NEW DELHI — India started inoculating health workers Saturday in what is likely the world's largest COVID-19 vaccination campaign, joining the ranks of wealthier nations where the effort is already well underway. India is home to the world’s largest vaccine makers and has one of the biggest immunization programs. But there is no playbook for the enormity of the current challenge. Indian authorities hope to give shots to 300 million people, roughly the population of the U.S and several times more than its existing program, which targets 26 million infants. The recipients include 30 million doctors, nurses and other front-line workers, to be followed by 270 million people who are either over 50 or have illnesses that make them vulnerable to COVID-19. For workers who have pulled India’s battered health care system through the pandemic, the vaccinations offered confidence that life can start returning to normal. Many burst with pride. “I am happy to get an India-made vaccine and that we do not have to depend on others for it,” said Gita Devi, a nurse who was one of the first to get a shot. Devi has treated patients throughout the pandemic in a hospital in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state in India's heartland. The first dose was administered to a sanitation worker at the All Indian Institute of Medical Sciences in the capital, New Delhi, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi kick-started the campaign with a nationally televised speech. “We are launching the world’s biggest vaccination drive and it shows the world our capability,” Modi said. He implored citizens to keep their guard up and not to believe any “rumours about the safety of the vaccines.” It was not clear whether Modi, 70, had received the vaccine himself as other world leaders have in an effort to demonstrate the shot’s safety. His government has said politicians will not be considered a priority group in the first phase of the rollout. Health officials haven’t specified what percentage of India's nearly 1.4 billion people will be targeted by the campaign. But experts say it will almost certainly be the largest such drive globally. The sheer scale has its obstacles and some early snags were identified. For instance, there were delays in uploading the details of health care workers receiving the shots to a digital platform that India is using to track vaccines, the Health Ministry said. Shots were given to at least 165,714 people on Saturday, Dr. Manohar Agnani, a Health Ministry official, said at an evening briefing. The ministry had said that it was aiming to inoculate 100 people in each of the 3,006 vaccination centres across the country. News cameras captured the injections in hundreds of hospitals, underscoring the hope that getting people vaccinated is the first step to recovering from the pandemic that has devastated the lives of so many Indians and bruised the country's economy. India is second only to the U.S. in the number of confirmed cases, with more than 10.5 million. The country ranks third in the number of deaths, behind the U.S. and Brazil, with over 152,000. India on Jan. 4 approved emergency use of two vaccines, one developed by Oxford University and U.K.-based drugmaker AstraZeneca, and another by Indian company Bharat Biotech. Cargo planes flew 16.5 million shots to different Indian cities last week. But doubts over the effectiveness of the homegrown vaccine have created a hurdle for the ambitious plan. Health experts worry that the government's approval of the Bharat Biotech vaccine — without concrete data showing its efficacy — could amplify vaccine hesitancy. At least one state health minister has opposed its use. “In a hurry to be populist, the government (is) taking decisions that might not be in the best interest of the common man,” said Dr. S.P. Kalantri, the director of a rural hospital in Maharashtra, India’s worst-hit state. Kalantri said the regulatory approval was hasty and not backed by science. In New Delhi, doctors at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, one of the largest in the city, demanded they be administered the AstraZeneca vaccine instead of the one developed by Bharat Biotech. A doctors union at the hospital said many of its members were a “bit apprehensive about the lack of complete trial” for the native vaccine. “Right now, we don’t have the option to choose between the vaccines,” said Dr. Nirmalaya Mohapatra, vice-president of the hospital’s Resident Doctors Association. The Health Ministry has bristled at the criticism. It says the vaccines are safe and that health workers will have no choice in deciding which vaccine they get. Against the backdrop of the rising global COVID-19 death toll — it topped 2 million on Friday — the clock is ticking to vaccinate as many people as possible. But the campaign has been uneven. In wealthy countries including the United States, Britain, Israel, Canada and Germany, millions of citizens have already been given some measure of protection by vaccines developed with revolutionary speed and quickly authorized for use. But elsewhere, immunization drives have barely gotten off the ground. Many experts are predicting another year of loss and hardship in places like Iran, India, Mexico and Brazil, which together account for about a quarter of the world’s COVID-19 deaths. More than 35 million doses of various COVID-19 vaccines have been administered around the world, according to the University of Oxford. While the majority of the COVID-19 vaccine doses have already been snapped up by wealthy countries, COVAX, a U.N.-backed project to supply shots to developing parts of the world, has found itself short of vaccines, money and logistical help. As a result, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, warned this week that it is highly unlikely that herd immunity — which would require at least 70% of the globe to be vaccinated — will be achieved this year. “Even if it happens in a couple of pockets, in a few countries, it’s not going to protect people across the world,” she said. ___ Associated Press writer Biswajeet Banerjee in Lucknow, India, contributed to this report. Aniruddha Ghosal And Sheikh Saaliq, The Associated Press
On Monday, December 21, 2020, Churchbridge Mayor Bill Johnston called the regularly scheduled council meeting to order with all council present and accounted for. He then called Julian Kaminski forward to recognize the work Julian has done as the caretaker of the hall for over the last ten years. Brittney Maddaford, CPA next gave an auditor presentation to the council and members of the public that were in attendance. Maddaford walked the council through their financial statements and what’s included in them. Councillor N. Thies made a presentation to the council about setting up two electric chargers in town for electric cars. Councillor Vaughan made a motion to move this idea to the planning committee; motion carried. Moving on, the council reviewed the agenda prior to Councillor N. Thies making a motion to accept the agenda as amended; motion carried. The council reviewed the minutes of the November 23, 2020, regular meeting as well as the December 1, 2020, special meeting. Councillor N. Thies made a motion to accept the minutes which was carried. Council standing committee notes were next. N. Thies attended a fire department meeting and updated the council regarding the fire department. Administrator Renea Paridaen was next to give the administrator report. The sidewalk was replaced on Vincent Ave. but it has cracks on it now; there is no warranty. Some maintenance to the heating units was done to various town facilities including the town office furnace which wasn’t working. Council members have been registered for the Municipalities of Saskatchewan meeting. Councillor N. Thies made a motion to accept the reports which was carried. Under old business, R. Thies made a motion to have a third reading of Bylaw 2020-014, The by-law for incurring Debt; motion carried. The World’s Biggest Bike, stationed in Churchbridge was next to be discussed. Councillor Antosh-Cusistar made a motion to have the former owner of the big blue bike remove it by June 1, 2021; motion carried. Council Procedures Bylaw 2020-015, Council Procedures Bylaw received its second reading with a motion by R. Thies; motion carried. The third reading of Bylaw 2020-015 was made by Councillor N. Thies; motion carried. Cedar Crescent East Development was discussed next. Councillors N. Thies and R. Thies declared a conflict of interest and left the meeting, Mayor Johnston had a discussion with a resident beside the development who has a few concerns, it will be looked into having a public meeting to openly discuss the development with a motion from Councillor Antosh-Cusitar; motion carried. The topic of pest control officers was next to be discussed. The town requires pest control officers with a valid Possession and Acquisition Certificate, a criminal record check and liability insurance. The council reviewed the correspondence received by the town over the last two weeks. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Membership requisition was received; tabled. The Go out and Play Challenge request was sent to the town, asking if they would participate in the challenge and rally the community. The Murals Committee has sent a request to the town and Councillor Vaughan made a motion to defer this matter to the strategic planning committee; motion carried. Councillor R. Thies made a motion to file the correspondence; motion carried. The list of accounts for approval was reviewed prior to Councillor N. Thies making a motion to pay the accounts; motion carried. The November financial statement and bank reconciliation were reviewed next, prior to Councillor N. Thies making a motion to accept which was carried. Under new business, Nuisance Bylaw 2020-016 was discussed prior to Councillor R. Thies making the recommendation to change the bylaw; motion carried. Councillor N. Thies made the motion to have the first reading of Nuisance Bylaw 2020-016; motion carried. A by-election proposal was next discussed. On April 7, 2021, there will be a by-election. After the resignation of Ralph Soltys, there is a need for a by-election to fill the empty council chair. Councillor Antosh-Cusitar motion to accept which was carried. Christmas office closure was discussed. Councillor Antosh- Cusitar made a motion to close the town office on December 24th which was carried. Councillor N.Thies asked if there is a way a councillor can donate their remuneration back to the town. The bylaw respecting buildings (2020-017) was discussed. Councillor R. Thies made the resolution to have the first reading, which was carried. A motion was made to have the second reading, made by N. Thies; motion carried. A motion was made by N. Thies to go ahead to the third reading; carried unanimously. A Fibre Optic Cable Proposal was next to be discussed. Councillor Vaughan made a motion to have the administration help develop a Municipal Access Agreement; motion carried. The appointment of the Town of Churchbridge Administrator was next to be discussed. Council made a motion to appoint Renea Paridaen as Administrator for the Town of Churchbridge. She had not been officially appointed; motion carried. Backflow Prevention Testing was discussed. Councillor R. Thies made a motion to test the backflow as required; motion carried. Policy Manual 2021 Revisions were reviewed prior to Councillor N. Thies making a motion to pass the revisions which was carried. The council then moved in-camera. Gary Horseman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Four-Town Journal
Britain's government said on Saturday it would give financial aid to airports before the end of March, after the industry called for urgent support as tighter COVID-19 rules for international travellers start on Monday. Aviation minister Robert Courts said the government would launch a new support program this month. "The Airport and Ground Operations Support Scheme will help airports reduce their costs and we will be aiming to provide grants before the end of this financial year," he announced on social media, adding that more details would follow soon.
BERLIN — Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus missed a penalty in a 1-1 draw with lowly Mainz while Leipzig again missed the chance to move to the top of the Bundesliga on Saturday. Leipzig, which was denied top spot in losing to Dortmund 3-1 last weekend, could manage only 2-2 at Wolfsburg and it remains a point behind league leader Bayern Munich. Bayern hosts Freiburg on Sunday. Dortmund was looking for its fourth win in five league games under new coach Edin Terzic but was frustrated by a committed performance from Mainz in Bo Svensson’s second game in charge. The draw was enough for Mainz to move off the bottom on goal difference from Schalke, which visits Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday. Dortmund got off to a fine start with Erling Haaland firing inside the left post in the second minute. But the goal was ruled out through VAR as Thomas Meunier was offside in the buildup. Jude Bellingham struck the post toward the end of the half and it was as close as Dortmund came to scoring before the break. Mainz defended doggedly and took its chance in the 57th when Levin Öztunali eluded Mats Hummels with a back-heel trick and let fly from 20 metres inside the top right corner. The visitors almost grabbed another shortly afterward when Alexander Hack struck the crossbar with a header. The 16-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko had just gone on for Dortmund and he played a decisive role for his side’s equalizer in the 73rd, keeping the ball in play before sending in a cross that was cleared by Mainz defender Phillipp Mwene – only as far as Meunier, who fired back in to equalize. Meunier was then fouled in the penalty area by Hack, giving Reus a chance to score from the spot. The Dortmund captain sent his kick outside of the left post. It could have been worse for Reus’ team as Mainz captain Danny Latza hit the post late on. Dortmund remained fourth, four points behind Bayern, which has a game in hand. Werder Bremen scored late to beat Augsburg 2-0 at home, Cologne drew with Hertha Berlin 0-0, and Hoffenheim vs. Arminia Bielefeld also ended scoreless. Stuttgart hosted Borussia Mönchengladbach in the late game. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP CiaráN Fahey, The Associated Press
A number of front-line doctors across Canada have volunteered their scarce free time over the past year to help Canadians understand COVID-19. Jeff Semple checks in with some of these doctors to answer your questions, and give us a glimpse into their lives.
The Hat Art Club has been a staple in the community for decades and is celebrating an important milestone this month – 75 years in existence. The club sits around 100 members on a given year and was founded in 1946 by Mrs. Helen Beny Gibson and Rev. L.T.H Pearson. The group began with a program teaching people how to draw at city council chambers. “The Hat Art Club has grown to be one of the foundational art clubs in the city,” said club president Bev Duke. “For a very long time, there were no other organizations that provided art training for adult artists in our community. “There have been programs offered through the college over the years, but they were sporadic. The art club has offered a consistent place for artists of any age or skill to come and learn.” The Hat Art Club has operated out of the Cultural Centre since it was built, and is now offering digital art programming. The club shifted to online classes last October and invested into its new website to help keep members in the loop. Duke has been a member of the club for 25 years and is in her second term as president. She says the club aims to offer something for everyone. “We have programs around all mediums,” she said. “One of our big programs is around drawing, because it is so foundational to art, a lot of people are interested. “We offer acrylic, oils, pastels and art journaling.” The art club’s shift to online has helped Hatters fill their time at home with fun, creative activities to focus on during the pandemic. “Art is a creative outlet,” said Duke. “It gives you something to work on and it lets you develop different skills.” The club has also announced a special promotion to get new members involved. For a limited time, get a membership for $75 to celebrate the anniversary. More information can be found at http://www.hatartclub.com. Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
MONTREAL — Quebec is reporting 2,225 new COVID-19 cases and 67 further deaths attributed to the novel coronavirus. The number of hospitalizations dropped for a second day, this time by 22 for a total of 1,474 patients, with four fewer patients in intensive care for a total of 227. Health Minister Christian Dube tweeted that all Quebecers need to continue to follow public health rules to ensure cases and hospitalizations go down. The province's Health Department reported 2,430 more recoveries, for a total of 210,364. Quebec currently has 21,640 active cases. The province has now reported 240,970 confirmed infections and 9,005 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2021. The Canadian Press
Durham Regional Police are investigating after a body was found in Lake Ontario in Oshawa Saturday morning. Police say human remains were located in the water just after 10:30 a.m. near Farewell Street and Harbour Road. The death does not appear to be suspicious at this time, police say. The investigation is ongoing. No further information has been released at this time.
In order for a personal support worker employed in a long-term-care home to make ends meet in Toronto, they’d have to clock at least 50 hours every week. Here’s how the numbers break down: PSWs in unionized long-term-care homes start at about $20.80 per hour, and can earn up to about $22 hourly. If they are paid for 37.5 hours of work per week, they will gross $40,560 in a year at the starting rate, but the take home after tax is closer to $32,000. But this is over $10,000 short of the 2020 cost of living in Toronto, estimated by lowestrates.ca. The insurance company found that for a single person renting a one-bedroom apartment, the cost of living is close to $42,500. Meanwhile, in 2015, $55,117 was the median income for single-adult households in Toronto, according to Statistics Canada, which is just below the amount needed to meet the cost of living today, after tax. Someone earning that amount would only have to put in about 20 extra hours over the course of a year to make ends meet — less than half an hour a week. Cost of living can be greater too if the person is supporting a family, and it would be even more challenging if the person is the sole breadwinner for their household. Long-term-care homes have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, shedding light on a system that has been dysfunctional for years. With cases and deaths climbing in the sector, the need to address ongoing issues has been made all the more urgent. In Ottawa, a COVID-19 outbreak in a women’s shelter was linked to two long-term-care workers who were staying in the facility because they could no longer afford rent with their income. Where PSWs are concerned, there is no oversight body, like there is for nurses, which advocates say has caused issues with low pay, precarious work and high turnover. Matthew Cathmoir, the head of strategic research at the Service Employees International Union which represents health-care workers in Ontario, said PSWs wind up working as much overtime as possible to supplement their income. “They accept as much overtime as possible; they’ll work doubles. So, they’ll work a 16-hour shift, which is unsustainable ... it’s incredibly difficult work — hard on the body, hard on the mind (but) they have to do it,” he said. Many PSWs also had more than one job, which was restricted during the pandemic to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Pandemic pay has offered a $3 per hour wage bump for eligible long-term-care workers, but Cathmoir notes that there have been challenges with the rollout. All the while, in a recent survey the SEIU posed to its members working in long-term care, 92 per cent of the 700 or so respondents reported feeling overworked and understaffed during the pandemic. “It’s difficult work. It’s dangerous,” Cathmoir said. “It takes a special type of person to work, specifically, and that goes for all (health-care positions).” Angelyn Francis is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering equity and inequality. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Angelyn Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
