Here's the latest for Thursday December 17th: Congressional negotiators say a coronavirus aid package is almost ready; COVID vaccine watched for allergic reactions; Wintry weather hitting northeastern US; Chinese space probe returns from the moon.
Here's the latest for Thursday December 17th: Congressional negotiators say a coronavirus aid package is almost ready; COVID vaccine watched for allergic reactions; Wintry weather hitting northeastern US; Chinese space probe returns from the moon.
WASHINGTON — Federal law enforcement officials are examining a number of threats aimed at members of Congress as the second trial of former President Donald Trump nears, including ominous chatter about killing legislators or attacking them outside of the U.S. Capitol, a U.S. official told The Associated Press. The threats, and concerns that armed protesters could return to sack the Capitol anew, have prompted the U.S. Capitol Police and other federal law enforcement to insist thousands of National Guard troops remain in Washington as the Senate moves forward with plans for Trump's trial, the official said. The shocking insurrection at the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob prompted federal officials to rethink security in and around its landmarks, resulting in an unprecedented lockdown for Biden's inauguration. Though the event went off without any problems and armed protests around the country did not materialize, the threats to lawmakers ahead of Trump's trial exemplified the continued potential for danger. Similar to those intercepted by investigators ahead of Biden’s inauguration, the threats that law enforcement agents are tracking vary in specificity and credibility, said the official, who had been briefed on the matter. Mainly posted online and in chat groups, the messages have included plots to attack members of Congress during travel to and from the Capitol complex during the trial, according to the official. The official was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation publicly and spoke Sunday to the AP on condition of anonymity. Law enforcement officials are already starting to plan for the possibility of armed protesters returning to the nation's capital when Trump’s Senate trial on a charge of inciting a violent insurrection begins the week of Feb. 8. It would be the first impeachment trial of a former U.S. president. Though much of the security apparatus around Washington set up after the Jan. 6 riot and ahead of Biden’s inauguration — it included scores of military checkpoints and hundreds of additional law enforcement personnel — is no longer in place, about 7,000 members of the National Guard will remain to assist federal law enforcement, officials said. Gen. Dan Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said Monday that about 13,000 Guard members are still deployed in D.C., and that their numbers would shrink to 7,000 by the end of this week. John Whitley, the acting secretary of the Army, told a Pentagon news conference that this number is based on requests for assistance from the Capitol Police, the Park Police, the Secret Service and the Metropolitan Police Department. Whitley said the number is to drop to 5,000 by mid-March. Thousands of Trump’s supporters descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress met to certify Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential race. More than 800 are believed to have made their way into the Capitol during the violent siege, pushing past overwhelmed police officers. The Capitol police said they planned for a free speech protest, not a riot, and were caught off guard despite intelligence suggesting the rally would descend into a riot. Five people died in the melee, including a Capitol police officer who was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher. At least five people facing federal charges have suggested they believed they were taking orders from Trump when they marched on Capitol Hill to challenge the certification of Biden’s election victory. But now those comments, captured in interviews with reporters and federal agents, are likely to take centre stage as Democrats lay out their case. More than 130 people have been charged by federal prosecutors for their roles in the riot. In recent weeks, others have been arrested after posting threats against members of Congress. They include a Proud Boys supporter who authorities said threatened to deploy “three cars full of armed patriots” to Washington, threatened harm against Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and who is accused of stockpiling military-style combat knives and more than 1,000 rifle rounds in his New York home. A Texas man was arrested this week for taking part in the riot at the Capitol and for posting violent threats, including a call to assassinate Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y ___ Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report. Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
TRANSPORT. Dans le cadre d’une opération visant à repérer et à sanctionner les conducteurs dont le véhicule lourd était mal déneigé qui s’est déroulé le 18 janvier, la Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ) a remis 88 constats d’infraction et 76 avis de non-conformité. Notons que l’article 498.1 du Code de la sécurité routière prévoit l’interdiction de circuler avec un véhicule couvert de neige, de glace ou de toute autre matière pouvant s’en détacher et susceptible de présenter un danger pour les usagers de la route. L’amende prévue est de 60 $ à 100 $ plus certains frais. La SAAQ rappelle que la neige qui couvre les phares, les feux et les vitres réduit le champ de vision du conducteur. Un véhicule enneigé est également moins visible des autres usagers de la route. Par ailleurs, la présence de neige ou de glace, particulièrement sur un véhicule lourd, peut présenter un danger pour les autres usagers de la route. Finalement, la neige qui poudroie en se détachant d’un véhicule réduit considérablement la visibilité, pour les véhicules circulant derrière, alors que les morceaux de glace qui se détachent peuvent blesser des piétons, endommager des voitures et même causer des accidents. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Chinese state media have stoked concerns about Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, despite rigorous trials that showed it was safe. A government spokesperson has raised the unfounded theory that the coronavirus could have emerged from a U.S. military lab, giving it more credence in China. As the ruling Communist Party faces growing questioning about China's vaccines and renewed criticism of its early COVID-19 response, it is hitting back by encouraging conspiracy theories that some experts say could cause harm. State media and officials are sowing doubts about Western vaccines and the origin of the coronavirus in an apparent bid to deflect the attacks. Both issues are in the spotlight because of the rollout of vaccines globally and the recent arrival of a World Health Organization team in Wuhan, China, to investigate the origins of the virus. Some of these conspiracy theories find a receptive audience at home. The social media hashtag “American’s Ft. Detrick,” started by the Communist Youth League, was viewed at least 1.4 billion times last week after a Foreign Ministry spokesperson called for a WHO investigation of the biological weapons lab in Maryland. “It’s purpose is to shift the blame from mishandling by (the) Chinese government in the pandemic’s early days to conspiracy by the U.S.,” said Fang Shimin, a now-U.S.-based writer known for exposing faked degrees and other fraud in Chinese science. “The tactic is quite successful because of widespread anti-American sentiment in China.” Yuan Zeng, an expert on Chinese media at the University of Leeds in Great Britain, said the government’s stories spread so widely that even well-educated Chinese friends have asked her whether they might be true. Inflaming doubts and spreading conspiracy theories might add to public health risks as governments try to dispel unease about vaccines, she said, saying, “That is super, super dangerous.” In the latest volley, state media called for an investigation into the deaths of 23 elderly people in Norway after they received the Pfizer vaccine. An anchor at CGTN, the English-language station of state broadcaster CCTV, and the Global Times newspaper accused Western media of ignoring the news. Health experts say deaths unrelated to the vaccine are possible during mass vaccination campaigns, and a WHO panel has concluded that the vaccine did not play a “contributory role” in the Norway deaths. The state media coverage followed a report by researchers in Brazil who found the effectiveness of a Chinese vaccine lower than previously announced. Researchers initially said Sinovac’s vaccine is 78% effective, but the scientists revised that to 50.4% after including mildly symptomatic cases. After the Brazil news, researchers at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a government-supported think-tank , reported seeing an increase in Chinese media disinformation about vaccines. Dozens of online articles on popular health and science blogs and elsewhere have explored questions about the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine at length, drawing on an op-ed published this month in the British Medical Journal that raised questions about its clinical trial data. “It’s very embarrassing” for the government, Fang said in an email. As a result, China is trying to raise doubts about the Pfizer vaccine to save face and promote its vaccines, he said. Senior Chinese government officials have not been shy in voicing concerns about the mRNA vaccines developed by Western drug companies. They use a newer technology than the more traditional approach of the Chinese vaccines currently in use. In December, the director of the Chinese Centers for Disease Control, Gao Fu, said he can’t rule out negative side effects from the mRNA vaccines. Noting this is the first time they are being given to healthy people, he said, “there are safety concerns.” The arrival of the WHO mission has brought back persistent criticism that China allowed the virus to spread globally by reacting too slowly in the beginning, even reprimanding doctors who tried to warn the public. The visiting researchers will begin field work this week after being released from a 14-day quarantine. The Communist Party sees the WHO investigation as a political risk because it focuses attention on China’s response, said Jacob Wallis, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. The party wants to “distract domestic and international audiences by pre-emptively distorting the narrative on where responsibility lies for the emergence of COVID-19,” Wallis said. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying got the ball rolling last week by calling for the WHO investigation of the U.S. military lab. The site had been mentioned previously by CGTN and other state-controlled outlets. “If America respects the truth, then please open up Ft. Detrick and make public more information about the 200 or more bio-labs outside of the U.S., and please allow the WHO expert group to go to the U.S. to investigate the origins,” Hua said. Her comments, publicized by state media, became one of the most popular topics on Sina Weibo. China isn’t the only government to point fingers. Former President Donald Trump, trying to deflect blame for his government’s handling of the pandemic, said last year he had seen evidence the virus came from a Wuhan laboratory. While that theory has not been definitively ruled out, many experts think it is unlikely. Huizhong Wu, The Associated Press
