WASHINGTON — The words of Donald Trump supporters who are accused of participating in the deadly U.S. Capitol riot may end up being used against him in his Senate impeachment trial as he faces the charge of inciting a violent insurrection. At least five supporters facing federal charges have suggested they were taking orders from the then-president when they marched on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 to challenge the certification of Joe Biden's election win. But now those comments, captured in interviews with reporters and federal agents, are likely to take centre stage as Democrats lay out their case. It's the first time a former president will face such charges after leaving office. “I feel like I was basically following my president. I was following what we were called to do. He asked us to fly there. He asked us to be there," Jenna Ryan, a Texas real estate agent who posted a photo on Twitter of herself flashing a peace sign next to a broken Capitol window, told a Dallas-Fort Worth TV station. Jacob Chansley, the Arizona man photographed on the dais in the Senate who was shirtless and wore face paint and a furry hat with horns, has similarly pointed a finger at Trump. Chansley called the FBI the day after the insurrection and told agents he travelled “at the request of the president that all ‘patriots’ come to D.C. on January 6, 2021,” authorities wrote in court papers. Chanley’s lawyer unsuccessfully lobbied for a pardon for his client before Trump's term ended, saying Chansley “felt like he was answering the call of our president.” Authorities say that while up on the dais in the Senate chamber, Chansley wrote a threatening note to then-Vice-President Mike Pence that said: “It’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.” Trump is the first president to be twice impeached and the first to face a trial after leaving office. The charge this time is “inciting violence against the government of the United States.” His impeachment lawyer, Butch Bowers, did not respond to call for comment. Opening arguments in the trial will begin the week of Feb. 8. House Democrats who voted to impeach Trump last week for inciting the storming of the Capitol say a full reckoning is necessary before the country — and the Congress — can move on. For weeks, Trump rallied his supporters against the election outcome and urged them to come to the Capitol on Jan. 6 to rage against Biden's win. Trump spoke to the crowd near the White House shortly before they marched along Pennsylvania Avenue to Capitol Hill. “We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn’t happen,” Trump said. “You don’t concede when there’s theft involved. Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore.” Later he said: “If you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.” He told supporters to walk to the Capitol to “peacefully and patriotically” make your voices heard. Trump has taken no responsibility for his part in fomenting the violence, saying days after the attack: “People thought that what I said was totally appropriate.” Unlike a criminal trial, where there are strict rules about what is and isn’t evidence, the Senate can consider anything it wishes. And if they can show that Trump’s words made a real impact, all the better, and scholars expect it in the trial. "Bringing in those people's statements is part of proving that it would be at a minimum reasonable for a rational person to expect that if you said and did the things that Trump said and did, then they would be understood in precisely the way these people understood them," said Frank Bowman, a constitutional law expert and law professor at University of Missouri. A retired firefighter from Pennsylvania told a friend that that he travelled to Washington with a group of people and the group listened to Trump's speech and then “followed the President’s instructions” and went to the Capitol, an agent wrote in court papers. That man, Robert Sanford, is accused of throwing a fire extinguisher that hit three Capitol Police officers. Another man, Robert Bauer of Kentucky, told FBI agents that “he marched to the U.S. Capitol because President Trump said to do so,” authorities wrote. His cousin, Edward Hemenway, from Virginia, told the FBI that he and Bauer headed toward the Capitol after Trump said “something about taking Pennsylvania Avenue." More than 130 people as of Friday were facing federal charges; prosecutors have promised that more cases — and more serious charges — are coming. Most of those arrested so far are accused of crimes like unlawful entry and disorderly conduct, but prosecutors this week filed conspiracy charges against three self-described members of a paramilitary group who authorities say plotted the attack. A special group of prosecutors is examining whether to bring sedition charges, which carry up to 20 years in prison, against any of the rioters. Two-thirds of the Senate is needed to convict. And while many Republicans — including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky— have condemned Trump's words, it remains unclear how many would vote to convict him. “While the statements of those people kind of bolsters the House manager's case, I think that President Trump has benefited from a Republican Party that has not been willing to look at evidence,” said Michael Gerhardt, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law who testified before the House Judiciary Committee during Trump's first impeachment hearings in 2019. “They stood by him for the entire first impeachment proceeding, thinking that the phone call with the president of the Ukraine was perfect and I’m sure they will think that was a perfect speech too. There is nothing yet to suggest that they would think otherwise," Gerhardt said. ____ Richer reported from Boston. Alanna Durkin Richer And Colleen Long, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — It's taken only days for Democrats gauging how far President Joe Biden's bold immigration proposal can go in Congress to acknowledge that if anything emerges, it will likely be significantly more modest. As they brace to tackle a politically flammable issue that's resisted major congressional action since the 1980s, Democrats are using words like “aspirational” to describe Biden's plan and “herculean” to express the effort they'll need to prevail. A cautious