This pup is in holiday mode as it enjoys special treatment from its owner. Too cute!
This pup is in holiday mode as it enjoys special treatment from its owner. Too cute!
WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden's forthcoming immigration plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscoring that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly. In a further complication, several pro-immigration groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratoriums on deportations, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigration push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals' demands illustrated the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump's restrictive and often harsh immigration policies come to an end. “It simply wouldn't have happened without us," Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden's victory. “So we are now in a powerful position." Biden plans to introduce the legislation shortly after being inaugurated Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that's defied major congressional action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump's impeachment trial, confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber's top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him" on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress. Biden's proposal would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden's transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity. With an eye toward discouraging a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package's route to citizenship would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditional trade-off of dramatically enhanced border security that's helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday. “A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., often a central player in Senate immigration battles. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a Monday tweet. That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favours curbing immigration. “Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run," Krikorian said. Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigration, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigration reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible." He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOP-run House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8" senators that helped win Senate approval. Under Biden's legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they pursue citizenship. For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. Biden is also expected to take swift executive actions, which require no congressional action, to reverse other Trump immigration actions. These include ending to the prohibition on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries. The legislation represents Biden's bid to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with the GOP to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades. That kind of major win, even if it involves compromise, could be critical for Biden. He'll be seeking legislative victories in a Congress where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities, like rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending. Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. Democrats currently control the House 222-211, with two vacancies. ___ Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego also contributed to this report. Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA is considering a second firing of its moon rocket engines after a critical test came up short over the weekend, a move that could bump the first flight in the Artemis lunar-landing program into next year. The space agency had aimed to launch its new Space Launch System, or SLS, rocket and an empty Orion capsule by the end of this year, with the capsule flying to the moon and back as a prelude to crew missions. But that date could be in jeopardy following Saturday’s aborted test. “We have a shot at flying it this year, but we need to get through this next step," said Kathy Lueders, head of NASA's human spaceflight office. All four engines fired for barely a minute, rather than the intended eight minutes, on the test stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The countdown rehearsal for the 212-foot (65-meter) core stage — made by Boeing — included the liquid hydrogen and oxygen tanks, as well as the all necessary computers and electronics. On Tuesday, NASA attributed the automatic shutdown to the strict test limits meant to protect the core stage so it can be used on the first Artemis flight. The hydraulic system for one engine exceeded safety parameters, officials said, and flight computers shut everything down 67 seconds into the ignition. Two other engine-related issues also occurred. NASA said it can adjust the test limits if a second test is deemed necessary, to prevent another premature shutdown. Engineers will continue to analyze the data, as managers debate the pros and cons of proceeding with a second test firing at Stennis or shipping the rocket straight to Florida's Kennedy Space Center for launch preparations. Some of that Kennedy work might be able to be streamlined, Lueders said. This core stage can be loaded with super-cold fuel no more than nine times, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters Tuesday evening. A second full-blown test firing would reduce the remaining number of fill-ups. The Artemis program is working to put astronauts back on the moon by 2024, a deadline set by the Trump administration. It's uncertain how the incoming White House will approach that timeline. In its annual report Tuesday, the Aereospace Safety Advisory Panel urged NASA to develop a realistic schedule for its Artemis moon program and called into question the 2024 date for returning astronauts to the lunar surface. On the eve of his departure from NASA, Bridenstine, a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma, stressed that key programs like Artemis need to encompass multiple administrations, decades and even generations. It's crucial , he said, that "we've got buy-in and support from all of America and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.” ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press
FREDERICTON — More than half of New Brunswick was moved to the red level of the province's COVID-19 recovery plan as Premier Blaine Higgs warned Tuesday of even more severe measures if the spread of the virus doesn't slow. Health officials reported one new death and 31 new COVID-19 cases in the province Tuesday, with 21 of them in the Edmundston region, which entered the red level Monday. The Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John zones were to join Edmundston as of midnight Tuesday. At the red level, gyms, salons and recreational facilities must close, and restaurants can only offer takeout or delivery. Outdoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of five people, with masks and physical distancing. "We have had some success in slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus across our province, and we have succeeded because we acted swiftly and decisively," chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said Tuesday. "We haven't waited, as some other jurisdictions have done, until critical levels have been breached." Russell called the increase in cases across the province this month alarming. "The threat it poses to our health-care system and the well-being of our citizens cannot be ignored," she said. Russell said the death of a person in their 80s at the Parkland Saint John long-term care facility brings to 13 the number of COVID-related deaths in the province. There are currently 316 active cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick, and there have now been more than 1,000 cases since the pandemic began. Four hundred of those have been in the last 30 days. Russell said many of the new cases were spread through large social gatherings, such as parties and holiday gatherings around Christmas and New Year's. Higgs said the province will consider imposing more stringent measures if the latest restrictions don't limit the spread of the virus. "We are not making enough progress with the current measures that are in place," he said. "We know there are more cases in these zones that exist but have not yet tested positive, and we cannot take the risk of potentially overwhelming our hospitals." He said a continuing rise in case numbers could mean a return to a full lockdown as was in place in March, with schools closed and people staying home except to buy essential items. Higgs said the all-party COVID cabinet committee would meet again Thursday to discuss next steps. "Public health is currently working to determine exactly what a lockdown would look like if we need to take this additional step," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press
Netflix Inc said on Tuesday its global subscriber rolls crossed 200 million at the end of 2020 and projected it will no longer need to borrow billions of dollars to finance its broad slate of TV shows and movies. Shares of Netflix rose nearly 13% in extended trading as the financial milestone validated the company's strategy of going into debt to take on big Hollywood studios with a flood of its own programming in multiple languages. The world's largest streaming service had raised $15 billion through debt in less than a decade.
