Cold winds and snow made for a blustery night in Tusket, N.S.
Cold winds and snow made for a blustery night in Tusket, N.S.
Law enforcement officers far outnumbered protesters at state capitol grounds on Sunday, as few Trump supporters who believe the president's false claim that he won the 2020 election turned out for what authorities feared could be violent demonstrations. More than a dozen states activated National Guard troops to help secure their capitol buildings following an FBI warning of armed demonstrations, with right-wing extremists emboldened by the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6.
Some members of the Saskatoon Fire Department may soon have a new task ahead of them: administering the COVID-19 vaccine. Primary-care paramedics (PCP) with the city's fire department are able to upgrade their training in order to administer the vaccine and several are already trained. "Any vaccine that would be provided by the health ministry and distributed through SHA for administration could be by our PCPs to other Fire Department staff, civic staff — and then upon request from the SHA — maybe even to members of the public within the Saskatoon region," said Wayne Rodger, assistant chief with the Saskatoon Fire Department (SFD). He said right now there are 34 paramedics able to conduct COVID-19 tests and 23 trained on providing the vaccine. Those numbers could climb as the pandemic continues. Of the service's roughly 337 employees, only the roughly 137 PCPs will be given the option for priority vaccination. Clint Belitsky is the secretary with the International Association of Firefighters Local 80 (IAFF 80), which represents firefighters in Saskatoon. He said that while the IAFF welcomes paramedics getting the vaccine quickly, there are some concerns other frontline firefighters were missed. "All of our firefighters go into medical calls, they assist in different ways," he said, noting a firefighters' role may include helping with CPR or transporting a patient. "Whether it's inside a house, or inside an apartment, or up and down stairs, all of our members are in close contact throughout shifts." Belitysky said the association isn't trying to muscle its way into the line-up. "We feel like they're left out a little bit, but we understand that there's a limited number," he said. Belitysky said the association is happy members will be able to help administer vaccines, saying it will be "easier and quicker" to get the vaccination in house than going to a clinic or immunization centre. Rodger said the SFD is determining who will get the vaccine first by examining risk and potential exposure. "Our firefighters that are working alongside the paramedics would certainly have a greater opportunity than say I would to receive that vaccine earlier," he said. Rodger said communication between the Ministry of Health, the SHA and the department has been consistent and ongoing.
When Masjid Toronto first agreed to host seminars on addiction back in 2015, organizers weren't sure anyone would show up. "When we started off, there was skepticism," said Mohsin Syed, then the assistant manager of the downtown Toronto mosque. In fact, the subject was considered so delicate that participants were not told what the specific topic being discussed would be. To Syed's surprise, as the seminar series continued, the number of attendees grew and grew. In fact, "we were ... so packed in that basement that our air conditioning was not enough," he told CBC Toronto. Masjid Toronto was one of nine GTA mosques that hosted the seminar series, which aimed to tackle misconceptions and reduce stigma around addiction in Muslim communities. "After each seminar, we would get a lineup of people asking for resources, or discussing their cousin, their family, their friends," said Dr. Ahmed Hassan. Hassan, an addiction psychiatrist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, spearheaded the events and then wrote about them in a study published this month in the Community Mental Health Journal. He lists several reasons why stigma around addiction can be prevalent in Muslim communities, including belief that addiction is sinful and shameful. "We wanted to address the stigma through this psycho-educational program," said Hassan of the 90-minute sessions. "We would dig deep in the content, and integrate Islamic teachings." For Syed at Masjid Toronto, that integration of a religious lens was critical. "Because these acts are already a sin — people are very afraid to talk about it," he explained. By having religious leaders participate in the seminars, Syed said, it "created a sense of comfort for the community. This is not just coming from a medical doctor who wants to do a diagnosis." Study hopes to inspire more outreach Religious teaching "agrees with science. And then [participants] see it more as a disease rather than a sin," said Hassan. According to his study, the approach was successful, resulting in a "significant reduction" of stigma. Post-seminar, nearly half of participants said they were interested in learning more about addiction science, and two-thirds felt more motivated to help family and friends dealing with substance-use disorder. Hassan hopes the study could open the door to more outreach inside of mosques, potentially tackling an even wider range of topics. "Trauma, PTSD ... I don't think [those issues] have been openly discussed in the community," said Hassan.
BELGRADE, Serbia — Vaccines from the West, Russia or China? Or none at all? That dilemma faces nations in southeastern Europe, where coronavirus vaccination campaigns are off to a slow start — overshadowed by heated political debates and conspiracy theories. In countries like the Czech Republic, Serbia, Bosnia, Romania and Bulgaria, vaccine skeptics have included former presidents and even some doctors. Serbian tennis champion Novak Djokovic was among those who said he did not want to be forced to get inoculated. False beliefs that the coronavirus is a hoax or that vaccines would inject microchips into people have spread in the countries that were formerly under harsh Communist rule. Those who once routinely underwent mass inoculations are deeply split over whether to get the vaccines at all. “There is a direct link between support for conspiracy theories and skepticism toward vaccination,” a recent Balkan study warned. “A majority across the region does not plan to take the vaccine, a ratio considerably lower than elsewhere in Europe, where a majority favours taking the vaccine.” Only about 200,000 people applied for the vaccine in Serbia, a country of 7 million, in the days after authorities opened the procedure. By contrast, 1 million Serbians signed up for 100 euros ($120) on the first day the government offered the pandemic aid. Hoping to encourage vaccinations, Serbian officials have gotten their shots on TV. Yet they themselves have been split over whether to get the Western-made Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine or Russia’s Sputnik V, more divisions in a country that is formally seeking European Union membership but where many favour closer ties with Moscow. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Saturday greeted a shipment of 1 million doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, saying he will receive a shot to show that it is safe. “Serbs prefer the Russian vaccine,” read a recent headline of the Informer, a pro-government tabloid, as officials announced that 38% of those who have applied to take the shots favour the Russian vaccine, while 31% want the Pfizer-BioNTech version — a rough division among pro-Russians and pro-Westerners in Serbia. In neighbouring Bosnia, a war-torn country that remains ethnically divided among Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats, politics also are a factor, as the Serb-run half appeared set to opt for the Russian vaccine, while the Bosniak-Croat part likely will turn to the Western ones. Sasa Milovanovic, a 57-year-old real estate agent from Belgrade, sees all vaccines as part of the “global manipulation” of the pandemic. “People are locked up, they have no lives any longer and live in a state of hysteria and fear,” he said. Djokovic has said he was against being forced to take a coronavirus vaccine in order to travel and compete but was keeping his mind open. The top-ranked tennis player and his wife tested positive in June after a series of exhibition matches with zero social distancing that he organized in the Balkans. They and their foundation have donated 1 million euros ($1.1 million) to buy ventilators and other medical equipment for hospitals in Serbia. Serbian Health Ministry official Mirsad Djerlek has described the vaccine response as “satisfactory,” but cautioned on the state-run RTS broadcaster that “people in rural areas usually believe in conspiracy theories, and that is why we should talk to them and explain that the vaccine is the only way out in this situation.” A study by the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group, published before the regional vaccination campaign started in December, concluded that virus conspiracy theories are believed by nearly 80% of citizens of the Western Balkan countries striving to join the EU. About half of them will refuse to get vaccinated, it said. Baseless theories allege the virus isn’t real or that it’s a bioweapon created by the U.S. or its adversaries. Another popular falsehood holds that Microsoft founder Bill Gates is using COVID-19 vaccines to implant microchips in the planet's 7 billion people. A low level of information about the virus and vaccines, distrust in governments and repeated assertions by authorities that their countries are besieged by foreigners help explain the high prevalence of such beliefs, according to the Balkans think-tank . Similar trends have been seen even in some eastern European Union countries. In Bulgaria, widespread conspiracy theories hampered past efforts to deal with a measles outbreak. Surveys there suggested distrust of vaccines remains high even as coronavirus cases keep rising. A recent Gallup International poll found that 30% of respondents want to get vaccinated, 46% will refuse and 24% are undecided. Bulgarian doctors have tried to change attitudes. Dr. Stefan Konstantinov, a former health minister, joked that people should be told neighbouring Greece would close resorts to tourists who don't get vaccinated, because “this would guarantee that some 70% of the population would rush to get a jab.” In the Czech Republic, where surveys show some 40% reject vaccination, protesters at a big rally against government virus restrictions in Prague demanded that vaccinations not be mandatory. Former President Vaclav Klaus, a fierce critic of the government's pandemic response, told the crowd that vaccines are not a solution. “They say that everything will be solved by a miracle vaccine,” said the 79-year-old Klaus, who insists that people should get exposed to the virus to gain immunity, which experts reject. “We have to say loud and clear that there’s no such a thing. … I am not going to get vaccinated.” Populist authorities in Hungary have taken a hard line against virus misinformation, but rejection of vaccines is still projected at about 30%. Parliament passed emergency powers in March that allows authorities to prosecute anyone deemed to be “inhibiting the successful defence” against the virus, including “fearmongering” or spreading false news. At least two people who criticized the government's response to the pandemic on social media were arrested, but neither was formally charged. Romanian Health Minister Vlad Voiculescu said he is relying on family doctors to “inform, schedule and monitor people after the vaccine” and that his ministry will offer bonuses to medical workers based on the number of people they get onboard. Asked if such incentives would fuel anti-vaccination propaganda, Voiculescu said: “I am interested more by the doctors’ view on the matter than I am about the anti-vaxxers.” Dr. Ivica Jeremic, who has worked with virus patients in Serbia since March and tested positive himself in November, hopes vaccination programs will gain speed once people overcome their fear of the unknown. "People will realize the vaccine is the only way to return to normal life,” he said. ___ Associated Press writers Veselin Toshkov in Sofia, Bulgaria; Karel Janicek in Prague, Czech Republic; Justin Spike in Budapest, Hungary; and Vadim Ghirda in Bucharest, Romania, contributed. —- Follow AP coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Dusan Stojanovic And Jovana Gec, The Associated Press
NAIROBI, Kenya — From “emaciated” refugees to crops burned on the brink of harvest, starvation threatens the survivors of more than two months of fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. The first humanitarian workers to arrive after pleading with the Ethiopian government for access describe weakened children dying from diarrhea after drinking from rivers. Shops were looted or depleted weeks ago. A local official told a Jan. 1 crisis meeting of government and aid workers that hungry people had asked for “a single biscuit.” More than 4.5 million people, nearly the region's entire population, need emergency food, participants say. At their next meeting on Jan. 8, a Tigray administrator warned that without aid, “hundreds of thousands might starve to death” and some already had, according to minutes obtained by The Associated Press. “There is an extreme urgent need — I don’t know what more words in English to use — to rapidly scale up the humanitarian response because the population is dying every day as we speak,” Mari Carmen Vinoles, head of the emergency unit for Doctors Without Borders, told the AP. But pockets of fighting, resistance from some officials and sheer destruction stand in the way of a massive food delivery effort. To send 15-kilogram (33-pound) rations to 4.5 million people would require more than 2,000 trucks, the meeting's minutes said, while some local responders are reduced to getting around on foot. The spectre of hunger is sensitive in Ethiopia, which transformed into one of the world's fastest-growing economies in the decades since images of starvation there in the 1980s led to a global outcry. Drought, conflict and government denial contributed to the famine, which swept through Tigray and killed an estimated 1 million people. The largely agricultural Tigray region of about 5 million people already had a food security problem amid a locust outbreak when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Nov. 4 announced fighting between his forces and those of the defiant regional government. Tigray leaders dominated Ethiopia for almost three decades but were sidelined after Abiy introduced reforms that won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019. Thousands of people have been killed in the conflict. More than 50,000 have fled into Sudan, where one doctor has said newer arrivals show signs of starvation. Others shelter in rugged terrain. A woman who recently left Tigray described sleeping in caves with people who brought cattle, goats and the grain they had managed to harvest. “It is a daily reality to hear people dying with the fighting consequences, lack of food,” a letter by the Catholic bishop of Adigrat said this month. Hospitals and other health centres, crucial in treating malnutrition, have been destroyed. In markets, food is “not available or extremely limited,” the United Nations says. Though Ethiopia's prime minister declared victory in late November, its military and allied fighters remain active amid the presence of troops from neighbouring Eritrea, a bitter enemy of the now-fugitive officials who once led the region. Fear keeps many people from venturing out. Others flee. Tigray’s new officials say more than 2 million people have been displaced, a number the U.S. government’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance calls “staggering.” The U.N. says the number of people reached with aid is “extremely low.” A senior Ethiopian government official, Redwan Hussein, did not respond to a request for comment on Tigray colleagues warning of starvation. In the northern Shire area near Eritrea, which has seen some of the worst fighting, up to 10% of the children whose arms were measured met the diagnostic criteria for severe acute malnutrition, with scores of children affected, a U.N. source said. Sharing the concern of many humanitarian workers about jeopardizing access, the source spoke on condition of anonymity. Near Shire town are camps housing nearly 100,000 refugees who have fled over the years from Eritrea. Some who have walked into town "are emaciated, begging for aid that is not available,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Thursday. Food has been a target. Analyzing satellite imagery of the Shire area, a U.K.-based research group found two warehouse-style structures in the U.N. World Food Program compound at one refugee camp had been “very specifically destroyed.” The DX Open Network could not tell by whom. It reported a new attack Saturday. It's challenging to verify events in Tigray as communications links remain poor and almost no journalists are allowed. In the towns of Adigrat, Adwa and Axum, “the level of civilian casualties is extremely high in the places we have been able to access,” the Doctors Without Borders emergency official Vinoles said. She cited the fighting and lack of health care. Hunger is “very concerning," she said, and even water is scarce: Just two of 21 wells still work in Adigrat, a city of more than 140,000, forcing many people to drink from the river. With sanitation suffering, disease follows. “You go 10 kilometres (6 miles) from the city and it’s a complete disaster,” with no food, Vinoles said. Humanitarian workers struggle to gauge the extent of need. “Not being able to travel off main highways, it always poses the question of what’s happening with people still off-limits,” said Panos Navrozidis, Action Against Hunger’s director in Ethiopia. Before the conflict, Ethiopia’s national disaster management body classified some Tigray woredas, or administrative areas, as priority one hotspots for food insecurity. If some already had high malnutrition numbers, “two-and-a-half months into the crisis, it’s a safe assumption that thousands of children and mothers are in immediate need," Navrozidis said. The Famine Early Warning Systems Network, funded and managed by the U.S., says parts of central and eastern Tigray are likely in Emergency Phase 4, a step below famine. The next few months are critical, John Shumlansky, the Catholic Relief Services representative in Ethiopia, said. His group so far has given up to 70,000 people in Tigray a three-month food supply, he said. Asked whether combatants use hunger as a weapon, one concern among aid workers, Shumlansky dismissed it by Ethiopian defence forces and police. With others, he didn’t know. “I don’t think they have food either, though,” he said. Cara Anna, The Associated Press
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.
The old saying holds that only fools and the dead never change their minds. Health Minister Christian Dubé is neither of those things. Eighteen days ago, at a news conference about Quebec's COVID-19 vaccination plan, Dubé insisted his hands were tied by Pfizer's requirements that second doses of the two-dose protocol be held back to observe the prescribed 21-day interval between shots. A course correction followed a few days later and this week, he announced second doses would be delayed up to 90 days. "This is the best strategy," he said, citing the urgency of the situation. On Dec. 29, Public Health Director Dr. Horacio Arruda sat next to Dubé at a news conference and alluded to the possibility that Pfizer could reduce its supply to Quebec if the province didn't follow the recommendations, a prospect since echoed by federal officials. Dubé this week: "We're not asking permission." The reversal was sudden, it also represents an unusually aggressive move by a government whose response to the pandemic has been typefied by cautious decision-making. Going it largely alone on delaying doses for months suggests, above all else, that the Legault government is pushing its entire stack of chips onto the square marked "vaccines." The decision is based on the advice of experts from the province's vaccine committee, the Comité sur l'immunisation du Québec, which studied clinical evidence. And it runs counter to guidelines from Pfizer and the National Advisory Committee on Immunizations. A high-stakes gamble The contrast with other major decisions made since the turn of the year is informative. In the same week Dubé announced his department was going full bore on vaccination, it also announced an easing of restrictions on rapid testing. And, last week, the province highlighted the portion of an expert panel's report on air purifiers and filters in schools that confirmed the devices won't interrupt the main causes of disease transmission — mainly, proximity of students — rather than the part indicating they help lower the number of viral particles in the air. Take, as well, the provincial curfew that went into effect a week ago, which in effect relaxes a series of previously existing measures and does little to tackle what provincial statistics indicate are a key venue for transmission: workplaces, particularly in the construction and manufacturing sector. The rationale has been that shutting down those industries on a large scale could imperil supply of essential goods. It's true there are few easy policy choices in the middle of a raging pandemic. Why the unusual forcefulness and speedy action on vaccines, then? Perhaps because there is no discernible Plan B. Still more that could be done Many experts believe the new restrictions that went into place last Saturday won't be enough — and argue more needs to be done in a number of areas including testing and contact tracing, stronger measures in schools and in the many workplaces that remain open. The headline grabber of early 2021 is the curfew that requires people to stay home between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. Non-essential retailers, as well as non-essential offices, restaurants, bars and gyms, were ordered to remain closed, while manufacturing and construction sectors — both major sources of new outbreaks — were allowed to stay open, unhindered. "If the manufacturing industry is accounting for ongoing community transmission, which I suspect that it is, then there needs to be more control to ensure public [health] measures there," said Dr. Donald Vinh, an infectious diseases specialist at the McGill University Health Centre who is also a science advisor for the federal COVID-19 therapeutics task force. Quebec Labour Minister Jean Boulet issued a statement Friday suggesting they may finally crack down. In a follow-up interview with Radio-Canada, he said inspectors will be "vigilant." "We won't hesitate when there are violations of the health guidelines to hand out fines," he said, though they have only handed out 21 at construction sites in the past week. Schools, too, have been allowed to reopen. While the benefits of keeping them open are clear, Vinh said the government could still do more to get a handle on transmission, including a clearer stance on ventilation. "If internally within schools there could be stricter public health measures, I think that would be helpful," he said. Premier François Legault has defended the measures by saying the curfew is a way to seize the public's attention and to limit exposure to older people while they await the vaccine. He has pointed out, repeatedly, that 80 per cent of those hospitalized are over the age of 65. But, it remains unclear whether the curfew, and the other measures in place, will be effective on that front. Testing, testing Then there's the question of interrupting the contagion in the community. As Eastern Townships Public Health Director Dr. Alain Poirier said this week, the virus "is everywhere." Quebec has been reluctant to more widely employ rapid tests as a way to better understand exactly where the virus is spreading. On Thursday, after 200 Quebec scientists published an open letter calling on the province to make more use of rapid tests, Dubé retreated from comments on Monday that the tests were unnecessary. Based on a report from a panel of internal experts issued that same day, Quebec will start using rapid tests to bolster its regular testing capacity on a limited basis, in highly specific circumstances. Is the change of heart enough? Not in the view of Dr. David Juncker, a testing expert who is chair of bioengineering at McGill University and a scientific adviser to Rapid Test and Trace Canada, which advocates for a large-scale implementation of the technology. "It's a step in the right direction … but it's a little bit too little, too late," Juncker told CBC's Quebec AM. "That's the real risk, that we're trapped in cycles of too little, too late here." He likened the government's approach to rapid testing — which it plainly views as unreliable and a major drain on human resources — to the discussion surrounding face masks in early 2020. Provincial public health officials initially opposed masks, before realizing they could be a key tool in preventing the spread of the virus. The National Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel, which issued its first report Friday, suggests rapid antigen tests could be exactly another useful tool, given the ability to test frequently and obtain instant results. In a technical briefing this week, officials with Quebec's Health Ministry defended their approach to rapid tests, saying the current testing regime is perfectly adequate, and that, in any event, they don't have enough people to deploy them at scale. What's frustrating to experts like the signatories of the open letter is there doesn't appear to be a plan to develop that capacity any time soon. 'We need to kickstart now' Frontline doctors remain concerned about the coming weeks, with intensive care wards in Montreal at risk of being overwhelmed. Even if hospitals are able to hang on until Feb. 8, when the measures are set to lift, the province isn't expected to begin vaccinating older people outside care until the middle of the month. Vinh said Quebec's situation is rendered "tricky" by the fact vaccine procurement and supply are out of its control. The announcement from Pfizer on Friday that it would temporarily reduce shipments of its vaccine to Canada due to issues with its supply chain underscored the risks involved in the Legault government's plan. The pharmaceutical giant is pausing some production lines at its facility in Puurs, Belgium, in order to expand long-term manufacturing capacity. The move means Quebec will receive 8,775 doses instead of the 46,800 originally scheduled for the week of Jan. 25, and 39,000 of the 82,875 doses expected the following week. The disruption is far from catastrophic, given the doses will be replaced in later deliveries and Quebec is also receiving tens of thousands of vaccines from Moderna. But it will have an impact. That was the week the province was supposed to begin vaccinating in private retirement homes. In a statement, a spokesperson for Dubé said the supply chain hiccup merely reinforces Quebec's decision. "The strategy remains the same: we need to kickstart now and vaccinate as many vulnerable people and health-care workers as possible, as quickly as possible," reads the statement.
BEIJING — The coronavirus was found on ice cream produced in eastern China, prompting a recall of cartons from the same batch, according to the government. The Daqiaodao Food Co., Ltd. in Tianjin, adjacent to Beijing, was sealed and its employees were being tested for the coronavirus, a city government statement said. There was no indication anyone had contracted the virus from the ice cream. Most of the 29,000 cartons in the batch had yet to be sold, the government said. It said 390 sold in Tianjin were being tracked down and authorities elsewhere were notified of sales to their areas. The ingredients included New Zealand milk powder and whey powder from Ukraine, the government said. The Chinese government has suggested the disease, first detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019, came from abroad and has highlighted what it says are discoveries of the coronavirus on imported fish and other food, though foreign scientists are skeptical. The Associated Press
India's COVID-19 vaccination drive was still facing some delays on Sunday after it hit a bump on the first day due to glitches in an app used to coordinate the campaign, according to officials in some states. Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched on Saturday what his government has described as the "world's largest vaccination programme". It aims to vaccinate around 300 million people to curb the pandemic in India, which has reported the second highest number of coronavirus cases after the United States.
Thousands of Nova Scotia Power customers were without electricity Sunday morning after high winds and heavy rain swept the province. By the mid-afternoon, crews had made major headway and the number of customers still without power had fallen considerably. As of 4 p.m., there were still eight outages affecting more than 190 customers, according to Nova Scotia Power's outage map. The number of homes and businesses without power had been steadily rising and peaked at 7,200 around 8:40 a.m. The outages began early Sunday and most are in the northeastern half of the province. More than 4,000 customers in Cape Breton were without electricity early Sunday. Estimated restoration times varied between 1-9 p.m. A public weather alert was issued by Environment Canada Saturday morning, warning that a system from New England was expected to bring southeasterly gusts of up to 90 km/h to parts of the mainland, and up to 100 km/h in Cape Breton. A Les Suêtes wind warning was also issued for Inverness County, north of Mabou, which brought southeast wind gusts up to 200 km/h. Most weather warnings had ended by late Sunday morning. On Sunday morning, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal closed the Canso Causeway to vehicles 2.5 metres or higher due to high winds. It had reopened by 9:20 a.m. Heavy rain also began falling across the province Saturday evening and continued to fall over the eastern mainland and most of Cape Breton Sunday morning. Rainfall warnings ended for Victoria County and Sydney Metro and Cape Breton County by the early afternoon. MORE TOP STORIES
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 demonstrations in Siliana and other cities began after a video posted on social media showed a police officer shouting and pushing a shepherd whose sheep entered the local government headquarters.View on euronews
A high school class in Kings County, N.S., is using its entrepreneurship course to help a local charitable organization that has been overwhelmed by families in need due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "We wanted to do what we could to help them out, so we're raising money here and will donate what we can," said Tyler Croteau, a Grade 11 student at Northeast Kings Education Centre in Canning. The entrepreneurship class is selling clothing with customized COVID designs. The funds raised through sales will go to the Open Arms Outreach Centre in Kentville, a non-profit organization that helps people struggling to make ends meet. It assists with emergency shelter, housing and food supports. "To find out that this year a group of students are working on an initiative to support us, it's very humbling," said Open Arms executive director John Andrew. "For me, it signals hope and I know there are a lot of youth out there who have a strong commitment to helping people in their own community." The school had a COVID scare of its own almost two months with two COVID-19 cases. The school was closed for three days for cleaning before students returned. But that didn't slow down planning for the fundraising effort. "We're helping people out who really need it," said Ahrun Havercroft, a Grade 12 student from Sheffield Mills. "We thought that would be a great thing to do and it would also be a great learning experience for everybody in our class." It isn't the first fundraising effort by the class this school year. Before Christmas, it held an event at the local drive-in theatre in Cambridge to benefit Chrysalis House, an organization that provides shelter and outreach services for women and children in the area. So far, the clothing fundraiser has raised just over $1,100 in only a few weeks. "Everybody has sort of taken on different roles," said NKEC teacher Dale Sanford, who teaches the entrepreneurship course. "The students have been awesome around the whole social piece with this and entrepreneurship is such an important skill for them to have." MORE TOP STORIES
BERLIN — The Austrian government is extending the country's lockdown until Feb. 7 in a drive to push down still-high infection figures as officials worry about the possible impact of new coronavirus variants. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said Sunday that some measures will also be tightened as a result of the more infectious variants that were first detected in Britain and South Africa. He said people will now be asked to stay 2 metres (61/2 feet) apart instead of 1 metre. Beginning on Jan. 25, they will also be required to wear full protective masks on public transport and in shops, rather than just fabric face coverings. People on low incomes will get such masks free, Health Minister Rudolf Anschober said. Austria’s current lockdown, its third, started on Dec. 26 and was to end on Jan. 24. Kurz said Austria is keen to avoid a situation such as that in Britain and Ireland, where infections have risen sharply and rapidly as new variants take hold. So far, Austria has over 150 suspected infections with the British variant, Anschober said. Kurz said Austria needs to get as close as it can to, and preferably below, an infection level of 50 new cases per 100,000 residents over 7 days. The figure now stands at 131. “Our aim is to approach this figure ... by Feb. 8 and start the first steps toward opening on Feb. 8,” with schools, nonessential shops, museums and services such as hairdressers reopening, Kurz told a news conference in Vienna. But Kurz made clear that restaurants and hotels will have to wait longer. “We have to assume at present that, at least in February, it will not be possible to open tourism and catering," he said, adding that a decision will be made in mid-February. Austria, a nation of 8.9 million, has confirmed nearly 390,000 cases and seen 6,964 deaths related to COVID-19. ——- Follow AP coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak The Associated Press
TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $5 million jackpot in Saturday night's Lotto 649 draw. However, the draw's guaranteed $1 million prize went to a ticket holder in Ontario. The jackpot for the next Lotto 649 draw on Jan. 20 will be approximately $6 million. The Canadian Press
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated and more than a dozen have been killed in recent days in flooding on Indonesia's Borneo island, officials said Sunday. National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson Raditya Jati said floods brought by intense rains caused floodwaters as high as 3 metres (10 feet). As of Sunday, 39,549 people had been evacuated and at least 15 had been killed due to floods that affected 10 districts and cities in South Kalimantan province on Borneo island. Separately, five people were killed and 500 others were evacuated after floods and landslides in Manado city in North Sulawesi province on Saturday. One other person was missing. Seasonal rains and high tides in recent days have caused dozens of landslides and widespread flooding across much of Indonesia, a chain of 17,000 islands where millions of people live in mountainous areas or near fertile flood plains close to rivers. The Associated Press
Federal Defender Shawn Nolan sipped beer as he waited for his colleagues in Philadelphia to patch together the four or five points needed for a last-ditch court filing aimed at delaying Higgs’ execution by lethal injection. If it went ahead, the federal execution would be the 13th and final one scheduled under U.S. President Donald Trump.
TUNIS, Tunisia — Police used tear gas to disperse violent protests led by disgruntled youths in several Tunisian cities overnight, including in the capital of Tunis and in the seaside city of Sousse. Tunisians in general are angry that the North African country is on the verge of bankruptcy and has dire public services. And many feel disappointed that on the 10-year anniversary of the revolution that ousted autocratic President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali there is little to show in terms of improvement. Police swooped in as shops and banks were looted and vandalized, arresting “dozens” of youths, according to state news agency TAP. Protesters blocked roads by burning tires and threw stones and other objects at police and businesses, according to the Interior Ministry, which said the situation was now “calm” across the country on Sunday. Videos circulating on social media showed dramatic chases down alleys between groups of young people and the police who used tear gas to disperse them. Tunisia on Thursday commemorated the 10th anniversary since the flight into exile of the iron-fisted Ben Ali, who was pushed from power in a popular revolt that foreshadowed the regional pro-democracy uprisings, strife and civil war in North Africa and the Mideast that came to be known as the Arab Spring. A budding democracy in Tunisia grew out of the aftermath. And yet, despite gains, a pall of disenchantment hangs over the North African country, which has been stressed by extremist attacks, political infighting, a troubled economy and promises unfulfilled, including development of the interior. Despite guaranteed rights and numerous democratic elections, protests flourish, especially in the central and southern regions where the jobless rate among youth reaches 30% and the poverty level is above 20%. According to the Tunisian Forum of Economic and Social Rights, more than 1,000 demonstrations took place in November alone. Months of sit-ins have paralyzed oil and phosphate production for months, putting holes of billions of dollars in the country's budget. Bouazza Ben Bouazza, The Associated Press
OTTAWA, Ill. — For a man who has devoted his life to promoting kindness, a diagnosis of advanced-stage cancer in his pancreas and liver might seem the unkindest cut of all. But Rabbi Reuven Bulka, often dubbed "Canada's rabbi," says he has no complaints. "In terms of having complaints to God or complaints that life isn't giving me a fair shake, that doesn't enter my mind," the 76-year-old beloved spiritual leader in Ottawa's Jewish community said in a telephone interview from New York City, where he has gone to be with his five children. "I really feel blessed in the life that I've lived." Over almost 50 years as rabbi and now rabbi emeritus at Ottawa's Congregation Machzikei Hadas, Bulka has spent countless hours at the bedside of dying people and consoling grieving family members. It's an experience he feels has prepared him to face his own mortality. "When you see it happening all around you, you know that nothing is forever." Indeed, Bulka thinks it's beneficial to embrace that reality early on in life because it shifts your focus from the pursuit of pleasure to thinking seriously about the meaning of life and how to make the most of whatever time you have. "It doesn't mean that we can't enjoy life but we shouldn't be obsessed with the pleasures without being totally also focused on the meaning and doing things which are important that actually enhance the human condition, that actually improve people's lives and have a lasting impact," he says. "However long we're destined to live, when we say goodbye, that's an indelible part of one's resume. Nobody really cares whether you've golfed 1,000 rounds or 1,500 rounds … It's how you impact others that really defines who you are." Bulka has spent nearly his entire life trying to improve the human condition, starting at 16 when he took over rabbinical duties at his father's New York synagogue after his father suffered a serious heart attack. He has championed causes like organ and blood donation, co-founded Kindness Week in Ottawa and spearheaded many events aimed at promoting tolerance and understanding among people of different faiths. He has imparted his wisdom in dozens of books, a weekly newspaper column and a weekly radio phone-in show. Ottawa has given him the key to the city and named Rabbi Bulka Kindness Park in his honour. He's also been awarded the Order of Canada. "He's really been a healer when there's been religious rifts in the city and he's respected by all faiths and people of no faith at all," says Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. "He's just been a stalwart of our community for so, so long and we can do nothing now but pray for a miracle." On Monday, Congregation Machzikei Hadas will host a virtual "worldwide prayer rally" for Rabbi Bulka. "In Ottawa, we like to claim him as our own but certainly he's everybody's rabbi," says Rabbi Idan Scher, one of Bulka's successors at the synagogue. "The moniker Canada's rabbi … couldn't be more true." Indeed, Scher adds: "The people that he's touched live all over the world." Within a day of setting up a website last week (aprayerforrabbibulka.ca), Scher says about 2,000 people had registered to take part in the online rally. Former prime minister Stephen Harper and former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty are among the dignitaries scheduled to speak at the event. Bulka is probably best known to Canadians outside the capital from the annual Remembrance Day ceremonies at the National War Memorial — a role he modestly suggests was given to him some 30 years ago because the government wanted to engage a local rabbi "on the cheap" rather than bring one in from Montreal. Watson marvels that Bulka delivers his Remembrance Day sermons without referring to notes, never repeating the same message twice and always managing to capture a countrywide audience with "his words, his wisdom, his humour." Former interim Liberal leader Bob Rae, now Canada's ambassador to the United Nations, says Bulka has also been a national leader in "breaking down hatred and building greater religious understanding and embracing multiracialism and multi-faith work." He was among the first, Rae recalls, to reach out to Muslim groups when they faced a backlash following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States in 2001. Rev. Dr. Anthony Bailey, pastor at Ottawa's Parkdale United Church, recalls working with Bulka to organize a multi-faith blood donor drive in response to a spate of racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic graffiti spray-painted on houses of worship in Ottawa in 2016. "We were trying to make a statement that we basically support each other as human beings at the very level of blood," he says. Bulka practices what he preaches, says Andrew Bennett, director of the Cardus Religious Freedom Institute and former ambassador for religious freedom during the Harper government. "He is certainly a kind man, he really lives by that. But he lives it in a way that's not sort of superficial kindness, it's not sort of a Walmart-greeter kindness. It comes from a very deep place." Christians and Jews alike believe that human beings "bear the image and likeness of God," adds Bennett, a deacon in the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church. "And it's very easy for me to recognize that image and likeness in Rabbi Bulka." Bulka, like any human, says he thinks about things he should have or could have done. "I would say a person who lives a life without regrets is probably living in La-La land," he says. Still, he's grateful for everyone's "showing of appreciation and all their good wishes." "We'll do our best. With God's help, hopefully we'll be able to live a little bit longer." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
This story is part of Stopping Domestic Violence, a CBC News series looking at the crisis of intimate partner violence in Canada and what can be done to end it. Ashley McVean wasn't quite ready to go to police about the abuse she suffered at the hands of her former partner. But when she went to the emergency room with neck pain and evidence of strangulation, she hoped someone would notify law enforcement for her. That never happened. Strangulation is one of the most dangerous types of abuse that victims of intimate partner violence can endure. But doctors, nurses, paramedics and other first responders are not required to tell police if they suspect a person has been choked. Members of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary's intimate partner violence unit say reporting suspected cases of strangulation should be mandatory. "It can just be seconds between life and death," said Malin Enström, crime analyst with the IPV unit. "It's a great concern." There is currently no federal or provincial legislation that requires first responders to report cases of domestic violence involving adults to a relevant third party. There is, however, a legal obligation under Newfoundland and Labrador's Children, Youth and Families Act to report incidents that place children at risk of abuse or neglect. People present at the emergency rooms are crying out for help but they don't get it because it's not mandatory for them to report it to us. - Const. Lindsay Dillon In this province, emergency rooms are obliged to notify police about stabbings and shootings. Const. Lindsay Dillon and Const. Nadia Churchill say that doesn't go far enough to protect victims of abuse at home. "Anything to do with the neck is a lethality factor when it comes to domestic violence," Churchill said. If the unit receives a new case involving a couple and a neck injury is involved, it automatically is given a higher priority. "The issue with strangulation and choking is that you come very close to death sometimes, and there are many studies out there that show the long-term effects of strangulation," said Dillon. "When someone presents with a gunshot wound and stab wound and it's reported to us, great, but choking and strangulation should be up there too because when you look at the dangers involved in that, it's huge." Dillon said they often hear of cases similar to McVean's, where the victim isn't ready to speak to police but hopes the attending medical staff will pass along their findings to the RNC. "People present at the emergency rooms are crying out for help but they don't get it because it's not mandatory for them to report it to us." The IPV unit has been working to address strangulation being included in mandatory reporting on both provincial and federal levels of government, including community partners. 'A very complex issue' The mandatory reporting of gunshots and stab wounds has been in effect in Newfoundland and Labrador since 2015. The House of Assembly passed the law in 2011, but it was not enacted until four years later. In a statement, the province's Department of Justice said, "The idea of adding strangulation to that list is a very complex issue and one that requires more research and consultation with stakeholders before legislative changes are considered." The department highlighted a series of other recent initiatives aimed at reducing violence, including electronic monitoring and a suite of legislative changes. Provincial officials said they are "watching with great interest" the progress of Bill S-249, and noted that the federal approach "will inform our analysis here." That bill — called the National Strategy for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act — was introduced in the Senate in 2018. It was a private member's bill spearheaded by Newfoundland and Labrador Senator Fabian Manning, and would have resulted in the creation of a national strategy or blueprint dealing with the issue of intimate partner violence. One of the things Manning highlighted during debate was reporting regulations for potential cases of abuse. He noted that if a woman arrives at a hospital in many parts of the country with a gunshot wound or has been stabbed, it is mandatory to call the police. "If that same woman arrives at a hospital tonight with two black eyes, a broken nose, her front teeth missing, and evidence of choking or strangulation from the physical abuse of her partner, there is no obligation or law to call the police," Manning said during debate in the Senate in 2018. "I find that absolutely absurd." Bill S-249 made it to second reading in the Senate, before being dropped from the order paper when Parliament dissolved in advance of the 2019 federal election. Manning told CBC News he has since drafted a new bill, along the same lines of the one that had previously been introduced. But it hasn't been tabled yet, and may not be any time soon, because of the pandemic and possibility of a looming federal election that would send the process back to the drawing board. He said he continues to meet with individuals who are advocating for legislation to tackle domestic violence. ______________________________________________________________________________________________ If you need help and are in immediate danger, call 911. To find assistance in your area, visit sheltersafe.ca or endingviolencecanada.org. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador