Even with coronavirus restrictions keeping celebrations muted, people around the world welcomed the arrival of 2021. (Jan. 1)
Even with coronavirus restrictions keeping celebrations muted, people around the world welcomed the arrival of 2021. (Jan. 1)
WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden's forthcoming immigration plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscoring that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly. In a further complication, several pro-immigration groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratoriums on deportations, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigration push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals' demands illustrated the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump's restrictive and often harsh immigration policies come to an end. “It simply wouldn't have happened without us," Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden's victory. “So we are now in a powerful position." Biden plans to introduce the legislation shortly after being inaugurated Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that's defied major congressional action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump's impeachment trial, confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber's top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him" on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress. Biden's proposal would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden's transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity. With an eye toward discouraging a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package's route to citizenship would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditional trade-off of dramatically enhanced border security that's helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday. “A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., often a central player in Senate immigration battles. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a Monday tweet. That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favours curbing immigration. “Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run," Krikorian said. Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigration, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigration reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible." He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOP-run House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8" senators that helped win Senate approval. Under Biden's legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they pursue citizenship. For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. Biden is also expected to take swift executive actions, which require no congressional action, to reverse other Trump immigration actions. These include ending to the prohibition on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries. The legislation represents Biden's bid to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with the GOP to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades. That kind of major win, even if it involves compromise, could be critical for Biden. He'll be seeking legislative victories in a Congress where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities, like rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending. Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. Democrats currently control the House 222-211, with two vacancies. ___ Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego also contributed to this report. Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA is considering a second firing of its moon rocket engines after a critical test came up short over the weekend, a move that could bump the first flight in the Artemis lunar-landing program into next year. The space agency had aimed to launch its new Space Launch System, or SLS, rocket and an empty Orion capsule by the end of this year, with the capsule flying to the moon and back as a prelude to crew missions. But that date could be in jeopardy following Saturday’s aborted test. “We have a shot at flying it this year, but we need to get through this next step," said Kathy Lueders, head of NASA's human spaceflight office. All four engines fired for barely a minute, rather than the intended eight minutes, on the test stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The countdown rehearsal for the 212-foot (65-meter) core stage — made by Boeing — included the liquid hydrogen and oxygen tanks, as well as the all necessary computers and electronics. On Tuesday, NASA attributed the automatic shutdown to the strict test limits meant to protect the core stage so it can be used on the first Artemis flight. The hydraulic system for one engine exceeded safety parameters, officials said, and flight computers shut everything down 67 seconds into the ignition. Two other engine-related issues also occurred. NASA said it can adjust the test limits if a second test is deemed necessary, to prevent another premature shutdown. Engineers will continue to analyze the data, as managers debate the pros and cons of proceeding with a second test firing at Stennis or shipping the rocket straight to Florida's Kennedy Space Center for launch preparations. Some of that Kennedy work might be able to be streamlined, Lueders said. This core stage can be loaded with super-cold fuel no more than nine times, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters Tuesday evening. A second full-blown test firing would reduce the remaining number of fill-ups. The Artemis program is working to put astronauts back on the moon by 2024, a deadline set by the Trump administration. It's uncertain how the incoming White House will approach that timeline. In its annual report Tuesday, the Aereospace Safety Advisory Panel urged NASA to develop a realistic schedule for its Artemis moon program and called into question the 2024 date for returning astronauts to the lunar surface. On the eve of his departure from NASA, Bridenstine, a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma, stressed that key programs like Artemis need to encompass multiple administrations, decades and even generations. It's crucial , he said, that "we've got buy-in and support from all of America and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.” ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Some of the most active companies traded Tuesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange: Toronto Stock Exchange (17,957.37, up 12.49 points.) Zenabis Global Inc. (TSX:ZENA). Health care. Unchanged at 11 cents on 17.6 million shares. BlackBerry Ltd. (TSX:BB). Technology. Up $2.49, or 18.86 per cent, to $15.69 on 16 million shares. Royal Bank of Canada (TSX:RY). Financials. Down 50 cents, or 0.46 per cent, to $107.80 on 11.8 million shares. Enbridge Inc. (TSX:ENB). Energy. Up 67 cents, or 1.52 per cent, to $44.75 on 9.7 million shares. Toronto-Dominion Bank. (TSX:TD). Financials. Down 44 cents, or 0.58 per cent, to $74.98 on 9.1 million shares. Aphria Inc. (TSX:APHA). Health care. Up 87 cents, or 5.3 per cent, to $17.29 on 8.5 million shares. Companies in the news: Amazon: Amazon says it will open five facilities in Quebec that will create more than 1,000 jobs and speed up customer deliveries. The U.S. online retail giant says it will add two sorting centres and its first three delivery stations in the province. Its largest sorting centre in the province, a 48,300-square-metre facility, will open this year in Coteau-du-Lac, about 60 kilometres west of Montreal, and will create at least 500 jobs. Another centre will open in Longueuil, on the south shore of Montreal. Amazon's first sorting centre in Quebec opened last year, creating 500 jobs. St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.: Cargo shipping on the St. Lawrence Seaway remained flat last year, despite COVID-19’s harsh toll on demand for many products shipped along the waterway. Nearly 38 million tonnes of cargo were shipped last year along the route stretching from the lower St. Lawrence River to the Great Lakes, with record shipments of grain offsetting a decline in liquid bulk, dry bulk and iron ore, the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. said. In total, cargo shipments were down nearly 1.7 per cent in 2020 compared with 2019. Dry bulk and iron ore dropped by 9.4 per cent and 12.4 per cent respectively, year over year, while grain increased 27 per cent. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel and the governors of Germany’s 16 states agreed Tuesday to extend the country’s pandemic restrictions until mid-February amid concerns that new mutations of the coronavirus could trigger a fresh surge in cases. The country's infection rate has stabilized in recent days, indicating that existing restrictions may have been effective in bringing down the numbers. On Tuesday, Germany's disease control centre reported 11,369 newly confirmed infections and 989 deaths, for an overall death toll of 47,622. However, surging infections in Britain and Ireland, said to be caused by a more contagious virus variant, had German officials worried that the mutation could also spread quickly there too if measures weren't extended or even toughened, prompting Merkel and the governors to bring forward a meeting previously planned for next week. “All our efforts to contain the spread of the virus face a serious threat,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin, citing the mutated version of the virus. In addition to extending the closure of restaurants, most stores and schools until Feb. 14, officials also agreed to require people to wear the more effective FFP2 or KN95 masks on public transport and stores. They also want to require employers to let staff work from home if possible to avoid office-driven infections. The governor of the eastern state of Saxony, which until recently had the highest rates on infection in the country, said it was important to drive the number of new cases down further. “We're currently seeing in Britain what happens when a mutation occurs, when the numbers explode," he told news channel n-tv. “We can't remain at this level.” Medical workers have been demanding an extension or toughening of the shutdown since many hospitals are still on edge, with intensive care wards overflowing in some areas. “The current measures on limiting social contacts seem to be showing an effect,” Susanne Johna, the head of the physicians' association Marburger Bund, told the dpa news agency, adding that the measures should continue to be upheld to further reduce new infections. “We urgently need further relief,” Johna said. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic,https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Kirsten Grieshaber And Frank Jordans, The Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. — Plans for a major West Coast liquified natural gas pipeline and export terminal hit a snag Tuesday with federal regulators after a years-long legal battle that has united tribes, environmentalists and a coalition of residents on Oregon's rural southern coast against the proposal. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled that energy company Pembina could not move forward with the proposal without a key clean water permit from the state of Oregon. The U.S. regulatory agency gave its tentative approval to the pipeline last March as long as it secured the necessary state permits, but the Canadian pipeline company has been unable to do so. It had appealed to the commission over the state's clean water permit, arguing that Oregon had waived its authority to issue a clean water certification for the project and therefore its denial of the permit was irrelevant. But the commission found instead that Pembina had never requested the certification and that the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality "could not have waived its authority to issue certification for a request it never received.” The ruling was hailed as a major victory by opponents of Jordan Cove, which would be the first such LNG overseas export terminal in the lower 48 states. The proposed 230-mile (370-kilometre) feeder pipeline would begin in Malin, in southwest Oregon, and end at the city of Coos Bay on the rural Oregon coast. Jordan Cove did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment and it was unclear what next steps the project would take. Opposition to the pipeline has brought together southern Oregon tribes, environmentalists, anglers and coastal residents since 2006. "Thousands of southern Oregonians have raised their voices to stop this project for years and will continue to until the threat of Jordan Cove LNG is gone for good,” said Hannah Sohl, executive director of Rogue Climate. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who has opposed the project, said in a statement on Twitter that she was pleased with the ruling. “At every stage of the regulatory process, I have insisted that the Jordan Cove LNG project must meet Oregon’s rigorous standards for protecting the environment, or it cannot move forward,” she wrote. The outgoing Trump administration has supported energy export projects and in particular Jordan Cove. It had proposed streamlining approval of gas pipelines and other energy projects by limiting states’ certification authorities under the U.S. Clean Water Act. Gillian Flaccus, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Troops in riot gear lined the sidewalks, but there were no crowds. Armored vehicles and concrete barriers blocked empty streets. Miles of fencing cordoned off many of the nation's most familiar landmarks. Joe Biden was safely sworn in as president in a Washington on edge, two weeks after rioters loyal to former President Donald Trump besieged the Capitol. Law enforcement officials contended not only with the potential for outside threats but also with rising concerns about an insider attack. Officials monitored members of far-right extremist and militia groups, increasingly concerned about the risk they could stream into Washington and spark violent confrontations, a law enforcement official said. There were a few scattered arrests but no major protests or serious disruptions in the city during Biden's inauguration ceremony. As Biden put it in his address: “Here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever.” After the deadly attack that killed five on Jan. 6, the Secret Service stepped up security for the inauguration early, essentially locking down the nation's capital. More than 25,000 troops and police were called to duty. The National Mall was closed. Checkpoints were set up at intersections. In the hours before the event, federal agents monitored “concerning online chatter,” which included an array of threats against elected officials and discussions about ways to infiltrate the inauguration, the official said. In right-wing online chat groups, believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory expressed disappointment that top Democrats were not arrested for sex trafficking and that Trump did not seize a second term. Twelve National Guard members were removed from the security operation a day earlier after vetting by the FBI, including two who had made extremist statements in posts or texts about Wednesday's event. Pentagon officials would not give details on the statements. The FBI vetted all 25,000 members in an extraordinary security effort in part over the presence of some ex-military in the riot. Two other U.S. officials told The Associated Press that all 12 were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or to have posted extremist views online. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe groups the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials told the AP they had all been removed because of “security liabilities.” The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, confirmed that Guard members had been removed and sent home, but said only two cases were related to inappropriate comments or texts related to the inauguration. He said the other 10 cases were for issues that may involve previous criminal behaviour or activities but were not directly related to the inaugural event. The FBI also warned law enforcement officials about the possibility that members of right-wing fringe groups could pose as National Guard troops, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter. Investigators in Washington were particularly worried that members of right-wing extremist groups and militias, like the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, would descend on Washington to spark violence, the law enforcement officials said. Some of the groups are known to recruit former military personnel, to train extensively and to have frequented anti-government and political protests. In addition to the thousands of National Guard troops, hundreds of law enforcement officers from agencies around the country were also brought into Washington. The increased security is likely to remain in the nation's capital for at least a few more days. ___ Associated Press writers Lolita Baldor in Washington and James LaPorta in Delray Beach, Florida, contributed to this report. Ben Fox, Colleen Long And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — Quebec Premier Francois Legault says he won't grant a curfew exemption for Montreal's homeless population, telling reporters Tuesday he has confidence that police will use their good judgment in dealing with cases. Legault told reporters during a COVID-19 briefing in Montreal that altering the government's decree to exclude the homeless from the provincial curfew would be used as a loophole by others to flout the measure. Montreal's mayor had made the formal request just an hour earlier, calling on Quebec to relax the COVID-19 measure on the city's most vulnerable population. "What I'm say is right now, the police are doing a very good job. They use their judgment," Legault said. "If we change the rules and say that you can't give a ticket to someone who is saying they're homeless, you may have some people that will pretend to be homeless." Mayor Valerie Plante's appeal followed the weekend death of Raphael "Napa" Andre, a 51-year-old Innu man found dead in a portable toilet not far from a shelter he frequented. Andre often spent time at a day centre for the homeless called The Open Door, which was forced to close its overnight service last month following a COVID-19 outbreak. He visited the centre Saturday evening and was found dead Sunday morning, not far from the shelter, which had to send him out at 9:30 p.m. The coroner is investigating Andre's death. Plante said there's evidence the curfew is causing problems for the homeless and those who work with them. "What we've been seeing in the past week is that it created a lot of stress — not only for the homeless population itself but also the workers," Plante told reporters outside Montreal City Hall. "The curfew just adds to that and creates a sense of insecurity for a lot of users and we don't want that.... I want people to feel safe in the streets." Plante says the 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew — which began Jan. 9 and is scheduled to last at least until Feb. 8 — is creating an untenable situation for the city's most vulnerable. Legault said police aren't there to ticket homeless people, but direct them to homeless shelters. Plante agreed Montreal police have shown compassion, noting they had helped at least 400 homeless people find shelter. The mayor says on most nights the city's overnight shelters are at least 95 per cent full. While she wants the rules relaxed to relieve the pressure, she doesn't want people sleeping on the street. "I want people to have access to a bed, a place where it's warm, where there's food, where there's services for them," she said. Plante said a 100-bed facility is set to open in the coming days. Legault said the province has added 800 beds and it stands ready to add more as needed. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
Hydrogen sulphide is a smelly, poisonous gas, but it plays an important role in aging and longevity. New research shows that eating less meat could be a key to harnessing its healthy effects.