note came from the White House on Friday when press secretary Jen Psaki said the new administration views Biden's plan as a “first step” it hopes will be “the basis" of discussions in Congress. Democrats' measured tones underscore the fragile road they face on a paramount issue for their minority voters, progressives and activists. Immigration proponents advocating an all-out fight say Democrats' new hold on the White House and Congress provides a major edge, but they concede they may have to accept less than total victory. Paving a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally, the centerpiece of Biden's plan, is “the stake at the summit of the mountain,” Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigration group America’s Voice, said in an interview. He said proponents may have to accept “stepping stones" along the way. The citizenship process in Biden's plan would take as little as three years for some people, eight years for others. It would make it easier for certain workers to stay in the U.S. temporarily or permanently, provide development aid to Central American nations in hopes of reducing immigration and move toward bolstering border screening technology. No. 2 Senate Democratic leader Richard Durbin of Illinois said in an interview this week that the likeliest package to emerge would start with creating a path to citizenship for so-called Dreamers. They are over 1 million immigrants who’ve lived in the U.S. most of their lives after being brought here illegally as children. Over 600,000 of them have temporary permission to live in the U.S. under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. Former President Barack Obama created that program administratively, and Durbin and others want to protect it by enacting it into law. Durbin, who called Biden's plan “aspirational,” said he'll push for as many other elements as possible, including more visas for agricultural workers and others. “We understand the political reality of a 50-50 Senate, that any changes in immigration will require co-operation between the parties,” said Durbin, who is on track to become Senate Judiciary Committee chairman. He said Senate legislation likely “will not reach the same levels” as Biden’s proposal. The Senate is split evenly between the two parties, with Vice-President Kamala Harris tipping the chamber to Democrats with her tie-breaking vote. Even so, passing major legislation requires 60 votes to overcome filibusters, or endless procedural delays. That means 10 Republicans must join all 50 Democrats to enact an immigration measure, a tall order. “Passing immigration reform through the Senate, particularly, is a herculean task,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who will also play a lead role in the battle. He said Democrats “will get it done” but the effort will require negotiation. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who's worked with Democrats on past immigration efforts, said “comprehensive immigration is going to be a tough sale” this year. “I think the space in a 50-50 Senate will be some kind of DACA deal,” he said. Illustrating the bargaining ahead, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a moderate who’s sought earlier immigration compromises, praised parts of Biden's plan but said she wants changes including more visas for the foreign workers her state's tourism industry uses heavily. Democrats' hurdles are formidable. They have razor-thin majorities in a House and Senate where Republican support for easing immigration restrictions is usually scant. Acrid partisan relationships were intensified by former President Donald Trump's clamourous tenure. Biden will have to spend plenty of political capital and time on earlier, higher priority bills battling the pandemic and bolstering the economy, leaving his future clout uncertain. Democrats also must resolve tactical differences. Sharry said immigration groups prefer Democrats push for the strongest possible bill without concessions to Republicans' demands like boosting border security spending. He said hopes for a bipartisan breakthrough are “a fool’s errand” because the GOP has largely opposed immigration overhauls for so long. But prevailing without GOP votes would mean virtual unanimity among congressional Democrats, a huge challenge. It would also mean Democrats would have to eliminate the Senate filibuster, which they may not have the votes to do, or concoct other procedural routes around the 60-vote hurdle. “I'm going to start negotiating" with Republicans, said Durbin. He said a bipartisan bill would be better “if we can do it" because it would improve chances for passage. Democrats already face attacks from Republicans, eyeing next year's elections, on an issue that helped power Trump's 2016 victory by fortifying his support from many white voters. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Biden’s proposal would “prioritize help for illegal immigrants and not our fellow citizens.” Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., who heads the Senate Republican campaign committee, said the measure would hurt “hard-working Americans and the millions of immigrants working their way through the legal immigration process." Democrats say such allegations are false but say it's difficult to compose crisp, sound-bite responses on the complex issue. It requires having “an adult conversation” with voters, Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., said in an interview. “Yeah, this is about people, but it's about the economy" too, said Spanberger, a moderate from a district where farms and technology firms hire many immigrants. “In central Virginia, we rely on immigration. And you may not like that, but we do." Alan Fram, The Associated Press
Passengers on public transport systems should avoid talking to one another or on the phone in order to minimise the risk of spreading coronavirus, the French National Academy of Medecine said. Academy member Patrick Berche said on BFM TV on Saturday that if there were only three people in a subway car there was no problem, but if you were only two centimetres away from the next person it made sense not to converse or talk on the phone. The academy - which was founded in 1820 - criticised a recent government recommendation to wear only surgical masks in public, rather than masks made of fabric.
SOUTHAMPTON, England — Last season's FA Cup winner Arsenal was eliminated from the competition in the fourth round on Saturday thanks to Gabriel's own goal in a 1-0 loss to Southampton. In an otherwise close game, Gabriel's decision to try to block a shot from Kyle Walker-Peters proved decisive for Arsenal losing its hold on the cup. Right-back Walker-Peters was allowed plenty of space to overlap the Arsenal defence, but his shot looked to be heading narrowly wide of the far post before Gabriel's failed attempt deflected the ball off the post and in. It was the first goal Arsenal had conceded since Dec. 26 after five consecutive shutouts. Southampton moves on to a fifth-round game away at Wolverhampton, which beat sixth-tier Chorley on Friday. Premier League clubs Manchester City, Brighton, West Ham and Sheffield United are all in action later Saturday against lower-league teams. There is also a rescheduled Premier League game between Aston Villa and Newcastle. ___ More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
The Saskatoon Police Service say the missing person case of Megan Gallagher, 30, is now being investigated as a homicide. Major Crime Section has been assisting the missing persons detail in the investigation. In a press release, officials say they have spoken to several people in regards to Gallagher's disappearance. However, there are others police wish to speak with, officials say. Anyone who had contact with Gallagher, either in person or via phone, text or social media between Sept. 19 and 30, 2020 is asked to contact police. Gallagher has been missing since Sept. 19, 2020, when she was last seen by a friend. On Sept. 20 she was captured on a surveillance video at a convenience store at around 6 a.m. on the 3700 block of Diefenbaker Dr. in Saskatoon. Police say she was wearing a black Cabella's hoodie, black pants and a light blue shirt underneath her hoodie. Gallagher has several tattoos including a half sleeve with a large owl from shoulder to elbow, a crossbow behind her ear, a rainbow coloured feather on her ankle and the names Jake and Adam beneath her arm. She also has "#13" on her hand. Anyone with information is asked to contact Saskatoon Police Service at (306) 975-8300 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Edmonton's Sikh community is coming together once again to make sure those in need have food on the table Sikhs For Humanity, an initiative started seven years ago to help those who cannot afford to feed their families, is giving away groceries. Previously, the group served prepared meals like pasta, samosas, coffee and tea in a tent set up at Hope Mission every Saturday during the summer. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic this year, the group decided to offer free groceries instead. "A lot of people are going through difficult times nowadays and people lost their jobs and things like that," volunteer Manjit Nerval told CBC's Edmonton AM. "We decided to help out as many of you can." The first event of the year took place a week ago in the parking lot north of Sherwood Park Costco on Buckingham Drive. Nerval said they were prepared to give away groceries to 400 families but only 100 cars showed up. "We had some extra food and we ran it down to a few of the apartments around Sherwood Park, lower income apartments," he said. He said from his conversations with people he learned many were out of jobs and in need of their service. "They really appreciate it," he said. He said members of the group pool money together and then individuals go on grocery runs. Some people donate food and perishables. Nerval said they plan on distributing groceries for the next few months and then hope to move their work to a new kitchen they are building in downtown Edmonton. "We plan on opening mid-April so we can serve the people," he said. Helping the less fortunate in the community is part of Sikh faith. Temples, called gurdwaras, house community kitchens and dining halls. "It's somehow in our blood," Nerval said. "We are taught to help others because we consider everyone to be like our own brother and sisters, because we are all one."
The United States plans to reverse the Trump administration's "draconian" immigration approach while working on policies addressing the causes of migration, President Joe Biden told his Mexican counterpart, the White House said on Saturday. In a Friday call with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Biden outlined his plan to create new legal pathways for immigration and improve the process for people requesting asylum, according to an account of the call released by the White House.
Ontario reported 2,359 new cases of COVID-19 and 52 more deaths on Saturday. Toronto has 708 new cases, Peel Region has 422, York Region has 220, Hamilton has 107 and Ottawa has 101. A total of 1,501 people are in hospital with COVID-19, 395 in intensive care units and 299 are on ventilators. Ontario Minister of Health Christine Elliott said the province's network of labs completed nearly 63,500 tests in the last 24 hours. The number of people in hospital has declined by 11, the number of people in ICU has increased by 12, while the number of people on ventilators has increased by eight. A total of 5,753 people have died in Ontario of COVID-19-related reasons. Saturday's numbers were down from Friday's figures of 2,662 cases and 87 more deaths. Ontario's current daily test positivity rate is 4.5 per cent. Test positivity is defined as the number of positive tests divided by the number of total tests on a given day. There have been a total of 252,585 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario reported to date. Of this number, a total of 222,287 have been marked as resolved. There are 252 long-term care homes with active outbreaks, an increase of eight from the previous day. Of the 52 new deaths reported on Saturday, 24 are of long-term care home residents. The province reported that 11,161 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since the province's last report. A total of 276,146 doses have been administered in Ontario so far. Health unit reports death of teenaged LTC worker According to the Middlesex-London Health Unit, one of the deaths reported on Saturday is a staff person, a teenaged male, who worked in a long-term care home. "We are not able to provide any other information including the individual's exact age or the facility where they worked, as this could risk identifying them," Dan Flaherty, spokesperson for the Middlesex-London Health Unit, said in an email on Saturday. "I can also let you know that this person is the youngest with COVID-19 in London and Middlesex County to have died." The death is one of three posted to its website on Saturday. Ontario's long term care ministry said in an email to CBC Toronto that it extends its sympathies to the family and friends of the worker. "Due to sensitivities and requirements for protection of privacy for Ontarians, and for protecting Ontarians' confidential personal and health information, we cannot comment on individual cases," Rob McMahon, spokesperson for the ministry, said in an email. "We are grateful for the hard work and dedication of all long-term care staff working under challenging conditions to care for our most vulnerable during the pandemic." More than 300 officers to conduct inspections The daily case count comes as the Ontario government says it is expanding its blitz of big box store inspections to Ottawa, Windsor, Niagara and Durham Regions this weekend. The blitz started in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas last weekend. The government said it wants to ensure workers and customers at the essential businesses are properly protected from COVID-19 during the provincewide shutdown. The blitz was developed in consultation with local health units and also includes a variety of other workplaces, including retail establishments and restaurants providing take-out meals. The province's labour ministry says more than 300 offences officers, as well as local public health inspectors and municipal bylaw officers, will conduct the inspections. Corporations can now be fined $1,000, and individuals can be fined $750 or charged for failing to comply with the orders. Labour Minister Monte McNaughton says the province is confident that the majority of workplaces in Ottawa, Windsor, Niagara and Durham are following orders. "However, if we find that businesses are putting the safety of workers and customers at risk, our government will not hesitate to take immediate action," McNaughton added in a statement Saturday. "The only way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and end the provincewide shutdown is for everyone — owners, customers and staff alike — to follow the proper guidelines." Variant 1st detected in U.K. found in Barrie, Ont. care home Meanwhile, in Barrie, Ont., the local public health unit has confirmed that a variant first detected in the United Kingdom has been found in a long-term care home in the city north of Toronto. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) said genome sequencing on six COVID-19 samples, which were taken from residents and staff at the Roberta Place Long-Term Care Home, has determined that the variant present in the samples is what is known as the B.1.1.7 variant. Public health officials first declared an outbreak at the home on Jan. 8. A total of 127 residents have tested positive — that's all but two residents at the home. There have been 32 deaths. This variant is considered "highly contagious and easily transmitted," the public health unit said. "The rapid spread, high attack rate and the devastating impact on residents and staff at Roberta Place Long-Term Care Home has been heartbreaking for all," Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for SMDHU, said in a news release. "Confirmation of the variant, while expected, does not change our course of action. We remain diligent in doing everything we can to prevent further spread." On Wednesday, preliminary lab testing of six cases had identified a high likelihood that there was a COVID-19 variant of concern. The second test, a whole genome sequencing test, determined the exact COVID-19 variant, which is the B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the U.K. "This variant of concern is more easily transmitted, resulting in much larger numbers of cases in a very rapid fashion," the public health unit said in the release.
