President-elect Joe Biden on Monday received his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine on live television as part of a growing effort to convince the American public the inoculations are safe. (Dec. 21)
President-elect Joe Biden on Monday received his first dose of the coronavirus vaccine on live television as part of a growing effort to convince the American public the inoculations are safe. (Dec. 21)
The debate about the U.S. Electoral College pits those who think the president should be chosen via popular vote versus those who believe the interests of small and large states must be balanced.
Prince George RCMP saw a small dip in crime in 2020, as measured by files opened, thanks in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, Insp. Shawn Wright told city council. Files opened in 2020 added up to 46,668, down by 1,036 from 2019. With many businesses shut down and more people working from home, Wright said shoplifting dropped to "virtually nil" for a time while break and enters also declined noticeably. If the pandemic sparked an spike in domestic violence, Wright said it was not reflected in the count as the number of such files grew by only nine from 2019, to 487. Looking at the downtown, calls for service stood at 6,816, up by 118 from 2019. Wright said the "vast, vast majority" were non-criminal in nature. At nearly 1,200, calls related to mischief led the way and Wright said they typically related to someone sleeping in a doorway and causing a disturbance. Next highest were calls for causing a disturbance, which Wright said usually involves someone with a mental health issue. "I know there is a lot of apprehensions from a lot of the citizens that they don't feel safe downtown, that they think they're going to get robbed, that they're going to get assaulted but statistically speaking, we don't see those numbers being a large part of what we deal with down there," he said. Wright noted businesses in the vicinity of Canada Games Plaza, where public washrooms have been in place, reported a lot of nuisance activity during the summer. But he later also agreed with Coun. Murry Krause that the washrooms meet a need. "I don't dispute that at all," Wright said. Wright also suggested the storage facilities for street people in the downtown has enabled a "downtown camping lifestyle" but later added they also serve a need. "Sometimes there are unintended consequences and sometimes the intended consequences outweigh those, for sure," Wright said. He commended Carrier Sekani Family Services for opening the Sk'ai Zeh Yah Youth Centre at 1575 Second Ave. in late 2020. He said it has given people as old as 29 years a place to "hang out" and access services while also lessening the distress on area businesses. "I have been very pleasantly surprised," Wright said. Open use of illicit drugs downtown emerged as a theme when Wright fielded questions from city council members. He called the activity a "thorn in our side" but added pursuing prosecutions against individuals who insist on shooting up "not realistic" in today's legal climate. He said police have relied on patrols to move users along to areas where they can use while out of sight, such as a rooming house or, preferably, the safe injection site at the needle exchange. He said the 100 units of social housing planned for the corner of First Avenue and Ontario Street and the recently-announced conversion of the National Hotel at First and Dominion to social housing makes him optimistic. "Nothing is a magic bullet, nothing is going to change overnight, but I think they are very large steps in the right direction," Wright said. He said people who get their own place also get a sense of responsibility, accomplishment and dignity. "A lot of these people don't have a place to go, so it'll provide them that opportunity and I think the biggest key to those proposed developments is the fact that it's not just housing, it's supportive housing," Wright said. Looking ahead, Wright said RCMP are working to get a sobering centre established in Prince George. Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
A bundle of nerves atop an imposing giant slalom course ahead of Sunday's second run, 19-year-old Cassidy Gray went to work and earned points for a 26th-place performance at the women's World Cup event in Slovenia. Her combined time of two minutes 24.25 seconds is considered one of the best starts to a World Cup career for a Canadian in recent memory. "It's been a goal of mine for a long time to start a World Cup and to get to do it here, with this team was amazing," Cassidy, who hails from Panorama, B.C., tolf Alpine Canada after her second run in Kranjska Gora. "Today was a crazy first run and I was so nervous for the second run. "I'm overall really happy with how it went. Now that I see what I can do I have a lot more confidence going into the next races." Gray, who also skis with the University of Colorado Buffaloes, qualified for a second run in Saturday's race but didn't finish. Canadian teammate Val Grenier of St. Isidore, Ont., moved up one spot from Saturday to finish 15th in 2:22.05 in her fifth race back from injury. Marta Bassino won her second World Cup giant slalom in two days after first-run leader Mikaela Shiffrin dropped to sixth. The Italian skier has won four of the five races in the discipline this season, with Shiffrin winning the only other event, in Courchevel in December. WATCH | Bassino posts fastest final run time on way to victory: "It's so amazing, I am so emotional. It's like a dream, I can't believe it," Bassino said from Kranjska Gora, Slovenia while fighting back tears in a TV interview. The result saw Bassino closing in on a 13-year-old record: No Italian skier won more than four giant slaloms in a single season since Denise Karbon won a record five events in the 2007-08 campaign. Shiffrin loses speed, rhythm on 2nd run Bassino trailed Shiffrin by three-tenths of a second after the American's near-perfect opening run, but the Italian posted the fastest time in the final in one minute 7.34 seconds for a two-run time of 2:18.06. The last racer on course, Shiffrin was still in the lead at the first split time. However, the Olympic GS champion was late on a turn after the first steep part, lost speed and never regained her rhythm. Shiffrin finished 1.27 back in sixth in 2:19.33, matching her result in Saturday's race. Bassino won the race 0.66 ahead of Michelle Gisin (2:18.72), a day after the Swiss skier earned her first career podium in GS. Local favourite Meta Hrovat, daughter of the village's mayor, Janez Hrovat, finished third, 0.73 off the lead. Vlhova's overall lead shrinks The rest of the field trailed Bassino by more than a second. This weekend's races were moved from Maribor because of a lack of snow. Petra Vlhova was 2.41 seconds behind in 10th and the overall World Cup leader from Slovakia saw her advantage over runner-up Gisin reduced to just 60 points. Federica Brignone, the defending overall champion who led the GS standings coming into the weekend, was 12th after the opening leg before sliding off the track in her final run. The women's World Cup continues with two downhills and a super-G in Crans Montana, Switzerland, from Friday through Sunday.
Police in Regina say Saturday morning's gunshot victim died in hospital and now they're investigating the city's first murder of 2021. A police news release said officers were called to the 700 block of Athol Street around 8:10 a.m. CST on Saturday for reports of a woman suffering gunshot wounds. She was taken to hospital with serious injuries, where she later died. The police news release said the woman was identified and her next-of-kin were notified of her death, but did not include any details about who she was. Police said the scene was still being held for investigation and traffic was restricted on the 700 block of Athol Street. Police said no further information was available as the investigation was still ongoing. Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Regina Police Service or Crime Stoppers.
Ahuntsic-Cartierville - Aux prises avec trois éclosions à l’hôpital Fleury, le Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CIUSSS) du Nord-de-l’Île-de-Montréal demande à la population d’éviter cet établissement « pour quelques jours ». Emboitant le pas à certains hôpitaux de l’Est de l’île, le CIUSSS restreint par ailleurs les visites. Les seuls motifs qui permettent à une personne non hospitalisée d’accéder à l’établissement sont pour accompagner une personne en fin de vie, à raison d’une personne à la fois, des visites pour motifs humanitaires ou l’accompagnement du père, de la mère ou du tuteur légal d’une personne mineure. Le CIUSSS du Nord invite les personnes qui ont des problèmes de santé mineurs « à choisir une alternative pour obtenir une consultation médicale » et à privilégier une visite dans une clinique médicale ou à consulter son médecin de famille. Plus tôt cette semaine, le CIUSSS avait confirmé au Journaldesvoisins.com qu’une éclosion était en cours à l’unité de chirurgie de l’hôpital Fleury, mais avait assuré qu’aucune éclosion ne touchait l’urgence de cet hôpital. Le JDV suivra de près la situation.Simon Van Vliet, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal des voisins
WASHINGTON — The Latest on President Donald Trump's impeachment, President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration and the fallout from the Jan. 6 attack of the Capitol by pro-Trump loyalists (all times local): 9:05 a.m. Actor-playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda and rockers Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen are among the stars who will highlight a prime-time virtual celebration televised Wednesday night after Joe Biden is inaugurated as the 46th president. Biden’s inaugural committee announced the lineup Sunday for “Celebrating America,” a multinetwork broadcast that the committee bills as a mix of stars and everyday citizens. Miranda, who wrote and starred in Broadway’s “Hamilton,” will appear for a classical recitation. Musicians John Legend, Demi Lovato and Justin Timberlake, among others, will join Springsteen and Bon Jovi. Actresses Kerry Washington and Eva Longoria will act as hostesses, with former NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar also scheduled to appear. The segments will include tributes to a UPS driver, a kindergarten teacher and Sandra Lindsey, the first American to receive the COVID-19 vaccine outside a clinical trial. The broadcast is in lieu of traditional inaugural balls. Biden plans still to be sworn in on the Capitol's West Front, but with a scaled-down ceremony because of the coronavirus and tight security after the Jan. 6 violent insurrection on the Capitol as Congress convened to certify his victory. ___ HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT IMPEACHMENT, THE INAUGURATION AND THE FALLOUT FROM THE JAN. 6 RIOTING AT THE CAPITOL: Across the country, some statehouses are closed, fences are up and extra police are in place as authorities brace for potentially violent demonstrations over the coming days. The safeguards will remain in place leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday. Biden plans to roll back some of President Donald Trump’s most controversial policies and take steps to address the coronavirus pandemic hours after taking office. Read more: — Deceptions in the time of the ‘alternative facts’ president — Biden outlines ‘Day One’ agenda of executive actions — Gen. Milley key to military continuity as Biden takes office — Guard troops pour into Washington as states answer the call — Harris to be sworn in by Justice Sotomayor at inauguration — Biden to prioritize legal status for millions of immigrants — Will Trump’s mishandling of records leave a hole in history? — Biden says his advisers will lead with ‘science and truth’ — More backlash for GOP’s Hawley as Loews Hotel cancels event ___ HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON: 8 a.m. Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris will resign her Senate seat on Monday, two days before she and President-elect Joe Biden are inaugurated. Aides to the California Democrat confirm the timing and say Gov. Gavin Newsom is aware of her decision. That clears the way for Newsom to appoint fellow Democrat Alex Padilla, now California’s secretary of state, to serve the final two years of Harris’ term. Padilla will be the first Latino senator from California, where about 40% of residents are Hispanic. Harris will give no farewell Senate floor speech. The Senate isn’t scheduled to reconvene until Tuesday, the eve of Inauguration Day. ___ 3 a.m. The threat of extremist groups descending on state capitals in a series of demonstrations Sunday prompted governors to roll out a massive show of force and implement tight security measures at statehouses across the country. Fencing, boarded-up windows and lines of police and National Guard troops have transformed statehouse grounds ahead of expected demonstrations leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday. The stepped-up security measures were intended to safeguard seats of government from the type of violence that occurred at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, when a mob supporting President Donald Trump overran the building while Congress was certifying the Electoral College vote. The FBI has warned of the potential for armed protests in the nation’s capital and all 50 state capitals. Some social media messages had targeted Sunday for demonstrations, though it remained unclear how many people might show up. The Associated Press
KENOVA, W.Va. — Griffith & Feil Drug has been in business since 1892, a family-owned, small-town pharmacy. This isn't their first pandemic. More than a century after helping West Virginians confront the Spanish flu in 1918, the drugstore in Kenova, a community of about 3,000 people, is helping the state lead the nation in COVID-19 vaccine distribution. West Virginia has emerged as an unlikely success in the nation's otherwise chaotic vaccine rollout, largely because of the state's decision to reject a federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens and instead enlist mom-and-pop pharmacies to vaccinate residents against the virus that has killed over 395,000 Americans. More shots have gone into people’s arms per capita across West Virginia than in any other state, with at least 7.5% of the population receiving the first of two shots, according to federal data. West Virginia was the first in the nation to finish offering first doses to all long-term care centres before the end of December, and the state expects to give second doses at those facilities by the end of January. “Boy, have we noticed that. I think the West Virginia model is really one that we would love for a lot more states to adopt,” said John Beckner, a pharmacist who works at the Alexandria, Virginia-based National Community Pharmacists Association, which advocates for pharmacies across the country. It's early in the process, but that has not stopped Republican Gov. Jim Justice from proclaiming that the vaccine effort runs counter to preconceived notions about the Mountaineer State. “Little old West Virginia, that was thought of for hundreds of years, you know, as a place where maybe we were backward or dark or dingy,” Justice said last week. Rather than relying on national chains, 250 local pharmacists set up clinics in rural communities. The fact that residents who may be wary of the vaccine seem to trust them makes a difference. “As my uncle always told me, these people aren’t your customers, they’re your friends and neighbours,” said Ric Griffith, the upbeat pharmacist at Griffith & Feil in Kenova, a town just west of Huntington near the Kentucky state line. A chatty raconteur and former mayor of Kenova, he can recall generations of patrons frequenting the shop, which is almost unchanged since the 1950s, with a soda fountain and jukebox in the front and prescriptions in the back. Griffith, 71, began taking over the pharmacy from his father in the early 1990s and was elected to the House of Delegates as a Democrat last year. His daughter, Heidi Griffith Romero, 45, followed into the family business and is also administering shots. Holding a vaccination clinic at the town high school, he recalled his uncle telling him he lost four classmates to the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed more than 50 million people worldwide. “And it was a tragedy that I thought I would never be involved with,” he said, taking a break from giving vaccines to teachers aged 50 and over. When Mark Hayes, a middle school guidance counsellor in Kenova, walked up to receive his first dose, he spotted Griffith, who holds local celebrity status for hosting an extravagant annual Halloween pumpkin-carving party that attracts thousands. “I recognized him right away,” Hayes said. “‘The Pumpkin King? Are you giving me the shot?’” Kevin Roberts, a 59-year-old school bus driver in Kenova, said “it makes a difference” for a pharmacist he knows to administer the shots. “I hope that a lot of these skeptics change their mind,” he said. Officials also credit a 50-person command centre at the state’s National Guard headquarters in the capital of Charleston. Inside a cavernous hall, leaders of the vaccine operation and state health officials sit between plexiglass dividers to oversee shipments of the precious doses to five hubs. From there, deliveries go to drugstores and local health departments. CVS has so far declined to work with state officials on vaccinating people at its stores, but Walgreens is participating and has joined in to hold clinics at some nursing homes, officials said. The federal partnership involving both companies would have allowed Washington officials to dictate the terms of nursing home vaccinations, said Marty Wright, the head of the West Virginia Health Care Association, which represents health care companies. “If the state would've activated the federal plan, the state would've had zero control over the situation,” Wright said. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar praised West Virginia's efforts to vaccinate the elderly. “Expanding eligibility to all of the vulnerable is the fastest way to protect the vulnerable,” Azar said Tuesday at an Operation Warp Speed meeting. He also highlighted Connecticut as a bright spot in the vaccine rollout. Given West Virginia's success so far, leaders are now seeking more doses so they can open vaccinations for more groups. The Griffith & Feil store has had to decline shots for out-of-state customers who caught word of West Virginia's success. The governor recently lowered the age of eligibility for members of the general public to 70. The efforts have not been without errors. The Boone County Health Department was barred from distributing the vaccine last month after it mistakenly gave 44 people an antibody treatment instead of vaccines. The state began vaccinating school workers aged 50 or older less than two weeks ago. The governor wants in-person learning to resume at as many schools as possible by Tuesday, long before teachers will have received their second vaccine doses. As of Saturday, over nearly 128,000 first doses have been administered, and 22,966 people have received both shots. Over 54,000 of the first doses have gone to residents aged 65 and older. Mitchel Rothholz, who leads immunization policy at the American Pharmacists Association, said other governors would be wise to enlist local pharmacies. “Especially at a time when you have vaccine hesitancy and concerns in vaccine confidence, having access to a health care provider like a community pharmacist provides a comfort level to the patients and communities,” Rothholz added. ___ Associated Press Writer John Raby contributed to this report. Cuneyt Dil, The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Phil Spector, the eccentric and revolutionary music producer who transformed rock music with his “Wall of Sound” method and who later was convicted of murder, has died. He was 81. California state prison officials said he died Saturday of natural causes at a hospital. Spector was convicted of murdering actress Lana Clarkson in 2003 at his castle-like mansion on the edge of Los Angeles. After a trial in 2009, he was sentenced to 19 years to life. Clarkson, star of “Barbarian Queen” and other B-movies, was found shot to death in the foyer of Spector’s mansion in the hills overlooking Alhambra, a modest suburban town on the edge of Los Angeles. Until the actress’ death, which Spector maintained was an “accidental suicide,” few residents even knew the mansion belonged to the reclusive producer, who spent his remaining years in a prison hospital east of Stockton. Decades before, Spector had been hailed as a visionary for channeling Wagnerian ambition into the three-minute song, creating the “Wall of Sound” that merged spirited vocal harmonies with lavish orchestral arrangements to produce such pop monuments as “Da Doo Ron Ron,” “Be My Baby” and “He’s a Rebel.” He was the rare self-conscious artist in rock’s early years and cultivated an image of mystery and power with his dark shades and impassive expression. Tom Wolfe declared him the “first tycoon of teen.” Bruce Springsteen and Brian Wilson openly replicated his grandiose recording techniques and wide-eyed romanticism, and John Lennon called him “the greatest record producer ever.” The secret to his sound: an overdubbed onslaught of instruments, vocals and sound effects that changed the way pop records were recorded. He called the result, “Little symphonies for the kids.” The Associated Press
The discovery of a prohibited firearm on his property has led to a 26-month jail sentence for a McBride-area man. Steven Richard Stewart was issued the term at the Prince George courthouse. On June 8, 2018, a man and a woman walked into the McBride RCMP detachment to report that Stewart had threatened to beat the man up and burn down his house. They also told RCMP that Stewart had a shotgun, prompting North District RCMP's emergency response team to be called to the property. Stewart was arrested and a sawed-off shotgun with a pistol grip and a flashlight taped to it was found, as was a sling holding 20 rounds of ammunition in the back of an SUV parked on the property. RCMP also found a number of bladed weapons and several marijuana plants. Stewart pleaded guilty to possessing a prohibited weapon and uttering threats. He maintained he kept the shotgun for protection and claimed $3,000 worth of pit bull puppies he had been raising had been stolen from him. Defence counsel had argued for a two-year conditional sentence order, in which the sentence is served at home with conditions such as a curfew, followed by three years probation, noting in part that he is employed, has lived up to his bail conditions since he was released from custody and has been working to deal with his substance abuse issues. However, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Ron Tindale agreed with Crown prosecution's position that the offence warranted 30 months in jail. Less credit of four months for time served in custody, that left Stewart with 26 months left to serve. While sentences for the offence can range from 18 months for regulatory infractions to 10 years for serious criminal offences, Tindale found that Stewart's actions amounted to an offence at the "low end of the true crime spectrum." Tindale also dismissed defence counsel's argument that Stewart's behaviour since his release was enough to warrant the "exceptional circumstances" needed to reduce the sentence to two years and thus allow a conditional sentence order. A record of previous criminal offences and limited expressions of remorse, insight and responsibility for the crime worked against Stewart. "Mr. Stewart has worked hard but at this point, I cannot conclude that he has truly turned his life around," Tindale said. Stewart was also issued a 10-year firearms prohibition and ordered to provide a DNA sample. Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince George Citizen
A long-awaited homeless shelter finally opened in Wetaskiwin last November, but the facility is still looking for a permanent location to call home. The Integrated Response Hub opened eight weeks ago to respond to a long-standing need in the city for an overnight shelter. The hub offers around-the-clock intake and a variety of support programs. Since opening, 195 different people have used the shelter. But its downtown location inside the Wetaskiwin Civic Building is still a problem for business owners in the area, city government and even for the agency operating the shelter. "Everyone's hands are tied, and we're all saying the same thing," said Jessica Hutton, executive director of the Open Door Association, which operates the shelter. "This is not a good location, we don't want to be here, we want to find somewhere to go as quickly as possible. "But for right now, it's the best we can do." After securing funding for the shelter last fall, Open Door found property on the city's south side it wanted to purchase for the hub. But just weeks before they were set to open, residents, businesses and a nearby church successfully challenged whether the spot was zoned to hold a homeless shelter. Open Door and the city government soon discovered there is no property in Wetaskiwin zoned to allow a homeless shelter. The city had to declare a state of local emergency to allow the shelter to open on schedule in the Civic Building. The Civic Building is suitable for now, Sutton said. But even moving just outside downtown would help, she added, to allow them more space for the number of clients they're taking in. '50 years to get to this point' Eight weeks in, mayor Tyler Gandam said he's happy with the hub's work. Wetaskiwin, about 70 kilometres south of Edmonton, has never before had a 24-hour shelter with integrated mental health and addictions supports, Gandam said. But the current city government wanted to make it a priority. "Having the ability to have something in place now where the supports are available is a huge first step," Gandam said. "While it's taken us 50 years to get to this point, we're a long way away from seeing the fruits of the labour that's being done." The Civic Building was used for emergency shelters the last two years. But after complaints of harassment and fighting closed the shelter early last year, Gandam said at the time he didn't want to use the building again as a shelter, preferring a location away from the city's downtown. Gandam said some residents and businesses in the area are now upset the Civic Building is being used as a shelter for the third winter in a row. Public response Dalbert Okeymow has been using the shelter for roughly three weeks now. He said he thinks the building is also a little old and small. He said he hopes a new location will have more showers and bathrooms, and more personal space for clients. But Okeymow also said the shelter has been awesome so far with staff that look after the clients and make sure they're safe, as the homeless population has often been overlooked in Wetaskiwin in the past. "This is exactly what the city needs, a place like this for people to come and figure out their situation," Okeymow said. The hub's clients have been happy to have this site for security and community, Hutton said, but there has been strong opposition from some Wetaskiwin residents and not always about the location. Some don't believe the hub should exist at all. Hutton said her staff receives calls to their help line using racist language about the hub's clients, and she hears from clients every day about run ins with the community. But Hutton said the hub has also received positive community support. One recent example came on Saturday, when positive signs of love and support for the hub's clients were made by community members and placed in front of the hub. "There was just this level of humanity," Hutton said. "That is such a change and such a shift from what they have had to experience." As long as the state of local emergency is in place, Hutton said they won't have to leave their temporary home. Open Door and the city are working together to plan to repurpose or build a new facility. Gandam said he's sure some would have opposed the hub no matter where it opened. He's already heard complaints about public intoxication and people feeling harassed or threatened near the site. While he understands some of the complaints, Gandam said he hopes the community will support the shelter's work. "It's going to take a long time before we start seeing the benefits of the services and the hub's supports," he said. "I just ask, while we go through some of the growing pains that we're going to experience, that the community works with both us and the Open Door, and helps to be a part of the solution." With files from Travis McEwan
WASHINGTON — The lead prosecutor for President Donald Trump's historic second impeachment began building his case for conviction at trial, asserting on Sunday that Trump's incitement of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol was “the most dangerous crime" ever committed by a president against the United States. A Senate trial could begin as soon as this week, just as Democrat Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., did not say when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will send the single article of impeachment against Trump — for “incitement of insurrection” — to the Senate, which will trigger the beginning of the trial. But Raskin said “it should be coming up soon” as Pelosi organizes the formal transfer. The House voted to impeach Trump last Wednesday, one week after the violent insurrection that interrupted the official count of electoral votes, ransacked the Capitol and left Congress deeply shaken. Before the mob overpowered police and entered the building, Trump told them to “fight like hell” against the certification of Biden's election win. “We're going to be able to tell the story of this attack on America and all of the events that led up to it,” Raskin said. “This president set out to dismantle and overturn the election results from the 2020 presidential election. He was perfectly clear about that.” Democrats and the incoming administration are facing the challenge of reckoning with the Capitol attack at the same time that Biden takes office and tries to move the country forward. They say the Congress can do both, balancing a trial with confirmations of the new president's Cabinet and consideration of his legislative priorities. Raskin said Congress cannot establish a precedent where “we just want to let bygones be bygones” just because Trump has left office. Yet it's clear that Democrats do not want the Senate trial to dominate Biden's opening days. Pelosi on Friday said that Democrats intend to move quickly on Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID aid and economic recovery package to speed up vaccinations and send Americans relief, calling it “matter of complete urgency.” Ron Klain, Biden's incoming White House chief of staff, said he hopes Senate leaders, on a bipartisan basis, “find a way to move forward on all of their responsibilities. This impeachment trial is one of them, but getting people into the government and getting action on coronavirus is another one of those responsibilities.” It is unclear how many Senate Republicans — if any — would vote to convict Trump. Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is telling his caucus that their decision on whether to convict the outgoing president will be a “vote of conscience.” His stance, first reported by Business Insider, means the GOP leadership team will not work to hold senators in line one way or the other. McConnell is open to considering impeachment, but said he is undecided on how he would vote. He continues to hold great sway in his party, even though convening the trial this week could be among his last acts as majority leader as Democrats prepare to take control of the Senate with the seating of two new Democratic senators from Georgia. For Republican senators, the trial will be perhaps a final test of their loyalty to the defeated president and his legions of supporters in their states back home. It will force a further reevaluation of their relationship with Trump, who lost not only the White House but majority control of the Senate, and a broader discussion about the future of the Republican Party as he leaves office. Some GOP senators are already standing by Trump, despite their criticism of his behaviour. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of the president's most loyal allies, said impeachment was a "bad, rushed, emotional move” that puts the presidency at risk and will cause further division. He said he hopes every Senate Republican rejects impeachment. “Please do not justify and legitimize what the House did,” Graham said. A handful of Republican senators have suggested they will consider conviction. Two of them, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, have said he should resign. Murkowski said the House responded “appropriately” with impeachment and she will consider the trial arguments. No president has ever been convicted in the Senate, and it would take a two-thirds vote against Trump, a high hurdle. But conviction is not out of the realm of possibility, especially as corporations and wealthy political donors distance themselves from Trump's brand of politics and the Republicans who stood by his attempts to overturn the election. Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney, was spotted at the White House Saturday and told ABC he was likely going to join Trump’s impeachment defence team. He suggested he would continue to spread baseless claims of election fraud on the Senate floor. Trump campaign spokesman Hogan Gidley moved to distance Trump from Giuliani’s comments, tweeting: “President Trump has not yet made a determination as to which lawyer or law firm will represent him for the disgraceful attack on our Constitution and democracy, known as the 'impeachment hoax.' We will keep you informed.” There was not widespread fraud in the election, as has been confirmed by a range of election officials and by William Barr, who stepped down as attorney general last month. Nearly all of the legal challenges put forth by Trump and his allies have been dismissed by judges. Trump is the only president to be twice impeached, and the first to be prosecuted as he leaves the White House, an ever-more-extraordinary end to his tenure. A precedent set by the Senate in the 1800s established that a trial can proceed even after a federal official leaves office. Trump was first impeached by the House in 2019 over his dealings with Ukraine, but the Senate voted last year to acquit. Ten Republicans joined all Democrats in the 232-197 impeachment vote on Wednesday, the most bipartisan modern presidential impeachment. When his second trial does begin, House impeachment managers say they will be making the case that Trump’s incendiary rhetoric hours before the attack on the Capitol was not isolated, but directly intended to interrupt the electoral count as part of his escalating campaign to overturn the November election. A Capitol Police officer died from injuries suffered in the attack, and police shot and killed a woman. Three other people died in what authorities said were medical emergencies. Raskin and Klain were on CNN's “State of the Union,” and Graham appeared on Fox News Channel's “Sunday Morning Futures.” ___ Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report. Lisa Mascaro And Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
Deemed consent organ donation means that everyone is assumed to be an organ donor unless they opt out, but assuming consent raises some ethical issues.
In one of his final interviews as Chief of the Defence Staff, General Jonathan Vance tells Mercedes Stephenson on ‘The West Block’ the mission to root out sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces is a forever mission that will evolve over time. When asked if there are things he would have done differently in his career, Gen. Vance says, “I would have certainly paid more attention. I didn’t really see this. And the Deschamps report was a shock to me.”
Canada's Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne spoke to Alimentation Couche-Tard founder Alain Bouchard and assured him of support for Canadian businesses, after the company dropped plans to buy European retailer Carrefour SA, the minister said in a tweet on Sunday. Quebec-based convenience store operator Couche-Tard abandoned talks to buy Carrefour for $20 billion after French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire raised concerns about food and job security. Champagne said in his tweet that the government will support Canadian businesses "here and abroad," adding the two-way trade benefits businesses both sides of the Atlantic.
CALGARY — Vacancies in Calgary's downtown office towers have risen to record levels and there's no landlord relief in sight with almost one in three offices sitting empty and sublets accounting for a quarter of available spaces on the market. The city's glut of empty office space has previously been linked to overbuilding but two commercial real estate reports released this past week show that downtown vacancy rates in Canada's oil and gas capital are the highest in the country and growing — despite no major new towers opening in the past two years. Vacancies are likely to go even higher, both reports note, driven by short-term factors including layoffs resulting from the takeover of Husky Energy Inc. by Cenovus Energy Inc. and longer-term job losses from cost-cutting and mergers in the oil and gas sector. In its report released Thursday, real estate firm CBRE says the equivalent of four CFL football fields in downtown office space was emptied in the last quarter of 2020. The net reduction of 355,000 square feet (32,000 square metres) took the vacancy rate to a record high of 29.5 per cent compared with 27.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2019. "The negative absorption is due to the oilpatch, not COVID-19," said Greg Kwong, Calgary-based regional managing director for CBRE. "People may not be going back to work because of the lockdowns but these companies still have leases in place and have to pay the rent. It's not considered vacated space." CBRE found that 23.7 per cent of the available downtown office space in Calgary is being sublet by the lease holder. In a separate report using different calculation methods, Avison Young pegged the downtown office vacancy rate at a record 26.9 per cent in the fourth quarter, up from 24.2 per cent in the year-earlier period. Under an optimistic scenario, Avison Young predicts the vacancy rate will rise to 28.6 per cent by the end of 2023; in its pessimistic forecast, it foresees a rate of 32.9 per cent. The merger of Cenovus and Husky offices in 2021 is projected to result in between 36,000 and 54,000 square metres of downtown space being vacated later this year, said Todd Throndson, managing director for Avison Young's Calgary office. That's around one per cent of the total inventory of 4.16 million square metres. "We have a very difficult marketplace and there's no quick solutions to solving that problem," he said. "The next 12 to 24 months are going to be a challenging time for there to be any growth in our marketplace." Cenovus and Husky have said their merger will result in a reduction of between 20 and 25 per cent of the 8,600 combined employees and contractors — potentially more than 2,000 workers. The two companies have about 300,000 square metres of lease commitments in Calgary, with some of it already being sublet to other tenants, said Cenovus spokesman Reg Curren. More space is expected to be sublet going forward, he said, declining to give specifics. "Once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and we determine our plan to return to the workplace, Brookfield Place will be the head office of the combined company," he said, referring to the 56-storey glass and steel tower opened in 2017 that Cenovus calls home. Husky's head office is a few blocks west in the much older Western Canadian Place. It's not hard to find other Calgary companies reducing staff and their need for office space. Suncor Energy Inc. announced in October it would reduce total staff by 10 to 15 per cent over 18 months, cutting as many as 1,930 jobs. Those cuts will be offset by the relocation of its Petro-Canada head office and most of its 700 jobs from Ontario to Calgary. Imperial Oil Ltd. announced in November it would lay off 200 staff. Meanwhile, office space held by Equinor Canada at Jamieson Place in downtown Calgary is on the sublet market after the Norwegian oil company decided to consolidate its Canadian operations in St. John's, N.L. Lower staff counts are also expected with the close of a handful of smaller oil and gas producer corporate mergers announced late last year. Calgary's office buildings have lost an overall 13 per cent of value, about $2.3 billion, over the past year due to higher vacancy rates and lower rents, the city said Thursday as it issued its 2021 property assessment notices. Declines in recent years have pushed more of the municipal tax burden to residential and other business ratepayers. Economic Development Calgary is using the city's abundance of discounted office space as a "huge selling feature" in attracting Calgary employers in new sectors like technology and renewable energy, said CEO Mary Moran, but she concedes those new tenants haven't replaced the oil and gas losses. "I think, long-term, we know that the energy industry is not going to be the job creator," she said. "It's a jobless recovery in oil and gas." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:CVE, TSX:SU) Dan Healing, The Canadian Press
Rock producer Phil Spector, who changed the sound of pop music in the 1960s with his "Wall of Sound" recordings and was convicted of murder for the 2003 murder of a Hollywood actress, has died at age 81 of COVID-19, according to authorities and media reports. Spector produced 20 top 40 hits between 1961 and 1965 and went on to work with the Beatles on "Let It Be," as well as Leonard Cohen, the Righteous Brothers and Ike and Tina Turner. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 four weeks ago and transferred to a hospital from his prison cell, where he had been serving a 19 years-to-life sentence for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson, the Daily Mail newspaper said.
Small groups of right-wing protesters — some of them carrying rifles — gathered outside heavily fortified statehouses around the country Sunday, outnumbered by National Guard troops and police brought in to prevent a repeat of the violence that erupted at the U.S. Capitol. As darkness fell, there were no reports of any clashes. Security was stepped up in recent days after the FBI warned of the potential for armed protests in Washington and at all 50 state capitol buildings ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday. Crowds of only a dozen or two demonstrated at some boarded-up, cordoned-off statehouses, while the streets in many other capital cities remained empty. Some protesters said they were there to back President Donald Trump. Others said they had instead come to voice their support for gun rights or decry government overreach. “I don’t trust the results of the election,” said Michigan protester Martin Szelag, a 67-year-old semi-retired window salesman from Dearborn Heights. He wore a sign around his neck that read, in part, “We will support Joe Biden as our President if you can convince us he won legally. Show us the proof! Then the healing can begin.” As the day wore on with no bloodshed around the U.S., a sense of relief spread among officials, though they were not ready to let their guard down. The heavy law enforcement presence may have kept turnout down. In the past few days, some extremists had warned others against falling into what they called a law enforcement trap. Washington State Patrol spokesman Chris Loftis said he hoped the apparently peaceful day reflected some soul-searching among Americans. “I would love to say that it’s because we’ve all taken a sober look in the mirror and have decided that we are a more unified people than certain moments in time would indicate,” he said. The security measures were intended to safeguard seats of government from the type of violence that broke out at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, when far-right Trump supporters galvanized by his false claims that the election had been stolen from him overran the police and bashed their way into the building while Congress was certifying the Electoral College vote. The attack left a Capitol police officer and four others dead. More than 125 people have been arrested over the insurrection. Dozens of courts, election officials and Trump’s own attorney general have all said there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the presidential race. On Sunday, some statehouses were surrounded by new security fences, their windows were boarded up, and extra officers were on patrol. Legislatures generally were not in session over the weekend. Tall fences also surrounded the U.S. Capitol. The National Mall was closed to the public, and the mayor of Washington asked people not to visit. Some 25,000 National Guard troops from around the country are expected to arrive in the city in the coming days. U.S. defence officials told The Associated Press those troops would be vetted by the FBI to ward off any threat of an insider attack on the inauguration. The roughly 20 protesters who showed up at Michigan’s Capitol, including some who were armed, were significantly outnumbered by law enforcement officers and members of the media. Tensions have been running high in the state since authorities foiled a plot to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last year. At the Ohio Statehouse, about two dozen people, including several carrying long guns, protested outside under the watchful eyes of state troopers before dispersing as it began to snow. Kathy Sherman, who was wearing a visor with “Trump” printed on it, said she supports the president but distanced herself from the mob that breached the U.S. Capitol. "I’m here to support the right to voice a political view or opinion without fear of censorship, harassment or the threat of losing my job or being physically assaulted,” she said. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, said he was pleased with the outcome but stressed that authorities "continue to have concerns for potential violence in the coming days, which is why I intend to maintain security levels at the Statehouse as we approach the presidential inauguration.” Utah's new governor, Republican Spencer Cox, shared photos on his Twitter account showing him with what appeared to be hundreds of National Guard troops and law enforcement officers standing behind him, all wearing masks. Cox called the quiet protests a best-case scenario and said many ”agitating groups" had cancelled their plans for the day. At Oregon's Capitol, fewer than a dozen men wearing military-style outfits, black ski masks and helmets stood nearby with semiautomatic weapons slung across their bodies. Some had upside-down American flags and signs reading such things as “Disarm the government.” At the Texas Capitol, Ben Hawk walked with about a dozen demonstrators up to the locked gates carrying a bullhorn and an AR-15 rifle hanging at the side of his camouflage pants. He condemned the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and said he did not support Trump. “All we came down here to do today was to discuss, gather, network and hang out. And it got blown and twisted completely out of proportion,” Hawk said. At Nevada's Capitol, where demonstrators supporting Trump have flocked most weekends in recent months, all was quiet except for a lone protester with a sign. “Trump Lost. Be Adults. Go Home,” it read. More than a third of governors had called out the National Guard to help protect their capitols and assist local law enforcement. Several governors declared states of emergency, and others closed their capitols to the public until after Biden's inauguration. Some legislatures also cancelled sessions or pared back their work for the coming week. Even before the violence at the Capitol, some statehouses had been the target of vandals and angry protesters during the past year. Last spring, armed protesters entered the Michigan Capitol to object to coronavirus lockdowns. People angry over the death of George Floyd under a Minneapolis police officer's knee vandalized capitols in several states, including Colorado, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin. Last last month, crowds in Oregon forced their way into the Capitol in Salem to protest its closure to the public during a special legislative session on coronavirus measures. Amid the potential for violence in the coming days, the building's first-floor windows were boarded up and the National Guard was brought in. "The state capitol has become a fortress,” said Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney, a Democrat. “I never thought I’d see that. It breaks my heart.” ___ Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri in Columbus, Ohio; Gillian Flaccus in Salem, Oregon; Mike Householder and David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan; Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina; Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Washington; Sam Metz in Carson City, Nevada; Marc Scolforo in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; and Paul Weber in Austin, Texas, contributed to this report. David A. Lieb And Adam Geller, The Associated Press
The emergency department at the Kings County Memorial Hospital in Montague will be closed until further notice, Health PEI said in a news release Sunday. It said the closure was due to flooding from heavy rain and melting snow. Environment Canada had issued a wind warning for Kings County overnight Saturday, with up to 20 millimetres of rain. Health PEI said anyone with emergency medical needs should call 911 or seek emergency services when: Experiencing discomfort or tightness in the chest. Experiencing unusual shortness of breath. Experiencing abdominal pain. Experiencing prolonged and persistent headache or dizziness. An injury may require stitches or involve a broken bone. A child has prolonged diarrhea or vomiting. A baby under six months of age has a fever of 38°C (100.4°F) or higher. Islanders who have health concerns or need immediate health information can call 811. Health PEI said it will send a notice when the ER reopens. More from CBC P.E.I.
WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets have returned to practice a day after suspending workouts due to a possible exposure to COVID-19. The Jets took to the ice at Bell MTS Place this morning before leaving for Toronto for a game Monday against the Maple Leafs. Winnipeg cancelled its practice Saturday over what the team called "an abundance of caution" regarding a possible exposure to the novel coronavirus. The Jets haven't played since opening their 2020-21 season with a 4-3 overtime win over visiting Calgary on Thursday. The NHL started its 2020-21 season Wednesday amid a spike in COVID-19 cases in both Canada and the United States. Several teams have had their start affected by some degree by the global pandemic. Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers was held out of practice Wednesday while in COVID-19 protocol, but played in Winnipeg's season-opener. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2021. The Canadian Press
Billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit reached space for the first time on Sunday with a successful test of its air-launched rocket, delivering ten NASA satellites to orbit and achieving a key milestone after aborting the rocket’s first test launch last year. "According to telemetry, LauncherOne has reached orbit!" the company announced on Twitter during the test mission, dubbed Launch Demo 2. Roughly two hours after its Cosmic Girl carrier craft took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in southern California, the rocket, a 70-foot launcher tailored for carrying small satellites to space, successfully placed 10 tiny satellites in orbit for NASA, the company said on Twitter.