WASHINGTON — Hours from inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden paused on what might have been his triumphal entrance to Washington Tuesday evening to mark instead the national tragedy of the coronavirus pandemic with a moment of collective grief for Americans lost. His arrival coincided with the awful news that the U.S. death toll had surpassed 400,000 in the worst public health crisis in more than a century — a crisis Biden will now be charged with controlling. “To heal we must remember," the incoming president told the nation at a sunset ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. Four hundred lights representing the pandemic's victims were illuminated behind him around the monument’s Reflecting Pool. “Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights into the darkness ... and remember all who we lost,” Biden said. The sober moment on the eve of Biden's inauguration — typically a celebratory time in Washington when the nation marks the democratic tradition of a peaceful transfer of power — was a measure of the enormity of loss for the nation. During his brief remarks, Biden faced the larger-than life statue of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War president who served as more than 600,000 Americans died. As he turned to walk away at the conclusion of the vigil, he faced the black granite wall listing the 58,000-plus Americans who perished in Vietnam. Biden was joined by Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, who spoke of the collective anguish of the nation, a not-so-subtle admonishment of outgoing President Donald Trump, who has spoken sparingly about the pandemic in recent months. “For many months we have grieved by ourselves,” said Harris, who will make history as the first woman to serve as vice-president when she's sworn in. “Tonight, we grieve and begin healing together.” Beyond the pandemic, Biden faces no shortage of problems when he takes the reins at the White House. The nation is also on its economic heels because of soaring unemployment, there is deep political division and immediate concern about more violence following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Biden, an avid fan of Amtrak who took the train thousands of times between his home in Delaware and Washington during his decades in the Senate, had planned to take a train into Washington ahead of Wednesday's Inauguration Day but scratched that plan in the aftermath of the Capitol riot. He instead flew into Joint Base Andrews just outside the capital and then motorcaded into fortress D.C. — a city that's been flooded by some 25,000 National Guard troops guarding a Capitol, White House and National Mall that are wrapped in a maze of barricades and tall fencing. “These are dark times," Biden told supporters in an emotional sendoff in Delaware. "But there’s always light.” Biden, who ran for the presidency as a cool head who could get things done, plans to issue a series of executive orders on Day One — including reversing Trump's effort to leave the Paris climate accord, cancelling Trump's travel ban on visitors from several predominantly Muslim countries, and extending pandemic-era limits on evictions and student loan payments. Trump won’t be on hand as Biden is sworn in, the first outgoing president to entirely skip inaugural festivities since Andrew Johnson more than a century and a half ago. The White House released a farewell video from Trump just as Biden landed at Joint Base Andrews. Trump, who has repeatedly and falsely claimed widespread fraud led to his election loss, extended “best wishes” to the incoming administration in his nearly 20-minute address but did not utter Biden's name. Trump also spent some of his last time in the White House huddled with advisers weighing final-hour pardons and grants of clemency. He planned to depart from Washington Wednesday morning in a grand airbase ceremony that he helped plan himself. Biden at his Delaware farewell, held at the National Guard/Reserve Center named after his late son Beau Biden, paid tribute to his home state. After his remarks, he stopped and chatted with friends and well-wishers in the crowd, much as he had at Iowa rope lines at the start of his long campaign journey. “I’ll always be a proud son of the state of Delaware,” said Biden, who struggled to hold back tears as he delivered brief remarks. Inaugural organizers this week finished installing some 200,000 U.S., state and territorial flags on the National Mall, a display representing the American people who couldn’t come to the inauguration, which is tightly limited under security and Covid restrictions. The display was also a reminder of all the president-elect faces as he looks to steer the nation through the pandemic with infections and deaths soaring. Out of the starting gate, Biden and his team are intent on moving quickly to speed distribution of vaccinations to anxious Americans and pass his $1.9 trillion virus relief package, which includes quick payments to many people and an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Biden also plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on the first day of his administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status. That would be a major reversal from the Trump administration’s tight immigration policies. Some leading Republican have already balked at Biden's immigration plan. "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., who is often a central player in Senate immigration battles. Many of Biden's legislative ambitions could be tempered by the hard numbers he faces on Capitol Hill, where Democrats hold narrow majorities in both the Senate and House. His hopes to press forward with an avalanche of legislation in his first 100 days could also be slowed by an impeachment trial of Trump. As Biden made his way to Washington, five of his Cabinet picks were appearing Tuesday before Senate committees to begin confirmation hearings. Treasury nominee Janet Yellen, Defence nominee Lloyd Austin, Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken and Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines were being questioned. Yellen urged lawmakers to embrace Biden’s virus relief package, arguing that “the smartest thing we can do is act big.” Aides say Biden will use Wednesday's inaugural address — one that will be delivered in front of an unusually small in-person group because of virus protocols and security concerns and is expected to run 20 to 30 minutes — to call for American unity and offer an optimistic message that Americans can get past the dark moment by working together. To that end, he extended invitations to Congress' top four Republican and Democratic leaders to attend Mass with him at St. Matthew's Cathedral ahead of the inauguration ceremony. ___ Madhani reported from Chicago. Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Alan Fram and Alexandra Jaffe contributed reporting. ___ This story has been corrected to show that flags on the National Mall represent people who couldn't come, not COVID deaths. Bill Barrow And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
Despite a glitch in text messaging for the Brandon vaccination site, COVID -19 vaccinations took place as planned Monday morning. Joanna Robb, who works at Shared Health’s Westman Regional Laboratory, was the first to be vaccinated yesterday morning. Kirsten Boyce, Robb’s co-worker, was the second. They booked their appointments without issue early last week. Both say no one in their workplace had any issues with booking their appointments. The two, along with others in their workplace, work with body-fluid samples, primarily screening for cancer and pre-cancerous changes. “We’ve already started to see body fluids coming through where it says COVID-positive,” Robb said. As to how they felt about being vaccinated, they both said they were happy to receive the vaccine. Robb said she’s the one in the lab following all the daily numbers. She has a co-worker with family in Saskatchewan who hasn’t seen her parents since the summer. Robb has three children, including a daughter in Grade 12, who is experiencing a tumultuous final year in school. “Everything is just upside-down and to just have this hope that the vaccine is actually happening here in Brandon, now, it’s hopeful. It’s definitely moving the right way. If we could just give everyone a vaccine, like the Amazon dropoff, that would be great,” Robb said. “If there was just a way for everyone that wanted a vaccine, if they could get one … But, we have to be patient and wait.” However, Robb acknowledges how amazing it is that one year after COVID-19 began its spread, vaccines are being deployed. “It’s happening,” she said. “We’ve discussed it amongst ourselves, co-workers, and we talked to our clinical microbiologist — I always say he’s my panic button. If he panics, I panic. So, as long as he’s keeping his calm demeanour, I’m always good. Everyone was working for the same goal. I have confidence in it.” Boyce said her experience was also “easy peasy.” “Seeing how we just heard that they’re paring things back for now, I’m just so, so grateful to have the opportunity to be one of the people that actually gets it so soon. I’m super excited to get this done. I was talking with my family last night … My brother is like, ‘I have major vaccine envy,’” Boyce said. The province is not taking new appointment bookings, due to Pfizer announcing a slowdown in vaccine production, but all appointments currently booked will be honoured. Dr. Joss Reimer said Monday afternoon at the province’s daily COVID-19 update they are recalibrating the coming weeks as a result of that announcement. Robb said the flow through the various stations at the Keystone vaccination site went smoothly. Neither Robb nor Boyce felt the effects of the text issue, which sent the address of the Winnipeg vaccination site for their Brandon appointments. They both knew where they were booked. PetalMD, the company being paid $436,400 to manage COVID-19 screening services for the province, made that text mistake, and were lambasted in emails between provincial employees. “Per Adam’s note — we are now creating a process where we are checking PedalMD’s work. This is the same organization used by over 37,000 doctors across Canada. They are the largest, most reputable player in the space. They have now done this to us — twice. We are going to put them on training heels,” wrote Paul Beauregard to a list of several government employees. In the email thread, contractual penalties are discussed. NDP leadership has an issue with the government and PedalMD. They say this is one more glaring example of mistakes being made during the pandemic. “I think that this is another mistake in the vaccine rollout from the government. I think the average Manitoban probably understands that everyone makes mistakes sometimes, but it does seem pretty odd that the government seems to be making so many mistakes so many times when it comes to the vaccine rollout, whether it was wasting doses or long waits on the phone, trouble booking appointments, and then, now, messing up the messaging of the addresses a few times,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. “In the emails, you see the government admitting themselves that they’ve made some mistakes, more than once. They’ve done it again. It causes concern, because at the end of the day it was health-care workers and other people at the front of the vaccine line in Brandon, who are caused unnecessary stress and confusion.” The province, via a spokesperson, admitted appointment reminder texts were sent with an incorrect address to 558 people with vaccination Monday appointments at the Keystone Centre. “The human error was quickly addressed by a followup text. Government is conducting a review to ensure the service provider is held accountable and that the mistake does not occur again. People with appointments are asked to keep them as scheduled,” the spokesperson stated. The Brandon site is set to deliver its vaccines as planned, two trays with 1,170 vaccines per tray. Both Robb and Boyce have appointments for their second mandated dose. As for possible reopening plans after current critical code red public health orders expire Friday night, Dr. Brent Roussin said more information would be forthcoming later in the week. MONDAY’S COVID-19 UPDATE The COVID-19 update from the province on Monday saw four additional deaths listed, none from the Prairie Mountain Health region. The province reported 118 new cases, as follows: • 11 cases in the Interlake–Eastern health region; • 46 cases in the Northern health region; • seven in the Prairie Mountain Health region; • nine cases in the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region; and • 45 cases in the Winnipeg health region. The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate was 10.6 per cent in the province, and 7.3 per cent in Winnipeg. Lab-confirmed cases in Manitoba total 27,629, with 773 deaths or 2.8 per cent. The province reports 3,108 active cases, with 23,748 individuals who have recovered from COVID-19. The province has advised the active case count is less, and that number will better reflect the correct number soon. The province also reported 135 people are in hospital with active COVID-19, as well as 154 people in hospital with COVID-19 who are no longer infectious but continue to require care, for a total of 289 hospitalizations. Twenty-three people are in intensive care units with active COVID-19, as well as 12 people with COVID-19 who are no longer infectious but continue to require critical care, for a total of 35 ICU patients. In the Prairie Mountain Health region, there are 203 active cases, with 1,567 recovered. There are 13 people hospitalized, with one patient in ICU, and a total of 43 deaths. Brandon’s active case count is 66, with 821 recovered and 19 deaths. On Thursday, 1,322 tests were completed, for a total of 453, 481 since February, 2020. » Source: Province of Manitoba PRAIRIE MOUNTAIN HEALTH OUTBREAK NUMBERS As of Jan. 18, the status of COVID-19 outbreaks in Prairie Mountain Health were as follows: • Brandon Correctional Centre: 108 total cases, 18 staff infected, 90 non-staff infected, one active case, 107 recovered, zero death. • McCreary/Alonsa Health Centre: 43 total cases, 14 staff infected, 29 non-staff infected, 30 active cases, nine recovered, four deaths. • Fairview Personal Care Home: 109 total cases, 41 staff infected, 68 non-staff infected, 0 active cases, 92 recovered, 17 deaths. • Grandview Personal Care Home: 37 total cases, 12 staff infected, 25 residents infected, 0 active cases, 32 recovered, five deaths. • St. Paul’s Personal Care Home: one total cases, one staff infected, 0 residents infected, one active case, 0 recovered, 0 deaths. • Dauphin Regional Health Centre medicine unit: No information Note: An outbreak is considered over one incubation period (14 days) after the final active case. » Source: Province of Manitoba VACCINATION UPDATE To date, 17,751 doses of vaccine have been administered, including 15,607 first doses and 2,144 second doses. Manitoba’s focused immunization teams continue to immunize residents at personal care homes across the province. First doses of the vaccine will now be given to all eligible residents by the end of January, more than a week ahead of initial projections. Last week, teams visited 10 personal care homes, and all consenting and eligible personal care home residents were immunized with their first dose. This week, residents at 51 personal care homes will be immunized throughout the province. All new appointments were paused on Jan. 15 due to the uncertainty caused by the Pfizer vaccine supply disruption. However, Manitoba has revised its updated projections based on new forecasts received from the federal government detailing the revised vaccine delivery schedules. Manitoba will release additional details on the next steps of its immunization campaign later this week. » Source: Province of Manitoba Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
(ANNews) – In November 2020, The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) released preliminary guidance on the key populations for early COVID-19 vaccinations, “for the efficient, effective, and equitable allocation of COVID-19 vaccine(s).” The NACI guidance came because of the limited supply of the vaccines which necessitates that there be “prioritization of immunization in some populations earlier than others.” The key populations in Stage 1 of the national vaccine rollout, which were identified by the NACI, are as follows: On January 19, Chief of Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation Tony Alexis, condemned the Albertan Government for its handling and distribution of its COVID vaccines. “Provinces across Canada are following the NACI guidance and vaccinating Indigenous communities early, with other populations like the elderly identified as vulnerable,” said Chief Alexis. “Meanwhile in Alberta under Minister [of Health] Shandro’s watch, First Nation communities are seeing case numbers rapidly rise, while the rest of the Alberta COVID numbers decline.” Alarmingly, First Nations in Alberta have experienced the most on-reserve COVID cases in the entire country. At the time of writing, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) lists Alberta as having 4,086 confirmed cases within First Nations. A few days ago, it was also reported that Maskwacis has had a total of 1,573 cases – nearly 10 percent of its entire population. Chief Tony Alexis continued by saying, “after weeks of discussions and ‘consultation’ with Chiefs across Alberta – the government of Alberta deceived us and made special arrangements to distribute vaccines early to only one First Nation community. There was no direct communication for this action beforehand.” “This behaviour belittles First Nations people and is a tactic that has been historically used by the government to divide Indigenous people in an attempt to pit us against one another.” “Please know, my outrage is not directed to the community receiving the vaccine early, it is directed to Minister Shandro and the UCP government,” Chief Alexis emphasized. “I am tired of being consulted and urged to work together when it truly does not matter. The UCP government continues to leave us in the dark on issues that directly and disproportionately affect Indigenous people.” The Chief ended his statement by urging Minister Shandro that 10,000 doses would not be enough and that they need to comply with the NACI’s guidance. Then just yesterday, Jason Kenney announced that the provincial government’s plan to vaccinate First Nations and Métis individuals aged 65 and older, which was expected to begin in February, has been put on hold until further notice. “We have quite simply run out of supply,” Kenney said at a press conference. Jacob Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Alberta Native News
BÉCANCOUR. Toujours généreux de son temps et reconnaissant pour l’intérêt qu’on lui porte, Zachary Bolduc a accepté de répondre aux questions du Courrier Sud au cœur de cette saison hors de l’ordinaire marquée par la COVID-19. Une année 2021 pour le porte-couleur de l’Océanic de Rimouski qui est également celle de son admissibilité au repêchage de la Ligue nationale de hockey (LNH). «En raison de blessures, j’ai disputé 7 matchs des 16 de mon équipe. C’est derrière moi. J’ai continué de m’entrainer en salle. J’ai mis les bouchées doubles et je ne crois pas que cela va compromettre mon développement», exprime le Bécancourois qui tire de grandes leçons de la COVID-19. Une pandémie qui affecte grandement les activités de la Ligue de hockey junior majeur du Québec (LHJMQ). «C’est certain que c’est fâchant de ne pas avoir une saison normale et de disputer moins de parties. On s’adapte. Notre entraineur Serge Beausoleil nous fait disputer des mini-matchs. C’est une épreuve qui va quand même m’être utile pour le futur. Ça me permet d’avoir le focus à la bonne place et de mettre l’accent sur ce que je contrôle», indique sagement l’attaquant qui a remporté le titre de recrue de l’année de la LHJMQ l’an dernier. Bien que d’une nature calme, il demeure que Zachary Bolduc ressent une certaine excitation à penser que 2021 est son année d’admissibilité pour le repêchage de la grande ligue. «Mais je ne suis pas trop distrait par ça. Quand j’ai commencé à jouer au hockey, c’était pour avoir du plaisir et c’est ce que je continue de faire tout en voulant m’améliorer», souligne un Zachary Bolduc qui a déjà été interviewé, virtuellement, par une dizaine d’équipes de la Ligue nationale de hockey. «Ça ressemble à une entrevue pour un emploi. Il y a des mises en situation. Les organisations veulent apprendre sur moi: comment je suis comme personne et comme joueur. Certaines équipes m’ont également fait passer des tests psychométriques», explique-t-il. Évidemment, en discutant avec Zachary Bolduc, on n’allait pas se priver de connaître son point de vue sur Alexis Lafrenière. Premier choix à l’encan amateur de 2020, l’ancien Océanic a amorcé sa carrière professionnelle la semaine dernière. «J’aime regarder le hockey, je n’ai pas manqué un match du Canada lors du championnat mondial junior de hockey. J’avais aussi hâte que la LNH recommence pour voir Alexis jouer avec les Rangers de New York. C’est un excellent joueur. Son talent et sa façon de travailler vont paraître. Je ne suis vraiment pas inquiet pour lui», conclut celui qui pourrait bien le retrouver dans le circuit Bettman sous peu. Mais d’ici là, il devra poursuivre son cheminement dans la LHJMQ. D’ailleurs, au moment d’écrire ces lignes, des rumeurs d’échange le concernant étaient dans l’air, l’envoyant chez les Rempart de Québec ou chez les Olympiques de Gatineau. À suivre… Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Albertans logged hundreds of rat reports in 2020, double a typical year, but it's not necessarily because more pests are scurrying around the province. Norway rats are considered to be extremely destructive — they can carry disease and eat through valuable crops. For more than 70 years the province has been determined to stop these pests from calling Alberta home, concentrating efforts along the Saskatchewan border, banning the animals as pets, and investigating any hint of a rat inside the province's borders. Out of 481 rat reports, just 17 turned out to be the real deal last year. Karen Wickerson, specialist with Alberta's Rat Control Program, said the province set up an email in 2020 which helps turn around a case faster than the 310-RATS number. The new reporting method could have helped bolster reporting numbers last year. "When they're out in the environment outside, they have their phones with them and so they can easily take out their phone and email us in a photo, and then we can respond very quickly and tell them which species it is," Wickerson said. "If it is a confirmed rat then we can contact the appropriate people and have them go out and investigate." Wickerson said while Albertans are diligent about reporting rats they usually get it wrong. "What I've noticed about Albertans is they feel a really strong responsibility to report a rat sighting because they know that we are rat-free, which is great," Wickerson said. "Because we don't have a resident population of rats in Alberta, they don't know what a rat looks like." Muskrats more common About half of the sightings in 2020 turned out to be muskrats. But Wickerson doesn't mind. "I'd rather have 100 muskrat emails and, you know, not miss out on a rat sighting or a confirmed rat than people think, 'oh, it might be a muskrat, I'm not going to send an email,'" she said. She added there may be an educational campaign coming in the spring to help Albertans better identify what rats look like. For her, the difference between a waddling muskrat, and a scurrying rat is night and day — but she has daily practice identifying the critters that land in her inbox. It's unclear if the pandemic played a role in last year's rat sightings. Dr. Kaylee Byers is the Regional Deputy Director with the B.C. Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative. She's also a researcher with the Vancouver rat program. Byers said throughout the pandemic rats made headlines. The pests were seen in the daylight, reportedly on the move scouring the streets for scraps of food as more humans retreated indoors. "We would certainly expect to see some changes in rat behaviours in relation to major changes in the environment," Byers said. "What exactly those have looked like? All of those reports have been largely anecdotal." Rat research still in its infancy Byers said in many areas there aren't baseline studies or statistics to help better understand what kinds of effects the pandemic has had on rat populations. Rats are notoriously hard to research, as studying wild ones means catching them, sometimes more than once to monitor behaviour. "Wouldn't it have been nice if we were set up to study this in advance?" Byers said. "The way we answer these kinds of questions is through having systems of reporting so we can say whether or not rat sightings have gone up or down." Alberta's Saskatchewan border is patrolled several times a year to check rats aren't crossing over into the province. Rats can't live in mountainous areas, which is good as it keeps British Columbia rats at bay. But, Wickerson said the rodents are crafty hitchhikers. Out of the 26 rats found in 2020, many rode into Alberta on transport trucks or even personal vehicles, which is something Wickerson hopes to work on. There's also been a trend of rats ending up at recycling centres across the province. Wickerson said in Calgary, a family drove from Vancouver Island back to Calgary, making a stop in Kelowna before parking their SUV inside their garage at home. The next morning the homeowner found a rat dead in the garage, floating in a pail of water. Rats like to hitchhike "Check your vehicle when you come back from B.C. so that it doesn't increase our risk of rats entering into the province," Wickerson said, adding many Albertans own property in the neighbouring province. Wickerson hopes to collect more data on rats found in Alberta, mapping out where they are found, recording their specific species, all to see if she can tease out a pattern. "Location, urban-rural, the type of rat and then where it was reported, I'll put in the GPS location, alive or dead, how many, that sort of thing," Wickerson said. "I would like someone to come along, like a grad student, to do a study."
In a moment of nation-splintering turmoil, an incoming American president, Abraham Lincoln, travelled by train to his inauguration in Washington, D.C., in a nerve-racking ride cloaked in disguise as he faced threats to his life. Now, 160 years later, an incoming president has cancelled plans for a train ride to Washington. It was supposed to be a symbolic journey highlighting Joe Biden's decades-long habit of riding the rails to D.C. each day from his family home in Delaware. Instead, it has taken on a sad new symbolism, of an American capital clenched shut in fear of political violence at Wednesday's inauguration. The question nagging at residents here, and at security analysts, is whether the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the worst of a passing storm, a one-off, or the start of a dark era of political violence. What's already clear is this will be no normal inauguration. The American capital has transformed into a heavily armed and tightly barricaded fortress. "Clearly, we are in uncharted waters," Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser told a news conference last week, urging tourists to stay away from her city during the inauguration. Fences are now up around Washington's downtown. Thousands of soldiers are patrolling the streets, bridges are blocked, parking garages are shut, bicycle-sharing services are suspended, Airbnb reservations are cancelled, and residents are being urged on neighbourhood chat groups against renting rooms to tourists. Suspicion strikes Capitol Hill neighbourhood Security concerns are most acute in the neighbourhood near the Capitol. Lawyer Matt Scarlato already has an overnight bag packed in case unrest spills into his neighbourhood and he's forced to flee the city with his family. He lives near one of the new security barriers near Capitol Hill, where police are forcing residents on some streets to show ID if they want to access their home. Scarlato was working from home the day of the riot in the Capitol building, when unexploded bombs were found near political party offices. He received a message from his son's daycare urging parents to immediately come pick up their children. Scarlato grabbed a baseball bat and tossed it in the car for the ride to the daycare. "It was a minute-by-minute escalation," Scarlato said. "We were all just sitting in the house saying, 'What the hell is going on?'" A longtime resident of the area, he compared the recent panic to a smaller-scale version of what he witnessed during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. On the day of the Capitol riot, he was concerned by the sight of an unfamiliar RV on his street given the reports of bombs in Washington and the recent explosion in Nashville. For her part, Monica Ingram, a retired health-care administrator, was rattled yesterday morning by the sound of helicopters hovering over the same Capitol Hill neighbourhood. Around that same time, the congressional precinct was ordered evacuated. The panic was the result of an explosion and fire nearby, caused by a propane tank in a homeless encampment. Ingram said people now look at each other differently, warily. Ingram saw a man taking pictures of streets near the Capitol the other day and she worried whether he was up to something nefarious. "We're suspicious of each other now. It's sad," she said. "It's very disheartening, upsetting. It's like I don't even know this country anymore." WATCH | Staff and media scramble as a blast goes off during inauguration rehearsal: Some call for indoor inauguration She's among the many people with mixed feelings about whether this inauguration should even be happening in public. Ultimately, she prefers it going forward, as opposed to moving to a makeshift indoor location, in order to deliver a message: that this country won't buckle in fear. There is, however, a part of her that hopes Biden might throw another inaugural party, a year from now, a real festive party, after this pandemic, and this panic. Biden should have a "redo" inauguration, she said. "It's so sad that president-elect Biden has to be sworn in like this. It should be a day of joy for this country." There's no guarantee this place will feel safer in a year. Mark Hertling, a retired lieutenant-general who led U.S. soldiers in Europe, said he worries about whether the United States is now entering an era of political insurgency. And he's not alone. One-time riot or preview of insurgency? Some analysts who study domestic political violence have warned for years (in thesis papers and books and government reports) that the conditions existed for an American insurgency on the right. Those conditions include a proliferation of guns, a surge in ex-military joining militia groups, two increasingly hostile political parties, and a split along racial and cultural lines in a rapidly diversifying country. A 2018 book, Alt-America, charts how membership in armed militia groups skyrocketed after the election of a first Black president, Barack Obama, in 2008, and these fringe groups began showing up at political protests. Alleged members of such militias are now accused of participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, where numerous people were dressed in paramilitary-themed clothing and several could be heard in the crowd warning they'd be back with weapons. "Welcome to the reality of other countries," said Greg Ehrie, who led FBI domestic terrorism units and is now vice-president of law enforcement and analysis at the Anti-Defamation League. "There is sort of an underlying belief that if we can get through Wednesday, this stops and then it moves on. And that's just not true.… This is going to be something we're going to be living with for several years — this heightened sense of security." Details released since the siege of the Capitol suggest things could have been worse. Jan. 6 could have been worse One man arrested that day allegedly had two guns and enough materials to make 11 Molotov cocktails, and another allegedly had a loaded gun, spare bullets and a gas mask. A federal prosecutor said one air force veteran who carried plastic handcuffs intended to take hostages. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City said in a YouTube video she believed she was going to die during the riot in the Capitol and that she experienced a traumatic event she declined to discuss: "Many, many, many members of Congress were almost murdered," she said in the video. "We were very lucky [to escape]." One police officer died as a result of injuries sustained during the riot. Another said he narrowly survived the angry mob and described how he was Tasered while some wanted to take his gun and kill him with it. Joseph Young, a professor at American University in D.C. who studies the factors that drive political violence, usually in other countries, said he is bothered by the trends he sees. "More and more, my work has been applicable to the United States," he said in an interview. "[And that's] troubling." A word of historical caution He said it's wrong, however, to conclude this is a more violent political era than the 1960s and 1970s. The U.S. experienced hundreds of terrorist attacks back then, from white-supremacist church bombings to political assassinations to the activities of the left-wing group Weather Underground, which bombed the Capitol, the State Department and other government buildings. But he's still worried about the current U.S. situation. As are the authorities preparing for inauguration day. The Pentagon has authorized the Washington, D.C., National Guard to carry weapons on domestic soil amid ongoing worries about the possible use of explosives. About 25,000 National Guard troops from D.C. and several states were expected to be part of the security operation. National Guard members are being screened themselves for any extremist affiliations. On Tuesday, Pentagon officials said 12 National Guard members were removed from securing Biden's inauguration after vetting by the FBI, including two who posted and texted extremist views about Wednesday's event. A Secret Service member was reportedly under investigation over political comments related to the Capitol riot posted on Facebook. Jared Holt, an expert who monitors extremist chatter online, said it has gotten quieter lately. He said he was extremely worried before Jan. 6 about the heated and violent rhetoric he saw in online platforms. People were posting tips for smuggling guns into Washington and maps of the underground tunnels connecting the Capitol to lawmakers' offices. Those same forums erupted in joy after the attack. "It was initially jubilation," said Holt, of the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Washington-based Atlantic Council think-tank. "They were thrilled. They felt incredibly accomplished. [Now], the cohesion between groups has eroded." It became clear within hours of the riot that it might backfire — against those involved and against Donald Trump. It failed to stop the vote to certify Biden's election win. Then it led to Trump's swift impeachment in the House. WATCH | Preparations underway to fortify U.S. capital ahead of inauguration day: Has the threat already receded? Some rioters in the Capitol who posted triumphant images of themselves on social media have been arrested or fired from their jobs, with their posts used as evidence against them. Social media platforms are either limiting extremist rhetoric and shutting out Trump, are offline altogether (Parler), or are unusually slow (Gab). Holt now worries that violent rhetoric is moving to tighter channels that are harder to monitor publicly, such as Telegram and other private messaging apps. So residents of Washington, D.C., and the country as a whole, enter this historic transition week in a fog of uncertainty, about whether they've just witnessed a dark passing moment in the life of the American republic or a sombre omen. "It looks like a police state down here. We've never seen it like this," Emilie Frank, a communications professional, said in an interview a few days ago, referring to the imposing concrete-and-metal labyrinth being erected downtown. "It would normally be bustling, everybody's excited [for the inauguration]. But it's silent, blocked off, police cars everywhere." She doesn't know if any of this will be necessary. But she'd rather have this than the under-preparation by authorities that the city witnessed on Jan. 6, she said. "So, even if it's just [for] show, it's better than nothing, I guess," she said. "If some people will be convinced they should stay away after seeing all this stuff in place, then that's good." WATCH | Ex-FBI agent on the new domestic terrorism:
Central Health is revealing more information about a problem with its COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which forced the health authority to hastily organize an immunization clinic to prevent it from losing some doses. After repeated requests from CBC, the health authority provided more details by email Tuesday afternoon. The statement said a shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine "went to a temperature that did not permit longer storage" on its way to Grand Falls-Windsor on Jan. 7, and had to be administered within six hours. The health authority said that batch made up only a "small portion" of its supply: 160 doses that were allotted for a clinic the next day. The temperature monitor for the shipment went outside the recommended 2 to 8 C, meaning they could not be refrozen. According to the statement, the health authority "engaged provincial consultants who confirmed the vaccine was safe to use but had to be administered in the required time frame." The health authority says it suspects there may have been an issue with the placement of the monitor that was measuring the temperature of the vaccine. It said the doses fell out of the recommended temperature range, but none of them were wasted. "We quickly organized an impromptu clinic with priority health-care workers, along with a small number of additional employees who were available to attend at such a short notice," the statement said. "The 160 doses were safely administered with no wastage. Many of those who were immunized already had appointments booked for Friday onward." Central Health refused two requests to do an interview with CBC, and wouldn't provide more information on the incident until Tuesday afternoon, such as what the exact problem was, what type of vaccine was involved, and how many people ended up vaccinated. On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the health authority said someone would speak about the issue to CBC's Newfoundland Morning on Thursday. The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine must be stored at ultra-low temperatures to be viable, between –60 C and –80 C. The Moderna vaccine is more stable, but must still be stored at around –20 C. The provincial government has said that due to Moderna's stability, those doses were earmarked for remote communities in Labrador. Also on Tuesday afternoon, Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, the person in charge of national vaccine distribution, said Canada would not receive any doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine next week, as the company upgrades its European plant. Fortin said that delay will have "considerable impact." It's not clear yet on how the drop in shipments will affect Newfoundland and Labrador. No new cases Tuesday The province has five active cases of COVID-19, with one person in hospital, the Department of Health said Tuesday. No new cases were reported Tuesday, and one person in the Eastern Health region has recovered since Monday, with a total of 384 people recovering since March. As of Tuesday, 76,740 people have been tested, and as of last Wednesday, 5,291 vaccine doses had been administered. The Department of Health has said vaccination data will be released weekly. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
KABUL — Some 10 million children in war-ravaged Afghanistan are at risk of not having enough food to eat in 2021, a humanitarian organization said Tuesday and called for $1.3 billion in new funds for aid. Just over 18 million Afghans, including 9.7 million children, are badly in need of lifesaving support, including food, Save the Children said in a statement. The group called for $1.3 billion in donations to pay for assistance in 2021. Chris Nyamandi, the organization's Afghanistan country director, said Afghans are suffering under a combination of violent conflict, poverty and the virus pandemic. “It’s a desperately bad situation that needs urgent attention from the international community,” he said. The latest round of peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government negotiators that began earlier this month in Qatar has been slow to produce results as concerns grow over a recent spike in violence across Afghanistan. The pandemic has also had a disastrous impact on millions of Afghan families. In 2020, the World Bank estimated that the pandemic had hugely disrupted imports, including vital household items, which in turn led to rapid inflation. The added health and economic strains of the pandemic have deepened the humanitarian impact across the country. Many Afghans also blame runaway government corruption and lawlessness for the country’s poor economy. The U.N. and its humanitarian partners will seek $1.3 billion in aid for 16 million Afghans in need this year, U.N. secretary-general spokesman Stephane Dujarric, said this month. That’s up from an estimated 2.3 million people last year who needed life-saving assistance. “It’s a huge increase in people who need aid,” he said. Nyamandi said that with no immediate end in sight to the decades-long conflict, millions of people will continue to suffer. “It’s especially hard on children, many of whom have known nothing but violence," he said. According to the U.N., nearly 6,000 people — a third of them children — were killed or wounded in fighting in Afghanistan between January and September last year, Nyamandi said. The violence continues to force hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes every year and limit people's access to resources including hospitals and clinics. In a Save the Children report in December, the group said more than 300,000 Afghan children faced freezing winter conditions that could lead to illness and death without proper winter clothing and heating. The organization provided winter kits to more than 100,000 families in 12 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. The kits included fuel and a heater, blankets and winter clothes, including coats, socks, shoes and hats. Nyamandi said the plight of the Afghan people is threatened by inadequate humanitarian funding pledged by wealthy nations at a conference in Geneva in November. “Aid to Afghanistan has dropped alarmingly at a time when humanitarian need is rising. We’re now in the unsustainable position where aid falls far short of what’s needed to meet the needs of the people” he said. The London-based Save the Children report cites 10-year-old Brishna from eastern Nangarhar province as saying her family was forced to leave their home and move to another district because of the fighting. “Life is difficult," she said. “My father, who is responsible for bringing us food, is sick.” Brishna said she and her brother collect garbage for cooking fires and it has been a long time since they had proper food and clothes. “My siblings and I always wish to have three meals in a day with some fruits, and a better life. But sometimes, we sleep with empty stomachs. During the winter we don’t have blankets and heating stuff to warm our house,” she said. ___ This story has been corrected to show that the aid group is calling for $1.3 billion, not $3 billion in aid money. Rahim Faiez, The Associated Press
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa's trailblazing Black food writer Dorah Sitole's latest cookbook was widely hailed in December as a moving chronicle of her journey from humble township cook to famous, well-travelled author. The country's new Black celebrity chefs lined up to praise her as a mentor who encouraged them to succeed by highlighting what they knew best: tasty African food. Now they are mourning Sitole's death this month from COVID-19. She was 65. In “40 Years of Iconic Food,” Sitole engagingly described how she quietly battled South Africa's racist apartheid system to find appreciation, and a market, for African cuisine. Her book became a holiday bestseller, purchased by Blacks and whites alike. Sitole's career started in 1980 at the height of apartheid when she was hired by a canned foods company to promote sales of their products by giving cooking classes in Black townships. She found that she loved the work. In 1987, Sitole became the country's first Black food writer when she was appointed food editor for True Love, one of the few publications for the country's Black majority. The magazine, and its competitor Drum, were known for giving Black writers, photographers and editors the freedom to write about the Black condition and experience. With stories that were about much more than food, Sitole described how traditional African dishes brought pleasure to families and communities in troubled times. She was known for her distinctive takes on well-known recipes and tips on how to make them on a budget. She won an avid readership and became a household name, even as South Africa's townships were roiled by anti-apartheid violence. When apartheid ended and Nelson Mandela became president in 1994, Sitole found new opportunities. She trained as a Cordon Bleu chef and got a diploma in marketing. She travelled across Africa to learn about the continent's cuisine, producing the book “Cooking from Cape to Cairo.” In interviews, she pointed out her East African fish dish with basmati rice that she developed while travelling through that region, and the seafood samp recipe, which is basically a paella using chopped corn kernels instead of the traditional rice. In 2008, Sitole's success was acknowledged when she was appointed True Love's editor-in-chief. Sitole's warmth and generosity is credited with opening doors for many Black chefs, food writers and influencers who are thriving in South Africa today. “Mam (mother) Dorah’s approach to food was a mixture of things. First, it was something that was driven by her background, she was very true to who she was," said Siba Mtongana, one of South Africa's brightest new chefs, who started out as food editor for Drum magazine and now has a television series and cookbooks. “She would take what we grew up eating and add a twist to them, and add flavours that we would not ordinarily have thought of putting together,” said Mtongana who has opened a restaurant in Cape Town, featuring food from all over Africa. She said Sitole imbued her with a passion for exposing the world to Africa's many cuisines saying she loved describing to her readers what others enjoy eating across Africa, and around the world. Another chef who credits Sitole for assisting her is Khanya Mzongwana, a contributing editor for food retailer Woolworths’ Taste magazine. “Mam Dorah wore so many hats — she was a writer, a creator, a mother, a friend, a real artist. I remember just how awesome it was to see a Black woman blazing trails in food media. Nobody was doing that," said Mzongwana. “What made Mam Dorah the best was definitely how she could fill a space with pleasantness," said Mzongwana. “She was so generous with her resources and wanted to see all of us — her daughters — win. Paying it forward in meaningful ways is something I saw Mam Dorah do first," she said. “She loved and respected everybody and made what seemed like such a wild dream appear so reachable and normal. She was one of the most impactful Black women in the food world.” Sitole received numerous awards for her contribution to South African culture. In one of her last interviews, Sitole said the highlight of her four-decade career was her trip across the continent. “I had always wanted to travel through Africa and I had no clue what to expect," she said on Radio 702. "It was almost like you don’t know what you are going into, and then you find it. I loved every moment and every country that I went to, I loved the food and the experience." Sitole is survived by her children Nonhlanhla, Phumzile and Ayanda. Mogomotsi Magome, The Associated Press
Health officials in northern Quebec Cree communities are pleased with the early rollout of a region-wide vaccination campaign launched in a snowstorm over the weekend. Shipments of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine were delivered safely Saturday across the nine inland and coastal communities of Eeyou Istchee, the traditional name of the Cree territory in northern Quebec. "[Teams] were fully prepared ... as the vaccines arrived, everybody was set to go," said Bertie Wapachee, the chairperson of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay. As the vaccines arrived, everybody was set to go. - Bertie Wapachee, Chairperson of CBHSSJB "We were very proud of our team. And I'm very grateful to have all of them on the ground," said Wapachee. Cases up in two Cree communities More than 3,000 vaccinations have already been administered across Eeyou Istchee, according to officials. That includes 1,200 advance doses sent to Mistissini and Oujé-Bougoumou, two communities currently dealing with outbreaks of the virus. On Monday, local officials confirmed there are 26 cases of COVID-19 in Oujé-Bougoumou and 25 in Mistissini, up from last week. "Vaccination is an important first step toward being able to finally put this pandemic behind us as a nation," said Grand Chief Abel Bosum, who was vaccinated last week in Oujé-Bougoumou. In Chisasibi, the largest of the Cree communities, more than 700 people had been vaccinated by 3 p.m. Monday, according to Jeannie Pelletier, who is the local director of the community's health clinic. "I believe the vaccine will help us, and I am happy that many [people] came," said Pelletier in Cree. She also reminded people of the importance of continuing with the measures in place, such as physical distancing and wearing a mask, even after they have been vaccinated. "I wish to tell people that this won't end soon, and we still need to be vigilant in keeping with the safety protocols that are in place to keep us all safe," she said. The launch of the territory-wide vaccination campaign has been months in the planning, according to Jason Coonishish, coordinator of the pre-hospital and emergency measures for the CBHSSJB. In recent weeks, the coordinating team has been meeting weekly to go over the logistics of the arrival of the doses and the transportation by air charter and car to the different communities across the vast territory. The vaccination campaign is expected to last eight weeks. "We've been doing this for many years since H1N1, and every year after that we've been having influenza vaccines," said Coonishish. "We know how to handle it and we're ready." Coonishish is confident as the campaign gathers momentum and more people share photos and stories of being vaccinated, more and more Cree will choose to receive the vaccine and protect their families.
After months out of the spotlight, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has returned centre stage with diplomatic and economic moves which diplomats say are aimed at showing the new U.S. president he is a valuable partner who can get things done. Within the span of a few weeks, the kingdom announced an Arab deal to reconcile with Qatar, voluntary cuts to Saudi crude output to help stabilise markets and new momentum on an economic diversification plan that stumbled due to political controversy, low oil prices and COVID-19. Whether behind the scenes or front and centre chairing a Gulf summit for the first time, the young prince, known as MbS, is moving to present an image as a reliable statesman and set a pragmatic tone with a less accommodating Biden administration, especially on foe Iran, three foreign diplomats said.
Shaun Tobac loves to hunt. Between moose and caribou in the Sahtu region, Tobac takes what he needs for his own family and then provides meat for the elders in Fort Good Hope, N.W.T. But an unusually warm fall and winter has yielded a slow year for hunters and trappers in the N.W.T. From a lack of animals on the landscape to safety concerns, to stories of changes in the snow and wind, several northerners discussed the "weird" season and its impact on hunting this year. Tobac was raised on the land. Taught by his grandfather, Charlie, and other elders in Fort Good Hope, Tobac learned how to hunt moose and caribou and trap furs at a young age — a skill he now uses to give back to the community. "A lot of people ask for meat so I'm always hunting," the 27-year-old said with a laugh. Providing elders with moose and caribou meat, the hunter doesn't ask for payment but does accept help with gas money for the ski-doo. But it has been a hard season. "I kind of find it different because we usually do our hunting, we usually go to the river for moose, but it's pretty hard for the moose on the river because the water came up too high," Tobac said. The Fort Good Hope local also traps but said the lack of snow this season has wreaked havoc on the machines. "Trapping season opened in October but then there was hardly no snow until around Christmas," he said. "There was only like half a foot of snow, so it's really hard to travel around and you got to go slow and it's hard on the ski-doo. I keep having ski-doo problems." The animals also seem scarce during the warm weather. "I notice the marten, when it gets warm here, they kind of come out and then the next thing, they go missing. I don't know where they go … but you don't end up seeing tracks for a long time," he said. The furs he has been able to trap, Tobac sells to conservation officers or keeps for sewing. "This is the lowest year I've had in a while," he said. "Everything is a little bit lucky every now and then, but then we don't, we aren't really catching, so we're having a hard time [because] we're pretty much spending a lot of money on gas and food and all that, and we're not making it back. "So it's a pretty tough year." Warm weather creates chaotic conditions With the warm weather also comes safety concerns. The high water, lack of frozen creeks and unstable ice can be dangerous for hunters and trappers, sometimes fatal. The tiniest town in the territories, Kakisa, lost a respected elder and fisherman who fell through the ice last spring. "Fred Simba, he was one of the elders that always went out ahead of everyone, he broke trail. He was the first one out and the last one back," Kakisa Chief Lloyd Chicot said. The loss made the community leery to go out on the land and Chief Chicot attributes the dangerous conditions to global warming. "The whole global warming situation ... the warmer winters, you know, the lack of ice buildup, the earlier snow. You find yourself when you're out on the land, you have to be more careful because the ice is not forming like it used to," Chicot said. Changing winds The warming weather is a trend elders have been noticing for years, Dene knowledge keeper John Bekale said. "Something natural about the wind changes … when you're on the big lake you notice the drifts, we call it the drifts. When the drifts change a little that means the wind changed a little, you know, we notice," Bekale said. Growing up using dog sleds to travel, hunt and check traplines, Bekale said those going out on the land had to be aware of the subtle weather changes. "You learned from your dad and from your elders back then, all the different changes to know," he said. "You talk about a different kind of snow, which is better for the sleigh, when to wait for the wind, when to wait for the cold spell. Everything is dependent on these things." When you're out on the land, you have to be more careful because the ice is not forming like it used to. - Chief Lloyd Chicot Back when Bekale watched people use dog sleds, he said they would go out at the beginning of November and be back in time for the end of December celebrations. But in the last couple of years, the lakes are taking longer to freeze up. When asked if the elders know why the wind and snow are changing, Bekale said it is still a mystery. "That is the question for all of us, even myself — we are not scientists, we're not," he said. The Dene elder said he would like to see traditional knowledge and scientific knowledge work together. "The weather is just not the way it used to be," he said. Resilient spirit While the "weird" weather is causing a tough hunting and trapping season across the territories, a common theme among northerners is the resilient spirit shown. Chief Chicot said the high waters have brought an unexpected perk of more berries during harvesting season. And despite the lack of game caught this season, Tobac still has a great outlook on life. Going out on the land, calling himself boss and being able to bring his partner and five-month-old baby, Charlie, along for the adventure is all worth it. "To be out there, that's all I care about," he said.
BRUSSELS — The European Union’s top migration official on Tuesday criticized Bosnian authorities for failing to properly care for hundreds of migrants living in sub-zero temperatures on its territory, warning the Balkans country of its obligations if it hopes to join the EU. Bosnia has faced sharp criticism for leaving around 1,000 people without shelter after a fire gutted the makeshift Lipa refugee camp near the northwest border with EU-member Croatia just before Christmas. The authorities at first said they would move the migrants to another location, but finally set up military tents at the site instead after locals elsewhere protested. “Bosnia-Herzegovina must show it’s capable of managing migration. It must take responsibility, address the humanitarian situation,” Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson told EU lawmakers. “As a country with a perspective of EU accession, we expect Bosnia-Herzegovina to work on sustainable, long-term solutions, to set up facilities evenly distributed across the full territory of the country,” Johansson said. She said she would visit the area in February. The problem is not new. Bosnia has been widely criticized in recent years for mishandling the arrival of thousands of people, many fleeing war and poverty. The politically unstable and impoverished Balkan country is still recovering from its own war in the 1990s. Divided into two feuding entities, Bosnia lacks a unified policy on migrants. The Serb-run part of the country has refused to accept any, and the overburdened northwestern region has complained it has been abandoned despite help from international organizations. Migrants come to Bosnia with the aim of reaching Croatia before moving on into Western Europe. Many have complained about being pushed back, which is illegal under international refugee law, and violence at the hands of Croatia’s police. Johansson said thanks to EU help, around 900 people at the site in Bosnia now have shelter in weather-proof tents, with access to heating and food supplies. “Thanks to our action, the situation has improved, but only from grave to serious. Stopping immediate risk to life is the beginning, not the end, of ensuring acceptable, dignified living conditions,” she said. The Lipa camp was only ever set up as a temporary measure to cope with the impact of the coronavirus over the summer. Bosnian central authorities wanted to move some migrants to a nearby facility at Bira, but local authorities blocked the move as protests erupted. “Winter has a long way to run and I must admit that it is frustrating to have to set up tents and temporary shelters when we have an empty, fully equipped and winterized facility just 30 kilometres (19 miles) down the road,” Johansson said. ___ Jovana Gec in Belgrade contributed to this report. Lorne Cook, The Associated Press
The Calgary Board of Education (CBE) has delayed its high school scenarios process yet again, leaving parents of junior high students waiting to find out where their child will attend high school. Some of those parents say it's time for the school board to "pull the Band-Aid off," allowing families to plan for the future. Christopher Usih, chief superintendent of the CBE, said the purpose of this work will determine the catchment areas for students entering high school in the 2022-2023 school year. The plan is meant to deal with growing capacity issues faced by numerous high schools in the city. "Otherwise what will happen is we'll have situations where if a school is way above capacity, then we run into challenges around safety and even our ability to be able to provide effective programming because there are just too many students in that one building," he said. "You probably heard in fall of last school year that one of our high schools, [Ernest Manning], was way over capacity and we were really challenged from a health and safety standpoint." Changing timelines Documents posted on the CBE website in May 2019 said the original timeline for the engagement process would see the scenarios finalized and communicated between July and October 2021. In February 2020, the timeline was adjusted, pushing back the engagement and presentation of possible scenarios from March to June 2020, to September to November last year. However, that never happened, and in November, CBE parents were informed that the board would be sharing the high school scenarios with them this month. But in an email sent home last week, the CBE informed parents there would be yet another delay — and that scenarios would be released and and engagement would take place between Feb. 23 and March 17. Kelly Van Webber has a daughter in junior high who will be directly impacted by these decisions. The area their family lives in is currently designated for Ernest Manning, but these potential boundary changes could see them designated to Central Memorial. "The concerning part around that is … when they redid the boundaries for [Ernest Manning High School] before, they basically said in November of that year, 'your kids are going to these schools,' and it was under a year to plan and families were thrown into chaos," he said. COVID-19 to blame for delays Usih said all of the delays to this process have been caused by COVID-19 and the challenges the school board has faced when it comes to school re-entry and online learning. He said it's been an adjustment to switch to engaging families and staff online, as opposed to an in-person session. Van Webber said he struggles to see how this work can be dragging on for more than a year-and-a-half. "[The CBE] knows the numbers, so make a decision and let people plan," he said. "Pull the Band-Aid off already." For his family, Van Webber said knowing which high school their daughter is designated to has big implications. "We're going to see where our designated high school is and we've talked to different families and said, 'Hey, do we form some sort of carpool to go to Bowness?' for example. A bit of a circuitous route to get there, but at least it's a shorter commute," he said. "We've kicked around the idea of, do we move basically a kilometre away to get on the other side of Old Banff Coach road to get into the catchment for Manning if we decide that's the best or the appropriate school? Should move into the catchment area? So, going back and forth with that." CBE confident parents will have time to plan Usih said he appreciates and understands that families want their child to attend a school where there's strong and effective programming. "And, if parents have concerns about programming or any aspect of the school there, we have processes in place for addressing those," he said. "But I cannot emphasize enough the need to ensure that we have strong programming in every one of our schools." Van Webber said the uncertainty of this process is beginning to weigh on students too. "My daughter is in Grade 8 now, and she and her friends are starting to talk about it and, you know, you kind of want some certainty for them as they go into high school, especially with all the wackiness that COVID has caused," he said. Usih said he knows the last year has been a difficult period for many. "We want to make sure that we are we are doing our due diligence to communicate clearly and to provide opportunities for families to know what our plan is going forward," he said. "And I'm confident that, you know, the timelines that we've we've indicated will will satisfy that expectation." Following the engagement in March, Usih said the scenarios are subject to change. But, he said the CBE is committed to finalizing all scenarios for 2022-2023 by no later than December 2021.
A Thai court on Tuesday sentenced a 65-year-old woman to more than 43 years in jail for sharing online posts criticizing the royal family, her lawyer said, the country's harshest ever sentence for insulting the monarchy. Her sentence comes at a time of unprecedented youth-led demonstrations in which protest leaders have openly criticised the monarchy, risking prosecution under Thailand's strict law known as lese majeste, which carries a 15-year penalty for each violation. Anchan Preelert pled guilty to 29 separate violations of sharing and posting clips on YouTube and Facebook between 2014 and 2015, her lawyer, Pawinee Chumsri, told Reuters.
Codiac Regional RCMP say the force will take some kind of action regarding anti-mask protesters in Moncton who violate the province's emergency measures order. Supt. Tom Critchlow, the commanding officer of Codiac RCMP, told Moncton councillors Monday police would act this week. He didn't offer specifics. "This group obviously wants some type of showdown," Critchlow said. "There's methods in how we deal with that. Rest assured, I will deal with that. We will deal with [it]. At this point, because of the current state that the province is morphing into, we will take action." His comments followed questions last week and by councillors Monday about what the force is doing regarding the protesters who appear to flout rules meant to limit the spread of COVID-19. A board member of the Codiac Regional Policing Authority, which oversees the force that polices Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview, last week questioned why tickets weren't handed out to those defying the rules. RCMP officers observed the protests held on weekends outside Moncton city hall. Under the orange recovery phase, outdoor gatherings are limited to 25 people and masks are required outside when physical distancing can't be maintained. Critchlow told the police authority that the force is taking a "measured" approach, observing the protesters and trying to educate them about the rules. His comments Monday suggested a change in approach. Moncton deputy mayor Shawn Crossman said he understands people have a right to protest, but said he's anxious to see COVID-19 rules enforced. "It's really frustrating," Crossman said of those violating rules. Coun. Paulette Thériault also said she's not impressed by the protests. She said more than two million deaths worldwide have been linked to COVID-19. "To say that we shouldn't be concerned is beyond my comprehension," Thériault said. "I don't think we can ever educate these people because I don't think they really want to hear what the realities are out there." "But if we can find solutions so that at least we can protect our citizens, I think this is extremely important."
Reports that U.S. president-elect Joe Biden plans to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion are reverberating in Saskatchewan.
The Spanish soccer federation suspended Lionel Messi for two matches on Tuesday after he hit an opponent in an incident away from the ball in the Spanish Super Cup final. The Barcelona forward was facing a suspension of up to 12 matches for swinging his arm at an Athletic Bilbao player at the end of the team's 3-2 loss on Sunday. The federation’s competition committee did not deem the incident to be severe and applied a less severe penalty against the player. After passing the ball out to the left flank, Messi swung his right arm at the head of Athletic forward Asier Villalibre as they ran toward the box. Villalibre immediately fell to the ground and after a video review, Messi was given his first red card in 753 appearances for Barcelona. Referee Gil Manzano said in his match report that Messi hit his opponent with “excessive force” while the ball was not near him. Messi will miss Barcelona's match against third-division club Cornellà in the Copa del Rey and against Elche in the Spanish league. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Almost two-thirds of Canadians would support a nightly curfew if necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19 — even though they're not convinced it would be effective, a new poll suggests.Sixty-five per cent of respondents to a poll by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies said they would support temporary curfews in their provinces if recommended by public health officials.In Quebec, where the government imposed a month-long curfew 10 days ago, 74 per cent said they support the move.Nevertheless, only 57 per cent of Quebecers and just 39 per cent of respondents in the rest of the country said they think curfews are an effective way to reduce the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.The poll of 1,516 Canadians was conducted Jan. 15 to 18.Léger executive vice-president Christian Bourque said the results suggest Canadians "want to do their part and will stand by their governments" in efforts to reduce the spread of the virus. But it also suggests provinces "need to sell this thing (curfews) if they want to make it work." The poll also suggests that Canadians' mental health has suffered as the pandemic drags on.Twenty-one per cent rated their mental health as bad or very bad, up eight points since last April, when the first wave of COVID-19 rolled over Canada.Thirty-two per cent rated their mental health as excellent or very good, a 10-point drop since April. Another 45 per cent described their mental health as good, down three points since April.Bourque said mental health experts do not consider "good" to be a particularly positive rating, akin to someone saying they feel OK.The poll suggests 59 per cent remain somewhat or very afraid of contracting COVID-19, virtually unchanged since April.Seventy-one per cent of respondents said they intend to get vaccinated against the coronavirus when a vaccine becomes available to them.Two vaccines have been approved for use in Canada so far and provinces have begun immunizing front line health care workers, long-term care home workers and residents and some others considered among the most vulnerable.Forty-seven per cent of respondents said they'll take the first vaccine available to them, while 27 per cent said they'll wait for other vaccines to become available. Another 11 per cent said they won't take any vaccine and 15 per cent didn't know what they'll do.The online poll cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
Setting money goals in 2020 was likely an exercise in futility. Maybe you’d been saving for a trip abroad, but the pandemic kept you at home. Or you wanted to save up for a down payment on a house, then the recession left you out of a job. The pandemic made achieving yearlong goals a challenge for many last year. In fact, 29% of Americans with financial goals for 2020 said COVID-19 forced them to put some of those aspirations on hold until 2021, according to a NerdWallet survey conducted online in late fall by The Harris Poll among over 1,700 U.S. adults with 2020 financial goals. Although the pandemic is still part of our daily lives, the new year offers an opportunity to craft fresh money goals — and perhaps the trials of last year can help you clarify your financial ambitions. KNOW YOURSELF AND YOUR PRIORITIES Before you set your goals, think about your current financial situation and your priorities for the new year. “Take an inventory of where you are and more importantly who you are,” says Jordan Awoye, an equitable advisor based in Long Island, New York. First, dig into the state of your finances, including your income, monthly expenses and emergency fund. Understand where you are right now to get an idea of where you could be in a year’s time. Then think about your personal priorities and values — and how they may have shifted as a result of the pandemic — to pinpoint what you want from your finances. Maybe you want to get back to a baseline of where you were in early 2020, before a year of financial challenges. Or maybe you want to use the money you saved while staying at home to put a down payment on a house. “Start with an understanding of the why behind your goal,” says Kristen Holt, CEO of the non-profit credit counselling agency GreenPath Financial Wellness. “A great goal is ‘I want to get out of debt,’ but go deeper and ask why. Will you be able to sleep better? Will you be able to enjoy life more? Get clear on your why, because that can be motivation to stick to your goal.” CRAFT SMART(R) GOALS With the foundation of your priorities and motivation settled, it’s time to establish the framework to build your financial future. That means crafting your goals in a way that makes them easier to achieve. The SMART template for goal-setting can help: — SPECIFIC: Make your goals as specific as possible. If you want to curb your spending, for example, pin down how much you spend on unnecessary items each month. Then set an exact dollar limit for such spending. — MEASURABLE: Choose a way to track your progress. If you’re paying down debt, think about using a debt tracker. Or if you want to save a certain dollar amount, consider visualizing your goal in a savings progress chart that you’ll colour in as you go. — ATTAINABLE: Your goals need to be something you can accomplish within a year. If you’re paying off $10,000 in credit card debt, for example, find what you can realistically pay monthly, multiply that by 12 and use that amount as your goal. — RELEVANT: Choose goals that are meaningful to your personal values. Similar to finding your “why,” choosing relevant goals helps ensure that your 2021 financial plan is connected to your life goals. If you want to retire early, think about upping contributions to a retirement account so you’re on track to accomplish that multi-year goal. — TIME-LIMITED: Setting a deadline can keep the pressure on. And think about breaking up your overarching goal into smaller pieces that you’ll achieve on a monthly basis. Hitting monthly goals can provide a steady feed of accomplishments, which can keep you motivated. Take the SMART acronym a step further by tacking on an “R” for “reward.” Plan rewards for yourself as you make progress. The more enjoyment you get out of the process, the more likely you are to keep working at it. Say you want to reduce debt. For each $100 you pay off, find a way to treat yourself, maybe by making a nice dinner or having a DIY spa day at home. TACTICS TO BOOST YOUR PROGRESS Finally, here are a few simple tips to build momentum: — AUTOMATE: Taking a “set it and forget it” approach can make accomplishing your ambitions easier. For savings goals, try direct depositing a portion of your income into a high-yield savings account. And for debt payoff, set up automatic payments for an amount above the minimum due to ensure you’re making progress. — CUT YOUR INTEREST RATE: If less of your payment goes to interest, more of it goes to debt payoff. You may be able to reduce your rate by refinancing your mortgage, student loan or car loan. If you have credit card debt, see whether you can qualify for a debt consolidation loan or a balance transfer credit card with a 0% APR promotional period. _______________________________ This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Sean Pyles is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: email@example.com. Twitter: @SeanPyles. RELATED LINK: NerdWallet: Money goals in flux under pressure of pandemic http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-pandemic-money-goals Sean Pyles Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press