It's made from infused pine needles, mixed with cardamom and lemon peel and the end result is a delicate bitter-sweet soda.View on euronews
Happy Valley-Goose Bay's Amy Curlew is joining the big leagues this weekend, as she makes the jump from U.S. college hockey to the National Women's Hockey League. On Saturday, Curlew and her Toronto Six teammates will hit the ice for the first time in Lake Placid, N.Y., where the NWHL is holding its regular season and playoffs in a bubble in the leadup to the Isobel Cup final on Feb. 5. Curlew said playing pro hockey is a great chance to develop as a player and help grow the sport for women. "I think it's a great opportunity and there's definitely a lot of people that are pushing for us, and honestly, the NWHL is a great platform for women's ice hockey players and women athletes in general," she told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning. "We got a lot of great people helping us out and I think it's just phenomenal what they're putting together." Curlew was drafted in April by the Six, the NWHL's newest team and first team to play in Canada, based on the strength of her play while at Cornell University, where she put up 22 points in 32 games this year in a pandemic-shortened season. Her new coach, Margaret (Digit) Murphy — a fellow Cornell alum — noticed Curlew's game at the university and said she's a player who can play in all situations, in addition to being a "phenomenal human." "She stood out to me as someone who has energy for the game.… I think she has so much untapped potential and I think as players get older, they get better, they get more confident, and Amy's that kind of player that you can depend on," said Murphy. "She's there every day, working hard, comes with a smile on her face, has a lot of fun. And I think the other thing that inspires me is that other players are inspired by watching her play, so I think she's a magical Energizer bunny on the ice with us. I just love the way she plays." But Curlew is humble, despite the praise from her coach, who is among the most successful coaches ever at the highest level of American women's collegiate hockey. "She knows the game, so I guess she knows what she's talking about," she laughed. Curlew said her hard-working attitude began while she was growing up and playing hockey in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. "Starting at that rink back home and starting on my rink that my dad put together for me in my backyard, just shooting pucks, that led to something like Appleby College out here in Oakville, Ontario, which then led to me being able to go to Cornell University," Curlew said. "I think you need to go into every experience with an open mind, and just understand that you're going to go through some struggles, but you've gotta push through it.… If you're willing to do it, it's attainable." Role model for future players Murphy said Curlew's qualities as a skilled player and an inspiring person were just what she and the Six were looking for when they drafted her eighth overall. "When we built the team, it was really around more of a mindset than talent," she said. "What separates the Toronto Six and the culture that we build is how the connection and the mission is similar.… Do you want to play for a team that stands for, yes, women's hockey, great competition, but also being heroes, leaders and role models for the next generation?" With a team full of leaders and role models, Murphy said, her team will be able to compete on the ice, while creating opportunities for future female players who might not otherwise have a place to play just as they're entering their prime hockey years. "What happens is a lot of these players, they're just done and it's a hard stop in their NCAA career and there aren't a lot of opportunities post-college," she said. "What the NWHL is doing is they're affording players like Amy, and all the players on our team, top to bottom, opportunity to play post-collegiately, which quite frankly, I believe women deserve." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
The culling of two beavers in Annapolis Royal this week has drawn criticism from residents, but the mayor says it was necessary to protect the town's sewage treatment plant. "We felt that the situation just couldn't be allowed to sit because we had no idea what the beavers were doing underground," Mayor Amery Boyer told CBC's Mainstreet on Friday. "... It appeared that they were burrowing into the dyke system so that really kind of escalated things for us." Boyer said the town originally received a complaint about beavers destroying trees on French Basin Trail. But after consulting the Department of Lands and Forestry, the town's public works department and the Clean Annapolis River Project, it was discovered the beavers also posed a "significant risk to the town's tertiary sewage treatment plant, as well as the adjacent trail and dyke systems." The marsh near the French Basin Trail is part of the treatment system for the town's wastewater. "If there was a blockage, we could have flooding of the walkways. We could have exposure of contaminated water," Boyer said. "If there's burrowing into the sides of the treatment plant, it could cause the walls of the treatment plant to collapse." Town opted against relocation Boyer said the town did consider relocating the beavers. "The answer we got was that nearly all suitable habitat in the province already has a colony of beavers and apparently they do not usually accept outsiders, which gives little chance of survival for the beavers," she said. After that conclusion, town council hired a nuisance wildlife operator to remove the beavers. A notice about the removal was posted in the Annapolis Royal Town Crier and was shared on Facebook, where it drew criticism from residents. "I couldn't believe, firstly, that people complained [about the beavers] because it is a nature area. It's natural, it's a marsh, and you expect [to see] animals," Susan Woodland, a resident of Annapolis Royal, told Mainstreet on Thursday. "Secondly, I couldn't believe, basically, that they were going to be killed because it says they can't be relocated. So my first step was to find out, was there not something else they could do?" Woodland contacted Hope for Wildlife, a wildlife sanctuary in Seaforth, N.S. She said the owner agreed that relocation was not ideal this time of year, but recommended relocation be delayed until the spring. But Boyer said there was no time to wait, especially if damage could be done to the $968,000 treatment plant. "We did feel it was a time constraint. We just couldn't let the situation get beyond us," she said. Boyer said she understands why residents were upset, but the beavers could have caused more damage than originally thought. "We live closely with wildlife. There's a lot of respect for wildlife. It's just that in this particular situation, we didn't see a way out." MORE TOP STORIES
