Here's the latest for Thursday December 31st: People welcome 2021; China approves new COVID-19 vaccine; NYC plans to vaccinate 1 million city residents in January; Houston zoo animals get meatball Christmas trees.
Here's the latest for Thursday December 31st: People welcome 2021; China approves new COVID-19 vaccine; NYC plans to vaccinate 1 million city residents in January; Houston zoo animals get meatball Christmas trees.
The A-list is back. How A-list? Try Lady Gaga and J. Lo. Inauguration officials announced on Thursday that the glittery duo would appear in person on Jan. 20, with Gaga singing the national anthem as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and Jennifer Lopez giving a musical performance. Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen will offer remote performances, and Eva Longoria and and Kerry Washington will introduce segments of the event. Later that day, Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden’s inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons. Despite a raging pandemic that is forcing most inaugural events online, it was a sign that Hollywood was back and eager to embrace the new president-elect four years after many big names stayed away from the inauguration of President Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. The question: How would the star wattage play across the country as Biden seeks to unite a bruised nation? Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant and former Reagan administration official, predicted reaction would fall “along tribal lines.” “I think it all comes down to the reinforcement of pre-existing beliefs,” Dezenhall said. “If you’re a Biden supporter, it’s nice to see Lady Gaga perform.” But, he added, “what rallied Trump supporters was the notion of an uber-elite that had nothing to do at all with them and that they couldn’t relate to.” Presidential historian Tevi Troy quipped that the starry Gaga-J. Lo lineup was not A-list, but D-list — "for Democratic.” "When Democrats win you get the more standard celebrities,” said Troy, author of “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House.” “With Republicans you tend to get country music stars and race-car drivers." Referring to Lady Gaga’s outspoken support for the Biden-Harris ticket, he said he was nostalgic for the days when celebrities were not so political. “Call me a hopeless romantic, but I liked the old days when Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra would come to these events and they were not overtly political,” he said. Still, he said, Biden’s unity message won’t be derailed. “In the end, I don’t think having Lady Gaga or J. Lo is all that divisive,” he said. Attendance at the inauguration will be severely limited, due to both the pandemic and fears of continued violence, following last week’s storming of the Capitol. Outside the official events, one of the more prominent galas each inauguration is The Creative Coalition's quadrennial ball, a benefit for arts education. This year, the ball is entirely virtual. But it is star-studded nonetheless: The event, which will involve food being delivered simultaneously to attendees in multiple cities, will boast celebrity hosts including Jason Alexander, David Arquette, Matt Bomer, Christopher Jackson, Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Keegan Michael-Key, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Patinkin and many others. Robin Bronk, CEO of the non-partisan arts advocacy group, said she's been deluged with celebrities eager to participate in some way. The event typically brings in anywhere from $500,000 to $2.5 million, and this year the arts community is struggling like never before. Bronk noted that planning has been a challenge, given not only the recent political upheaval in the country but also the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic. Given all that, did a celebration make sense? “I was thinking about this when we were trying to phrase the invitation,” Bronk said. “Do we celebrate? This is the most serious time of our lives.” But, she said, especially at a time when the arts community is suffering, it’s crucial to shine a spotlight and recognize that “the right to bear arts is not a red or blue issue. One of the reasons we have this ball is that we have to ensure the arts are not forgotten." The Presidential Inaugural Committee also announced Thursday that the invocation will be given by the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware. On the same platform, Biden sat in 2013 behind pop star Beyoncé as she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama's second inauguration. James Taylor sang “America the Beautiful,” and Kelly Clarkson sang “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” At Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the anthem was performed by 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho. A number of top artists declined the opportunity to perform at the festivities, and one Broadway star, Jennifer Holliday, even said she’d received death threats before she pulled out of her planned appearance. There was indeed star power in 2017, but most of it was centred at the Women’s March on Washington, where attendees included Madonna, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Emma Watson and many others. This year, signs are that Obama-era celebrities are returning. Dezenhall said that in the end, it's logical for organizers to go with the biggest talent. “Lady Gaga is as big as you can get, and she is very talented,” he said. “If I were being inaugurated and I could have Lady Gaga, I would take it.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
