Check out this baby's reaction every single time the evening news comes on TV in this heartwarming compilation. That's his favorite anchorman!
Check out this baby's reaction every single time the evening news comes on TV in this heartwarming compilation. That's his favorite anchorman!
While Ontario and Quebec are the epicentres of COVID-19 outbreaks in Canada, people in First Nations are being hit the hardest in Western Canada, where they make up half the number of hospitalizations in some provinces. The rising curve is alarming federal officials, who urged the provinces during a press conference in Ottawa on Wednesday to continue prioritizing Indigenous populations as they roll out vaccines. "So what we're saying to Canadians, to Indigenous Peoples, is now is not the time to let down your guard," Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said. "This is not the time to ease public health restrictions." As of Jan. 19, Indigenous Services Canada was reporting 5,571 active cases on reserves — most of them in Prairie provinces: British Columbia: 580 Alberta: 1,312 Saskatchewan: 1,196 Manitoba: 2,241 Ontario: 93 Quebec: 144 Atlantic: 5 Indigenous Services Canada has reported 13,873 confirmed COVID-19 cases on reserves since last March. More than 90 per cent are in Western Canada: British Columbia: 1,348 Alberta: 4,459 Saskatchewan: 3,525 Manitoba: 3,643 Ontario: 428 Quebec: 462 Atlantic: 8 First Nation leaders and health experts say there are several reasons why infections are increasing in First Nations in Western Canada, including overcrowding, gatherings, people letting their guard down, relaxed restrictions and people driving in and out of communities with road access for goods and work. Lack of housing With COVID-19 caseloads rising all across Canada, the pandemic is emerging in places where it wasn't before, said Dr. Anna Banerji, an infectious disease specialist at Temerty Faculty of Medicine and the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. "It's quite concerning that COVID is starting to break into these communities," Banerji said. "They've held the forts for so long." Banerji researched respiratory infections in Inuit communities for over two decades. She said the main risk factors facing First Nations are poor access to health care services, underlying ailments, food insecurity, poverty and overcrowding. Banerji said she fears that when people get sick in First Nations, they can't find places to self-isolate. Onekanew (Chief) Christian Sinclair of Opaskwayak Cree Nation, 628 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, said his community needs 600 more houses. "When you have people living under one roof, anywhere from six to as high as 14 members living under one roof on the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, you can see how quickly that spread can happen," Sinclair said. "We're second-class citizens living in Third World conditions in a first world country." Opaskwayak Cree Nation has had success in preventing and controlling outbreaks by enforcing curfews and monitoring who enters and leaves the community with border patrols paid for by Indigenous Services Canada. The highest funding requests the department has seen for the Indigenous Community Support Fund — which was created to help communities fight COVID-19 — have been for perimeter security, said Valerie Gideon, associate deputy minister of Indigenous Services. Close to 350 First Nations across the country have closed their borders to non-essential travel, she added. But even with the added layer of security in some places, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says 50 per cent of all active COVID cases in Manitoba are First Nations members. Call for stricter provincial measures Relaxed provincial measures are also being blamed for the rise in First Nations cases. The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations in Saskatchewan is calling on the province to close bars and liquor establishments. "We believe alcohol in the bars is a contributing factor," said FSIN Vice Chief David Pratt, who recently recovered from COVID-19. "When you're on alcohol, you're more likely to lose your inhibitions, share drinks and not keep those social distance practices in practices and in check." Grand Chief Jerry Daniels of the Southern Chiefs' Organization in Manitoba is urging the provincial and federal governments to enforce tougher rules to limit travel. Daniels said he thinks caseloads are rising because of people going back and forth from First Nations to urban areas. "I think until COVID is completely wiped out, they should be taking the strongest approach possible," Daniels said. Daniels said nearly 80 per cent of the 34 Anishnaabe and Dakota communities he represents are trying to control the spread of COVID-19. Concern for loss of elders Dr. Shannon McDonald, acting chief medical officer at the First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia, said there isn't enough rapid testing available to test everyone who needs to travel to B.C. First Nations, and some tests can't detect infections in their first few days. "It only takes one person to come in and spend time with people in the community," McDonald said. McDonald fears the pandemic could take a particularly heavy toll on First Nations communties. "I always worry about our elders," McDonald said. "Our elders are our knowledge-keepers, our language holders and they are the human libraries, culturally. So communities are very sensitive to that, but individuals who are choosing not to adhere to public health advice are putting those individuals at risk and I really worry about that." Lawrence Latender, a member of Dauphin River First Nation, has felt first-hand the impact of COVID-19 during an outbreak in his community 250 kilometres north of Winnipeg. He recently lost seven neighbours and friends to the virus, including two aunts and an uncle. "I don't know if I had time to really grieve because it's one thing after the other," Latender said. "It's like you're focused on one death and then you're, well ... 'OK now I got to focus on this one. Ok, this one is gone, now I got to focus on this one.'" Letander, his wife and two young sons also tested positive, but have since recovered. Indigenous Services Canada says that, so far, there have been 120 COVID-19 deaths in First Nations. But with 169 Indigenous communities now administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and more doses on the way, there's hope the chain of transmission will break.
WASHINGTON — Three new senators were sworn into office after President Joe Biden's inauguration, securing the majority for Democrats in the Senate and across a unified government to tackle the new president's agenda at a time of unprecedented national challenges. In a first vote, the Senate confirmed Biden's nominee for director of national intelligence, Avril Haines late Wednesday, overcoming Republican opposition to approve his first Cabinet member. It's traditionally a show of good faith on Inauguration Day to confirm at least some nominees for a new president’s administration. On Thursday, the new Senate majority leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he hoped Biden's nominees for the departments of Defence, Homeland Security, State and Treasury could also be swiftly confirmed. “To leave these seats vacant does a disservice to America,” Schumer said at the Capitol. Schumer introduced all six new Democratic senators — the “majority makers” — who he said represent an “expanding Democratic majority." Four are from the West and two from the South. They are a diverse group bringing several firsts to the Senate, along with Schumer's rise as the first Jewish majority leader of the Senate. The three who joined on Wednesday — Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock of Georgia and Alex Padilla of California — took the oath of office from Kamala Harris, a former California senator who is first woman to be vice-president, and the first Black woman and Asian-American to hold that office. Warnock, a pastor from the late Martin Luther King Jr.'s church in Atlanta, is the first Black senator from Georgia. Ossoff, a former congressional aide and investigative journalist, is Jewish and also the now youngest member of the Senate, at 33. They won run-off elections in Georgia this month, defeating two Republicans, to lock the majority for Democrats. Padilla, a the son of immigrants from Mexico, becomes his state's first Latino senator, tapped by California’s governor to finish the remainder of Harris’ term. They join a Senate narrowly split 50-50 between the parties, but giving Democrats the majority with Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote. “Today, America is turning over a new leaf. We are turning the page on the last four years, we’re going to reunite the country, defeat COVID-19, rush economic relief to the people,” Ossoff told reporters earlier at the Capitol. “That’s what they sent us here to do.” Taken together, their arrival gives Democrats for the first time in a decade control of the Senate, the House and the White House, as Biden faces the unparalleled challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout, and the nation's painful political divisions from the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol by a mob loyal to Donald Trump. Congress is being called on to consider Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID recovery package, to distribute vaccines and shore up an economy as more than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus. At the same time, the Senate is about to launch an impeachment trial of Trump, charged by the House of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol as rioters tried to interrupt the Electoral College tally and overturn Biden’s election. The Senate will need to confirm other Biden Cabinet nominees. Yet as Washington looks to turn the page from Trump to the Biden administration, Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is not relinquishing power without a fight. Haines' nomination was temporarily blocked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., as he sought information about the CIA's enhanced interrogation program. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is holding back the Homeland Security nominee, Alejandro Mayorkas, over Biden's proposed immigration changes. McConnell is refusing to enter a power-sharing agreement with Senate Democrats unless they meet his demands, chiefly to preserve the Senate filibuster — the procedural tool often used by the minority party to block bills under rules that require 60 votes to advance legislation. At her first White House briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s desire to have his Cabinet confirmed and in place is “front and centre for the president,” and she said he was hoping to have his national security nominees in place Thursday or Friday. Psaki said the president will be “quite involved” in negotiations over the COVID relief package, but left the details of the upcoming impeachment trial to Congress. The Senate can “multitask,” she said. That’s a tall order for a Senate under normal circumstances, but even more so now in the post-Trump era, with Republicans badly split between their loyalties to the defeated president and wealthy donors who are distancing themselves from Republicans who back Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is expected to soon transmit to the Senate the House-passed article of impeachment against Trump, charged with incitement of insurrection, a step that will launch the Senate impeachment trial. Meantime, the power-sharing talks between Schumer and McConnell have hit a stalemate. It’s an arcane fight McConnell has inserted into what has traditionally been a more routine organizing resolution over committee assignments and staffing resources, but a power play by the outgoing Republican leader grabbing at tools that can be used to block Biden’s agenda. Progressive and liberal Democrats are eager to do away with the filibuster to more quickly advance Biden’s priorities, but not all rank-and-file Senate Democrats are on board. Schumer has not agreed to any changes but McConnell is taking no chances. For now, it will take unanimous consent among senators to toggle between conducting votes on legislative business and serving as jurors in the impeachment trial. The House last week impeached Trump for having sent the mob to the Capitol to “fight like hell” during the tally of Electoral College votes to overturn Biden’s election. __ Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. ___ This story has been updated to correct that Sen. Tom Cotton represents Arkansas, not Oklahoma. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
Workers trapped in a gold mine in China since Jan. 10 may have to wait another 15 days before they can be rescued because of a blockage on their intended escape route, officials said on Thursday. A total of 22 workers were trapped underground after an explosion at the Hushan mine in Qixia, a major gold-producing region under the administration of Yantai in Shandong province on the northeast coast. However, at least another 15 days may be needed to clear obstacles, Gong Haitao, deputy head of Yantai's propaganda department, told a news conference at the headquarters of the rescue operation.