The small Saskatchewan town of Biggar made headlines in 2018 when the federal government approved the demolition of their CN Rail Station, which was designated a national heritage site in 1976. The town took a blow, said D'Shea Bussiere, community development officer for the Town of Biggar, but now, the mayor and town office is excited for the potential transformation of the space thanks to the Brownlee Family Foundation. The town, as well as former residents Ina Lou and Wayne Brownlee, have been in discussions since 2019 on how a large charitable donation can “revitalize and energize” the community, said Bussiere in a Jan. 18 press release. Updating the downtown core and the former CN Station site became an important goal for the community. The Brownlee Family Foundation will match up $2.5 million in fundraiser dollars raised by the town and residents, meaning there is upwards of $5 million going towards the project. Especially with COVID-19 and vaccines dominating the news, communities need to start looking at how they can revitalize their communities, Bussiere said. “We have the same struggles as any small town. It's hard to compete with the cities, so anything to try and encourage a beautiful place for our people and other people to come, hang out, and shop is good development.” Mayor Jim Rickwood said the town has banded together during COVID-19 and when that is over, that need will still be there. Developing the CNR Grounds into a welcoming community space will bring tight-knit residents even closer, he said. “(The new development) is going to bring some opportunities for some gatherings, for some reasons to be downtown, and just to tighten us up a little bit more, and to give us more of a spirit of community. Communities are not just where we live, it's who we live with. (The development) is going to be a good step for that.” Ina Lou and Wayne Brownlee felt it was important to honour their roots with this donation and leave a last legacy that celebrates their families. “Town leaders have framed a renewal concept that showcases Biggar’s history and speaks to its bright future. If the town is behind it, so are we,” said Ina Lou in the press release. A Public Open House on Jan. 22 and 23 and an online open house on Jan. 25 will share a concept plan that will turn the “Canadian National Railway grounds into a multi-use park, tourism hub and interpretive center,” said the release. Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
Renfrew -- The memorial tree in Low Square is not slated to be cut down, although a story saying the opposite is circulating. “I’ve had several questions from people, and phone calls, in regard to the very big tree in Low Square, which is decorated with the RVH (Renfrew Victoria Hospital) Memory Lights at the moment,” Councillor Sandi Heins said at the January 12 council meeting, held via Zoom. “They have heard rumours that that tree, in regards to some plans that are coming forth for Low Square, is going to be cut down. “I’d like to hear it, and be able to assure people, that that isn’t going to happen.” The memorial tree was planted by the Cadet family who lost their firefighter son, she reminded council. There should be a lot of discussion before that should happen. “When we planted that tree, it was maybe five feet high, and it’s grown into quite a lovely tree and is very momentous to the space and we certainly get a lot of comments on it, how beautiful it is,” Coun. Heins said. “It’s really important to reassure the public that when things are underway in regards to planning of new, maybe a new layout of Low Square…things like the tree and anything that’s very momentous to them, deserves a lot of discussion before it is taken down,” Coun. Heins said. Reeve Peter Emon, who has attended all economic and administration meetings, said the tree has never been discussed. Councillor Mike Coulas said this discussion never occurred at Development and Works Committee. There has been discussion about the refurbishing of Low Square and making it user-friendly or updating it, but nothing was ever said of the tree, he added. “If that comes to be, I’m most assured there will be a ton of discussion about it, I’m sure,” he said. Coun. Heins said it just takes one person who is on municipal staff to say something, or to assume that, and say it in the wrong place, and then people assume that that’s exactly what’s happening. Connie Tabbert, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
OTTAWA — Conservatives were torn Tuesday over a decision by party leader Erin O'Toole to try to expel an MP from their ranks over a donation from a known white nationalist. The party's 121 MPs are set to vote via secret ballot Wednesday morning on whether Derek Sloan ought to be removed, with a simple majority required to oust him. While Sloan has courted his fair share of controversy for months, the idea he should be booted from caucus specifically because of a donation he said he had not realized he'd received wasn't sitting well with some MPs and party supporters. And the move prompted immediate backlash from some anti-abortion groups, who had been firmly in Sloan's corner during the leadership race he lost to O'Toole almost six months ago. The group Right Now urged backers to contact MPs to voice their displeasure. "We feel that this an attempt to discourage pro-lifers from engaging within the Conservative Party of Canada, specifically at the upcoming policy convention," Right Now's email said. "If those officials in the Conservative Party of Canada who do not share our values were not threatened by us taking our rightful and democratic place within the party, then they would not attempt such a brazen and obviously desperate effort such as this." The controversy over the $131 donated by Paul Fromm, a longtime political activist with links to neo-Nazi causes, erupted late Monday. O'Toole declared the donation — made under the name "Frederick P. Fromm" — meant Sloan could no longer be a Conservative MP, citing an intolerance for racism within the party. O'Toole promptly kick-started the process of getting him removed from the Conservative caucus. Some MPs publicly voiced their approval on social media, but privately concerns were immediately raised about the bar O'Toole was setting. The party prides itself on collecting donations from hundreds of thousands of grassroots supporters. Vetting them all against an unclear standard would be challenging, if not outright impossible. Sloan was first elected as the MP for the Ontario riding of Hastings-Lennox and Addington in 2019 and stunned many of his fellow MPs by running to lead the party not long after. He has sparked several controversies during his relatively short political life. He's been accused of racism for questioning the loyalty of the country's chief public health officer, a charge he denied. He's also suggested being LGBTQ is not a matter of science and compared a ban on therapy designed to force a person to change their gender or sexual identity to child abuse. During the leadership race, O'Toole told MPs Sloan ought not be kicked out of caucus over the remarks he made about Dr. Theresa Tam, even buying ads on social media trumpeting that position. The fact a donation would be the thing that finally turned O'Toole against Sloan raised some eyebrows. "That he plays silly-bugger word games that homosexuality is a choice should have disqualified him. But kicking him out over a donation from a racist who disguised his identity? So many good reasons to kick him out. Not sure this is one," wrote longtime Conservative operative and strategist Chisholm Pothier on Twitter. "Glad he’s gone. But ends justifying the means is easy, principled politics is hard." The Liberals had been calling for months for O'Toole to eject Sloan, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that he was pleased O'Toole was showing leadership. "Political parties need to remain vigilant, particularly in the wake of what we see in the United States, from the infiltration or the active presence of fringe or extremist or violent or unacceptable or intolerant elements," Trudeau said at a news conference. "And that's something that we constantly need to work towards as all politicians in Canada." Trudeau, however, did not address whether Fromm's organizations would also see money they received in COVID-19 supports clawed back as well. Fromm has been connected to Holocaust-deniers and other white nationalist groups for years. Sloan cited Fromm's use of his first name in making the donation in saying he was unaware of the source of the funds. Fromm also holds a membership in the Conservative party, voted in the leadership race, and had registered for a virtual convention the party is holding in March, none of which had raised red flags before Monday's revelation. Late Tuesday, the party said Fromm's membership would be revoked and he would not be allowed to participate in the convention. In an interview, Fromm said he's never met Sloan, and while Sloan's policies did appeal to him, he argued that to suggest his money, membership or desire to participate in the convention taints Sloan or the party is ridiculous. "I think basically, somebody is out to get Sloan and are prepared to use just about anything," he said. O'Toole won the leadership last year thanks in part to Sloan's supporters, whom he'd courted. Ever since, he has faced questions about how he'll broaden the appeal of the party, given the strength of its social-conservative wing. That faction was already gearing up to try to play an outsized role at the party's policy convention in March, organizing to advance several socially conservative positions through policy motions and ensuring they had enough delegates to make them pass. Their efforts were spurred on by Sloan, who had been pushing people to sign up as delegates, a move viewed within caucus as challenging O'Toole. Sloan has said he'll fight efforts to expel him. He noted he told the party to return Fromm's donation as soon as he was made aware of it, and wasn't sure what more he could have done. He declined to say what he was hoping to achieve at the convention, saying he is now focused on what he called the fight of his life. "O'Toole ran a leadership campaign on fighting cancel culture and promoting a big-tent version of the Conservative party," Sloan said. "And I hope that he has not jettisoned that in favour of perceived short-term political gain." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — The founder and CEO of MyPillow, a vocal and very visible supporter of President Donald Trump, said a backlash against the company has begun after a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol this month. Mike Lindell, who appears in TV commercials hugging the company’s foam-filled pillows, said major retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond and Kohl’s have dropped his products recently. Both companies confirmed the decision to cease carrying the brand Tuesday, but cited flagging sales rather than Lindell’s actions or his support for Trump. “There has been decreased customer demand for MyPillow,” Kohl’s said in an email. Lindell has continued to push bogus claims of election fraud since Trump’s loss to President-elect Joe Biden in the presidential race. MyPillow's logo was also prominently featured on TrumpMarch.com, a website that promoted the Jan. 6 events in Washington, in which rioters stormed the Capitol. That has led people to head to social media to put pressure on stores carrying MyPillow to drop the brand. Lindell said products have also been pulled from online furniture store Wayfair and Texas supermarket chain HEB. Neither company responded to a request for comment. “They’re succumbing to the pressure from these attacks,” Lindell said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I’m one of their bestselling products ever. They’re going to lose out. It’s their loss if they want to succumb to the pressure.” Lindell said he doesn’t regret his election claims or his support of Trump, who he said he first met in 2016. “I stand for what’s right,” said Lindell, who created the MyPillow in 2004 and built the business in Chaska, Minnesota, southwest of Minneapolis. “I’m standing firm.” Aside from the retail pressure, Lindell is also facing potential litigation from Dominion Voting Systems for his accusations that their voting machines played a role in election fraud. The Washington Post reported that Dominion sent Lindell a letter earlier this month stating that they would pursue legal action against him. Lindell said he's conducted his own investigation into the voting machines and hopes Dominion will file its suit quickly so that “all the evidence can come out.” Asked if he played a role in the insurrection of the Capitol, Lindell said he didn’t support it at all. “What are you talking about? I wasn’t even there," he said before abruptly ending the call. “I have to get on another show. Now our conversation ends.” Joseph Pisani And Anne D'Innocenzio, The Associated Press
Like so much this past year, the inaugural celebration will be like no other: pared down, distanced, much of it virtual. But for actor Christopher Jackson — the original George Washington in Broadway's “Hamilton" — performing in a virtual “ball” is a way of participating in an essential rite of American democracy. “I’m glad to play a part in it,” says Jackson, who will perform at the quadrennial ball for the Creative Coalition, a fundraiser for arts education and one of the more prominent unofficial events surrounding Joe Biden’s inauguration. “It’s a great honour, and I’m very grateful that we have allowed our system to continue to work in the way it was intended.” Jackson -- not to mention former co-star and “Hamilton” creator, Lin-Manuel Miranda -- joins a slew of celebrities descending on Washington, virtually or in person, for entertainment surrounding the inauguration of Biden and Kamala Harris. Although the festivities have been radically scaled down due to the raging coronavirus pandemic and security threats, a steady stream of A-list names have signed on, headlined by Lady Gaga singing the national anthem on the West Front of the Capitol, with Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks contributing musical performances. Other top-tier performers will be part of “Celebrating America,” a 90-minute, multi-network evening broadcast hosted by Tom Hanks that officially takes the place of the usual multiple inaugural balls. Miranda will contribute a classical recitation, joining musicians like Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, Demi Lovato, Foo Fighters, Justin Timberlake and Bon Jovi. Hosts Kerry Washington and Eva Longoria will be joined by basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, chef Jose Andres, labour leader Dolores Huerta and Kim Ng, the first female general manager in MLB history. The inaugural committee has made sure to blend this high-powered list with ordinary Americans and inspiring stories. Segments will include tributes to a UPS driver, a kindergarten teacher and Sandra Lindsey, the first American to receive the COVID-19 vaccine outside a clinical trial. The proceedings will be carried by ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, MSNBC and PBS as well as the committee’s social media channels and streaming partners. Fox News will not carry the broadcast. Beyond that event, there’s also a virtual “Parade Across America” on inauguration afternoon, hosted by actor Tony Goldwyn with appearances by Jon Stewart, Earth Wind & Fire and the New Radicals — reuniting after more than two decades — among many others. There’s also star power on display Tuesday evening at the virtual “Latino Inaugural 2021,” hosted by Longoria and including Broadway and screen star (and EGOT winner) Rita Moreno, Edward James Olmos, and Miranda again, saluting Puerto Rico with his father, Luis Miranda. The show honours members of Latino communities keeping the country running during the pandemic as front-line workers. In a normal year, there would be a wealth of sideline events, parties and concerts around Washington. One of the higher-profile events is the Creative Coalition's ball, going all virtual this year, Along with Jackson, KT Tunstall will perform. Host Judy Gold will kick off with a comedy set, also featuring comedians Randy Rainbow, Michael Ian Black and Wendi McLendon-Covey. More than two dozen members of Congress are set to join celebrity guests like Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Jason Alexander, Yvette Nicole Brown, Ellen Burstyn, Alyssa Milano and others. Jackson, who spoke in an interview late last week while planning his performance, said he would not be appearing as George Washington -- but history was on the actor’s mind nonetheless, given the unique circumstances of this inauguration. “We put ourselves in a perilous position,” he said of recent events roiling the country. “So the idea that this inauguration is happening is testament to the resolute dedication that our public servants have to making this thing work.” He said he was also eager to shine a spotlight on arts education, the coalition’s core mission, noting that as a kid growing up in southern Illinois, he depended on resources like an early-morning band class at school, where he’d begin each day playing the trumpet. “There was a time when I went through a lot of bad emotional passages as a kid,” Jackson said. “Had it not been for the outlet the arts created for me, I don’t know where I would be today." He noted that support for the arts is ever more urgent given how the pandemic has decimated the arts industry. Actor Tim Daly, the coalition’s president, said that despite optimism for the new administration’s approach to arts funding, it’s still an uphill battle in the United States. “I feel there’s going to have to be a really long and powerful effort by the Creative Coalition and other organizations to finally try and make federal, local and state governments understand the importance of the arts," he said, adding that the arts, besides being a driver of the economy, "is part of our spirit. It’s how we teach empathy and kindness.” Daly said he has mixed feelings as he approaches this very unique inauguration. “This is going to be the strangest (celebration) ever,” he said. “It’s virtual, and the celebration will in some ways be very muted. But in some ways, very meaningful. In a way this year is more important than any other, because our democracy has been under threat.” The coalition’s ball will include breakout rooms where guests can mingle, and even simultaneous hand-delivered meals in multiple cities. But there’s still no way to replace an in-person experience, Daly acknowledged. “There’s nothing that takes the place of human interaction,” the actor said. “I’d be lying or dishonest if I said this was better. But we’re doing the best we can -- and it’s better than nothing.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
After four years, U.S. President Donald Trump will be leaving office as President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into the position on Jan. 20, 2021. The weeks leading up to Trump’s departure have been tumultuous, with a siege on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, five federal executions, and 143 presidential pardons, just to name a few pivotal moments.Trump began the day by speaking to a crowd at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland before boarding Air Force One. He is traveling to his golf club, Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, and will not be attending Biden’s inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C.Supporters of the 45th U.S. President gathered in West Palm Beach, Fla. to greet Trump’s motorcade when it arrived in the city.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
Netflix Inc said on Tuesday its global subscriber rolls crossed 200 million at the end of 2020 and projected it will no longer need to borrow billions of dollars to finance its broad slate of TV shows and movies. Shares of Netflix rose nearly 13% in extended trading as the financial milestone validated the company's strategy of going into debt to take on big Hollywood studios with a flood of its own programming in multiple languages. The world's largest streaming service had raised $15 billion through debt in less than a decade.
Specific details about workplace outbreaks of COVID-19 are not made public in most of Canada. Toronto is starting to make the information available, arguing that transparency increases accountability, but others wonder whether ‘naming and shaming’ does more harm than good.
A man who police say stole a Victoria harbour ferry has been arrested after cops and the coast guard had to chase the wannabe pirate through city waterways Tuesday morning. According to a statement from the Victoria Police Department, officers were called to the waters off the 400-block of Swift Street at approximately 3 a.m. after a boat was reported stolen and heading up the Gorge Waterway. When officers arrived on the scene, the alleged thief changed direction toward the inner harbour and appeared to be trying to flee the area. With the assistance of a nearby harbour ferryemployee, officers boarded a separate boat, took off after the stolen vessel and were able to get close enough to speak with the suspect and convince him to surrender. The Canadian Coast Guard vessel Cape St. James brought additional VicPD officers to the scene to help. Police say the stolen ferry and suspect were then towed to a dock in the 900-block of Wharf Street where the man was arrested. The short-lived ride resulted in recommended charges of theft over $5,000.
ROME — Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte won a crucial confidence vote in the Senate late Tuesday, keeping his wobbly coalition afloat for now, but with such a shrunken majority it will make it extremely hard to effectively govern a country reeling from the pandemic. The vote went 156 to 140 in his favour, There were 16 abstentions, thanks to a coalition ally that bolted the centre-left government last week. An absolute majority in the Senate is 161, so to pass critical legislation, including aid to help Italy's battered economy, Conte will likely have to resort often on support from outside his coalition. Had he lost the confidence vote in Parliament's upper chamber, Conte would have been required to resign. But without absolute command of a majority there, he could still opt to hand in his resignation to Italian President Sergio Mattarella, in a bid to be tapped anew to try to cobble together a revamped, more dependable coalition. In the lower Chamber of Deputies, where the 16-month-old government holds a more comfortable margin, Conte won a first confidence vote on Monday. THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below. Premier Giuseppe Conte appealed in Parliament for a second straight day Tuesday for crucial support to keep his government afloat after the defection of a small but key coalition party as Italy struggles with a second surge of the COVIC-19 pandemic that has seen citizens subject to months of degrees of lockdown. "With today’s vote, I trust that the institutions will be able to repay the trust of citizens in order to put behind us this great act of irresponsibility as soon as possible,” Conte said. He was referring to ex-Premier Matteo Renzi's yanking his small Italia Viva (Italy Alive) centrist party from the centre-left government, in part to protest what Renzi saw was Conte's holding too much control on how more than 200 billion euros (dollars) of European Union recovery funds are spent. Conte on Monday clinched what amounted to a confidence vote in the lower Chamber of Deputies, securing a 321-259 victory after Renzi's party deputies abstained. Without the backing of Renzi and his 17 fellow senators, Conte went into Tuesday's vote in the upper chamber of Parliament facing an even more uphill battle for him and his government to stay in power, since the centre-left coalition's majority in the Senate is narrower than what it enjoys in the Chamber of Deputies. “Numbers are important, today even more so. But even more important is the quality of the political project,’’ Conte said. “We ask all the political forces to help us relaunch with the maximum speed and help us repair the damage to citizens’ trust that the crisis has produced.” Renzi, in replying to Conte in the Senate Tuesday, hammered away at what he contended was the government's less-than-bold response to fighting the pandemic, including in how funds will be spent to revive Italy's battered economy, already stagnant for years before COVID-19 struck. "In view of the pandemic, there's a need for a stronger government,” Renzi added in attacking Conte. But even surviving the Senate vote, Conte’s government still risked being hobbled going forward, since he would have to count on lawmakers outside his coalition to help pass legislation. Conte largely staked his hope on winning votes from senators outside both his government and the centre-right opposition. Among those were the tiny ranks of senators-for-life, who only occasionally come to Parliament to cast votes. In a sign of support, Liliana Segre, a Holocaust survivor and senator-for-life who travelled from Milan to vote. A representative said that Segre, 90, has not yet received a vaccine against the coronavirus. Segre was made a senator-for-life by Italy's president to honour her work in keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive by speaking to students in schools throughout the nation. The government crisis heightened demands by the opposition for an election two years early. But President Sergio Mattarella is considered unlikely at this point to choose that option, given the difficulty of organizing a campaign and vote during a pandemic. Conte has boasted of his efforts to secure pandemic-recovery aid from the European Union. In Brussels, EU officials were following Italian political developments with concern. EU Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis expressed hope that Italy's “political instability would not compromise” Italy's already “substantial” preparation of the recovery plan. He noted that Italy is by far the largest recipient of the pandemic funding. A key source of irritation between Conte and Renzi has been who gets to control how the pandemic relief funds that hard-hit Italy are spent. Barry reported from Milan. Nicole Winfield in Rome and Raf Casert in Brussels contributed. Frances D'Emilio And Colleen Barry, The Associated Press
BERLIN — Teenager Florian Wirtz scored for Bayer Leverkusen in a 2-1 win which dealt Borussia Dortmund its latest Bundesliga setback on Tuesday. Dortmund, which was held 1-1 at home by lowly Mainz on Saturday, slumped to its second defeat in six games under new coach Edin Terzic. Dortmund could fall 10 points behind Bayern Munich at the top on Wednesday when Bayern visits struggling Augsburg. Leverkusen moved second after bouncing back from its 1-0 loss at Union Berlin. Leipzig, which is just behind Leverkusen on goal difference, hosts Union on Wednesday. It was a lacklustre display from Dortmund, which only threatened briefly in the second half and was fortunate not to concede more with Moussa Diaby missing several good chances after he opened the scoring. The unhurried Nadiem Amiri played a cross-field pass that Diaby controlled with his first touch and swept past Dortmund ’keeper Roman Bürki with his next in the 14th minute. Diaby continued to cause problems after the break before Dortmund’s first real chance in the 54th. Marco Reus almost set up Erling Haaland but the 17-year-old Wirtz managed to clear. Thomas Meunier missed another good chance for the visitors before Julian Brandt equalized against his former team in the 67th when Raphaël Guerreiro laid the ball off for him to fire inside the far corner. Brandt almost scored again a minute later, but Edmond Tapsoba cleared off the line. Dortmund paid the price in the 80th when Wirtz scored after Meunier lost the ball. It fell to Patrik Schick and he combined with Diaby, who crossed for the unmarked Wirtz to unleash an unstoppable shot past Bürki for his fourth Bundesliga goal. HERTHA HUMBLED Goals from Sebastian Rudy and two from Andrej Kramaric gave Hoffenheim a 3-0 win at Hertha Berlin that will increase the pressure on coach Bruno Labbadia. Hertha had hopes this season of challenging for European qualification but it has dropped to 14th in the 18-team division with only one win in its last seven games. Wolfsburg moved fifth with a 2-0 win at Mainz, and Borussia Mönchengladbach rode its luck to beat Werder Bremen 1-0. Nico Elvedi’s header was enough for Gladbach. ___ 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
FREDERICTON — More than half of New Brunswick was moved to the red level of the province's COVID-19 recovery plan as Premier Blaine Higgs warned Tuesday of even more severe measures if the spread of the virus doesn't slow. Health officials reported one new death and 31 new COVID-19 cases in the province Tuesday, with 21 of them in the Edmundston region, which entered the red level Monday. The Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John zones were to join Edmundston as of midnight Tuesday. At the red level, gyms, salons and recreational facilities must close, and restaurants can only offer takeout or delivery. Outdoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of five people, with masks and physical distancing. "We have had some success in slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus across our province, and we have succeeded because we acted swiftly and decisively," chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said Tuesday. "We haven't waited, as some other jurisdictions have done, until critical levels have been breached." Russell called the increase in cases across the province this month alarming. "The threat it poses to our health-care system and the well-being of our citizens cannot be ignored," she said. Russell said the death of a person in their 80s at the Parkland Saint John long-term care facility brings to 13 the number of COVID-related deaths in the province. There are currently 316 active cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick, and there have now been more than 1,000 cases since the pandemic began. Four hundred of those have been in the last 30 days. Russell said many of the new cases were spread through large social gatherings, such as parties and holiday gatherings around Christmas and New Year's. Higgs said the province will consider imposing more stringent measures if the latest restrictions don't limit the spread of the virus. "We are not making enough progress with the current measures that are in place," he said. "We know there are more cases in these zones that exist but have not yet tested positive, and we cannot take the risk of potentially overwhelming our hospitals." He said a continuing rise in case numbers could mean a return to a full lockdown as was in place in March, with schools closed and people staying home except to buy essential items. Higgs said the all-party COVID cabinet committee would meet again Thursday to discuss next steps. "Public health is currently working to determine exactly what a lockdown would look like if we need to take this additional step," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press