Here are the top stories for Friday, Dec. 18th: Pence gets COVID vaccination; Pressure builds on Congress to pass COVID relief bill, Trump administration under fire for Russian cyber hacking; NY motorist rescued after car buried in snow.
Here are the top stories for Friday, Dec. 18th: Pence gets COVID vaccination; Pressure builds on Congress to pass COVID relief bill, Trump administration under fire for Russian cyber hacking; NY motorist rescued after car buried in 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
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia's leader on Wednesday assured relatives of 62 people killed in a Sriwijaya Air plane crash that they will be compensated. President Joko Widodo visited the command centre at Jakarta’s international container terminal where tons of plane debris hauled by divers from seafloor were collected for an investigation into what caused the Boeing 737-500 to nosedive into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff from Jakarta on Jan. 9. He also witnessed the first three relatives of the victims receiving money from the compensation fund. Sriwijaya Air offered relatives an insurance payout of 1.25 billion rupiah ($89,100), in line with the Indonesian law that stipulates compensation must be offered within 60 days of a crash. In addition, state-owned insurance company Jasa Raharja has provided 50 million rupiah ($3,560) to each family of the victims. “I assure you that all compensation will be completed immediately for all victims,” Widodo said. A search is still ongoing for the crucial memory unit of the cockpit voice recorder. The device apparently broke loose from its exterior and officials have said the underwater locator beacons attached to both crash-proof black boxes became dislodged due to the impact. The flight data recorded was recovered three days after the crash. The 26-year-old Boeing had been out of service for almost nine months last year because of flight cutbacks caused by the pandemic. Indonesia’s aviation industry grew quickly after the nation’s economy was opened following the fall of dictator Suharto in the late 1990s. Safety concerns led the United States and the European Union to ban Indonesian carriers for years, but the bans have since been lifted due to better compliance with international aviation standards. ____ Associated Press writer Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report. Fadlan Syam, The Associated Press
GUYSBOROUGH – Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) launched an initiative last year to reduce the amount of lost fishing gear, also called ghost gear, in Canadian and international waters. In a news release issued earlier this month (Jan. 7), DFO stated that early estimates show this initiative has helped to remove almost 63 tonnes of ghost gear; 80 per cent of which was retrieved from the Bay of Fundy and coastal waters off Nova Scotia, including the waters surrounding the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) – Lobster Fishing Areas 31 A and 31 B. The overwhelming majority of gear type retrieved was lobster and crab pots (86 per cent). Nets and longline from various fisheries comprised 14 per cent of gear retrieved. And 3.2 km of rope was removed from coastal waters in Atlantic Canada. Gear was retrieved by projects supported through DFO’s $8.3 million Ghost Gear Fund, self-funded third-party projects authorized by DFO to collect gear, fishery officer patrols and fish harvesters. In MODG, all retrieved gear was collected by harvesters who previously lost their fishing gear in these areas. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Canadian companies are being told to ensure they’re not importing Chinese goods produced through the forced labour of the Uighur religious minority group. “Reports indicate mass transfers of Uighur labourers to factories across China where they are enrolled in forced labour programs that taint global supply chains in a variety of industries,” reads a Global Affairs Canada advisory. The federal government says it’s also aware of other human rights violations affecting Uighurs and other ethnic and religious groups by Chinese authorities in the northwestern region of Xinjiang and other parts of China, including mass arbitrary detention, forced separation of children from their parents, forced sterilization, and torture. China is a major trading partner for Canada, with $75 billion worth of merchandise imported from China in 2019, according to Statista. International Trade Minister Mary Ng said that the feds are committed to ensuring Canadian businesses aren't engaged with supply chains involving forced labour. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to increasing supply chain transparency, promoting responsible business conduct, and ensuring that Canadian companies are upholding Canadian values, wherever they may operate,” Ng said in a statement. Parliament amended the Customs Tariff Act last July to ban the imports of goods produced wholly or partly as a result of forced labour from any country. The government reminds companies that they must conform to these laws, adding that companies that operate within the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) may also be subject to human rights legislation. “In addition to legal risks, companies face reputational damage related to their supply chains if it is discovered that they are sourcing from entities that employ forced labour,” the advisory added. It remains unclear if there indeed have been confirmed instances of Uighur-made products flowing through Canadian supply chains. Canada’s National Observer asked Ng if she can definitively say there aren’t products made by Uighurs or other minority groups in Canadian supply chains, but the question was deferred to Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), which also didn’t provide direct comment to the question. However, Jacqueline Callin, spokesperson for CBSA, explained shipments containing goods suspected of being produced by forced labour are detained at the border