Here are the top stories for Wednesday, December 23: Trump vetoes defense bill and set up override threat; Biden introduces education pick; building explosion injures 10, strands workers; zoo animals have an early Christmas.
Here are the top stories for Wednesday, December 23: Trump vetoes defense bill and set up override threat; Biden introduces education pick; building explosion injures 10, strands workers; zoo animals have an early Christmas.
WASHINGTON — The words of Donald Trump supporters who are accused of participating in the deadly U.S. Capitol riot may end up being used against him in his Senate impeachment trial as he faces the charge of inciting a violent insurrection. At least five supporters facing federal charges have suggested they were taking orders from the then-president when they marched on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 to challenge the certification of Joe Biden's election win. But now those comments, captured in interviews with reporters and federal agents, are likely to take centre stage as Democrats lay out their case. It's the first time a former president will face such charges after leaving office. “I feel like I was basically following my president. I was following what we were called to do. He asked us to fly there. He asked us to be there," Jenna Ryan, a Texas real estate agent who posted a photo on Twitter of herself flashing a peace sign next to a broken Capitol window, told a Dallas-Fort Worth TV station. Jacob Chansley, the Arizona man photographed on the dais in the Senate who was shirtless and wore face paint and a furry hat with horns, has similarly pointed a finger at Trump. Chansley called the FBI the day after the insurrection and told agents he travelled “at the request of the president that all ‘patriots’ come to D.C. on January 6, 2021,” authorities wrote in court papers. Chanley’s lawyer unsuccessfully lobbied for a pardon for his client before Trump's term ended, saying Chansley “felt like he was answering the call of our president.” Authorities say that while up on the dais in the Senate chamber, Chansley wrote a threatening note to then-Vice-President Mike Pence that said: “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.” Trump is the first president to be twice impeached and the first to face a trial after leaving office. The charge this time is “inciting violence against the government of the United States.” His impeachment lawyer, Butch Bowers, did not respond to call for comment. Opening arguments in the trial will begin the week of Feb. 8. House Democrats who voted to impeach Trump last week for inciting the storming of the Capitol say a full reckoning is necessary before the country — and the Congress — can move on. For weeks, Trump rallied his supporters against the election outcome and urged them to come to the Capitol on Jan. 6 to rage against Biden's win. Trump spoke to the crowd near the White House shortly before they marched along Pennsylvania Avenue to Capitol Hill. “We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen,” Trump said. “You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore.” Later he said: “If you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.” He told supporters to walk to the Capitol to “peacefully and patriotically” make your voices heard. Trump has taken no responsibility for his part in fomenting the violence, saying days after the attack: “People thought that what I said was totally appropriate.” Unlike a criminal trial, where there are strict rules about what is and isn’t evidence, the Senate can consider anything it wishes. And if they can show that Trump’s words made a real impact, all the better, and scholars expect it in the trial. "Bringing in those people's statements is part of proving that it would be at a minimum reasonable for a rational person to expect that if you said and did the things that Trump said and did, then they would be understood in precisely the way these people understood them," said Frank Bowman, a constitutional law expert and law professor at University of Missouri. A retired firefighter from Pennsylvania told a friend that that he travelled to Washington with a group of people and the group listened to Trump's speech and then “followed the President’s instructions” and went to the Capitol, an agent wrote in court papers. That man, Robert Sanford, is accused of throwing a fire extinguisher that hit three Capitol Police officers. Another man, Robert Bauer of Kentucky, told FBI agents that “he marched to the U.S. Capitol because President Trump said to do so,” authorities wrote. His cousin, Edward Hemenway, from Virginia, told the FBI that he and Bauer headed toward the Capitol after Trump said “something about taking Pennsylvania Avenue." More than 130 people as of Friday were facing federal charges; prosecutors have promised that more cases — and more serious charges — are coming. Most of those arrested so far are accused of crimes like unlawful entry and disorderly conduct, but prosecutors this week filed conspiracy charges against three self-described members of a paramilitary group who authorities say plotted the attack. A special group of prosecutors is examining whether to bring sedition charges, which carry up to 20 years in prison, against any of the rioters. Two-thirds of the Senate is needed to convict. And while many Republicans — including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky— have condemned Trump's words, it remains unclear how many would vote to convict him. “While the statements of those people kind of bolsters the House manager's case, I think that President Trump has benefited from a Republican Party that has not been willing to look at evidence,” said Michael Gerhardt, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law who testified before the House Judiciary Committee during Trump's first impeachment hearings in 2019. “They stood by him for the entire first impeachment proceeding, thinking that the phone call with the president of the Ukraine was perfect and I’m sure they will think that was a perfect speech too. There is nothing yet to suggest that they would think otherwise," Gerhardt said. ____ Richer reported from Boston. Alanna Durkin Richer And Colleen Long, The Associated Press
Bulgaria will ease some coronavirus restrictions from February 4 though restaurants will remain closed for now due to concerns about the new coronavirus variant, officials said on Saturday. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said secondary school students will be allowed to attend classes under a special regime as of next month and will also be able to attend extracurricular sport and dance activities. Bulgaria reopened primary schools and kindergartens in early January - a move that has not led to a spike in infections.