Niagara College now requires staff and students to wear enhanced personal protective equipment where physical distancing is not possible. In a recent release, Niagara College said in consultation with Niagara Region Public Health, and in light of the spread of the new United Kingdom variant of COVID-19 in Ontario, it has implemented the enhanced PPE requirements on campus. A medical-grade face mask and eyewear is now required for all staff and students attending classes, labs and workspaces where it is not always possible to maintain a physical distance of two metres. The college said a reusable fabric face mask is acceptable when outside of classrooms and labs and when physical distancing can be maintained, It will be providing staff and students enhanced PPE with medical-grade face masks and eye protection. The college will address staff and students who have a medical exemption that prevents them from wearing PPE on a case-by-case basis. The college also implemented schedule changes. To comply with provincial orders regarding on-campus/in-person instruction that requires classes and labs to be limited to 10 students or fewer plus faculty, several courses will be re-sectioned to ensure class sizes are within provincial limits. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Sean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
Niagara Falls Transit has elected to revert to its pre-pandemic winter schedule. The city said in a press release in order to provide the best level of service to riders given provincial restrictions, it will return to regular winter city and WEGO service, minus 30-minute peak services, on day routes. Changes take effect Monday. On Jan. 18, in an attempt to comply with the state of emergency orders issued by the province, Niagara Falls Transit preemptively adjusted its hours of operation to reflect the average business closure of 8 p.m.; however, it acknowledged that it could have been stranding essential service workers. The city issued an apology on its website for any inconvenience it caused transit users. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: email@example.com Sean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
The U.S. House of Representatives delivered to the Senate on Monday a charge that former President Donald Trump incited insurrection in a speech to supporters before the deadly attack on the Capitol, setting in motion his second impeachment trial. Nine House Democrats who will serve as prosecutors in Trump's trial, accompanied by the clerk of the House and the acting sergeant at arms, carried the charge against Trump to the Senate in a solemn procession across the Capitol. Wearing masks to protect against COVID-19, they filed through the ornate Capitol Rotunda and into the Senate chamber, following the path that a mob of Trump supporters took on Jan. 6 as they clashed with police.
JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska held the enviable position of having the highest rate of coronavirus vaccinations per capita in the nation as of last week, the state's top health official said. Alaska Chief Medical Officer Anne Zink said last Thursday that the progress was the result of community efforts to quickly distribute vaccinations and additional allotments for federal agencies within the state, KTOO-FM reported. Zink told the Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce that Alaska receives more doses of vaccine because of allowances above the state’s share for the Department of Defence, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Indian Health Service. “We have the highest veterans per capita population. We have a large military presence. And we have a large Indigenous population with over 229 sovereign tribes,” Zink said. “And so, because of those reasons, we did get some additional vaccine in the state via those federal partnerships.” The allotment for the Indian Health Service, which works with tribal entities to deliver health care to Alaska Native residents, could have been subtracted from the state’s share of the federal supply, but ultimately was allowed to be added, Zink said. “That’s been transformational for Alaska, that decision for Operation Warp Speed,” Zink said of the Trump administration's name for the national vaccine distribution initiative. More than 14,000 people had received both required doses of a vaccine cycle as of last Thursday, while more than 67,000 people had received at least one of the shots in the series. 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
After arguments between residents who lived near Meadowcrest beach erupted in the later summer, McDougall’s council has decided that boats will not be permitted to launch from that location. At the previous meeting in December, Leduc brought forward three recommendations to council on how to remedy the situation at the small beach. The first option was to operate the beach the same as before the pandemic, with the launching of small boats limited to a vessel that a person can carry to the water. Option two was to operate the beach with the added restriction of no vessel launching of any kind, and the third option was to allow people to launch small boats or vessels on trailers only from ice out until May 31 and then again from Sept. 15 to the time the lake ices. Here are some quotes from the council meeting regarding the decision: “This isn’t a resolution, it’s just direction to staff; currently it is established as a beach and I spoke at the previous meeting about leaving it as a beach and my position hasn’t changed on that,” said Mayor Dale Robinson. “Are there any other spots on Portage Lake where it’s possible to look at for future boat ramps?” asked Coun. Joe Ryman. “The spot at Portage Creek right now is municipal property; there is no dock there currently, so there really is no encumbrance for us to put a dock there if we needed to, as it is our property,” said parks and recreation director Brian Leduc. At the Jan. 20 council meeting, three councillors and the mayor voted in favour of the beach remaining simply a beach. 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
Canada's unemployment rate in December was revised to 8.8% from 8.6% on Monday, while the net decline in jobs for the month was amended to 52,700 from 62,600, as Statistics Canada completed a historic review of its labor force data. The revision, undertaken to ensure the data was aligned with recent population and geographical boundary estimates, had "virtually no effect" on employment estimates for the pandemic period of March to December 2020, the agency said.
York Region public health certified health inspector Nadia Varbanova shares the biggest issues and concerns she comes across during her inspections at big-box stores.