A phenomenon first noticed in the spring of 2020 seems to have held, and health officials are crediting the public’s observance of pandemic measures and advice. Influenza has not shown up in Newfoundland and Labrador since it first dropped off the charts in March of last year. “On the whole, in the country, we’ve only had a little over 50 cases reported, and I think on average over the past six years, at this point in time in the flu season, I think it’s somewhere around 14,000 cases that we usually see, or are usually reported,” Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said Wednesday. Fitzgerald was flying solo on the COVID-19 live update for the first time since the early days of the pandemic. Health Minister Dr. John Haggie and Premier Andrew Furey are on the campaign trail. The lack of flu cases means the Department of Health hasn’t had to update its surveillance data online since last March. A graph from that period showed an unprecedented decline in flu cases around the time that pandemic measures came in. “I think a lot of that has to do with the measures that are in place for COVID,” Fitzgerald said. “Of course, all those things that cause the transmission of COVID also cause the transmission of flu. “It’s not just the flu not spreading across Canada. It’s the flu not spreading across the world,” she added. Fitzgerald also credited the uptick in flu vaccinations this year, the result of a more focused campaign launched last fall. As of Jan. 19, 232,292 people in the province have received the flu shot. Peter Jackson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
One of the wonders of the world was illuminated Wednesday night in tribute to a larger-than-life businessman from Six Nations of the Grand River. Niagara Falls glowed blue and green between 6 and 11 p.m. in honour of Ken Hill, a multimillionaire cigarette magnate who died Monday of undisclosed causes at his Miami home. He was 62. The falls are usually illuminated to celebrate days of significance and draw attention to worthy causes. Hill joins Canadian prime ministers, Nobel Peace Prize recipient Nelson Mandela and basketball superstar Kobe Bryant on the short list of individuals to be memorialized with a light show. In their application to the Niagara Falls Illumination Board for this rare tribute, Hill’s family described him as “legendary, both on and off Six Nations” as the co-founder of cigarette manufacturer Grand River Enterprises, among dozens of business interests that employed thousands of people. Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati remembered Hill as “a strong advocate for Indigenous rights (and) a generous philanthropist.” Hill’s Jukasa Studios sponsored the 2020 Niagara Music Awards last October. “Kenny’s appreciation and love for music inspired him to build a world-class studio and sanctuary for artists and musicians to call home and produce lasting pieces of musical history,” the Ohsweken studio said in a statement. “Kenny was always excited to meet new artists and was delighted to come into the studio and listen to what was being created. He had an undeniable presence that was felt from the moment he walked into a room. That presence will be sadly missed.” Global superstars Willie Nelson, Steven Tyler and Snoop Dogg recorded at Jukasa, and Canadian indie rockers July Talk recorded their Juno Award-winning sophomore album, Touch, on the reserve in 2016. Webster actor Emmanuel Lewis was a fixture at the studio. “You were and still are a legend with the heart the size of a grizzly bear,” Stevie Salas, guitarist and executive producer of music documentary “RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World,” said of Hill on social media. In a video tribute posted on Monday, rapper Fat Joe said he and Hill had met for lunch in Florida the week before his death. “Kenny Hill is one of the sweetest, most humble people I ever met in my life. He is a gentle giant,” the five-time Grammy nominee said. “Six Nations, Ontario, Canada, my heart goes out to you.” Six Nations councillors extended their condolences to the Hill family, including Elected Chief Mark Hill, who is Ken Hill’s nephew. Ken Hill served three terms on Six Nations Elected Council from January 1986 to December 1991. “Always maintaining Six Nations as his home, Mr. Hill built portions of his industry at the very same corner where he grew up and lived,” read the statement from council. “His ventures also gave back in the form of education and employment opportunities through the local Dreamcatcher Charitable Foundation. Our thoughts and prayers are with Chief Hill and his family while they try to deal with their devastating loss.” According to its website, the Dreamcatcher Foundation provides funding to Indigenous recipients involved in education, sports, health care and the arts, with a particular focus on developing future Indigenous leaders by supporting youth and families in need. Haldimand Mayor Ken Hewitt told the Sachem that Hill’s loss would be felt far and wide. “It’s hard to fathom and perhaps appreciate the depth and reach he’s had in different communities, and employing so many different people and then helping so many families,” Hewitt said. While Hill enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, he demonstrated his generosity by quietly paying off medical bills for those in need and sending three jet airplanes packed with relief aid to the hurricane-stricken Bahamas in 2019. “Ken Hill was well known across both sides of the border and around the world. He was an advocate for Indigenous rights as well very helpful on and off the reservation,” his family’s statement to the Niagara Parks Commission read. “He along with his best friend Jerry (Montour, co-founder of GRE) worked to help so many people around the world. He will always be loved and surely missed by all.” Sports were a passion for Hill, who sponsored lacrosse, hockey and fast-pitch teams, and co-owned Jukasa Motor Speedway near Nelles Corners. Lacrosse organizations across Canada expressed their condolences, with the Six Nations Snipers saying that Hill’s “impact on lacrosse has been felt locally and across the globe.” Hill assumed control of the Six Nations Chiefs in 1993, after the death of his brother Erlind. The Chiefs promptly won three straight Mann Cups, adding three more national titles in the 2010s. “Words cannot describe the sadness and disbelief that the team is in over the passing of our owner and leader Ken (KR) Hill,” said Chiefs presidents and general manager Duane Jacobs. “Ken was like an older brother to me. He did so much for me and my family. He allowed me to run this team and is directly responsible for all the championships we’ve won. The players were treated well and all he ever wanted in return was championships.” Hill ran the Brantford Golden Eagles junior B hockey team in early 1990s, and at the time of his death owned the junior B Caledonia ProFit Corvairs, sponsored by his Caledonia health club. “Kenny wasn’t just an owner. He was a friend to all players, staff, volunteers and fans,” the Corvairs said in a statement. “Kenny gave his all to make sure everyone was treated respectfully and set up to succeed both on and off the ice. He wanted to create something the community could always be proud of.” Hill also sponsored the world-renowned Hill United Chiefs fast-pitch team and, with Montour, co-owned MontHill Golf and Country Club, south of Caledonia. The business mogul earned millions of dollars tax-free annually, according to court filings, and his life was not without controversy. As an exporter of cigarettes to clients worldwide — including as the exclusive supplier of the German army — Hill and Montour fought legal battles over taxation and licensing, and defended charges of trafficking contraband tobacco in the United States. As a result, Hill’s relationship with Ottawa over the years was not always harmonious. But after his death, federal international trade minister Mary Ng offered her condolences to the family. “I am saddened by the new of Ken Hill’s passing — a community leader, prominent entrepreneur and philanthropist from the Six Nations of the Grand River Territory” Ng tweeted. In recent years Hill was involved in a contentious child and spousal support dispute with one of his former partners. Earlier in the pandemic, he made the news after allegedly hosting a large party at his Six Nations mansion in defiance of COVID-19 restrictions. J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