for inspection by a border services officer who has the authority to ban these goods from entering Canada based on their analysis of the specific situation. The government announced Monday that companies with ties to Xinjiang will have to sign a “Xinjiang Integrity Declaration” recognizing they’re aware of Canadian laws regarding the prohibition of forced labour and the “human rights situation in Xinjiang” before they receive support from the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS). It wasn't indicated when this declaration requirement will come into effect. The government also appointed a Canadian ombudsperson for responsible enterprise in April 2019 to review claims of alleged human rights abuses involving Canadian companies abroad, but Amnesty International Canada doesn’t think the office’s role goes far enough. “Without the power to compel documents or witness testimony, we fear the ombudsperson will be unable to fully investigate allegations of forced labour or other abuses from companies’ supply chains,” said Ketty Nivyabandi, the organization’s secretary general, in a statement. The Global Affairs advisory said the government urges Canadian companies with links to Xinjiang to “closely examine their supply chains to ensure that their activities do not support repression, including ... the Chinese government’s surveillance apparatus in Xinjiang, detention or internment facilities, or the use of forced labour.” However, Nivyabandi believes this shouldn’t be left to individual companies, calling for the Trudeau government to pass legislation that would require Canadian companies to conduct “human rights due diligence” within their global operations and supply chains. “The Canadian government has missed a crucial opportunity to hold Canadian companies accountable for human rights violations in Xinjiang and beyond,” Nivyabandi said. Yasmine Ghania, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Looks like this conductor isn't crazy about a drone getting some up-close footage of his train. Watch out for the water canon!
C’est en présence virtuelle de Marguerite Blais, ministre responsable des Aînés et des Proches aidants, que l’Appui a procédé au lancement «Au-delà des mots : paroles de proches aidants». «À travers sept chapitres, Édith Fournier et Michel Carbonneau plongent le spectateur dans leur parcours de proche aidant. Dans ce récit à deux voix, Édith et Michel racontent, en alternance, ce qu’ils ont vécu auprès de leurs conjoints atteints de la maladie d’Alzheimer», indique l’organisme qui contribue à améliorer la qualité de vie des proches aidants. Cette série documentaire, accompagnée d’outils d’animations proposés aux personnes intervenantes et soignantes de tous les réseaux (milieu communautaire, réseau de la santé, secteur privé, etc.), a été scénarisée par Guillaume Chouinard, réalisée par Josué Bertolino et produite par Les productions vives. «Mme Fournier et M. Carbonneau se livrent avec franchise et humilité pour nous décrire les difficultés qu’ils ont traversées, les choix déchirants qu’ils ont dû faire, mais également les moments de bonheur, de complicité, de joie qu’ils ont vécus. J’ai personnellement eu l’immense privilège de rencontrer à plusieurs reprises Édith Fournier et Michel Carbonneau. Leurs témoignages à titre de personnes proches aidantes démontrent la force et la sensibilité dont ils ont su faire preuve durant toutes ces années où ils ont pris soin de leur être cher… Et la crise sanitaire nous le rappelle, les personnes proches aidantes sont essentielles dans notre société», souligne la ministre Blais. Notons que l’on peut visionner la série en se rendant sur le lien suivant : https://appui-audeladesmots.ca. À propos de l’Appui Créé en 2009, l’Appui pour les proches aidants contribue à améliorer la qualité de vie des proches aidants et à faciliter leur quotidien en veillant notamment à ce qu’ils tirent pleinement profit des ressources mises à leur disposition. L’Appui est présent partout au Québec, grâce à 17 Appuis régionaux et une entente spécifique pour les Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James. Chaque bureau régional soutient les organismes locaux voués au bien-être des proches aidants, et ce, afin d’offrir à ces derniers des services adaptés dans leur milieu. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
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 speech as majority leader. “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
Almost every hospital in New Brunswick is either over its target occupancy rate for the orange level of COVID-19 recovery, or very close to it, figures from the two regional health authorities show. This is with only one COVID-19 patient in the province hospitalized, as of Tuesday. Horizon Health Network and Vitalité Health Network did not respond to a request from CBC News for red-level occupancy rate targets, but five of the 15 hospitals are operating at overcapacity for any phase, with one as high as 150 per cent. The Moncton region, Zone 1, Saint John region, Zone 2, and Fredericton region, Zone 3, have all been bumped back to the more restrictive red level from orange, as of midnight Tuesday. Premier Blaine Higgs announced the decision Tuesday afternoon, after one more death and 31 new cases of the respiratory disease were confirmed in New Brunswick, pushing the total active cases to 316. "We're simply not making enough progress with the current measures that are in place," Higgs said during the COVID-19 news briefing. "We know there are more cases in these zones that exist but have not yet tested positive. And we cannot take the risk of potentially overwhelming our hospitals." "We don't want to be too late in reacting and look back and say, 'Only if.'" Even a small number of new admissions can have a ripple effect throughout our health-care system. - Geri Geldart, Horizon Health Network The Horizon hospitals in the three largest cities in these zones all have inpatient occupancy rates hovering around the orange-level target of between 85 per cent and 90 per