CALGARY — Obsidian Energy Ltd. is extending its hostile takeover offer for Bonterra Energy Corp. until March 29. The offer was set to expire today. Bonterra has repeatedly recommended shareholders reject the bid. Obsidian has offered two of its shares for each Bonterra share. In December, Obsidian reduced the minimum number of tendered shares needed to complete the transaction to 50 per cent from two-thirds. Obsidian has said a combined Obsidian-Bonterra could save $50 million in the first year and a total of $100 million in the first three years, however Bonterra has said those savings are "uncertain." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:BNE, TSX:OBE) The Canadian Press
QUETTA, Pakistan — A Pakistani dissident and civil rights activist who died in exile in Canada last month was returned to Pakistan and laid to rest in her home village in southwestern Baluchistan province under tight security, activists said Monday. Only immediate family members of 37-year-old Karima Baloch were allowed to attend her funeral Sunday in the village of Tump in Baluchistan. Her supporters claim that Pakistani troops had sealed off the village and prevented them from attending her burial. Her remains were brought to Pakistan from Canada earlier Sunday. Baloch’s body was found Dec. 22 near Toronto’s downtown waterfront, a place that she liked and often visited, a day after she was reported missing. Toronto police have not treated her death as suspicious though there were allegations by her supporters that she was killed. A fierce critic of Pakistani spy agencies that are often accused of abducting activists in Baluchistan and elsewhere in Pakistan, Baloch was granted asylum in Canada in 2016. Her death has raised suspicions among rights activists, who on Monday denounced authorities for holding the funeral in near secrecy. “It is appalling to see how Karima Baloch’s dead body was treated," said Mohsin Dawar, a lawmaker from Pakistan's former tribal regions who campaigns for Pashtun minority right but like Baloch, has also criticized Pakistani spy agencies. “It is not difficult to understand how this will deepen the divide and fuel separatism," he tweeted. "Is this the strategy to deal with the Baloch insurgency, to sprinkle salt on the wounds of Baloch?" There was no immediate comment from the government, but a video that surfaced on social media shows soldiers turning back several mourners who are heard in the footage saying they wanted to pay their last respects to Baloch. Angered over the situation, a Baloch nationalist group — the Baloch Solidarity Committee — issued a call for a daylong strike and complete shutdown in Baluchistan on Monday. Its statement said Pakistani troops spirited Baloch's coffin away on its arrival from Canada and foiled a move by her supporters to hold her funeral in Karachi, instead taking her remains to her home village. Later on Sunday, hundreds of Baluch activists rallied in Karachi, denouncing the government for not allowing that Baloch's funeral be held in the city. They chanted antigovernment slogans and demanded justice for Baloch, who they say was a “voice of the Baloch people” that was “silenced.” The activists insisted she did not die a natural death though they offered no evidence to support their allegation. Baluchistan has for years been the scene of a low-level insurgency by small separatist groups and nationalists who complain of discrimination and demand a fairer share of their province’s resources and wealth. Although there are also militant groups in Baluchistan that stage attacks on soldiers, separatists also often attack troops in the province, prompting authorities to detain suspects. Human rights activists often blame security forces of illegally holding people. Such detainees are usually not charged and do not appear in court, which draws protests from their families and rights activists. ___ Associated Press writer Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report. Abdul Sattar, The Associated Press
UNI Global Union, that represents about 20 million workers globally, said on Monday it helped form Alpha Global, Google's union alliance that includes multiple countries such as the United States, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and the UK. "The problems at Alphabet ... are not limited to any one country, and must be addressed on a global level," UNI's General Secretary Christy Hoffman said.
Paris City Hall has instructed the landlord seeking to close down the city's indebted Fan Museum to extend its deadline for payment, the museum said Monday. Director Anne Hoguet said her beleaguered museum — a registered historic monument — owed 117,000 euros in rent arrears due to losses incurred during virus lockdowns last year. The money was due Jan. 23 and the landlord had threatened to seize the museum's priceless artifacts as payment. In response to AP’s reporting, on Thursday UNESCO called on France to do more to protect the small museum that French officials had placed on an intangible heritage list only last year. Hoguet said that Paris City Hall officials confirmed to her that they had intervened to get the landlord to delay the deadline. “It's a huge relief. We hope to live another day,” Hoguet said. Paris Deputy Mayor Karen Taieb told the AP that officials are now meeting with Hoguet on Feb. 5 “in order to think about long-term solutions for this heritage museum which is in a very complicated situation.” Hoguet said that she has been inundated with offers of donations since last week’s media reports. The Associated Press