Warren Woods, a longtime Regina sports broadcaster, has died at the age of 66 after battling COVID-19. His death was confirmed by his family, who issued a statement Wednesday evening. "Woodsy," as he was affectionately called by family and friends, died at 3:25 p.m. on Wednesday due to complications from the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. The statement says he died with his two children, Nicole and Chris, by his side. "They wish to express their immense gratitude to the doctors, nurses, and specialists on the medical intensive care unit and Unit 3E at Regina General Hospital for all their attention and care," the family said. Woods was in the ICU battling COVID-19 after being diagnosed in November. A GoFundMe page set up to help with his recovery has raised over $64,000. In a statement, Nicole and Chris said they are grateful for the outpouring of support their dad received from across the country over the last seven weeks. "It's comforting for them to know how many people cared about their dad," the statement said. Woods's career spanned over 30 years. Prior to working at CJME radio, he worked at STV and Global. Journalists, colleagues and friends shared an outpouring of support on social media Wednesday after news of his death broke.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has given the Oval Office a slight makeover. Biden revealed the new décor Wednesday as he invited reporters into his new office to watch him sign a series of executive orders hours after he took office. A bust of Cesar Chavez, the labour leader and civil rights activist, is nestled among an array of framed family photos displayed on a desk behind the new president. Also represented in sculptures are civil rights icons Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. Benjamin Franklin peers down at Biden from a portrait on a nearby wall. Biden brought a dark blue rug out of storage to replace a lighter colored one installed by former President Donald Trump. One office feature remains: Biden is also using what’s known as the Resolute Desk because it was built from oak used in the British Arctic exploration ship HMS Resolute. Trump used that desk, too. The Associated Press
BEIJING — The U.S.'s accusation of genocide against China touches on a hot-button human rights issue between China and the West. In one of his final acts as secretary of state, Mike Pompeo declared Tuesday that China’s policies against Muslims in its Xinjiang region constitute “crimes against humanity” and “genocide.” The same day, British lawmakers narrowly rejected a proposal aimed at China that would have barred trade deals with any country deemed to be committing genocide. The far western region of Xinjiang is home to the predominantly Muslim Uighur ethnic group. China denies human rights violations and says its actions in Xinjiang are necessary to counter a separatist and terrorist threat. ___ WHY IS CHINA ACCUSED OF GENOCIDE? Pompeo cited forced birth control among Uighurs, which an Associated Press investigation documented last year, and forced labour, which has been linked by AP reporting to products imported to the U.S., including clothing, cameras and computer monitors. “I believe this genocide is ongoing, and that we are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uyghurs by the Chinese party-state,” Pompeo said in a written statement, using an alternative spelling for Uighurs. ___ WHAT IS CHINA'S RESPONSE? China strongly defends its human rights record and policies in Xinjiang, saying its constitution and laws treat all citizens equally. It denies imposing coercive birth control measures or forced labour, saying those behind the allegations are lying in an effort to smear China’s reputation and impede its development. Xu Guixiang, a deputy spokesperson for the Xinjiang branch of the ruling Communist Party, told reporters last week that birth control decisions were made of the person’s own free will and that “no organization or individual can interfere.” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on Wednesday called Pompeo a “doomsday clown” and said his designation of China as a perpetrator of genocide and crimes against humanity was merely “a piece of wastepaper.” ___ WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? The genocide designation does not trigger any immediate repercussions, but requires the U.S. to take it into account in formulating policy toward China. It puts pressure on President Joe Biden to maintain a tough line against China. He and members of his national security team have expressed support for such a designation in the past. Antony Blinken, Biden’s choice to be secretary of state, said Tuesday that the Trump administration was right to take a tougher stance on China, but that it had approached the matter poorly by alienating U.S. allies and not fully standing up for human rights elsewhere. ___ HOW WILL CHINA RESPOND? China may wish to avoid an early skirmish with the Biden administration, saving its invective for Pompeo and calibrating its response based on the possibility of tensions easing now after they flared under Donald Trump. As with most sensitive issues, China has heavily restricted foreign media access to Xinjiang and sought to limit any domestic discussion to official pronouncements. Still, the “parting shot" from the Trump administration will likely further stress the relationship in the near term, said Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University of China. He said the already slim chances of reducing China-U.S. tensions have been further limited in the coming weeks and months. ___ WHAT HAPPENED IN LONDON? Lawmakers rejected by a 319-308 vote an amendment to a post-Brexit trade bill that would have forced the British government to revoke bilateral trade agreements with a country if the High Court of England found that it had perpetrated genocide. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab last week called the amendment “well-meaning” but ineffective and counter productive. A significant number of rebel Conservatives backed the proposal, as did Jewish, Muslim and Christian community leaders. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to continue facing vocal calls within his Conservative party for a stronger and more coherent policy on China over its alleged rights abuses and violations of international norms. The Associated Press
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott is stepping down at the end of June, ending an 11-year tenure in which the conference landed a transformational billion dollar television deal but struggled to keep up with some of its Power Five peers when it came to revenue and exposure. Sports Business Journal first reported the news Wednesday night and a person with knowledge of what was being called a mutual decision between the 56-year-old Scott and university presidents who make up the league’s executive committee confirmed it to AP. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because an official statement from the conference was expected later Wednesday night. Scott’s current contract was set to expire June 2022, but he will not seek a new deal and instead finish out this academic to assist with the transition to his successor. Under Scott, the Pac-10 became the Pac-12 by adding Colorado and Utah to the conference in 2011 and created a football championship game. The additions helped the conference secure a 12-year $3 billion media rights deal with Fox and ESPN that set the standard in the college sports market at the time. Ralph D. Russo, The Associated Press
Do you remember the first time you experienced snow? Check out this dog's priceless reaction!
