude the 2020 election cycle, Fox News Digital has realigned its business and reporting structure to meet the demands of this new era." Nearly 20 people lost their jobs as part of the restructuring, according to someone familiar with the changes who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not allowed to speak on personnel issues. No one at Fox would comment specifically on Stirewalt, citing the confidentiality of individual personnel matters. He's been with Fox since 2010. Fox and The Associated Press, which called Arizona for Biden later on election night, remained alone until ABC, CBS and NBC all called it for Biden on Nov. 12, eight days after the election and after all the networks had declared Biden the winner overall. Biden won Arizona by 10,475 votes out of nearly 3.4 million cast. The call angered many Fox News Channel fans. In its wake, conservative broadcaster Newsmax, which has featured many of the personalities who backed Trump’s questioning of the election results, saw a sharp viewership increase. Fox's ratings have dipped as a result, and the network recently announced lineup changes that most prominently added a new opinion show in the early evening. David Bauder, The Associated Press
Six deaths related to COVID-19 reported Tuesday There were five deaths reported in the 80-years-old and over age group with two in Regina and the South East and one in the Saskatoon zone. One reported death in the Central West zone was in the 60 to 69 age group. The number of deaths in the province has grown to 225. There were 309 new cases of COVID-19 reported in the province on Tuesday. The North Central zone, which includes Prince Albert, reported 30 new cases. North Central 2, which is Prince Albert, has 283 active cases. North Central 1, which includes communities such as Christopher Lake, Candle Lake and Meath Park, has 141 active cases and North Central 3 has 140 active cases. There were also four cases with pending information added to the North Central zone. The current seven-day average is 300, or 26.4 cases per 100,000 population. The recovered number now sits at 16,490 after 412 more were reported. On Jan. 18 there were 1,957 doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered, bringing the total number of vaccinations to 25,475. There were 36 doses administered in North Central yesterday. None were administered in the adjacent North East zone. There were 2,929 COVID-19 tests processed in Saskatchewan on Jan 18. COVID-19 recovered numbers to change over next few days According to a release, theMinistry of Health and Saskatchewan Health Authority continue to ensure that public reporting of COVID-19 cases reflects current, active case counts including those who require hospital care. They explained that currently the reporting database is being updated to reconcile a significant backlog in the number of recoveries and these will be reflected in the daily case statistics over the coming days. Reporting procedures will be amended to ensure such reconciliations are not required going forward. The data reconciliation includes updates to active cases in the following areas: 21 days past their test positive date or date when their symptoms first appeared - approximately 588 cases, 15-20 days past their test positive date or date when their symptoms first appeared - approximately 567 cases and 11-14 days past their test positive date or date when their symptoms first appeared - approximately 882 cases. Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
Le chargé de projet Mathieu Trépanier tire sa révérence en confirmant son départ du Comité centre-ville de Matane le 22 janvier prochain, après trois années passées à la tête de l’organisme. Une offre d’emploi pour le remplacer sera publiée d’ici lundi soir. M. Trépanier quitte pour de nouveaux défis professionnels à l’extérieur de la région matanienne. « Ce n’est pas de gaieté et de cœur que je pars de Matane, mais simplement par opportunité professionnelle. J’étais rendu à un point où je cherchais des nouveaux défis, et ça tombe que c’est dans une région à l’extérieur du Bas-Saint-Laurent que je les ai trouvés », dit-il. Même s’il déménage, Mathieu Trépanier restera attaché à la ville de Matane. « C’était vraiment mon plaisir de participer au développement du centre-ville de Matane et, par le fait même, de Matane et de La Matanie », a-t-il renchéri. « Dans le futur, j’entend revenir autant comme touriste qu’en tant qu’employé en télétravail à l’espace collaboratif La Centrale. » Il espère que le Comité continuera à poursuivre sa mission et aider les commerces existants, tout en animant le centre-ville afin de le rendre plus attrayant pour les futurs commerces, et que les citoyens l’occupent et y passent du temps. « Le dossier qui me tenait le plus à cœur et qui me prenait beaucoup de temps est la transformation du centre-ville en un lieu non pas juste pour aller consommer quelque chose, entrer et sortir, mais pour l’habiter », ajoute-il. Avec les prochains travaux de la rue Saint-Jérôme, il considère que l’opportunité est très intéressante de rendre le centre-ville plus humain et plus vert, bref, de le transformer d’un bout à l’autre pour que les citoyens et les piétons puissent y vivre une belle expérience. « Je pense qu’il manque ça au centre-ville. Donc, que la direction de la ville et de la MRC s’alignent pour donner une plus grande place au piéton, c’est une très bonne chose selon moi. » Il se dit fier de laisser un Comité centre-ville en bonne santé financière et organisationnelle, prêt à affronter les défis de la prochaine année, qui sera certainement chargée par la relance économique et la reprise d’un quotidien et d’activités de l’ère « pré-covidienne ». « Mon successeur ou ma successeure aura une belle marge de manœuvre et un comité d’administration très impliqué et plein d’idées », a-t-il justifié. Si Mathieu Trépanier a amené plusieurs éléments au Comité, il se réjouit de l’arrivée d’une nouvelle personne en place, qui amènera sa propre vision pour faire évoluer l’organisme en continuant à se spécialiser. En plus du Comité centre-ville, M. Trépanier était impliqué dans plusieurs organismes locaux tels que les Saveurs de La Matanie à travers le Comité, auprès de l’espace collaboratif La Centrale Matanie en tant que président, et comme administrateur pour Kaméléart. M. Trépanier fait un appel aux personnes potentiellement intéressées par le poste à se référer à l’offre d’emploi, qui sera publiée lundi. Il est d’ailleurs ouvert à rencontrer et aider le futur candidat pour assurer une passation des savoirs et une transition efficace.Claudie Arseneault, Initiative de journalisme local, Mon Matane
Demetri Garcia describes the experience of going back to his seventh grade classroom after a month in COVID-19 quarantine as being akin to his stomach “collapsing in on itself.” “I got into the classroom, and saw my classmates, who all said: ‘Welcome back!’ and it made my stomach feel even worse. I sat down in my chair, tried not to look at them, and stayed silent because of the sheer fear of being back,” the 12-year-old wrote in a recent non-fiction narrative assignment at River Heights School in Winnipeg. “I was scared to be in public and talk to people again.” A positive COVID-19 test is unnerving enough, let alone having to return to junior high school after the fact — unsure of how people will act. In an interview with the Free Press, Demetri recalled not wanting to talk about the experience at all, once he first returned to school in late November; instead, he wanted to shrink in his seat. But days later, he decided to put his feelings on paper when given the chance in English class. Following a lesson on how to show rather than tell through writing, Demetri and his peers were tasked with picking an emotion they once felt strongly and then describe the scene with descriptive language. Demetri picked “anxiety.” His final piece, “Back in School” would be published in a classroom collection of best non-fiction narrative works from the fall. “This kind of writing is about telling your truth. We’re trying to teach kids to be honest,” said Colin Steele, a retired teacher who has been filling in for an absence at River Heights School. Steele said it’s been his job as a teacher this school year to gauge how students are feeling and make them feel as comfortable as possible. Citing how visibly anxious Demetri was upon his return, Steele said he was surprised Demetri chose to be so vulnerable in writing, which was shared with, and well-received by, the rest of the class. Not only was Demetri stressed out about being around other people after being cooped up in his room alone for weeks, the Grade 7 student said he also worried about the academic workload he had to catch up on. After learning his father had tested positive for the novel coronavirus — having been deemed a close contact of a co-worker who had broken public health directives and attended a Halloween party — Demetri went to get swabbed with his mother, who he was staying with at the time. Only Demetri, who spends time at both his mother and father’s homes, received a positive test result, in early November. He experienced a sore throat, nausea, dizziness, a cough and at one point, woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t move. “It just sucks as a parent, when you can’t do anything for your kid... knowing that he was struggling with an illness that nobody can really help him with,” said Gorete Rodrigues. Rodrigues added the situation was made even more frustrating since both she and Demetri’s father had been “extra cautious” because each household has a baby. Meantime, Demetri said his school has been strict about COVID-19 precautions. Among them: masking, announcement reminders to stay apart, and physical distancing requirements. The principal, Demetri said, has entered his classroom more than once with a measuring stick to ensure desks are spaced two metres apart. “I always thought it was real and I was pretty careful and I just kind of stayed away from people. I have the same mind-set (now),” he said, adding it is annoying to see other students mingling around in clusters outside after school. His advice for peers who are not taking the pandemic seriously? “It was not fun. It was hard to breathe, so if you value being able to breathe, take it seriously.” Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Free Press