TORONTO — Scientists and health experts are launching a nationwide campaign to counter misinformation about COVID-19 and related vaccines. The #ScienceUpFirst initiative is an awareness and engagement campaign that will use social media to debunk incorrect information and boost science-based content. The campaign team says in a news release that it emerged from conversations between Nova Scotia Sen. Stan Kutcher and Timothy Caulfield, Canadian research chair in health law and policy at the University of Alberta. The initiative is now being led by the Canadian Association of Science Centres, COVID-19 Resources Canada, and the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta. Anyone interested in participating can follow @scienceupfirst and use the #ScienceUpFirst hashtag on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and tag the account to amplify science-based posts and alert it to misinformation posts. The campaign says there is a marked rise in misinformation and conspiracy theories related to COVID-19 vaccines, virus transmission and government response, and it represents a threat to the health and safety of Canadians. "Misinformation is a dire, imminent threat to the lives of all Canadians and is proven to be one of the factors fueling COVID-19 infections, and dissuading Canadians from getting vaccinated," says Caulfield. "The #ScienceUpFirst initiative seeks to help fill an urgent need to beat back misinformation with the truth, and save lives." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
First of a two-part series Matilda Emma Padhi was born on Nov. 3, 1933 in what was then the independent country of Newfoundland. She was still a baby when Newfoundland gave up its independence and reverted to colonial status under Great Britain. Such events likely mattered little in her native fishing village of Belleoram, where her father, John Whatley, owned a store and the livelihood of most residents centred around the deep, blue waters of Fortune Bay. Belleoram harbour was sheltered by a natural breakwater, and Emma would have carried two striking images of her birthplace with her throughout her life: St. Lawrence Anglican Church, perched on a hill behind the town, and the imposing rock face of Iron Skull Mountain across the water. Emma’s mother, Irene, would later give birth to two sons. “She used to talk about how they were poor, and they didn’t have a lot of money, and they would eat a lot of wild meat,” says Sarah Railton, Emma’s granddaughter, who lives in British Columbia. “She valued community, the relationships she kept. I really feel that all is rooted in the maritime energy she carried, and that kind of open-door policy that friends are always welcome.” From such modest beginnings, Emma would go on to spread her compassion, faith and an irrepressible sense of humour from Halifax to Saskatoon and then halfway around the world to India. When she died in Calgary on Jan. 3, she left behind an adoring legion of family and friends who will never forget her larger-than-life personality. Emma moved to Halifax as soon as she graduated high school, when Newfoundland was on the cusp of voting to join Canada. There, she worked in the Moirs chocolate factory before deciding she wanted to become a nurse. She entered the Halifax infirmary School of Nursing in 1950, and lived in a dorm where she nurtured many lifelong friendships. According to friends and former classmates, she had no fear of the doctors or the nuns and didn’t hesitate to speak her mind. The nuns apparently liked her spunk, as she was the only one who had a key to the linen cupboard — a rare privilege. In 1954, she headed west to Saskatoon, where she worked in a sanatorium, and became head nurse at St. Paul’s Hospital. It was here she met her husband-to-be, Dr. Radhakrishna (Rad) Padhi. They were married in 1956. Rad became a cardiac surgeon, but his native country soon beckoned. He left by ship in 1960 to get things settled. Emma followed in November of 1961, with two toddlers in tow and another on the way. Emma flew from Halifax to London, and then to Egypt. In Cairo, the authorities took her passport and sent her to a hotel. She worried all night that she might never get her passport back. The next day was the last leg of her journey. Boarding the inaugural United Arab Airlines flight from Cairo to Mumbai — then Bombay — she soon realized she was the only adult female on the plane. The flight was late arriving, and Rad waited anxiously, wondering if he should even have booked her on the flight. There were no screens displaying arrivals and departures in those days. Hours later, Emma of Belleoram finally arrived in in India, where Jawaharial Nehru— the first prime minister of the fledgling democracy — was still in power. “My Nana’s stories of India abounded,” says Sarah. “She loved the culture, loved the people, loved the food. She would wear the kaftans.” Their first destination in India was Wanlesswadi, southeast of Mumbai. They worked at a medical centre which also served as a TB sanatorium and a leprosy hospital, with a capacity of 500 beds. Rad soon realized there was an acute need for heart surgery in the region. On April 13, 1962, Emma assisted her husband by running the bypass machine for the first successful open-heart surgery in Wanlesswadi. As news grew of their successes, the hospital got busier and attracted heart surgeons from the U.S. who brought along much needed equipment. In less than a year after arriving in India, Emma was not only assisting in surgery, but also running the lab and the hospital kitchen. “One of my fondest memories was of my mom working in a clinic she had set up in a building behind our house,” says Pam Railton, Sarah’s mother and Emma’s eldest, who lives in Saskatchewan. “Every morning, she and a nurse she hired would make porridge and mix powdered milk for the underprivileged children in the area. They would come with their tin cup and bowl and line up. It always amazed me how long the line was.” Emma told Pam the morning meal guaranteed they had at least one meal that day. “Once a week she would give them vitamins and, whenever possible, vaccinations.” Pam says she asked her mother recently how she supported the project. “Turns out she bought silk scarves and linens in India and sent them to a friend in Kingston (Ontario) who would sell them and send her the money, and she would buy whatever she needed to run the clinic. Mom said the line seemed long to me because it was — there were often up to 200 children waiting.“ Emma and Rad continued to work beside each other in India for six years, but soon decided that Canada was in their future once again. Tuesday: Back to the Dominion Peter Jackson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday brought an end to lawsuits over whether Donald Trump illegally profited off his presidency. The justices threw out Trump’s challenge to lower court rulings that had allowed lawsuits to go forward alleging that he violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause by accepting payments from foreign and domestic officials who stay at the Trump International Hotel. The high court also ordered the lower court rulings thrown out as well and directed appeals courts in New York and Richmond, Virginia, to dismiss the suits as moot now that Trump is no longer in office. The Associated Press
Le professeur en Techniques de comptabilité et de gestion du Cégep de Chicoutimi Benoît Rochefort compte sur un nouvel outil pour intéresser ses étudiants au contenu de ses cours et à l’actualité: le balado appelé Benlala. Il compte en quelques mois environ 5000 écoutes pour l’ensemble de ses émissions produites. Benoît Rochefort est depuis près de 10 ans professeur en comptabilité et gestion au Cégep de Chicoutimi. Il a longtemps travaillé dans le domaine du marketing, ce qui l’a mené vers l’enseignement. Au cours de l’été, il a longuement réfléchi à l’enseignement à distance et cherchait un moyen de rejoindre différemment les étudiants. C’est à ce moment qu’il a imaginé la création d’un balado. Son podcast a été lancé le 20 août dernier, sur une foule de plateformes. Puisqu’il avait déjà du matériel à la maison et que le Cégep lui donnait accès à certains logiciels, celui qui est également chroniqueur pour certaines radios a pu rapidement monter un produit de qualité. Dans son balado, il aborde plusieurs sujets qui touchent son contenu enseigné et l’actualité régionale. « Je prends l’actualité comme trame de fond pour parler de la théorie. Je fais référence à ce qu’on apprend, pour amener les étudiants à bien réfléchir. Je veux fournir aux étudiants des outils pour être capable d’interpréter de façon intéressante ce qui se passe, en lien avec ce qui est enseigné », raconte M. Rochefort, dans un entretien par visioconférence avec Le Quotidien. Pour lui, son balado ne doit pas être une charge de travail lourde pour les étudiants, mais une façon différente d’apprendre tout en s’intéressant à l’actualité régionale. Il souhaite avec son initiative encourager la persévérance scolaire. Les épisodes sont de courte durée, d’une dizaine à trentaine de minutes. Les jeunes peuvent facilement l’écouter, n’importe où et n’importe quand. « J’espère qu’avec cet outil-là, en complément avec ce que j’enseigne, que ça puisse contribuer à ce que les jeunes aient du plaisir et à diversifier les plateformes de communication qu’on utilise pour enseigner. Je pense que ça peut les aider à rester motivés », souligne-t-il. Hors série Des épisodes hors série ont également été enregistrés en collaboration avec l’ancien animateur radio Sylvain Carbonneau. Le duo a reçu une foule d’invités spéciaux pour ces épisodes, dont la ministre Andrée Laforest, l’avocat Charles Cantin, le directeur général de la fromagerie Boivin Luc Boivin, l’homme d’affaires Robert Hakim, et bien d’autres. Certains de ses épisodes seront obligatoires pour les élèves de certains cours lors de la session d’hiver, tant leur contenu touche directement la matière qui sera enseignée en classe. Le hors série a amené de la crédibilité à l’émission et a fait exploser le nombre d’écoutes. « Le hors série a vraiment été un succès, qui a permis de propulser la saison 1 à un public plus large », continue M. Rochefort. L’homme compte aujourd’hui près de 5000 écoutes pour tout son contenu produit, ce qui le rend particulièrement fier. C’est au-delà de ses objectifs, pour lui qui n’a jamais vraiment fait de publicité. L’homme est comblée de voir que ce ne sont pas seulement ses étudiants qui sont intéressés par ce qu’il produit. La saison deux La deuxième saison commencera très bientôt. Toutes les semaines, un nouvel épisode sera publié. Déjà, le professeur a plusieurs idées par rapport au contenu. Il touchera les concepts de gestion de projets, commerce international, mais aussi la publicité, entre autres avec un épisode en lien le Super Bowl. Il pense aussi consacrer un épisode sur la fiscalité étudiante avec sa collègue du Cégep de Chicoutimi, Marie-Ève Tremblay, et sur les finances personnelles avec son collaborateur Sylvain Carbonneau, qui est courtier hypothécaire. M. Rochefort espère également trouver des invités jeunesse, qui pourront se servir du balado pour parler directement aux jeunes. Les intéressés sont invités à suivre la page Facebook du projet Benlala balado, ainsi que visiter le site Internet benlala.ca, pour tout savoir sur le projet.Myriam Arsenault, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Takedown NOTICE Please DO NOT USE story slugged LJI-ON-Huntsville-fire dept.-recruiting headlined Huntsville-Lake of Bays fire department kicks off online recruitment in February. This story has been killed by its news editor. Regards, Local Journalism Initiative AVIS d'annulation Prière de NE PAS PUBLIER l'article identifié LJI-ON-Huntsville-fire dept.-recruiting et intitulé Huntsville-Lake of Bays fire department kicks off online recruitment in February. Cet article a été annulé par le rédacteur en chef de la publication. Merci de votre collaboration, Initiative de journalisme local Zahraa Hmod, muskokaregion.com
Returning to work after layoffs in the first wave of the pandemic was daunting for Brampton resident Nathan Aitken. Between managing his asthma and fibromyalgia, and having just welcomed a newborn at home, COVID-19 was a significant risk due to his serious underlying conditions. As a welder, Aitken said there was some peace of mind in knowing his mechanic-grade respirator and uniform provided an added layer of protection at the Milton auto-industry plant where he works. “I'm just very diligent about…how I do my job, cleaning and everything else, but it’s definitely something I worry about all day,” Aitken said. In the building, floor markings indicate the pathways for workers to follow to promote safe distancing, and staff are also asked to sanitize their stations every four hours. Despite the protocols, Aitken said he’s concerned about the diligence of individual workers, especially those like him with no paid sick days. “I've never gotten that. If I call in sick, I don’t get paid,” he said. Toronto’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, has joined the Opposition NDP, labour unions and other increasingly frustrated voices across the province calling for paid sick days. She characterized them as “essential” protection during the pandemic in a report two weeks ago and called for the ruling PCs under Premier Doug Ford to legislate five permanent paid sick days, and 10 during a pandemic like the one causing the current public health crisis. Ford continues to ignore the pleas, claiming there’s “no reason” for sick days. He has said the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit program, and its $500 weekly payout (with a maximum of two weeks) to sick workers is enough for Ontario’s frontline employees. He has repeatedly said he would do anything to support these heroic residents who have kept the province running throughout the pandemic. From the early second-wave public health restrictions to the current stay-at-home order, little has changed for essential workers who continue to show up on the frontline, said Tim Deelstra, a spokesperson for the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Locals 175 and 633, which represent about 70,000 members in the province. Data included in the 2016 Census provide a picture of Peel’s labour force that shows why the region has been particularly hard-hit by viral spread among the essential work force. The sector that employs more Peel residents than any other is manufacturing, including jobs that are deemed essential to keep supply chains running and the flow of needed products uninterrupted. Some 90,000 Peel residents worked in the sector, according to the Census figures. Other job categories that also include large numbers of essential workers are also heavily represented in the region’s labour force: There were 69,920 resident working in transportation and warehousing; 59,270 in healthcare and social assistance; 44,755 in construction; and 42,205 in accommodation and food services. Labour unions like UFCW have been calling on the government to implement more robust protections to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus at essential workplaces, including paid sick days as part of the Employment Standards Act and priority vaccine access for those workers most at risk. For many who may be experiencing minor symptoms, the risk of losing pay or even their job, is enough to keep them going to work, potentially putting their colleagues at risk. “Even before the pandemic, we were very critical of the Ford government, that one of the first things they did upon getting elected was removing the two paid sick days” from the Act, Deelstra said. He points to former Progressive Conservative party leaders, Toronto Mayor John Tory and Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, as being vocal supporters for sick leave. “They’re now seeing the need for their constituents,” he said. Mayor Brown is spearheading a campaign and motion – endorsed by Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie – at the Large Urban Mayors Caucus of Ontario and GTHA Mayors group to advocate for higher levels of government to support better sick-day policies. He told Brampton city council on Wednesday the provincial and federal governments would be discussing the issue in a conference call this week. “I hope that there's going to be a mechanism that can be found to bring this to the table,” he said. Some of Peel’s largest employers include Maple Lodge Farms, Fiat Chrysler, and PepsiCo Foods Canada, as well as airport-related warehouses and businesses, including airline food catering company Gate Gourmet Group Inc., in Mississauga. In April, Maple Lodge Farms suspended operations at its Brampton poultry plant after three cases of the novel coronavirus were identified in the facility. At that time, there were about 2,864 confirmed and probable cases of infected residents throughout the Region, with about one-fifth of them in long-term care homes. Now, there have been almost 53,000 confirmed and probable cases in Peel since the start of the pandemic, along with 204 outbreaks, according to the Region’s January 22 epidemiological summary and its most recent data. In the 14 days up to January 21, 232 cases were reported as being linked to a workplace outbreak. The region’s test positivity rate fell to 11.9 percent for the week that ended January 16, down from 13.8 percent the previous week. Anything above 2.5 percent in a jurisdiction suggests viral spread is not under control. Peel’s weekly incidence rate, which has consistently been the highest of all Ontario regions since