With snowmobiles in high demand, there may be a lot of newcomers to the winter sport, which is why safety on the trails is always important. Out alone on the pristine waterfront in the McKellar area, Morely Haskim has volunteered with the Dun Ahmic Snowriders for over 30 years. He suggests that people educate themselves first by going online to mto.gov.on.ca where there is a snowmobile safety category or the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Club’s website where there are six courses someone can take online. “As far as anybody starting out, there’s the obvious things such as wearing proper gear: helmet, snowmobile suit and boots,” said Haskim. “And usually try to snowmobile with somebody else — don’t go alone.” Another important tool for snowmobiling safety is making sure to check the trails on the interactive trail map provided by the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Club’s website. “Do your own homework before you get out there,” said Haskin. “You’re in control of your own destination even though the clubs are doing the best they can to make sure all the trails are safe and open.” Safety on the trails is important because it can be life threatening and Haskim advised that snowmobilers shouldn’t be speeding. “We have a lot of families out there now with their young kids on the machine with them and if they meet a bunch of people racing it may not end up being the best situation,” he said. The speed limit on most trails is 50 km/hour. While there are risks that come with snowmobiling, Haskim says his favourite thing about it is volunteering on the trails. “I used to be a real snowmobiler,” he said with a laugh. “I would go out in big groups back years ago and have pretty much snowmobiled everywhere around our area but eventually I phased out of personally snowmobiling.” Now, he tries to get out two times a week to groom, stake or inspect trails. “I report our trail conditions to our district who then puts the condition of the trails on the interactive trail guide.” Out along the Hwy. 522 corridor, Matthew Wagenaar, who manages the popular snowmobiling Instagram page The Daily Doo with his friends, rides the Argyle Riders trails. “The place I stay is right off the C105D trail,” Wagenaar said. “A large portion of that trail is crown land. So, early in the winter season, myself and a few friends go up and try to clean up the trail by cutting up trees and getting them off the trail.” When it comes to snowmobile safety, Wagenaar said that the most important thing he would say to newcomers is to know your machine. “Snowmobiles don’t behave like most other off-road vehicles,” he said. “Get familiar with the sled by riding but riding with added caution.” However, the biggest risk, according to Wagenaar, who does a lot of backcountry riding as well, is riding over open water. “(You) could go through the ice but that can be easily taken care of by waiting until you have over eight inches of ice and also knowing where the open water is,” he said. But, echoing Haskim in McKellar, the good times are worth it. “The best part is the time spent in nature with friends — the awesome part about Port Loring is it truly is God’s country up there,” he said. “There’s nothing like waking up and seeing a fresh couple of inches of snow on the sled, heading out at dawn and watching the snow-covered trees get hit by the first sun rays.” “Though safety is important at work and at play,” he said. “We all have someone we want to go home to.” Story behind the story: With snowmobile sales through the roof and snowmobile clubs anticipating new riders on the trail, our reporter wanted to find out the best safety tips for new and seasoned sledders. So, she reached out to local club volunteers and trail enthusiasts to find out what the best practices for snowmobiling the Parry Sound and Almaguin trails were. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative., Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
STOKE, England — Ireland international James McClean was suspended by English second-division club Stoke for allegedly breaching coronavirus regulations by training in a private gym. There will be a disciplinary hearing into McClean's conduct, Stoke said late Thursday. The 31-year-old McClean, who tested positive for COVID-19 in November while on international duty, will not be available for selection for Saturday’s game against Blackburn. Indoor gyms are currently closed in Britain during the pandemic. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