ORLANDO, Fla. — Two Florida men, including a self-described organizer for the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group, were arrested Wednesday on charges of taking part in the siege of the U.S. Capitol earlier this month, authorities said. Joseph Biggs, 37, was arrested in central Florida and faces charges of obstructing an official proceeding before Congress, entering a restricted on the groups of the U.S. Capitol and disorderly conduct. According to an arrest affidavit, Biggs was part of a crowd on Jan. 6 that overwhelmed Capitol Police officers who were manning a metal barrier on the steps of the Capitol. The mob entered the building as lawmakers were certifying President Joe Biden’s election win. Biggs appeared to be wearing a walkie-talkie during the storming of the Capitol, but he told FBI agents that he had no knowledge about the planning of the destructive riot and didn’t know who organized it, the affidavit said. Ahead of the riot, Biggs told followers of his on the social media app Parler to dress in black to resemble the far-left antifa movement, according to the affidavit. Biggs had organized a 2019 rally in Portland, Oregon, in which more than 1,000 far-right protesters and anti-fascist counter-demonstrators faced off. The Proud Boys are a neofascist group known for engaging in violent clashes at political rallies. During a September presidential debate, Trump had urged them to “stand back and stand by” when asked to condemn them by a moderator. An online court docket did not indicate whether Biggs has an attorney who could comment. Jesus Rivera, 37, also was arrested Wednesday in Pensacola. He faces charges of knowingly entering a restricted building, intent to impede government business, disorderly conduct and demonstrating in the Capitol buildings. Rivera uploaded a video to Facebook showing himself in the U.S. Capitol crypt, authorities said. The five-minute video ends with Rivera starting to climb out a window at the Capitol, according to an arrest affidavit. An online court docket also did not list an attorney for Rivera. The cases are being handled by federal prosecutors in the District of Columbia. More than a half-dozen other Floridians have been charged in relation to the Capitol assault. Associated Press, The Associated Press
A recent spike in COVID cases at Horse Lake First Nations is cause for concern, says its chief executive officer Azar Kamran. The Horse Lake Wellness Centre reported 21 active COVID-19 cases there Monday; 13 homes have been placed under isolation. That represents an increase of nine cases in just a week. On Wednesday Horse Lake reported five recoveries and 16 active cases, accounting for 59 per cent of the total number of cases in west county as of Wednesday. West county active cases are currently sitting at 27; the west county local geographic area (LGA) includes First Nations communities, said Tom McMillan, Alberta Health communications assistant director. “We find this concerning, as does the whole province,” Kamran told the News. Still, he said the Horse Lake numbers are “stable” and attributed the rising numbers to increased testing. As of Monday nurses had completed 304 tests in Horse Lake, compared to 243 last Monday. The reserve has a population of 437, according to Indigenous Affairs Canada. Kamran said he believes COVID made its first appearance in the community approximately two months ago. By early January there had been seven recovered cases, according to the wellness centre. On Jan. 4, there was only one active case. “Our advice would be to maintain hygiene and all safety precautions, including maintaining (two-metre) distance,” Kamran said. He said band administration is promoting the precautions through the community newsletter and social media. Travel is also being discouraged though administration recognizes residents can leave and enter the community, Kamran said. Horse Lake has a small school for Grade 1 to 3 students, with approximately 24 students. Kamran said it’s been closed since November at band council’s direction; buses to schools outside the community haven’t been operational since November. The 13 homes were placed under isolation in accordance with Alberta Health guidelines, Kamran said. The Horse Lake Wellness Centre is also discouraging visits between members of different households. Some residents are observing this directive and others aren’t, Kamran said. Outdoor and indoor gatherings were banned across the province in December, with the province lifting the ban on outdoor gatherings Monday, with a limit of 10. The Horse Lake Wellness Centre has discouraged indoor gatherings and advised residents who witness them to call 1-833-415-9179, the number to report health violations, or the RCMP. Rick Wilson, Alberta’s indigenous relations minister, acknowledged Monday in a statement a delay in getting vaccines to indigenous seniors 65 and up due to a shortage in doses. Kamran said Horse Lake is hoping to receive vaccines as soon as possible and has remained in contact with AHS about the matter. No vaccinations have been made yet, he said. At press time there are 46 active cases across the County of Grande Prairie, including 19 in the east and central portions, and there have been four fatalities in the east and central county. The City of Grande Prairie has 180 active cases and has had 14 fatalities. Brad Quarin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News
LOS ANGELES — An unprecedented impeachment hearing failed to keep TV viewers from settling back into familiar, escapist habits last week. NFL and college football and sturdy drama franchises including the “Chicago” shows on NBC and the “NCIS” group on CBS were among the week's ratings winners, according to Nielsen figures out Wednesday. The second impeachment of now-former President Donald Trump drew viewers to news shows, but not in the numbers that tuned in the prior week to bear witness to rioting inside the U.S. Capitol and gave CNN get its biggest single-day audience ever. CNN had last Wednesday's most-watched impeachment hearing coverage and again claimed the weekly lead among cable news channels. CBS' news magazine “60 Minutes,” which included reports on the Capitol attack and security measures for President Joe Biden's inauguration, was the week's top non-sports broadcast despite competition from a NFL divisional playoff game. That contest, between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints was the week's No. 1 program. It helped make Fox the most-watched network with an average 9.1 million viewers, followed by NBC with 6.4 million. CBS had 4.1 million, ABC had 3.5 million, Univision had 1.3 million, Telemundo had 1 million and Ion Television had 940,000. ESPN was the most-watched cable network in prime-time, averaging 3.2 million for the week. CNN had 3.1 million, MSNBC had 2.7 million and HGTV had 1.1 million. ABC’s “World News Tonight” topped the evening news ratings contest, averaging 10.3 million viewers. NBC’s “Nightly News” had 8.5 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 6.3 million. For the week of Jan. 11-17, the 20 most-watched programs in prime time, their networks and viewership: 1. NFC Playoff: Tampa Bay at New Orleans, Fox, 35.5 million. 2. NFL Playoff: Baltimore at Buffalo, NBC, 26.2 million. 3. College football championship: Ohio State at Alabama, ESPN, 18.5 million. 4. NFL Pregame, NBC, 18.3 million. 5. NFC Postgame, Fox, 18 million. 6. College football pregame, ESPN, 12.8 million. 7. “60 Minutes,” CBS, 10.57 million. 8. “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune,” ABC. 7.8 million. 9. “Chicago Med,” NBC, 7.6 million. 10. “Chicago Fire,” NBC, 7.3 million. 11. “Chicago PD,” NBC, 6.6 million. 12. “Great North,” Fox, 6.1 million. 13. “NCIS: Los Angeles,” CBS, 5.6 million. 14. “Magnum P.I.,” CBS, 5.5 million. 15. “This Is Us,” NBC, 5.46 million. 16. “The Chase,” ABC, 5.45 million. 17. “NCIS,” CBS, 5.2 million. 18. “NCIS: New Orleans,” CBS, 5.1 million. 19. “MacGyver,” CBS, 5 million. 20. “The Price is Right,” CBS, 4.9 million. Lynn Elber, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Latest on Joe Biden's presidential inauguration (all times local): 10:15 p.m. Fireworks lit up the sky behind the Washington Monument to mark the end of Inauguration Day for President Joe Biden. Biden and first lady Jill Biden watched the end of the day’s events from a balcony in the White House on Wednesday night. The Bidens' grandchildren danced and clapped on the balcony. While the coronavirus pandemic and security concerns in Washington vastly scaled back inaugural events, organizers created a celebratory atmosphere with live and recorded celebrity performances, ending with singer Katy Perry. Vice-President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, watched the fireworks from the steps of the Washington Monument after Harris delivered brief remarks. ___ HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT JOE BIDEN’S INAUGURATION AS THE 46TH U.S. PRESIDENT: Joe Biden took the oath of office at noon Wednesday to become the 46th president of the United States. He takes charge in a deeply divided nation, inheriting a confluence of crises arguably greater than any faced by his predecessors. Read more: — Biden takes the helm as president: ‘Democracy has prevailed’ — Biden’s first act: Orders on pandemic, climate, immigration — Biden charts new US direction, promises many Trump reversals — Vice-President Harris: A new chapter opens in US politics — Analysis: For Biden, chance to turn crisis into opportunity ___ HERE'S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON: 10 p.m. Three former presidents are celebrating the transition of power that saw Democrat Joe Biden enter the White House. In a pretaped video that aired during Biden’s inaugural television special Wednesday night, Republican George W. Bush, along with Democrats Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, wished Biden luck. Obama said, “Inaugurations celebrate a tradition of a peaceful transfer of power that is over two centuries old.” But the mere fact that all three felt compelled to come together to address the issue speaks to the fraught moment the country faces. President Donald Trump repeatedly and falsely insisted for months that the November election was stolen from him, and he whipped up a violent crowd of supporters who stormed the U.S. Capitol two weeks ago seeking to overturn the certification of Biden win. He also snubbed his successor's inauguration. In the video, Clinton urged Americans to get off their “high horses” and reach out to friends and neighbours with whom they may have differences. Bush said he wanted Biden to be successful because his “success is our country’s success.” ___ 9:40 p.m. Kamala Harris talked about the power of “American aspiration” in her first speech to the nation as vice-president. With the Washington Monument lit up behind her Wednesday night, Harris called on Americans to remember “we are undaunted in our belief that we shall overcome, that we will rise up.” She also cast her ascension as the first female vice-president as a demonstration of the nation’s character. Borrowing a line she frequently used on the campaign trail, she said, “We not only see what has been — we see what can be.” Harris gave a nod to American scientists, parents and teachers who are persevering through the coronavirus pandemic and encouraged people to “see beyond crises.” She spoke during President Joe Biden’s “Celebrating America” event to mark the inauguration. ___ 8:55 p.m. Bruce Springsteen sang “Land of Hope and Dreams” as he stood alone with his guitar in front of the Lincoln Memorial to open “Celebrating America,” a broadcast special to honour the inauguration of President Joe Biden. Springsteen said, “Good evening, America,” to open the 90-minute special airing across several networks on Wednesday night in place of the usual official inaugural balls. Performing the 1999 song of solace, Springsteen sang, “I will provide for you, and I’ll stand by your side. You’ll need a good companion, for this part of the ride.” Host Tom Hanks, also at the Lincoln Memorial, introduced the show by saying, “In the last few weeks, in the last few years, we’ve witnessed deep divisions and a troubling rancour in our land. But tonight we ponder the United States of America.” Kerry Washington and Eva Longoria are co-hosting the show, which will also include performances from John Legend, Katy Perry, Demi Lovato, the Foo Fighters, Justin Timberlake and Jon Bon Jovi. ___ 8:40 p.m. Kamala Harris might be vice-president, but she doesn’t get to enjoy all of the vice-presidential perks just yet. Harris won’t immediately move into the vice-president’s residence at the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. A Harris aide says the delay will allow time for repairs to the home. The house needs its chimney liners replaced, among other fixes, and it’s easier to finish the work with the home unoccupied. The former California senator has a home in downtown D.C. where she typically stayed while in town for work, but it’s unclear if she’ll remain there while waiting for the repairs to be completed. Every vice-president since Walter Mondale has lived at the Naval Observatory, and it’s been the site of visits from foreign dignitaries, events and gatherings hosted by vice-presidents past. ___ 8:05 p.m. A group of protesters carrying anti-President Joe Biden and anti-police signs is marching in Portland and damaged the headquarters of the Democratic Party of Oregon. Police say the group smashed windows and spray-painted anarchist symbols at the political party building on Wednesday. It was one of at least four groups planning to gather in the city on Inauguration Day. Police say officers on bicycles entered the crowd to contact someone with a weapon and to remove poles affixed to a banner that they thought could be used as a weapon. Police say the crowd swarmed the officers and threw objects at them. Portland has been the site of frequent protests since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. Over the summer, there were demonstrations for more than 100 straight days. Mayor Ted Wheeler recently decried what he described as a segment of violent agitators who detract from the message of police accountability and who should be subject to more severe punishment. ___ 7:40 p.m. White House press secretary Jen Psaki says President Joe Biden will allow Congress to decide the way forward on the impeachment trial of his predecessor, Donald Trump. Psaki said Wednesday in the first press briefing of the Biden administration that the president believes members of the Senate should figure out how to proceed with a trial that could consume the opening weeks of his presidency. Psaki says the administration is instead focused on the pandemic and the economic crisis that have engulfed the country for nearly a year, noting that the Senate can handle multiple issues at once. Trump was impeached last week on a charge of inciting an insurrection. It was his second impeachment, a record for any president. ___ 7:30 p.m. White House press secretary Jen Psaki says President Joe Biden will call Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday, the first call with a foreign leader after Biden took the oath of office. Psaki said Wednesday at her first press briefing that the subject of the call will be relations between the United States and Canada as well as the status of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, whose permitting Biden revoked in one of his first acts as president. Psaki says Biden’s first round of calls to foreign leaders will be with allies, adding that the new president plans to repair relationships damaged by former President Donald Trump’s adversarial approach. ___ 7:15 p.m. White House press secretary Jen Psaki is delivering the first news briefing of Joe Biden’s presidency, a once standard part of past administrations that was largely sidelined during the Trump era. Psaki said Wednesday that she will bring truth and transparency to the White House briefing room, a clear reference to her predecessors under President Donald Trump. The Trump administration took an openly combative tone with the news media. Sean Spicer, who was Trump’s first press secretary, set the tenor four years ago by claiming that the audience at Trump’s inauguration was the largest in history, despite photographic evidence to the contrary. ___ 7:10 p.m. The Senate has voted to confirm Avril Haines as the new director of national intelligence, giving President Joe Biden the first member of his Cabinet. The 84-10 vote by the Senate on Wednesday came after senators agreed to fast-track her nomination. Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said it was fitting that Haines was confirmed first. He said the intelligence post is of “critical importance to the country.” Haines told the Senate Intelligence Committee at a confirmation hearing Tuesday that China would be an important focus of the Biden administration. She said she sees her role as speaking “truth to power” and delivering accurate and apolitical intelligence even if it is uncomfortable or inconvenient for the administration. The Senate was able to vote quickly on the nomination, and bypass a committee vote, after Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton dropped his objection. Cotton had said he wanted to hear from Haines on the Bush-era CIA interrogation program before he agreed to move forward. Haines was a deputy CIA director in the Obama administration. ___ 6:35 p.m. The federal government has launched a new website that will serve as a clearinghouse for records from former President Donald Trump’s administration. The National Archives and Records Administration announced the website on Wednesday. Eventually, it will be a repository of archived Trump-era documents, including his White House website and social media accounts. It will also offer information about accessing other records from Trump’s tenure. The agency maintains records going back to President Herbert Hoover’s administration, which ended in 1933. But there are questions about how meticulous the Trump administration was about keeping records. Trump was cavalier about a law requiring their preservation. He had a habit of ripping up documents before tossing them out. That’s led some historians and archivists to worry that there will be a gaping hole in the history of Trump’s tumultuous four years in office. ___ 6:30 p.m. President Joe Biden has given the Oval Office a slight makeover. Biden revealed the new décor Wednesday as he invited reporters into his new office to watch him sign a series of executive orders hours after he took office. A bust of Cesar Chavez, the labour leader and civil rights activist, is nestled among an array of framed family photos displayed on a desk behind the new president. Benjamin Franklin peers down at Biden from a portrait on a nearby wall. Biden brought a dark blue rug out of storage to replace a lighter colored one installed by former President Donald Trump. One office feature remains: Biden is also using what’s known as the Resolute Desk because it was built from oak used in the British Arctic exploration ship HMS Resolute. Trump used that desk, too. ___ 6:15 p.m. President Joe Biden is reminding his federal appointees and staff that “we work for the people” and is calling on them to be “decent, honourable and smart.” Biden swore in nearly 1,000 federal appointees and staff in a virtual ceremony in the State Dining Room at the White House on Wednesday evening. He spoke from behind a lectern, while the appointees appeared at the event via video streams set up on a series of television screens. Biden said that if any of his appointees treat a colleague with disrespect, he will fire them “on the spot.” He said that mindset had been missing in President Donald Trump’s White House. The new president also told the group that “we have such an awful lot to do” and said that containing the pandemic and administering COVID-19 vaccines will be the “most consequential