Recently, the Town of Langenburg completed the work on a new sewage station. The lift station is used to move raw sewage out of town to the lagoon. The sewage station is state of the art and fully automatic. Sewage enters the station through the sewage pipes that come from each and every building in town. First, the sewage passes through a Muffin Monster, which is a device that mulches and grins up anything that happens to pass through the sewage system. Looking down the wet sewage well located just outside the sewage station. Muffin Monster is located at the bottom of the wet sewage well. Next, the sewage is pumped to the lagoon through two high-speed pumps that alternate between the two pumps installed (to extend the life of the pumps that can be costly to replace or repair). All of these pumps are controlled by the brains that make sure the station runs at peak performance, switching from SaskPower electricity to an emergency generator if the power happens to cut out for less than a few minutes. The brains behind the sewage station, including the control panel. Diesel generator changed to propane as a backup generator. The backup generator was converted to propane for direct and constant power if and when needed. The total cost for this project was $1,788,156.00 which was shared by the Federal and Provincial Governments as well; just over ⅓ of the cost covered by the Town of Langenburg. The 2 impeller pumps that move the raw sewage through the pumps. While the new facility equipment is state of the art, residents can do their part to help by making sure they only flush what is intended to go down the sewers. Gary Horseman, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Four-Town Journal
Democrats plan to move quickly on one of the first bills of the new Congress, citing the need for federal election standards and other reforms to shore up the foundations of American democracy after a tumultuous post-election period and deadly riot at the Capitol. States have long had disparate and contradictory rules for running elections. But the 2020 election, which featured pandemic-related changes to ease voting and then a flood of lawsuits by former President Donald Trump and his allies, underscored the differences from state to state: Mail-in ballots due on Election Day or just postmarked by then? Absentee voting allowed for all or just voters with an excuse? Same-day or advance-only registration? Democrats, asserting constitutional authority to set the time, place and manner of federal elections, want national rules they say would make voting more uniform, accessible and fair across the nation. The bill would mandate early voting, same-day registration and other long-sought reforms that Republicans reject as federal overreach. “We have just literally seen an attack on our own democracy,” said U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota, referring to the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol. “I cannot think of a more timely moment to start moving on democracy reform.” The legislation first introduced two years ago, known as the For the People Act, also would give independent commissions the job of drawing congressional districts, require political groups to disclose high-dollar donors, create reporting requirements for online political ads and, in a rearview nod at Trump, obligate presidents to disclose their tax returns. Republican opposition was fierce during the last session. At the time, then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., labeled it the “Democrat Politician Protection Act” and said in an op-ed that Democrats were seeking to “change the rules of American politics to benefit one party.” While Democrats control Congress for the first time in a decade, the measure's fate depends on whether enough Republicans can be persuaded to reconsider a bill they have repeatedly rejected. If not, Democrats could decide it's time to take the extraordinary and difficult step of eliminating the Senate filibuster, a procedural tool often used by the minority party to block bills under rules that require 60 votes to advance legislation. Advocates say the bill is the most consequential piece of voting legislation since the Voting Rights Act of 1965. House Democrats vowed two years ago to make the bill a priority, and they reintroduced it this month as H.R. 1, underscoring its importance to the party. “People just want to be able to cast their vote without it being an ordeal,” said Rep. John Sarbanes, a Democrat from Maryland who is the lead sponsor of the House bill. “It’s crazy in America that you still have to navigate an obstacle course to get to the ballot box.” Current plans would have the full House take up the bill as soon as the first week of February. The Senate Rules Committee would then consider a companion bill introduced in the Senate, and a tie vote there could allow it to move out of committee and to the floor as early as next month, said Klobuchar, who is expected to become the committee’s next chair. A quick vote would be remarkable considering the Senate also is likely to be juggling Trump’s impeachment trial, confirmation of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet choices and another round of coronavirus relief. While states have long had different voting procedures, the November 2020 election highlighted how the variability could be used to sow doubt about the outcome. The bill’s supporters, which include national voting and civil rights organizations, cited dozens of pre-election lawsuits that challenged procedural rules, such as whether ballots postmarked on Election Day should count. They also pointed to the post-election litigation Trump and his allies filed to try to get millions of legitimately cast ballots tossed out. Many of those lawsuits targeted election changes intended to make voting easier. That included a Pennsylvania law the state’s Republican-led legislature passed before the pandemic to make absentee ballots available to all registered voters upon request. Government and election officials repeatedly have described the election as the most secure in U.S. history. Even former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, a Trump ally, said before leaving his post that there was no evidence of widespread fraud that would overturn the result. “The strategy of lying about voter fraud, delegitimizing the election outcome and trying to suppress votes has been unmasked for the illegitimate attack on our democracy that it is, and I think that it opens a lot more doors to real conversations about how to fix our voting system and root out this cancer,” said Wendy Weiser, head of the democracy program at the Brennan Center for Justice, a public policy institute. Along with the election reform bill, the House two years ago introduced a related bill, now known as the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in honour of the late civil rights activist and congressman. House Democrats are expected to reintroduce it soon after it had similarly stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate. That bill would restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that had triggered federal scrutiny of election changes in certain states and counties. A 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling set aside the method used to identify jurisdictions subject to the provision, known as preclearance, which was used to protect voting rights in places with a history of discrimination. In general, state election officials have been wary of federal voting requirements. But those serving in states led by Democrats have been more open and want to ensure Congress provides money to help them make system upgrades, which the bill does. “If you still believe in what we all learned in high school government class, that democracy works best when as many eligible people participate, these are commonsense reforms,” said Sen. Alex Padilla, a Democrat who oversaw California’s elections before being appointed to the seat formerly held by Vice-President Kamala Harris. But Republican officials like Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill remain opposed. Merrill said the federal government’s role is limited and that states must be allowed to innovate and implement their own voting rules. “Those decisions are best left up to the states, and I think the states are the ones that should determine what course of action they should take,” Merrill said, noting that Alabama has increased voter registration and participation without implementing early voting. “To just say that everything needs to be uniform, that’s not the United States of America,” Merrill said. In the Senate, a key question will be whether there is enough Republican support for elements of the voting reform bill to persuade Democrats to break off certain parts of it into smaller legislation. For now, Democrats say they want a floor vote on the full package. Edward B. Foley, an election law expert at Ohio State University, said Democrats should consider narrow reforms that could gain bipartisan support, cautioning that moving too quickly on a broad bill runs the risk of putting off Republicans. “It would seem to me at this moment in American history, a precarious moment, the right instinct should be a kind of bipartisanship to rebuild common ground as opposed to ‘Our side won, your side lost and we are off to the races,’” Foley said. ___ Cassidy reported from Atlanta. Christina A. Cassidy, The Associated Press
Area healthcare services were top of mind at Mono Council’s meeting last Tuesday (Jan. 12).The President/CEO of Stevenson Memorial Hospital in Alliston, Jody Levac delivered a presentation to Council about the hospital’s new expansion and the impact it will have on both the facility and roughly 200 Mono residents who use it instead of Headwaters Health Care Centre.Long a staple of both Alliston and the surrounding area, Stevenson Memorial has been struggling with its size compared to its growing patient load and is thrilled to announce the new expansion. Opening in January of this year, will be a new Level 2 ICU at the hospital, with four ICU beds initially and a fifth to come later. In addition to providing care for patients with advanced care needs, close to home, the facility will house respiratory therapists – a new area of care at SMH. The trauma room, originally built in 1964, in the Emergency Department, is being reno-vated and updated, with new flooring, paint, lighting, fixtures and glass door entrance that can be turned opaque, for patient pri-vacy. All this is being done, while waiting for the much needed redevelopment.The hospital stepped up when COVID-19 struck, opening an assessment centre in the parking lot, which is now operated on an appointment-only system, doing thousands of swabs to date. The clinic has since been converted to a two car at a time heated and winterized drive-through facility. SMH is working on establishing an Influenza Like Illness (ILI) Clinic to assess patients.The hospital is working to submit a Stage 2 submission to the Ministry of Health for the proposed redevelopment. The submission will see a total of 47 beds in the redeveloped hospital. The next step in the process will be to secure the local share of funding for the proj-ect, $30 million over the next 18-24 months. The proposed revitalized Hospital will see a new two story wrap around addition, which encompasses the existing hospital in its design. Also included in that design is a new trauma centre with an indoor ambu-lance bay that can house four ambulances.In his wrap up, Dr. Levac expressed his appreciation for the support that SMH has received from both Mono residents and busi-nesses, and added that he hopes Council can afford to help out with fundraising for the new development. Peter Richardson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Orangeville Citizen
The Northwest Territories RCMP's Major Crimes Unit says it has arrested a 28-year-old man for allegedly making "statements made towards an employee of GNWT (government of the Northwest Territories) Public Health." The man was taken into custody after police investigated, according to a news release sent late Friday. No further details were offered, such as the community where this occurred, though the release was sent by Yellowknife staff. "NT RCMP takes any comments that could be perceived as a threat to an employee in the public health service very seriously," said Superintendent Jeffrey Christie, criminal operations officer in charge, in the news release. "We want the public and those who serve the public to know that we will investigate and hold accountable, to the fullest extent of the law, anyone who makes statements that contain material that may be viewed as a threat."