early in the pandemic, decreased slightly to 247 positive cases per 100,000 residents for the week that ended January 16, compared to 262 the previous week. Once the current emergency order is lifted, to be moved down through the grey-lockdown and red-control categories and into the Province’s orange-restrict category, under Ontario’s COVID-19 reopening framework, a region’s incidence rate has to be below 40 cases per 100,000 residents. Of the federal government’s $19-billion Safe Restart Agreement, about $1.1 billion is dedicated for helping workers through the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit. It has been criticized by some advocates who say that narrow eligibility criteria, including the requirement of an at least 50 percent reduction in income in the prescribed period, while only $500 per week is offered for a maximum of two weeks, leaves many without proper support. “Paid sick days are necessary. Continuing to lob things off to the federal government is not acceptable. We need people to know that they can immediately take time off, make the right decision, and not have to worry that their next pay packet is going to be short,” Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said at a media conference Tuesday. She urged the premier to call Ontario MPPs back to the legislature to advance a private member’s bill introduced last month by Peggy Sattler, opposition critic for employment standards. Following the current winter break, Queen’s Park is set to resume business in mid-February. Among proposed amendments to the Employment Standards Act in Bill 239 (the Stay Home If You Are Sick Act) the NDP are tabling the requirement of 14 paid sick days instead of “unpaid leave in situations related to declared emergencies and infectious disease emergencies.” In Brampton, in addition to the risks facing essential workers in the City’s prominent manufacturing, transportation and food processing sectors, non-unionized workers face even more precarious conditions. “They should be confident enough that if I'm feeling any symptoms, right away, I go [get] tested, and I sit at home…I don't have to worry about three or four days that I lose or how I eat, or how I will pay my bills. That should not be the thing to worry right now,” said Gurbaaz Sra, a community advocate and team member of Humans in Brampton, a social media campaign calling attention to the plight of essential workers. Sra, a mechanical engineer, has heard dozens of stories from members of the South Asian-Canadian community in Brampton who also fear professional reprisal for speaking out, and share their experiences anonymously with Humans in Brampton via their Instagram and Twitter. Despite the reach of social media, Sra said digital literacy among new immigrants remains a barrier for accessing updates about the local COVID-19 picture and public health guidance. “The information is changing rapidly…so that needs to be understood,” he said. “To capture that, they need to make sure that the messaging reaches everyone.” Language barriers can also affect workers who are trying to advocate with their employer for further protections. “In certain cases…they are not really able to express their demands fully because a lot of workers in the warehousing industry are new immigrants to this country,” said Gagandeep Kaur, a postal worker and an organizer at the Brampton-based Warehouse Workers Centre for Peel. Social distancing concerns within warehouses is another common concern, said Kaur, who has worked in warehouses for the last 12 years and with the Centre when it launched last January. “Employers are not doing enough to protect the workers, we know with this new variant of COVID-19 that spreads like crazy…people are scared,” she said. In Mississauga, a recent outbreak at the International Mail Processing Centre, also known as the Gateway Postal Facility located at Eglinton Avenue and Dixie Road, resulted in a total 182 postal employees testing positive for the novel coronavirus as of January 1, Canada Post confirmed in a statement to The Pointer. Rapid tests were used on-site to identify new cases. Responding to The Pointer at a Mississauga press conference on Wednesday, Peel’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Lawrence Loh, explained how rapid tests have been deployed in the community but did not detail where, specifically, this has been done. “The idea would be to try to deploy things in a bit of a concentric circle, around the cases and clusters that have been initially identified,” he said. For Nathan Aitken, the option of on-site rapid testing at his auto-sector plant, complemented by an app-based pre-screening protocol to pass through the security checkpoint, and frequent temperature checks, are “good standards and practises to keep things safe, and keep people safe,” he said. While the advocacy around paid sick days continues in Peel, Aitken is facing work precarity on another front, in his role as a hip-hop and R&B emcee and producer under the moniker TempoMental. He previously toured Ontario and did a small project in Japan right before the pandemic, relying on show and merchandise revenue to fund his art. He is holding back his latest music to release it when touring will be possible, but did one show when some venues could reopen, between the first and second waves. Aitken appeared behind a large plastic screen, with a barricade between the stage and audience, with masks mandatory inside the venue, likening the show to a jazz club experience. “I’m a hip-hop dude so everybody usually crowds the stage and jumps around, and we really can’t do that now,” he said. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @LaVjosa COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Vjosa Isai, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer