Here's the latest for Sunday, December 27th: Trump delays bill signing as jobless aid expires; Tennessee man under investigation for Christmas Day bombing; Man charged in Illinois bowling alley shooting; Russian children can celebrate the New Year.
Here's the latest for Sunday, December 27th: Trump delays bill signing as jobless aid expires; Tennessee man under investigation for Christmas Day bombing; Man charged in Illinois bowling alley shooting; Russian children can celebrate the New Year.
The U.S. House of Representatives delivered to the Senate on Monday a charge that former President Donald Trump incited insurrection in a speech to supporters before the deadly attack on the Capitol, setting in motion his second impeachment trial. Nine House Democrats who will serve as prosecutors in Trump's trial, accompanied by the clerk of the House and the acting sergeant at arms, carried the charge against Trump to the Senate in a solemn procession across the Capitol. Wearing masks to protect against COVID-19, they filed through the ornate Capitol Rotunda and into the Senate chamber, following the path that a mob of Trump supporters took on Jan. 6 as they clashed with police.
A group of anti-racist activists held a demonstration at the Canada Post in Grimshaw, Alta., Saturday in response to reports of a man wearing a Ku Klux Klan-style hood there earlier this month. About a dozen people from the Alberta Humanitarian Initiative, a collective of different Alberta groups that have been working together for about a year, travelled to the town about 500 kilometres north of Edmonton to try to engage the community in a discussion about racism. "It was a good half-and-half mixture of people supporting and people not wanting us there," said Taylor McNallie, a member of Inclusive Canada, which is part of the initiative. A photograph, shared widely on Facebook in early January, shows a man in jeans, a reflective work jacket and a pointed white hood with eye slits cut into it. The hood resembles the head covering worn by members of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), an infamous white supremacist hate group. McNallie said they were planning to go to the post office and town hall, and leave letters for Mayor Bob Regal that were written by both locals and people from across the province about the hood incident. They also hung pictures up on the post office, which McNallie said were torn down by a woman who told them the town was not racist and that they shouldn't be there. She said the RCMP attended and told them to ensure they wear masks but that it was fine for them to be there. "It's just a lot of white fragility is what it is. It's hard to be learning all of these new things that you've probably gone your entire life not knowing about," said McNallie, who grew up in the small Alberta communities of Cremona and Didsbury. "If you're not a racialized person, racism is not something you often have to talk about. These are new ideas, these are new things challenging an entire system." The group has posted some calls to action for Grimshaw, including asking the man who wore the hood to come forward and make a public apology, and for the mayor and town council to engage in anti-racist training and to make those resources available to the wider community. "This isn't about creating a divide because there's been a divide there for hundreds of years already," she said. RCMP confirmed earlier this month that they are investigating a complaint after a photo of the man wearing the KKK-style hood surfaced on social media. On Sunday, Cpl. Terri-Ann Bakker said an individual has been identified but that the investigation remains open. She added that police are still hoping to speak to anyone who may have witnessed what happened. Better known for its presence in the United States, there has also been a well-documented KKK presence in Canada and Alberta. Some of the Klan's ideas are reflected in the ideologies of other far-right and white supremacist groups operating in Canada today.
There's a new attempt to find a balance between the economy and the environment in northern Ontario's most watched forest. For decades, Temagami was gripped by logging road blockades, with environmentalists and Indigenous protesters chaining themselves to bulldozers. But now some of those who used to be on opposing sides are sitting around the same board table with the formation of the Temagami Forest Management Corporation. "This was the way to do it," says Temagami Mayor Dan O'Mara. "To get the people who were all involved in the past together to come up with a future for the Temagami forest that everybody could live with." The management corporation is the second of its kind in the province, after one created in the Pic River area in the northwest in 2012. It brings together logging companies, municipal leaders and First Nations to decide which trees to cut and find buyers for that wood. "Even by that happening it's a statement that we can work together for the benefit of all," says John Yakabuski, Ontario's Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. "We'll be talking about this in generations to come because it'll be managed in that regard." "It took us six years and a lot of frowns and raised eyebrows and talking and going back and forth around the table," says John McNutt, the woodland manager for Goulard Lumber in Sturgeon Falls. The company has cut in the Temagami forest for decades and some of its employees were forced into confrontations with protesters in years past. McNutt says about 20 per cent of the trees that arrive at their sawmill come from Temagami and he is "hoping it will increase in a positive way" particularly with new markets opening up through partnerships with First Nations. He is also hoping the new management corporation will cut down on wildfires, like the one that started in Lady Evelyn Provincial Park in 2018. It went on to scorch some 27,000 hectares and threatened towns like Temagami and Elk Lake. McNutt says from the air he has seen how older preserved stands of trees fuelled the flames, while younger trees in managed forest areas didn't catch. But John Kilbridge, who took part in the protests of the 1980s and has worked for years to promote wilderness tourism in Temagami, sees this as the province handing the forests over to the timber companies. "They don't want to be paying for all this oversight. They just want to sit back and collect stumpage fees," he says. Kilbridge also says the Ford government's decision to take forestry projects out of environmental assessment legislation was a "betrayal" because it was "our one way to call the industry to account." "I'm not imagining the scenario about the big bad logging companies giving us a hard time. They are giving us a hard time and the government is giving us a hard time. They're stonewalling us," he says. Kilbridge says more permanent logging roads are already snaking through the Temagami wilderness he and others were fighting to protect all those years ago. "I think it has been lost," he says of the battle over the Temagami forest that started in the 1970s. Much of that was led by the Indigenous peoples of Bear Island. No one from Temagami First Nation or the nearby Matachewan First Nation was available to speak about their involvement in the new management corporation. There is also a seat at the table for the Timiskaming First Nation, across the border in Quebec. Chief Sacha Wabie says 60 per cent of her community's traditional territory is in what is today called Ontario. "Currently, we are disappointed with the way the forest is being managed, as we are excluded from the decision-making process," she wrote in an email. "So, the creation of the new forest management corporation gives us hope that we will have a say in how our lands and territory will be managed." Wabie says she hopes the new corporation will lead to more jobs for her community of 2,200, 600 of whom live on reserve and "receive none of these benefits" from the Ontario forests that "generate a lot of profit for a few companies." "It is a highly bureaucratic and colonial process," she says. "The current forestry regime doesn't take into account our communities' traditional knowledge nor do they share the economics gained from our forested lands. These concerns still remain." Timiskaming, as well as several Ontario First Nations including Mattagami and Teme-Augama Anishnabai, say they are also concerned about the recently approved plan for the Timiskaming forest to the north of Temagami. They are worried about the impact of aerial herbicide spraying and the lack of revenue sharing with Indigenous communities.
Roughly 212 light years away in the Virgo constellation lies a super-large exoplanet that has astronomers revising their theory of how giant gas planets form. The exoplanet, called WASP-107b, was discovered in 2017. At the time, it was difficult to accurately pinpoint its mass. But what astronomers did know is that it was already unusual. It is a particularly large planet, roughly the size of Jupiter, but with an orbit that is just a mere nine million kilometres away from its host star, WASP-107, which is estimated to be about three billion years old. To put that in perspective, Mercury, the closest planet to our sun, sits at 60 million kilometres. One year on WASP-107b takes roughly 5.7 days. However, now, after years of observations using the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii, a team of international astronomers have uncovered something else: WASP-107b is oddly light. In fact, it's much lighter than what was thought was needed to build gas giants such as Saturn and Jupiter. "What was really surprising about this planet is that people have known … that it's about the size of Jupiter, so it's a gas giant," said Eve Lee, co-author of the study published in the Astrophysical Journal and an assistant professor in the department of physics at McGill University and McGill Space Institute in Montreal. "So if it's a gas giant, then the usual expectation is that it would weigh just as [much] as gas giants. Except it didn't." Jupiter is about 300 times the mass of Earth. But WASP-107b — while roughly the same size as our solar system's biggest and most massive planet — is only 30 times that of Earth. That's 1/10th the mass. The international team of astronomers inferred from their observations that the core of the planet was just four times that of Earth. But in theory, it was believed that these giant planets with such a gaseous atmosphere would require a core that was at least 10 times that of Earth's. After a star forms, the remaining gas and dust — called a protoplanetary disk — come together to build planets. When it comes to the gas giants, it's believed that a core that is 10 times more massive than Earth's is required to build — or accrete — and hold on to the gas envelopes. So what's the deal with WASP-107b? Lead author Caroline Piaulet of the Université de Montréal said there are two key elements in the theory of how this might have happened. First, it's believed that WASP-107b formed much farther out from its current location, likely around one astronomical unit, or the average distance between the sun and Earth, roughly 150 million kilometres. There, it began to accrete gas and dust relatively quickly. Secondly, it began to cool rather quickly. "When it cools down efficiently, it's able to accrete efficiently because if it cools down, it's going to shrink," said Piaulet. "So it's going to have more space to accrete more gas." Eventually, the planet migrated inward to its current position. Yet another surprise WASP-107b isn't the only "super puff" planet, as they are often called. Lee said there are four others known, though WASP-107b is the puffiest. So just how puffy is it? "It's usually compared to cotton candy, because it's about the right density," Lee said. "But it's not the kind that you find at carnivals. It's more like the kind that you buy at stores." And, as surprising as this super-puff planet was, there was yet another surprise in store: a second planet orbiting the star, WASP-107c. The planet was detected because of the longer observation time and was found to be roughly one-third the mass of Jupiter. Its orbit around the star takes about three years, significantly longer than WASP-107b. The discovery is just a reminder that, while we may think we have an understanding of how planets form, we still have a lot to learn about what lies beyond our own solar system. Even then, Piaulet said, we still don't even know much about the cores of our own giant gas planets, such as Jupiter. "What I found really exciting is that it's kind of pushing our understanding of planet formation to its limits."
MONTREAL — On January 25th, 2020, Canadians were still living their lives like they always had: commuting to the office, visiting friends, dining out, hugging loved ones, vacationing. But the announcement that day of Canada's first COVID-19 case set in motion a chain of events that would soon change everything. By March, with cases climbing, health officials began implementing a series of measures that would fundamentally alter how many Canadians live. Lockdowns and calls for physical distancing led to companies shifting to work from home, travel restrictions, mask-wearing rules, cancellation of major events, and video meetings replacing in-person interactions as people were asked to avoid seeing anyone, even loved ones. Jack Jedwab, the president of the Association for Canadian Studies, says the biggest change to Canadians' daily lives has been the isolation from friends, family and co-workers. "I think at the root of a lot of that change is these limits on our mobility, which take different forms, whether it's interacting with family and friends, or seeing people that we're accustomed to seeing in our daily lives in person as opposed to on screens," he said. An online survey conducted for Jedwab's group in September found that over 90 per cent of the 1,500 people polled said COVID-19 had changed their lives, with most citing the inability to see family and friends as the biggest factors. While few Canadians have been untouched by the pandemic, Jedwab says women, newcomers to Canada and people who were already economically and socially vulnerable appear to have been among the most deeply affected, particularly by job losses. Here's a look at how COVID-19 has changed daily life for some Canadians of different groups: Seniors For Bill VanGorder, a retired 78-year-old from Halifax, the pandemic put a temporary halt on his active social life and his favourite pastimes of volunteering in the local theatre and music scenes. "Theatre people, as you may know, are people who love to hug, and not being able to hug in these times probably has been one of the most difficult things," he said in a phone interview. He considers himself lucky, because at least he and his wife Esther have each other, unlike many of his single friends who are completely isolated. Many older people, who are more at risk of severe complications from COVID-19, are struggling to stay connected with family or finding people to help them with household tasks. VanGorder, who works with the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, also believes unclear government messaging, particularly on when older adults will get access to the vaccine, is "creating huge anxiety and mistrust in the system," among already-nervous seniors. But while the pandemic has been hard, he says there have also been silver linings. He and many of his friends have been learning to use platforms such as Zoom and FaceTime, which help seniors stay in touch with relatives and connect with their communities. "We think the positive thing is that, of course, this knowledge will continue after COVID and will be a real step forward, so that older adults can feel more involved in everything that's going on around them," he said. The first thing he'll do when things get back to normal is to hug his grandchildren and theatre friends, he said. --- University students As classes have moved online, many students have had to adapt to living and studying in small spaces and being isolated from friends and campus life at a stage when forging lifelong friendships and social networks can be crucial. Small living quarters, the inability to travel home, financial fears and uncertainties about the job market have contributed to a "greater sense of isolation" for many students, according to Bryn de Chastelain, an Ontario resident studying at St. Mary's University in Halifax and the chair of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. While he believes schools have done their best to support students, de Chastelain says many students have seen their mental health suffer. "A number of students are really struggling with having to learn from home and learn online, and I think that a number of strategies that students are used to taking up are very difficult to replicate in the online environment," he said. --- Parents Schools across the country were shut down for several months in the spring, ushering in a challenging time for parents who were suddenly forced to juggle full-time child care, work and keeping their families safe. The reopening of schools in the fall brought different challenges depending on each province's COVID-19 situation and approach. In Ontario, some parents opted for full-time online learning, while others were forced into it when Premier Doug Ford chose to extend the winter break. In Quebec, which doesn't allow a remote option for most students, some reluctant parents had no choice but to send their children back to class. "I think uncertainty, not only for kids but for everything -- work, life relationships and everything -- that has certainly been the theme of COVID," said Doug Liberman, a Montreal-area father of two. Liberman said the biggest challenge has been trying to balance the health and safety of his family with keeping his food manufacturing business going and maintaining a sense of normalcy for his two girls, ages 10 and 12. For his family, that has meant trying to spend time outside but also accepting more screen time, and ultimately, taking things day-by-day. "I certainly think that we certainly don't have the answer, and I think we've done as best as we could, like everybody else has," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2020 Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Federal law enforcement officials are examining a number of threats aimed at members of Congress as the second trial of former President Donald Trump nears, including ominous chatter about killing legislators or attacking them outside of the U.S. Capitol, a U.S. official told The Associated Press. The threats, and concerns that armed protesters could return to sack the Capitol anew, have prompted the U.S. Capitol Police and other federal law enforcement to insist thousands of National Guard troops remain in Washington as the Senate moves forward with plans for Trump's trial, the official said. The shocking insurrection at the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob prompted federal officials to rethink security in and around its landmarks, resulting in an unprecedented lockdown for Biden's inauguration. Though the event went off without any problems and armed protests around the country did not materialize, the threats to lawmakers ahead of Trump's trial exemplified the continued potential for danger. Similar to those intercepted by investigators ahead of Biden’s inauguration, the threats that law enforcement agents are tracking vary in specificity and credibility, said the official, who had been briefed on the matter. Mainly posted online and in chat groups, the messages have included plots to attack members of Congress during travel to and from the Capitol complex during the trial, according to the official. The official was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation publicly and spoke Sunday to the AP on condition of anonymity. Law enforcement officials are already starting to plan for the possibility of armed protesters returning to the nation's capital when Trump’s Senate trial on a charge of inciting a violent insurrection begins the week of Feb. 8. It would be the first impeachment trial of a former U.S. president. Though much of the security apparatus around Washington set up after the Jan. 6 riot and ahead of Biden’s inauguration — it included scores of military checkpoints and hundreds of additional law enforcement personnel — is no longer in place, about 7,000 members of the National Guard will remain to assist federal law enforcement, officials said. Gen. Dan Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said Monday that about 13,000 Guard members are still deployed in D.C., and that their numbers would shrink to 7,000 by the end of this week. John Whitley, the acting secretary of the Army, told a Pentagon news conference that this number is based on requests for assistance from the Capitol Police, the Park Police, the Secret Service and the Metropolitan Police Department. Whitley said the number is to drop to 5,000 by mid-March. Thousands of Trump’s supporters descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress met to certify Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential race. More than 800 are believed to have made their way into the Capitol during the violent siege, pushing past overwhelmed police officers. The Capitol police said they planned for a free speech protest, not a riot, and were caught off guard despite intelligence suggesting the rally would descend into a riot. Five people died in the melee, including a Capitol police officer who was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher. At least five people facing federal charges have suggested they believed they were taking orders from Trump when they marched on Capitol Hill to challenge the certification of Biden’s election victory. But now those comments, captured in interviews with reporters and federal agents, are likely to take centre stage as Democrats lay out their case. More than 130 people have been charged by federal prosecutors for their roles in the riot. In recent weeks, others have been arrested after posting threats against members of Congress. They include a Proud Boys supporter who authorities said threatened to deploy “three cars full of armed patriots” to Washington, threatened harm against Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and who is accused of stockpiling military-style combat knives and more than 1,000 rifle rounds in his New York home. A Texas man was arrested this week for taking part in the riot at the Capitol and for posting violent threats, including a call to assassinate Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y ___ Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report. Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Monday Jan. 25, 2021. There are 747,383 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 747,383 confirmed cases (63,668 active, 664,621 resolved, 19,094 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 4,852 new cases Sunday from 51,308 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 9.5 per cent. The rate of active cases is 169.38 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 37,536 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 5,362. There were 120 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 1,054 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 151. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.4 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 50.8 per 100,000 people. There have been 17,050,539 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 398 confirmed cases (eight active, 386 resolved, four deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday from 346 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.53 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 78,133 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 110 confirmed cases (seven active, 103 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 4.46 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of six new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 88,407 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,571 confirmed cases (19 active, 1,487 resolved, 65 deaths). There was one new case Sunday. The rate of active cases is 1.96 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been 14 new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 200,424 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 1,124 confirmed cases (335 active, 776 resolved, 13 deaths). There were 20 new cases Sunday from 819 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.4 per cent. The rate of active cases is 43.12 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 177 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 25. There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there has been one new reported death. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.02 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.67 per 100,000 people. There have been 135,109 tests completed. _ Quebec: 253,633 confirmed cases (16,940 active, 227,215 resolved, 9,478 deaths). There were 1,457 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 199.65 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 10,719 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,531. There were 41 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 423 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 60. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.71 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 111.7 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,695,925 tests completed. _ Ontario: 255,002 confirmed cases (24,153 active, 225,046 resolved, 5,803 deaths). There were 2,417 new cases Sunday from 48,947 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 165.81 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 17,216 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,459. There were 50 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 394 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 56. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.39 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 39.84 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,944,809 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 28,697 confirmed cases (3,521 active, 24,377 resolved, 799 deaths). There were 221 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 257.11 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,186 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 169. There were two new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 30 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.31 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 58.34 per 100,000 people. There have been 448,638 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 22,177 confirmed cases (3,251 active, 18,673 resolved, 253 deaths). There were 260 new cases Sunday from 1,196 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 22 per cent. The rate of active cases is 276.81 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,905 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 272. There were three new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 38 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.46 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 21.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 329,702 tests completed. _ Alberta: 120,793 confirmed cases (9,511 active, 109,733 resolved, 1,549 deaths). There were 463 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 217.58 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,956 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 565. There were 24 new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 113 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 16. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.37 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 35.44 per 100,000 people. There have been 3,061,844 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 63,484 confirmed cases (5,901 active, 56,455 resolved, 1,128 deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 116.36 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,338 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 334. There were zero new reported deaths Sunday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 55 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is eight. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.15 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 22.24 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,044,931 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (zero active, 69 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,216 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 31 confirmed cases (seven active, 24 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 15.62 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 9,064 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 280 confirmed cases (15 active, 264 resolved, one deaths). There were 13 new cases Sunday. The rate of active cases is 38.68 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 14 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is two. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 7,261 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
Earth’s ice is melting faster today than in the mid-1990s, new research suggests, as climate change nudges global temperatures ever higher. Altogether, an estimated 28 trillion metric tons of ice have melted away from the world’s sea ice, ice sheets and glaciers since the mid-1990s. “It was a surprise to see such a large increase in just 30 years,” said co-author Thomas Slater, a glaciologist at Leeds University in Britain.
SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — Samsung scion Lee Jae-yong and prosecutors have decided not to appeal a court ruling that convicted him for bribing South Korea’s former president for business favours, confirming a prison term of two and a half years for the country’s most influential corporate leader, according to lawyers and court officials on Monday. But Lee’s legal troubles aren’t over. He has been indicted separately on charges of stock price manipulation, breach of trust and auditing violations related to a 2015 merger between two Samsung affiliates. The deal helped strengthen Lee’s control over Samsung’s corporate empire. The bribery allegation involving Lee was a key crime in the 2016 corruption scandal that ousted Park Geun-hye from the presidency and sent her to prison. In a much-anticipated retrial of Lee last week, the Seoul High Court found him guilty of bribing Park and one of her close confidantes to win government support for the contentious merger between Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries, which helped strengthen Lee’s control over Samsung’s business empire. The deal faced opposition from some shareholders who argued that it unfairly benefited the Lee family and only succeeded with the support of a state-controlled national pension fund, one of Samsung’s biggest investors. Lee had portrayed himself as a victim of presidential power abuse and his lawyers criticized the ruling. But after mulling his options, Lee decided to “humbly accept” the High Court’s decision, his head attorney Injae Lee said. Prosecutors had sought a prison term of 9 years for Lee Jae-yong. In a statement released to the domestic media, they said the court was too lenient with Lee considering the severity of his crimes but they will not appeal because their biggest goal was to prove that the payments between Lee and Park were bribes. Samsung did not release a statement over Lee’s legal issues. Lee, 52, helms the Samsung group in his capacity as vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, one of the world’s largest makers of computer chips and smartphones. Like other family-run conglomerates in South Korea, Samsung has been credited with helping propel the country’s economy to one of the world’s largest from the rubbles of the 1950-53 Korean War. But their opaque ownership structures and often-corrupt ties with bureaucrats and government officials have been viewed as a hotbed of corruption in South Korea. While never admitting to legal wrongdoing, Lee has expressed remorse over causing “public concern” over the corruption scandal and worked to improve Samsung’s public image. He declared that heredity transfers at Samsung would end, promising the management rights he inherited from his father wouldn’t pass to his children. He also said Samsung would stop suppressing employee attempts to organize unions, although labour activists have questioned his sincerity. It’s not immediately clear what his prison term would mean for Samsung's business. Samsung showed no specific signs of trouble when Lee was in jail in 2017 and 2018. Prison terms have never really stopped Korean corporate leaders from relaying their business decisions from behind bars. The Supreme Court earlier this month confirmed a 20-year prison sentence for Park for the Samsung case and other bribes and extortion while she was in office from 2013 to 2016. Kim Tong-Hyung, The Associated Press
After months struggling with the symptoms faced by COVID-19 "long-haulers," Chantal Renaud faces the prospect of having to sell her home to pay the bills. The Clarence-Rockland, Ont., woman has had her long-term disability claim rejected by her employer's insurance company. And she can't access federal COVID-19 support programs because they don't acknowledge the condition. Renaud has now launched a lawsuit against the insurer, joining the growing list of long-haulers fighting in court for recognition of the post-viral illness. "I'm feeling very hopeless and anxious," said Renaud about the symptoms that have left her mostly bedridden for months. "It can not only destroy your life, but you can also start losing everything you worked for." 'It makes you panic' The 48-year-old communications manager living east of Ottawa said she contracted COVID-19 in March during the first wave from her construction worker husband. Renaud continued working until early June, when she came down with a more severe set of symptoms, including debilitating fatigue, shortness of breath and a racing heartbeat. For seven weeks, when her illness was at its worst, Renaud said she thought she'd die in her bed. Her husband also developed many of the same symptoms, she said, leaving them both unable to work. "When you're unable to breathe, it makes you panic," she said. "We had a few episodes where we were freaking out and called the ambulance because we couldn't breathe." WATCH | Renaud describes her symptoms: Left in the lurch Renaud tried several times to return to work in the fall, but each time, the severe symptoms came flooding back. She now hasn't worked since November. And while she managed to successfully appeal her workplace insurer's rejection of her short-term disability benefits, her long-term disability claim was rejected in November. That's when she decided to hire lawyer David Brannen. Brannen said Renaud's case is part of a growing number of lawsuits launched against insurance companies for not recognizing the post-viral illness, also known as chronic COVID syndrome (CCS) or "long COVID." Those patients, Brannen said, are trying to seek support at a time when the medical community hasn't established a protocol for how to recognize, diagnose and treat sufferers — leaving them in the lurch when it comes to accessing insurance benefits and income assistance. Medical condition 'in its infancy' "There needs to be some attention here, because this is having real effects on people — to the point they're losing their homes," Brannen said. "Because they're not able to work, and they're stuck trying to prove a medical condition that's really in its infancy." Unlike the United Kingdom, Canada has yet to establish federal guidelines recognizing and defining long COVID, something Brannen said would go a long way to improving sufferers' lives. The U.K. recognizes the condition regardless of whether the sufferer has had a positive test, using other criteria to diagnose and treat the illness. In Canada, people like Renaud and her husband, who came down with COVID-19 during the first wave without needing to be hospitalized were often ineligible for testing. By the time Renaud got a test, the virus had run its course. The U.K. is also building a network of post-COVID-19 clinics to give sufferers access to specialized care. There are only a handful of such clinics in Canada, however. "My concern with long-haulers is that they are really at risk of falling through the cracks," said Brannen. "These people will be left in the dust." Challenge recognizing long COVID Renaud has now joined a new initiative at The Ottawa Hospital called "Stop the Spread," one of the few research projects underway in Canada that involve COVID-19 sufferers with long-lasting symptoms. Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the hospital is actively recruiting 1,000 people, half of whom have been infected with COVID-19. A cohort of that group will be long-term sufferers, said Dr. Curtis Cooper, an infectious disease specialist at the hospital. "We really don't understand who these people are, and why them and not others," said Cooper. Figuring out why their immune systems react differently, Cooper said, could one day "help us develop therapies to try to assist these people." But that won't provide immediate help to sufferers like Renaud. "Not only are we not getting the financial support we need, but we're not really getting the care that we need to recover," said Renaud. Renaud's short-term disability ends in a couple of weeks, and after that, she said she'll be forced to put the family home up for sale. And she's already used up the 15 weeks of employment insurance sick benefits she was eligible for. She said she's speaking out because she wants people to know the risks long-haulers face. "It's a lot more debilitating than just fighting an illness," she said. "You have to be ready to lose everything."
TAIPEI, Taiwan — It didn't take long for relations with China to become an issue for new U.S. President Joe Biden. A show of force by the Chinese air force off Taiwan last weekend prompted a U.S. response, even as Biden and his administration focus on the COVID-19 pandemic and other pressing issues at home in what is still their first week in office. WHAT HAPPENED? Taiwan's Defence Ministry reported that China sent a dozen bombers and fighter jets into Taiwan's air defence identification zone on Saturday. Such a sizeable show of force is relatively rare, and the U.S. State Department issued a statement urging China “to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan" and expressing concern about “the pattern of ongoing ... attempts to intimidate its neighbours.” China then sent 16 military aircraft into the same area on Sunday, Taiwan said. China has not commented on the reports. WHAT SPARKED CHINA'S ACTIONS? It's unclear. China may have been responding to Taiwanese military drills last week against a hypothetical Chinese invasion. It also may have been testing Biden, after the de facto Taiwanese ambassador to the U.S. attended his inauguration. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Monday that China is determined “to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity” and urged the U.S. to “refrain from sending wrong signals to the Taiwan independence forces.” Tiehlin Yen, the deputy director of the Taiwan Center for Security Studies, said China's moves may give it some bargaining chips as it prepares to deal with a new U.S. president and any adjustments he may make to China policy. But Chinese international relations expert Zhao Kejin at Tsinghua University in Beijing said the actions are not aimed at the U.S. but at Taiwan, and its opposition to unification with the mainland. “China needs to show its determination,” he said. WHAT IS THE UPSHOT? The U.S. response reflects what is expected to be continued U.S. support for Taiwan under Biden. His administration may refrain from the more provocative steps taken under his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, but it will abide by American legal requirements to ensure Taiwan can defend itself. China will no doubt continue to demand the self-governing island come under its control. Given their respective positions, the issue will likely remain a source of friction in U.S.-China relations. WHY THE DIVIDE OVER TAIWAN? Taiwan, an island of 24 million people about 160 kilometres (100 miles) off China’s southeast coast, separated from China in 1949, when the Communist Party took power. For three decades, the U.S. recognized the Nationalist government in Taipei, Taiwan, as the government of China, though it had no actual control over the much larger mainland. The U.S. switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing in 1979, but now-democratic Taiwan still enjoys strong bipartisan support in Washington. The Associated Press
Improved access and quicker turnaround times for COVID-19 testing are essential if schools in Ontario's hardest-hit regions are to open again safely, experts say. Yet as the province delays in-class learning again for students in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton regions, Windsor-Essex and Ottawa, the bulk of 4.6 million rapid COVID-19 tests sent to Ontario by the Public Health Agency of Canada sit unused. It's still unclear whether — or how — they might be used as part of the provincial safe school reopening strategy. In an interview with CBC News on Friday evening, Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce said that as other southern Ontario schools open on Monday, the province is ready to provide whatever testing capacity is needed. But he said it would be up to local public health units to make the call. "Both tests and people can be deployed when the public health unit deems it right," Lecce said. "We are not involved as a ministry or politicians in deploying it. We leave that up to the medical officers locally." Lecce also said that rapid tests could be "layered into" a school testing program, but that decision would be up to the province's chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams. When asked at a news conference on Thursday about the potential use of Ontario's supply of rapid tests in schools, Ontario's associate chief medical officer of health, Dr. Barbara Yaffe, said she and Williams were working with the Ministry of Education and "other partners ... to figure out what the best way to do this is." Yaffe made reference to a school testing pilot project in November and December on asymptomatic students, staff and families in high-risk areas of Toronto, Ottawa and York and Peel regions. That voluntary asymptomatic testing identified COVID-19 cases that may otherwise have been missed, including an outbreak of more than 20 cases at a Toronto school. The pilot used the traditional nasopharyngeal PCR test to diagnose COVID-19, in which a long swab is used to collect the sample from the back of the nose and throat and is then analyzed in a lab. At the news conference, Yaffe said there were questions about the accuracy of rapid tests versus that "gold standard," but she noted that they were "looking at" the possibility of using them. 'Test that is done is the best test' But experts say that testing rates are too low and and wait times for results are too long as Ontario struggles with high case numbers — an indication that it's time to make greater use of Health Canada-approved rapid PCR tests and rapid antigen tests, which can be analyzed on the spot and provide results within minutes. "Right now we should be using all of the tools we have," said Dr. Irfan Dhalla, co-chair of Canada's COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel. "While a rapid antigen test is not as accurate as the laboratory-based PCR test, a rapid antigen test is certainly better than no test at all," said Dhalla, who is also a general internal medicine specialist and vice-president at Unity Health Toronto. WATCH | Dr. Irfan Dhalla on importance of rapid COVID-19 tests in safe school reopening: That's especially true in areas where community spread is high, he said, because getting as many people as possible tested quickly — and therefore isolating positive cases faster — is key to preventing them from spreading the virus to others. The fact that rapid tests can be less accurate than the lab-analyzed counterpart fostered skepticism about their usefulness earlier in the pandemic, but Dhalla said that thinking has shifted. "What they lose in accuracy can be gained back through the rapid turnaround time and through frequency" that isn't possible in lab-based tests, he said. That means rapid antigen tests could be helpful in preventing COVID-19 outbreaks in schools, Dhalla said, because students, teachers and staff could be tested repeatedly and regularly throughout the school year. Those who test positive would get a PCR lab test to confirm the diagnosis but would already be isolated while awaiting confirmation. "If we adopt the view — and I think most of us do have this view — that schools should basically be one of the last communal settings to close and one of the first communal settings to reopen, then it makes sense that when community transmission is still an issue and we are just reopening schools, that we should try to reopen schools ... in such a manner that we can detect these outbreaks either, you know, before they occur [and] prevent the outbreak altogether, or detect them when they are really, really small," he said. "And so the rapid antigen tests do have a role to play." Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease specialist at McMaster University in Hamilton, said rapid testing in schools can also help public health experts understand where COVID-19 is circulating in the broader community. That's especially true, he said, in areas where there's high community transmission but a low number of people getting the traditional tests — either due to difficulty in accessing testing centres or reluctance to go to them because they feel stigmatized. "At the end of the day, the objective is to get more positive people identified and isolated to break chains of transmission," Chagla said. "The test that is done is the best test. Not the one that we think is the best on paper. It's the one that actually gets done." Rapid tests in long-term care homes, workplaces As of Monday, the Public Health Agency of Canada had distributed about 15 million rapid COVID tests across the country — most going directly to the provinces and territories, a spokesperson told CBC News in an email. Ontario has received 4,625,084 of those tests. According to updated numbers provided by the province's Ministry of Health to CBC News on Monday, it had deployed about one million of those tests. More than 159,000 rapid PCR tests have gone to rural and remote communities, including First Nations, the ministry said, and about 850,000 rapid antigen tests have been distributed to long-term care homes and workplaces. According to the ministry, more than 150 long-term care homes are using them to test staff and visitors more frequently to better protect long-term care residents — something both Dhalla and Chagla agree is a critical use for rapid tests. The Health Ministry also said it has distributed rapid tests to more than 150 workplaces — including Air Canada, Magna and Ontario Power Generation. In an email, the ministry told CBC News that it would also be distributing more rapid tests in a pilot program "for participating employers in the private, public and non-profit sectors, prioritizing access for health-care settings, essential front-line settings and congregate settings." Through that program, the provincial government aims to "learn about the value of antigen screening for asymptomatic workers in a range of workplace settings, and [the program] will inform future decisions about safely and fully reopening the economy." A couple of provinces are using some of their federally distributed rapid COVID tests for students or teachers, but in a limited way. However, Quebec is launching a study in two Montreal high schools to determine how effective rapid tests are at identifying COVID-19 cases in school settings. Manitoba has started a "fast pass" system for teachers and staff in five school divisions, which allows them to get a rapid test at a centralized location. Nova Scotia is not doing rapid COVID-19 testing in elementary or secondary schools, but the province has trained volunteers to help at a pop-up rapid testing clinic that travels the province and frequently sets up at Dalhousie University, providing easy access for students there.
EDMONTON — Some Alberta rivers and streams have already been heavily contaminated by coal mining, unreported government data suggests. The province's plan for large-scale expansion of the industry is fuelling widespread criticism that includes concerns over selenium pollution. The data shows that same contaminant has been found for years at high levels downstream of three mines and never publicly reported. The findings raise questions about Alberta Environment, said a former senior official who has seen the data. "There were lots of (selenium) numbers and it was consistently above the water quality guidelines and in many cases way higher," said Bill Donahue, the department's one-time executive director of science. "Why did Alberta Environment sit on these data for easily the last 10 to 15 years?" Donahue left the department in 2018 after the NDP government of the day dissolved the Alberta Environmental Monitoring Evaluation and Reporting Agency, an independent body intended to fill information gaps. Before resigning, he had become concerned about selenium in the Gregg and McLeod rivers and in Luscar Creek, all in the Rocky Mountain foothills east of Jasper, Alta. He took the data with him when he left and recently analyzed it for The Canadian Press. "The results are stark," he said. Since at least the late 1990s, Alberta Environment has monitored water upstream and downstream from the Luscar, Gregg River and Cheviot mines. Cheviot, owned by Teck Resources, still operates. The Gregg River and Luscar operations closed in 2000 and 2003, respectively. Gregg River, now managed by Coal Valley Resources, is considered reclaimed. Luscar, managed by Teck, is about 50 per cent reclaimed. Donahue looked at water samples from 1998 through 2016, taken upstream and downstream on the same day. He found that selenium levels averaged almost six times higher in the McLeod River downstream from the Cheviot mine. They were nearly nine times higher in the Gregg River and 11 times higher in Luscar Creek, despite years of reclamation. Selenium levels in all the samples from the Gregg River and Luscar Creek exceeded those considered safe for aquatic life: by nearly four times in the Gregg River and nearly nine times in Luscar Creek. The level was exceeded in about one-quarter of the McLeod River samples. "This is not a subtle story," said Donahue. "This is shocking." Alberta Environment and Parks spokesman John Muir said the department routinely monitors selenium at 89 waterways across Alberta. "We have key experts working on our own water quality studies to better understand the conditions of watersheds and aquatic life downstream of coal mining operations," he said. "(We) will make those findings publicly available." Muir pointed out that all raw monitoring data is available on a searchable database. He said the mines in question pre-date modern regulations and technology. An Alberta government document on reclaiming the mine sites states: "Current assessments indicate there is no risk to humans who drink water or eat fish containing excessive amounts of selenium." Selenium is a naturally occurring element vital in small amounts but toxic in excess. In fish, it can damage the liver, kidney and heart. It can reduce the number of viable eggs a fish can produce and lead to deformed spine, head, mouth, and fins. In humans, it can cause nausea, vomiting, hair loss and fatigue. The last time Alberta Environment reported on selenium in the three waterways was 2006. Using data collected in 2000 and 2001, it concluded "selenium concentrations in rainbow and brook trout were usually greater than toxicity effects thresholds." Why the subsequent silence? asks Donahue. "They knew when a report was published that selenium was a problem in these systems related to coal mining. It draws a lot of questions." Last May, the United Conservative government revoked a policy that protected much of the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains from open-pit coal mining. The area is home to endangered species, the water source for much of the southern prairies, and one of the province's best-loved landscapes. Hundreds of exploratory drill sites and kilometres of access roads have now been scribed into its wilderness, documents from Alberta's energy regulator show. One open-pit coal mine proposal is before a joint federal-provincial review panel. More than 100,000 Albertans have signed petitions opposing the plans. Opponents range from small-town mayors to ranchers to popular entertainment figures, including Corb Lund and Jann Arden. Mining opponents point across the boundary into British Columbia, where selenium from coal mines in the Elk Valley has created serious contamination problems. The lingering contamination from the three Alberta mines shows the stakes are high, said Donahue. "These pollution problems have persisted long after the closure of coal mines." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021 — Follow @row1960 on Twitter Bob Weber, The Canadian Press
