Washington's Chase Young called out Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, saying "I'm coming. I want Tom." Will Tampa's legendary QB rise to the occasion?
Washington's Chase Young called out Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, saying "I'm coming. I want Tom." Will Tampa's legendary QB rise to the occasion?
WASHINGTON — Federal law enforcement officials are examining a number of threats aimed at members of Congress as the second trial of former President Donald Trump nears, including ominous chatter about killing legislators or attacking them outside of the U.S. Capitol, a U.S. official told The Associated Press. The threats, and concerns that armed protesters could return to sack the Capitol anew, have prompted the U.S. Capitol Police and other federal law enforcement to insist thousands of National Guard troops remain in Washington as the Senate moves forward with plans for Trump's trial, the official said. The shocking insurrection at the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob prompted federal officials to rethink security in and around its landmarks, resulting in an unprecedented lockdown for Biden's inauguration. Though the event went off without any problems and armed protests around the country did not materialize, the threats to lawmakers ahead of Trump's trial exemplified the continued potential for danger. Similar to those intercepted by investigators ahead of Biden’s inauguration, the threats that law enforcement agents are tracking vary in specificity and credibility, said the official, who had been briefed on the matter. Mainly posted online and in chat groups, the messages have included plots to attack members of Congress during travel to and from the Capitol complex during the trial, according to the official. The official was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation publicly and spoke Sunday to the AP on condition of anonymity. Law enforcement officials are already starting to plan for the possibility of armed protesters returning to the nation's capital when Trump’s Senate trial on a charge of inciting a violent insurrection begins the week of Feb. 8. It would be the first impeachment trial of a former U.S. president. Though much of the security apparatus around Washington set up after the Jan. 6 riot and ahead of Biden’s inauguration — it included scores of military checkpoints and hundreds of additional law enforcement personnel — is no longer in place, about 7,000 members of the National Guard will remain to assist federal law enforcement, officials said. Gen. Dan Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said Monday that about 13,000 Guard members are still deployed in D.C., and that their numbers would shrink to 7,000 by the end of this week. John Whitley, the acting secretary of the Army, told a Pentagon news conference that this number is based on requests for assistance from the Capitol Police, the Park Police, the Secret Service and the Metropolitan Police Department. Whitley said the number is to drop to 5,000 by mid-March. Thousands of Trump’s supporters descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress met to certify Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential race. More than 800 are believed to have made their way into the Capitol during the violent siege, pushing past overwhelmed police officers. The Capitol police said they planned for a free speech protest, not a riot, and were caught off guard despite intelligence suggesting the rally would descend into a riot. Five people died in the melee, including a Capitol police officer who was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher. At least five people facing federal charges have suggested they believed they were taking orders from Trump when they marched on Capitol Hill to challenge the certification of Biden’s election victory. But now those comments, captured in interviews with reporters and federal agents, are likely to take centre stage as Democrats lay out their case. More than 130 people have been charged by federal prosecutors for their roles in the riot. In recent weeks, others have been arrested after posting threats against members of Congress. They include a Proud Boys supporter who authorities said threatened to deploy “three cars full of armed patriots” to Washington, threatened harm against Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and who is accused of stockpiling military-style combat knives and more than 1,000 rifle rounds in his New York home. A Texas man was arrested this week for taking part in the riot at the Capitol and for posting violent threats, including a call to assassinate Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y ___ Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report. Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Structure and rhythm are important for Ayden Rana. The six-year-old is on the autism spectrum and requires a little extra help to complete his studies. When the winter break turned into an extended period away from the classroom, keeping most children and teachers at home, it presented a unique challenge for Ayden and his mother, Karen, who found herself playing the role of teacher, therapist, support worker and parent. “He was very receptive the first two days, I would say, to virtual learning because he got to see the teacher and the educational assistants,” Karen said. But the novelty quickly wore off. Studying became much harder. Learning became even more challenging than usual. Touch and sense are key to Ayden’s educational development, meaning the curiously flat, two-dimensional world of pixels on a screen, fell far short of meeting his needs. “The educational assistant realized his needs for tactile material — he’s not grasping the Chromebook — so she put together a binder with all the activities,” Karen explained. “All the math, English, all the subjects he would do at school, along with his puzzles, his timer [and] his favorite pens [are included].” The binder is carefully prepared by his educational assistant every week and left for Ayden to pick up, offering new material to make the best of a difficult situation. For some other students with special needs, learning at home — even with the extra work and resources — isn’t a possibility. As a result, despite the province-wide shutdown and stay-at-home-order, some are still physically in school. A few teachers are on hand, along with a small army of special