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — Mayor John Spencer considers himself and his town lucky: though Port aux Basques, N.L., is a nine-hour drive away from specialized health care in St. John's, at least it's connected by a modern highway. Residents in need of cancer care in such nearby towns as Isle aux Morts or Burnt Islands first have to drive a pockmarked, two-lane road through the crags of Newfoundland's southwestern tip before they even hit the main route to the capital. Spencer emphasizes there is no resettlement program at play. "But it's happening," he said in an interview Tuesday. "People are moving to areas where they can avail of services, and medical is number one." Newfoundland and Labrador's crushing debt and plans for an economic recovery have so far dominated discussion since Liberal Leader Andrew Furey called an election Friday. But on Monday, as Furey stood outside a long-term care centre to announce improvements, hands reddening in the cold, the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association flipped the switch on its own campaign pleading with party leaders to address critical problems in health care, beginning with the 90,000 people in the province — one in six residents — who don't have a family doctor. "These people are more likely to be admitted to hospital, more likely to be treated by multiple providers who do not know them well, and are more likely to have unnecessary tests," Dr. Lynette Powell, the association's president, told reporters. Powell is also a family physician in Grand Falls-Windsor, in central Newfoundland. In an interview Tuesday, Powell said many young Newfoundland and Labrador physicians are put off by the fee-for-service payment structure, which puts an emphasis on quantity rather than quality of care. "High volumes are what's rewarded, and most young physicians coming out are not trained to see huge volumes of patients. They're trained to provide good quality care." It also leads to burnout, Powell said — a claim backed up by a recent report from the Harris Centre at Memorial University in St. John's, which says 36 per cent of the province's physicians are dissatisfied with their work-life balance, compared to 26 per cent in Canada. Fourteen per cent had plans to leave the province, whereas the same was true for just three per cent of doctors elsewhere in Canada. The medical association is asking leaders to set goals for retaining more graduates from Memorial University's medical school. Powell stresses that people who grew up in Newfoundland and Labrador want to stay, doctors included. But they can easily wind up the only medical professional in town, always on call, and always overworked, she said. "It's all well and fine to live in rural Newfoundland and have a Ski-Doo, but if you can never get on it, you've lost some of why we stay here," she said. Newfoundland and Labrador is the most sparsely-populated province in the country, as well as the oldest and most rapidly aging, particularly in rural areas. Spencer estimates the average age in Port aux Basques is about 55. That makes for an expensive, challenging health-care system, Powell acknowledges. That same report that looked at physician satisfaction says that even with a shortage, Newfoundland and Labrador has the highest number of family physicians per capita in Canada. The province estimates it will spend $3.4 billion dollars, or 40 per cent of its budget, on health care this fiscal year. Powell said the association supports Furey's economic task force, assembled in the fall to look at the how the province can restructure its services to be more cost-effective. The Progressive Conservatives and the NDP have been critical of the team, saying it's likely to recommend privatization and austerity measures. Voters will head to the polls on Feb. 13 before seeing a first draft of the team's recommendations, due on Feb. 28. Furey, a surgeon, has acknowledged the association's concerns and said his party is committing to filling gaps in the system. On Tuesday, he promised to invest more in telehealth and digital platforms allowing patients to connect with doctors virtually. Spencer said he supposes that telehealth services are the way things have to go. He knows of people in his community who need medical care in St. John's, and simply can't afford the long commute and the costs of hotels. "We know the gap is widening in relation to those who have and those who don't have, and it becomes very, very difficult," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Troops in riot gear lined the sidewalks, but there were no crowds. Armored vehicles and concrete barriers blocked empty streets. Miles of fencing cordoned off many of the nation's most familiar landmarks. Joe Biden was safely sworn in as president in a Washington on edge, two weeks after rioters loyal to former President Donald Trump besieged the Capitol. Law enforcement officials contended not only with the potential for outside threats but also with rising concerns about an insider attack. Officials monitored members of far-right extremist and militia groups, increasingly concerned about the risk they could stream into Washington and spark violent confrontations, a law enforcement official said. There were a few scattered arrests but no major protests or serious disruptions in the city during Biden's inauguration ceremony. As Biden put it in his address: “Here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever.” After the deadly attack that killed five on Jan. 6, the Secret Service stepped up security for the inauguration early, essentially locking down the nation's capital. More than 25,000 troops and police were called to duty. The National Mall was closed. Checkpoints were set up at intersections. In the hours before the event, federal agents monitored “concerning online chatter,” which included an array of threats against elected officials and discussions about ways to infiltrate the inauguration, the official said. In right-wing online chat groups, believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory expressed disappointment that top Democrats were not arrested for sex trafficking and that Trump did not seize a second term. Twelve National Guard members were removed from the security operation a day earlier after vetting by the FBI, including two who had made extremist statements in posts or texts about Wednesday's event. Pentagon officials would not give details on the statements. The FBI vetted all 25,000 members in an extraordinary security effort in part over the presence of some ex-military in the riot. Two other U.S. officials told The Associated Press that all 12 were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or to have posted extremist views online. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe groups the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials told the AP they had all been removed because of “security liabilities.” The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, confirmed that Guard members had been removed and sent home, but said only two cases were related to inappropriate comments or texts related to the inauguration. He said the other 10 cases were for issues that may involve previous criminal behaviour or activities but were not directly related to the inaugural event. The FBI also warned law enforcement officials about the possibility that members of right-wing fringe groups could pose as National Guard troops, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter. Investigators in Washington were particularly worried that members of right-wing extremist groups and militias, like the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, would descend on Washington to spark violence, the law enforcement officials said. Some of the groups are known to recruit former military personnel, to train extensively and to have frequented anti-government and political protests. In addition to the thousands of National Guard troops, hundreds of law enforcement officers from agencies around the country were also brought into Washington. The increased security is likely to remain in the nation's capital for at least a few more days. ___ Associated Press writers Lolita Baldor in Washington and James LaPorta in Delray Beach, Florida, contributed to this report. Ben Fox, Colleen Long And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Eganville – As silt continues to pile up in the creek between Little Lake Clear and Lake Clear, plans for dredging are on indefinite hold. “Even if we do dredging between the two lakes it will be a snowball effect down the creek,” Bonnechere Valley Works Supervisor Jason Zohr told a committee meeting of council recently. He pointed out the area from Little Lake Clear to Manning Road is very flat and full of sand. “It is still going to hold it back,” he said. Councillor Merv Buckwald questioned the option of suction instead of dredging. “Would that make it more environmentally acceptable?” he asked. Mr. Zohr said he is still trying to find out more information. In his report to council, he said he was told by staff at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry that dredging could potentially have a significant environmental impact on sensitive fisheries in the lake. “They are worried about certain species in the lake because the lake has low oxygen levels,” he said. “Due to the impact, there would have to be an evaluation done before anything were to move forward with dredging,” he said. The issue of dredging or suction also has the problem of where the material would be taken, he said. “The shoreline around the lake is so shallow,” he said. “We would not be able to just push the sand or shoot the sand onto the shoreline.” Councillor Tim Schison said the sediment is looking for a natural way to come in. “For the most part, nature dictates the path taken,” he said. “There is so much sediment and also sticks mixed together in that alley, I don’t know if nature can do anything with it,” he said. This a very bendy corridor which allows for places to plug up, he noted. Coun. Buckwald said Lake Clear has lost a lot of shoreline over the years. “When I was going, there were boathouses between Lake Clear Road and the lake,” he said. “The shoreline was 50 feet out. All that had to go somewhere.” The township has put a lot of work into the area because of this erosion, he added. “That is why we put the rock in there,” he said. “It was going to erode the road.” The last time the creek was dredged was in the 1950s, Mr. Zohr said. Councillor Jack Roesner said this is becoming a problem at the lake. “It’s coming to the point where we are starting to see significant increases each year,” he said. “It is going to back up.” He suggested staff continue to look into options. Mr. Zohr said while he has been in touch with Renfrew Power Generation (RPG), they will not assist in this. He also told council staff at RPG said the Lake Clear water levels are currently 27 centimetres below the licensing levels. “We need to continue to look into things,” Mayor Jennifer Murphy said. She also questioned if the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is concerned about downstream habitats because of this issue. “Every time you touch one point of a water system, you are impacting another point,” Coun. Schison noted. The back up of water at the Petawawa River a few years ago was such an issue that the Remax Building was lost as much of the riverbank crumbled, he added. Coun. Buckwald said something will have to be done with this issue. “We should be on the lookout for any provincial or federal money coming up,” he said. In his report to council Mr. Zohr recommend no action be taken about dredging but staff would continue to monitor the water levels. Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
PORTLAND, Ore. — Plans for a major West Coast liquified natural gas pipeline and export terminal hit a snag Tuesday with federal regulators after a years-long legal battle that has united tribes, environmentalists and a coalition of residents on Oregon's rural southern coast against the proposal. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled that energy company Pembina could not move forward with the proposal without a key clean water permit from the state of Oregon. The U.S. regulatory agency gave its tentative approval to the pipeline last March as long as it secured the necessary state permits, but the Canadian pipeline company has been unable to do so. It had appealed to the commission over the state's clean water permit, arguing that Oregon had waived its authority to issue a clean water certification for the project and therefore its denial of the permit was irrelevant. But the commission found instead that Pembina had never requested the certification and that the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality "could not have waived its authority to issue certification for a request it never received.” The ruling was hailed as a major victory by opponents of Jordan Cove, which would be the first such LNG overseas export terminal in the lower 48 states. The proposed 230-mile (370-kilometre) feeder pipeline would begin in Malin, in southwest Oregon, and end at the city of Coos Bay on the rural Oregon coast. Jordan Cove did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment and it was unclear what next steps the project would take. Opposition to the pipeline has brought together southern Oregon tribes, environmentalists, anglers and coastal residents since 2006. "Thousands of southern Oregonians have raised their voices to stop this project for years and will continue to until the threat of Jordan Cove LNG is gone for good,” said Hannah Sohl, executive director of Rogue Climate. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who has opposed the project, said in a statement on Twitter that she was pleased with the ruling. “At every stage of the regulatory process, I have insisted that the Jordan Cove LNG project must meet Oregon’s rigorous standards for protecting the environment, or it cannot move forward,” she wrote. The outgoing Trump administration has supported energy export projects and in particular Jordan Cove. It had proposed streamlining approval of gas pipelines and other energy projects by limiting states’ certification authorities under the U.S. Clean Water Act. Gillian Flaccus, The Associated Press
Despite an array of challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency responsible for stocking B.C.’s lakes with freshwater fish successfully completed its mission for 2020, ensuring a smooth transition for the recreational fishery going into the new year. The importance of the achievement by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC (FFSBC) is heightened this year with a 20 per cent spike in new licence holders expecting the most from this outdoor pursuit. “It was a huge feat, because this past year was unique given the pandemic,” Andrew Wilson, president of FFSBC said. “We had to develop new protocols, new procedures to ensure we were compliant with the the provincial health officer and WorkSafe BC, and that meant a bit of a rethink on how we were able to culture the fish and deliver them. But at the end of the day we were able to do that. We never got to the place where we thought it wasn’t going to happen.” FFSBC is solely responsible for stocking B.C.’s freshwater lakes on behalf of the provincial government. Throughout 2020 the society stocked 5.63 million rainbow trout, coastal cutthroat trout, eastern brook trout and kokanee into 662 lakes across the province. More than 311,000 steelhead smolts were also raised and released into six rivers in the Lower Mainland, and four rivers on Vancouver Island. The society’s Vancouver Island Trout Hatchery also released 15,306 anadromous coastal cutthroat trout into the Oyster and Quinsam rivers on Vancouver Island. Wilson said once new procedures were in place, operations moved smoothly. He credits the participation of BC Parks, BC Rec Sites and Trails, and BC Hydro to develop workable plans for accessing the bodies of water. Without the completion of the program, Wilson said anglers would have experienced immediate impacts. “At the beginning of the year there were so many unknowns … particularly with the government having to walk that fine line of trying to look after British Columbians while also encouraging them to get outside to stay healthy.” The annual provincial recreational stocking program is funded through the sale of B.C. freshwater fishing licences. In the early stages of the pandemic the society was concerned about deep financial losses in 2020, as many in the tourism sector experienced, but the government’s encouragement for residents get outdoors resulted in a 20 per cent uptake in new freshwater fishing licences sales to B.C. residents. The 16-20-year old category saw the largest gains of 64 per cent. “That 20 per cent increase in resident anglers pretty much offset the 94 per cent decrease in international anglers,” Wilson said. “It is big news. People are getting out and engaging with their backyard, getting out on the water in a really healthy pursuit.” Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
The province urged the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench on Tuesday to dismiss an application for a judicial review of the UCP government's decision to allow open-pit coal mining on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. "There's no getting around the fact that the decision to rescind the coal policy may be seen as an unpopular one to some Albertans," said Melissa Burkett, a lawyer for the government. "However, an unpopular decision is not an unlawful decision," she told the virtual court hearing via video conferencing. Burkett says the courts are not the venue to resolve the issue, arguing such a policy change is within the mandate of elected officials. "This case is a classic example of what happens when courts are turned into political arenas," she said. "The rescission of the coal policy was driven by economic, social, political factors. It was a core, high level policy decision, and it's immune from this court review," she said. Landowners, environmental groups, municipalities and First Nations are hoping the court will force the government to revisit its decision to rescind the province's long-standing coal policy that was brought in under former premier Peter Lougheed in 1976. They're trying to persuade Justice Richard Neufeld to order a judicial review of the decision to rescind the policy that had protected the eastern slopes of the Rockies — and the headwaters that flow from them — for almost 45 years. However, during the two-day hearing that started Tuesday morning, Burkett says the policy is redundant and outdated since the province has since implemented a robust, regulatory framework that would review exploration and mining applications through Alberta's energy regulator. "The coal policy really is obsolete because there's a framework in place now that was not there in 1976." Not obsolete, says ranchers' lawyer Richard Harrison, the lawyer for two ranchers who are seeking the judicial review, argued the nearly half-century old policy is not obsolete. He told the hearing that it's been used as a means to protect the area from coal development for decades. "The coal policy was a document that was consistently enforced by the respondents [the Alberta government] over the course of 44 years," Harrison said. He said it was used as a mechanism to prevent the exploration and development of coal extraction in certain land classifications in southwestern Alberta. "It was used right up until the time that the coal policy was rescinded by the respondents in March of 2020." Harrison says a proposed open-pit coal mine near his clients' property will have a profound effect. Mac Blades is one of the ranchers seeking the judicial review. Harrison says Blades owns land and holds grazing rights for his cattle near an area being explored by Australian-based Atrum Coal. Harrison said a conveyor belt that would be a part of the proposed open pit coal mine would be located near the confluence of the Oldman and Livingstone rivers, a source of water that Blades is licensed to use for his cattle. "The impact of a proposed coal project on my client's ability to earn an income is profound," he said. "It will affect every single aspect of his pecuniary interest on his grazing lease." "And it will affect every single aspect of both my clients' ability to earn an income on those grazing leases," he said. Harrison is expected to conclude his submission to the court Wednesday morning, followed by a response from the Alberta government. Earlier, several groups who plan to seek intervenor status in the request for a judicial review agreed to consolidate, to reduce duplication of their arguments and potentially speed up the hearing process. Justice Neufeld still has to hear arguments from those hoping to join the application. A number of groups were represented during the hearing, including the M.D. of Ranchland, the Alberta Wilderness Association, the Alberta Hiking Association, the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the Livingstone Landowners Group and the Alberta chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. A lawyer representing Cabin Ridge Project Ltd., an Alberta-based coal company, also attended via video link. A request to adjourn the hearing by a lawyer representing the Ermineskin, Kainai, Siksika and Whitefish First Nations was dismissed. Landowners and First Nations behind the legal challenge are expected to argue the government was in breach of their constitutional rights because it had a "duty to consult" them before the policy change was made. If the province's application for a dismissal fails, the actual judicial review would go ahead at some point in the future.
BOSTON — A Massachusetts-based political scientist and author is accused of secretly working for the government of Iran while lobbying U.S. officials on issues like nuclear policy, federal authorities said Tuesday. Kaveh Lotfolah Afrasiabi was arrested by FBI agents at his home in Watertown, Massachusetts, on Monday, officials said. He is charged in New York City federal court with acting and conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of Iran. An email seeking comment was sent to an attorney for Afrasiabi. Afrasiabi appeared before a Boston federal court judge via videoconference during a brief hearing and a detention hearing was scheduled for Friday. Authorities said Afrasiabi, an Iranian citizen and lawful permanent U.S. resident, has been paid by Iranian diplomats assigned to the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations in New York City since at least 2007. At the same time, he made TV appearances, wrote articles and lobbied U.S. officials to support the Iranian government's agenda, officials said. In 2009, Afrasiabi helped an unidentified congressman draft a letter to President Barack Obama about U.S. and Iranian nuclear negotiations, according to court documents. He never disclosed that he was working for Iran, officials said. After the January 2020 U.S. military airstrike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force, Afrasiabi told Iran’s foreign minister and permanent representative to the United Nations that Iran, in response, should “end all inspections and end all information on Iran’s nuclear activities pending a (United Nations Security Council) condemnation of (the United States’) illegal crime,'" according to court documents. Doing so will “strike fear in the heart of enemy” and “weaken Trump and strengthen his opponents,” Afrasiabi wrote, according to court documents. Assistant Attorney General John Demers said Afrasiabi portrayed himself "to Congress, journalists and the American public as a neutral and objective expert on Iran." “Mr. Afrasiabi never disclosed to a Congressman, journalists or others who hold roles of influence in our country that he was being paid by the Iranian government to paint an untruthfully positive picture of the nation," William Sweeney, assistant director-in-charge of the FBI's New York Field Office, said in a statement. Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — The founder and CEO of MyPillow, a vocal and very visible supporter of President Donald Trump, said a backlash against the company has begun after a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol this month. Mike Lindell, who appears in TV commercials hugging the company’s foam-filled pillows, said major retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond and Kohl’s have dropped his products recently. Both companies confirmed the decision to cease carrying the brand Tuesday, but cited flagging sales rather than Lindell’s actions or his support for Trump. “There has been decreased customer demand for MyPillow,” Kohl’s said in an email. Lindell has continued to push bogus claims of election fraud since Trump’s loss to President-elect Joe Biden in the presidential race. MyPillow's logo was also prominently featured on TrumpMarch.com, a website that promoted the Jan. 6 events in Washington, in which rioters stormed the Capitol. That has led people to head to social media to put pressure on stores carrying MyPillow to drop the brand. Lindell said products have also been pulled from online furniture store Wayfair and Texas supermarket chain HEB. Neither company responded to a request for comment. “They’re succumbing to the pressure from these attacks,” Lindell said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I’m one of their bestselling products ever. They’re going to lose out. It’s their loss if they want to succumb to the pressure.” Lindell said he doesn’t regret his election claims or his support of Trump, who he said he first met in 2016. “I stand for what’s right,” said Lindell, who created the MyPillow in 2004 and built the business in Chaska, Minnesota, southwest of Minneapolis. “I’m standing firm.” Aside from the retail pressure, Lindell is also facing potential litigation from Dominion Voting Systems for his accusations that their voting machines played a role in election fraud. The Washington Post reported that Dominion sent Lindell a letter earlier this month stating that they would pursue legal action against him. Lindell said he's conducted his own investigation into the voting machines and hopes Dominion will file its suit quickly so that “all the evidence can come out.” Asked if he played a role in the insurrection of the Capitol, Lindell said he didn’t support it at all. “What are you talking about? I wasn’t even there," he said before abruptly ending the call. “I have to get on another show. Now our conversation ends.” Joseph Pisani And Anne D'Innocenzio, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Connor McDavid collected the puck in the neutral zone and moved right as he crossed the offensive blue line. His eyes and body language suggested he was waiting for a teammate to join the rush. The captain of the Edmonton Oilers had other ideas. McDavid quickly cut back to his left on Morgan Rielly, leaving the Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman flat-footed and in his dust as he turned on the after burners. Then to top things off, the game's best player finished with a lightning-quick backhand forehand move as Toronto chased shadows. That jaw-dropping goal sequence that capped a four-point night on Jan. 6, 2020, resulted in audible gasps inside Scotiabank Arena — back when fans were actually allowed to attend games before COVID-19 — and even brought Wayne Gretzky to his feet. The pandemic has provided plenty of heartache, but one small silver lining is Canada's seven NHL teams being grouped together in the North Division for an abbreviated 2020-21 season. And that means a steady diet of marquee matchups, including Wednesday's first of nine meetings between McDavid's Oilers and Auston Matthews' Leafs. "They're special talents," Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe said. "It's fun, in our case, to coach Auston. But to even just be on the bench for those games is great. "Throughout the division there's elite talent on every team. It's very exciting to have to go against these guys." Matthews and McDavid spent time during the off-season down in Arizona training alongside some other NHLers preparing for a schedule they no doubt knew would see them face off a lot more than the usual two meetings of a normal campaign. "Only positive stuff can come out of that," Matthews, who scored 47 goals in 2019-20, said of those on-ice sessions. "I'm not sure I can say that I figured (McDavid) out because I don't think anybody has or will." The Leafs, who have wins in three of their first four games, will try to at least contain McDavid and Leon Draisaitl — no slouch himself as the reigning Hart Trophy and Art Ross Trophy winner — Wednesday and again Friday in back-to-back Toronto encounters. The Oilers, meanwhile, are looking to build on last regular season — and not their disappointing performance during the summer restart — that saw them accumulate the best record among Canadian franchises before the coronavirus forced the suspension of the schedule. But they should also be in a foul mood after dropping three of four at home to raise the curtain on the current campaign, including consecutive 5-1 and 3-1 losses to Montreal. "We're still trying to figure our team out," Edmonton head coach Dave Tippett said. "We've got to get our competitive levels up. "It will be good for our team to go on the road." The Oilers' power play was one of their strengths last season, finishing atop the league with a success rate of 29.5 per cent, but went a combined 0 for 10 and gave up two short-handed goals in those losses to Montreal. "That's an area that should be one of our strengths," Tippett said. "It wasn't the last two games." The Leafs have shown a lot more defensive cohesion in their last two, a 3-2 weekend victory in Ottawa and Monday's 3-1 home win against Winnipeg, but know McDavid and Draisaitl pose a unique challenge. "They're going to be a very hungry team," Toronto winger Zach Hyman said. "We've got to be ready for them, ready for their speed. You have to be aware when you're on the ice with those elite players, and make sure you're aware where they are and what your role is." Leafs blue-liner Travis Dermott, who played with McDavid in junior, said the idea — easier said than done, of course — is to defend as a five-man unit. "If he's skating from their end down low with speed against our defencemen, it's going to be pretty tough," he said. "We rely on our forwards to try and get in his way at least little bit, make him take a little bit of a longer route to get to us. That's been our game plan so far dealing with speed. "Hopefully we can continue getting in front of guys." Dermott has had the unique opportunity to see both McDavid, who was second in NHL scoring last season behind Draisaitl, and Matthews up close in his still-young career. And having them share this much ice in 2021 will be a treat. "They don't come in just to do their job," Dermott said. "They come in to get better and make everyone else around them better. When I was younger I'd always want to go against Connor because I knew that was going to make me better. "Both those guys are going to be exciting to watch, especially this season with how many times we get to play each other. It's going to be pretty special for fans." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. ___ Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press
The United States swore in its 46th President on Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attended their inauguration in Washington, D.C. with a slew of distinguished guests, but few onlookers as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a need for social distancing.Several past presidents were in attendance, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., however the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, did not attend. Trump flew to his golf club in Florida earlier in the day. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence did attend the ceremony with his wife.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
La ville de Grande-Rivière et de nombreux acteurs de l’industrie de la pêche dénoncent l’inaction de Québec et d’Ottawa vis-à-vis un projet d’agrandissement du parc d’hivernement du port municipal. Amorcées à l’automne 2018, les démarches sont dans une impasse, ministères et gouvernements se renvoyant la balle, au désarroi des élus et des pêcheurs. «On ne demande pas la charité, on veut de l’équité», lance d’emblée le maire de Grande-Rivière, Gino Cyr. Depuis deux ans, son administration multiplie les démarches afin de faire approuver un projet d’agrandissement du parc d’hivernement de la municipalité, sans succès. D’un ministère à l’autre, «on se renvoie la balle», dénonce-t-il. Avec les années, les espaces disponibles dans les parcs de la péninsule gaspésienne se font de plus en plus rares. «Les bateaux sont toujours plus gros et les grands parcs de la région sont presque pleins. Le besoin est criant», explique le homardier et vice-président de l’administration portuaire de Grande-Rivière, Vincent Gallagher-Duguay. Aussi, un nombre grandissant de crabiers des provinces atlantiques viennent entreposer leurs bateaux dans les parcs gaspésiens. Les glaces se libérant plus rapidement du côté québécois, la pêche pourraiy débuter plus tôt. Ces embarcations, souvent plus grosses, ont priorité sur les petits homardiers, qui doivent se trouver d’autres endroits pour passer l’hiver. De nombreux acteurs locaux, allant des associations de pêcheurs jusqu’aux transformateurs, souhaitent donc voir apparaître de nouvelles places pour entreposer les homardiers, comme le demande la Ville de Grande-Rivière. Cette dernière a proposé aux différents ministères un projet qui ferait passer son parc d’hibernation à 48 places pour les petits bateaux. En plus d’ajouter des espaces d’entreposage, l’administration portuaire de Grande-Rivière souhaite installer une grue-portique ainsi qu’une rampe adaptée sur le site, rendant la mise à l’eau et l’hivernation des embarcations beaucoup plus sécuritaires. «En ce moment, on utilise une remorque archaïque, mal adaptée et dangereuse. En 2017, on a échappé un homardier avec cette remorque artisanale. Qui va prendre la responsabilité si un accident survient?», se demande le maire. La communauté met la main à la poche Le coût du projet, estimé à un peu plus de deux millions $, serait en partie assumé par la communauté, qui a déjà récolté 200 000$ en ce sens. Au moyen d’une contribution de leur part, les pêcheurs financeraient 300 000$ supplémentaires si le projet devait voir le jour. La municipalité souhaite que les gouvernements se partagent le reste de la facture, mais elle se bute à des barrières administratives. «Il n’y a pas de flexibilité dans les programmes. Après trois ans de démarches, le ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation (MEI) nous a ramenés à la case départ en faisant valoir la non-admissibilité du projet aux programmes et en renvoyant la responsabilité de ce dossier au MAPAQ qui n’a pas de programme pour soutenir ce genre de projets», dénonce le maire de la municipalité, dont l’économie est étroitement liée à la pêche. M. Cyr dénonce aussi la rigidité du Fonds des pêches du Québec. «La majeure partie des budgets sont toujours disponibles. Encore un exemple éloquent que ce dernier répond très peu aux besoins de l’industrie! Des changements de fond sont nécessaires rapidement». Des précédents sur la Côte-Nord et aux Îles-de-la-Madeleine Les acteurs locaux s’indignent surtout de la différence de traitement qu’a reçu leur projet si on le compare à d’autres installations similaires récemment financées à 100% par les gouvernements. Au cours des dernières années, les Îles-de-la-Madeleine et la Côte-Nord ont toutes deux vu des agrandissements dans leurs parcs d’hivernement, entièrement financés par les gouvernements via des décrets et des enveloppes dédiées. «Nous connaissons le traitement qu’ont reçu les projets des Îles et de la Côte-Nord : Nous sommes aussi des pêcheurs du Québec», conclut le vice-président de l’Administration portuaire de Grande-Rivière. MM. Cyr et Gallagher-Duguay souhaitent obtenir une rencontre avec le ministre de l’Agriculture, des Pêches et de l’Alimentation du Québec, André Lamontagne, dans le but que celui-ci signe un décret pour financer le projet. Simon Carmichael, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Soleil
Pembroke – With only 10 new COVID-19 cases in the last week in the region, Renfrew County and District Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Cushman is encouraging residents to continue to be vigilant as they await the vaccine roll-out. “We are through the middle of January and we are seeing a turn-around,” he said on Monday afternoon. “Keep it up. Let’s bring on the vaccines and get through this.” After weeks of rapidly increasing numbers, the last week has seen the new cases trickle down to one or two a day. Currently there is one person in hospital with COVID from the district. He said they are in an Ottawa hospital and had significant co-morbidity issues. While outbreaks have all but been eliminated with one outbreak remaining at a long-term-care home, he cautioned this can “turn on a dime” and people need to continue to be cautious. Fortunately, area residents can enjoy being outdoors, he said. “We need to keep doing this,” he said. “Renfrew County is not a densely populated urban centre. Get out and get some fresh air. Stick to members of your household.” With December being the worst month for COVID cases, January seems to be improving slightly. He pointed out with seven people in isolation and no new cases on Tuesday, things were looking up. “We are seeing the fruit of the hard work everyone is doing since the Boxing Day lockdown,” he said. This contrasts with December and even the first 10 days in January where the numbers were increasing. The district, which includes not only Renfrew County but Nipissing and South Algonquin, has seen a total of 296 cases of COVID since the pandemic began in March. There has been one death early on. Numbers had begun to spike in November and December but are levelling off now significantly with only seven people currently in self-isolation with a diagnosed case of COVID. “We are seeing the drop off because of the lockdown and co-operation,” he said. With the numbers that low in the county the province might be looking at these numbers and pursuing a more regional approach again, he noted. “I don’t want to speak for Mr. Ford (Ontario Premier Doug Ford),” he said. “Maybe in another week or so we can re-assess, and certain jurisdictions can open up.” If the colour-coding system were in place, Renfrew County would be considered green right now, he said. One of the issues with the zones was people travelling from the grey (lockdown) zones to red, orange, yellow and green zones, he clarified. “And I do understand there is a lot of spillage when people find the rural areas and green zones,” he said. While many families are awaiting a provincial announcement on Wednesday about school re-opening, Dr. Cushman said this will be a provincial and school board decision. One concern by many is the impact on mental health the lockdown is having. It is not only affecting seniors isolated in long-term-care homes but children not able to go to schools and people in abusive relationships, including many others. “It is terrible,” he said of the mental health impact. “The collateral damage is almost on par. You can’t deal with one without the other.” Vaccine Roll-Out Stating he understands the desire to see businesses re-open and people able to congregate again, Dr. Cushman said it is important to wait on the vaccine roll-out and plans are in place to vaccinate the most vulnerable in early February in the county. “The latest is we think we do the long-term care homes the first of February,” he said. “We are very committed to that. “We have been advised that we can expect to receive Pfizer and/or Moderna vaccines in early February, but there has been no confirmation of the number of doses,” he noted. However, a clear plan is in place on how the vaccines will be administered. “We’ve seen examples of spoilage in other centres,” he said. “That will not happen here.” Each long-term care home has a plan in place to vaccinate residents and staff, he said. “We are ready to go,” he said. “We are working with each home and they have a plan.” In this first phase, the province has announced the vaccine will be rolled out to health care workers, adults in First Nations, Metis and Inuit populations and recipients of chronic home health care. Phase 2 is expected to begin in late winter and will expand to include additional congregate care settings and adults over 70. Phase three will expand the roll-out. Dr. Cushman said he remains concerned about travel as a risk factor for people in the area, noting cases have come in from travel to other regions, including Ottawa. As well, people should not let their guard down in the workplace or at home. “Don’t congregate in the work setting,” he stressed. As far as being outdoors, people don’t have to wear a mask if they are alone but should take one along in case it is impossible to keep physically distant, he said. While very few fines have been issued in the district, the health unit did go public on a few fines late last year. With the new State of Emergency order brought in by the province last Thursday, Dr. Cushman explained now by-law officers and police can also issue fines. “It means we have more means of enforcement,” he said. The health unit has received calls about some people breaking the Stay-At-Home order and lockdown order, he said. “We did have some chatter in one small neighbourhood,” he said. “We investigated and it was more chatter than reality.” In the meantime, he reminded area residents standard COVID-19 precautions go a long way and are the best way to prevent the spread of the virus. Area residents are reminded to: get the flu shot; stay home if sick; avoid contact with people who are ill; practice physical distancing (two metres); wear a mask/face covering when physical distancing cannot be maintained; wash their hands, and use the COVID Alert App. COVID testing continues in the county with 51,243 tests completed. Testing is done by appointment and anyone needing a test must call RCVTAC at 1-844-727-6404 to schedule a testing time. Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
Specific details about workplace outbreaks of COVID-19 are not made public in most of Canada. Toronto is starting to make the information available, arguing that transparency increases accountability, but others wonder whether ‘naming and shaming’ does more harm than good.
NEW YORK — A U.S. Army soldier was arrested Tuesday in Georgia on terrorism charges after he spoke online about plots to blow up New York City's 9-11 Memorial and other landmarks and attack U.S. soldiers in the Middle East, authorities said. Cole James Bridges of Stow, Ohio, was in custody on charges of attempted material support of a terrorist organization — the Islamic State group — and attempted murder of a military member, said Nicholas Biase, a spokesperson for Manhattan federal prosecutors. The 20-year-old soldier, also known as Cole Gonzales, was with the Third Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Georgia, when he thought he was communicating with the Islamic State online about the terrorism plots, Biase said. Unbeknownst to Bridges, an FBI employee was in on the chat as Bridges provided detailed instructions on tactics and manuals and advice about attacking the memorial and other targets in New York City, Biase said. “As we allege today, Bridges, a private in the U.S. Army, betrayed our country and his unit when he plotted with someone he believed was an ISIS sympathizer to help ISIS attack and kill U.S. soldiers in the Middle East," said William F. Sweeney Jr., head of New York City's FBI office. “Fortunately, the person with whom he communicated was an FBI employee, and we were able to prevent his evil desires from coming to fruition,” Sweeney said in a release. “Our troops risk their lives for our country, but they should never face such peril at the hands of one of their own,” U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said. Bridges was scheduled to make an initial appearance in federal court in Augusta, Georgia, on Thursday. It was not immediately clear who would represent him. According to a criminal complaint in Manhattan federal court, Bridges joined the U.S. Army in September 2019 and was assigned as a cavalry scout in Fort Stewart. At some point, he began researching and consuming online propaganda promoting jihadists and their violent ideology, authorities said. They said he expressed his support for the Islamic State group and jihad on social media before he began communicating in October with an FBI employee who posed as an Islamic State group supporter in contact with the group's fighters in the Middle East. According to court papers, he expressed his frustration with the U.S. military and his desire to aid the Islamic State group. The criminal complaint said he then provided training and guidance to purported Islamic State fighters who were planning attacks, including advice about potential targets in New York City, including the 9-11 Memorial. It said he also provided portions of a U.S. Army training manual and guidance about military combat tactics. Bridges also diagrammed specific military manoeuvrs to help the terrorist group's fighters kill U.S. troops, including the best way to fortify an encampment to repel an attack by U.S. Special Forces and how to wire certain buildings with explosives to kill the U.S. troops, the complaint said. This month, according to the complaint, Bridges sent a video of himself in body armour standing before an Islamic State flag, gesturing support. A week later, Bridges sent a second video in which he used a voice manipulator and narrated a propaganda speech in support of the Islamic State group's anticipated ambush of U.S. troops, the complaint said. In a statement Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Fort Stewart-based 3rd Infantry Division, Lt. Col. Lindsey Elder, confirmed that Pfc. Cole James Bridges is assigned to the division. She said division commanders are “co-operating fully with the FBI.” Elder referred further inquiries to the Pentagon. ___ Associated Press writer Russ Bynum in Savannah, Georgia, contributed to this report. Larry Neumeister, The Associated Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he won't shut down all restaurants and bars because a few are flouting COVID-19 rules. Instead, he says he's asking public-health officials to look at more enforcement measures, such as forcing rule breakers to close. Moe says "enough is enough" and is expressing frustration at a recent video that shows young people dancing without masks and mingling at a bar in Regina. Health officials are reporting another 309 COVID-19 infections and say six more residents have died. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer says the province remains stuck at a daily average of around 300 new cases and hospitalizations are on the rise. Moe says he doesn't believe the province needs to introduce stricter public-health measures to stem the virus's spread, but people need to follow the rules already in place. There are 207 people in hospital, with 31 of them in intensive care. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2020 The Canadian Press
After four years, U.S. President Donald Trump will be leaving office as President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into the position on Jan. 20, 2021. The weeks leading up to Trump’s departure have been tumultuous, with a siege on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, five federal executions, and 143 presidential pardons, just to name a few pivotal moments.Trump began the day by speaking to a crowd at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland before boarding Air Force One. He is traveling to his golf club, Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, and will not be attending Biden’s inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C.Supporters of the 45th U.S. President gathered in West Palm Beach, Fla. to greet Trump’s motorcade when it arrived in the city.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.