Professor Jean-Francois Delfraissy has called for swift government action, amid rising concerns about the spread of new variants of the virus.View on euronews
A St. John's man is still looking for answers more than seven years after he filed a complaint with the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary's Public Complaints Commission. Billy Earle filed a complaint with the commission after police responded to a mental health call at his house in October 2013. The commission is a civilian body, which is independent from the Department of Justice and police. It investigates and hears public complaints against members of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. But years later, Earle says he still doesn't have answers about his complaint. Earle, who is a survivor of physical and sexual abuse at the Mount Cashel orphanage, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. "I was very inebriated — alcohol, drugs — just wanted to end it all, get it over with, I couldn't handle it any longer," Earle said of the 2013 incident. He said eight officers responded to the call and blocked the road around his home. "I ended up getting into an altercation with them," he said. "They ended up putting me in hospital." Earle said he has surveillance video of the altercation, which he said shows police beating him with a baton and using what he believes was excessive force. "They hit me across my wrist, they opened up my knee cap," he said. "Then when they finally got me down, subdued, well, I was under control once I was down, but then to roll me over and jump on my knee cap and squat it into the asphalt?" Earle said he spent four and a half hours in surgery, requiring 60 staples in his knee. He said the injury still bothers him. "There was no need for the force endured on me," he said. Earle said he was arrested after the incident and then charged with uttering threats and possessing a weapon, but later received a complete discharge from the courts. More mental health training needed, Earle says In the meantime, Earle said police are only just beginning to learn how to deal with mental health calls. "Why would they send down eight officers to a mental health call?" he asked, adding that he believes police need more training on mental health. Earle said he's asked police and the commission for updates, but still doesn't have an answer and he feels like his complaint has fallen by the wayside. "They always come up with an answer, we're doing our investigation, we're looking into certain things," he said. "One of the inspectors that did the investigation, I gotta say did a very thorough, very well job … [but] I'm not going to let go until this is put to bed," he said. After the lengthy wait, Earle said he's losing trust in the process, a process that he'd like to move past so he can get on with his life. "I'd like to see justice," he said. Earle also wants to know if he's entitled to a copy of the reports about the incident after the investigation is complete. Commission can't talk specifics Meanwhile, the province appointed Twila Reid as the new public complaints commissioner on Oct. 30, replacing John Rorke who left the commission in July of last year. Reid says the commission receives about 50 complaints a year. Once they accept a complaint, it is forwarded to the RNC's professional standards division, where an investigation begins and must be completed within three months. The results of that investigation are then delivered to the chief of police. "The chief of police can either dismiss a complaint or assign discipline to the officer," said Reid. Earle believes his complaint is tied up with the police chief, because he said there's no time limit dictating how long the chief has to conclude a complaint. When it comes to what's been stalling Earle's complaint, Reid said she can't speak to individual complaints or confirm if a person has a complaint filed with their office. But she did say that the commission's process is suspended if there's an ongoing criminal investigation under Section 43 of the RNC Act. In the meantime, Reid said if the complainant isn't satisfied with the outcome they can file an appeal. "If an appeal is filed with our office, we will do our own civilian led investigation. And then I can choose whether to dismiss a complaint or refer to a hearing for adjudication," she said. Reid said an adjudicator can decide to suspend or remove an officer from duty, if wrongdoing is found. She said decisions from an adjudicator's hearing are posted to their website. But the commission hasn't publicly published a decision on its website since June 2014, because there have been no final decisions since that time. Meanwhile, the RNC said they won't comment on matters before the public complaints commission, leaving Earle with few answers. In a statement before the election, the province's Department of Justice said they also won't comment while an investigation or review is ongoing. "We are committed to accountability in dealing with serious incidents that involve our police agencies which is why we established a provincial Serious Incident Response Team," the statement read. Earle said he is also pursuing a civil case against the force for the injury to his knee. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
An initial hearing into Irving Oil's request for increases in petroleum wholesale prices begins today in front of the New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board with supporters raising the stark prospect of the company shutting down if it does not get what it is asking for and skeptics warning the board against being manipulated. "We must be cautiously aware that no business is too big to fail," read one letter on the issue received and posted publicly last week by the EUB. "They are playing the Board," read another about the company's application. New Brunswick adopted petroleum price regulation in 2006 and put the Energy and Utilities Board in place to oversee it. Currently wholesalers are allowed to add 6.51 cents per litre to the price of motor fuels they handle (gasoline and diesel) and 5.5 cents per litre to furnace oil. Irving Oil is applying for a 62.8 per cent (4.09 cent per litre) increase in the allowed wholesale margin for motor fuels and a 54.9 per cent (3.02 cent per litre) increase in the margin for furnace oil. The increases are substantially more than the 11 per cent growth in inflation that has occurred since the margins last changed in March 2013, but the company says fundamental changes in the oil industry and a sudden collapse in demand for petroleum products caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have rendered those old amounts obsolete. "Petroleum pricing regulations in New Brunswick were created 15 years ago," Darren Gillis, Irving Oil chief marketing officer, said in an affidavit supporting the application. "They did not contemplate the challenges of the last several years and were not designed to react to a global pandemic." If granted in full, the increases would apply to all New Brunswick wholesalers and would cost consumers about $60 million per year in higher retail prices. The Energy and Utilities Board has tentatively scheduled a full hearing into the matter for the end of March, but in its application Irving Oil said its situation is dire and it cannot wait that long for relief. Instead it is asking for 85 per cent of the requested increase on motor fuels (3.5 cents) and 99 per cent of the increase on furnace oil (3.0 cents) to be granted immediately pending the outcome of the full hearing next spring. "The entire supply chain in under pressure and at risk," Gillis said in the application. "COVID-19 has exacerbated challenges for the industry and urgent action is required." That tone has alarmed supporters of Irving Oil who fear the company is in trouble. Last week, the company announced layoffs at its Saint John refinery and worried suppliers have been mobilizing to urge the EUB to grant its request in full. Eric Lloyd is president of Sunny Corner Enterprises Inc., an industrial construction firm in Miramichi that does business with Irving Oil. Lloyd wrote to the EUB to say it "must take action to understand the economic forces that are stressing a very important contributor to our economy," and warned it is not "too big to fail" in asking its request be granted. Another Irving supplier, Lorneville Mechanical Contractors Ltd. in Saint John, also sent a letter expressing concern about the company's financial health. "We understand that Irving Oil has identified New Brunswick's highly regulated fuel pricing system as a challenge to its ability to operate reliably and sustainably," wrote Lorneville's president Jim Brewer, in endorsing immediate increases. Local building trade unions warned the viability of the refinery itself could hinge on the EUB's decision. "It would be devastating to lose this asset," wrote union president Jean-Marc Ringuette in his letter supporting Irving Oil's request. But others are skeptical. A number of anti-poverty, union and social justice organizations have signed up to oppose Irving Oil's application and a clutch of private citizens, like Saint John resident Mary Milander, also sent letters opposing the increase. "I believe that that the people of Saint John and the whole province have suffered financially much more than the oil industry during the pandemic," Milander wrote to the board. Although yet to start, the hearing has already been highly controversial following news last week that New Brunswick Natural Resources Minister Mike Holland sent his own letter to the EUB expressing concerns about Irving Oil's ability to supply products at current prices. That led to criticism from all three opposition parties and a call for Holland to resign from Green Party Leader David Coon. Premier Blaine Higgs defended Holland's intervention. The EUB has granted interim relief to applicants in other cases before, but normally on the condition money collected from consumers be returned if the increases are later found to be unjustified. A complicating factor in Irving Oil's application for immediate relief is that Gillis has acknowledged that other than home heating oil sales, returning money to customers will not be possible. "In the unlikely case the permanent increase for motor fuels is lower than the interim increase, Irving Oil cannot effectively and fairly rebate the difference," he said.
KAMPALA, Uganda — A judge ruled on Monday that Ugandan security forces cannot detain presidential challenger Bobi Wine inside his home, rebuking authorities for holding the candidate under house arrest following a disputed election. Wine, whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, has been unable to leave his home since Jan. 14, when Ugandans voted in an election in which the singer-turned-politician was the main challenger to President Yoweri Museveni. Ugandan authorities have said Wine can only leave his home on the outskirts of the capital, Kampala, under military escort because they fear his presence in public could incite rioting. But the judge said in his ruling that Wine's home is not a proper detention facility and noted that authorities should criminally charge him if he threatens public order. Wine's associates welcomed the courtroom victory, but it remains to be seen if authorities will respect the judge's order in this East African country where similar orders have been ignored in many cases. Museveni won the election with 58% of the vote while Wine had 34%, according to official results. Wine insists he won and has said he can prove that the military was stuffing ballot boxes, casting ballots for people and chasing voters away from polling stations. Wine has accused Museveni of staging a “coup” in last week’s election and is urging his supporters to protest his loss through nonviolent means. But he suggested in a statement Friday he might not go to court to challenge the official results because of concerns a possible loss there would validate Museveni’s win. He said he would announce a decision “in a few days.” Despite failing in his bid to unseat Museveni, the 38-year-old Wine has emerged as the country’s most powerful opposition figure. He is set to name the official leader of the opposition in the National Assembly after his National Unity Platform party won at least 56 seats, the most of any opposition group in the legislative body. That number could rise to 61 when final results are announced. Museveni's National Resistance Movement party has more than 300 seats, an absolute majority that allows it to move ahead with his agenda without negotiating with the opposition. Museveni, 76, has dismissed allegations of vote-rigging, calling the election “the most cheating-free” since independence from Britain in 1962. Uganda’s election was marred by violence ahead of polling day as well as an internet shutdown that remained in force until four days after the election. Social media sites remain restricted. Uganda has never witnessed a peaceful transfer of power — one reason why even some within Museveni's party urge him to preside over an orderly transition. Rodney Muhumuza, The Associated Press
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Monday Jan. 25, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 15,213 new vaccinations administered for a total of 816,451 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 2,154.265 per 100,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 1,122,450 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 72.74 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,258 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 8,549 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 16.326 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 16,500 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 51.81 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,423 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 6,525 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 41.134 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 9,225 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 70.73 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 2,975 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 10,575 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.836 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 28,850 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 36.66 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 2,704 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 10,436 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.379 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 21,675 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 48.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 8,503 new vaccinations administered for a total of 218,755 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 25.565 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 238,100 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 91.88 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 4,427 new vaccinations administered for a total of 280,573 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 19.101 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 411,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 68.16 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 1,389 new vaccinations administered for a total of 28,941 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 21.017 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 55,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 52.01 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 654 new vaccinations administered for a total of 33,039 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 28.019 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 32,725 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 101 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 240 new vaccinations administered for a total of 99,047 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 22.50 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 122,725 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 80.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 110,566 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 21.546 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 144,550 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 76.49 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,730 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 89.382 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 14,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 35 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 25.9 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,893 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 41.956 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 14,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 32 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 13.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,822 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 98.693 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 12,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 31 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 31.85 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
On Jan. 25, 2020, officials in Ontario announced that a novel coronavirus that had sounded alarm bells around the world had reached Canadian shores. The diagnosis of Canada's first case of COVID-19 marked the start of a period of dramatic economic and social upheaval. Here's a look back at some of the comments in the days before and after the discovery of Canada's first case: — "The system is on alert, all the things are in place and we're monitoring. If it's a false alarm for Canada, so be it." -- Dr. David Williams, Ontario chief medical officer of health, in an interview with The Canadian Press on Jan. 22. — "We've seen this movie before. Our infection-control game is better than it was. But we still have this problem with the physical plant of our hospitals, with our emergency rooms, where people are stuck together cheek-by-jowl, and that creates vulnerability." -- University of Toronto epidemiologist Dr. David Fisman, discussing potential risks from the then emerging virus on Jan. 23. — "If a case comes here, and it is probably likely that we will have a case here, it will still be business as normal." -- Dr. Peter Donnelly, then president of Public Health Ontario, discussing the prospect of mass quarantines on Jan. 24. — "There's no reason for fear because sometimes the epidemic of fear is greater than what is going on." -- Quebec director of public health Dr. Horracio Arruda, on Jan. 24. — "The risk to Ontarians is still low and things are managed and well-controlled. As I hoped, the system is operating as it should." -- Williams at the Jan. 25 news conference in which he announced that Canada's first COVID-19 case had officially been diagnosed in Toronto. — "The patient has been managed with all appropriate infection and prevention control protocols, so the risk of onward spread in Canada is low. Nevertheless it would not be unexpected that there will be more cases imported into Canada in the near-term given global travel patterns." -- Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, speaking at Jan. 26 news conference held in reaction to the previous day's diagnosis. — "Be careful, be vigilant, but you don't have to change your life at the moment." -- Toronto Mayor John Tory on Jan. 27. — "Transmission of the virus is occurring among family members who have close and prolonged exposure to sick individuals. Canadians should not be concerned that they can pick up the virus from an infected individual by any casual contact, such as walking through the airport or another public place." -- Tam, speaking on a Jan. 27 teleconference hours after officials had confirmed the original patient's wife had also tested positive for COVID-19. — "The World Health Organization's global emergency status is really ... about helping countries that do not have the same level of sophistication as Canada, or perhaps the United States, to protect their citizens if in fact they have a citizen who returns from China who is ill, or has been close to someone who has returned from China who is ill. You know this has been working very well in Canada, because we have actually been able to detect cases very quickly, support those people to get better and prevent the spread of disease." - federal Health Minister Patty Hajdu at a news conference on Jan. 30. — "If we do not take all the measures that we can take right now to make sure that we eradicate this virus from human populations, then we may end up with yet another ongoing endemic infection like influenza that we will have to deal with every year that causes severe illness and some death." -- British Columbia health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, speaking on Jan. 31 days after confirming the province's first case of COVID-19. — This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
Banks, grocery stores, pop makers — it seems like every day, another company is pledging to become a "net-zero" emitter of greenhouse gases — at some point years or decades in the future. But a pair of Alberta companies say they've not only achieved the mark but are actually storing more emissions underground than they are producing from their operations. Enhance Energy and Whitecap Resources both use carbon capture technology to stash emissions far below the surface. For Enhance, the company buys the CO2 from a refinery and a fertilizer plant in central Alberta. The CO2 is transported through a pipeline to its facility north of Red Deer, where it is pumped into an old oil reservoir. The CO2 helps to free up more oil and increase the amount of crude produced at the site, a process known as enhanced oil recovery (EOR). The private Calgary-based firm began operations last fall. So far, executives say about 4,000 tonnes of CO2 is stored underground every day, which they say is the equivalent of taking 350,000 vehicles off the road — a point of pride for the company. Because they're getting the CO2 from the two large plants but only extracting a small amount of oil at this point, on balance, they say they're burying more CO2 than their oil will produce. "I get a warm feeling when I come on site and see that injection well," said chief executive Kevin Jabusch. "That's very rewarding. It makes the 10-year effort to put this project together worth it." Federal goal is net zero by 2050 Many in the industry, as well as some environmental groups, support the development of carbon capture technology, although there are concerns about how emission reductions are calculated and whether capturing carbon disincentivizes industries from taking action to produce fewer emissions in the first place. The federal government has set a target of reaching net zero by 2050 and released a blueprint to achieve that goal in December, including hiking the carbon tax from the current price of $30 per tonne to $170 by 2030. The world should be looking for the cheapest, lowest-carbon source of energy. - Kevin Jabusch, Enhance Energy Instead of calling Enhance an oil company, Jabusch describes it as a "carbon mitigation company" and said if the carbon tax rises as expected, the day might come when Enhance no longer will need to produce oil anymore to be profitable. Currently, the company generates revenue from oil production and from selling the carbon credits it gets for sequestering emissions. Alberta charges a carbon tax on heavy industrial emitters, but the province also has a system for companies to earn credits by reducing or storing emissions. Jabusch said the Alberta government's carbon tax program for large industrial emitters measures and monitors the carbon they sequester, but that data is not available publicly. Injecting CO2 to increase output Production from Enhance's Clive field is around 200 barrels of oil per day, but with CO2 injection, the company expects output to gradually grow to between 4,000 and 5,000 barrels per day over the next five years. "We're very negative today over the full cycle of our of our operation," said Jabusch, "and in the long term, we think it would be very close to zero. "Where carbon pricing is headed, we think there's going to be a strong incentive to maximize the amount of CO2 we put in the ground." Whitecap has a similar, but much larger, carbon capture project in Saskatchewan. Emissions from a coal power plant in the province and from a coal gasification facility in neighbouring North Dakota are transported to an oilfield near Weyburn, south of Regina. In each of the last two years, about two million tonnes of CO2 were injected and stored, executives said. The figures are currently being audited. The Weyburn facility has operated since 2000 and was acquired by Whitecap in 2017. With growing focus on sustainability and climate change, investor interest in the project has intensified over the last year, said chief executive Grant Fagerheim. "We're starting to get some of the bigger funds, not just from Canada, but in the U.S. for sure, and around the world," he said. Unlike Enhance, Whitecap does not account for the emissions that will be generated from the eventual use of its oil, saying it has no control over how it is used, making it difficult to calculate. Varying definitions of 'negative' emissions How a company determines whether it claims net-zero or net-negative status varies across the industry and can depend on the emissions that a given company is counting, which are often broken into three groups, or scopes: Scope 1 includes direct emissions from the activities of an organization, such as its industrial operations or the heating of its buildings. Scope 2 refers to indirect emissions, such as if the company uses electricity from a CO2-generating source, such as a gas-fired power plant. Scope 3 also includes indirect emissions, but ones that are out of the organization's control. For an oil company, Scope 3 includes tailpipe emissions from vehicles or when oil is converted into plastics. The combustion of fuel is often the largest source of emissions from a barrel of oil, compared to production, transportation and refinery activity. For Enhance, the company said it is net negative on Scope 1, 2 and 3 while Whitecap said it's net negative on Scope 1 and 2. By that definition, Whitecap expects to remain net negative even as its oil production increases by an estimated 65 per cent this year following deals to acquire Torc Oil & Gas and NAL Resources Management. "We will still be a net-negative emitter," he said. "It is nice to be in this position at this particular time." Projects can carry hefty price tag Fagerheim says he would like to build new carbon capture facilities but that they can be complex projects requiring a large capital investment and new infrastructure, including pipelines. "I believe that people will see the light of day, but ultimately, we're doing what's best for ourselves, and carbon capture utilization and storage is potentially a way into the future," he said. The two largest carbon capture projects in Alberta, including the Carbon Trunk Line that Enhance is part of, cost more than $1 billion to develop, and both required hundreds of millions of dollars in government support. There's growing interest in carbon capture projects. Last week, Tesla chief and billionaire Elon Musk promised a $100 million US prize for development of the "best" technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions. In Canada, one of the challenges with investing in a carbon capture project is the uncertainty about the level of carbon tax in the future since the approach to carbon pricing varies by political party. WATCH | Is carbon capture a solution for the oil industry and climate change? Environmental concerns Environmental leaders have often had mixed feelings about carbon capture facilities because while harmful emissions are stored underground, the technology may just be enabling industries to maintain the status quo and not focus enough on reducing the use of fossil fuels. "The science is fairly clear: we are going to need carbon capture in order to tackle the climate crisis," Jan Gorski, an analyst with the Pembina Institute, a non-profit organization that produces research, analysis and recommendations on policies related to Canadian energy. "Enhanced oil recovery is a way to ramp up carbon capture and drive down the costs and improve the technology as we work to eventually deploy that to tackling these more challenging sources where we really don't have a great way to deal with the emissions right now." Knowledge gained from carbon capture projects operating now could eventually help reduce emissions in tougher-to-tackle industries such as cement plants and steel production, he said. Some environmental groups suggest the investment in carbon capture facilities would be better spent elsewhere, such as building renewable energy projects. For example, a company could slash emissions in producing the oil, but consumers would still pump out emissions when they use it as a fuel for transportation or heating. 'The devil is really in the details' There is also the issue of double counting. Experts say it's important for any action toward reducing emissions to be properly assessed. For instance, if the emissions from a power plant are used by an oil company to increase the production of an oilfield, both companies can't take credit for the carbon-capture project. "I think the key thing is to be clear-eyed about the end goal," said David Keith, a Harvard University professor of applied physics and public policy based in Canmore, Alta. Keith also founded and sits on the board of Carbon Engineering, which aims to capture emissions directly from the atmosphere. "For me anyway, the end goal has to be driving emissions down to zero to protect us from climate disaster and also doing it in a way that does the least damage to our economy and, in Alberta, trying to find a way forward to provide good jobs for people," he said. "Enhanced oil recovery can play some role, but I doubt if it's going to be very big." If oil can actually be entirely net neutral or net negative from its production all the way to its end use, such as powering a vehicle, that would truly be fantastic, said Keith, but "whether or not those companies are doing it, I don't know. The devil is really in the details." Both companies see a strong future for carbon capture and EOR technologies, especially as demand for oil remains robust around the globe. "The world should be looking for the cheapest, lowest-carbon source of energy, and we believe we compete very well with that," said Jabusch, with Enhance.