Premier François Legault on Tuesday nixed the idea that homeless people could be exempt from the 8 p.m. provincewide curfew. The premier said he trusts police officers to use their judgment and said he could not exempt homeless people from the rule, because then other people could pose as homeless to take advantage of the loophole. "They do not intend to give tickets to homeless people," Legault said of the police. "If we put in the rules the fact that a homeless person could not receive a ticket, then anybody could say, 'I'm a homeless person, so you don't have the right to give me a ticket." Earlier in the day, Mayor Valérie Plante called for homeless people to be exempt from the curfew. "What I want is for people to feel safe in Montreal. I don't want to exacerbate that fragility, that vulnerability that is already present," she said, clarifying that she still wants the homeless to find safe spaces to spend the night, but without the added pressure of the curfew. "I'm not encouraging people to sleep in the streets. That is not my message. My message is to use the resources." Plante made the declaration to reporters near city hall two days after a homeless man was found dead inside a portable toilet, steps away from a warming station where he could have spent the night had it not been closed because of COVID-19 concerns. It was another example of how the pandemic and the curfew have combined to complicate life for some of Montreal's homeless and the shelter workers who care for them. "They're giving their all," Plante said of the workers, "but it's certain that the curfew is raising the level of stress and anxiety and, at a certain point, the sense of security among the visitors as well." Plante said she hoped the police would use their judgment and that homeless people would not feel persecuted, but she said she was hesitant to go against Quebec and direct Montreal police officers not to ticket the homeless. City councillor and head of the official opposition, Lionel Perez, said the mayor needs to be more clear. "Simply asking for tolerance isn't sufficient," he said. "She has to, with the chief of police, give clear orientation that this is not what we want." Despite the creation of a record number of beds for Montreal's homeless since the start of the pandemic, overnight capacity is strained. The mayor said 95 per cent of shelter beds are occupied on some nights, and there have not been enough beds on others. She pleaded for the Quebec government to provide more resources. "What we're learning is that some nights, it overflows," she said. "Some nights there are still beds available, but other nights there are not." At The Open Door on Tuesday, safety inspectors arrived to see if it could reopen as a warming station for the homeless overnight. John Tessier, an intervention worker and coordinator at the drop-in centre — which is located steps away from where Raphaël André's body was found on Sunday morning, said they were hoping they would soon get permission to stay open overnight. "We knew that something like this was very likely to happen, and sure enough it did. Now, after tragedy strikes, everybody and the powers that be seem to be moving their feet to try to get something done," he said. Tessier said the police in the area have, for the most part, been tolerant and understanding of the plight of the homeless, but the curfew still "adds another layer of stress to an already difficult life." "Of course it's unhelpful," he said. "It's nice that they're talking about not ticketing people, but curfew or not, it's Montreal, Canada in January and February. Curfew or not, people need somewhere to be." Matthew Lapierre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Gazette
On his way out, President Donald Trump claimed credit for things he didn't do and twisted his record on jobs, taxes, the pandemic and much more. Falsehoods suffused his farewell remarks to the country. As well, in noting Americans were “horrified” by the storming of the Capitol this month, he brushed past the encouragement he had given to the mob in advance and his praise of the attackers as “very special" people while they were still ransacking the seat of power. A look at some of his statements Tuesday: COVID-19 TRUMP: “Another administration would have taken three, four, five, maybe even up to 10 years to develop a vaccine. We did in nine months.” THE FACTS: Actually, the administration didn’t develop any vaccines. Pharmaceutical companies did. And one of the two U.S. companies that have come out with vaccines now in use did not take development money from the government. Trump’s contention that a vaccine would have taken years under a different administration stretches credulity. COVID-19 vaccines were indeed remarkably fast, but other countries have been developing them, too. A vaccine for the coronavirus is not a singular achievement of the United States, much less the Trump administration. U.S. drugmaker Pfizer developed its vaccine in partnership with Germany’s BioNTech, eschewing federal money for development, though benefitting from an advance commitment from Washington to buy large quantities if the vaccine succeeded. A vaccine by Moderna, from the U.S., is also in widespread use. But Britain’s AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is being administered in several countries and vaccines from China and Russia are also in limited use. More than a dozen potential vaccines are in late stages of testing worldwide. ___ VETERANS TRUMP: “We passed VA Choice.” THE FACTS: No, he did not get the Choice program passed. President Barack Obama did. Trump expanded it. The program allows veterans to get medical care outside the Veterans Affairs system under certain conditions. Trump has tried to take credit for Obama's achievement scores of times. ___ TAXES TRUMP: “We passed the largest package of tax cuts and reforms in American history.” THE FACTS: His tax cuts are not close to the biggest in U.S. history. It’s a $1.5 trillion tax cut over 10 years. As a share of the total economy, a tax cut of that size ranks 12th, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 cut is the biggest, followed by the 1945 rollback of taxes that financed World War II. Post-Reagan tax cuts also stand among the historically significant: President George W. Bush’s cuts in the early 2000s and Obama’s renewal of them a decade later. ___ ECONOMY TRUMP: “We also built the greatest economy in the history of the world.” THE FACTS: No, the numbers show it wasn’t the greatest in U.S. history. And he is the first president since Herbert Hoover in the Depression to leave office with fewer jobs than when he started. Did the U.S. have the most jobs on record before the pandemic? Sure, the population had grown. The 3.5% unemployment rate before the recession was at a half-century low, but the percentage of people working or searching for jobs was still below a 2000 peak. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Romer looked at Trump’s economic growth record. Growth under Trump averaged 2.48% annually before the pandemic, only slightly better than the 2.41% gains achieved during Obama’s second term. By contrast, the economic expansion that began in 1982 during Reagan’s presidency averaged 4.2% a year. ___ TRUMP: "We reignited America’s job creation and achieved record-low unemployment for African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, women — almost everyone. THE FACTS: Not an ignition. Job creation actually slowed in 2017, Trump’s first year in office, to about 2 million, compared with nearly 2.5 million in 2016, Obama’s last year in office. The low unemployment rates refer to a pre-pandemic economy that is no more. The pandemic has cost the U.S. economy 10 million jobs and has made Trump the first president since Herbert Hoover to oversee a net loss of jobs. The U.S. has about 2.8 million fewer jobs now than when Trump was inaugurated, and lost 140,000 just in December. And the job losses have fallen disproportionately on Black Americans, Hispanics and women. ___ TRUMP: “We rebuilt the American manufacturing base, opened up thousands of new factories, and brought back the beautiful phrase Made in the USA.” THE FACTS: That's a stretch. There are now 60,000 fewer manufacturing jobs in the U.S. than when Trump took office. Despite gains before the pandemic, the manufacturing base had not exactly been “rebuilt.” Before the coronavirus, nearly 500,000 manufacturing jobs were added under Trump, somewhat better than the nearly 400,000 gained during Obama’s second term. Still, even before the pandemic, the U.S. had 4.3 million fewer factory jobs than it did in 2001, the year China joined the World Trade Organization and a flood of cheaper imports from that country entered the U.S. ___ CAPITOL INSURRECTION TRUMP: “All Americans were horrified by the assault on our Capitol. Political violence is an attack on everything we cherish as Americans. It can never be tolerated.” THE FACTS: That may sum up the reaction of most Americans but it ignores his own part in stirring the anger of his supporters before they staged the violent melee. For months, Trump falsely claimed the November election was stolen, then invited supporters to Washington and sent them off to the Capitol with the exhortation to “fight like hell.” With the uprising still under way and the velocity of the attack apparent from video and reports from the scene, Trump released a video telling them “to go home now” while repeating “this was a fraudulent election” and adding: “We love you. You're very special.” The House impeached Trump, accusing him of inciting an insurrection. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, a Trump political ally for four years, said Tuesday the Trump supporters were “fed lies” and ”provoked by the president and other powerful people." ___ CHINA TRUMP: “We imposed historic and monumental tariffs on China. ... Our trade relationship was rapidly changing, billions and billions of dollars were pouring into the U.S., but the virus forced us to go in a different direction.” THE FACTS: That’s a familiar assertion, false to the core. It’s false to suggest the U.S. never collected tariffs on Chinese goods before he took action. Tariffs on Chinese goods are simply higher in some cases than they were before. It’s also wrong to suggest that the tariffs are being paid by China. Tariff money coming into the government’s coffers is mainly from U.S. businesses and consumers, not from China. Tariffs are primarily if not entirely a tax paid domestically. ___ ISLAMIC STATE TRUMP: “We obliterated the ISIS caliphate.” THE FACTS: His suggestion of a 100% defeat is misleading as the Islamic State group still poses a threat. IS was defeated in Iraq in 2017, then lost the last of its land holdings in Syria in March 2019, marking the end of the extremists’ self-declared caliphate. Still, extremist sleeper cells have continued to launch attacks in Iraq and Syria in recent weeks and are believed to be responsible for targeted killings against local officials and members of the Syrian Democratic Forces. The continued attacks are a sign that the militant group is taking advantage of governments otherwise focused on the pandemic and the ensuing slide into economic chaos. The virus is compounding longtime concerns among security and U.N. experts that the group will stage a comeback. ___ Associated Press writers Josh Boak, Robert Burns and Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report. ___ EDITOR'S NOTE — A look at the veracity of claims by political figures. ___ Find AP Fact Checks at http://apnews.com/APFactCheck Follow @APFactCheck on Twitter: https://twitter.com/APFactCheck Hope Yen, Christopher Rugaber And Calvin Woodward, The Associated Press
Specific details about workplace outbreaks of COVID-19 are not made public in most of Canada. Toronto is starting to make the information available, arguing that transparency increases accountability, but others wonder whether ‘naming and shaming’ does more harm than good.
The Blue Jays have signed star free agent outfielder George Springer, with Toronto and the three-time All Star agreeing to a deal on Tuesday pending a physical. ESPN was first to confirm the two sides reached an agreement on a deal, while adding Springer was heading to Toronto's spring training facility in Dunedin, Fla., for the physical. MLB Network reports the deal to be for six years and US$150 million. The Blue Jays confirmed the deal was for six years pending a physical when reached for comment by The Canadian Press. No further details were provided. The 31-year-old Springer was considered one of the premier players available after declining his qualifying offer from the Houston Astros — the team he has spent his entire seven-year career with — in October to become a free agent. The New York Mets and Blue Jays were reportedly the two frontrunners for Springer, with his name being linked to both clubs for weeks. The centre fielder was named an All Star for the first time in 2017, and went on to become World Series MVP that season when Houston beat the L.A. Dodgers in seven games for a championship, now tainted by the Astros sign-stealing scandal that became public in 2019, and confirmed by MLB in January 2020. He was also named an All Star in 2018 and '19, and took home the AL Silver Slugger Award in both seasons. Springer brings Toronto plenty of playoff experience after reaching the American League Championship Series four seasons in a row, falling just one win shy in 2020 from reaching the World Series for the third time in four campaigns. Springer, from New Britain, Conn., was selected by Houston 11th overall in 2011, and made his debut in 2014. He has 174 home runs and 458 RBIs, with a .270/.361/.491 slash line in his career. This report by The Canadian Press was first published January 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
Like so much this past year, the inaugural celebration will be like no other: pared down, distanced, much of it virtual. But for actor Christopher Jackson — the original George Washington in Broadway's “Hamilton" — performing in a virtual “ball” is a way of participating in an essential rite of American democracy. “I’m glad to play a part in it,” says Jackson, who will perform at the quadrennial ball for the Creative Coalition, a fundraiser for arts education and one of the more prominent unofficial events surrounding Joe Biden’s inauguration. “It’s a great honour, and I’m very grateful that we have allowed our system to continue to work in the way it was intended.” Jackson -- not to mention former co-star and “Hamilton” creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda -- joins a slew of celebrities descending on Washington, virtually or in person, for entertainment surrounding the inauguration of Biden and Kamala Harris. Although the festivities have been radically scaled down due to the raging coronavirus pandemic and security threats, a steady stream of A-list names have signed on, headlined by Lady Gaga singing the national anthem on the West Front of the Capitol, with Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks also performing. Other top-tier performers will be part of “Celebrating America,” a 90-minute, multi-network evening broadcast hosted by Tom Hanks that officially takes the place of the usual multiple inaugural balls. Miranda will contribute a classical recitation, joining musicians like Bruce Springsteen, Katy Perry, John Legend, Demi Lovato, Foo Fighters, Justin Timberlake and Bon Jovi. Hosts Kerry Washington and Eva Longoria will be joined by basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, chef Jose Andres, labour leader Dolores Huerta and Kim Ng, the first female general manager in MLB history. The inaugural committee has made sure to blend this high-powered list with ordinary Americans and inspiring stories. Segments will include tributes to a UPS driver, a kindergarten teacher and Sandra Lindsay, the first in New York to receive the COVID-19 vaccine outside a clinical trial. The show will be carried by ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, MSNBC and PBS as well as the committee’s social media channels and streaming partners. Beyond that event, there’s also a virtual “Parade Across America” on inauguration afternoon, hosted by actor Tony Goldwyn with appearances by Jon Stewart, Earth Wind & Fire and the New Radicals — reuniting after more than two decades — among many others. There’s was also star power on display Tuesday evening at the virtual “Latino Inaugural 2021,” hosted by Longoria and scheduled to include Broadway and screen star (and EGOT winner) Rita Moreno, Edward James Olmos, and Miranda again, saluting Puerto Rico with his father, Luis Miranda. The show honoured members of Latino communities keeping the country running during the pandemic as front-line workers. Also scheduled Tuesday was “We Are One,” celebrating the Black community and African Diaspora with performances by Tobe Nwigwe, DJ D-Nice, The O’Jays, Rapsody, Step Afrika!, the String Queens and others. And the “AAPI Inaugural Ball: Breaking Barriers” celebrated the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities with planned participants including actors Kal Penn, John Cho, Kumail Nanjiani and Chloe Bennet. In a normal year, there would be a wealth of sideline events, parties and concerts around Washington. One of the higher-profile events is the Creative Coalition's ball, going all virtual this year, Along with Jackson, KT Tunstall will perform. Host Judy Gold will kick off with a comedy set, also featuring comedians Randy Rainbow, Michael Ian Black and Wendi McLendon-Covey. More than two dozen members of Congress are set to join celebrity guests like Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Jason Alexander, Yvette Nicole Brown, Ellen Burstyn, Alyssa Milano and others. Jackson, who spoke in an interview late last week while planning his performance, said he would not be appearing as George Washington -- but history was on the actor’s mind nonetheless, given the unique circumstances of this inauguration. “We put ourselves in a perilous position,” he said of recent events roiling the country. “So the idea that this inauguration is happening is testament to the resolute dedication that our public servants have to making this thing work.” He said he was also eager to shine a spotlight on arts education, the coalition’s core mission, noting that as a kid growing up in southern Illinois, he depended on resources like an early-morning band class at school, where he’d begin each day playing the trumpet. “There was a time when I went through a lot of bad emotional passages as a kid,” Jackson said. “Had it not been for the outlet the arts created for me, I don’t know where I would be today." He noted that support for the arts is ever more urgent given how the pandemic has decimated the arts industry. Actor Tim Daly, the coalition’s president, said that despite optimism for the new administration’s approach to arts funding, it’s still an uphill battle in the United States. “I feel there’s going to have to be a really long and powerful effort by the Creative Coalition and other organizations to finally try and make federal, local and state governments understand the importance of the arts," he said, adding that the arts, besides being a driver of the economy, "is part of our spirit. It’s how we teach empathy and kindness.” Daly said he has mixed feelings as he approaches this very unique inauguration. “This is going to be the strangest (celebration) ever,” he said. “It’s virtual, and the celebration will in some ways be very muted. But in some ways, very meaningful. In a way this year is more important than any other, because our democracy has been under threat.” The coalition’s ball will include breakout rooms where guests can mingle, and even simultaneous hand-delivered meals in multiple cities. But there’s still no way to replace an in-person experience, Daly acknowledged. “There’s nothing that takes the place of human interaction,” the actor said. “I’d be lying or dishonest if I said this was better. But we’re doing the best we can — and it’s better than nothing.” ___ This story has been corrected to accurately spell the name of Sandra Lindsay. Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press