If he were alive today, even St. Paul would be texting, Tweeting and firing off emails to get the news out, Pope Francis said on Saturday in his message for the Roman Catholic Church's World Day of Social Communication. St. Paul, who lived in the first century of the Christian era, spread the new faith into Europe and Asia Minor and is believed to have written a great part of the New Testament. "Every tool has its value, and that great communicator who was Paul of Tarsus would certainly have made use of email and social messaging," the pope said in the message, titled "Come and See".
The only thing Margaret Marilyn DeAdder loved more than tea and toast — was reheating tea and toast. "She burned many a teapot and caused smoke damage countless times, leaving her kids with the impression that fanning the smoke alarm was a step in brewing tea." That's a sneak peak into the life of 78-year-old Marilyn DeAdder — the "clipper of coupons, baker of cookies and terror behind the wheel," who died this week. In the obit, her son, Michael DeAdder, pokes fun at his mom's ability to give the finger as well as her inability to put her car in reverse. 'A champion of the underdog' DeAdder said his mom, who he refers to as Marilyn, was also "a champion of the underdog, ruthless card player, and self-described Queen Bitch." She also loved the spotlight and was the life of every party. So when her obituary went viral this week, DeAdder knew his mother would've been pleased. "My mother was a ham," he said. "She liked to be the centre of attention, not in a bad way, as a joking way." I doubt I'd be a cartoonist without the mom I had. - Michael DeAdder In her obituary, the award-winning cartoonist described his mom as a lifelong volunteer at the Capitol Theatre in Moncton, "which her sons suspected was her way of seeing all the shows for free." She was also a trained hairdresser and enjoyed styling people's hair in her kitchen, "so much so her kitchen smelled of baking and perm solution." She loved her three sons, except when they weren't clean shaven. "At least one of them would ruin Christmas every year by coming home with facial hair, and never forgot that one disastrous Christmas in which all three sons showed up with beards." And she adored her granddaughters, feeding them mountains of sugary snacks. "While her sons committed unspeakable crimes against humanity, her granddaughters could do no wrong," the obituary said. And she was also funny — a trait the New Glasgow native passed onto her three sons. "I doubt I'd be a cartoonist without the mom I had." Mom's obituary needed 'a splash' of humour Before writing his mother's obituary, DeAdder perused through a few others for inspiration. But none of them were Marilyn. "The standard obituary is depressing and cold," he said. He knew Marilyn's write-up would need "a splash" of humour — and a dig or two about how she always found time in her busy life to run her children's lives. Then the story wrote itself. "It seemed like every line had a punch line … it took off in a strange direction naturally." The eldest of three said the obituary felt more like a Christmas homecoming, where he and his brothers would spend the holidays teasing their mom — which she loved, of course. After the obit was posted, hundreds of people who knew Marilyn and people who didn't, were coming out of the woodwork sharing condolences, fond memories and many more laughs. "It sort of got out of hand." A different kind of spotlight DeAdder said his mom died after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease Tuesday. "Marilyn, ever the penny-pincher, decided to leave this world on the day Moncton went into red-alert, her sons believe, to avoid paying for a funeral." During an interview with Information Morning Moncton on Friday, DeAdder said he wasn't ready for his mom to go this week. "We sort of think she bowed out." But he said Marilyn would've been thrilled about the prospects of being talked about on CBC radio. "This is a different spotlight," DeAdder said. "She wouldn't expect this." In honour of their mom, Marilyn's family asks that people do something nice for someone else unexpectedly, and without explanation.
A naked Florida man stole what news footage showed to be a marked police vehicle and crashed it in a wooded area, officials said. Joshua Shenker, 22, was arrested after Thursday's crash on charges including theft of a motor vehicle, aggravated battery on a law enforcement officer, depriving an officer of means of communication or protection and resisting an officer without violence, according to a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office report. Officers responded to reports of a naked man running along Interstate 10 in western Jacksonville shortly before noon Thursday. Shenker was lying in the the roadway when an officer stopped on the opposite side of the route, the report said. Shenker then ran across the highway lanes toward the officer, officials said. The redacted report didn't say how Shenker stole the vehicle. Authorities confirmed only that a vehicle belonging to the City of Jacksonville was stolen. First Coast News footage of the scene showed the crashed vehicle to be a marked patrol car. According to the police report, about $10,000 worth of damage was done to the vehicle. Officers noticed Shenker had road rash after the crash and he was taken to a hospital to be checked out, authorities said. Shenker was being held on $4,011 bail. Jail records didn't list an attorney for him. The Associated Press
LISBON, Portugal — Portugal will hold a presidential election Sunday, choosing a head of state to serve a five-year term as the country suffers through a national lockdown and a worsening coronavirus outbreak. Saturday is a day of political reflection, when campaigning and the publication of opinion polls are forbidden. So here’s a look at the election: WHAT’S AT STAKE? The president in Portugal has no legislative powers, which lie with parliament and the government, but is an influential voice and under exceptional circumstances can dissolve parliament and call an early election. The head of state can also veto legislation, although parliament can overturn that veto, and refer legislation to the constitutional Court for vetting. Mostly, the president aims to stand above the political fray, refereeing disputes and acting as an arbiter to defuse tensions. WHO’S IN THE RUNNING? Seven candidates are running, but if none captures more than 50% of the vote, a runoff between the two top candidates will take place on Feb. 14. The incumbent, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, is widely expected to be returned for a second and final term. Charming and affable, the 72-year-old Rebelo de Sousa’s willingness to pose for selfies spawned a Portuguese Facebook page called “Selfies com Marcelo” (Selfies with Marcelo). He has had an approval rating over 60% and his six challengers haven’t come close to denting his apparent lead. But a new right-wing populist, André Ventura, may capture around 11% of the vote, opinion polls indicate, and could secure second place in a runoff. That would send a shock wave through Portuguese mainstream politics, where extremists have so far been absent. HOW IS AN ELECTION HELD DURING A PANDEMIC? Portugal, which is in a lockdown, has one of the worst rates of infections and deaths in the world, according to a tally by John's Hopkins University. The election campaign featured none of the usual flag-waving rallies or other large public events in order to avoid gatherings that would fuel the spread of the virus. Campaigning ended Friday. Early voting drew almost 200,000 of the country's 9.3 million registered voters. The government is opening 2,000 more polling stations to prevent crowds from forming on Sunday. Restrictions on movement are being lifted for election day and voters must bring their own pens. Barry Hatton, The Associated Press
DALIAN, China — Former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez left Chinese club Dalian Pro on Saturday, citing family reasons during the coronavirus pandemic. “The pandemic is still here, for all of us, and supporting our families has been a priority when making this decision,” Benitez wrote in a statement on his personal website. Benitez had one year left on his contract with the club, which finished 12th in the 16-team Chinese Super League last season. “I say goodbye sadly under these circumstances, but at the same time I am convinced that the future will be bright for Dalian Pro,” he said. The 60-year-old Spaniard went to China after a three-year spell re-establishing Newcastle in the English Premier League. Benitez won the Spanish league twice and a UEFA Cup with Valencia before moving to Liverpool. He led Liverpool to a surprise Champions League title in 2005, the first of his six seasons there. Benitez later had short stints in charge at Inter Milan, Chelsea — winning the Europa League in 2013 — and Real Madrid. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
As thousands of new migrant workers begin to arrive in Windsor-Essex, some local leaders fear a looming crisis lies ahead. Last year, hundreds of migrant workers in the region contracted COVID-19 and two died after falling sick with the disease. As of Friday, 12 farms in Leamington and Kingsville are in outbreak. The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit also reported that 57 agri-farm worker cases are active and 104 more are in isolation. As cases begin to ramp up while new workers arrive — with the County of Essex estimating that between 600 and 700 new workers have already landed in the region — local officials worry that last summer will repeat itself. Despite all levels of government implementing new strategies and providing extra funding, the question remains as to whether lessons were actually learned from 2020 and whether workers will be kept safe the second time around. Up to 2,000 workers are expected in coming weeks, with 10,000 arriving by June. Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos said that some of the new workers have already shown up and tested positive for COVID-19, though CBC News could not confirm that. He said he's concerned with how these workers are being integrated into the workforce and inspections on how they're being quarantined upon arrival. Those inspections, he said, are done virtually and the government doesn't follow up in person, which leads him to question the integrity of the quarantine. He added that they don't know where each worker is supposed to be quarantining and, as such, town officials cannot respond to those who might be breaking the rules. "If we're being asked to enforce it, we can't, we don't have the information that's been required," Santos said. "The [Ontario Provincial Police] have told us their hands are tied, because they don't have the data." Santos and Essex County Warden Gary McNamara said they put their concerns in a letter to the federal and provincial governments in the hopes that they will provide more guidance. "We're asking the governments and the powers that be to utilize their requirements, strengthen them based on the experience that we've already gone through and bring that oversight," Santos said. "[They've] allowed this program to continue with certain restrictions and guidelines ... and we're asking them to police it and bring forward the boots on the ground, the enforcement that they've approved." 'I don't believe we're in that same position' But Joe Sbrocchi, general manager of Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG), says he doesn't believe that they're "in that same position" as last year. "There are so many eyes on this that I find it strange that people think that that isn't happening. I don't get it," he told CBC News. "I don't think we're looking at the same situation that we saw in March and April of last year." He said OGVG has worked with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to develop tools and supports for farmers. As for the quarantine process, Sbrocchi said it's straightforward: workers arrive and tell Canadian Border Services where they are headed, that information is passed to local law enforcement that will check in. Yet he couldn't say whether inspections or check-ins on the workers were happening in-person or virtually. He added that he's not aware of any new workers showing up and testing positive. "If the question is do I think that people are acting inappropriately, I do not and I certainly wouldn't be supportive of it," he said. "Farms will do everything possible to be cooperative ... it's in their interest in every way possible ... We are doing everything possible to take care of this as best we can." The province responded to Santos' letter and said they are closely working with federal and local authorities to "ensure there is a coordinated response when it comes to controlling the spread of COVID-19 on farms." In November, the province announced 35 actions to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 on farms. The actions required participation from farmers, workers, the government and the industry. Short-term solutions referred to the use of personal protective equipment, physical distancing practices, widespread adoption of screening practices and limiting the number of workers moving between farms. A key long-term solution was better housing standards. In an emailed statement to CBC News, the federal government said it has invested nearly $85 million to cover the cost of worker quarantines and that it has extended funding for Windsor's Isolation Recovery Centre until March 31.
As Dustin Ritter picks up his pencil and starts to draw, he immediately breaks into a smile. The portrait artist may not see perfectly, but his pencil lines are clear and purposeful. "I think people are really surprised that I can draw because of my condition and, again, I have to explain how it works for me," he said. "I do have what people call an invisible disability." Ritter said it can take him hours to complete a piece — longer than it would other artists — but his time spent drawing isn't wasted. "I want people to feel as good as I did making it when they get it. And I guess just to explain to them that I enjoyed the process so much because it helped me centre myself." Ritter has a type of macular dystrophy. It's a blind spot in the centre of each eye that affects his perception of details and depth. His ophthalmologist has told him it's not the typical type of macular dystrophy as his eyes don't seem to be getting worse with age. Despite having the blind spot since he was a young child, Ritter has been drawing for as long as he can remember. With his condition, Ritter has to create his artwork differently than others. He can't work with a live model and instead uses reference images that he can hold close to his face to see the details. He said his eye condition is something other people point out more than he notices it himself. "Like, I won't notice that I'm holding my phone right in front of my face until someone says that. And I'm like, 'You don't do that?'" Ritter said with a laugh. "I think you get so used to doing things a certain way that you have your routines." As a teenager, Ritter moved away from drawing, thinking he needed to get a "real job." In 2018, he rediscovered his passion and started drawing again, "just for therapeutic reasons, like wanting to just draw and relax. Now I'm fully addicted to doing it again, and it's been a really good time." Ritter said drawing offers him something to focus on and helps counteract anxiety, but more than that, it offers him a purpose. "Drawing was always a kind of escape for me," Ritter said. "I can put a lot of time into that where other things are more of a challenge and more of a chore." For example, Ritter said cooking can be a struggle as he needs to read ingredient lists or small print. When other things are frustrating, that's when he turns to drawing. Two years and hundreds of commissions later, the 37-year-old has made artwork his career. He has a month-long exhibit up at Bushwakker Brewpub in Regina. For commissions and his latest exhibit, Ritter has been creating custom frames with the help of his dad. They use wood from their family farm, where a 100-year-old barn recently blew over, and they also salvaged pieces from an old grain elevator. On top of doing commissions, Ritter teaches art classes at the Paper Crane Community Art Centre in Regina and tutorials for Ranch Ehrlo Society youth. Ritter also does client-centred murals where he sketches out the mural and the youth help fill it in. "Being a person with a disability, it makes it easier for me to work with someone with a disability because I can kind of empathize with them and realize how scary it is for them to start something," Ritter said. "I think everyone has a fear of starting something because you won't be good at it, right? So if someone else kind of starts it for you and gives you the tools to do it on your own, you can still feel good with the finished product." Ritter credits Bushwakker for good exposure, hopes to continue doing murals and challenging himself to grow as an artist. "Art is kind of like music, where everyone can kind of enjoy it and get some sort of fulfilment out of it," Ritter said. "It's something that drives me to do it more because I feel it does help people who need it."
