Prime minister Boris Johnson tried his hand at archery while visiting the Premier Education Summer Camp at Sacred Heart of Mary Girl's School, Upminster.
Prime minister Boris Johnson tried his hand at archery while visiting the Premier Education Summer Camp at Sacred Heart of Mary Girl's School, Upminster.
NEW YORK — The head of the Republican National Committee on Wednesday declined to encourage former President Donald Trump to run for the White House in 2024, saying the GOP would stay “neutral” in its next presidential primary. In an interview, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel also described the pro-Trump conspiracy theory group known as QAnon as “dangerous." The national GOP, under McDaniel's leadership, spent the past four years almost singularly focused on Trump's 2020 reelection. But should he run again in 2024 — and he has publicly and privately suggested he wants to — the national party infrastructure would not support his ambitions over those of other prospective candidates, in accordance with party rules, she said. “The party has to stay neutral. I’m not telling anybody to run or not to run in 2024,” McDaniel told The Associated Press when asked whether she wanted to see Trump run again in the next presidential election. “That’s going to be up to those candidates going forward. What I really do want to see him do, though, is help us win back majorities in 2022.” Just months removed from the last presidential election, several Republican prospects have already begun jockeying for position for the 2024 contest. McDaniel is far more focused on the 2022 midterms, when Republicans have an opportunity to break the Democrats' monopoly on Congress. McDaniel is in a difficult political position as she begins her new term as the national GOP chair. She has been a devoted Trump loyalist, but as the RNC leader, she is also tasked with helping her party recover from its painful 2020 election season in which Republicans lost the Senate and the White House and failed to win back the House. Trump's fervent base continues to demand loyalty to the former president, even as some party officials acknowledge that Trump's norm-shattering behaviour alienated elements of the coalition the GOP needs to win future elections. Tensions are especially high within the party as the Senate prepares for Trump's second impeachment trial. Ten House Republicans voted earlier in the month to impeach the former president for inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and on Tuesday, five Senate Republicans voted to move forward with a trial that could ultimately ban him from holding public office ever again. McDaniel acknowledged the frustration of Trump's base, which remains a powerful voice in the party and has little tolerance for Republican officials unwilling to stand behind the former president and his achievements in office. But she repeatedly called for party unity and discouraged elected officials from attacking other Republicans — even those who voted to impeach Trump. She declined to single out any specific Republicans when pressed, however, including Trump loyalist Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who is travelling to Wyoming this week to campaign against Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the highest-ranking House Republican who voted for Trump's impeachment. “If we’re fighting each other every day and attacking each other and brandishing party purism, we’re not going to accomplish what we need to to win back the House and take back the Senate, and that’s my priority,” McDaniel said. She also forcefully condemned the pro-Trump QAnon movement, a large group of conspiracy theorists who were a visible presence at the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6. Trump repeatedly declined to denounce the group while in the White House. “I think it’s really important after what’s just happened in our country that we have some self-reflection on the violence that’s continuing to erupt in our country,” McDaniel said, pointing to violence across the political spectrum. “I think QAnon is beyond fringe. I think it’s dangerous.” Moving forward, she said that voters, not Trump, are the head of the Republican Party, though Trump continues to maintain “a huge, huge presence” with his base. McDaniel said she's expecting several Republican leaders to play a significant role in the party's future, mentioning former Vice-President Mike Pence and Nikki Haley, the former ambassador to the United Nations. Both are also considered potential 2024 presidential contenders. She also downplayed reports that Trump is considering leaving the GOP and starting a new party, warning that such a move would divide Republicans and "guarantee Democrat wins up and down the ticket. “It would be basically a rubber stamp on Democrats getting elected. And I think that's the last thing that any Republican wants,” she said. "It’s clear that he understands that.” Steve Peoples, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday warning of the lingering potential for violence from people motivated by antigovernment sentiment after President Joe Biden's election, suggesting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol may embolden extremists and set the stage for additional attacks. The department did not cite any specific plots, but pointed to “a heightened threat environment across the United States” that it believes “will persist” for weeks after Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration. It is not uncommon for the federal government to warn local law enforcement through bulletins about the prospect for violence tied to a particular event or date, such as July 4. But this particular bulletin, issued through the department’s National Terrorism Advisory System, is notable because it effectively places the Biden administration into the politically charged debate over how to describe or characterize acts motivated by political ideology, and suggests it regards violence like the kind that overwhelmed the Capitol as akin to terrorism. The bulletin is an indication that national security officials see a connective thread between different episodes of violence in the last year motivated by anti-government grievances, including over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results and police use of force. The document singles out crimes motivated by racial or ethnic hatred, such as the 2019 rampage targeting Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, as well as the threat posed by extremists motivated by foreign terror groups. A DHS statement that accompanied the bulletin noted the potential for violence from “a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors.” “Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the bulletin said. The alert comes at a tense time following the riot at the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump seeking to overturn the presidential election. Authorities are concerned that extremists may attack other symbols of government or people whose political views they oppose. “The domestic terrorism attack on our Capitol earlier this month shined a light on a threat that has been right in front of our faces for years,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “I am glad to see that DHS fully recognizes the threat posed by violent, right-wing extremists and is taking efforts to communicate that threat to the American people.” The alert was issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske. Biden’s nominee for the Cabinet post, Alejandro Mayorkas, has not been confirmed by the Senate. Two former homeland security secretaries, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano, called on the Senate to confirm Mayorkas so he can start working with the FBI and other agencies and deal with the threat posed by domestic extremists, among other issues. Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, said attacks by far-right, domestic extremists are not new but that deaths attributed to them in recent years in the U.S. have exceeded those linked to jihadists such as al-Qaida. “We have to be candid and face what the real risk is,” he said in a conference call with reporters. Federal authorities have charged more than 150 people in the Capitol siege, including some with links to right-wing extremist groups such as the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers. The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against 43-year Ian Rogers, a California man found with five pipe bombs during a search of his business this month who had a sticker associated with the Three Percenters on his vehicle. His lawyer told his hometown newspaper, The Napa Valley Register, that he is a “very well-respected small business owner, father, and family man” who does not belong to any violent organizations. Ben Fox And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
Residents of Cape Breton Regional Municipality will now have an easy way to find out what day their solid waste collection falls on. A new app has been developed that allows residents to enter their address and find the specific day and time their garbage or recycling should be sitting at the end of their driveway. The CBRM solid waste department had been working for months with an app developer who has made similar apps throughout North America. Francis Campbell, the solid waste manager for CBRM, said one of the best parts of the app is the database that allows residents to search for what to do with specific waste materials. "The search tool will educate residents in how to recycle or properly dispose of materials, and it'll provide the curbside drop-off locations," said Campbell. The app sets up reminders through the calendar on a person's phone so they will be reminded the night before to put out their garbage, recycling or green bin. It also will be able to quickly let residents know if there is a cancellation or delay on a collection day, as well as post holiday cancellations. Earlene MacMullin, the deputy mayor of CBRM, said she downloaded the app while getting the presentation on it and already found it useful. "This is already fantastic and it seems very simplistic. I know deep down it isn't, but in my first three minutes of using it, I encourage residents to check this out," said MacMullin. There will also be a web-based version along with online information regarding waste collection on the CBRM website. This will be coming when the app is fully launched in a few weeks time. Coun. Cyril MacDonald said he is glad that people who do not have access to a smartphone can still have access to the information. "We're not removing a service. You're still able to get your calendar printed off, so I think this is great," said MacDonald. People who may not have access to a computer or a smartphone will still have the option to call the CBRM solid waste hotline to find out the information they need. Mayor Amanda McDougall said she is happy she has an easy way to never forget what waste is being collected each week. The app is now available for download through smartphone app stores. MORE TOP STORIES
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Wednesday that the world risks sliding deeper into instability as the coronavirus pandemic combines with global rivalries and other international tensions. Speaking by video link during a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum, Putin pointed at growing inequality and unemployment and a rise of populism as potential triggers for new conflicts that he said could plunge the world into a “dark anti-Utopia.” “The pandemic has exacerbated the problems and disbalances that have been accumulating,” the Russian leader said. “International institutions are weakening, regional conflicts are multiplying and the global security is degrading.” Putin hailed the decision by Russia and the United States to extend their last nuclear arms control pact as a positive move, but he added that spiraling tensions have come to resemble the situation before World War II. “I strongly hope that such ‘hot’ global conflict is impossible now. It would mean the end of civilization," he said. “But the situation may become unpredictable and spin out of control. There is a real danger that we will face a downturn in global development fraught with an all-out fight, attempts to solve contradictions by searching for internal and foreign enemies, and the destruction of basic traditional values.” Putin attributed the worsening economic situation to a Western liberal economic model that he said “foments social, racial and ethnic intolerance with tensions erupting even in countries with seemingly long-established civil and democratic institutions.” The Russian leader pointed to what he described as the negative role of technology companies that run top social networks, charging that they have abused their position and tried to “control the society, replace legitimate democratic institutions and usurp an individual's right to decide how to live and what views to express.” “We have seen it all in the United States,” Putin said without elaborating. Putin also claimed that there has been " increasingly aggressive pressure on those countries that disagree with a role of obedient satellites, the use of trade barriers, illegitimate sanctions, restrictions in the financial, technological and information spheres.” Relations between Russia and the West have sunk to post-Cold War lows after Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea in 2014, Russia's meddling in the U.S. elections and recently, the poisoning and the subsequent arrest of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. “The era marked by attempts to create a centralized unipolar global order is over now,” Putin said in an apparent reference to the perceived global domination of the U.S. Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press
Sometimes in life, you just have to wait a little bit, said Perry Township’s mayor, Norm Hofstetter, when the topic of the transfer/recycling station wait times came up at the Jan. 20 council meeting. According to Hofsetter, he had to bring items to the Waterloo Regional Landfill for a personal matter and said that while getting into the landfill was quick, getting out took 45 minutes. The topic of transfer station waiting times came up on the agenda as Coun. Joe Lumley mentioned he had heard some ratepayer complaints on the matter. Here are some key quotes from the discussion. “I had two or three members of the public come forth and talk to me about the lineup getting a little heavy and had been out to Highway 592 on some occasions,” said Lumley. “Maybe as a group we can come up with a more efficient way that the lineup can be decreased or sped up. When you get eight to 12 cars deep, especially if you’re only carrying one bag of garbage and waiting for everyone else to recycle, I can see people’s frustration there.” “It’s tough times with everything slowed down so much and the lineups are happening — it’s hard to get around that, but if there’s some way to organize it better, I’m all for it,’ said Coun. Paul Sowrey. “I’ve been there many times and I don’t think the lineups are that long. I’ve been back eight to 12 cars and I think the most I’ve waited was about 10 minutes,” said Hofstetter. “Maybe we can put a notice up that we’d appreciate it if they sorted their recycling ahead of time, not when they’re there. I think that would make a huge difference.” “I think we have it pretty nice up here and I think for a long time we were spoiled because there was no organization going in and out of our transfer station, but I think that’s something we have to consider for the safety and, yes, it might take ten minutes to get through, but we all know we’re going home at the end of the day and nobody’s been backed over — that’s not saying we can’t look at something else to help out, but I think sometimes we have to accept we have to wait a little bit in life,” said Hofstetter. “One of the reasons we have it in a single line is for monitoring; we wanted to monitor what people were putting into the recycling bins and for safety, especially during COVID-19,” said Coun. Margaret Ann MacPhail. “One idea that came into my mind (was) to have a lineup for just recycling and a lineup just for trash,” said Lumley. “Just as a footnote on the safety issue, I understand we have to make it as safe as possible for all of us … we did have an increase of 1,600 cars in the last year; if the increase is being seen now, what’s it going to be like in the summer when things are hopefully more relaxed?” “I think it’s a great idea (to have) a sign there that said: if you want to speed up the line, be organized and have your stuff sorted prior to coming,” said Sowrey. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Two weeks after staff killed a cougar inside the Banff townsite, Parks Canada says two more cougars have died. After several confirmed sightings of cougars in and around the town, as well as reports of kill sites, the agency says it decided to trap and collar one of the animals in order to track its movements. While setting up a trap on Tunnel Mountain, staff came across the body of a young male cougar, under one year of age. The cause of death is not yet known. "The same evening, shortly after dusk, Parks Canada captured an adult female cougar. The cougar was immobilized and fitted with a radio collar. The animal appeared to be in good condition, and Parks Canada personnel, including an on-staff wildlife veterinarian, monitored its vital signs throughout the procedure, which appeared strong," said Parks Canada in an emailed statement. "Unfortunately, as the cougar was in the late stages of recovering from the anesthesia, it suddenly stopped breathing and, despite immediate rescue efforts by Parks Canada staff, the cougar died." The agency says the cause of death was respiratory failure, but more tests are being conducted. On Jan. 13, Parks Canada staff had to euthanize a malnourished female cougar that was found hunting in the townsite. Parks Canada says cougars remain active in the area and there is a cougar closure on Tunnel Mountain and east of Tunnel Mountain to the Hoodoo Trailhead in order to give the animals space. Anyone who sees a cougar is asked to report the sighting to Banff Dispatch at 403-762-1470.
Pembroke – With no COVID-19 outbreaks currently in Renfrew County, only two people currently diagnosed with the virus and vaccines beginning to be administered in long-term care homes, these positive signs are tempered by news of the second death from the virus. A release from the Renfrew County and District Health Unit (RCDHU) confirmed last week a second individual had died from the virus. In an interview with the Leaderearlier in the week, Acting Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Cushman had confirmed an individual was in hospital in Ottawa following the diagnosis and did have significant comorbidities. Vaccines are also beginning to be administered, with the first clinic for residents at Valley Manor in Barry’s Bay. The health unit is working with long-term care homes to provide the vaccinations during the next two weeks in accordance with the provincial government announcement each long-term care, high-risk retirement home and First Nations elder care home resident in the province would receive first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine by February 5. A reduced shipment of vaccines to the province has meant staff and essential caregivers will be vaccinated at a later date, as supply stabilizes. “We are asking residents to be patient during this time,” Dr. Cushman said. “We will release more information on timelines and vaccine roll out as it becomes available. It is our firm hope that keeping our case numbers low and rolling out the vaccines will put this behind us. Remember, we need to work together to stop the spread of COVID-19.” On Tuesday, the health unit reported two people in self-isolation with confirmed cases of COVID. There have been 297 people who have tested positive for the virus and 293 who have recovered. No new cases were diagnosed on Tuesday. However, this week also marked the beginning of a return to back-to-schools in the county. Following a break of over a month, students in elementary and secondary schools returned to in-person instruction on Monday morning. They had previously been doing online learning since the province announced a decision to close all schools in the province to in-person learning. Schools in Renfrew County were one of only seven districts in the province which saw a resumption of in-person learning. Looking at COVID numbers in the district covered by the RCDHU, the numbers are much more encouraging than early January projections. In December there were over 90 confirmed cases of COVID, the highest number of any month since the pandemic statistics were first recorded in March 2020. The health unit is reporting 61 individuals have tested positive for COVID-19 in January, with a week remaining. “After the holidays, we saw a rise in cases related to gatherings and lack of adherence to public health measures,” Dr. Cushman noted. “Since then, cases in Renfrew County and district have remained relatively low, and we aim to keep trending downward.” Renfrew County has seen 21 outbreaks since the pandemic began and although 49 health care workers have been diagnosed with COVID, only three residents of long-term-care homes/retirement homes have been diagnosed with the virus. This is in stark contrast with other areas of the province and the dominion where many long-term-care homes/retirement homes have seen horrific outbreaks. The county has recorded 25 positive cases of COVID within the school setting since the pandemic began. Of these 10 were among staff members and 15 among students. With the resumption of school holding in-person class, Dr. Cushman is reminding area residents to not let their guard down. Provincially, numbers are also on a downward trend with 1,740 cases reported on Tuesday, the lowest daily number since mid-December. COVID testing continues in the county. Testing is done by appointment and anyone needing a test must call RCVTAC at 1-844-727-6404 to schedule a testing time. Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
Le projet de loi 71, qui réforme la Loi sur les véhicules hors route, a été adopté à l’unanimité à l’Assemblée nationale le 9 décembre dernier. Permis de conduire obligatoire, amendes revues à la hausse et limites de vitesse révisées : pour le ministre des Transports, François Bonnardel, la nouvelle législation « est un geste concret de notre gouvernement pour garantir un environnement plus sécuritaire pour les utilisateurs de VHR, mais aussi pour tous ceux et celles qui empruntent les sentiers ». Les conducteurs de motoneiges et de VTT devront posséder un permis de conduire valide (probatoire ou régulier) pour circuler à l’extérieur de leur terrain privé et être âgés d’au moins 16 ans. Le Code de la sécurité routière s’appliquera en ce qui a trait à la conduite avec les facultés affaiblies par l’alcool et la drogue. Ces nouvelles mesures entreront cependant en vigueur à partir de septembre 2021. Les limites de vitesse ont d’ailleurs été abaissées : les motoneigistes devront se limiter à 70 km/h dans les sentiers ainsi que sur les terres publiques et privées des municipalités, contre 50 km/h pour les conducteurs de VTT. À moins de 100 mètres de résidences, la limite est fixée à 50 km/h. De plus, les lois resserrent les règles entourant la location des véhicules hors route. Dès septembre 2021, toute personne désirant louer un VHR sera obligée de suivre une formation avant d’embarquer sur un véhicule. Il en ira de même pour les guides d’excursion, qui devront réussir une formation reconnue par le ministère du Tourisme avant d’accompagner des tiers. Les pouvoirs des patrouilleurs des différents corps policiers et des agents de surveillance ont été bonifiés, tout comme les montants des amendes, afin de dissuader la pratique imprudente du VHR. Cohabitation Par ailleurs, cette nouvelle mouture de la Loi sur les véhicules hors route clôt le débat sur l’immunité des réseaux de sentiers de VHR. Les voisins des sentiers légalement aménagés sont dorénavant tenus d’accepter la circulation des véhicules qui s’effectue dans le respect des normes. La dernière réforme de la loi encadrant la circulation des VHR datait de 2010. La majorité des articles du projet de loi 71 sont entrés en vigueur le 30 décembre dernier.Julie Sauvé, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Portageur
CORNWALL – COVID-19 vaccinations will slow down to nearly zero due to a shortage in supply from manufacture Pfizer-BioNTech. The good news is that before supplies ran out, residents in all but one long-term care home in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region have received their first dose of a vaccine. Facing a shortage in vaccine supply, the provincial government changed vaccination protocols to focus on LTC home residents receiving the vaccine. Staff, caregivers, and volunteers will have to wait until vaccine shipments to Canada resume. The single LTC home that has not been vaccinated, Lancaster Long Term Care, will not miss out on its vaccinations. Doses have been saved for when the facility is no longer in an outbreak. EOHU Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said that doses of the Moderna vaccine will start going into arms of residents of retirement homes and group homes. “With the Moderna that we have got, we are going to be doing the high-risk retirement homes,” he explained during his January 25th media update. In all, 2,267 vaccines have so far been administered by the health unit. For group homes and other congregate living settings, a similar risk-based assessment will be completed and vaccines given based on the highest risk of an outbreak. As with LTC homes and retirement homes, the type of space, size of the facility, and number of high-risk residents all factor into the priority list. Roumeliotis said that once more vaccine supply is received, staff and volunteers who were missed in the first round due to shortages will be vaccinated first. For the second week in a row, overall COVID-19 infections have decreased in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit region and continue to trend downward. “If we continue going downwards, I think the Stay-at-Home order would expire,” Roumeliotis said. Hospitalization and Intensive Care Unit rates are a key factor, both of which he said needed to stabilize. “I think the next week is going to be crucial,” Roumeliotis added. Test positivity, reproductive rate and infections per 100,000 people have all decreased in the past week for the region, and daily infection counts have started to drop provincially. The EOHU region has a test positivity rate of 4.35 per cent, reproductive rate of 0.75 and the rolling seven-day average of infections per 100,000 people is 60.8. One week ago, the seven-day average was 109.9 per 100,000 people, test positivity was 5 per cent, and the reproductive rate was 0.98. In comparison, Ottawa Public Health reported a reproductive rate of 0.82, any number below 1.0 is an indicator that the pandemic spread is reducing. The active case count in South Dundas has dropped to three people since last week, and there have been 24 cases since the pandemic began. North Dundas has 14 active cases, and has had 55 cases total. South Stormont has 20 active cases, and 95 cases total. Cornwall continues to lead the region in active (219) and total (624) cases. Nearly one-quarter of all COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began have been in Cornwall. As of the January 25th update, there are 499 active cases in the EOHU region, and there have been 2,380 cases since the Novel Coronavirus was first detected in the region 11 months ago. Twenty-two people from the region are hospitalized, six of those are in the ICU. According to the Ontario Ministry of Health, ICUs in the health unit are at 109 per cent occupancy, and the COVID-19 ICU are at 18 per cent occupancy. The number of deaths from the virus has increased to 52. Four people, all from LTC homes, died in the last week. There are 17 COVID-19 related outbreaks in facilities in the region, none are in Dundas County. Most of the outbreaks involve staff only and not residents. Eight staff and seven residents have tested positive for the virus at Glen Stor Dun Lodge, and one person has died at that facility. Riverview Manor in Cornwall, and Woodlawn Villa in Long Sault are among the facilities in outbreak according to the EOHU. A detailed breakdown of how many staff and residents at each facility was not available. Local COVID-19 statistics are updated weekdays by the health unit, except for statutory holidays. The Leader publishes a weekly online update each Friday at www.morrisburgleader.ca. Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
The Saskatchewan government is building a permanent monument to honour residential school survivors at Government House in Regina. The monument's construction is a response to the federal Truth and Reconciliation Commission's commitment to build publicly accessible, highly visible monuments to residential school survivors and their families in each capital city, the province said in a news release. "The monument will be part of the healing journey, and I look forward to continuing my ongoing conversations with Elders and Knowledge Keepers as we work together to develop this meaningful and lasting tribute," Saskatchewan's Lieutenant Governor Russ Mirasty said. Canada's residential school system operated for more than 100 years. It removed approximately 150,000 Indigenous children from their families and communities and placed them into government-run residential schools. Saskatchewan was home to approximately 20 federally operated residential schools during that time.
APELDOORN, Netherlands — Jos Bieleveldt had a spring in his step when the 91-year-old Dutchman got a coronavirus vaccine this week. But many think that was way too long in coming. Almost two months before, Britain's Margaret Keenan, who is also 91 now, received her shot to kick off the U.K.'s vaccination campaign that has, so far, outstripped the efforts in many nations in the European Union. “We are dependent on what the European Commission says we can, and cannot, do. As a result, we are at the bottom of the list, it takes far too long," Bieleveldt said of the executive arm of the EU, which, perhaps unfairly, has taken the brunt of criticism for a slow rollout in many of its member states. Onerous regulations and paperwork in some countries and poor planning in others have also contributed to the delay, as did a more deliberate authorization process for the shots. Overall, the 27-nation EU, a collection of many of the richest countries in the world — most with a universal health care system to boot — is not faring well in comparison to countries like Israel and the United Kingdom. Even the United States, whose response to the pandemic has otherwise been widely criticized and where tens of thousands of appointments for shots have been cancelled because of vaccine shortages, appears to be moving faster. While Israel has given at least one shot of a two-dose vaccine to over 40% of its population and that figure in Britain is 10%, the EU total stands at just over 2%. And it is not just EU citizens who are laying the blame at the bloc's door. Criticism is also coming from many nations that had hoped to see some live-saving liquid from the EU trickle through their borders. Amid concerns that the richer nations had snapped up far more doses than they needed and poorer nations would be left to do without, the EU was expected to share vaccines around. The rocky rollout is also testing the bloc's long commitment to so-called soft power — policies that advance its cause not through the barrel of a gun but through peaceful means, like through the needle of a syringe. “Today it’s harder to get the vaccines than nuclear weapons,” said Serb President Aleksandar Vucic, who had been counting on a lot more help from the EU. Serbia sits at the heart of the Balkan region where the EU, Russia and even China are seeking a stronger foothold. Helping the Balkan countries with their vaccine rollout seemed an area where Europe, with its medical prowess and a willingness to prioritize such co-operation, would have an edge. Not so far. Vucic said weeks ago when he welcomed 1 million doses of Chinese vaccines that Serbia had not received “a single dose” from the global COVAX system aimed at get affordable shots to poor and middle-income countries that the EU has championed and funded. Instead, Vucic said Serbia secured vaccines through deals with individual countries or producers. Rubbing salt in the wound, Vucic went for the EU's social conscience when he said this week that “the world today is like Titanic. The rich tried to get the lifeboats only for themselves ... and leave the rest.” Other nations on the EU's southeastern rim have also been critical. It is a big turnaround from only a month ago when the EU's future looked pretty bright. It had just inked a last-minute trade deal with the United Kingdom, clinched a massive 1.8 trillion-euro pandemic recovery and overall budget deal and started rolling out its first COVID-19 vaccines. “This is a very good way to end this difficult year, and to finally start turning the page on COVID-19,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the time. By this past weekend, though, her attitude soured as it became clear that the bloc would be getting vaccines at a slower rate than agreed upon for its 450 million people. AstraZeneca has told the EU that of its initial batch of 80 million, only 31 million would immediately materialize once its vaccine got approved, likely on Friday. That came on the heels of a smaller glitch in the deliveries of Pfizer-BioNTech shots. Both companies say they are facing operational issues at plants that are temporarily delaying the rollout. Italy is threatening to take legal action against both over the delay. Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte had been boasting that the country’s rollout was a huge success, especially when the millionth dose was given on Jan. 15. But after Pfizer announced the temporary supply reduction, Italy slowed from administering about 80,000 doses a day to fewer than 30,000. Bulgaria has also criticized the drug companies, and some there have called for the government to turn to Russia and China for vaccines. Hungary is already doing so. “If vaccines aren’t coming from Brussels, we must obtain them from elsewhere. One cannot allow Hungarians to die simply because Brussels is too slow in procuring vaccines,” Prime Minister Viktor Orban said. “It doesn’t matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.” But supply isn't the only thing holding up the EU's campaign. The problem is partially that the EU Commission bet on the wrong horse — and didn't get enough doses of the early success vaccines like Pfizer-BioNTech. The commission notes there was no way of knowing which vaccines would succeed — and which would be first — and so it had to spread its orders out over several companies. The EU rollout was also slowed because the European Medicines Agency took more time than the U.S. or U.K. regulators to authorize its first vaccine. That was by design as it made sure that the member nations could not be held liable in case of problems and in order to give people more confidence that the shot was safe. But individual countries also share in the blame. Germany, Europe's cliche of an organized and orderly nation, was found sorely wanting, with its rollout marred by chaotic bureaucracy and technological failures, such as those seen Monday when thousands of people over 80 in the country’s biggest state were told they would have to wait until Feb. 8 to get their first shots, even as vast vaccine centres set up before Christmas languished empty. “The speed of our action leaves a lot to be desired,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said. “Processes have often become very bureaucratic and take a long time, so we have to work on that.” It is no different in France, where there is a Kafkaesque maze of rules to get consent for vaccinating the elderly. In the Netherlands, which banked on the easy-to-handle AstraZeneca vaccine being the first available, authorities had to scramble to make new plans for the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, whose ultracold storage requirements make it more complicated. “We were proven to be insufficiently flexible to make the change," said Health Minister Hugo de Jonge. The Dutch have been particularly criticized since they were the last in the EU to begin vaccinations, more than a week after the first shots were given in the bloc, and they have been especially slow to roll doses out to elderly people living at home, like Bieleveldt, a retiree. “I’m already playing in injury time in terms of my age," he said. "But I still want to play for a few more years.” ___ Casert reported from Brussels. AP journalists across the European Union contributed. ___ Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine. Raf Casert And Mike Corder, The Associated Press
PARIS — Vandals painted graffiti on France’s Holocaust Memorial ahead of international commemorations of the Nazi slaughter of millions of Jews. The Israeli Embassy in France tweeted a photo of the pro-Uighur graffiti scrawled on a wall etched with the names of tens of thousands of French victims of the Holocaust. The embassy expressed “horror and anger” at the vandalism “on such a symbolic day.” Paris police said the graffiti was discovered Wednesday morning, as ceremonies were being held or planned around the world to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is observed on the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp on Jan. 27, 1945. The graffiti was quickly cleaned off. While France sees persistent but scattered anti-Semitic vandalism or violence, the graffiti found Wednesday was not explicitly anti-Jewish. It included the message “Uighur Lives Matter” and appeared aimed at calling attention to China's treatment of mostly Muslim Uighurs. The Chinese government has detained an estimated 1 million or more members of ethnic Turkic minority groups in Xinjiang, holding them in internment camps and prisons where they are subjected to ideological discipline, forced to denounce their religion and language and physically abused. China has long suspected the Uighurs of harbouring separatist tendencies. The Associated Press
NEW YORK — The Cannes Film Festival, cancelled altogether last year by the pandemic, is postponing this year's edition from May to July in hopes of having an in-person festival. Cannes organizers announced Wednesday that this year's festival will now take place July 6-17, about two months after its typical period. The French Riviera festival, which had run for nearly 75 years with few interruptions, is currently hoping the coronavirus recedes enough by summertime. Cannes last year first looked at a postponement its 73rd festival to June or July before ultimately cancelling altogether. The festival still went ahead with a selection announcement to celebrate the films it had planned to include in its prestigious lineup. This year, organizers are intent on having a festival, one way or another. No details were announced Wednesday on what shape a 2021 edition might take. Jake Coyle, The Associated Press
SOUTH DUNDAS – Annual provincial funding for municipal infrastructure through the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund remains unchanged for 2021. The annual funding allocations were released by the province on January 25th. The Municipality of South Dundas leads all other lower-tier municipalities in SDG Counties and will receive $418,782. Use of this year’s allocation will be determined by council during its budget deliberations in early-February. In past years, OCIF funding has been allocated to the municipal capital roads program. “The municipality is pleased to once again be receiving the OCIF funding that will contribute to the betterment of South Dundas,” said communications coordinator Kalynn Sawyer Helmer. “We appreciate the allocation and recognize the impact as it provides stability in our budget for eligible capital projects.” Around the county, North Dundas will receive $274,880; North Stormont $119,449; South Stormont $314,843; North Glengarry $204,790; and South Glengarry $333,052. SDG Counties will receive $965,532, and the City of Cornwall will receive $1,082,340. Cornwall will also receive $682,276 in provincial gas tax funding that is specifically for transit spending. Outside of the United Counties, neighbouring Edwardsburgh-Cardinal will receive $191,495 in 2021. OCIF funding is calculated based on the amount of core infrastructure owned by a municipality such as roads, bridges, water and wastewater systems, and municipal economic conditions. The infrastructure is indexed against property assessment and household average income. Municipalities with a higher index receive more grant money. Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
The Voyageur Lions Club Polar Plunge, a usually well participated fundraising event run by the club saw a less than average outcome for its virtual Polar Plunge event this year. The event which is usually held at Point Park nearby La Place Rendezvous Hotel on the shores of Rainy Lake was forced to be held virtually due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. The virtual plunge was to take place over the course of 15 days from Jan. 1 to 15 where participants would film themselves performing their own version of the plunge and raise funds for the charity of their choice as well as the Voyageur Lions Club. The videos would then be complied into one video to be shared. Bill Michl, co-organizer of the Voyageur Lions Club Polar Plunge said they had hoped to get at least 60 people to take part but Michl turned out to be the only participant. “I was the only one that put a video in and I put it in more or less to show people what they could do but it turns out that a lot of people talked about it but nobody went out and did it,” Michl said. “I think that people like an audience when you’re doing something really stupid. It’s a kind of event that is way better in person than virtual.” Michl said that the Polar Plunge is one of their big fundraisers and now he is just hoping to raise enough to pay for the ads that they put out and break even. “On a good year we’ve made almost $20,000 and on a bad year we make about $2,500 so we’re going to miss out on quite a bit of our money that we generally put back into the public and we’ll have to come up with something else,” Michl said. Michl said by the end of the month he is hoping to raise $1,000. “You don’t want to go out and ask people for pledges because everybody’s kind of hurting during this time so maybe that had a lot to do with it too,” Michl said. He said he hopes the pandemic will be over by next January and they will be able to host the Polar Plunge as it has been for many years. The Voyageur Lions Club is set to host its Jail or Bail fundraiser in April. Michl said they hope it will not be cancelled as last year’s event was because of COVID. April 2020 would have made it the eighth year that the Voyageur Lions Club held the event. Michl said the club has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a lack of fundraising. He adds that they have some money to support foundations and the programs that they provide but if not much changes after June, then their budget for next year will be very slim. Natali Trivuncic, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Fort Frances Times
Krish Vignarajah has been in survival mode for four years as the Trump administration slashed refugee admissions by 85%. She's had to close a third of her resettlement agency's 48 offices and lay off more than 120 employees, some with decades of experience. Now, she's scrambling to not only rehire staff but double the capacity of her Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, an expansion not seen since the agency scaled up for the wave of refugees that arrived after the fall of Saigon in 1975. All nine U.S. resettlement agencies are experiencing the whiplash. They're gearing up to handle 125,000 refugees this year and possibly more after that if President Joe Biden makes good on his promise to restore the number of people able to create new lives in America after fleeing persecution or war. Agencies say they welcome the challenge after being pushed to the brink. But the last four years illustrates the need to make the 41-year-old program that's long enjoyed bipartisan support less vulnerable to political whims if America is to regain its position as a leader in providing sanctuary for the world’s oppressed. “We’ve seen how the sole concentration of refugee policy in the White House can wreak such destruction in the wrong hands,” Vignarajah said. The Trump administration created so many obstacles that there are doubts whether the pipeline can rebound quickly enough to meet Biden’s expected target this year, especially during a coronavirus pandemic that has restricted the ability to safely interview refugees in camps and crowded cities. “The foundation of the system has been so broken that to even get to 125,000 next year, there’s a big question mark,” said Jennifer Foy, vice-president of U.S. programs with World Relief, a resettlement agency. Refugee admissions are determined by the president each year, and federal funding for resettlement agencies is based on the number of people they resettle in a given year. As president, Donald Trump targeted the refugee program under his anti-immigration policies, dropping admissions yearly until they reached a record low of 15,000 for fiscal year 2021, which started in October. Historically, the average has been 95,000 under both Republican and Democratic administrations. The Trump administration defended the cuts as protecting American jobs during the pandemic and said it sought to have refugees settle closer to their home countries while working on solving the crises that caused them to flee. More than 100 U.S. resettlement offices closed during Trump’s term, including eight of 27 belonging to World Relief, Foy’s agency. Its warehouses of donated household goods have grown sparse, and its relationships with hundreds of landlords have waned because almost no refugees are arriving. The Trump administration also cut or reassigned U.S. support staff overseas who processed applications. Despite potential problems reopening the pipeline, advocates say it's important that Biden set this year's ceiling at 125,000 people to start building the program back up. He's also vowed to seek legislation setting an annual baseline of 95,000 refugee admissions, which would help stabilize funding for resettlement agencies. Biden's campaign said the number could go beyond that “commensurate with our responsibility, our values and the unprecedented global need." Biden, who co-sponsored legislation creating the refugee program in 1980, says reopening the doors to refugees is “how we will restore the soul of our nation." “Resettling refugees helps reunite families, enriches the fabric of America, and enhances our standing, influence and security in the world,” Biden said in June for World Refugee Day. For decades, America admitted more refugees each year than all other countries combined, only to fall behind Canada in 2018. While the U.S. program shrank and a dozen other countries followed in shutting their doors, refugee numbers worldwide ballooned to a record 26 million because of political strife, violence and famine. Biden has said he wants to make it easier for refugees to get to the United States by expanding efforts to register and process them abroad and making higher education visas available to those seeking safety. He's also indicated more priority should be given to Latin Americans, especially Venezuelans whose numbers now rival Syrians among the largest group of displaced people. Refugees already underwent more rigorous screening than any other person entering the U.S. before additional requirements under Trump slowed the process to almost a standstill, according to the International Refugee Assistance Project. Last year, the Trump administration started requiring refugees to provide addresses dating back 10 years, a near impossible task for people living in exile. “The Trump administration began to incorporate novel and untested techniques that overwhelmed the system with delays and dubious vetting results,” said Vignarajah, the CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. Still, changing that won’t be easy. “It’s easy to ratchet it up, very difficult to ratchet it down, and that’s not to say some of those duplicative layers of vetting actually make us safer,” she said. There are also questions about who should be at the front of the line. The Trump administration changed the eligibility rules, setting up its own categories of who qualifies rather than using the long-standing referral system by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that makes selections based on a person's need to be resettled. For instance, there was no category for people fleeing war, like Syrians. As a result, tens of thousands of refugees conditionally approved by the Department of Homeland Security suddenly were disqualified. Advocates want such cases to get priority. Mahmoud Mansour, who fled Syria's civil war to Jordan, hopes to regain his spot. His family had completed the work to go to the United States when the Trump administration issued its travel ban barring people from Syria indefinitely and suspending the refugee program for 120 days. “The past four years, during Trump’s term, our lives were ruined,” said Mansour, a tailor who has been out of work for a year and relies on help from his two brothers in the U.S. to survive. “In one moment, our dreams vanished.” Now, Mansour feels optimistic again. The 47-year-old father said Biden sent a strong message about restoring humanitarian policies when he lifted the travel ban on his first day in office. Mansour hopes his family will finally be reunited. And he wants the new president to know: “We will not be a burden. We will be workers there. You will benefit from us, and of course, we will benefit from you.” ___ Watson reported from San Diego. Associated Press reporter Omar Akour in Amman, Jordan, contributed to this report. Julie Watson, The Associated Press
WINNIPEG — Manitoba health officials say they plan to start having COVID-19 vaccines available for the general population, starting with the elderly, in March. The government has laid out its vaccine distribution plan with general timelines, and warns a lot could change depending on national supplies. So far, the vaccines have been targeted to health-care workers in high-risk settings and people living in personal care homes. Dr. Joss Reimer, a member of the province's vaccine task force, says that in March the province plans to offer vaccines in to a broader range of health-care workers and all Manitobans over 95. The age minimum will be reduced quickly by one-year increments, and people in their 50s could be eligible by April or May. The province says it will lay out vaccine plans for First Nations in the coming days, and is looking at whether to have a plan for essential workers separate from the general population. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021 The Canadian Press
As provincial business leaders gather for the BC Natural Resources Forum, Prince Rupert Port Authority CEO Shaun Stevenson discusses how the pandemic has impacted the economy of Northern BC.
The province is set to undertake a major consultation process on the future of health care and it says everything is on the table. The Department of Health kick–started the consultations Tuesday by releasing a policy paper about the state of the province's health–care system titled "Striving for Dependable Public Health Care." The province will hold virtual town halls in about a dozen communities, including the six where the province had announced reductions in ER hours that they later walked back, and said "anyone interested in attending a virtual session will be able to register to attend." In an interview with Information Morning Fredericton, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said she's looking forward to hearing from New Brunswickers about what they want from their health–care system. She promised all topics and potential reforms will be on the table if the public demands it, including more private services, user fees and increased access to abortion. "We have to look at the whole picture," said Shephard. "I'm not predetermining anything." Family doctors Shephard said she expects to hear a lot from New Brunswickers about primary care, including family doctors. "Ninety-five per cent of New Brunswickers have a family physician, but only 55 per cent of them can see one within five days," said Shephard. "We need to try with our medical society and our family physicians to find out how we can make sure that care is delivered more comprehensively and in a very timely fashion to keep people out of ERs and to keep people out of hospital." The New Brunswick Medical Society said 2018 polling indicated 44,000 New Brunswickers did not have access to a primary care doctor. Shephard said she understands the need to hire more nurses and doctors, but said every other jurisdiction is in the same position. While she wants to make New Brunswick a more attractive place for medical professionals, changing how services are delivered may be necessary. She said the aging population makes these consultations all the more important. "Twenty-six per cent of our population is going to be over the age of 65 in five years," said Shephard. "The response needs to be to what their needs are at that point and so it needs to be evolving. I don't know that there are going to be that many more doctors available. So how do we utilize our medical professionals in the best way? What services can we shift with other medical professionals? Those are the challenges and the discussions we have to have at a community level and I think they're very ready for that conversation." Consultations during COVID The push to evaluate the province's health–care system comes as COVID-19 restrictions remain, with one zone in lockdown and another in the red phase of recovery. But Shephard said the review has already been delayed several times and can't be put off forever. "The challenges are there, they're going to remain there and our province has been without a real five year health–care plan for a year now," said Shephard. "We need to be able to deliver a five year plan to the [Regional Health Authorities] that we can be accountable to and that they can be accountable to." Shephard said the province is engaging with 26 different stakeholder groups, including First Nations, as well as other government departments. Shephard said the province must abide by the Canada Health Act, and she believes health care must remain public and available to all, but she did leave the door open to more privatization. "I don't know how the next several years is going to evolve … with the way that maybe a private sector comes into this," said Shephard. "We already use pharmacists, they're private. We already use some, you know, some other medical professionals who come into this." People looking to give feedback on the department's discussion paper can email them to email@example.com.
Milo loves to say good morning as he greets his owner. He also enjoys giving kisses, and we can’t get enough!