Sunset clouds put on a beautiful show in Weyburn, Sask.
Sunset clouds put on a beautiful show in Weyburn, Sask.
The A-list is back. How A-list? Try Lady Gaga and J. Lo. Inauguration officials announced on Thursday that the glittery duo would appear in person on Jan. 20, with Gaga singing the national anthem as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and Jennifer Lopez giving a musical performance. Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen will offer remote performances, and Eva Longoria and and Kerry Washington will introduce segments of the event. Later that day, Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden’s inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons. Despite a raging pandemic that is forcing most inaugural events online, it was a sign that Hollywood was back and eager to embrace the new president-elect four years after many big names stayed away from the inauguration of President Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. The question: How would the star wattage play across the country as Biden seeks to unite a bruised nation? Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant and former Reagan administration official, predicted reaction would fall “along tribal lines.” “I think it all comes down to the reinforcement of pre-existing beliefs,” Dezenhall said. “If you’re a Biden supporter, it’s nice to see Lady Gaga perform.” But, he added, “what rallied Trump supporters was the notion of an uber-elite that had nothing to do at all with them and that they couldn’t relate to.” Presidential historian Tevi Troy quipped that the starry Gaga-J. Lo lineup was not A-list, but D-list — "for Democratic.” "When Democrats win you get the more standard celebrities,” said Troy, author of “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House.” “With Republicans you tend to get country music stars and race-car drivers." Referring to Lady Gaga’s outspoken support for the Biden-Harris ticket, he said he was nostalgic for the days when celebrities were not so political. “Call me a hopeless romantic, but I liked the old days when Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra would come to these events and they were not overtly political,” he said. Still, he said, Biden’s unity message won’t be derailed. “In the end, I don’t think having Lady Gaga or J. Lo is all that divisive,” he said. Attendance at the inauguration will be severely limited, due to both the pandemic and fears of continued violence, following last week’s storming of the Capitol. Outside the official events, one of the more prominent galas each inauguration is The Creative Coalition's quadrennial ball, a benefit for arts education. This year, the ball is entirely virtual. But it is star-studded nonetheless: The event, which will involve food being delivered simultaneously to attendees in multiple cities, will boast celebrity hosts including Jason Alexander, David Arquette, Matt Bomer, Christopher Jackson, Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Keegan Michael-Key, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Patinkin and many others. Robin Bronk, CEO of the non-partisan arts advocacy group, said she's been deluged with celebrities eager to participate in some way. The event typically brings in anywhere from $500,000 to $2.5 million, and this year the arts community is struggling like never before. Bronk noted that planning has been a challenge, given not only the recent political upheaval in the country but also the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic. Given all that, did a celebration make sense? “I was thinking about this when we were trying to phrase the invitation,” Bronk said. “Do we celebrate? This is the most serious time of our lives.” But, she said, especially at a time when the arts community is suffering, it’s crucial to shine a spotlight and recognize that “the right to bear arts is not a red or blue issue. One of the reasons we have this ball is that we have to ensure the arts are not forgotten." The Presidential Inaugural Committee also announced Thursday that the invocation will be given by the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware. On the same platform, Biden sat in 2013 behind pop star Beyoncé as she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama's second inauguration. James Taylor sang “America the Beautiful,” and Kelly Clarkson sang “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” At Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the anthem was performed by 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho. A number of top artists declined the opportunity to perform at the festivities, and one Broadway star, Jennifer Holliday, even said she’d received death threats before she pulled out of her planned appearance. There was indeed star power in 2017, but most of it was centred at the Women’s March on Washington, where attendees included Madonna, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Emma Watson and many others. This year, signs are that Obama-era celebrities are returning. Dezenhall said that in the end, it's logical for organizers to go with the biggest talent. “Lady Gaga is as big as you can get, and she is very talented,” he said. “If I were being inaugurated and I could have Lady Gaga, I would take it.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
STOKE, England — Ireland international James McClean was suspended by English second-division club Stoke for allegedly breaching coronavirus regulations by training in a private gym. There will be a disciplinary hearing into McClean's conduct, Stoke said late Thursday. The 31-year-old McClean, who tested positive for COVID-19 in November while on international duty, will not be available for selection for Saturday’s game against Blackburn. Indoor gyms are currently closed in Britain during the pandemic. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
L’Estrie affiche son meilleur bilan migratoire en près de 20 ans alors que plus de 8000 personnes sont venues s’installer dans la région entre le 1er juillet 2019 et le 1er juillet 2020. C’est ce qui ressort du dernier bulletin démographique de l’Institut de la statistique du Québec publié en janvier. En soustrayant les personnes qui ont quitté l’Estrie, on obtient un bilan positif de 2322 nouveaux habitants dans la région. L’Estrie est la quatrième région avec la plus forte croissance derrière la Montérégie, les Laurentides et Lanaudière et se classe au tout premier rang des régions dites intermédiaires, donc relativement éloigné de Montréal. « La Mauricie et l’Estrie se démarquent avec les gains les plus importants parmi ces régions, toutes proportions gardées, peut-on lire dans le rapport. Dans les deux cas, le solde a franchi le seuil de 2 000 personnes, ce qui constitue de loin leurs plus forts gains depuis 2001-2002. Leurs principaux gains se font aux dépens de Montréal et des régions de la zone adjacente. » De son côté, la région de Montréal enregistre des pertes de 35 900 personnes dans ses échanges migratoires avec les autres régions du Québec en 2019-2020. Il s’agit de son plus lourd déficit depuis que les données sont disponibles. Est-ce que la COVID a eu un impact ? Le rapport évalue que oui, mais souligne que « ces résultats s’inscrivent souvent dans des tendances amorcées au cours des années précédentes. La pandémie pourrait ainsi surtout avoir donné un élan à des tendances préexistantes. » Les MRC en hausse On apprend également dans le rapport que pour la toute première fois, toutes les MRC de L’Estrie ont obtenu un bilan migratoire positif. La MRC de Memphrémagog vient en tête de liste avec une augmentation de 1,74 %. Au total, 309 300 personnes ont changé de MRC de résidence au Québec au cours de l’année 2019-2020. Simon Roberge, Initiative de journalisme local, La Tribune
The companies behind the White Rose offshore oil project are taking the Newfoundland and Labrador government to court, saying they have overpaid royalties. Husky Oil Operations and Suncor Energy are seeking a ruling from a judge that their interpretation of the regulations is correct, and would apply to "all past, current and future royalties payable" for White Rose. The application does not specify an exact amount being sought by the oil companies. However, affidavits from Husky and Suncor officials contend that they overpaid more than $32 million, in total, from 2014 through 2017. Those amounts apply to both the original White Rose field, and the White Rose expansion. In a nutshell, the oil companies say the intent of the royalty regulations is for them to pay the greater of two royalty levels in a certain period, but not both. They say that is sometimes happening, even though it's not the way the system is supposed to work. Husky spokeswoman Colleen McConnell said that is the unintended result of an "an anomaly" in the royalty regulations. "We have been working to address this with the province over the past three years; however, it remains unresolved," McConnell said in an email to CBC News. "As a result, we have referred it to court for a decision, which is a mechanism is available to the parties to resolve matters in dispute." The province had not yet filed any documents in reply as of midweek, and the Energy Department declined comment, saying it would be inappropriate to do so while the case is before the courts. Similar issues with Terra Nova settled in the past In court documents, Husky and Suncor pointed to past disputes involving similar issues with the Terra Nova oilfield. The owners of Terra Nova filed court actions in 2010 and again in 2015 over comparable concerns about royalty calculations. Both cases were settled before a judge could issue a final ruling. The second dispute was resolved by both sides essentially deciding to split the difference. The White Rose case is due to be called at Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in early February. Husky is the operator of White Rose, owning a 72.5-per-cent share, with Suncor holding the remaining 27.5 per cent. Husky owns 68.875 per cent of the White Rose expansion. Suncor has 26.125 per cent, with Newfoundland and Labrador taxpayers holding the remaining five per cent through a Crown-owned corporation. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Firefighter Morrison was able to break a path through the ice out to the dog while safely secured by ropes. Just before he got to the dog, it gave out a crying type howl and as soon as he grabbed it, it went completely limp from exhaustion. Video credit Alpena City Firefighters
NUR-SULTAN (Reuters) - Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev nominated Askar Mamin as prime minister on Friday, and the newly elected lower house of parliament swiftly approved his appointment after ruling party leader Nursultan Nazarbayev asked his lawmakers to back Mamin. Mamin had stepped down after a Jan. 10 parliamentary election, as required by the constitution, after almost two years in office. Nazarbayev's Nur Otan party swept this month's vote to retain control over the lower house.
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
COVID-19. La Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec (FCCQ) demeure vivement préoccupée par l'état des entreprises québécoises et s'inquiète pour la survie de plusieurs. Elle accueille tout de même favorablement l'ouverture du gouvernement pour maintenir certaines activités économiques tout en rappelant qu'une aide financière directe plus importante que ce qui a été annoncé par le passé devrait être prévue. «Les Québécois sont fatigués. La situation actuelle est extrêmement difficile pour de trop nombreux secteurs économiques et les annonces d'aujourd'hui sont un autre coup dur pour des milliers d'entrepreneurs. Nous reconnaissons toutefois que les décisions du gouvernement visent à maintenir le plus d'activités économiques possible sans nuire aux efforts pour lutter contre le virus, notamment pour le secteur manufacturier et celui de la construction. Les entrepreneurs québécois ont fait d'énormes efforts pour rendre les lieux de travail les plus sécuritaires possible. Voici leur chance d'en faire la démonstration», souligne Charles Milliard, président-directeur général de la FCCQ pour qui le gouvernement doit maintenant plancher sur deux priorités nationales : maximiser la distribution et l'administration des vaccins et s'assurer que les aides de soutien aux entreprises soient les plus directes et les plus efficaces possible. «Le gouvernement doit présenter et exécuter rapidement un plan de vaccination cohérent et efficace. En plus de pouvoir compter sur les professionnels de la santé, il devrait aussi prêter rapidement l'oreille aux offres d'aide du secteur privé pour accélérer la vaccination de la population», indique-t-il. Par ailleurs, pour couvrir un maximum d'entreprises ayant besoin d'une aide financière pour survivre, l'enveloppe globale devrait être augmentée et la notion d'aide directe devrait être privilégiée selon le réseau de 130 chambres de commerce et 1 100 membres corporatifs. «Le surendettement des entreprises était déjà une réalité bien présente qui sera aggravée par ces fermetures prolongées de plusieurs entreprises. La situation est exceptionnelle et impose des mesures exceptionnelles comme le couvre-feu, mais nos entreprises n'ont plus la capacité de s'endetter davantage et le gouvernement doit en tenir compte», précise Charles Milliard. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Eleven adult male deer, or bucks, were harvested by hunters from the Shawanaga and Wasauksing First Nations during last month’s controlled harvest inside Killbear Provincial Park west of Parry Sound. The figures were released Jan. 11, by Shawanaga band manager Adam Good. It was the first time since the park opened in 1964 that Indigenous hunters were allowed inside the park boundary in order to harvest deer on their traditional and treaty hunting grounds. It was held from Dec. 15 to 18 and the park was closed to the public for the hunt for safety reasons. Hunters were restricted to shotguns only. Good said that 15 hunters in total from the two territories took part in the event. There had been concerns that protesters, who had expressed opposition to the harvest on social media, might also try to invade the park for the harvest but Good said that never materialized. “We were thinking that there could’ve been some sort of petition or a protest but that never occurred. It wasn’t a huge hunt. The number of hunters was low … there were some COVID scares but it was good for the first start. It was more about awareness,” Good said. He added that the harvest was the culmination of years of negotiations between park staff, other officials and the two First Nations. Good said that it is not yet clear if the harvest will become an annual event. He said they may look at making it a bow hunt in the future. He added that youngsters and Elders also accompanied the hunters with a goal of educating the young people about responsible harvesting on land that had used been used by Indigenous hunters for hundreds of years. Good said that the two First Nations will work with the park on just exactly what future hunts might look like. Prior to the hunt getting underway, Good said that a prayer and smudging ceremony was held. Both chiefs, Shawanaga’s Wayne Pamajewon and Warren Tabobondung, took part, he added. Good said that some hunters also brought their families with them for the historic harvest. “The (kids) were amazed. It’s a learning experience and they loved being outdoors. It’s something you can’t teach in the classroom. It’s being outdoors and experiencing it first hand. It was a life lesson that the youth won’t soon forget,” Good said. “They now understand that this is traditional territory where they can exercise their rights whether that be hunting, fishing or picking berries.” Good said the venison from the harvest has been shared with community members, particularly Elders. He added that the food was appreciated by all, especially during the global pandemic when getting out of the home to shop has been more complicated. “The meat was delivered to the Elders’ homes. They were very thankful. The Elders always enjoy receiving venison or moose,” Good said. Kenton Otterbein, education leader for the park, stated in an email that the harvest went off without a hitch. John McFadden is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering Indigenous issues for MuskokaRegion.com, ParrySound.com and Simcoe.com. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. John McFadden, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
It was a decision parent Katerina Gamlin never wanted to make: continue struggling to care for her young daughter Kassie or hand her over to a government-funded care centre for at least a year. The 13-year-old suffers from multiple neurological disabilities, including autism and requires constant supervision. Last year, she went into psychosis and was hospitalized. "Our child is so complex, there's not just one person that can come along and care for her," said Gamlin. The family has been desperate for respite services, which give short-term relief to primary caregivers. But in B.C., those are in short supply, and many that were available have been put on hold because of the pandemic. It puts a heavy burden on parents like Gamlin, with few prospects of relief. "You're emotionally exhausted, you feel like you're not a good parent, that you're not doing everything you can. I hate to admit it, but at some point, you question whether you love the person you take care of," said Gamlin. The lack of respite services in B.C. has advocates sounding the alarm over the emotional and physical toll on parents, many of whom are burned out while also grappling with the economic and social challenges brought on by the pandemic. For some, it means making the hard decision to give up their children. Respite removed Gamlin says once her daughter was discharged from the hospital following her psychosis early last year, the Nanaimo-based family was provided with three-days-a-week respite services in a fully staffed group home. "We were starting to get some rest," said Gamlin. "I can't tell you how fabulous that was. That was the first time in her life that I was hopeful that things were going to be OK." But after three months, the Ministry of Children and Family Development pulled the services from them. Gamlin says she was told that children already in government care were taking priority. According to the ministry, the pandemic prompted MCFD to make service adjustments in April 2020 to "prioritize vulnerable youth and children and youth with support needs." Gamlin said she advocated for the services to be reinstated for nearly a year but with no success. Whether it was writing to ministries, social workers or politicians, she says she would run into brick walls and closed doors. Two months ago, after Cassie was hospitalized again, Gamlin made the decision to sign a special needs agreement with MCFD, which means her daughter now lives in a ministry-funded care centre about an hour-and-a-half away. The agreement lasts for one year, and Gamlin retains guardianship. "I'm thankful every day because she's in a place that is amazing," said Gamlin. "[But] I often get frustrated thinking about how it would be if we did have the respite that we so desperately needed." Care crisis Behaviour analyst Jemana Elsharkawi works with special needs children and says she's witnessed first-hand the toll the lack of services has had on families, which has been compounded by the pandemic. "Many parents have lost their jobs, it's very, very difficult," said Elsharkawi. "We're really in a crisis." She penned a letter to the MCFD last April calling for more funding for respite for families amid the pandemic, citing a noticeable uptick of parents coming to rely on specialists like her as a lifeline. "We didn't have enough services prior to the pandemic, and now as things have exacerbated, with families and their children desperately needing more support, what we're seeing is a lot more 911 phone calls ... the toll on the mental health of the families is incalculable," she said. A ministry spokesperson said B.C. has seen an increase in the number of homes "resuming respite care services since November." "We aren't yet back to pre-pandemic levels, but we are trending in that direction," read the statement. For parents that have already made big sacrifices, a return to "pre-pandemic levels" won't be enough. "The system seems really flawed in why are we not preventing burnout, why are we not preventing children going into care, if there were respite beds," said Gamlin.
Yukoners have more options for where they can go for outside medical treatment as well as higher daily subsidies under new rules that went into effect on Jan. 1. The territorial government had committed last year to raising the subsidies from $75 per day to $150. It was one of the recommendations in last spring's wide-ranging Putting People First, a report by an independent expert panel that conducted a comprehensive review of health and social services in Yukon. At a briefing Thursday morning, officials went over the new rules. Affordability Along with doubling the daily rate for multi-day medical travellers, they can now claim the subsidy for the first day of travel. Outpatient escorts receive $75 per day, inpatient escorts $150 per day and same-day travellers and their escorts $75. Affordability was a major issue raised during a public consultation in 2019 when officials heard that Yukoners are often left paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for medical travel. "The cost of accommodation, meals, and local transportation, combined with lost wages, is much more than $75 per day," a report on the consultation said. It says people were even refusing to travel for medical care because of the cost. Under the previous rules people could generally only be sent for medical treatment to Vancouver, Calgary or Edmonton. Their doctors can now ask for them to be sent anywhere in Canada where the treatment is available. That would let people request travel to cities where they have close family members. "That is one of the guiding principles where people can actually go where they have family, where it's less cost for them," said Marguerite Fenske, acting director of insured health and hearing services with Health and Social Services. "But we also know that being close to your families will provide those additional supports that you really require," she said. The government eliminated rural travel subsidies for people who live close to Whitehorse and were able to claim money for medical appointments in the city. Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost says the government will also be opening a new unit to provide support to people going on medical travel by coordinating travel arrangements, answering questions and other support. "What happens when they come out of a small community and are not familiar with that type of interaction, where do they go? What do they do? They needed a point contact and this will allow for that," said Frost.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards fired "abundant" surface-to-surface ballistic missiles and tested locally manufactured new drones in a military exercise on Friday, state television reported. The drill, which it said was overseen by Guards commander Major General Hossein Salami in the central desert region, came in the waning days of high tensions with U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration. "Also, an abundant number of a new generation of ballistic missiles were fired at selected targets, inflicting deadly blows to the hypothetical enemy bases."
It all started with a class trip for the grade 7/8 class at Immanuel Christian School to learn more about dune ecology and the sensitive habitat along the shore with staff from Island Nature Trust. It was an eye-opening experience for the young students who learned to see the beach area in a whole new light. "I learned that the sand dunes are really delicate and if you step on them, then that clump of grass where you step on will die and that affects the whole entire beach," said Grade 7 student Emika Jorritsma. The lessons — modified to follow local public health guidelines at the time — fit in with what the students were learning in the classroom. "Our first unit in science focuses a lot on how we can make a positive or negative influence on ecosystems around us," said teacher Becky Rogers. "I think anytime that you can get the kids outside of the classroom and just see first-hand how they can make an impact on their environment, it just enriches the learning experience so much more." Nature as the classroom The Island Nature Trust curriculum for Grade 7 P.E.I. students was developed in 2016. The idea began with four watershed groups — Roseville/Miminegash Watersheds Inc., West Point and Area Watersheds Inc., Cascumpec Bay Watershed Association Inc. and Tignish Watershed Management Group — which partnered with Island Nature Trust to help develop the lessons. They wanted to raise awareness on how human activities were damaging the dune ecosystems. Some weathering and erosion is normal for the beach shoreline, said Lyndsay MacWilliams, a land stewardship technician with Island Nature Trust. "With climate change, the erosion and weathering rates have definitely increased and we have seen that around the Island," said MacWilliams. "But we're also getting the damage coming from humans, so it's kind of like cutting down this system from both ways." She was one of the instructors during the field trip — teaching lessons around the different ecosystems of the dune's life cycle, exploring the shore's high-tide line and invertebrate sampling. The lesson made an impression on the students, who began work on art posters to share some of what they learned. They were split into seven groups, creating posters with messages about not disturbing the wildlife, staying off the dunes and not littering. "My poster was about sensitive habitat, like, make sure that you're being careful whenever you are on the beach — watch where you're stepping," said Grade 8 student Graham Armstrong. "Because there are some birds, they lay eggs in the sand and they're small so you can't really see them that well." Rogers reached back out to Island Nature Trust and wondered if it would be possible to get the posters put up somehow, to share what the students had learned. MacWilliams said they brainstormed for a bit, and decided the students work could be displayed on Barachois Beach near Rustico, P.E.I. The designs were then put on proper sign material to be able to handle the beach weather. A plan was put together to go back out with the students in the spring to put the signs up. This thrilled the students, eager to share the message they learned with others out enjoying the beach. "I hope that they learn that there's sensitive habitat on the beach and that there are shorebirds that they need to look out for," said Grade 7 student Brayden Bootsma. "Because they deserve a habitat too so that is why we should stay off the dunes." Rogers said it was a wonderful partnership with Island Nature Trust to help make it happen and get the kids so engaged in the project. "I know that they've worked so hard on these posters and they're just really excited to be able to help other people go to the beach," Rogers said. "I know they're really excited to be able to see what they made when they go to the beaches with their families." MacWilliams said they were able to get out to deliver the presentation with five different Island schools in the fall and hope to reach more during the new year — while following all current public health guidance. For MacWilliams, she hopes the excitement and engagement around dune ecology with the students continues. "If they feel a certain way, like that they want to conserve the dunes, then if they voiced that, then maybe it will influence other youth that are the same age," MacWilliams said. "It's also kind of good because you can kind of instill an interest in conservation at that age too if there is an interest in a future career or something like that." More from CBC P.E.I.
CANBERRA, Australia — A pigeon that Australia declared a biosecurity risk has received a reprieve after a U.S. bird organization declared its identifying leg band was fake. The band suggested the bird found in a Melbourne backyard on Dec. 26 was a racing pigeon that had left the U.S. state of Oregon, 13,000 kilometres (8,000 miles) away, two months earlier. On that basis, Australian authorities on Thursday said they considered the bird a disease risk and planned to kill it. But Deone Roberts, sport development manager for the Oklahoma-based American Racing Pigeon Union, said on Friday the band was fake. The band number belongs to a blue bar pigeon in the United States which is not the bird pictured in Australia, she said. “The bird band in Australia is counterfeit and not traceable,” Roberts said. “They do not need to kill him.” Australia's Agriculture Department, which is responsible for biosecurity, agreed that the pigeon dubbed Joe, after U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, was wearing a “fraudulent copy” leg band. “Following an investigation, the department has concluded that Joe the Pigeon is highly likely to be Australian and does not present a biosecurity risk,” it said in a statement. The department said it will take no further action. Acting Australian Prime Minister Michael McCormack had earlier said there would be no mercy if the pigeon was from the United States. “If Joe has come in a way that has not met our strict biosecurity measures, then bad luck Joe, either fly home or face the consequences,” McCormack said. Martin Foley, health minister for Victoria state where Joe is living, had called for the federal government to spare the bird even if it posed a disease risk. “I would urge the Commonwealth’s quarantine officials to show a little bit of compassion,” Foley said. Andy Meddick, a Victorian lawmaker for the minor Animal Justice Party, called for a “pigeon pardon for Joe.” “Should the federal government allow Joe to live, I am happy to seek assurances that he is not a flight risk,” Meddick said. Melbourne resident Kevin Celli-Bird, who found the emaciated bird in his backyard, was surprised by the change of nationality but pleased that the bird he named Joe would not be destroyed. “I thought this is just a feel-good story and now you guys want to put this pigeon away and I thought it’s not on, you know, you can’t do that, there has got to be other options,” Celli-Bird said of the threat to euthanize. Celli-Bird had contacted the American Racing Pigeon Union to find the bird’s owner based on the number on the leg band. The bands have both a number and a symbol, but Celli-Bird didn’t remember the symbol and said he can no longer catch the bird since it has recovered from its initial weakness. The bird with the genuine leg band had disappeared from a 560-kilometre (350-mile) race in Oregon on Oct. 29, Crooked River Challenge owner Lucas Cramer said. That bird did not have a racing record that would make it valuable enough to steal its identity, he said. “That bird didn’t finish the race series, it didn’t make any money and so its worthless, really,” Cramer said. He said it was possible a pigeon could cross the Pacific on a ship from Oregon to Australia. “In reality, it could potentially happen, but this isn’t the same pigeon. It’s not even a racing pigeon,” Cramer said. The bird spends every day in the backyard, sometimes with a native dove on a pergola. “I might have to change him to Aussie Joe, but he’s just the same pigeon,” Celli-Bird said. Lars Scott, a carer at Pigeon Rescue Melbourne, a bird welfare group, said pigeons with American leg bands were not uncommon around the city. A number of Melbourne breeders bought them online and used them for their own record keeping, Scott said. Australian quarantine authorities are notoriously strict. In 2015, the government threatened to euthanize two Yorkshire terriers, Pistol and Boo, after they were smuggled into the country by Hollywood star Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard. Faced with a 50-hour deadline to leave Australia, the dogs made it out in a chartered jet. Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press
A local area plan is in the works for a 460-square-kilometre regions near Łu Zil Män—known in English as Fish Lake—west of Whitehorse. Much of the area is comprised of Kwanlin Dun First Nation settlement lands. The First Nation and the Yukon government are partnering to come up with a vision meant to designate certain uses for certain lands, and identify areas for growth. KDFN land resource planner Roy Neilson said the plan has been a priority for the First Nation for many years. "What we're hearing from Kwanlin Dun citizens is they're very concerned that lands and waters in the Fish Lake area are not being respected," he said. Neilson said activity in the area is increasing and KDFN citizens are concerned. "Some of those activities can have detrimental effects on the landscape by disturbing fish and wildlife and habitat," he said. "There are also a number of important cultural sites and heritage sites in the area that can potentially be disturbed from these types of activities if they're taking place in an unmanaged way." First area to undergo new planning process of KDFN's Lands Act Fish Lake is the first area to undergo the planning process laid out in KDFN's Lands Act, which took effect last October. A joint news release from the Yukon government and First Nation says KDFN has a "large amount" of settlement land in the area. The Ta'an Kwächän Council also has a parcel of land within the plan boundary. Indigenous use of the area dates back as much as 8,000 years. Michelle Sicotte, a community land use planning manager with the Yukon government, said the plan will be an advisory document and, ideally, zoning regulations will follow. Sicotte said the local area planning process will involve looking at the issues and coming up with options. "Basically, the steering committee and the government will work together to really understand what the issues are in the area and come up with options and eventually draw up the plan." The two governments are recruiting members for a steering committee until Feb. 15. The aim is to finish the plan within two years.
Municipalities lost revenue in the first year of the pandemic and faced COVID-related costs for such things as masks and plexiglass, but if they hired fewer summer students, cancelled events or found ways to cut costs, many of them couldn't get federal aid from the province. Thirty-eight municipalities didn't bother applying for aid after realizing the decisions they had to make to balance their budgets would make them ineligible under the province's rules. Ottawa allotted New Brunswick $41.1 million for local governments as its share of a $2 billion national rescue package announced in July 2020. Of the 104 municipalities in the province, 66 applied for some help, and all but one received it. Saint John topped the list with $3.37 million in relief, Moncton is set to receive $2.56 million, and Fredericton $1.12 million. The Village of Gagetown, at the bottom of the list, received $460. Sackville's entire claim of $290,000 was denied. "We were a bit frustrated with the lack of clarity around, you know, eligible and ineligible expenses," said Jamie Burke, Sackville's chief administrative officer. He said two town employees spent days poring over the budget, looking at COVID expenses and costs to submit to the province. "It was a considerable amount of work, you know, a considerable work that was there was unsuccessful," said Burke. Like many municipalities, Sackville saved money cancelling events and programs and hiring fewer summer students. Burke said the town submitted costs for such things as masks, sanitizer, plexiglass and setting up a welcome centre for Mount Allison University students in the fall to make sure they had the resources and information to isolate properly if necessary. "Which we felt was really important for the community safety perspective," said Burke. Those expenses were acceptable to the province, but other costs, such as lost productivity and a summer concert on Silver Lake were not. 38 municipalities don't apply Riverview was among the municipalities that didn't go after the federal money. CAO Colin Smith said that looking at the provincial guidelines, the town knew it wouldn't get any. "We're not going to run a deficit for the year and we manage our expenses, so we didn't feel we were in a position to go and submit based on the criteria that the province had put forward," he said. Smith said the town did have a number of expenses, but the greater loss was in programs and events. "While it wasn't a financial loss, it was a loss in services that people didn't see in the community." Challenges different for small centres The City of Moncton asked for $2.9 million and received $2.5 million. Isabelle LeBlanc, director of corporate communications, wrote that one item claimed by the city was denied, but overall she said, the process wasn't too complicated. "We have been tracking the impacts of COVID throughout the year, and we had a lot of the information required already at our disposal," said LeBlanc. But as Margot Cragg, executive director of the Union of the Municipalities of New Brunswick said, smaller centres have fewer staff and, "more work gets piled onto onto a smaller and smaller group of administrators." This made compiling the information more difficult for some smaller municipalities. Cragg said it's also important to point out that, "municipalities, as a level of government aren't allowed, by legislation, to run operational deficits." When COVID looked as it was going to cost money, local governments had to act fast because they can't go into the red. "Think of things that look like savings but really represent services that were cut, people that unfortunately didn't have jobs," said Margot. She said some municipalities could have made different choices if they'd known how much of the federal money they were getting. But Cragg does credit the province with giving security to the municipalities in their biggest budget item: property taxes. "In New Brunswick, the province guaranteed municipalities property taxes and that's a big deal," she said. Across Canada, some local governments have to collect property taxes themselves. If citizens are struggling to pay them, the village, town or city goes without. In New Brunswick, the province does this. "They weren't in the situation of literally having to scramble to keep the lights on, this was the situation of other provinces around the country." Another difference is that most provinces paid the federal money out shortly after it was received on a per-capita basis, but New Brunswick went a slower route. Daniel Allain, the minister of local government, said the process was set up to make sure those who needed the most received the most. He said places like Sackville didn't get money because they showed a surplus rather than a deficit. "It was really easy to follow or we weren't overbearing, it wasn't complicated, it was very simple," said Allain. After going over all the applications, a little less than $30 million is left over. Allain said it will be dispersed to all 104 municipalities on a per-capita basis in the next few weeks.
Pension fund managers and religious investors on Friday asked top social media companies to step up their content control efforts to reduce the threat of violence ahead of the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden next week. The effort is the latest pressure on Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc over extreme rhetoric after the storming of the U.S. Capitol last week by supporters of President Donald Trump.
Montreal's Sainte-Justine Hospital is pleading with parents to bring their children to the ER as quickly as possible when needed, even if it means breaking curfew. The province is almost seven days into into its four-week overnight curfew, with only essential movement allowed between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., and the head of Sainte-Justine's emergency room services says he's noticed a dip in the number of families coming in during the evening. "Illness doesn't stop because of a curfew," said Antonio D'Angelo, the hospital's head of emergency services. "Some parents are keeping [their children] at home with conditions that might require urgent care." Some parents have waited before bringing in children that have suffered lacerations or to deal with issues related to their diabetic condition, D'Angelo said. He says parents who do show up will be given a certificate to justify why they are outside during curfew hours as they head back home. As for parents who could be stopped on their way to hospital, D'Angelo is hoping police will be understanding. "We're still seeing patients in the evenings and nights, but we're just worried that some patients are concerned about going outside because they'll break curfew," he said. "The measures are in place to protect the population, but each individual should make the choice, if their children are ill, to come to the emergency room anyway."
WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden is nominating New York emergency department commissioner Deanne Criswell to serve as the Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator and has tapped former CIA deputy director David Cohen to return to the agency in the same role he served during the Obama administration. The picks, along with a trio of other new nominations confirmed to The Associated Press by the Biden team, come as the president-elect is putting a premium on experience, and perhaps familiarity, as he looks to fill out top positions at federal agencies with less than a week to go before his inauguration. Criswell, who also spent more than five years in top posts at FEMA during the Obama administration, is the first woman nominated to head the agency, whose primary responsibility is to co-ordinate responses to major disasters inside the United States that require federal attention. Nancy Ward served as the agency's acting administrator in the early months of the Obama administration before his pick, Craig Fugate, could be confirmed. Cohen, who was deputy CIA director from 2015 to 2017, has travelled the world for years tracking money flowing to terror groups, such as the Islamic State group, and other bad actors on the international stage. His work directing the Treasury Department’s intelligence unit earlier in his career earned him the nicknames of “financial batman” and “sanctions guru.” Last year, Cohen, who has been leading the financial and business integrity group at the law firm WilmerHale, made a cameo appearance on the HBO series “Game of Thrones.” Cohen is not a registered lobbyist, but his firm does millions of dollars in lobbying work each year on behalf of clients that include the Beer Institute, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Walgreens and American Financial Group. The president-elect is also nominating Shalanda Young, the top staff aide for the House Appropriations Committee, to serve as deputy director at the Office of Management and Budget and Jason Miller, who was deputy director of the White House National Economic Council in Obama's administration, to serve as deputy director for management at the agency. Young brings a wealth of Capitol Hill experience in budget policy — and politics — to the budget office, along with close relationships with powerful House Democrats like Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Miller was steeped in manufacturing policy in the Obama administration, including an update of automobile fuel efficiency standards. Biden is tapping Janet McCabe, an environmental law and policy expert who spent more than seven years as a top official at the Environmental Protection Agency during the Obama administration to return to the agency as deputy administrator. “Each of them brings a deep respect for the civil servants who keep our republic running, as well as a keen understanding of how the government can and should work for all Americans,” Biden said of his picks in a statement. “I am confident that they will hit the ground running on day one with determination and bold thinking to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.” Criswell has served as New York City’s emergency management commissioner since June 2019. In her earlier work at FEMA, Criswell served as the leader of one of the agency’s National Incident Management Assistance Teams and as a federal co-ordinating officer. In New York, part of her duties included leading the co-ordination of the city’s emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Between her stints at FEMA and in New York, Criswell was a principal at Cadmus Group, a firm that provides homeland security management consulting and training services for federal, state and local government agencies and private sector companies. The company made about $68 million between the time she joined the firm in 2017 and when she left in June 2019, according to a tabulation of contract spending data from the site USASpending.gov. She also served as the head of the Office of Emergency Management for the city of Aurora, Colorado. Criswell also served in the Colorado Air National Guard, including 21 years as a firefighter and deputy fire chief with deployments to Qatar, Afghanistan and Iraq. ___ Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann and Andrew Taylor contributed to this report. Aamer Madhani And Brian Slodysko, The Associated Press
The Magnetawan First Nation, north of Parry Sound, was recently declared COVID-free, but the territory’s chief said he really wants to see the vaccine given to his community members as soon as possible. Chief William Diabo said that the Magnetawan First Nation was declared free of the coronavirus on New Year’s Eve. Nine members had been diagnosed with COVID-19 during December and all recovered, the last one being declared free of the virus and out of isolation on Dec. 31. That number represents almost 10 per cent of the community’s population of about 115 residents. Diabo had imposed a voluntary lockdown and a state of emergency when the virus first hit the territory in December. He said those orders have been lifted; however, he added that the territory is now covered by the Ontario-wide, province-imposed state of emergency and the restrictions that come with it, including a stay-at-home order. Diabo said that he is expecting a COVID vaccine rollout in the territory in the coming weeks. But he added that he understands they will have to wait their turn as front-line health-care workers, and residents of seniors’ residences, are vaccinated first. He added that he is still frustrated by some community members who are refusing the follow the COVID protocols. “I have a couple of people on my First Nation who are still not complying. One of them posted the damn thing on social media during the lockdown that they were having a gathering with people from four other households who were coming for breakfast over the holidays,” Diabo said. “That’s the worst thing, when you are a small community of 50 homes. You are best to stay in your own home. Don’t go to someone else’s — don’t let them come to yours.” Diabo said he is also frustrated by what he thinks is a lack of will by some police services to enforce the lockdown on First Nations territories. He said there are jurisdictional issues whereby he feels OPP and RCMP are reluctant to come onto the territory to issue tickets. The chief added that even if a person gets a ticket for having too many people in their home, there are no measures in place to keep them from repeating the infraction. As far as the vaccine rollout is concerned, Diabo believes Indigenous communities should follow seniors’ homes on the priority list. “That’s what I’ve been told. It’s a matter of getting the vaccine distributed. It’ll happen — I hope no later than the end of February but I hope sooner than that,” Diabo said. He added that the pace at which the vaccine is being rolled out is a concern, but he said that only when, and if, it appears the territory is not being given the priority it was promised will he begin to kick up dust and complain to officials. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in December that Indigenous communities would be given priority for vaccination after front-line health-care workers and other vulnerable people, including seniors. In an email, Parry Sound Muskoka MPP Norm Miller said he can understand the concerns of Indigenous leaders like Diabo. “Adults in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit populations where infections can have disproportionate consequences, including those living in remote or isolated areas, will be among the first to be offered the COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks,” Miller stated. “Given the previous case numbers in certain First Nation communities within the riding, I agree actions need to be taken as quickly as possible, and I have shared these concerns with the ministry. It is an unfortunate reality that the vaccine is now a finite resource which is why it is important to prioritize high risk areas first. I will continue to advocate on behalf of all high-risk populations in Parry Sound-Muskoka as we move forward.” John McFadden is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering Indigenous issues for MuskokaRegion.com, ParrySound.com and Simcoe.com. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.John McFadden, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star