cent. The Moncton Hospital is at 87 per cent capacity, the Saint John Regional Hospital, 96 per cent, and the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton, 92 per cent. "Even a small number of new admissions can have a ripple effect throughout our health-care system, as we continue to balance high inpatient occupancy rates with limitations on staffing resources," Geri Geldart, vice-president clinical, said in an emailed statement prior to the announcement to move the three zones to red. "Our priority is to ensure as many surgeries as possible can continue while also preserving ICU and other beds in the event of a COVID-related surge." Horizon closely monitors its inpatient occupancy rates daily and makes decisions surrounding patient discharge on a case-by-case basis to ensure it has capacity in each hospital to admit any COVID-positive patients, she said. Vitalité's Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont Hospital Centre in Moncton is operating at nearly 94 per cent capacity, as of Monday afternoon. Its orange-level target is 80 per cent. Vitalité president and CEO Dr. France Desrosiers was unavailable Tuesday for an interview. The Edmundston region, Zone 4, has been at the red level since midnight Sunday. One of its hospitals is over its orange-level target occupancy, while the other two are close behind, according to figures provided by Vitalité on Monday. The Grand Falls General Hospital is at 90 per cent capacity. The target for the 20-bed hospital is 85 per cent. Edmundston Regional Hospital, which has 169 beds, is operating at 69 per cent, just below its 70 per cent target. Hôtel-Dieu Saint-Joseph de Saint-Quentin is not far from reaching its 85 per cent target either. The six-bed facility is currently operating at 83 per cent. That's down from 100 per cent on Friday. Vitalité spokesperson Thomas Lizotte did not respond to a request for comment about what might explain the high occupancy rates, given the sole hospitalized COVID-19 patient in the province, who is in a Horizon hospital, whether the rates are unusual, or what steps are being taken to ensure the hospitals will be able to admit future COVID patients. Daily discussions 'around the risks' Public Health is having daily discussions with both regional health authorities "around their capacity, around the risks," Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's chief medical officer of health, told CBC News. The health-care system's ability to respond to COVID-19 patients is one of the triggers considered for moving to another phase of recovery. "We are looking at the ages of the people that are diagnosed with COVID-19 every day and projecting, you know, whether or not they would need hospitalization," Russell said. If the government hadn't acted "swiftly and decisively" to roll Zones 1, 2 and 3 back to red on Tuesday, Russell predicted the province would "soon see dozens, perhaps even hundreds of new cases every day." "We would see a flood of gravely ill patients that would inundate our hospitals and overwhelm our doctors, nurses and paramedics. We would see more deaths and disruptions and sorrow," Russell said. "We need to continue to protect our health-care system and our health-care workers, not only to provide care in the health-care system, but to be there to vaccinate our population. We need to continue to protect our most vulnerable and we need to protect our social determinants of health." Russell said a combined total of 76 health-care workers are off work from Horizon and Vitalité either because they tested positive for COVID-19 or they're isolating as a precaution. This has also had an impact on some services, she said. The Vitalité Health Network said more than 100 of its surgeries were cancelled between Jan. 4 and Jan. 14, including 55 in the Moncton region, two in the Edmundston region, 35 in the Campbellton region and 14 in the Bathurst region. The Horizon Health Network had 37 surgeries cancelled last week alone. Those include 26 in the Moncton region, eight in the Saint John region, two in the Fredericton region, and one in the Miramichi region. 5 over 100 per cent Of Vitalité's other hospitals, Stella-Maris-de-Kent Hospital in Sainte-Anne-de-Kent, in Zone 1, has the highest occupancy rate at 150 per cent. Its orange target is 85 per cent. The three other overcapacity hospitals are all in the Bathurst region, Zone 6. They include: Hôpital de l'Enfant-Jésus RHSJT in Caraquet: 133.3 per cent capacity, target orange-level occupancy 85 per cent. Lamèque Hospital, 116.7 per cent capacity, target orange-level occupancy 85 per cent. Tracadie Hospital,101.7 per cent capacity, target orange-level occupancy 85 per cent. Horizon also had an overcapacity hospital: Upper River Valley Hospital in Waterville, Zone 3, 102 per cent capacity, target orange-level occupancy 85 to 90 per cent The overall hospital occupancy rate for Vitalité is 82.5 per cent, said Lizotte. "We're aiming [for] 80 per cent," he said in an email. The other Vitalité hospitals include: Campbellton Regional Hospital, Zone 5, 74.6 per cent capacity, target orange-level occupancy 60 per cent. Chaleur Regional Hospital, Zone 6, 62.1 per cent capacity, target orange-level occupancy 70 per cent. The remaining Horizon hospital is: Miramichi Regional Hospital, Zone 7, 87 per cent capacity, target orange-level occupancy 85 to 90 per cent. "During the very early stages of the pandemic, Horizon was able to successfully discharge a number of alternate level of care (ALC) patients to more appropriate care settings — such as a nursing home or adult residential facility — to build additional capacity within our hospitals," said Geldart. Compared to other jurisdictions, New Brunswick has also been "relatively successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19," she said. Because of this, Horizon hospitals have not had to care for large numbers of COVID positive patients at a single time. "It's important to note, however, this situation can change at any time, and because of this we remain on high alert," Geldart said.
P.E.I.'s rotational workers will likely be the first to see an easing of isolation requirements once they've received their vaccinations, a standing committee on health and social development heard Wednesday. The Charlottetown Islanders' games this weekend against the Cape Breton Eagles have been cancelled due to travel restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Islanders haven't played since the Atlantic bubble was suspended in November, and it's uncertain when they'll play again. The Greater Charlottetown Area Chamber of Commerce is asking Islanders to shift 10 per cent of their annual spending to support locally owned and operated businesses during the next phase in the Love Local P.E.I. campaign. About 2,000 Holland College students are back in the classroom, some for the first time since March. A P.E.I. judge is wrestling with how to sentence a P.E.I. man who failed to self-isolate after testing positive for COVID-19. Some Prince Edward Islanders are not self-isolating as they are legally required to and are putting others at risk, Morrison also said at the briefing. The organizers of The Spud hockey tournament in Charlottetown say they had no choice but to cancel the event this year because of COVID-19 restrictions. Twenty-one senators from the Maritimes are urging the federal government to provide financial assistance to an inter-city bus service that they say is in financial peril because of the pandemic. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases reported on P.E.I. is 110, with seven still active. There have been no deaths or hospitalizations. New Brunswick announced 21 new cases on Wednesday There are now 317 active cases in the province. Nova Scotia reported three new cases, with 23 active. Also in the news Further resources Reminder about symptoms The symptoms of COVID-19 can include: Fever. Cough or worsening of a previous cough. Possible loss of taste and/or smell. Sore throat. New or worsening fatigue. Headache. Shortness of breath. Runny nose. More from CBC P.E.I.
Planning is important in this province’s tourism industry, and with only a short window to make things happen, operators must be ready and on schedule to welcome visitors at peak times during the tourism season. That was disrupted last summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the province was cut off to outside visitors. The importance of having a plan heading into the 2021 season is paramount as the tourism sector stares down the barrel of a second season limited by the pandemic. “It is important that the plan is being worked on,” said Hare Bay Adventures owner Duane Collins, who is also with the Shore Tourism Association. “I think it is important that it is relayed to the industry broadly … and then it lets us communicate that to our guests and to the companies we work with.” The pre-election announcement of a tourism action group was a welcome one for operators across the province and seen as a good start, Collins said. On Jan. 15, the government announced the 14-member Premier’s Advisory Council on Tourism. The government pledged to spend $1.12 million over three years to support Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador as it prepares the tourism and hospitality sector for a post-pandemic recovery. That money is coming through the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Labour Market Development Agreement. That means the industry wasn’t overlooked at the time, but there is still a question of how the group will look or operate in the wake of the election on Feb. 13. “I want to hear about a plan on how we open the province back up,” said Collins. “Not saying any particular date, because that is beyond our control, frankly.” For Collins, clarity and transparency will be important as that plan continues to evolve. There must also be an effort to work with the industry, he said. Janet Davis had conversations last summer with plenty of people who had never before been to her home of New-Wes-Valley. The owner of Norton’s Cove Studio and Café in the Brookfield part of the community, Davis found those conversations usually included a line about having little knowledge of her part of the province. “The staycation has been really good for my business,” Davis said of what brought those people to her door. As the election campaign begins to ramp up, how the next provincial government is going to help tourism operators in the future is at the top of a lot of operators' minds. For some, like Davis, want to continue to push people to explore their province as they did last summer through the Stay Home Year 2020 campaign. “Keep promoting our own,” said Davis. “It’s great to have your own people supporting you. “We have to keep promoting our own people.” Deborah Bourden says the number of people who will explore their own province next summer is just a fraction of what is needed to keep the tourism sector going. There also must be an effort to maintain the tourism department’s current pot for marketing initiatives, she says. That means having the next government maintain the current level of funding being put into marketing initiatives, both locally and abroad. “We don’t want to see any less in marketing,” said Bourden, who is the co-owner of the Anchor Inn Hotel & Suites in Twillingate. If things start to open back up to national and international travel next fall, then a part of the tourism plan will need to look at how best to get those people into the province, she says. “We have to be prepared so we can come out of the gate strong next year this time,” said Bourden. “We have to be thinking about what we need, and we need to be prepared for that.” Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice
The owner of Canada's biggest stock exchanges is seeking to attract more Asian derivatives investors, aiming to boost the share of its overall revenues from outside the country to half from one-third currently. TMX Group, which operates the Toronto Stock Exchange, the TSX Venture Exchange and the Montreal Exchange, plans to extend derivatives trading to 23 hours in the second half of 2021 from 14-1/2 hours now to attract Asia-Pacific institutional investors, Chief Executive John McKenzie told Reuters in an exclusive interview. McKenzie said TMX hopes both to expand outside Canada and beyond its traditional equities trading operations, which already accounted for less than a tenth of revenues in fiscal 2019, half the level of a decade earlier.