Two airlines serving Saskatchewan's north have announced they're consolidating their operations under a new name. West Wind Aviation and Transwest Air will consolidate under one air operating certificate, and will rebrand as Rise Air. The consolidation is "going to allow us to survive," Stephen Smith, president and CEO of the West Wind Group of Companies, said in an interview with CBC. "There is no question that COVID-19 put a lot of strain [on us] because a lot of people canceled meetings, which we would provide flights for. The people stop traveling out of northern communities." The slowdown of the uranium market and mines shutting down also had an effect, he said, with operations down by about 50 per cent. Transwest Air was already a wholly owned subsidiary of West Wind Aviation, after being purchased by the company in 2016, according to the Transwest website. Until now, however, West Wind Aviation and Transwest Air each had their own operating certificates, said Smith. "There's a duplication of people in one company to have two operating certificates," he said. "The new cost structure will allow us to not only survive but hopefully look to potentially grow in the future." According to Smith, the business is now right-sized for the marketplace. "The employees that we have now are fine, in terms of we don't have to consider reducing anymore." Ticket prices won't be affected: CEO The rebranding process will start within the next few weeks, once the regulatory requirements have been completed, the carriers said in a media release. Ticket prices won't be affected by the consolidation, Smith said, and the number of aircraft will remain the same. The company picked Rise Air as its new name after receiving 140 different recommendations from employees, said Smith. Another staff member submitted a sketch for the new logo. "Because we're bringing together two different companies that both have their own cultures and histories, we wanted something new and fresh but also wanted to preserve the legacy of both organizations," he said in a media release. Until the rebranding process is completed, people will see three different logos, he said. "We are OK with being patient during this process." West Wind Aviation, which is First Nations and employee-owned, operates from bases in Saskatoon and La Ronge, and has satellite locations in northern Saskatchewan, according to the company's website. The West Wind Group of Companies owns Snowbird Aviation Services, Northern Shield Helicopters, and Transwest Air, soon doing business as Rise Air, said Smith.
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern): 11 a.m. Ontario is reporting 2,359 new cases of COVID-19 today and 52 more deaths related to the virus. The numbers mark a slight decline from the 2,662 cases recorded a day ago. Meanwhile the province says it plans to expand an inspection blitz of big-box stores to ensure they're complying with protocols meant to curb the spread of COVID-19. The Ministry of Labour says inspection efforts focused on the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas last weekend, but will concentrate on Ottawa, Windsor, Niagara and Durham Regions over the next two days. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — Inside the White House, President Joe Biden presided over a focused launch of his administration, using his first days in office to break sharply with his predecessor while signing executive orders meant as a showy display of action to address the historic challenges he inherited. But outside the gates at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., there were signs everywhere that those crises are as deep and intractable as ever. The coronavirus pandemic surges, the economy teeters and Republicans in Congress have signalled objections to many of Biden’s plans. Biden is looking to jump-start his first 100 days in office with action and symbolism to reassure a divided and weary public that help is in the offing. He also knows that what a president can do on his own is limited so he is calling for Congress to act while he is being candid with Americans that dark days are ahead. “The crisis is not getting better. It’s deepening,” Biden said Friday about the impact of pandemic. “A lot of America is hurting. The virus is surging. Families are going hungry. People are at risk of being evicted again. Job losses are mounting. We need to act.” “The bottom line is this: We’re in a national emergency. We need to act like we’re in a national emergency,” he said. Biden’s first moments as president were meant to steady American democracy itself. He took the oath just before noon Wednesday in front of a Capitol that still bore scars from the insurrection that took place precisely two weeks earlier and was aimed at stopping Biden’s ascension to power. The violence underscored the fragile nature of the peaceful transfer of power and led to the historic second impeachment of Donald Trump. Biden resisted calls to move the inauguration to a more secure indoor setting. He was intent on preserving the usual inauguration trappings as a signal that normalcy could be achieved even though there were signs everywhere that things were far from normal: a military presence that resembled a war zone, guests on the dais wearing masks, a National Mall filled with 200,000 American flags standing in for the American people who were asked to stay away because of the pandemic. Biden was plain-spoken and direct about the confluence of crises the nation faces. More than 410,000 Americans have lost their lives to the pandemic, millions are out of work and the aftershocks of a summer reckoning with racial justice are still felt. “You can hear this collective sigh of relief that Trump is gone, but we have no time for a sigh of relief because of the cascading crises,” said Eddie Glaude Jr., chair of the department of African American studies at Princeton University. “We don’t want to assume that the election of Biden solves everything. The scale of the problems is immense and the question for us is do we respond at scale.” The changes within the White House have been swift. After Trump’s departure, his final staffers cleared out and a deep clean began. The White House had been the site of multiple COVID-19 outbreaks and, in a physical manifestation of a new approach to the virus, plastic shields were placed on desks and scores of new staffers were told to work from home. New pictures were hung on the West Wing walls and the Oval Office received a fast makeover. Gone were a painting of Andrew Jackson and the Diet Coke button of the desk; in came images of Robert Kennedy and Cesar Chavez. But the most important symbol, the clearest break from the previous administration, came from the president himself. When Biden sat down at the Resolute Desk to sign his first batch of his executive orders on Wednesday, he was wearing a mask. Trump had resisted wearing one, putting one on only occasionally and instead turning mask-wearing into a polarizing political issue Biden urged all Americans to wear a mask for the next 100 days and used his platform to model the same behaviour, one of several