BERLIN — The German soccer federation is investigating whether Union Berlin player Florian Hübner used a xenophobic slur against Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Nadiem Amiri when the Bundesliga teams played Friday. The federation said Saturday that there was a “suspicion” that Hübner racially insulted Amiri, whose parents are from Afghanistan, at the end of Union’s 1-0 win. “We will take on this initial suspicion and initiate appropriate investigations at the start of the new week,” said Anton Nachreiner, chairman of the federation’s control committee. “For the first step, we will write to everyone involved and ask them to comment. We will also evaluate the available material up to then.” Nachreiner said the federation “fundamentally does not tolerate any racism or discrimination.” Friday’s game ended with Amiri angrily approaching Hübner and pointing his finger in the Union defender’s face after the final whistle. Amiri also had heated words with other Union players. Union coach Urs Fischer tried without success to console the furious midfielder. Leverkusen defender Jonathan Tah told broadcaster DAZN that Amiri was abused by an opponent who used a racially charged term referring to the Germany midfielder’s Afghan background. “It doesn’t belong on the football pitch, no matter how emotional things get,” Tah said. “It’s the most bitter part of the evening. I hope there are consequences.” Amiri said Saturday that he accepted an apology from the player involved. “He came to me in the changing room after the game,” Amiri told Leverkusen’s website. “There were ugly words on the pitch said in the heat of the moment that he’s very sorry for. He credibly assured me of that and therefore the matter is now settled for me.” Neither Amiri nor Tah referred to the Union player by name. Fischer missed the incident. “I heard there were words on the pitch that have no place on the pitch,” Fischer said after the game, before calling for an investigation. Union welcomed the federation’s investigation. “Union Berlin completely distances itself from racism and discrimination in football and in our society. To be clear: it’s not acceptable in any form,” the club said on Twitter. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP CiaráN Fahey, The Associated Press
The Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia and all of Cape Breton are under weather warnings for Saturday night into Sunday. A public weather alert issued by Environment Canada on Saturday morning said a system approaching from New England is expected to bring southeasterly gusts of up to 90 km/h to parts of the mainland, and up to 100 km/h in Cape Breton. A Les Suêteswind warning is in effect in Cape Breton from Margaree Harbour to Bay St. Lawrence. Inverness County-Mabou and north is being warned to expect Les Suêtes gusts of 100 km/h near midnight increasing to near 180 km/h Sunday morning Some counties on the Atlantic coast will experience heavy rainfall along with high winds. Guysborough County, Halifax County east of Porters Lake, Halifax Metro and Halifax County West, Inverness County south of Mabou, Richmond County, Sydney Metro and Cape Breton County and Victoria County can expect rainfall amounts up to 50 millimetres. Antigonish County, Colchester County-Truro and south, Lunenburg County, Pictou County, Queen's County, Shelburne County and Yarmouth County should expect rainfall amounts up to 50 millimetres, but are not included in the Environment Canada wind alerts. Rain in these areas is expected to start this evening and will continue into the overnight hours before tapering to scattered showers Sunday morning. Environment Canada says localized flooding is possible in low-lying areas. MORE TOP STORIES
Northwest Territories health officials are urging anyone who has been in self-isolation in Hay River or Kátł'odeeche First Nation since Jan. 1 to arrange for a COVID-19 test. On Thursday, public health officials said wastewater testing suggested there are one or more cases of COVID-19 in the area. The Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory also reports a "persistent positive COVID-19 signal in Hay River wastewater" collected on Jan. 11, said Dr. Andy Delli-Pizzi, N.W.T.'s deputy chief public health officer, in a news release issued Saturday. But so far, no one who has tested for COVID-19 since then has been a positive case, said Delli-Pizzi. "Currently, there is not enough information to confidently assess public risk," he said. "But with evidence pointing towards at least one undetected case of COVID-19 in Hay River, we are asking the public to assist in containing the situation quickly to prevent transmission." Public health officials are also asking anyone who is self-isolating because they entered N.W.T. from another jurisdiction, and has been in Hay River or Kátł'odeeche First Nation since Jan. 1, to be tested. Residents who fit that criteria should be tested, regardless of symptoms. Previously, public health officials had focused on people who were self-isolating between Jan. 1-6. Public health officials are also urging essential workers, who were not self-isolating because they had an exemption to work in Hay River or Kátł'odeeche First Nation since Jan. 1, to arrange for testing. "High-risk essential service workers" who are not symptomatic and were already tested as part of their permission to work, such as health-care workers, are exempt, said Delli-Pizzi. People who were self-isolating in Hay River or Kátł'odeeche First Nation since Jan. 1, but who have since left those communities, should contact the local health centre to arrange for a test. Hay River testing clinic open this weekend To accommodate the testing, public health officials are extending the hours of a dedicated testing clinic. The testing clinic in Hay River, located at 52 Woodland Drive, will run Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Residents looking to get tested should call public health at 867-874-8400 to book an appointment and a public health nurse will call back. The nurse can also help with arrangements for transportation to the clinic for those who need it. Public health officials are urging those arriving for drive-thru testing to follow the signs, stay in their vehicles and wait their turn. They're also reminding people to wear a mask when they go for their test. Delli-Pizzi is reminding people that if they do get a positive result, public health officials will follow up for contact tracing and to try to find where a person may have been exposed to COVID-19.