A New Brunswick RCMP officer committed serious, charter-infringing misconduct by denying a man arrested for impaired driving access to a lawyer, a court decision states. The case involved Pier-Paul Landry, who was convicted of impaired driving, but was initially denied access to a lawyer by the investigating officer on the 2017 case. Landry was acquitted on appeal of the conviction. The decision names RCMP Const. Kalbarczyk as the investigating officer but does not include his first name. The Crown sought leave to appeal the acquittal, leading to the New Brunswick Court of Appeal decision issued Thursday. Justice Charles LeBlond, who wrote the decision on behalf of the three-judge panel, upheld the acquittal. "[T]he facts of this case expose the police officer's usual practice which prevented Mr. Landry from availing himself of his right to retain and instruct counsel at the scene of his arrest, despite the Supreme Court of Canada's explicit and well-known instructions to that effect, dating back more than thirty-three years, which have been reiterated in several decisions of this Court," LeBlond wrote. He added that his hope is that the "clear signal" the appeal court sent in a previous ruling regarding access to a lawyer, and "reiterates in these reasons will be clearly understood." According to the decision, Landry was stopped at 2:48 a.m. on Dec. 2, 2017, in Inkerman Ferry, a community northeast of Tracadie-Sheila. Kalbarczyk detected alcohol on Landry's breath. Landry admitted he had been drinking. He failed a roadside screening test around 3:10 a.m., leading the officer to arrest him. The decision says Kalbarczyk advised Landry of his rights, which include the right to retain and instruct legal counsel without delay. Landry told the officer he had a lawyer and wanted to speak with him immediately. However, Kalbarczyk refused to allow him to do so until at a police station, which LeBlond wrote was the first breach of Landry's rights. I cannot conceive that the RCMP, with all its resources and means of communicating with its members, would not have alerted its members about how they should conduct themselves - Justice Charles LeBlond "[T]he case law could not be clearer on the issue of when an accused is entitled to avail himself or herself of his or her right to counsel," LeBlond wrote. "The right applies immediately following arrest and reading of constitutional rights, insofar as the circumstances of the case allow. No evidence may be obtained before the right is exercised." The judge said Kalbarczyk should have let Landry use his cellphone instead of the officer threatening to seize the device. At the police station, Landry repeatedly tried to call several lawyers without success. After several more attempts, the officer read Landry what's known as a Prosper warning. It indicates a suspect has changed their mind about contacting legal representation or hasn't clearly responded to the officer about seeking legal representation. It is used before questioning the suspect. But the warning didn't apply, LeBlond wrote, and Landry wasn't aware of the legal significance of the warning. Kalbarczyk testified Landry told him, "I do not waive it, but what do you want me to do?" Instead of allowing Landry to exercise his right within a reasonable time, the decision says the officer told Landry there was nothing more to be done. Four minutes later, Landry was turned over to another person who collected breath samples to determine his blood alcohol level. LeBlond described Kalbarczyk's actions as "very serious Charter infringing misconduct." The officer testified that he followed his usual practice in such circumstances. "I cannot conceive that the RCMP, with all its resources and means of communicating with its members, would not have alerted its members about how they should conduct themselves, especially in light of the fact that the expected conduct was established by Canada's highest court more than thirty years ago," LeBlond wrote. Impaired driving is one of the most frequent criminal offences and one of the most common offences heard by criminal courts, according to Statistics Canada. LeBlond ruled the violations mean evidence of Landry's blood alcohol evidence cannot be used, upholding Landry's acquittal. Const. Hans Ouellette, a spokesperson for RCMP in New Brunswick, responded to a request for comment about the decision by saying the force "respects the decision of the court." Coreen Enos, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice and Public Safety, said the decision is being reviewed "to determine its implications" and declined further comment.
WASHINGTON — It's a proven political strategy: Underpromise and overdeliver. President Joe Biden, in his first three days in office, has painted a bleak picture of the country's immediate future, warning Americans that it will take months, not weeks, to reorient a nation facing a historic convergence of crises. The dire language is meant as a call to action, but it's also a deliberate effort to temper expectations. In addition, it is an explicit rejection of President Donald Trump’s tack of talking down the coronavirus pandemic and its economic toll. Chris Lu, a longtime Obama administration official, said the grim tone is aimed at “restoring trust in government” that eroded during the Trump administration. “If you’re trying to get people to believe in this whole system of vaccinations, and if you want people to take seriously mask mandates, your leaders have to level with the American people,” he said. Biden said Thursday that “things are going to continue to get worse before they get better” and offered “the brutal truth” that it will take eight months before a majority of Americans will be vaccinated. On Friday, he declared outright: “There’s nothing we can do to change the trajectory of the pandemic in the next several months.” It's all part of Biden's pledge that his administration will "always be honest and transparent with you, about both the good news and the bad.” That approach, aides say, explains Biden’s decision to set clear and achievable goals for his new administration. The measured approach is drawing praise in some corners for being realistic -— but criticism from others for its caution. Trump often dismissed the seriousness of the virus and even acknowledged to journalist Bob Woodward that he deliberately played down the threat to the U.S. to prop up the economy. Even as death tolls and infection rates soared, Trump insisted the country was already “rounding the turn.” Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said Biden’s pledge for 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days in office might fall short of what’s needed to turn the tide on the virus. “Maybe they’re picking a number that’s easier to achieve, rather than the number that we need to achieve. I would urge people to be bolder than that,” he said. Adalja argued that the goal they’ve set “should be the bare minimum that we accept.” But he also acknowledged that there’s a major political risk in overpromising. “You don’t want people to be discouraged or feel like the government is incompetent” if they fail to meet a goal, he said. “It’s a disappointingly low bar,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a public health expert and emergency physician. Biden on Friday acknowledged the criticism, saying he was hopeful for more vaccinations, but he avoided putting down a marker that could potentially fall out of reach. “I found it fascinating that yesterday the press asked the question, ‘Is 100 million enough?'" he said in the State Dining Room. "A week before, they were saying, ‘Biden, are you crazy? You can’t do 100 million in 100 days.’ Well, we’re — God willing — not only going to 100 million. We’re going to do more than that.” In fact, while there was some skepticism when Biden first announced the goal on Dec. 8, it was generally seen as optimistic but within reach. The Biden administration might be taking lessons from the earliest days of the Obama administration, when there was constant pressure to show real progress in turning around the economy during the financial crisis. One former Obama administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to speak freely about internal conversations, said there was a fevered effort during the first few months of Obama's first term to play down the focus on evaluating the president’s success within his first 100 days because aides knew the financial recovery would take far longer than that. In one notable misstep, Obama’s National Economic Council chair, Christina Romer, predicted that unemployment wouldn’t top 8% if Congress passed the administration’s stimulus package to address the financial crisis. It was signed into law a month into Obama's first term, but by the end of that year, unemployment nevertheless hit 10%. The risk in setting too rosy expectations is that an administration might become defined by its failure to meet them. President George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech in 2003 — at a time when the Iraq War was far from over — became a defining blunder of his presidency. Trump provided an overreach of his own in May 2020, when he said the nation had “prevailed” over the virus. At the time, the country had seen about 80,000 deaths from the virus. This week, the U.S. death toll topped 412,000. Trump’s lax approach and lack of credibility contributed to poor adherence to public safety rules among the American public. Former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Trump’s handling of the virus caused so much damage to public perceptions of its severity that it’s important for Biden to set a contrasting tone. “I think it is really important to start telling the American people the truth. And that has not happened in a year, since we found the first case of coronavirus, so he’s got a lot of damage to undo,” she said. “This is a very serious, very contagious, deadly disease, and anything other than that message — delivered over and over again — is, unfortunately, adding to the willingness of lots of people to pay no attention to how to stop the spread of the disease.” Alexandra Jaffe And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
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The coastal city of Beira in Mozambique, which houses one of the country's most important ports, has seen mild damage to property and flooding after tropical cyclone Eloise made landfall early on Saturday, an official said in a television report. The cyclone has since lost its strength and has been downgraded to a tropical storm, according to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). "Beira had mild damage, but is too early to quantify the extent and scale of destruction," Luisa Meque, President of Mozambique's National Institute for Disaster Risk Management and Reduction (INGD), said in a television interview with national broadcaster TVM.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka’s health minister, who has faced criticism for consuming and endorsing a herbal syrup made by a sorcerer, has tested positive for COVID-19. A Health Ministry official on Saturday confirmed that Pavithra Wanniarachchi became the highest-ranking official to be infected with the virus. She and her immediate contacts have been asked to self-quarantine. Doctors have said there is no scientific basis for the syrup as remedy for the coronavirus. It's said to contain honey and nutmeg. Thousands of people gathered in long queues in December in the town of Kegalle, northeast of the capital Colombo, to obtain the syrup, just days after Wanniarachchi and several other government officials publicly consumed it. The maker of the syrup said he got the formula through his divine powers. In local media, he claimed the Hindu goddess Kaali appeared to him in a dream and gave the recipe to save humanity from the coronavirus. Sri Lankans are used to taking both the regular medicine and indigenous alternative drugs to cure ailments. Meanwhile on Saturday, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced that Sri Lanka will receive the first stock of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from India on Jan. 27. He said India is giving this stock free of charge and his government is making arrangements to purchase more vaccines from India, China and Russia. On Friday, Sri Lanka approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine amid warnings from doctors that front-line health workers should be quickly inoculated to prevent the medical system from collapsing. The vaccine was the first to be approved for emergency use in Sri Lanka. The Health Ministry says the inoculation will begin by mid-February. Sri Lanka has witnessed a fresh outbreak of the disease in October when two clusters — one centred on a garment factory and the other on the main fish market — emerged in Colombo and its suburbs. Sri Lanka has reported 52,964 cases with 278 fatalities. ___ This story has been corrected to show that the town where people lined up for the syrup was Kegalle. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak The Associated Press
A large trailer sits in a parking lot behind the Mount Royal Metro station. It's bright and colourful, adding life to a parking lot that is otherwise washed out with snow and construction. Large letters are written on its side: "Wapikoni: First Nations travelling audiovisual and creation studio." Wapikoni is a not-for-profit based in Montreal. They once used the trailer to hold audiovisual workshops for Indigenous youth, but during the pandemic it serves a different purpose. Sheri Pranteau and her team of support workers use it as a home base for the Indigenous Support Workers Project. Watch | Learn more about the project on Our Montreal: The project was founded in 2018 to help people who are Indigenous and homeless in Montreal. At the time, at least 12 per cent of Montreal's homeless population identified as Indigenous, according to a survey conducted by I Count MTL. Since then, the project has expanded to include three more team members. Pranteau was the first support worker to be hired. Her job was to search the streets for people who are homeless and Indigenous, and offer her support. She would brave the cold with nothing more than her coat and what she could carry on her back. But now, Pranteau uses the Wapikoni trailer to collect donations, store equipment and serve hot beverages to people who ask for it. Julia Dubé is a project co-ordinator at Wapikoni. She explained that, due to pandemic restrictions, the organization reduced their programming and stopped providing in-person workshops in the trailer. "Because we weren't using our equipment for our regular activities, the trailer was just kind of sitting there," she said. "So the idea here was to offer some support in terms of equipment." With the addition of the trailer, Pranteau says she and her team can better support people on the street. "[The team] is small but mighty," she said. Every day they do the rounds, walking as far as Place des Arts to meet people, provide support and listen to what they need. If ever they don't have something on hand, they head back to the trailer to get it. But beyond the physical needs, Pranteau also explains the importance of connection. "A lot of them just need acknowledgement," she said. "That's all it takes sometimes, to be acknowledged and to be told, 'you matter.'" She explained that her personal background helps in this regard. She identifies as Cree Anishinaabe, and has had her own experiences that help her empathize with the people she's helping. "I went down a lot of dark roads," she said. "And I paid dearly for those." She credits her community and her elders for helping her get back on her feet. Now she's focused on paying it forward, helping people on the street stay connected to their culture. "Food is one of our things that brings healing, it brings us together," she said. This is why she regularly bakes bannock and brings it with her on her outings. "I just want to help, and see our people rise up and not continue to die and freeze to death," Pranteau said. "I can't save everyone, but I wouldn't want to do anything else."