logistical thing that’s ever been done in the United States.” He said he’s “going to make mistakes” but promised during their swearing-in that he will ”acknowledge them” when he does. ___ 5:40 p.m. One of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s signature achievements has met an abrupt end as a large placard enunciating his “professional ethos” was removed from the State Department’s main entrance. Workers removed the giant sign from the department’s C Street lobby on Wednesday shortly after President Joe Biden was inaugurated. The placard had been prominently placed near a plaque honouring foreign service staff who died while serving their country, but many career diplomats considered it insulting and filled with unnecessary platitudes. Department spokesperson Ned Price says, “We are confident that our colleagues do not need a reminder of the values we share.” Pompeo unveiled his “ethos” statement to great fanfare in April 2019 with an eye toward improving morale. But it had the opposite effect, and many complained it was condescending. Pompeo foes had accused the secretary and some of his top aides of failing to abide by the precepts of the ethos statement themselves, particularly during Trump’s Ukraine-related impeachment, when they decided not to publicly defend career diplomats. ___ 5:20 p.m. President Joe Biden has signed a series of executive orders from the Oval Office hours after his inauguration. Biden wore a mask while seated behind the Resolute Desk with a stack of orders early Wednesday evening. He said there was “no time to start like today.” The first order Biden signed was related to the coronavirus pandemic. He also signed an order reentering the U.S. into the Paris climate accord. While his predecessor Donald Trump broke long-standing practice by skipping Biden’s inauguration, he did follow through on one tradition and left behind a letter for Biden. The new Democratic president said Trump “wrote a very generous letter.” But Biden said he wouldn’t reveal its contents until he had a chance to speak with Trump. ___ 4:55 p.m. President Joe Biden has directed that federal agencies halt all rulemaking until his administration has time to review proposed regulations. White House chief of staff Ron Klain announced the move in a memo to the heads of executive departments and agencies Wednesday afternoon, hours after Biden was sworn in as the nation’s 46th president. The regulatory freeze order is a staple of presidential transitions, allowing the incoming administration to review the pending actions of their predecessors. ___ 4:50 p.m. Three new Democratic senators have been sworn in to office by Vice-President Kamala Harris. That means their party now has control of the White House and Congress for the first time in a decade. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff both won Senate runoff elections in Georgia earlier this month, defeating Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. Alex Padilla was appointed by California’s governor to fill Harris’ seat. Wednesday was Harris’ first time presiding over the Senate. Warnock is Georgia’s first Black senator, and Padilla is California’s first Hispanic senator. Ossoff is Georgia’s first Jewish senator and, at 33, the Senate’s youngest sitting member. The Senate is now divided 50-50. Democrats will be in control because the vice-president casts tiebreaking votes in the chamber. Democrats have a 221-211 House majority, with three vacancies. Democrats last controlled the White House, Senate and House in January 2011. ___ 4:40 p.m. The New Radicals reunited after more than 20 years to virtually perform their 1998 hit “You Get What You Give” at the celebration for President Joe Biden’s inauguration. The anthem about social and political issues affecting America at the turn of the millennium raised eyebrows when it was announced for Wednesday’s festivities, but has strong connections to the president and vice-president. In Biden’s 2017 autobiography, “Promise Me, Dad,” he wrote that “You Get What You Give” became the family’s theme song when his son Beau was battling cancer. The song was also used on the campaign trail as the theme for Kamala Harris’ husband, Doug Emhoff, at rallies. “This whole damn world could fall apart/You’ll be okay, follow your heart,” go some of the lyrics. “Don’t give up, you’ve got a reason to live/Can’t forget, we only get what we give.” The new administration also was serenaded — virtually, of course — by some of the funkiest artists in American music: Earth, Wind & Fire and Niles Rogers with Kathy Sledge. Three members of Earth Wind & Fire — Philip Bailey, Verdine White, Ralph Johnson — performed their hit “Sing a Song,” while Rogers and Sledge combined for a version of Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family.” The performances, interspliced with marching bands, varied performances and stories from Biden-Harris supporters, played on social media and online after the Biden and Harris families concluded the inauguration parade. ___ 4:20 p.m. Vice-President Kamala Harris has entered her new office building for the first time in her new role. Harris was joined Wednesday by her husband, Doug Emhoff, as she entered the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which houses the vice-president’s office and is located near the White House. The marching band of her alma mater, Howard University, helped lead Harris’ procession. She was joined by her extended family and held hands with one of her young grandnieces, who was beaming and wearing a fur coat meant to mimic one Harris wore as a child. Shouts of “We love you!” greeted her as she walked along the procession route. She waved at White House staffers gathered to watch and gave one final wave to the crowd before entering the building. ___ 3:50 p.m. President Joe Biden has entered the White House for the first time as chief executive after walking an abbreviated parade route, still wearing his protective mask amid sounds of “Hail to the Chief.” The 46th president and first lady Jill Biden walked through a military cordon lining the White House driveway with the flags of U.S. states, leading the first couple to the main entrance under the North Portico on Wednesday. Biden was expected to immediately begin working, with a stack of executive orders on immigration and other matters awaiting his signature. The final ceremonial flourish completed an abbreviated inaugural afternoon unlike any Washington has seen, with Biden being seen in person by only a relative smattering of Americans given security lockdowns after the Jan. 6 Capitol attack and public health protocols amid the ongoing pandemic. ___ 3:45 p.m. President Joe Biden and his family have concluded his inaugural parade by walking a final short distance of the route to the White House. Biden, his wife, Jill Biden, their children and their grandchildren held hands Wednesday afternoon as they strolled, waving to a mostly nonexistent crowd because of coronavirus social distancing guidelines. Biden jogged over to the sidelines several times to stop to talk to reporters and spectators. The first family arrived on the White House grounds with a band playing and press in tow. Joe and Jill Biden completed the trip by embracing at the entrance to the White House while the band played “Hail to the Chief.” ___ 3:35 p.m. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina says he hopes Donald Trump will continue to be the leader of the Republican Party after his election defeat and second impeachment. The Republican senator said Wednesday during an interview on Fox News that “if you’re wanting to erase Donald Trump from the party, you’re going to get erased.” Over the course of Trump’s one-term presidency, Graham went from being one of his fiercest critics to being one of his most prominent allies in Congress. Graham said it was inappropriate for Republicans in Congress to try to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory and called Trump’s comments ahead of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot “a big mistake.” But he says ultimately that it wasn’t a crime and that he blames “the people that came into the Capitol, not him.” He said he thinks there would be a lot of support for Trump if he ran again in 2024. He added: “But I’m not worried about 2024. I want to help Biden where I can, I want to get this country back on track.” ___ 3:25 p.m. Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton says it really lifted her heart to see Joe Biden sworn in as president on the same platform that supporters of President Donald Trump climbed when they attacked the Capitol two weeks ago. Clinton and her husband, the former President Bill Clinton, attended Wednesday’s inauguration of Biden. Afterward, she told The Associated Press that she was “relieved and grateful” to see Biden sworn in with a peaceful transition of power. That’s been taken for granted in the U.S. for over two centuries. But two weeks ago, hundreds of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol in an attempt to stop Congress from formally certifying Biden’s election victory over Trump. The House impeached Trump a week later on a charge of inciting an insurrection. Clinton says she thinks it was meaningful to many Americans to see Biden take his oath of office where, “just a few weeks ago, marauders and terrorists had been attempting to stop democracy.” Trump defeated Clinton for the presidency in 2016. ___ 3:15 p.m. The highest-ranking Black member of Congress says former President George W. Bush lauded his role as a “saviour” in helping get President Joe Biden elected to the White House. U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said Wednesday on a call with reporters that the Republican former president told him ahead of the inaugural ceremony that, if he had not given Biden the boost he did ahead of South Carolina’s primary, “we would not be having this transfer of power today.” Clyburn says Bush went on to say that Biden was “the only one who could have defeated the incumbent president,” Donald Trump. Trump and the Bush family didn’t get along. Clyburn’s pivotal endorsement ahead of South Carolina’s Democratic primary helped propel Biden to the nomination. Biden won South Carolina by a margin of nearly 30 points. Clyburn, South Carolina’s only Democratic representative in Congress, is the dean of the state’s Democrats and the third-ranking member of the U.S. House. ___ 3:05 p.m. President Joe Biden has spent a few of the first moments of his term at Arlington National Cemetery, honouring fallen veterans with three former presidents and their families. The president, first lady Jill Biden, and newly sworn-in Vice-President Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, presided over a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider on Wednesday. After cannon fire rumbled in the distance, Biden saluted as a military band played the national anthem. Biden and Harris later briefly touched the wreath before bowing their heads in prayer. The president also made the sign of the cross, then he and Harris stood somberly for the playing of taps. Joining them at the ceremony were former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura and former President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary. Former President Donald Trump flew to Florida before Biden was sworn into office. The Associated Press
A federally-funded environmental monitoring institute could be in Fort Chipewyan’s future as the Mikisew Cree First Nation (MCFN) pushes for a local research hub. In late December, Parks Canada announced $59.9 million during the next three years to fund conservation efforts in Wood Buffalo National Park. MCFN expects some funding to support the creation of the Delta Institute, an environmental research and monitoring group that leadership has been planning for more than three years. “This place could really be an example of how Indigenous knowledge and Western science could work together,” said Melody Lepine, director of government and industry relations for MCFN. “It’s about collaboration and showing that we want to protect our delta.” Fort Chipewyan is home to the Peace-Athabasca Delta, the largest freshwater inland river delta in North America. Lepine said the delta attracts scientists and researchers from all over the world. The Delta Institute would be based in Fort Chipewyan and have smaller field stations across the delta. This would give scientists visiting the community a home base for research trips. Youth and elders could also be brought to field stations for educational trips. Lepine hopes this will make it easier for Fort Chipewyan residents to learn about monitoring and research projects in the Peace-Athabasca Delta. Scientists and researchers will often come to Fort Chipewyan to study the delta, but won’t always share their findings locally, said Lepine. The Delta Institute requires scientists and researchers to collaborate with community knowledge holders in their studies. This would help preserve research for future generations. “They collect their data and they often go back to their academic world,” said Lepine. “What was that study about? How can we use those results in protecting and managing the delta?” Much of the research Fort Chipewyan’s leaders want to preserve include interviews with elders and knowledge holders. For MCFN, preserving Indigenous cultural knowledge is as important as studying Western science. “We are going to make sure those worldviews are balanced,” said Lepine. “Strong preservations of knowledge can be shared to manage very complex issues such as managing ecosystem health, conservation and wildlife management.” Since 2014, MCFN and the UNESCO World Heritage Committee have asked the federal government to help reverse the deterioration of the Peace-Athabasca Delta, which has seen water levels drop for years. The Delta Institute has not yet been approved, but Lepine said Parks Canada is enthusiastic about the project and potential roles in conservation efforts. “The Cree, Dene and Métis people were in that delta long before it became a World Heritage Site and long before it became a national park,” she said. “The institute would be an important instrument to reflect the sacredness of this place.” email@example.com Sarah Williscraft, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort McMurray Today
The township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands has passed its 2021 budget and there's slightly better news for property owners. The township's preliminary budget had proposed a 6.7-per-cent increase to the municipal tax rate, but new money received from the province means the township will only be increasing the municipal rate by six per cent. "The 2021 revised budget information includes the Safe Restart funding in the amount of $72,000 which reduces the revenue required to be raised by the property tax levy," wrote Kate Tindal, township treasurer, in her report to council. The education portion of property taxes is remaining flat this year, and while the county was proposing a 1.5-per-cent increase, there seems to be little appetite around the county table for such a hike. "I had county budget today, and it's very clear to me that the majority will not accept a 1.5-per-cent increase, although no decisions have been made," Mayor Corinna Smith-Gatcke told council members on Monday, adding "it's likely to be a one-per-cent increase or less." If the counties raise taxes by one per cent, that will translate to a 3.1-per-cent overall annual increase in property taxes for residents of Leeds and the Thousand Islands or an additional $56.90 per year on the average home valued at $196,000. The 2021 township's budget includes a freeze on both step increases and annual cost of living adjustments to all council, non-union, management and supervisory salaries. The salary freeze was not initiated by council though it was readily supported by all council members. "The salary freeze was my initiative with the support of the senior management team," said Stephen Donachey, the township's chief executive officer. The biggest impact on the township budget in 2021 is the drastic reduction in casino revenues. The township has for years relied on about $1.5 million in casino money to fund township reserves, but this year, Tindal is taking a cautious approach and only projecting revenue of about $100,000, a dizzying $1.4 million drop. That means that the township has to fund its own reserves from tax rates and service revenues. "We're now dealing with the same reality that every other municipality that doesn't have a casino has to deal with every year – we don't have the golden goose to top up our coffers," pointed out Coun. Terry Fodey. Although Coun. Brian Mabee retained some concerns over passing the final budget before the county levy is known, every council member expressed support for the budget that was created. "Our budget this year was very tight and very skinny and I appreciate the effort that went into developing it," said Coun. Mark Jamison. Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
Everyone wants a PET scanner, but not everyone knows what they do. In a nutshell, they pinpoint problem spots in a patient's body so a specialist can consider treatment options. While they are used for heart or neurological anomalies, they are most commonly used in seeking out cancerous tumours. Unlike a CT (computerized tomography) scanner, which uses X-rays to produce a 3-D image of the body, a PET (positron emission tomography) scanner detects tiny “particles” of light, or protons, that are emitted by a radioactive substance injected into the body. The substance used for PET scans emits positrons, which are no bigger than electrons. The amount of radiation is very low and safe. In fact, when they combine with electrons in the body, they are destroyed and give off the tiny specks of light that the machine picks up. The positrons injected are often attached to molecules of sugar called fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG). Why sugar? Because cancer cells are more aggressive and grow at a faster rate, consuming sugar in the process. The radioactive sugar tends to accumulate around these cells. The result is an eerie glow that shows up on the screen, and the intensity of that glow can even indicate how aggressive the cancer is. Often, a PET scan is done in conjunction with a CT scan and the two merged through computer software. This gives a better framework to pinpoint the glowing tumour. Similar to a PET scanner is a SPECT scanner (ingle-photon emission computerized tomography), except the isotopes used in this case emit gamma rays. Their purpose is to show how a patient's organs are working. They can show how blood flows to the heart and which areas of the brain are more active or less active. Peter Jackson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