While most children in the province continue at-home learning for at least another few weeks, some students with special needs, including those in Windsor-Essex, have already returned to in-person classes. Nearly two weeks ago on Jan. 4, Windsor-Essex students in special education went back to school. Parents of these students say their children are happier and more productive compared to when they were in online learning. But some special education teachers are concerned and want enhanced safety measures, according to local president of the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario Mario Spagnuolo. For parent Valérie Hodgins, in-person classes give her children, who have autism, the structure they need. "It's working very well for our family structure and routine," she said. "When they were off for the three weeks at Christmas break, their whole schedule was off. They weren't sleeping right. They just weren't completely themselves. "They've been back to school for almost two weeks now. They've had successful days. They're back to sleeping normally. They are back to eating properly. Like everything is back to normal for them." Both her children attend a local Catholic French immersion school. Hodgins said she communicates with her children's teacher on a daily basis and feels safe knowing her children wear masks and protective eye shields at school. "They're just happy, and that wasn't the case when they're at home," she said. Stephanie Seguin is another parent who's grateful to have the option of in-person classes for her daughter, Hazel, who has Down syndrome and attends a Catholic school. "It's been really awesome for her. She's so happy. We chose to send her half-day. So she goes half-day to school in-person and then she does the rest of the day virtual learning where I sit next to her in the afternoon. So that schedule right now is really working well for her," she said. Seguin said she feels fortunate she didn't need to fight to have the option of in-person classes — something Joanna Conrad has been trying to get for her five-year-old daughter, who also has Down syndrome. Conrad said her daughter, who is in senior kindergarten in a public school, is currently doing virtual learning and it's not going well for her. "She doesn't want to log on most days. If she does log on in the morning, it's four or five to 10 minutes max. It's very difficult for her to participate unless I'm sitting right beside her. And even then, she tunes out. She says, 'OK, bye-bye. And she turns it off and out," she said. 'A lot of distraction at home,' says one parent "For me to work on activities with her in the home is also very challenging. There's a lot of distraction. You know, most parents don't understand unless they have a child with special needs, what it means to try to support your child," she said. Conrad said her daughter requires special supports that are not available at home. She said she's contacted the board to try and get her daughter back in-class, but was told that isn't an option for students in kindergarten. She's waiting to hear from Mike Wilcox, the superintendent of special education with the Greater Essex County District School Board, for an answer. Wilcox told CBC News that he cannot speak to any specific situation as it would breach confidentiality, but said there are some students "who may be senior kindergarten age" attending classes in-person. "Right now, we are supporting our students with our most complex needs and we have lots of supports in place for those students who are not in in-person learning," he said. "We have speech and language [supports] and psychologists who are completing assessments in-person and online. So we have lots of supports there for our students with special education needs ranging from, you know, JK to to Grade 12." He said he recommends that parents who have concerns contact the principal of their school to find a way that the special education department can further support their child. Wilcox also said in-person classes for students with special needs are going well, adding that 73 per cent of those who were attending in-person classes before the holidays have returned. In an email statement to CBC News, Stephen Fields, the communications coordinator with Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, said if students with special needs cannot be accommodated through remote learning, they are allowed to attend school. The statement in part reads, "there is no congregation of students with special needs in one location, and in many cases there might be only one or two students in the classroom." "At the secondary level, those students with special needs who elected to attend school would go to their Life Skills rooms the way they always would. These are usually smaller groups of students (around seven or eight)." He said the board continues to follow public health guidelines by "mandating the use of PPE for staff, masking for students, appropriate distancing and regular hand hygiene." Teachers concerned Spagnuolo said special education teachers who he spoke with on Wednesday raised concerns about in-person learning. He said they're afraid to speak out in fear of reprisal from their employer, but have flagged that they want some changes made to how in-person learning is conducted. "Some of the things that we're looking for is more enhanced PPE, better cleaning and enhanced cleaning products in these classrooms," he said, adding they also want better screening protocols, air ventilation and assessments. "Also to see if we can get any higher priority for these teachers that are continuing to work in these buildings in terms of vaccinations for those that choose to ask to be vaccinated," he said. "They're on the front lines currently and they need to have access to that vaccination as soon as possible." While special education teachers understand the need to teach students with special needs in-person, Spagnuolo said they would like to be included and heard in the decision-making process. "I think that's the least that the government in the school board could do, is include these teachers in the decision making," he said.
The McKellar Firefighter Association wants to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by volunteering to flood private skating rinks for McKellar residents. At McKellar's Jan. 12 council meeting, Coun. Don Carmichael commented that it was acting fire chief Ron Harrison’s idea. “We have very little public ice available,” said Carmichael. “And now (with) further restrictions of only five people can be together on an ice surface at any point in time, we have two options. One would be to flood public grounds which we would be responsible for or we can flood private grounds which is the responsibility of the homeowner.” In a report submitted to council, Ron Harrison wrote to request the use of the apparatus and equipment to assist in the initial flooding of at-home rinks to provide an opportunity for ratepayers to have additional activities to do at home to help stop the spread of COVID-19. “This is a fantastic initiative brought forth that will help the ratepayers of McKellar (by) staying home and skating,” Harrison said. “This will also pose benefit in the reduction of pressure on our municipal rink and reduce the use of the lake ice which can be unpredictable.” According to Carmichael, the fire department would be using the secondary tanker and portable pumps and said the initiative could be used as a training opportunity for the firefighters as well. “It would be another training opportunity to be doing this in freezing conditions which we don’t normally do unless in the event of a real fire,” he said. “So, this is a winter training opportunity in addition to providing a service to our private landowners.” But could it affect fire department response times? Coun. Marco Ancinelli, who is also a firefighter for McKellar, said that it wouldn’t as the fire department wouldn’t be using the main equipment. “It’s a different animal all together when you’re fighting a fire in the summertime or in the winter time so I think it’s great practice,” said Ancinelli. However, David Moore, a McKellar ratepayer, questioned the cost the township could incur with usage of the machinery that has been paid for by ratepayers. “Taking expensive township equipment onto private property seems to have insurance claim written all over it,” said Moore. “Should a malfunction or breakage occur, is there enough available equipment to contend with the next fire call?” But Carmichael said during the meeting that township staff had contacted the insurance carrier who provided suggestions on what landowners should be doing. For a ratepayer to have the fire department provide the initial flooding of their private rink, they must reach out to the township and request to have their rink flooded. Ratepayers will have to provide a site plan, sign a waiver and follow a checklist. The procedure also includes a visit from the fire department to ensure it can be done safely. While some ratepayers expressed their concerns online, Coun. Mike Kekkonen said that he thinks council has covered the due diligence aspect with any liability concerns. “With that, I feel comfortable with the firefighters giving their time,” said Kekkonen. “Some people might say that there’s a cost but then again if a child or a family gets a skating rink and have an enjoyable winter, that’s priceless.” Council voted unanimously in favour of the resolution approving the fire department to utilize the apparatus at the discretion of the acting fire chief to provide a free service to McKellar residents to flood ice rinks on private property. The fire department volunteer staff will not be paid an hourly rate nor accumulate points for this activity. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
The companies behind the White Rose offshore oil project are taking the Newfoundland and Labrador government to court, saying they have overpaid royalties. Husky Oil Operations and Suncor Energy are seeking a ruling from a judge that their interpretation of the regulations is correct, and would apply to "all past, current and future royalties payable" for White Rose. The application does not specify an exact amount being sought by the oil companies. However, affidavits from Husky and Suncor officials contend that they overpaid more than $32 million, in total, from 2014 through 2017. Those amounts apply to both the original White Rose field, and the White Rose expansion. In a nutshell, the oil companies say the intent of the royalty regulations is for them to pay the greater of two royalty levels in a certain period, but not both. They say that is sometimes happening, even though it's not the way the system is supposed to work. Husky spokeswoman Colleen McConnell said that is the unintended result of an "an anomaly" in the royalty regulations. "We have been working to address this with the province over the past three years; however, it remains unresolved," McConnell said in an email to CBC News. "As a result, we have referred it to court for a decision, which is a mechanism is available to the parties to resolve matters in dispute." The province had not yet filed any documents in reply as of midweek, and the Energy Department declined comment, saying it would be inappropriate to do so while the case is before the courts. Similar issues with Terra Nova settled in the past In court documents, Husky and Suncor pointed to past disputes involving similar issues with the Terra Nova oilfield. The owners of Terra Nova filed court actions in 2010 and again in 2015 over comparable concerns about royalty calculations. Both cases were settled before a judge could issue a final ruling. The second dispute was resolved by both sides essentially deciding to split the difference. The White Rose case is due to be called at Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in early February. Husky is the operator of White Rose, owning a 72.5-per-cent share, with Suncor holding the remaining 27.5 per cent. Husky owns 68.875 per cent of the White Rose expansion. Suncor has 26.125 per cent, with Newfoundland and Labrador taxpayers holding the remaining five per cent through a Crown-owned corporation. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Recent heavy rainfall and flooding have caused rubbish and debris to be carried into Bulgaria's waterways.View on euronews