education assistants. At the Peel District School Board, they are referred to as educational assistants (EAs) and a large number of the board’s 3,800 EAs are reporting for duty. At Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, where they are known as educational resource workers (ERWs) 40 school sites are open and staffed. A major issue for EAs working at PDSB is a lack of coordination and tracking by the board, Natacha Verdiel, president of OPSEU Local 2100, the union representing EAs at PDSB, explained to The Pointer. Unlike students and teachers who cohort together, EAs do not have to sign into classrooms and are not included in contact tracing efforts when an outbreak is declared. “An EA might cross cohorts 14 times on any given day,” she explained. “They might report to 12 different classrooms to provide support to high needs students. They’re now cross contaminating between students, that’s alarming, and no one knows they’ve been in that classroom.” As a result of their specific profiles, many children with special needs are unable to wear a mask. Some even find staff wearing them to be upsetting and can attempt to physically remove them. Depending on a child’s age, size and unique needs, such behaviour can be challenging. In some instances the desire to create normalcy can even lead to aggressive actions by some students. That’s why some personal protective measures to mitigate the risk of viral spread can’t be used. “Here’s what I don’t think the public understands: the students that are reporting to the physical building right now are students who cannot wear masks,” Verdiel said. “They are all unmasked, all of the students are unmasked. Most of them are extremely behavioral, they are our highest needs students in the system.” Verdiel described one situation where a particular student coughs, spits and sneezes as part of their behavioural profile. “The staff in there are covered in bodily fluids, all day long,” she said, lamenting the lack of effective personal protective equipment and how masks can act “as a target” for some students who attempt to remove them or strike the workers wearing them. For the parents of children with special needs, the role EAs, ERWs and the education system play can be nothing short of a miracle. Staff are able to look after children during the day, calm them and tend to their various behavioural and physical needs. “Some of our workers have phenomenal skills… some of them are outrageously amazing at what they can do,” Pam Bonferro, president of the Dufferin Peel Educational Resource Workers’ Association, told The Pointer. “They’re like pied pipers, they walk into a room and the students calm down.” Karen Rana agrees, describing Ayden’s EA as a rock. “He changed three classes [due to COVID-19 attendence variations], so you can imagine,” she said. “Three classes, three teachers, three sets of students, but with the same assistant. She has been the constant and it’s been very positive for Ayden.” The work of classroom assistants is often born of passion. As a vocation, many pursue the work out of a desire to help care for children and assist with their challenging development. “It’s not that they don't want to support the students that are there,” Verdiel added. “They want the Province to acknowledge that those who are reporting in person are unable to maintain any kind of physical distancing at all. Their job is very, very, very high risk in terms of exposure to bodily fluids.” Highlighting the fact the government is working hard during a crisis, but still missing key supports, Bonferro said ERWs and EAs are being inadvertently positioned in opposition to the very families they support. “What they have technically done is they have pitted the EAs against the parents,” she said. “They are taking the EAs voice away, if an EA speaks up, they’re going to be kind of vilified as the bad guy [in the] situation. So they are way beyond stressed and what’s really tearing them apart is: they have a conscience, they care about the kids they work with.” The Ministry of Education did not provide a response in time for publication. Despite working in the same space as teachers, classroom assistants have unique demands, detailed by the unions who represent them. Where teachers can safely distance from pupils, even in the same classroom, EAs and ERWs are unable to make the space. Their duties include helping students use the bathroom, feeding and, when needed, physically helping them to calm down. “The exposure level that a teacher has when they’re standing in front of a classroom teaching versus the exposure that an EA has when they’re being spat in the face or restraining a student [is significantly different],” Verdiel said. The unions have several specific asks of the Doug Ford government to improve the situation. They include pandemic pay, more robust PPE and rapid access to the vaccine. Under the Province’s current vaccination rollout, teachers and classroom assistants find themselves on the list at the same time. The second phase, which also includes older adults living in the community and several other key worker categories, could run as late as July, which risks some EAs and ERWs not being vaccinated until during the summer break. “The government has taken on the position that EAs are now essential workers; however, they are not being provided with the same level of pay or protection,” Verdiel said. “The NDP has long called for pandemic pay for all frontline workers, and believes educators should be included among the groups prioritized to get their vaccine,” NDP Education Critic Maritt Stiles told The Pointer. “Special education assistants, who are now working in classrooms with vulnerable people, should be vaccinated as soon as possible, when the vaccine becomes available.” PDSB provided a statement offering extensive instructions to EAs around wearing PPE. It did not address questions around contact tracing and EAs working in multiple classrooms. “Since returning from the winter break, all students and staff, including EAs, who have returned to in-person learning and working are required to follow the Active Daily Screening process,” a spokesperson told The Pointer. At DPCDSB, contact tracing does not appear to be an issue and ERWs are carefully monitored. “School principals maintain a record of any ERWs that are working in the school and should a positive COVID case be reported, any staff and students that worked with, or could be considered to be a close contact, would be identified for contact tracing,” Bruce Campbell, general manager of communications and community relations for the board, told The Pointer. As most schools remain closed and the majority of children learn at home, EAs and ERWs continue to show up for work feeling increasingly isolated and vulnerable. “Everybody is sympathetic, everybody understands,” Verdiel said. “Nobody is willing to do anything.” Email: email@example.com Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you. Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
LOGEMENT. À l’exemple de Queen’s Park, Québec solidaire demande au gouvernement québécois de suspendre à nouveau les évictions résidentielles pour toute la durée de l'état d'urgence sanitaire. «Pendant que le Québec a les deux pieds dans la deuxième vague et que les mesures de confinement sont plus strictes que jamais avec l'imposition du couvre-feu, les évictions de locataires se poursuivent de plus belle sans que la CAQ bouge le petit doigt. Même le gouvernement conservateur de Doug Ford a compris l'importance de maintenir les personnes chez elles durant ces temps particuliers et a annoncé un nouveau moratoire contre les évictions pour la durée de la situation d'urgence. Qu'attend le gouvernement Legault pour faire de même?», s'interroge Andrés Fontecilla, le porte-parole solidaire en matière de logement tout en rappelant que le moratoire a été levé en juillet dernier par la ministre de l'Habitation, Andrée Laforest. «Comme c'était le cas en mars dernier, la flambée des cas de COVID-19 se conjugue à une grave crise du logement. Le gouvernement de la CAQ sait très bien que la loi actuelle fait défaut et qu'il doit colmater les brèches qui permettent les expulsions abusives, notamment les rénovictions. Nous allons continuer de veiller au grain afin que la loi soit revue et corrigée, mais en attendant ces changements, il est urgent de décréter un nouveau moratoire sur les évictions. Personne ne doit se retrouver à la rue en plein couvre-feu», martèle Andrés Fontecilla, le député de Laurier-Dorion. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
“Every Waking Hour,” by Joanna Schaffhausen (Minotaur) The push-pull relationship between Boston police detective Ellery Hathaway and FBI Agent Reed Markham took a big leap last year in “All the Best Lies,” the third book in Joanna Schaffhausen’s compelling series of crime novels. Now, in “Every Waking Hour,” the world seems determined to pull the new lovers apart. Reed rescued Ellery from serial killer years ago, when she was just a teenager, so their mutual attraction has been fraught with complications from the start. And now? Reed’s ex-wife Sarit disapproves of Ellery. Still bitter about their divorce, Sarit threatens to stop him from seeing his toddler daughter unless he breaks off the relationship. Ellery’s teenage half-sister, a runaway from the father who abandoned Ellery and her mother years ago, shows up and moves in. And Ellery, whose kidnapping was such a huge story that journalists never lost interest in her, is horrified when a news photographer catches the lovers in a tender moment and makes their relationship public. Meanwhile, a 12-year-old girl has been kidnapped, battering Ellery with horrible memories of her own ordeal that are never far from the surface. The obvious suspect is the nanny who was supposed to be watching over the child. However, Ellery and Reed soon discover that the girl’s mother’s first child was murdered years ago when he was also 12 years old. That the crime was never solved. Might the two cases be connected? The result is a tension-filled investigation filled with twists that readers are unlikely to see coming. Though not a particularly stylish writer, Schaffhausen spins her yarn with clear, concise prose that keeps the plot moving at a torrid pace. But as usual in this series, the most compelling part of her story is the fragile relationship between the protagonists. Can it — and even should it — survive what the world keeps throwing at them? ___ Bruce DeSilva, winner of the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Award, is the author of the Mulligan crime novels including “The Dread Line.” Bruce Desilva, The Associated Press
COVID-19. Les plus récentes données sur l'évolution de la COVID-19, au Québec, font état de 1 457 nouveaux cas pour la journée d'hier, pour un nombre total de 253 633 personnes infectées. Parmi celles-ci, 227 215 sont rétablies. Elles font également état de 41 nouveaux décès, pour un total de 9 478. De ces 41 décès, 12 sont survenus dans les 24 dernières heures, 26 entre le 17 et le 22 janvier, 2 avant le 17 janvier et 1 à une date inconnue. Le nombre total d'hospitalisations a diminué de 56 par rapport à la veille, avec un cumul de 1 327. Parmi celles-ci, le nombre de personnes se trouvant aux soins intensifs a augmenté de 3, pour un total actuel de 219. Les prélèvements réalisés le 22 janvier s'élèvent à 33 719, pour un total de 5 646 660. Au cours des 7 derniers jours (depuis le 16 janvier), ce sont 72 396 personnes qui ont été vaccinées, pour une moyenne quotidienne de 10 342 personnes vaccinées.Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
The U.S. House of Representatives delivered to the Senate on Monday a charge that former President Donald Trump incited insurrection in a speech to supporters before the deadly attack on the Capitol, setting in motion his second impeachment trial. Nine House Democrats who will serve as prosecutors in Trump's trial, accompanied by the clerk of the House and the acting sergeant at arms, carried the charge against Trump to the Senate in a solemn procession across the Capitol. Wearing masks to protect against COVID-19, they filed through the ornate Capitol Rotunda and into the Senate chamber, following the path that a mob of Trump supporters took on Jan. 6 as they clashed with police.
Sea ice, ice sheets and glaciers melting 60 per cent faster than in the 1990s
Paris City Hall has instructed the landlord seeking to close down the city's indebted Fan Museum to extend its deadline for payment, the museum said Monday. Director Anne Hoguet said her beleaguered museum — a registered historic monument — owed 117,000 euros in rent arrears due to losses incurred during virus lockdowns last year. The money was due Jan. 23 and the landlord had threatened to seize the museum's priceless artifacts as payment. In response to AP’s reporting, on Thursday UNESCO called on France to do more to protect the small museum that French officials had placed on an intangible heritage list only last year. Hoguet said that Paris City Hall officials confirmed to her that they had intervened to get the landlord to delay the deadline. “It's a huge relief. We hope to live another day,” Hoguet said. Paris Deputy Mayor Karen Taieb told the AP that officials are now meeting with Hoguet on Feb. 5 “in order to think about long-term solutions for this heritage museum which is in a very complicated situation.” Hoguet said that she has been inundated with offers of donations since last week’s media reports. The Associated Press
Over 150 McKellar ratepayers have signed an online petition against a proposed electric vehicle charging station in the township. The petition was started by Chris Skinner, who was unable to comment at time of publication. Posted in multiple McKellar Facebook pages on Jan. 19, it quickly gained traction and reached its 100-signature goal. Many ratepayers commented that they were against the potential charging station. “Why should we have to pay for something as ridiculous as these charging stations if the majority of residents in McKellar are never going to use them?” asked Tammy DeCarle-Bier in the McKellar Free Speech Facebook page. The Nov. 10 minutes from the McKellar council meeting state that the township “identified the installation of electric vehicle charging stations as part of its action plan” and that the community centre complex would be the ideal location. The initial cost per charging station is estimated at $100,000, but council requested that Hydro One apply to the federal government NRCan Grant, under the Zero Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program, which would provide up to 50 per cent of the total cost of the acquisition and installation of two electric vehicle charging stations. However, David Downing, a McKellar ratepayer, said that he’d rather see a gas station in McKellar before electric vehicle charging stations. “You cannot even buy gasoline in the township,” said Downing. “How many (electric vehicle) owners? One I think, and he is a councillor … sure, the government will match to 50 per cent but we have other needs for our $100,000.” McKellar’s mayor, Peter Hopkins, said that the township was working on a response to the petition but had no further comment at this time. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
First of a two-part series Matilda Emma Padhi was born on Nov. 3, 1933 in what was then the independent country of Newfoundland. She was still a baby when Newfoundland gave up its independence and reverted to colonial status under Great Britain. Such events likely mattered little in her native fishing village of Belleoram, where her father, John Whatley, owned a store and the livelihood of most residents centred around the deep, blue waters of Fortune Bay. Belleoram harbour was sheltered by a natural breakwater, and Emma would have carried two striking images of her birthplace with her throughout her life: St. Lawrence Anglican Church, perched on a hill behind the town, and the imposing rock face of Iron Skull Mountain across the water. Emma’s mother, Irene, would later give birth to two sons. “She used to talk about how they were poor, and they didn’t have a lot of money, and they would eat a lot of wild meat,” says Sarah Railton, Emma’s granddaughter, who lives in British Columbia. “She valued community, the relationships she kept. I really feel that all is rooted in the maritime energy she carried, and that kind of open-door policy that friends are always welcome.” From such modest beginnings, Emma would go on to spread her compassion, faith and an irrepressible sense of humour from Halifax to Saskatoon and then halfway around the world to India. When she died in Calgary on Jan. 3, she left behind an adoring legion of family and friends who will never forget her larger-than-life personality. Emma moved to Halifax as soon as she graduated high school, when Newfoundland was on the cusp of voting to join Canada. There, she worked in the Moirs chocolate factory before deciding she wanted to become a nurse. She entered the Halifax infirmary School of Nursing in 1950, and lived in a dorm where she nurtured many lifelong friendships. According to friends and former classmates, she had no fear of the doctors or the nuns and didn’t hesitate to speak her mind. The nuns apparently liked her spunk, as she was the only one who had a key to the linen cupboard — a rare privilege. In 1954, she headed west to Saskatoon, where she worked in a sanatorium, and became head nurse at St. Paul’s Hospital. It was here she met her husband-to-be, Dr. Radhakrishna (Rad) Padhi. They were married in 1956. Rad became a cardiac surgeon, but his native country soon beckoned. He left by ship in 1960 to get things settled. Emma followed in November of 1961, with two toddlers in tow and another on the way. Emma flew from Halifax to London, and then to Egypt. In Cairo, the authorities took her passport and sent her to a hotel. She worried all night that she might never get her passport back. The next day was the last leg of her journey. Boarding the inaugural United Arab Airlines flight from Cairo to Mumbai — then Bombay — she soon realized she was the only adult female on the plane. The flight was late arriving, and Rad waited anxiously, wondering if he should even have booked her on the flight. There were no screens displaying arrivals and departures in those days. Hours later, Emma of Belleoram finally arrived in in India, where Jawaharial Nehru— the first prime minister of the fledgling democracy — was still in power. “My Nana’s stories of India abounded,” says Sarah. “She loved the culture, loved the people, loved the food. She would wear the kaftans.” Their first destination in India was Wanlesswadi, southeast of Mumbai. They worked at a medical centre which also served as a TB sanatorium and a leprosy hospital, with a capacity of 500 beds. Rad soon realized there was an acute need for heart surgery in the region. On April 13, 1962, Emma assisted her husband by running the bypass machine for the first successful open-heart surgery in Wanlesswadi. As news grew of their successes, the hospital got busier and attracted heart surgeons from the U.S. who brought along much needed equipment. In less than a year after arriving in India, Emma was not only assisting in surgery, but also running the lab and the hospital kitchen. “One of my fondest memories was of my mom working in a clinic she had set up in a building behind our house,” says Pam Railton, Sarah’s mother and Emma’s eldest, who lives in Saskatchewan. “Every morning, she and a nurse she hired would make porridge and mix powdered milk for the underprivileged children in the area. They would come with their tin cup and bowl and line up. It always amazed me how long the line was.” Emma told Pam the morning meal guaranteed they had at least one meal that day. “Once a week she would give them vitamins and, whenever possible, vaccinations.” Pam says she asked her mother recently how she supported the project. “Turns out she bought silk scarves and linens in India and sent them to a friend in Kingston (Ontario) who would sell them and send her the money, and she would buy whatever she needed to run the clinic. Mom said the line seemed long to me because it was — there were often up to 200 children waiting.“ Emma and Rad continued to work beside each other in India for six years, but soon decided that Canada was in their future once again. Tuesday: Back to the Dominion Peter Jackson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
“Let Me Tell You What I Mean,” by Joan Didion (Alfred A. Knopf) Back in 1968, Joan Didion identified a problem with the mainstream media. “The only American newspapers that do not leave me in the grip of a profound physical conviction that the oxygen has been cut off from my brain, very probably by an Associated Press wire …,” she begins in an essay that goes on to criticize traditional news outlets, including the wire service carrying this review, for pretending that there is such a thing as neutral, unbiased, objective reporting. That article, “Alicia and the Underground Press,” was a snarky ode to alternative newspapers in the 1960s like the East Village Other and Berkeley Barb that might have been “amateurish and badly written” but at least had the virtue of speaking directly to their readers, and speaking to them as friends. Some 50 years later, in a media landscape dominated by players who present “alternative facts” with a straight face, and consumers who get their news through platforms tailored to their specific interests, Didion’s critique seems more prescient than ever. The essay is one of 12 she wrote between 1968 and 2000 that have been collected in a new volume, “Let Me Tell You What I Mean,” sure to be of interest to Didion completists and fans of such cultural touchstones as “Slouching Toward Bethlehem” and “The Year of Magical Thinking.” Others haven’t aged as well. Another piece from 1968, about Gamblers Anonymous, quotes the people at a meeting in ungrammatical English, speaking “as if from some subverbal swamp.” In “A Trip to Xanadu,” she sneers at tourists at the Hearst Castle in their “slacks and straw hats and hair rollers.” But when she punches up instead of down, the results can be devastating, as in her portrait from the same year of Nancy Reagan, then the wife of the California governor, portrayed as a media-savvy control freak and distant mother to her then 10-year-old son. Similarly, her 2000 profile of Martha Stewart captures what most observers missed at the time — that Martha wasn’t selling homemaking, she was selling success. The best of the bunch have to do with the subject Didion, 86, knows and cares about most — being a writer. In essays like “Why I Write,” whose title she borrowed from George Orwell, “Telling Stories” and “Last Words,” she makes it clear why she has been an essential voice in American arts and letters for more than half a century. Ann Levin, The Associated Press
SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — Asia’s top club soccer tournament announced changes Monday to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic for a second straight season. The expanded 40-team Asian Champions League will have a group stage played in centralized hubs — in cities not yet decided — over 17 days in the east and west of the continent, the Asian Football Confederation said. Western region matches, including clubs from the Middle East, will be played April 14-30. The eastern region including Australia, China, Japan and defending champion Ulsan Hyundai from South Korea is scheduled April 21-May 7. It follows the 2020 edition being completed entirely in Qatar from when the pandemic-delayed later stages of the groups resumed in September through to the final in December. The 2021 competition schedule also cuts back round of 16 and quarterfinals pairings to single elimination games in September instead of over two legs. The semifinals and final revert to home-and-away games over two legs in October and November — when travel restrictions likely will have eased. “Once again, the AFC will put the safety and welfare of all its stakeholders as its overriding priority,” confederation general secretary Windsor John said in a statement. The Asian Champions League was originally scheduled to start in February. Preliminary rounds now kick off in April to qualify for a 40-team lineup instead of 32. Choosing hub venues for the four-team groups will begin after the draw on Wednesday with national federations invited to host. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are reportedly interested in staging games. The Saudis and Qataris are also competing with India and Iran in a bidding contest for the 2027 Asian Cup. The AFC also cancelled or postponed four other continental tournaments due to take place in 2021. The men’s Under-16 and Under-19 championships were cancelled in Bahrain and Uzbekistan, respectively. Both will host the next editions of the tournaments. Those decisions follow FIFA cancelling editions of the men’s Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups, which next take place in 2023. Also scrapped are this year Asian championships in futsal and beach soccer. Kuwait and Thailand will retain hosting rights for 2022 and 2023, respectively. The AFC Cup, a second-tier club tournament reserved for developing nations, will go ahead in a shorter form, starting in May and ending in August. The start of qualifying for the women’s Under-17 and Under-20 Asian Cup tournaments in 2022 was also pushed back from March this year to August. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports John Duerden, The Associated Press
VANCOUVER — A weekend of Environment Canada warnings about snow over the south coast of British Columbia produced very little of the white stuff and all warnings except the one covering Metro Vancouver have now been lifted. But the weather office says up to five centimetres of snow is still likely for higher elevations of North and West Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Coquitlam and Maple Ridge. Other areas of the Lower Mainland can expected to see rain or occasional sleet through the day, but little or no snow on the ground. Environment Canada had been calling for as much as 15 centimetres in some south coast regions by Monday morning. Parts of eastern Vancouver Island, higher areas of Greater Vancouver and the eastern Fraser Valley reported modest accumulations over the weekend. Snow also covered highways leading into the southern Interior early Monday, but no warnings or advisories were posted. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Chinese state media have stoked concerns about Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, despite rigorous trials that showed it was safe. A government spokesperson has raised the unfounded theory that the coronavirus could have emerged from a U.S. military lab, giving it more credence in China. As the ruling Communist Party faces growing questioning about China's vaccines and renewed criticism of its early COVID-19 response, it is hitting back by encouraging conspiracy theories that some experts say could cause harm. State media and officials are sowing doubts about Western vaccines and the origin of the coronavirus in an apparent bid to deflect the attacks. Both issues are in the spotlight because of the rollout of vaccines globally and the recent arrival of a World Health Organization team in Wuhan, China, to investigate the origins of the virus. Some of these conspiracy theories find a receptive audience at home. The social media hashtag “American’s Ft. Detrick,” started by the Communist Youth League, was viewed at least 1.4 billion times last week after a Foreign Ministry spokesperson called for a WHO investigation of the biological weapons lab in Maryland. “It’s purpose is to shift the blame from mishandling by (the) Chinese government in the pandemic’s early days to conspiracy by the U.S.,” said Fang Shimin, a now-U.S.-based writer known for exposing faked degrees and other fraud in Chinese science. “The tactic is quite successful because of widespread anti-American sentiment in China.” Yuan Zeng, an expert on Chinese media at the University of Leeds in Great Britain, said the government’s stories spread so widely that even well-educated Chinese friends have asked her whether they might be true. Inflaming doubts and spreading conspiracy theories might add to public health risks as governments try to dispel unease about vaccines, she said, saying, “That is super, super dangerous.” In the latest volley, state media called for an investigation into the deaths of 23 elderly people in Norway after they received the Pfizer vaccine. An anchor at CGTN, the English-language station of state broadcaster CCTV, and the Global Times newspaper accused Western media of ignoring the news. Health experts say deaths unrelated to the vaccine are possible during mass vaccination campaigns, and a WHO panel has concluded that the vaccine did not play a “contributory role” in the Norway deaths. The state media coverage followed a report by researchers in Brazil who found the effectiveness of a Chinese vaccine lower than previously announced. Researchers initially said Sinovac’s vaccine is 78% effective, but the scientists revised that to 50.4% after including mildly symptomatic cases. After the Brazil news, researchers at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a government-supported think-tank , reported seeing an increase in Chinese media disinformation about vaccines. Dozens of online articles on popular health and science blogs and elsewhere have explored questions about the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine at length, drawing on an op-ed published this month in the British Medical Journal that raised questions about its clinical trial data. “It’s very embarrassing” for the government, Fang said in an email. As a result, China is trying to raise doubts about the Pfizer vaccine to save face and promote its vaccines, he said. Senior Chinese government officials have not been shy in voicing concerns about the mRNA vaccines developed by Western drug companies. They use a newer technology than the more traditional approach of the Chinese vaccines currently in use. In December, the director of the Chinese Centers for Disease Control, Gao Fu, said he can’t rule out negative side effects from the mRNA vaccines. Noting this is the first time they are being given to healthy people, he said, “there are safety concerns.” The arrival of the WHO mission has brought back persistent criticism that China allowed the virus to spread globally by reacting too slowly in the beginning, even reprimanding doctors who tried to warn the public. The visiting researchers will begin field work this week after being released from a 14-day quarantine. The Communist Party sees the WHO investigation as a political risk because it focuses attention on China’s response, said Jacob Wallis, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. The party wants to “distract domestic and international audiences by pre-emptively distorting the narrative on where responsibility lies for the emergence of COVID-19,” Wallis said. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying got the ball rolling last week by calling for the WHO investigation of the U.S. military lab. The site had been mentioned previously by CGTN and other state-controlled outlets. “If America respects the truth, then please open up Ft. Detrick and make public more information about the 200 or more bio-labs outside of the U.S., and please allow the WHO expert group to go to the U.S. to investigate the origins,” Hua said. Her comments, publicized by state media, became one of the most popular topics on Sina Weibo. China isn’t the only government to point fingers. Former President Donald Trump, trying to deflect blame for his government’s handling of the pandemic, said last year he had seen evidence the virus came from a Wuhan laboratory. While that theory has not been definitively ruled out, many experts think it is unlikely. Huizhong Wu, The Associated Press
Canada's unemployment rate in December was revised to 8.8% from 8.6% on Monday, while the net decline in jobs for the month was amended to 52,700 from 62,600, as Statistics Canada completed a historic review of its labor force data. The revision, undertaken to ensure the data was aligned with recent population and geographical boundary estimates, had "virtually no effect" on employment estimates for the pandemic period of March to December 2020, the agency said.
Celebrity birthdays for the week of Jan. 31-Feb. 6 Jan. 31: Composer Philip Glass is 84. Actor Stuart Margolin (“The Rockford Files”) is 81. Actor Jessica Walter (“Arrested Development”) is 80. Bluesman Charlie Musselwhite is 77. Actor Jonathan Banks (“Better Call Saul,” ?Breaking Bad”) is 74. Actor Glynn Turman (“The Wire,” ?A Different World”) is 74. Singer Harry Wayne Casey of KC and the Sunshine Band is 70. Singer John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) of the Sex Pistols is 65. Actor Anthony LaPaglia (“Without a Trace,” ?Murder One”) is 62. Actor Kelly Lynch is 62. Singer-guitarist Lloyd Cole is 60. Actor Paulette Braxton (“The Parkers,” ?In The House”) is 56. Bassist Al Jaworski of Jesus Jones is 55. Actor Minnie Driver is 51. Actor Portia de Rossi (“Arrested Development,” ?Ally McBeal”) is 48. Comedian Bobby Moynihan (“Saturday Night Live”) is 44. Actor Kerry Washington (“Scandal,” ?Ray”) is 44. Singer Justin Timberlake is 40. Actor Tyler Ritter (“The McCarthys”) is 36. Singer Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line is 34. Singer Marcus Mumford of Mumford and Sons is 34. Actor Joel Courtney (“Super 8,” “The Kissing Booth”) is 25. Feb. 1: Actor-comedian Garrett Morris is 84. Singer Don Everly of The Everly Brothers is 84. Bluegrass singer Del McCoury is 82. TV personality Joy Philbin is 80. Guitarist Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is 71. Blues musician Sonny Landreth is 70. Actor-writer-producer Billy Mumy (“Lost in Space”) is 67. Singer Exene Cervenka of X is 65. Actor Linus Roache (“Law and Order”) is 57. Actor Sherilyn Fenn (“Twin Peaks”) is 56. Singer Lisa Marie Presley is 53. Comedian Pauly Shore is 53. Actor Brian Krause (“Charmed”) is 52. Jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman is 52. Drummer Patrick Wilson of Weezer is 52. Actor Michael C. Hall (“Dexter,” ?Six Feet Under”) is 50. Rapper Big Boi of Outkast is 46. Musician Jason Isbell is 42. Singer Andrew VanWyngarden of MGMT is 38. TV personality Lauren Conrad (“The Hills,” ?Laguna Beach”) is 35. Actor-singer Heather Morris (“Glee”) is 34. Singer Harry Styles (One Direction) is 27. Feb. 2: Comedian Tom Smothers is 84. Singer Graham Nash is 79. Actor Bo Hopkins (film’s “American Graffiti,” TV’s “Dynasty”) is 77. Singer Howard Bellamy of the Bellamy Brothers is 75. TV chef Ina Garten (“Barefoot Contessa”) is 73. Actor Jack McGee (“The McCarthys”) is 72. Actor Brent Spiner (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”) is 72. Bassist Ross Valory of Journey is 72. Model Christie Brinkley is 67. Actor Michael Talbott (“Miami Vice”) is 66. Actor Kim Zimmer (“Guiding Light”) is 66. Actor Michael T. Weiss (“The Pretender”) is 59. Comedian Adam Ferrara (“Rescue Me”) is 55. Bassist Robert DeLeo of Stone Temple Pilots is 55. Actor Jennifer Westfeldt (“Kissing Jessica Stein”) is 51. Rapper T-Mo (Goodie Mob) is 49. Actor Marissa Jaret Winokur is 48. Actor Lori Beth Denberg (“The Steve Harvey Show”) is 45. Steel guitarist Jesse Siebenberg of Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real is 45. Singer Shakira is 44. Actor Rich Sommer (“Mad Men” Film: “The Devil Wears Prada”) is 43. Actor Zosia Mamet (“Girls”) is 33. Feb. 3: Actor Bridget Hanley (“Here Come The Brides,” ?Harper Valley P.T.A.”) is 80. Actor Blythe Danner is 78. Guitarist Dave Davies of The Kinks is 74. Singer Melanie is 74. Actor Morgan Fairchild is 71. Actor Pamela Franklin (“The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”) is 71. Actor Nathan Lane is 65. Guitarist Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth is 65. Actor Thomas Calabro (“Melrose Place”) is 62. Drummer Lol Tolhurst (The Cure) is 62. Actor Michele Greene (“L.A. Law”) is 59. Country singer Matraca Berg is 57. Actor Maura Tierney (“ER,” ?NewsRadio”) is 56. Actor Warwick Davis (“Harry Potter” films, “Willow”) is 51. Actor Elisa Donovan (“Clueless”) is 50. Singer Daddy Yankee is 45. Actor Isla Fisher is 45. Singer Jessica Harp (The Wreckers) is 39. Actor Matthew Moy (“2 Broke Girls”) is 37. Rapper Sean Kingston is 31. Actor Brandon Micheal Hall (“God Friended Me”) is 28. Feb. 4: Actor Jerry Adler (“The Good Wife,” ?The Sopranos”) is 92. Actor Gary Conway (“Burke’s Law”) is 85. Drummer John Steel of The Animals is 80. Singer Florence LaRue of the Fifth Dimension is 79. Singer Alice Cooper is 73. Actor Michael Beck is 72. Actor Lisa Eichhorn is 69. Singer Tim Booth of James is 61. Country singer Clint Black is 59. Guitarist Noodles of The Offspring is 58. Country bassist Dave Buchanan of Yankee Grey is 55. Actor Gabrielle Anwar (“The Tudors”) is 51. “Daily Show” correspondent Rob Corddry is 50. Actor Michael Goorjian (“Party of Five”) is 50. TV personality Nicolle Wallace (“The View”) is 49. Bassist Rick Burch of Jimmy Eat World is 46. Singer Natalie Imbruglia is 46. Rapper Cam’ron is 45. Singer Gavin DeGraw is 44. Singer Zoe Manville of Portugal. The Man is 37. Actor Ashley Thomas (“Salvation,” ?24: Legacy”) is 36. Actor Charlie Barnett (“Secrets and Lies,” ?Chicago Fire”) is 33. Actor Kyla Kenedy (“Speechless”) is 18. Feb. 5: Actor Stuart Damon is 84. Singer-songwriter Barrett Strong is 80. Actor David Selby (“Dark Shadows,” ?Falcon Crest”) is 80. Singer Al Kooper (Blood, Sweat and Tears) is 77. Actor Charlotte Rampling is 75. Actor Barbara Hershey is 73. Actor-director-comedian Christopher Guest is 73. Actor Tom Wilkinson (“Selma”) is 73. Actor-comedian Tim Meadows (“Saturday Night Live”) is 60. Actor Jennifer Jason Leigh is 59. Actor Laura Linney is 57. Bassist Duff McKagan of Velvet Revolver (and Guns N’ Roses) is 57. Actor Chris Parnell is 54. Singer Chris Barron of the Spin Doctors is 54. Singer Bobby Brown is 52. Actor Michael Sheen (“Masters of Sex,” ?Frost/Nixon,” ?Twilight” films) is 52. Actor David Chisum (“Black Box,” ?One Life to Live”) is 51. Country singer Sara Evans is 50. Country singer Tyler Farr is 37. Keyboardist Mark Shusterman of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats is 36. Actor Darren Criss (“Glee”) is 34. Actor Henry Golding (“Crazy Rich Asians”) is 34. Keyboardist Kyle Simmons of Bastille is 33. Actor Jeremy Sumpter (“Friday Night Lights,” ?Peter Pan”) is 32. Drummer Graham Sierota of Echosmith is 22. Feb. 6: Actor Mamie Van Doren is 90. Actor Mike Farrell is 82. NBC news anchorman Tom Brokaw is 81. Actor Gayle Hunnicutt is 78. Singer Fabian is 78. Actor Michael Tucker (“L.A. Law”) is 76. Actor Jon Walmsley (“The Waltons”) is 65. Actor-director Robert Townsend (“The Parent ‘Hood”) is 64. Actor Kathy Najimy (“Veronica’s Closet,” ?King of the Hill”) is 64. Drummer Simon Phillips of Toto is 64. Actor Barry Miller (“Saturday Night Fever,” ?Fame”) is 63. Actor Megan Gallagher (“Millennium”) is 61. Country singer Richie McDonald of Lonestar is 59. Vocalist Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses is 59. Singer Rick Astley is 55. Bassist Tim Brown of the Boo Radleys is 52. TV host Amy Robach (“Good Morning America”) is 48. Actor Josh Stewart (“Criminal Minds,” ?Third Watch”) is 44. Actor Ben Lawson (“Designated Survivor”) is 41. Actor Crystal Reed (“Teen Wolf”) is 36. Actor Anna Diop (“24: Legacy”) is 33. Singer Tinashe is 28. The Associated Press
Italian consumer association Altroconsumo said on Monday it had told Apple it has launched a class action against the U.S. tech giant for the practice of planned obsolescence. In a statement Altroconsumo said it was asking for damages of 60 million euros ($73 million) on behalf of Italian consumers tricked by the practice which had also been recognised by Italian authorities. Altroconsumo said the lawsuit covers owners of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, 6S and 6S Plus, sales of which in Italy totalled some 1 million phones between 2014 and 2020.
Niagara Falls Transit has elected to revert to its pre-pandemic winter schedule. The city said in a press release in order to provide the best level of service to riders given provincial restrictions, it will return to regular winter city and WEGO service, minus 30-minute peak services, on day routes. Changes take effect Monday. On Jan. 18, in an attempt to comply with the state of emergency orders issued by the province, Niagara Falls Transit preemptively adjusted its hours of operation to reflect the average business closure of 8 p.m.; however, it acknowledged that it could have been stranding essential service workers. The city issued an apology on its website for any inconvenience it caused transit users. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Sean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
TORONTO — Scientists and health experts are launching a nationwide campaign to counter misinformation about COVID-19 and related vaccines. The #ScienceUpFirst initiative is an awareness and engagement campaign that will use social media to debunk incorrect information and boost science-based content. The campaign team says in a news release that it emerged from conversations between Nova Scotia Sen. Stan Kutcher and Timothy Caulfield, Canadian research chair in health law and policy at the University of Alberta. The initiative is now being led by the Canadian Association of Science Centres, COVID-19 Resources Canada, and the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta. Anyone interested in participating can follow @scienceupfirst and use the #ScienceUpFirst hashtag on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and tag the account to amplify science-based posts and alert it to misinformation posts. The campaign says there is a marked rise in misinformation and conspiracy theories related to COVID-19 vaccines, virus transmission and government response, and it represents a threat to the health and safety of Canadians. "Misinformation is a dire, imminent threat to the lives of all Canadians and is proven to be one of the factors fueling COVID-19 infections, and dissuading Canadians from getting vaccinated," says Caulfield. "The #ScienceUpFirst initiative seeks to help fill an urgent need to beat back misinformation with the truth, and save lives." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Township of Perry passed three beginning-of-the-year finance bylaws at the Jan. 20 council meeting. The province of Ontario requires that municipalities pass bylaws at the beginning of each year to allow for borrowing to cover expenditures, authorizing the interim tax levy and setting tax reduction rates for specific property tax classes. So, What Is an Interim Tax Levy? The interim tax levy allows the treasurer to issue temporary tax notices and set due dates, interest and penalty amounts for the new year. According to a report to council, this allows the municipality to maintain a positive cash flow and reduce the need for borrowing funds to cover operational expenses. How Does That Affect You? This year an interim tax payment in the amount of 50 per cent of the total amount of taxes for municipal and school purposes levied on the property shall be levied on all property classes. The tax levy is payable in two instalments on Feb. 25, 2021, and April 25, 2021. What Does the ‘Borrowing Bylaw’ Mean? The borrowing bylaw allows the municipality to temporarily borrow funds to cover operating expenses when necessary. The maximum amount of money allowed to be borrowed, according to the bylaw, is $500,000. The bylaw also includes a clause saying that, to access funds, a resolution must be passed by the council stating the facility and the amount to be borrowed. What Is a Tax Reduction Bylaw? The tax reduction bylaw sets out reductions on vacant and excess commercial and industrial property tax rates as well as rate reductions for first-class farmland in all property classes. These rate reductions are set out by the province of Ontario. What Do the Provincial Tax Reduction Rates Look Like This Year? The tax rate reductions for 2021 are: · The vacant land and excess land in the commercial property class is 30 per cent. · The vacant land and excess land in the industrial property class is 35 per cent. · First class of farmland awaiting development in residential/farm, multi-residential, commercial or industrial class is 75 per cent while the second class of farmland waiting development is zero per cent. Commercial property class includes all commercial offices, shopping centres and parking lot properties. Industrial property class includes all large industrial properties and first/second class of farmland awaiting development consist of land defined in accordance with provincial regulations. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com