NEW YORK — All federal prisons in the United States have been placed on lockdown, with officials aiming to quell any potential violence that could arise behind bars as law enforcement prepares for potentially violent protests across the country in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday. The lockdown at more than 120 federal Bureau of Prisons facilities took effect at 12 a.m. Saturday, according to an email to employees from the president of the union representing federal correctional officers. “In light of current events occurring around the country, and out of an abundance of caution, the decision has been made to secure all institutions,” the Bureau of Prisons said in a statement. The lockdown decision is precautionary, no specific information led to it and it is not in response to any significant events occurring inside facilities, the bureau said. To avoid backlash from inmates, the lockdown was not announced until after they were locked in their cells Friday evening. Shane Fausey, the president of the Council of Prison Locals, wrote in his email to staff that inmates should still be given access in small groups to showers, phones and email and can still be involved in preparing food and performing basic maintenance. Messages seeking comment were left with Fausey on Saturday. The agency last put in place a nationwide lockdown in April to combat the spread of the coronavirus. During a lockdown, inmates are kept in their cells most of the day and visiting is cancelled. Because of coronavirus, social visits only resumed in October, but many facilities have cancelled them again as infections spiked. One reason for the new nationwide lockdown is that the bureau is moving some of its Special Operations Response Teams from prison facilities to Washington, D.C., to bolster security after President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Authorities are concerned there could be more violence, not only in the nation’s capital, but also at state capitals, before Trump leaves office Jan. 20. A Bureau of Prisons spokesman said the agency was co-ordinating with officials at the Justice Department to be ready to deploy as needed. Earlier this month, about 100 officers were sent to the Justice Department's headquarters to supplement security staff and were deputized by the U.S. Marshals Service and given special legal powers to “enforce federal criminal statutes and protect federal property and personnel,” said the spokesman, Justin Long. The specialized units typically respond to disturbances and other emergencies at prisons, such as riots, assaults, escapes and escape attempts, and hostage situations. Their absence can leave gaps in a prison’s emergency response and put remaining staff at risk. “The things that happen outside the walls could affect those working behind the walls,” Aaron McGlothin, a local union president at a federal prison in California. As the pandemic continues to menace federal inmates and staff, a federal lockup in Mendota, California, is also dealing with a possible case of tuberculosis. According to an email to staff Friday, an inmate at the medium-security facility has been placed in a negative pressure room after returning a positive skin test and an X-ray that indicated an active case of tuberculosis. The inmate was not showing symptoms of the lung disease and is undergoing further testing to confirm a diagnosis, the email said. As a precaution, all other inmates on the affected inmate’s unit were placed on quarantine status and given skin tests for tuberculosis. The bacterial disease is spread similarly to COVID-19, through droplets that an infected person expels by coughing, sneezing or through other activities such as singing and talking. Mendota also has 10 current inmate cases and six current staff cases of COVID-19. As of Wednesday, the last day for which data was available, there were 4,718 federal inmates and 2,049 Bureau of Prisons staff members with current positive tests for COVID-19. Since the first case was reported in March, 38,535 inmates and 3,553 staff have recovered from the virus. So far, 190 federal inmates and 3 staff members have died. __ Balsamo reported from Washington. __ On Twitter, follow Sisak at twitter.com/mikesisak and Balsamo at twitter.com/mikebalsamo1 Michael R. Sisak And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Sofia who loved books but was bothered by how the book collection in her school library was very … well … white. So the girl decided she'd try to write a new twist to the tale by penning something prosaic yet powerful — an application for a government grant, to be exact. Two thousand dollars later, 13-year-old Sofia Rathjen of Sherwood Park, Alta., is curating a collection of books by, and about, Black, Indigenous and people of colour. The new books are building diversity on the bookshelves of the Sherwood Heights junior high library and more tolerance and understanding among its students. "Students of colour — and all people of colour — can see their stories represented authentically and unapologetically and written by authors who understand those experiences," the Latino-Canadian teen told CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. "And non-people of colour can understand things that we go through. That way, it's not always our job to explain everything and why something is hurtful or racist." 'I just thought about how I could change that' In total, the school will get 134 books — science fiction, poetry, history, graphic novels, mythology and more — featuring authors from dozens of cultural backgrounds. Rathjen's application for Strathcona County's Community Change grant grew out of another piece of writing — a "passion project" essay about why representation matters in school libraries that she had done the year before. "The library was great, [but] I noticed that it lacked representation of people of colour and I saw the way that it affected outside of the library and outside of books," Rathjen said. "Personally, I experienced a lot of micro-aggressions, and I know people who have experienced blatant racism from people at our school. And so I just thought about how I could change that." The Grade 8 student came up with the idea to apply for the grant, then went to the teacher of her leadership class, Robin Koning, for help. Koning said he is "pleased as punch," not just at the grant being approved but at what it means for the school. "We really want to increase our Black/Indigenous/people of colour collection," he said. "Like Sofia said, we want people to realize that people from other cultures experience all kinds of discrimination, whether it's words or actions or just weird things that people say and do." The school's new "technicolour bookshelf," as Rathjen dubs it, is a powerful way to share that message. And Rathjen, said Koning, is a powerful ambassador. "For us to increase the collection of books that ... students would love to read, that's what we're about," he said. "The excitement from Sofia will make, hopefully, other students her age excited about reading." The first 39 books arrived at Rathjen's home during the at-home schooling period so, of course, she took the opportunity to read them. Books provide perspective She reviews books, too, on her Instagram account @the_technicolour_bookshelf, and happily rattled off suggestions to a CBC Radio producer who asked about titles. "OK, so Clap When You Land is by Elizabeth Acevedo. This is about two sisters who don't know that the other exists until their dad dies in a plane crash. And it's about grief and loss and also sisterhood. And it's really beautiful," she said. "And this, Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky, is based off of African and African-American mythology. And it's about a boy who punches a hole in the sky into a world of folklore that he thought were only stories." Rathjen said she worked hard to find books that will appeal to people of any ethnicity, whether or not they love books as much as her. Books, she said, are the way to see the perspectives of others. "There's a metaphor [about] windows and mirrors. So books are either a window into someone else's perspective and experiences, or a mirror of your own. "And so I think that's why I love reading so much. Because you get to read about so many different stories and experiences and put yourself in the shoes of other people." The end. For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
With the new year here, many are starting to think of tax season which is just around the corner. This year, with the uncertain financial standing Canada and the world, is in with COVID-19 still breathing down our throats, it is helpful to hear of tax credits being offered by the government. Recently, Deputy Premier and Finance minister Donna Harpauer came forward with a few tax credits the Sask Party is offering, “We are pleased to resume the indexation of income tax brackets and tax credit amounts in 2021….. Indexation protects Saskatchewan taxpayers from bracket creep, and helps keep the tax system fair, competitive and affordable.” All Saskatchewan income tax brackets and tax credit amounts will once again be indexed in 2021, this will save taxpayers an estimated $15 million. The level of indexation in 2021 will be 1.0 percent, matching the national rate of inflation. “Restarting the Active Families Benefit to make children’s activities more affordable was a key election commitment of our government,” Harpauer said. “As promised, the Active Families Benefit will provide a non-refundable tax credit of $150 per year per child to eligible families. Families of children with a disability will receive an additional $50, for a total tax credit of $200 per year per child.” Families with children enrolled in sports, arts and cultural activities will also be able to claim the Active Families Benefit once again on their 2021 taxes, the restarting of the Active Families Benefit will be part of the 2021-22 Budget which will be retroactive to January 1, 2021. Parents who enroll their children in sports, arts and cultural activities in the new year are therefore reminded to keep their receipts so they may claim the benefit with their 2021 tax filings. Saskatchewan residents who are planning to renovate their homes may also be able to claim the recently announced Saskatchewan Home Renovation Tax Credit. Under this non-refundable tax credit, Saskatchewan homeowners can save up to $1,155 in provincial income tax in 2021 if they claim a 10.5 percent tax credit on up to $11,000 of eligible home renovation expenses incurred between October 1, 2020, and December 31, 2021. A further $945 in savings may be claimed in 2022 in respect of eligible expenses incurred between January 1, 2022, and December 31, 2022. Eligible expenses include the cost of permits, contractor labour and professional services, building materials, fixtures, and equipment rentals. Tax Credits are always helpful to see as tax season approaches. It is always a good idea to check with your local accountant, or better yet hire a local account, as they are always on top of any tax credit you may be eligible for. Gary Horseman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Four-Town Journal
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — With coronavirus restrictions forcing bars and restaurants to seat customers outside in the dead of winter, many are scrambling to nab erratic supplies of propane that fuel space heaters they’re relying on more than ever to keep people comfortable in the cold. It's one of many new headaches — but a crucial one — that go with setting up tables and tents on sidewalks, streets and patios to comply with public health restrictions. “You’re in the middle of service and having staff run up and say, ‘We’re out of propane!’" said Melinda Maddox, manager of a whiskey tasting room in Colorado. Propane long has been a lifeline for people who live in places too remote to get natural gas piped to their homes for heat, hot water and cooking. This winter, 5-gallon (18-litre) propane tanks have proven a new necessity for urban businesses, too, especially in places like the Rocky Mountains, where the sun often takes the edge off the chill and people still enjoy gathering on patios when the heaters are roaring. The standard-size tanks, which contain pressurized liquid propane that turns to gas as it's released, are usually readily available from gas stations, grocery stores or home improvement stores. But that's not always the case lately as high demand leads to sometimes erratic supplies. “I spent one day driving an hour around town. Literally went north, south, east, west — just did a loop around Fort Collins because every gas station I went to was out. That was frustrating,” said Maddox, who manages the Reserve By Old Elk Distillery tasting room in downtown Fort Collins, about 65 miles (105 kilometres) north of Denver. Nearly all states allow at least some indoor dining, but the rules nationwide are a hodgepodge of local regulations. In Fort Collins, indoor seating at bars and restaurants is limited to 25% of normal capacity, so there's a strong incentive to seat customers outside despite the complication and expense. Local propane tank shortages result not just from higher demand but household hoarding similar to the pandemic run on toilet paper and other goods. One national tank supplier reported a 38% sales increase this winter, said Tom Clark, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Propane Association. But Clark says the supply is there, it just may mean searching a bit more than normal. If there are 10 suppliers in a neighbourhood, “maybe 1 out of 10 may be out of inventory. Certainly, you can find propane exchange tanks if you look around,” Clark said. Franklin, Tennessee-based tank manufacturer Manchester Tank has been paying workers overtime and boosting production in India to meet demand, company President Nancy Chamblee said by email. So far, the surge in demand for small-tank propane hasn't affected overall U.S. propane supply, demand and prices, which are running similar to recent winters, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. But trying to find a steady supply of propane can cost already-stressed businesses time and money they lack in the pandemic. Gas stations are better than home improvement stores for propane tank runs because you can park closer, said Maddox, but shops that refill tanks are best because it's cheaper and not as complicated as trying to run every tank dry. “The issue there is it takes longer,” Maddox said. “You just have to build that into your day and say OK, it’s going to take 40 minutes instead of 25 minutes.” Across the street, Pour Brothers Community Tavern owners Kristy and Dave Wygmans have been refilling tanks for their 18 or so heaters and fire bowls at a supplier at the edge of town after a nearby shop stopped offering refill service. They discovered that propane tanks carry a date-of-manufacture stamp. Propane shops won't refill tanks older than 12 years unless they have been re-certified in five-year increments. “We’re learning more and more about propane," Dave Wygmans said. They also have gained insight into the market for space heaters, which more than doubled in price last fall due to surging demand, and outdoor furniture for their street-parking-turned-outdoor-patio area that can seat up to 44 people, Kristy Wygmans said. Their employees also had to quickly learn to hook up propane tanks and light heaters, needed in a place where temperatures can plunge well below zero (minus 18 Celsius) in winter. Keeping customers comfortable has taken on a new dimension outdoors, Dave Wygmans said. “Before it was just drinks and food, right? And now, we think the priority is drinks and food but maybe the customer thinks the priority is the heat. And so now we have to balance one more priority that some customers might care about," he said. "It’s almost like another service that we’re providing is outside heat,” Wygmans said. ___ Follow Mead Gruver at https://twitter.com/meadgruver. Mead Gruver, The Associated Press
Canada's Alimentation Couche-Tard and French retailer Carrefour SA plan to discuss industrial and operational partnerships, BFM TV reported on Saturday, after the firms this week dropped takeover talks. Citing information acquired after a meeting of Carrefour's board of directors on Saturday, the TV channel said the two companies had decided to work together on the basis of "industrial cooperations". It said this might enable them to bypass a French government veto that ended Couche-Tard's planned 16.2 billion euro ($19.6 billion) takeover.
LOS ANGELES — Hours after an angry mob of Trump supporters took control of the U.S. Capitol in a violent insurrection, Selena Gomez laid much of the blame at the feet of Big Tech. “Today is the result of allowing people with hate in their hearts to use platforms that should be used to bring people together and allow people to build community,” tweeted the singer/actor. “Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google, Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Jack Dorsey, Sundar Pichai, Susan Wojcicki — you have all failed the American people today, and I hope you’re going to fix things moving forward.” It’s just the latest effort by the 28-year-old Gomez to draw attention to the danger of internet companies critics say have profited from misinformation and hate on their platforms. Gomez has been calling out Big Tech for months — publicly on the very platforms she’s fighting and privately in conversations with Silicon Valley’s big hitters. In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Gomez said she’s frustrated by what she views as the companies’ lacklustre response and that they have to “stop doing the bare minimum.” “It isn’t about me versus you, one political party versus another. This is about truth versus lies and Facebook, Instagram and big tech companies have to stop allowing lies to just flow and pretend to be the truth,” Gomez said in a phone interview from New York. “Facebook continues to allow dangerous lies about vaccines and COVID and the U.S. election, and neo-Nazi groups are selling racist products via Instagram. “Enough is enough,” she said. Facebook and Twitter representatives declined to comment. Google didn't respond to an AP request for comment. Gomez is among a growing number of celebrities using their platforms to call out social media, including Sacha Baron Cohen, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Kerry Washington, and Kim Kardashian West. Gomez became passionate about the issue in 2017 when a 12-year-old commented on one of her Instagram posts: “Go kill yourself.” “That was my tipping point,” she said. “I couldn’t handle what I was seeing.” Social media experts have argued that companies like Facebook and Twitter played a direct role in the Capitol insurrection both by allowing plans for the uprising to be made on their platforms and through algorithms that allow dangerous conspiracy theories to take flight. That’s even though executives, such as Facebook’s Sandberg, have insisted that planning for the riots largely took place on other, smaller platforms. “The operational planning was happening in spaces that Selena, for example, was identifying to Sheryl Sandberg in advance saying, ‘You know, we need to do something about white supremacist extremism online and their ability to just form a group on Facebook and happily talk away to each other, plan what they’re going to do next,’” said Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which has helped educate Gomez about online misinformation. In emails shared exclusively with the AP, Gomez told Sandberg in September that “a search for a militia group ‘Three Percenters’ results in dozens of pages, groups and videos focused on people hoping and preparing for civil war, and there are dozens of groups titled ‘white lives matter’ that are full of hate and lies that might lead to people being hurt or, even worse, killed.” That’s even though Facebook banned U.S.-based militia groups from its service in August. In the same email, Gomez also points to several ads with lies about election fraud being allowed to remain on Facebook and Instagram and questions why that was being allowed. “I can’t believe you can’t check ads before you take money, and if you can’t you shouldn’t be profiting from it,” she wrote. “You’re not just doing nothing. You’re cashing in from evil.” In an email response to Gomez, Sandberg defends Facebook’s efforts to remove harmful content, saying the platform has removed millions of posts for hate speech, and bans ads that are divisive, inflammatory, or discourage people from voting. She didn’t directly address the advertising examples Gomez pointed to. “It’s beating around the bush and saying what people want to hear,” Gomez said about her interactions with Sandberg and Google, among others. "I think at this point we’ve all learned that words don’t match up unless the action is going to happen.” Following the violence at the U.S. Capitol, tech companies made some of their biggest changes to date. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other platforms banned President Donald Trump, drawing criticism from some including the American Civil Liberties Union that it was censorship, and praise from others who say the president abused his platform by encouraging violence. In a thread defending Twitter’s Trump ban, CEO Jack Dorsey said “offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all.” In addition to banning Trump, Facebook has been removing video and photos from Capitol rioters. The company also added text on posts questioning the election, confirming that Joe Biden has been lawfully elected, and saying it was taking enforcement action against militarized social movements like QAnon. While the changes are positive, they’re “just a drop in the bucket,” said Jeff Orlowski, director of Netflix’s “The Social Dilemma,” a popular 2020 film that showed how Silicon Valley’s pursuit of profit could pose an existential threat to U.S. democracy. Voices like Gomez’s can be a huge help to get the message across, considering her hundreds of millions of followers, Orlowski said. “Think of the advertising revenue from every Selena Gomez post. Think of the advertising revenue from every Donald Trump post, the advertising revenue from every post from The Rock or whoever,” he said. “Those people are literally generating millions of dollars for these companies ... The top 20 people on Instagram have probably the most influence over Mark and Sheryl compared to anybody else until finally Congress as a whole gets enough momentum and energy to put some legislation together.” Orlowski and Ahmed both said they’re looking to Biden’s administration for reforms, including a measure that would hold social media companies accountable for the posts they allow, an effort that has gained momentum and drawn bipartisan support. “The question no longer is ‘Is there going to be change,’” Ahmed said. “The question is, ‘What kind of change are we going to get?’” Meanwhile, Gomez vows to keep fighting as long as she has a pedestal. “While I have this, I’m going to do good things with it,” she said. “I think that’s my purpose.” ___ Associated Press writer Barbara Ortutay contributed to this report from Oakland, California. Amanda Lee Myers, The Associated Press
LONDON — Michail Antonio scored in his first English Premier League start for West Ham since November in a 1-0 win over Burnley on Saturday. Antonio side-footed home from close range in the ninth minute after a left-wing cross from Pablo Fornals flicked off the top of Burnley defender Ben Mee's head and into the path of the West Ham forward, who was free at the back post. West Ham has missed the mobility and presence up front of Antonio, who was sidelined before Christmas with a hamstring injury and has been eased back into action by manager David Moyes given his importance to the team. He came on as a substitute against Southampton and Everton over the festive period, and played in the win over Rochdale in the FA Cup on Monday. Moyes has few other alternatives for the striker role, especially with Sebastien Haller recently leaving to join Ajax in the Netherlands, so keeping Antonio fit is particularly important if West Ham is to finish in the top half of the standings. Burnley thought it equalized before halftime when a cross by Chris Wood was turned into his own net by West Ham defender Aaron Cresswell, but the goal was disallowed because Wood was offside in the buildup. While West Ham is unbeaten in its last four league games, keeping three straight clean sheets in the process, Burnley has lost three of its last four games and dropped to fourth-to-last place, one above the relegation zone. Scoring is its biggest problem — Sean Dyche's team has just nine goals in 17 games, tied for the fewest in the league with last-placed Sheffield United. Relegation is a distinct possibility for the northwest club, which became the latest league team to be owned by Americans when ALK Capital’s sports investment arm, Velocity Sports Partners, bought an 84% stake in December. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
A team of climbers from Nepal on Saturday become the first mountaineers to successfully complete a winter attempt on the summit of K2, the world's second tallest peak. Located on the Pakistan China border, K2 is the only mountain over 8,000 metres that had not been summitted in the winter. The group were named as Nirmal Purja, Gelje Sherpa, Mingma David Sherpa, Mingma G, Sona Sherpa, Mingma Tenzi Sherpa, Pem Chhiri Sherpa, Dawa Temba Sherpa, Kili Pemba Sherpa, and Dawa Tenjing Sherpa.