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.
WASHINGTON — Troops in riot gear lined the sidewalks, but there were no crowds. Armored vehicles and concrete barriers blocked empty streets. Miles of fencing cordoned off many of the nation's most familiar landmarks. Joe Biden was safely sworn in as president in a Washington on edge, two weeks after rioters loyal to former President Donald Trump besieged the Capitol. Law enforcement officials contended not only with the potential for outside threats but also with rising concerns about an insider attack. Officials monitored members of far-right extremist and militia groups, increasingly concerned about the risk they could stream into Washington and spark violent confrontations, a law enforcement official said. There were a few scattered arrests but no major protests or serious disruptions in the city during Biden's inauguration ceremony. As Biden put it in his address: “Here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever.” After the deadly attack that killed five on Jan. 6, the Secret Service stepped up security for the inauguration early, essentially locking down the nation's capital. More than 25,000 troops and police were called to duty. The National Mall was closed. Checkpoints were set up at intersections. In the hours before the event, federal agents monitored “concerning online chatter,” which included an array of threats against elected officials and discussions about ways to infiltrate the inauguration, the official said. In right-wing online chat groups, believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory expressed disappointment that top Democrats were not arrested for sex trafficking and that Trump did not seize a second term. Twelve National Guard members were removed from the security operation a day earlier after vetting by the FBI, including two who had made extremist statements in posts or texts about Wednesday's event. Pentagon officials would not give details on the statements. The FBI vetted all 25,000 members in an extraordinary security effort in part over the presence of some ex-military in the riot. Two other U.S. officials told The Associated Press that all 12 were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or to have posted extremist views online. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe groups the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials told the AP they had all been removed because of “security liabilities.” The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, confirmed that Guard members had been removed and sent home, but said only two cases were related to inappropriate comments or texts related to the inauguration. He said the other 10 cases were for issues that may involve previous criminal behaviour or activities but were not directly related to the inaugural event. The FBI also warned law enforcement officials about the possibility that members of right-wing fringe groups could pose as National Guard troops, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter. Investigators in Washington were particularly worried that members of right-wing extremist groups and militias, like the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, would descend on Washington to spark violence, the law enforcement officials said. Some of the groups are known to recruit former military personnel, to train extensively and to have frequented anti-government and political protests. In addition to the thousands of National Guard troops, hundreds of law enforcement officers from agencies around the country were also brought into Washington. The increased security is likely to remain in the nation's capital for at least a few more days. ___ Associated Press writers Lolita Baldor in Washington and James LaPorta in Delray Beach, Florida, contributed to this report. Ben Fox, Colleen Long And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz on Wednesday unveiled the EQA, a new electric compact SUV as part of plans to take on rival Tesla Inc and offer more emission-free vehicles to consumers to meet targets in Europe and China. The EQA, the first of several electric models Mercedes-Benz plans to launch this year, will initially have a range of 426 kilometres (265 miles), with a 500km model coming later, the premium brand carmaker said in a video presentation.
BEIJING — China’s capital, Beijing, recorded seven more coronavirus cases on Wednesday amid a lingering outbreak in the country’s north. Another 46 were recorded in Jilin province, 16 in Heilongjiang on the border with Russia, and 19 in Hebei, the province surrounding Beijing. China has now recorded a total of 88,557 cases since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, with 4,635 deaths. China is hoping to vaccinate 50 million people against the virus by mid-February and is also releasing schools early and telling citizens to stay put during the Lunar New Year travel rush that begins in coming days. A panel of experts commissioned by the World Health Organization criticized China and other countries this week for not moving to stem the initial outbreak of the coronavirus earlier, prompting Beijing to concede it could have done better but also to defend its response. “As the first country to sound the global alarm against the epidemic, China made immediate and decisive decisions and insisted on timely detection, reporting, isolation, and treatment despite incomprehensive information at the time. We have gained time to fight the epidemic and reduce infections and deaths,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters on Tuesday. “We are firmly opposed to politicizing issues related to virus tracing, as this will not help the international community to unite and co-operate in the fight against the pandemic,” Hua said. A team of experts from WHO are quarantined in Wuhan ahead of beginning field visits aiming to shed light on the origins of the virus that is thought to have jumped to humans from animals, possibly bats. Other developments in the Asia-Pacific region: — India has began supplying coronavirus vaccines to its neighbouring countries, as the world’s largest vaccine making nation strikes a balance between maintaining enough doses to inoculate its own people and helping developing countries without the capacity to produce their own shots. India’s Foreign Ministry said the country will send 150,000 doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine, manufactured locally by Serum Institute of India, to Bhutan and 100,000 to the Maldives on Wednesday. Vaccines will also be sent to Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and the Seychelles in coming weeks, the ministry said, without specifying an exact timeline. Ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava said the government will ensure that domestic vaccine makers have adequate stocks to meet domestic needs as they supply partner countries in the coming months. Of the more than 12 billion coronavirus vaccine doses expected to be produced this year, rich countries have already bought about 9 billion, and many have options to buy even more. This means that Serum Institute, which has been contracted by AstraZeneca to make a billion doses, is likely to make most of the vaccine that will be used by developing nations. The Associated Press
CANSO – Maritime Launch Services (MLS) will not get liftoff as early as the company had hoped. Just more than four years ago, in Oct. 2016, MLS was formed in Nova Scotia to create a spaceport in Canso. In some of the earliest press releases about the proposed project, MLS stated the estimated timeline for first launch capability was 2020. And, although COVID-19 has created a Groundhog Day effect, time has continued to move forward – the calendar has turned to a new year, and MLS has yet to break ground on the Canso Spaceport facility. MLS CEO Steve Matier told The Journal on Monday (Jan. 18) that the delay could be attributed to several causes including, most recently, the wrench the global pandemic has put in every plan – be it business or personal. In addition, Matier said the original 2020 launch date was based on getting shovels in the ground in 2018. That wasn’t possible, as it took until June of 2019 to get the Environmental Assessment (EA) approved by the Department of Environment. And, he said, “There’s the whole land lease issue working with [Nova Scotia] Lands and Forestry; that takes time as well.” At this point, the company is working to meet the terms and conditions in the 2019 EA document, which include associated activities involved with designs for roads and buildings; plans for erosion and settlement control; analysis of potential impacts to watercourses and existing water users; environmental monitoring plans and more. “Within that approval (EA) was the rather lengthy list of compliance pieces that we need to get to them to review,” Matier told The Journal, adding that no construction could take place until the information supplied by the company was accepted by the Nova Scotia Department of Environment. Matier said he hoped they could move to breaking ground on the project in six months’ time, but “it’s hard to predict exact dates,” due to the time it takes for review and approval. Given that the Department of Lands and Forestry accepted the company’s draft survey for the lease of Crown land required for the project just before Christmas, the wheels of government can be seen to move forward. Once the project moves past approvals, and on to groundbreaking, Matier said it could be another two years before the first launch. “We require about 18 months of construction activities and six of commissioning before you can get to an actual launch.” While there have been delays, Matier told The Journal the company has potential clients lined up and waiting. “We have a fairly extensive set of letters of intent and MOUs with satellite developers and aggregators already, but these don’t turn into formal launch contracts until the point when we can tell them what that actual launch date is. Once we break ground, we’ll be in a much better position to project what the launch date is and start to turn those letters of intent into launch contracts.” Progress on the project has been slow this past year, and there has been little to report, which may have pleased some people in the Canso/Hazel Hill area who are opposed to the spaceport. Matier said, while the company is aware of the opposition, MLS would not have selected the site without support from the majority of community members. “We really started this initiative by working with the community, first and foremost,” he said, adding that the company has held open information sessions and met with stakeholder groups like the Municipality of the District of Guysborough and the Fishermen’s Association. “We have sought input and will continue to do so. We’re not about to ram this through … we have been open and honest about everything we are planning to do,” Matier said. The Environmental Assessment Approval, dated June 4, 2019 states that work must commence on the project within two years of the approval date; beyond that time, a written extension must be granted by the provincial environment minister. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
China's central bank has proposed stepping up antitrust measures for companies in the non-bank payments industry, such as Ant Group's Alipay and Tencent's WeChat Pay. Under draft rules proposed on Wednesday, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) can advise the state council's antitrust committee to stop companies abusing their dominant position or even break up a non-bank institution if it "severely hinders the healthy development of the payment service market".
In his first official acts as president, Joe Biden is signing executives orders on a broad range of issues, from the coronavirus pandemic to climate change and immigration, to fulfil campaign promises. Highlights of actions Biden is taking Wednesday: THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC MASK REQUIREMENT: Biden is requiring the use of masks and social distancing in all federal buildings, on federal lands and by federal employees and contractors. Consistently masking up is a practice that science has shown to be effective in preventing the spread of the coronavirus, particularly when social distancing is difficult to maintain. He is challenging all Americans to wear a mask for the first 100 days of his administration. That’s a critical period, since communities will still be vulnerable to the virus even as the pace of vaccination increases in pursuit of Biden’s goal of 100 million shots in 100 days. WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION: Biden also is directing the government to rejoin the World Health Organization, which Donald Trump withdrew from earlier this year after accusing it of incompetence and bowing to Chinese pressure over the coronavirus. Symbolizing Biden’s commitment to a more prominent global role, White House coronavirus co-ordinator Jeff Zients announced that Dr. Anthony Fauci will deliver a speech Thursday to the WHO as head of a U.S. delegation. Fauci, the government's top infectious disease expert, will lay out how the administration intends to work with the WHO on reforms, supporting the coronavirus response and promoting global health and health security ___ CLIMATE PARIS CLIMATE ACCORD: Biden will sign an executive orders to rejoin the Paris climate accord, fulfilling a campaign pledge to get back into the global climate pact on Day One. Trump, a supporter of oil, gas and coal, had made a first priority of pulling out of global efforts to cut climate-damaging fossil fuel emissions. It will take 30 days for the U.S. to officially be back in. REVIEWING TRUMP ROLLBACKS: Biden’s Day One plans also include a temporary moratorium on new Trump administration oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, moving to revoke a presidential permit for the Keystone XL oil and gas pipeline and reviewing a Trump administration freeze on vehicle mileage and emissions standards. Biden also is setting in motion an evaluation of another Trump move that cut boundaries and protections for some national monuments. Agencies will be directed to consider impact of climate change on disadvantaged communities and on future generations from any regulatory action that affected fossil fuel emissions, a new requirement. ___ IMMIGRATION ENDING BAN ON MUSLIM Travellers: Biden is ending what is variously known as the “travel ban” or the “Muslim ban,” one of the first acts of the Trump administration. Trump in January 2017 banned foreign nationals from seven mostly Muslim countries from entry into the country. After a lengthy court fight, a watered-down version of the rule was upheld by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision in 2018. The new administration says it will improve the screening of visitors by strengthening information sharing with foreign governments and other measures. BORDER WALL: Biden is immediately ending the national emergency that Trump declared on the border in February 2018 to divert billions of dollars from the Defence Department to wall construction. He also is halting construction to review contracts and how wall money might be redirected. Despite Trump's repeated promises that Mexico would pay for the wall, U.S. Customs and Border Protection says Americans have committed $15 billion for more than 700 miles (1,120 kilometres). It is unclear how many miles are under contract and what penalties the government would have to pay for cancelling them. The Supreme Court has scheduled arguments Feb. 22 on the legality of Trump’s diverting Defence Department funds for counter-narcotics efforts and military construction projects to wall construction. DACA: Biden will order his Cabinet to work to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has shielded hundreds of thousands of people who came to the country as young children from deportation since it was introduced in 2012. Trump ordered an end to DACA in 2017, triggering a legal challenge that ended in June when the Supreme Court ruled that it should be kept in place because the Trump administration failed to follow federal rule-making guidelines in undoing it. But DACA is still facing legal challenges. In his presidential proclamation, Biden is calling on Congress to adopt legislation that gives DACA recipients permanent legal status and a path to citizenship. There are currently about 700,000 people enrolled. DEPORTATIONS: Biden is revoking one of Trump’s first executive orders, which declared that all of the roughly 11 million people in the country illegally are considered priorities for deportation. The Department of Homeland Security will conduct a review of enforcement priorities. Biden’s campaign site says deportations will focus on national security and public safety threats. The order says nothing about a 100-day moratorium on deportations that Biden promised during the campaign. Susan Rice, who is tapped to run the White House Domestic Policy Council, says any decision on moratoriums would come from Homeland Security. CENSUS: Biden is reversing a Trump plan to exclude people in the country illegally from being counted in the 2020 Census. The once-a-decade census is used to determine how many congressional seats and Electoral College votes each state gets, as well as the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal spending each year. Biden’s team says the new administration will ensure the Census Bureau has time to complete an accurate count for each state and that the apportionment is “fair and accurate.” ___ STUDENT DEBT Biden is asking the Education Department to extend a pause on federal student loan payments through at least Sept. 30, continuing a moratorium that began early