Larry King, who quizzed thousands of world leaders, politicians and entertainers for CNN and other news outlets in a career spanning more than six decades, has died aged 87, his media company said in a statement on Saturday. King had been hospitalized in Los Angeles with a COVID-19 infection, according to several media reports. "For 63 years and across the platforms of radio, television and digital media, Larry's many thousands of interviews, awards, and global acclaim stand as a testament to his unique and lasting talent as a broadcaster," it said.
MONTREAL — Fear that Quebecers will catch a new variant of COVID-19 on vacation is what's driving demands by the Quebec premier for Ottawa to ban non-essential flights to the country. Premier Francois Legault repeated once again this week that his government believes it was vacationing Quebecers during spring break in 2020 who brought the virus home, allowing it to spread earlier and more widely in the province than elsewhere in Canada. Legal experts say a ban on non-essential travel would violate the mobility rights guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which states, "Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada." The question, experts say, is whether a ban can be justified. "The Constitution is very clear that Canadians have the right to enter and leave Canada," Johanne Poirier, a McGill University law professor who specializes in Canadian federalism, said in a recent interview. But like other rights, she said, it can be limited — if the limitation is justified, reasonable and proportionate. And given the worldwide pandemic, the courts might offer the government more flexibility, she said. "These would not be cases where the courts would be extremely taxing or demanding on the government," she said. "But the government would still have to justify it, because there's no doubt that there's a violation of rights." Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday his government is considering new measures that would "significantly impede" Canadians' ability to return to the country. Forcing returning travellers to quarantine in a hotel — at their expense and under police surveillance — is also on the table, he said. Trudeau said earlier in the week he wouldn't close the border to Canadians because the Constitution protects their right to enter the country. The prime minister, however, has restricted access to the country to foreigners since the start of the pandemic. Michael Bryant, head of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, said forcing people to quarantine at a government-supervised location would be justified if the state has data showing current health orders around travel aren't working. But Bryant said in a recent interview he hasn't seen evidence the rules are failing. "I don't think that they have that data." Canadians who return from abroad are required to isolate at home for two weeks and violators risk heavy fines and jail time. A September ruling in Newfoundland and Labrador offers an idea of how the courts would interpret the legality of travel bans, Poirier said. A judge in that province affirmed the government's ban on interprovincial travel to limit the spread of COVID-19, despite arguments the order violated charter rights. "I think the courts would be very reluctant in the short term to stand in the way of a government that wanted to ban travel," she said. As of Thursday, there were five cases in Quebec of the new COVID-19 variant that was first detected in the U.K. Four of those cases — detected in December — were related to travel to that country. Officials have said the source of the fifth case remains unknown. Bryant said he doesn't believe fears of new COVID-19 variants justify added restrictions on mobility rights, especially if more proportionate responses — such as increased testing of people arriving in the country — are available. Meanwhile, data from the federal government indicates travellers are being exposed to COVID-19 as they fly back to the country. Since Jan. 6, passengers on 164 international flights arriving in Canada have been exposed COVID-19 while flying, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Thirty-two of those flights have been to Montreal and one to Quebec City. But Montreal-based airline Air Transat said travel has been associated with relatively few cases of COVID-19. "And yet, even with travel accounting for only one per cent of COVID-19 cases, there has been an enormous amount of attention dedicated to it over the last few weeks," Air Transat spokeswoman Debbie Cabana wrote in an email. "Perhaps part of that attention should be redirected to the factors that contribute to 99 per cent of COVID-19 infections." If the government wants to ban travel, Cabana said, it should ban it — and give airlines financial support. "You cannot ask a company fighting for survival to continue to operate while taking away its customers." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 23, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press
Canadian food policy analyst and writer Wayne Roberts died on Jan. 20 at the age of 76 after battling leukemia, leaving behind his wife and children, but also a legacy of advocacy rooted in food security. Roberts was highly respected for his work in food policy and his role as manager of the Toronto Food Policy Council from 2000 to 2010 where the Toronto Food Charter was developed under his leadership. But Roberts was not only known and well-respected for his work in food advocacy and sustainability — he was a friend to many. Anan Lololi, executive director of Afri-Can FoodBasket, considered Wayne Roberts a partner in advocating for food security, as well as a dear friend. Lololi says he was encouraged by Roberts' work in food policy and sustainability within his own work in fighting for food justice and food sovereignty. "He is the godfather of good food policy for Canada for the things that he contributed to food policy in Toronto and Canada at large," Lololi said. Roberts worked as a leading member of the City of Toronto's environmental task force and helped develop a number of plans, including the Environmental Plan and Food Charter, which was adopted by city council in the early 2000s. He was also a regular columnist for NOW Magazine focusing on issues of food insecurity, social justice and public health. The magazine named Roberts one of Toronto's leading visionaries of the past 20 years. Roberts was an author of a number of books including Get A Life!, Real Food For A Change, and The No-Nonsense Guide to World Food. Lololi says he remembers Roberts bringing humour and wit to every conversation, casual or professional. He described him as a people person who looked out for low-income folks and diverse communities within Toronto. The pair last got to work together with the Black Creek community of Jane and Finch where they looked into food as medicine, but his legacy will live on for years to come both locally and nationally. "As a person that's so highly respected in food policy development, it was an honour for me to work with him within this community," Lololi said. "He's that type of person who really wants to get to the bottom of what the issue is so he can work with that particular community." Roberts received the Canadian Environment Award for his contributions to sustainable living in 2002 and went on to receive the Canadian Eco-Hero Award in 2008. Tammara Soma, an assistant professor at Simon Fraser University says although she was not related to Roberts, his death hit her "very, very hard." Soma says Roberts was a "superhero" of hers. Originally from Indonesia, when Soma first came to Canada as an undergraduate student, she distinctly remembers meeting Roberts for the first time. He was dressed in a carrot costume handing out carrots at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair. From that moment on, Soma says, Roberts offered his help and mentorship — something he would commonly do for anyone who wanted to take part in the food movement. Soma, one of the founding members of the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council, says Roberts' efforts in helping give a voice to the youth in particular has made him a hero to many, not only her. "He's a pollinator...he's like this beautiful dandelion, it just spreads everywhere, his positivity, his passion, his power," she said. "I will always be fully indebted to him because of that." Joe Mihevc, former Toronto city councillor, says one of his fondest memories of Roberts was his involvement in Toronto's re-integration of chickens in the city. Mihevc said during the last meeting of the Toronto Urban Hen project, he pulled a prank on Roberts by giving him two chickens. "The joy of that story is just the look on his face and I think it's the only egg that has ever been laid at city hall," he said. Mike Schreiner, Guelph MPP and Green Party of Ontario leader, said Roberts' influence on Toronto's local food scene was paramount. "When someone in Toronto goes to a farmers' market or they harvest from a community garden or they see that their local grocery store has more local food in it — Wayne played a vital role in making that happen," he said. Former Green Party leader Jim Harris said Roberts taught him a special lesson in life. "As he was dying, he and I would laugh a lot as we always did — and he and I coined the term 'radical happiest'," Harris said. "Living with joy I think is the greatest lesson that I've learned from Wayne."
WOLVERHAMPTON, England — Wolverhampton has signed Brazilian striker Willian José on loan from Spanish club Real Sociedad until the end of the season, the Premier League club said Saturday. The loan signing adds depth to the Wolves squad after forward Raúl Jiménez suffered a fractured skull against Arsenal on Nov. 29. Wolves said the deal remains subject to Willian José being granted a work permit and international clearance, and that it includes an option to buy at the end of the season. Wolves said he is unlikely to be available for the team's next game against Chelsea in the Premier League on Wednesday. Willian José has scored 62 goals in 170 games for Real Sociedad but scored only three times in 13 games in La Liga this season. He scored twice in his last game for the Spanish club in a 2-0 win over Cordoba in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Ireland may have to slow the mass roll-out of COVID-19 vaccinations, including for the elderly, due to reduced supplies of the AstraZeneca vaccine to EU countries, Prime Minister Micheal Martin said on Saturday. The British company has told European Union officials that production problems will mean a cut in deliveries of its COVID-19 vaccine to the bloc by 60% to 31 million doses in the first quarter of the year. "AstraZeneca was going to be the catalyst to be allowed to move from low level to mass vaccination," Martin told Irish broadcaster RTE in an interview, saying delivery delays would "put us in a problem".