ways he tried to change the tone of the presidency in his first few days. Daily press briefings returned, absent the accusations of “fake news” that marked only sporadic briefings in the Trump era. Biden held a virtual swearing-in for hundreds of White House staffers, telling them to treat each other with respect or they would dismissed, a marked change from the contentious, rivalry-driven Trump West Wing. Calls to the leaders of Canada and Mexico were made without drama. The executive actions Biden signed during the week were a mix of concrete and symbolic actions meant to undo the heart of Trump’s legacy. Biden halted construction of the border wall, rejoined the World Health Organization and the Paris climate accord and bolstered the means for production for vaccines. But the might of the executive actions pales in comparison to the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package that he requested from Congress. Biden has not ruled out asking Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., to push it through by tactics requiring only Democratic support. But the president, who spent decades in the Senate, hoped to persuade Republicans to support the measure. “Leaning on executive action makes sense at the start, you can get things going and show momentum right away without waiting for Congress,” said Robert Gibbs, former press secretary for President Barack Obama. “But this is going take a while. Like it was for us in 2009, change doesn’t come overnight." "Everything he inherited is likely to get worse before we see improvement,” Gibbs saidtinued. “One thing you learn on January 20th is that you suddenly own all of it.” Just two Cabinet nominees were confirmed by week's end, to the frustration of the White House. But with the Friday night announcement that Trump’s impeachment trial will not begin until the week of Feb. 8, Biden aides were optimistic that the Senate would confirm more before then. The trial looms as an unwelcome distraction for the Biden team. But while Trump will shadow the White House, Biden aides have noted that the former president commands far less attention now that his Twitter account is gone. They have expressed confidence that the Senate can balance the impeachment proceedings with both Cabinet confirmations and consideration of the COVID-19 relief bill. Biden has made clear that steering the nation through the pandemic will be his signature task and some Republicans believe that Trump’s implosion could create an opening to work across the aisle on a relief deal. “There is a very narrow permission structure for congressional Republicans who want to move past the Trump era and want to establish their own political identities,” said Kevin Madden, a Republican strategist who was a senior adviser on Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. Romney is now a Utah senator. “There is an old saying: ‘Make the main thing the main thing.’ And the Biden White House knows that’s the main thing,” Madden said. “If they can improve the pandemic response in the next 100 days, then they can move on to other priorities, they’ll have the capital for legislative fights. But they need to get it right.” ___ Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire Jonathan Lemire, The Associated Press
Genome sequencing has confirmed that a variant of COVID-19 first detected in the United Kingdom is present at a long-term care home in Barrie, Ont., according to the local public health unit. This variant is considered highly contagious and can be transmitted easily. In a news release on Saturday, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) said the testing done on Friday has determined that six samples taken from the Roberta Place Long Term Care Home are of the variant that is known as the B.1.1.7 variant. The home is north of Toronto. On Wednesday, preliminary testing of the six cases at the home had shown a high likelihood of that they were of this COVID-19 variant. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for the SMDHU, said in the statement that the development is of great concern. "The rapid spread, high attack rate and the devastating impact on residents and staff at Roberta Place long-term care home has been heartbreaking for all," Gardner said. "Confirmation of the variant, while expected, does not change our course of action. We remain diligent in doing everything we can to prevent further spread." Public health unit concerned about further spread The public health unit added in the release: "This variant of concern is more easily transmitted, resulting in much larger numbers of cases in a very rapid fashion." In a media briefing on Saturday, Gardner said 127 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, all but two of the residents at the home. Six residents are currently in hospital. Eighty-four staff members have tested positive for the virus, which Gardner says account for nearly half of the home's staff. Gardner also said there have been 32 deaths at the home, as of Saturday. The outbreak was declared on Jan. 8. He said he is "very concerned about potential impact with spread into the community." Garder said the variant has spread to 21 household members of staff at the home and other people who have entered the home. "This progressed so rapidly," he said. "I'm very concerned it'll make it a challenge in future outbreaks in other LTC facilities." Two essential visitors and three others have tested positive. The Canadian Red Cross was deployed to the home on Jan. 17 to help stop the ongoing outbreak. As of Jan. 16, eligible residents of all long-term care facilities in the region have received their first dose of immunization. Officials said they planned to immunize residents at the other retirement homes throughout Simcoe Muskoka over the weekend. Known variant strains of the virus were first detected in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil. In an email on Saturday, the Ontario health ministry expressed concern. "The province continues to determine the impact the delay in shipments from the federal government will have on the province's vaccine rollout," ministry spokesperson Alexandra Hilkene said. "We continue to vaccinate our most vulnerable and remain committed to vaccinating long-term care and high-risk retirement home residents as quickly as we receive vaccines from the federal government."
Tourisme Côte-Nord y est allé d’une idée de promotion complètement amusante, afin de continuer à promouvoir la région en temps de Covid. Ils ont lancé ce 21 janvier une campagne humoristique, sur les jeux de société. Tourisme Côte-Nord propose 20 parodies de jeux de société à saveur nord-côtière, et invite la population à partager leur campagne promotionnelle, afin de faire connaître la région, et de rigoler un peu.L’organisme mentionne que l’industrie touristique a été lourdement affectée par cette pandémie et qu’elle aura de grands besoins lors de la relance économique.Voici la toute dernière campagne réalisée par Tourisme Côte-Nord: https://www.facebook.com/613352892084693/posts/3582545271832092/?sfnsn=moKarine Lachance, Initiative de journalisme local, Ma Côte-Nord