in the pandemic but was set to expire at the end of January. Borrowers, who owe a collective $1.5 trillion, would not be required to make payments on their federal student loans, their loans would not accrue any interest, and all debt collection activity would halt through September. Congress paused student debt payments last March as part of a virus relief package, and the Trump administration extended it twice. Biden's order does not include the type of mass debt cancellation that some Democrats asked him to orchestrate through executive action. He has said that action should come from Congress. ___ HOUSING FORECLOSURES Housing foreclosures and evictions would be delayed until at least March 31, 2021. Almost 12% of homeowners with mortgages are late on their payments, while 19% of renters are behind, according to a Census Bureau survey of households. The federal moratoriums would ensure that people could stay in their homes even if they cannot afford their monthly bills. Biden is also calling on Congress to extend assistance to renters. While the moratoriums have aided several million Americans during the pandemic and helped to contain the disease, they have also meant that billions of dollars in housing costs have gone unpaid. ___ Associated Press writers Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Ellen Knickmeyer, Ben Fox, Elliot Spagat, Matt Lee and Josh Boak contributed to this report. The Associated Press
THE LATEST: As of Tuesday afternoon, there were 465 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 more deaths. There are currently 4,331 active cases of the coronavirus in B.C. 329 people are in hospital, with 70 in the ICU. 92,369 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C. There are no new health-care facility outbreaks. The number of cases linked to the Big White Mountain community cluster has grown by 28. B.C. health officials confirmed 465 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday and said 12 more people had died of the disease. In a written statement, Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix put the number of hospitalized patients at 329 people, 70 of whom are in intensive care. A total of 1,090 people in B.C. have lost their lives due to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. B.C. recorded no new outbreaks in health-care facilities. Interior Health also confirmed there are now 28 additional cases of COVID-19 linked to the Big White Mountain community cluster — bringing the total to 203 since the cluster was declared. Of the 28 new cases, 22 reside and work at Big White. B.C.'s current health restrictions are in effect until at least Feb. 5 at midnight. The current orders include a ban on gatherings with people outside of one's immediate household. Henry said in a news conference on Monday that if B.C.'s case count continues to trend downward, there is a possibility some restrictions could be lifted by the Family Day weekend in mid-February. A non-existent flu season Health officials in B.C. have not detected a single case of influenza circulating in the community since flu season began, continuing an "exceptional" nationwide trend. The B.C. Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) confirmed the non-existent seasonal flu numbers to CBC News on Monday. "It's still a big goose egg in terms of influenza detection provincially. It's really quite exceptional how low the influenza activity is," said Dr. Danuta Skowronski, the lead for influenza and emerging respiratory virus monitoring at the BCCDC. B.C. 'prepared' for vaccine delays The federal government on Friday announced Pfizer is temporarily reducing shipments of its vaccine in order to expand manufacturing capacity at a facility in Belgium. The move means there will be fewer shipments of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccing coming to Canada until at least March. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday he's still confident the country is on track to vaccinate every Canadian who wants a shot by September. Henry called the delay a "setback" that will temporarily slow the province's delivery of the vaccine to at-risk people. But she said the province is working to ensure the highest number of people are immunized. READ MORE: What's happening elsewhere in Canada As of 9 p.m. PT on Tuesday, Canada had reported 719,465 cases of COVID-19, and 18,266 total deaths. A total of 71,055 cases are considered active. What are the symptoms of COVID-19? Common symptoms include: Fever. Cough. Tiredness. Shortness of breath. Loss of taste or smell. Headache. But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia. What should I do if I feel sick? Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they're mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or other extreme symptoms should call 911. What can I do to protect myself? Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean. Keep your distance from people who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Wear a mask in indoor public spaces. More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.
TIRANA, Albania — Albania’s Defence Ministry on Wednesday reported the death of a soldier in Afghanistan, the second from the tiny Western Balkan country to die during the international peacekeeping mission. The soldier, identified only by the initials Xh. J., died Tuesday night at 1810 GMT (1:10 p.m. EST), the ministry said in a statement. It didn't specify the location or give any details about the circumstances. The ministry said that the Albanian military was assisting an investigation by the command of the Resolute Support Mission operation in Afghanistan, made up of around 16,000 troops from 38 countries. Albania, a NATO member since 2009, has been part of the international mission since 2010. The country currently has 99 troops in Afghanistan, located at two bases in Herat and Kabul. The ministry expressed condolences to the family and “assure the personnel in the mission and their families of continuous support in the successful accomplishment of their mission.” The Associated Press