The City of Vaughan’s lone decision to close its outdoor amenities amid Ontario’s stay-at-home order has sparked a debate on whether some restrictions to curb the spread can do more harm than good. Vaughan announced last Friday it would close its outdoor skating rinks, a toboggan hill and a dog park effective immediately. The decision, the city said, is in response to rising cases of COVID-19 and follows the province’s stay-at-home order, which came into effect late last week. The closure has left experts perplexed and residents upset — one of whom taped a video that has since circulated across social media of a city employee salting a skating rink to prevent people from using it. Many have argued the move is a misguided public health measure that could have adverse effects on the mental and physical health of residents. Vaughan remains the only city in the Greater Toronto Area to have taken this measure. Toronto’s public skating rinks remain open to allow residents to exercise. Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown tweeted on Monday his city will not be closing its outdoor amenities, “regardless of what some municipalities have been doing on their own accord.” “Outdoor activities are low risk, good for physical fitness and much needed for mental health during the current lockdown,” Brown said in a series of tweets, adding Brampton will move to add four new artificial rinks in addition to existing ones. In its release, the City of Vaughan said decisions to close or open amenities are “informed by Vaughan-specific data and reflect guidance issued by York Region Public Health.” York Region has 1,833 active cases as of Wednesday, accounting for 5.7 per cent of current cases in the province. Meanwhile, Toronto, where rinks remain open, is home to 26 per cent of Ontario’s cases. The differing policies on outdoor amenities by GTA cities may also be tied to messaging by the Government of Ontario, which has been criticized by some as confusing. In response to a request for clarification, a spokesperson for Health Minister Christine Elliott said “outdoor ice rinks, tobogganing hills and parks and recreational areas are permitted to open” during Ontario’s stay-at-home order, but municipalities can have additional targeted restrictions in their region if they choose to. A spokesperson for the City of Vaughan said in a statement that the city was “the first municipality in York Region to declare a state of emergency” in response to COVID-19, and closing its rinks is yet another example of the city’s “disciplined, responsible and measured approach.” The decision to close outdoor recreational amenities has already been challenged by Vaughan councillor Alan Shefman, who put forward a motion asking the city to reopen outdoor rinks with additional safety measures. Council will vote on the motion on Jan. 26. But for now, rinks in Vaughan will remain closed — a decision that Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Toronto, believes is misguided. “Any steps and policies that promote safe outdoor activity is clearly the right path forward,” said Bogoch, who also serves as a member of Ontario’s vaccine task force. Bogoch said he agrees more with Brampton’s decision to keep rinks open and build on existing outdoor amenities as they pose a minimal risk for COVID-19 spread. “We know that outdoor venues are much, much safer compared to indoor venues,” Bogoch added. “Of course, nothing in the COVID era is going to be a hundred per cent safe, but we know outdoor venues are way lower risk.” Bogoch said it’s important to keep outdoor amenities open, including outdoor skating rinks and hiking trails, so that residents have a chance to catch fresh air and get exercise in the midst of a dreary, dark second wave of infections. He added those activities can be done safely if people wore a mask and if population control was regulated on amenities to avoid overcrowding. “With us being neck deep in the second wave, we should be promoting healthy and safe activities and behaviours that promote both physical and mental health,” Bogoch said. Mental health is a big factor to why outdoor amenities should stay open, said Steve Joordens, a psychology professor at the University of Toronto. “They provide a real good mental health gain at a small physical health cost,” Joordens said. People, he added, have an innate nature of being social, and promoting activities that can allow this with minimal risk will prevent them from breaking the rules and engaging in riskier behaviour and gathering indoors. “The limbic system will always take over the frontal lobe, it’s much older and more powerful,” Joordens said, explaining how emotional needs can often trump practical needs in the human brain. “If we close down all the public areas for people to be interacting, then we’re going to drive them into the private areas where they’re probably still going to do it … and that’s more dangerous,” Joordens said. Nadine Yousif, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
WASHINGTON — Vice-President Kamala Harris broke the barrier that has kept men at the top ranks of American power for more than two centuries when she took the oath Wednesday to hold the nation's second-highest office. Hours after she was sworn in as the first female U.S. vice-president — and the first Black woman and person of South Asian descent in the role — she cast the moment as one that embodied “American aspiration." “Even in dark times we not only dream, we do. We not only see what has been, we see what can be," she said in brief remarks outside the Lincoln Memorial. “We are bold, fearless and ambitious. We are undaunted in our belief that we shall overcome, that we will rise up." For Harris, the day was steeped in history and significance in more ways than one. She was escorted to the podium by Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, the officer who single-handedly took on a mob of Trump supporters as they tried to breach the Senate floor during the Capitol insurrection, and she was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the first woman of colour on the court, on a Bible that once belonged to former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. She wore a deep purple dress and coat created by two emerging Black designers. Her rise is historic in any context, another moment when a stubborn boundary falls away, expanding the idea of what's possible in American politics. But it's particularly meaningful because Harris takes office at a moment when Americans are grappling over institutional racism and confronting a pandemic that has disproportionately devastated Black and brown communities. Those close to Harris say she'll bring an important — and often missing — perspective to the debates on how to overcome the many hurdles facing the new administration. “In many folks' lifetimes, we experienced a segregated United States," said Lateefah Simon, a civil rights advocate and longtime Harris friend and mentee. “You will now have a Black woman who will walk into the White House not as a guest but as a second in command of the free world." Harris — the child of immigrants, a stepmother of two and the wife of a Jewish man — “carries an intersectional story of so many Americans who are never seen and heard." Later during the procession to the vice-presidential office building, she was led by her alma mater Howard University's marching band and walked while holding the hand of her grandniece and alongside her husband, stepchildren, sister, brother-in-law and nieces. She then quickly got to work, presiding as Senate president for the first time to swear in three new Democratic senators: Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff of Georgia and Alex Padilla of California, Harris' replacement. Harris, 56, moves into the vice presidency just four years after she first came to Washington as a senator from California, where she'd served as attorney general and as San Francisco's district attorney. She had expected to work with a White House run by Hillary Clinton, but President Donald Trump's victory quickly scrambled the nation's capital and set the stage for the rise of a new class of Democratic stars. Her own presidential bid fizzled, but her rise continued when President Joe Biden chose her as his running mate. Wednesday evening, she urged Americans to join Biden's call for “the courage to see beyond crisis, to do what is hard, to do what is good." With Trump absent from the inauguration, Harris and her husband, Douglas Emhoff, took on the symbolic duty of escorting former Vice-President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, out of the Capitol. It's a gesture that would normally be performed by incoming and outgoing presidents. To celebrate the historic day, the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, the nation’s oldest sorority for Black women, which Harris joined at Howard University, declared Wednesday as Soror Kamala D. Harris Day. Members of the sorority watching the celebrations across the country were clad in pearls, as was Harris, and the sorority's pink and green colours. “There is a pride I can’t put into words,” said Elizabeth Shelby, a member of the sorority's Alpha Psi chapter, who watched from her home in Nashville, Tennessee. “It is such a joy to see her rise to this place in our country. It is such a joy to know that she is one of us, that she represents us.” Biden, in his inaugural address, reflected on the 1913 march for women's suffrage the day before President Woodrow Wilson's inauguration, during which some marchers were heckled and attacked. “Today, we mark the swearing in of the first woman in American history elected to national office, Vice-President Kamala Harris. Don't tell me things can't change," Biden said. As vice-president, Harris will expand the definition of who gets to hold power in American politics, said Martha S. Jones, a professor of history at Johns Hopkins University and the author of “Vanguard: How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All." People who want to understand Harris and connect with her will have to learn what it means to graduate from a historically Black college and university rather than an Ivy League school. They will have to understand Harris' traditions, like the Hindu celebration of Diwali, Jones said. “Folks are going to have to adapt to her rather than her adapting to them,” Jones said. Her election to the vice presidency should be just the beginning of putting Black women in leadership positions, Jones said, particularly after the role Black women played in organizing and turning out voters in the November election. “We will all learn what happens to the kind of capacities and insights of Black women in politics when those capacities and insights are permitted to lead,” Jones said. __ Ronayne reported from Sacramento, California. Associated Press journalist Christine Fernando in Chicago contributed. Kathleen Ronayne And Alexandra Jaffe, The Associated Press
Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole vowed to ban Derek Sloan from running for the party again and said he would seek his ejection from the Conservative caucus earlier this week.