Three Innu men from Quebec were fined on Jan. 7 after being found guilty of illegally hunting caribou in Labrador in 2015. The three men, Roger Mark, Jacques Mark and Jean-Phillipe Vollant, were found guilty of violating the Wildlife Act and fined $1,000 each. Vollant was also found guilty of obstructing a wildlife officer and fined $200. Prosecutor Jim Clarke had asked Judge Kari Ann Pike to impose penalties on the lower end of the range because the three men co-operated with the wildlife officers. “It was non-confrontational is what I’d suggest and that is why the Crown is leaning towards the lower end of those scales and recommending the court impose minimum fines,” he told the court at the sentencing hearing. The incident that lead to the charges happened on Oct. 25, 2015. The Fish and Wildlife enforcement division in Happy Valley-Goose Bay received a complaint that three men were illegally hunting caribou in the Birchy Lake area. Four officers were sent out to do a helicopter patrol of the area and saw a tent set up near the edge of Birchy Lake. They landed, went to the campsite and found the Mark brothers there, with Vollant offshore in a canoe. When asked to come ashore by the officers, he initially refused before complying. That refusal is what led to his obstruction charge. The officers seized hunting gear, a rifle, a shotgun, and meat and animal parts at the campsite. The meat was sent to Trent University to be identified and it was verified to be caribou. A report entered into evidence verified that the camp location and hunt was within the range of the Mealy Mountain population, which are listed as endangered. During the sentencing, defence lawyer Francois Levesque said the men, who have hunted caribou since they were children, had acted respectfully to the caribou, which the Innu have traditionally hunted for generations. “It was a very respectful manner of doing the infraction, if I may put it that way,” Levesque said. “It’s not the worst case we’ve seen of poaching, if I can put it like that. Of course, the remaining fact is that caribou is endangered. Whether it is Red Wine caribou, George River caribou, it was endangered.” Pike said it was an aggravating factor that the men had planned the trip knowing they were not allowed to hunt caribou in the area, but there were also a number of mitigating factors. There was no indication the hunt was for anything but subsistence, she said, and on land the Innu have traditionally used for that purpose for a long time.Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
IMPÔT. En raison du contexte particulier lié à la pandémie de COVID-19, le gouvernement du Québec annonce des assouplissements aux critères normalement appliqués pour le calcul de la valeur des avantages imposables attribués à un employé relativement à l'utilisation qu'il fait d'une automobile pour les années d'imposition 2020 et 2021. En effet, en raison de la crise sanitaire, certains employés ont dû réduire le nombre de kilomètres parcourus dans l'exercice de leurs fonctions en 2020, par rapport à une année normale, ce qui pourrait avoir pour conséquence d'affecter le calcul de ces avantages imposables et de générer un solde d'impôt à payer inattendu. «La mesure annoncée aujourd'hui s'ajoute aux nombreuses autres initiatives mises en œuvre par le gouvernement depuis le début de la crise pour aider les citoyens et les entreprises. Nous continuons de surveiller la situation de près afin d'adapter nos actions à l'évolution de la pandémie et de ses impacts», souligne Eric Girard, ministre des Finances. Les assouplissements proposés permettront aux employeurs de considérer le niveau d'utilisation par l'employé de l'automobile observé en 2019 pour déterminer si celle-ci est utilisée principalement dans l'exercice de ses fonctions et ainsi d'établir plus adéquatement le niveau des avantages imposables pour 2020 et 2021. Par ailleurs, le gouvernement profite de l'occasion pour publier les plafonds et les taux qui régiront l'usage d'une automobile pour l'année 2021. Soulignons également que l'annonce d'aujourd'hui constitue une harmonisation avec les mesures publiées par le gouvernement fédéral le 21 décembre dernier. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
A special facility to treat those in psychiatric emergencies in that opened in Charlottetown during the pandemic won't be reopening, despite earlier assurances from the health minister that the closure was temporary. The pandemic is having a big impact on fundraising efforts for the 2023 Canada Games in P.E.I. The new head of the P.E.I. Nurses Union, Barbara Brookins, says there is a continuing and ongoing concern over a shortage of nurses on the Island. Student well-being teams in Prince Edward Island's schools are seeing an increase in referrals for help, perhaps in part because of the pandemic. The final audited statements for P.E.I. Premier Dennis King's first year in government are in, and they contain a rare bit of budgetary good news. The government believed its planned surplus would be erased by the few weeks of pandemic that fell into the fiscal year, but statements released Friday show P.E.I. ended up with a $22-million surplus. The pandemic has cut into volunteer numbers, and the Canadian Red Cross on P.E.I. is looking for volunteers to help out both on the Island and across the country. P.E.I. did not see a spike in cases as a result of holiday gatherings, said Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison in an interview with CBC News: Compass, but Morrison said she is concerned about rising case numbers in neighbouring New Brunswick. P.E.I. will not look at an Atlantic bubble again for at least two weeks. There was one new case of COVID-19 in the province Thursday, a man in his 50s who returned from travel outside Atlantic Canada. Allowing Islanders access to government-sanctioned high-limit online betting, especially during a pandemic, is a bad idea, says Liberal Finance critic Heath MacDonald. He's referring to a new online casino planned for P.E.I. by Atlantic Lotto. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases reported on P.E.I. is 104, with eight still active. There have been no deaths or hospitalizations. Also in the news Further resources Reminder about symptoms The symptoms of COVID-19 can include: Fever. Cough or worsening of a previous cough. Possible loss of taste and/or smell. Sore throat. New or worsening fatigue. Headache. Shortness of breath. Runny nose. More from CBC P.E.I.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards fired "abundant" surface-to-surface ballistic missiles and tested locally manufactured new drones in a military exercise on Friday, state television reported. The drill, which it said was overseen by Guards commander Major General Hossein Salami in the central desert region, came in the waning days of high tensions with U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration. "Also, an abundant number of a new generation of ballistic missiles were fired at selected targets, inflicting deadly blows to the hypothetical enemy bases."
The Township of Seguin and the other six municipalities that make up west Parry Sound have signed off on a letter, dated Dec. 1, to Ontario’s minister of the environment, conservation and parks. The letter states that they would like the ministry to reconsider the transition of the blue box from 2025 to 2024. What exactly is the blue box transition program? The Blue Box Transition program is being legislated by the Province of Ontario and means the responsibility of collecting and processing recyclable products will be on the manufacturers who make the items. What that means is the duty of recycling is being shifted to the manufacturers who produce the material rather than society. Will this effect how I put out my recycling? The government says there shouldn’t be any change of service. You may have to go to a different location to drop off your recycling, if rural, or you may have a new company that picks up your curbside blue box materials. When is this supposed to come into effect? For the municipalities that make up west Parry Sound — Parry Sound, Archipelago, Seguin, McKellar, McDougall, Carling and Whitestone — the change is supposed to come into effect in 2025; however, all seven municipalities have signed a letter to Minister Jeff Yurek requesting the transition take place in 2024. Why? The District of Muskoka is transitioning in 2024 and, currently, the west Parry Sound municipalities process blue box materials in Bracebridge. They are concerned about issues that may happen if the transition happens at a different time than Muskoka. Another concern is the fact the Greater Toronto Area is transitioning in 2023 and the expanded list of recyclables there will differ from what is offered in west Parry Sound for a time. Residents who migrate north for the summer may expect to recycle the same list of items, which may cause contamination in waste systems. Will this transition raise my taxes? Once the producers and manufacturers take over the recycling process, it’s going to save the taxpayers; however, prices for products may go up to pay for the manufacturers’ cost of processing the recycling. The Township of Seguin said at its Jan. 11 council meeting that the mayors from the seven municipalities would follow up on the letter once a response was received. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
Eleven adult male deer, or bucks, were harvested by hunters from the Shawanaga and Wasauksing First Nations during last month’s controlled harvest inside Killbear Provincial Park west of Parry Sound. The figures were released Jan. 11, by Shawanaga band manager Adam Good. It was the first time since the park opened in 1964 that Indigenous hunters were allowed inside the park boundary in order to harvest deer on their traditional and treaty hunting grounds. It was held from Dec. 15 to 18 and the park was closed to the public for the hunt for safety reasons. Hunters were restricted to shotguns only. Good said that 15 hunters in total from the two territories took part in the event. There had been concerns that protesters, who had expressed opposition to the harvest on social media, might also try to invade the park for the harvest but Good said that never materialized. “We were thinking that there could’ve been some sort of petition or a protest but that never occurred. It wasn’t a huge hunt. The number of hunters was low … there were some COVID scares but it was good for the first start. It was more about awareness,” Good said. He added that the harvest was the culmination of years of negotiations between park staff, other officials and the two First Nations. Good said that it is not yet clear if the harvest will become an annual event. He said they may look at making it a bow hunt in the future. He added that youngsters and Elders also accompanied the hunters with a goal of educating the young people about responsible harvesting on land that had used been used by Indigenous hunters for hundreds of years. Good said that the two First Nations will work with the park on just exactly what future hunts might look like. Prior to the hunt getting underway, Good said that a prayer and smudging ceremony was held. Both chiefs, Shawanaga’s Wayne Pamajewon and Warren Tabobondung, took part, he added. Good said that some hunters also brought their families with them for the historic harvest. “The (kids) were amazed. It’s a learning experience and they loved being outdoors. It’s something you can’t teach in the classroom. It’s being outdoors and experiencing it first hand. It was a life lesson that the youth won’t soon forget,” Good said. “They now understand that this is traditional territory where they can exercise their rights whether that be hunting, fishing or picking berries.” Good said the venison from the harvest has been shared with community members, particularly Elders. He added that the food was appreciated by all, especially during the global pandemic when getting out of the home to shop has been more complicated. “The meat was delivered to the Elders’ homes. They were very thankful. The Elders always enjoy receiving venison or moose,” Good said. Kenton Otterbein, education leader for the park, stated in an email that the harvest went off without a hitch. John McFadden is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering Indigenous issues for MuskokaRegion.com, ParrySound.com and Simcoe.com. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. John McFadden, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
Star conductor Simon Rattle, who this week announced he was cutting short his tenure at Britain's leading orchestra to return to Germany, said on Friday he had applied for German citizenship after Brexit. The Liverpool-born musician, 65, lamented the barriers thrown up by Britain's departure from the European Union to the careers of young musicians who had grown used to performing freely to the continent's music-hungry public. "My passport is on the way," Rattle told a news conference when asked if he had followed many EU-based Britons in applying for the citizenship that will let them continue to work freely around the bloc.
A Scottish court rejected on Friday an appeal to overturn the conviction of a now-deceased Libyan man found guilty of the 1988 Lockerbie plane bombing which killed 270 people. Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, an intelligence officer who died in 2012, was jailed for life in 2001 for the murder of 243 passengers, 16 crew and 11 residents of the Scottish town in the deadliest militant attack in British history. "The bombing of Pan Am 103 is, to this day, the deadliest terrorist attack on UK soil and the largest homicide case Scotland's prosecutors have ever encountered in terms of scale and of complexity," said Lord Advocate James Wolffe, Scotland's chief legal officer.
NUR-SULTAN (Reuters) - Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev nominated Askar Mamin as prime minister on Friday, and the newly elected lower house of parliament swiftly approved his appointment after ruling party leader Nursultan Nazarbayev asked his lawmakers to back Mamin. Mamin had stepped down after a Jan. 10 parliamentary election, as required by the constitution, after almost two years in office. Nazarbayev's Nur Otan party swept this month's vote to retain control over the lower house.
CANBERRA, Australia — A pigeon that Australia declared a biosecurity risk has received a reprieve after a U.S. bird organization declared its identifying leg band was fake. The band suggested the bird found in a Melbourne backyard on Dec. 26 was a racing pigeon that had left the U.S. state of Oregon, 13,000 kilometres (8,000 miles) away, two months earlier. On that basis, Australian authorities on Thursday said they considered the bird a disease risk and planned to kill it. But Deone Roberts, sport development manager for the Oklahoma-based American Racing Pigeon Union, said on Friday the band was fake. The band number belongs to a blue bar pigeon in the United States which is not the bird pictured in Australia, she said. “The bird band in Australia is counterfeit and not traceable,” Roberts said. “They do not need to kill him.” Australia's Agriculture Department, which is responsible for biosecurity, agreed that the pigeon dubbed Joe, after U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, was wearing a “fraudulent copy” leg band. “Following an investigation, the department has concluded that Joe the Pigeon is highly likely to be Australian and does not present a biosecurity risk,” it said in a statement. The department said it will take no further action. Acting Australian Prime Minister Michael McCormack had earlier said there would be no mercy if the pigeon was from the United States. “If Joe has come in a way that has not met our strict biosecurity measures, then bad luck Joe, either fly home or face the consequences,” McCormack said. Martin Foley, health minister for Victoria state where Joe is living, had called for the federal government to spare the bird even if it posed a disease risk. “I would urge the Commonwealth’s quarantine officials to show a little bit of compassion,” Foley said. Andy Meddick, a Victorian lawmaker for the minor Animal Justice Party, called for a “pigeon pardon for Joe.” “Should the federal government allow Joe to live, I am happy to seek assurances that he is not a flight risk,” Meddick said. Melbourne resident Kevin Celli-Bird, who found the emaciated bird in his backyard, was surprised by the change of nationality but pleased that the bird he named Joe would not be destroyed. “I thought this is just a feel-good story and now you guys want to put this pigeon away and I thought it’s not on, you know, you can’t do that, there has got to be other options,” Celli-Bird said of the threat to euthanize. Celli-Bird had contacted the American Racing Pigeon Union to find the bird’s owner based on the number on the leg band. The bands have both a number and a symbol, but Celli-Bird didn’t remember the symbol and said he can no longer catch the bird since it has recovered from its initial weakness. The bird with the genuine leg band had disappeared from a 560-kilometre (350-mile) race in Oregon on Oct. 29, Crooked River Challenge owner Lucas Cramer said. That bird did not have a racing record that would make it valuable enough to steal its identity, he said. “That bird didn’t finish the race series, it didn’t make any money and so its worthless, really,” Cramer said. He said it was possible a pigeon could cross the Pacific on a ship from Oregon to Australia. “In reality, it could potentially happen, but this isn’t the same pigeon. It’s not even a racing pigeon,” Cramer said. The bird spends every day in the backyard, sometimes with a native dove on a pergola. “I might have to change him to Aussie Joe, but he’s just the same pigeon,” Celli-Bird said. Lars Scott, a carer at Pigeon Rescue Melbourne, a bird welfare group, said pigeons with American leg bands were not uncommon around the city. A number of Melbourne breeders bought them online and used them for their own record keeping, Scott said. Australian quarantine authorities are notoriously strict. In 2015, the government threatened to euthanize two Yorkshire terriers, Pistol and Boo, after they were smuggled into the country by Hollywood star Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard. Faced with a 50-hour deadline to leave Australia, the dogs made it out in a chartered jet. Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press
Pension fund managers and religious investors on Friday asked top social media companies to step up their content control efforts to reduce the threat of violence ahead of the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden next week. The effort is the latest pressure on Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc over extreme rhetoric after the storming of the U.S. Capitol last week by supporters of President Donald Trump.
The long-promised public inquiry into search and rescue operations in Newfoundland and Labrador was launched Thursday. Justice and Public Safety Minister Steve Crocker formally established the $1.5-million inquiry, which he said will look different than past commissions of inquiry, such as the recent one on the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project. It will be more policy based as opposed to investigative, Crocker said, and will be smaller and more focused. “It will examine the organization, the operations of ground search and rescue in the province, with a final report making recommendations on how to improve that system,” he said at a news conference. The 2012 death of 14-year-old Burton Winters after he went snowmobiling near Makkovik spurred the inquiry, which is expected to last about six months. Winters' body was found three days after he was reported missing. Search and rescue helicopters were not called to look for him until two days after he was reported missing, which caused widespread concern. Crocker said it is impossible to deny how the case exposed gaps in the search and rescue system and spurred the inquiry. “None of us know when we will require the support of search and rescue teams,” he said. “But we hope that if we need them that service will be there and be adequate and prepared to respond in a timely manner.” The inquiry was a Liberal campaign promise in 2015 and was announced on Dec. 4, 2018. Retired provincial court judge James Igloliorte, originally from Hopedale, will lead the inquiry as commissioner, and said the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed things down a little, but they have been working behind the scenes doing consultation and research since last summer. The inquiry won’t focus on any specific cases, but a hearing will be held in Makkovik involving members of Winters' family and others who knew him. Igloliorte said they want to frame the examinations and the recommendations as being the Burton Winters Inquiry, and people were affected by the Inuk teen’s death, with a lot of questions arising about search and rescue. “We will be in Makkovik and allow the entire community to speak to us if they wish, and we will make sure that, insofar as we can, we will answer any questions they may have through the presentation of various witnesses to participate in the discussions,” he said. Igloliorte said they have already been consulting with the Indigenous groups of Labrador and expect them to be a part of the process. He said due to the relationship the Indigenous people of Labrador have with the land and outdoor activities, they are more at risk, and that will be recognized in this inquiry and report. They will work with a number of groups, Igloliorte said, including the public, various search and rescue organizations, and police forces. The inquiry will be largely comprised of informal hearings, but may also include research studies, interviews and surveys, and written submissions. Evan Careen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram