Chris Murphy has the details
Chris Murphy has the details
WASHINGTON — Federal law enforcement officials are examining a number of threats aimed at members of Congress as the second trial of former President Donald Trump nears, including ominous chatter about killing legislators or attacking them outside of the U.S. Capitol, a U.S. official told The Associated Press. The threats, and concerns that armed protesters could return to sack the Capitol anew, have prompted the U.S. Capitol Police and other federal law enforcement to insist thousands of National Guard troops remain in Washington as the Senate moves forward with plans for Trump's trial, the official said. The shocking insurrection at the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob prompted federal officials to rethink security in and around its landmarks, resulting in an unprecedented lockdown for Biden's inauguration. Though the event went off without any problems and armed protests around the country did not materialize, the threats to lawmakers ahead of Trump's trial exemplified the continued potential for danger. Similar to those intercepted by investigators ahead of Biden’s inauguration, the threats that law enforcement agents are tracking vary in specificity and credibility, said the official, who had been briefed on the matter. Mainly posted online and in chat groups, the messages have included plots to attack members of Congress during travel to and from the Capitol complex during the trial, according to the official. The official was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation publicly and spoke Sunday to the AP on condition of anonymity. Law enforcement officials are already starting to plan for the possibility of armed protesters returning to the nation's capital when Trump’s Senate trial on a charge of inciting a violent insurrection begins the week of Feb. 8. It would be the first impeachment trial of a former U.S. president. Though much of the security apparatus around Washington set up after the Jan. 6 riot and ahead of Biden’s inauguration — it included scores of military checkpoints and hundreds of additional law enforcement personnel — is no longer in place, about 7,000 members of the National Guard will remain to assist federal law enforcement, officials said. Gen. Dan Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said Monday that about 13,000 Guard members are still deployed in D.C., and that their numbers would shrink to 7,000 by the end of this week. John Whitley, the acting secretary of the Army, told a Pentagon news conference that this number is based on requests for assistance from the Capitol Police, the Park Police, the Secret Service and the Metropolitan Police Department. Whitley said the number is to drop to 5,000 by mid-March. Thousands of Trump’s supporters descended on the Capitol on Jan. 6 as Congress met to certify Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential race. More than 800 are believed to have made their way into the Capitol during the violent siege, pushing past overwhelmed police officers. The Capitol police said they planned for a free speech protest, not a riot, and were caught off guard despite intelligence suggesting the rally would descend into a riot. Five people died in the melee, including a Capitol police officer who was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher. At least five people facing federal charges have suggested they believed they were taking orders from Trump when they marched on Capitol Hill to challenge the certification of Biden’s election victory. But now those comments, captured in interviews with reporters and federal agents, are likely to take centre stage as Democrats lay out their case. More than 130 people have been charged by federal prosecutors for their roles in the riot. In recent weeks, others have been arrested after posting threats against members of Congress. They include a Proud Boys supporter who authorities said threatened to deploy “three cars full of armed patriots” to Washington, threatened harm against Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., and who is accused of stockpiling military-style combat knives and more than 1,000 rifle rounds in his New York home. A Texas man was arrested this week for taking part in the riot at the Capitol and for posting violent threats, including a call to assassinate Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y ___ Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report. Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Sylvia Sassie liked to listen to CBC Radio One in her kitchen, her bedroom or her car. She tuned in to the N.W.T. morning show, The Trailbreaker, and to Dehcho Dene, CBC's daily South Slavey language program. That all came to a halt about a year ago. "I didn't know what had happened," she said. "I thought maybe it just went digital?" Sassie, who lives in Fort Liard, N.W.T., called the CBC in Yellowknife and began exchanging emails with technical staff about how to diagnose the problem. "I guess it's the wiring or something that's disconnected here," she said. "I was supposed to take pictures [of the radio equipment] but I can't because there's too much snow." Fort Liard is now in the midst of a COVID-19 outbreak. Six people in the hamlet of 500 have tested positive and the community was put under a 14-day containment order (that is, people were advised not to travel) starting Jan. 16. The community has two other radio stations: CKLB 101.9, run by Native Communications Society of the NWT; and 95.1, which was recently established as a Christian radio service. "I prefer personally to listen to CBC North because they talk about all kinds of things," Sassie said. "What I would really like about this channel is listening to the information on the COVID." Not 'CBC-owned' "Unfortunately," said Philippe Aubé, "since this is not CBC-owned infrastructure we are ... limited in the way we can support these issues." Aubé is the CBC's senior director of transmission operations in Montreal. His department looks after about 750 transmitters across the country. He also looks after CBC-owned satellite receivers in about 70 small, mostly northern locations known as "community-owned rebroadcasters" or CORBs — including Fort Liard. As Aubé explains it, decades ago, a program was launched to help small communities take control of transmitters, antennas and radio towers installed for radio. CBC maintained control of the satellite receivers bringing in the signal, but the community — which could be a communications society or the hamlet — took ownership of the transmitter that relays that signal into the community and any other hardware. 'Community-owned rebroadcasters' Several people interviewed for this article said that at one point, the N.W.T. government played a role in funding the CORBs. In an email, a spokesperson for the department of Municipal and Community Affairs said the department does not specifically fund community-based radio, though local budgets could be used for the purpose. The same spokesperson said "most community-based radio societies are established as societies separate from the community government." The Fort Liard Communication Society, established in 1979, dissolved in 2002, according to the N.W.T. Legal Registry. It's slightly different in the Yukon. "The Department of Highways and Public Works maintains community radio sites in some Yukon communities where there would otherwise be no radio broadcast service," spokesperson Brittany Cross said in an email. That includes five sites where they "maintain the equipment and radio licensing for the CBC FM transmitters ... as well as covering the costs of building maintenance and electricity." They also make room for other Yukon radio broadcasters' equipment. "These sites are generally low maintenance, but ongoing support ... is provided through a combination of in-house staff, contractors and contributions from the other radio tenants," Cross said. 'For them, it's a CBC service' But few people know how exactly their radio gets into their houses, workplaces or vehicles. "That's where it gets a bit sketchy sometimes," said the CBC's Aubé, "when one of those communities loses their signal and people start sending emails or chat on Facebook, saying, 'Hey our transmitter's off.' Because for them, it's a CBC service." "We try to help them over the phone as much as we can, but that's pretty much where it stops." Aubé said Friday that he still hasn't confirmed what's going on in Fort Liard, though he's asked staff to follow up. "It appears it is not related to our satellite receiver," he said. 'You can always Google stuff' Chief Wilbert Kochon of Colville Lake, N.W.T., has experienced some of that technical assistance over the phone. When the community's transmitter gave out a few weeks ago, Kochon volunteered to sort it out. "I talked to your technician who helped me on the phone," Kochon said. They discovered the heat had gone out in the old band office where the transmitter is. Kochon put a portable heater on in the building and in the morning, it started working again. Kochon says repairs like these are something he does for the elders. "CKLB, they always call me too," Kochon said. "You can always Google stuff and then figure it out really fast." Even better, he laughed, would be if the community could hire its own technician and get some training from the CBC. A costly 'conundrum' That's exactly what Bert Cervo would like to see. Cervo retired from the CBC in 2015 and lives in Whitehorse. He started as a remote area transmitter technician (RATT for short) in the 1980s and has visited nearly every small community in the North. He sees the situation in Fort Liard as part of a bigger problem. He's been contacted by people in several communities where CBC radio is down, "in some locations for two years," asking whether he can help get the signal back. The cost to fly in and do so, however, is simply too high, as is the cost of moving equipment or worse, buying new gear. All of which is made worse by the pandemic, which has severely restricted northern travel. "This is a conundrum that we've all been looking at for quite a while," Cervo said. He'd like to see the CBC take over the care and maintenance of the sites, or at least reimburse whoever goes there. He'd also like to see local people trained and paid to handle technical problems. "It's just not a cheap enterprise," Cervo said. Especially if older equipment needs to be replaced. "There is nothing that costs less than $1,000 or $2,000. Nothing. Then comes travel and everything else."
Niagara Falls Transit has elected to revert to its pre-pandemic winter schedule. The city said in a press release in order to provide the best level of service to riders given provincial restrictions, it will return to regular winter city and WEGO service, minus 30-minute peak services, on day routes. Changes take effect Monday. On Jan. 18, in an attempt to comply with the state of emergency orders issued by the province, Niagara Falls Transit preemptively adjusted its hours of operation to reflect the average business closure of 8 p.m.; however, it acknowledged that it could have been stranding essential service workers. The city issued an apology on its website for any inconvenience it caused transit users. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: email@example.com Sean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
Celebrity birthdays for the week of Jan. 31-Feb. 6 Jan. 31: Composer Philip Glass is 84. Actor Stuart Margolin (“The Rockford Files”) is 81. Actor Jessica Walter (“Arrested Development”) is 80. Bluesman Charlie Musselwhite is 77. Actor Jonathan Banks (“Better Call Saul,” ?Breaking Bad”) is 74. Actor Glynn Turman (“The Wire,” ?A Different World”) is 74. Singer Harry Wayne Casey of KC and the Sunshine Band is 70. Singer John Lydon (Johnny Rotten) of the Sex Pistols is 65. Actor Anthony LaPaglia (“Without a Trace,” ?Murder One”) is 62. Actor Kelly Lynch is 62. Singer-guitarist Lloyd Cole is 60. Actor Paulette Braxton (“The Parkers,” ?In The House”) is 56. Bassist Al Jaworski of Jesus Jones is 55. Actor Minnie Driver is 51. Actor Portia de Rossi (“Arrested Development,” ?Ally McBeal”) is 48. Comedian Bobby Moynihan (“Saturday Night Live”) is 44. Actor Kerry Washington (“Scandal,” ?Ray”) is 44. Singer Justin Timberlake is 40. Actor Tyler Ritter (“The McCarthys”) is 36. Singer Tyler Hubbard of Florida Georgia Line is 34. Singer Marcus Mumford of Mumford and Sons is 34. Actor Joel Courtney (“Super 8,” “The Kissing Booth”) is 25. Feb. 1: Actor-comedian Garrett Morris is 84. Singer Don Everly of The Everly Brothers is 84. Bluegrass singer Del McCoury is 82. TV personality Joy Philbin is 80. Guitarist Mike Campbell of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is 71. Blues musician Sonny Landreth is 70. Actor-writer-producer Billy Mumy (“Lost in Space”) is 67. Singer Exene Cervenka of X is 65. Actor Linus Roache (“Law and Order”) is 57. Actor Sherilyn Fenn (“Twin Peaks”) is 56. Singer Lisa Marie Presley is 53. Comedian Pauly Shore is 53. Actor Brian Krause (“Charmed”) is 52. Jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman is 52. Drummer Patrick Wilson of Weezer is 52. Actor Michael C. Hall (“Dexter,” ?Six Feet Under”) is 50. Rapper Big Boi of Outkast is 46. Musician Jason Isbell is 42. Singer Andrew VanWyngarden of MGMT is 38. TV personality Lauren Conrad (“The Hills,” ?Laguna Beach”) is 35. Actor-singer Heather Morris (“Glee”) is 34. Singer Harry Styles (One Direction) is 27. Feb. 2: Comedian Tom Smothers is 84. Singer Graham Nash is 79. Actor Bo Hopkins (film’s “American Graffiti,” TV’s “Dynasty”) is 77. Singer Howard Bellamy of the Bellamy Brothers is 75. TV chef Ina Garten (“Barefoot Contessa”) is 73. Actor Jack McGee (“The McCarthys”) is 72. Actor Brent Spiner (“Star Trek: The Next Generation”) is 72. Bassist Ross Valory of Journey is 72. Model Christie Brinkley is 67. Actor Michael Talbott (“Miami Vice”) is 66. Actor Kim Zimmer (“Guiding Light”) is 66. Actor Michael T. Weiss (“The Pretender”) is 59. Comedian Adam Ferrara (“Rescue Me”) is 55. Bassist Robert DeLeo of Stone Temple Pilots is 55. Actor Jennifer Westfeldt (“Kissing Jessica Stein”) is 51. Rapper T-Mo (Goodie Mob) is 49. Actor Marissa Jaret Winokur is 48. Actor Lori Beth Denberg (“The Steve Harvey Show”) is 45. Steel guitarist Jesse Siebenberg of Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real is 45. Singer Shakira is 44. Actor Rich Sommer (“Mad Men” Film: “The Devil Wears Prada”) is 43. Actor Zosia Mamet (“Girls”) is 33. Feb. 3: Actor Bridget Hanley (“Here Come The Brides,” ?Harper Valley P.T.A.”) is 80. Actor Blythe Danner is 78. Guitarist Dave Davies of The Kinks is 74. Singer Melanie is 74. Actor Morgan Fairchild is 71. Actor Pamela Franklin (“The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”) is 71. Actor Nathan Lane is 65. Guitarist Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth is 65. Actor Thomas Calabro (“Melrose Place”) is 62. Drummer Lol Tolhurst (The Cure) is 62. Actor Michele Greene (“L.A. Law”) is 59. Country singer Matraca Berg is 57. Actor Maura Tierney (“ER,” ?NewsRadio”) is 56. Actor Warwick Davis (“Harry Potter” films, “Willow”) is 51. Actor Elisa Donovan (“Clueless”) is 50. Singer Daddy Yankee is 45. Actor Isla Fisher is 45. Singer Jessica Harp (The Wreckers) is 39. Actor Matthew Moy (“2 Broke Girls”) is 37. Rapper Sean Kingston is 31. Actor Brandon Micheal Hall (“God Friended Me”) is 28. Feb. 4: Actor Jerry Adler (“The Good Wife,” ?The Sopranos”) is 92. Actor Gary Conway (“Burke’s Law”) is 85. Drummer John Steel of The Animals is 80. Singer Florence LaRue of the Fifth Dimension is 79. Singer Alice Cooper is 73. Actor Michael Beck is 72. Actor Lisa Eichhorn is 69. Singer Tim Booth of James is 61. Country singer Clint Black is 59. Guitarist Noodles of The Offspring is 58. Country bassist Dave Buchanan of Yankee Grey is 55. Actor Gabrielle Anwar (“The Tudors”) is 51. “Daily Show” correspondent Rob Corddry is 50. Actor Michael Goorjian (“Party of Five”) is 50. TV personality Nicolle Wallace (“The View”) is 49. Bassist Rick Burch of Jimmy Eat World is 46. Singer Natalie Imbruglia is 46. Rapper Cam’ron is 45. Singer Gavin DeGraw is 44. Singer Zoe Manville of Portugal. The Man is 37. Actor Ashley Thomas (“Salvation,” ?24: Legacy”) is 36. Actor Charlie Barnett (“Secrets and Lies,” ?Chicago Fire”) is 33. Actor Kyla Kenedy (“Speechless”) is 18. Feb. 5: Actor Stuart Damon is 84. Singer-songwriter Barrett Strong is 80. Actor David Selby (“Dark Shadows,” ?Falcon Crest”) is 80. Singer Al Kooper (Blood, Sweat and Tears) is 77. Actor Charlotte Rampling is 75. Actor Barbara Hershey is 73. Actor-director-comedian Christopher Guest is 73. Actor Tom Wilkinson (“Selma”) is 73. Actor-comedian Tim Meadows (“Saturday Night Live”) is 60. Actor Jennifer Jason Leigh is 59. Actor Laura Linney is 57. Bassist Duff McKagan of Velvet Revolver (and Guns N’ Roses) is 57. Actor Chris Parnell is 54. Singer Chris Barron of the Spin Doctors is 54. Singer Bobby Brown is 52. Actor Michael Sheen (“Masters of Sex,” ?Frost/Nixon,” ?Twilight” films) is 52. Actor David Chisum (“Black Box,” ?One Life to Live”) is 51. Country singer Sara Evans is 50. Country singer Tyler Farr is 37. Keyboardist Mark Shusterman of Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats is 36. Actor Darren Criss (“Glee”) is 34. Actor Henry Golding (“Crazy Rich Asians”) is 34. Keyboardist Kyle Simmons of Bastille is 33. Actor Jeremy Sumpter (“Friday Night Lights,” ?Peter Pan”) is 32. Drummer Graham Sierota of Echosmith is 22. Feb. 6: Actor Mamie Van Doren is 90. Actor Mike Farrell is 82. NBC news anchorman Tom Brokaw is 81. Actor Gayle Hunnicutt is 78. Singer Fabian is 78. Actor Michael Tucker (“L.A. Law”) is 76. Actor Jon Walmsley (“The Waltons”) is 65. Actor-director Robert Townsend (“The Parent ‘Hood”) is 64. Actor Kathy Najimy (“Veronica’s Closet,” ?King of the Hill”) is 64. Drummer Simon Phillips of Toto is 64. Actor Barry Miller (“Saturday Night Fever,” ?Fame”) is 63. Actor Megan Gallagher (“Millennium”) is 61. Country singer Richie McDonald of Lonestar is 59. Vocalist Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses is 59. Singer Rick Astley is 55. Bassist Tim Brown of the Boo Radleys is 52. TV host Amy Robach (“Good Morning America”) is 48. Actor Josh Stewart (“Criminal Minds,” ?Third Watch”) is 44. Actor Ben Lawson (“Designated Survivor”) is 41. Actor Crystal Reed (“Teen Wolf”) is 36. Actor Anna Diop (“24: Legacy”) is 33. Singer Tinashe is 28. The Associated Press
TAIPEI, Taiwan — Chinese state media have stoked concerns about Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, despite rigorous trials indicating it is safe. A government spokesperson has raised the unsubstantiated theory that the coronavirus could have emerged from a U.S. military lab, giving it more credence in China. As the ruling Communist Party faces growing questioning about China's vaccines and renewed criticism of its early COVID-19 response, it is hitting back by encouraging conspiracy theories that some experts say could cause harm. State media and officials are sowing doubts about Western vaccines and the origin of the coronavirus in an apparent bid to deflect the attacks. Both issues are in the spotlight because of the rollout of vaccines globally and the recent arrival of a World Health Organization team in Wuhan, China, to investigate the origins of the virus. Some of these conspiracy theories find a receptive audience at home. The social media hashtag “American’s Ft. Detrick,” started by the Communist Youth League, was viewed at least 1.4 billion times last week after a Foreign Ministry spokesperson called for a WHO investigation of the biological weapons lab in Maryland. “It’s purpose is to shift the blame from mishandling by (the) Chinese government in the pandemic’s early days to conspiracy by the U.S.,” said Fang Shimin, a now-U.S.-based writer known for exposing faked degrees and other fraud in Chinese science. “The tactic is quite successful because of widespread anti-American sentiment in China.” Yuan Zeng, an expert on Chinese media at the University of Leeds in Great Britain, said the government’s stories spread so widely that even well-educated Chinese friends have asked her whether they might be true. Inflaming doubts and spreading conspiracy theories might add to public health risks as governments try to dispel unease about vaccines, she said, saying, “That is super, super dangerous.” In the latest volley, state media called for an investigation into the deaths of 23 elderly people in Norway after they received the Pfizer vaccine. An anchor at CGTN, the English-language station of state broadcaster CCTV, and the Global Times newspaper accused Western media of ignoring the news. Health experts say deaths unrelated to the vaccine are possible during mass vaccination campaigns, and a WHO panel has concluded that the vaccine did not play a “contributory role” in the Norway deaths. The state media coverage followed a report by researchers in Brazil who found the effectiveness of a Chinese vaccine lower than previously announced. Researchers initially said Sinovac’s vaccine is 78% effective, but the scientists revised that to 50.4% after including mildly symptomatic cases. After the Brazil news, researchers at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a government-supported think-tank , reported seeing an increase in Chinese media disinformation about vaccines. Dozens of online articles on popular health and science blogs and elsewhere have explored questions about the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine at length, drawing on an op-ed published this month in the British Medical Journal that raised questions about its clinical trial data. “It’s very embarrassing” for the government, Fang said in an email. As a result, China is trying to raise doubts about the Pfizer vaccine to save face and promote its vaccines, he said. Senior Chinese government officials have not been shy in voicing concerns about the mRNA vaccines developed by Western drug companies. They use a newer technology than the more traditional approach of the Chinese vaccines currently in use. In December, the director of the Chinese Centers for Disease Control, Gao Fu, said he can’t rule out negative side effects from the mRNA vaccines. Noting this is the first time they are being given to healthy people, he said, “there are safety concerns.” The Pfizer mRNA vaccine and another one developed by Moderna have passed both animal and human trials in which they were tested on more than 70,000 people. The arrival of the WHO mission has brought back persistent criticism that China allowed the virus to spread globally by reacting too slowly in the beginning, even reprimanding doctors who tried to warn the public. The visiting researchers will begin field work this week after being released from a 14-day quarantine. The Communist Party sees the WHO investigation as a political risk because it focuses attention on China’s response, said Jacob Wallis, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. The party wants to “distract domestic and international audiences by pre-emptively distorting the narrative on where responsibility lies for the emergence of COVID-19,” Wallis said. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying got the ball rolling last week by reviving earlier Chinese calls for a WHO investigation of the U.S. military lab. State media have referenced past scandals at the lab, but China has given no reliable evidence to support the coronavirus theory. “If America respects the truth, then please open up Ft. Detrick and make public more information about the 200 or more bio-labs outside of the U.S., and please allow the WHO expert group to go to the U.S. to investigate the origins,” Hua said. Her comments, publicized by state media, became one of the most popular topics on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo. China isn’t the only government to point fingers. Former U.S. President Donald Trump, trying to deflect blame for his government’s handling of the pandemic, said last year he had seen evidence the virus came from a Wuhan laboratory. While that theory has not been definitively ruled out, many experts think it is unlikely. Huizhong Wu, The Associated Press
The U.S. House of Representatives delivered to the Senate on Monday a charge that former President Donald Trump incited insurrection in a speech to supporters before the deadly attack on the Capitol, setting in motion his second impeachment trial. Nine House Democrats who will serve as prosecutors in Trump's trial, accompanied by the clerk of the House and the acting sergeant at arms, carried the charge against Trump to the Senate in a solemn procession across the Capitol. Wearing masks to protect against COVID-19, they filed through the ornate Capitol Rotunda and into the Senate chamber, following the path that a mob of Trump supporters took on Jan. 6 as they clashed with police.
TORONTO — Scientists and health experts are launching a nationwide campaign to counter misinformation about COVID-19 and related vaccines. The #ScienceUpFirst initiative is an awareness and engagement campaign that will use social media to debunk incorrect information and boost science-based content. The campaign team says in a news release that it emerged from conversations between Nova Scotia Sen. Stan Kutcher and Timothy Caulfield, Canadian research chair in health law and policy at the University of Alberta. The initiative is now being led by the Canadian Association of Science Centres, COVID-19 Resources Canada, and the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta. Anyone interested in participating can follow @scienceupfirst and use the #ScienceUpFirst hashtag on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and tag the account to amplify science-based posts and alert it to misinformation posts. The campaign says there is a marked rise in misinformation and conspiracy theories related to COVID-19 vaccines, virus transmission and government response, and it represents a threat to the health and safety of Canadians. "Misinformation is a dire, imminent threat to the lives of all Canadians and is proven to be one of the factors fueling COVID-19 infections, and dissuading Canadians from getting vaccinated," says Caulfield. "The #ScienceUpFirst initiative seeks to help fill an urgent need to beat back misinformation with the truth, and save lives." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021. The Canadian Press
NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. — A 38-year-old man has been charged in connection with the sexual abuse of a girl under the age of 16 in Niagara Region.Police say they launched the investigation last July and made the arrest on Friday.The suspect, a man from Niagara Falls, Ont., is charged with one count each of sexual assault and sexual interference.He's being held in custody and expected to appear in court at a later date.Police are asking anyone with information to come forward. The Canadian Press
York Region public health certified health inspector Nadia Varbanova shares the biggest issues and concerns she comes across during her inspections at big-box stores.
The company said in a news release it found no reduction in the antibody response against the variant found in Britain. Against the South African variant, it found a reduced response but still believed its two-dose regimen would provide protection.
Speaking at a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum - a gathering usually held in a Swiss ski resort - Xi said the global economic outlook remained uncertain and public health emergencies "may very well recur" in future. "We should build an open world economy ... discard discriminatory and exclusionary standards, rules and systems, and take down barriers to trade, investment and technological exchanges," he said. The G20 - an international forum grouping 19 of the biggest developed and emerging economies, plus the European Union - should be strengthened as the "main forum for global economic governance" and the world should "engage in closer macro-economic policy coordination", Xi added.
QUETTA, Pakistan — A Pakistani dissident and civil rights activist who died in exile in Canada last month was returned to Pakistan and laid to rest in her home village in southwestern Baluchistan province under tight security, activists said Monday. Only immediate family members of 37-year-old Karima Baloch were allowed to attend her funeral Sunday in the village of Tump in Baluchistan. Her supporters claim that Pakistani troops had sealed off the village and prevented them from attending her burial. Her remains were brought to Pakistan from Canada earlier Sunday. Baloch’s body was found Dec. 22 near Toronto’s downtown waterfront, a place that she liked and often visited, a day after she was reported missing. Toronto police have not treated her death as suspicious though there were allegations by her supporters that she was killed. A fierce critic of Pakistani spy agencies that are often accused of abducting activists in Baluchistan and elsewhere in Pakistan, Baloch was granted asylum in Canada in 2016. Her death has raised suspicions among rights activists, who on Monday denounced authorities for holding the funeral in near secrecy. “It is appalling to see how Karima Baloch’s dead body was treated," said Mohsin Dawar, a lawmaker from Pakistan's former tribal regions who campaigns for Pashtun minority right but like Baloch, has also criticized Pakistani spy agencies. “It is not difficult to understand how this will deepen the divide and fuel separatism," he tweeted. "Is this the strategy to deal with the Baloch insurgency, to sprinkle salt on the wounds of Baloch?" There was no immediate comment from the government, but a video that surfaced on social media shows soldiers turning back several mourners who are heard in the footage saying they wanted to pay their last respects to Baloch. Angered over the situation, a Baloch nationalist group — the Baloch Solidarity Committee — issued a call for a daylong strike and complete shutdown in Baluchistan on Monday. Its statement said Pakistani troops spirited Baloch's coffin away on its arrival from Canada and foiled a move by her supporters to hold her funeral in Karachi, instead taking her remains to her home village. Later on Sunday, hundreds of Baluch activists rallied in Karachi, denouncing the government for not allowing that Baloch's funeral be held in the city. They chanted antigovernment slogans and demanded justice for Baloch, who they say was a “voice of the Baloch people” that was “silenced.” The activists insisted she did not die a natural death though they offered no evidence to support their allegation. Baluchistan has for years been the scene of a low-level insurgency by small separatist groups and nationalists who complain of discrimination and demand a fairer share of their province’s resources and wealth. Although there are also militant groups in Baluchistan that stage attacks on soldiers, separatists also often attack troops in the province, prompting authorities to detain suspects. Human rights activists often blame security forces of illegally holding people. Such detainees are usually not charged and do not appear in court, which draws protests from their families and rights activists. ___ Associated Press writer Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report. Abdul Sattar, The Associated Press
Local police and town authorities are warning the public about the dangers of thin ice after four teens fell into a pond on the weekend. The incident happened on a pond at the Vollmer Culture and Recreation Complex on Sunday, just after 2 p.m. Police said the teens went out to play hockey, but shortly after getting on the ice, it broke apart. One of the group members ended up under the water, according to Const. Terry Seguin. "They were all scared," he said. "You're just getting ready to go out and have a little fun and you don't expect the ice to give way underneath you." Police say a parent who was standing on shore called 911, and paramedics assessed the teens for any injuries or hypothermia. The group member who was submerged was sent to hospital for further assessment. Seguin said people should never go out on ice without first telling someone where they'll be. Having that parent on shore gave the teens a chance to contact emergency services immediately, rather than if or when they managed to scramble out of the water. 'It is very, very terrifying' Ice needs to be at least 10 centimetres thick to be considered safe, said Seguin. Thickness can also vary in different places and it can be difficult to know just how much ice there is without chopping a hole to be sure, he added. Regardless, police say it hasn't been cold enough — for long enough — for any ice to be safe. "It takes a good two, three weeks for sure, at least, of sub-zero temperatures, to develop a thickness of ice that can be considered safe," Seguin explained. Lakeshore is also cautioning residents to stay off of ice in the municipality. Mayor Tom Bain said in a news release that retention ponds in the municipality are not safe for skating. The news release added that several of the ponds in the area have pumps that are set to automatically turn on and off depending on conditions in Lakeshore's drainage system. As a result, ice on the ponds doesn't get very thick. For his part, Seguin said a fall into freezing water decades ago taught him just how much of a shock it can be. "I can speak from experience. It ... instantaneously takes your breath away and it is very, very terrifying," he said. "The key is, keep your wits about you and get out of the ice as quick as possible and get help as quick as you can."
The township of Muskoka Lakes published its new plan for how it wants to organize and upgrade the community throughout the next four years, with plans to focus on protecting the environment, boosting the township’s economy, upgrading infrastructure and more. Mayor Phil Harding said he is “very excited” to move forward as a township with the finished plan, made public on Wednesday, Jan. 13. “It really is the focus of Muskoka Lakes for the next four years,” he said. The plan is divided into four pillars organizing the goals council decided on throughout 2020 with consultation from the public. Some of the goals are short-term, being set in motion this year, while others are for down the line, in 2022 and 2023. Here are the standout goals in the strategic plan: The township is looking at its official plan to consider development restrictions, and a mandatory septic inspection program, as part of its strategic plan to preserve and protect the environment. Harding said during public consultations, many expressed concern about overdevelopment taking place in Muskoka Lakes affecting water quality and shorelines: the clear-cutting of trees and run-off from hardscaping projects, for example. Council and staff started developing their Community Improvement Plan for Port Carling and Bala and plan to make it a key project in 2021. “We want to try and build a year-round economy,” Harding said. “We need to understand what limitations businesses are having: why is it just seasonal?" He noted COVID-19 has been a challenge for businesses in 2020 but added more people are up in Muskoka Lakes during the fall and winter. One of the short-term goals listed for 2021 for strengthening Muskoka Lakes’ economy is assessing the challenges with broadband and internet connectivity in the township and working to expand internet access for everyone. In November, council discussed an effort to request the Ontario Energy Board reduce or remove the “egregious” charges broadband providers pay in rural Ontario communities like theirs to attach fibre-optic broadband to hydro poles. Internet connectivity became a pronounced issue in several rural Ontario communities throughout the pandemic. The township is working on new master plans for its recreation, parks, trails and facilities: the plan indicates it wants to implement the recommendations it forms in the plans in 2023. He added council and staff are working on a master plan for their fire services. In a previous plan, they considered closing down some of their 10 stations in the township and upgrading the remaining stations, which could have ATVs or fire boats, an idea Harding might consider for this master plan. The final pillar indicates the township wants to forge better relationships with all levels of government. Harding said his relationships with other mayors in the district and the province, including MPP Norm Miller and Premier Doug Ford, have improved since council took office in October 2018. The strategic plan is also for the next term of council that will take over late 2022. He said building good relationships now will help them down the line. Zahraa Hmood is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering the municipalities of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Zahraa Hmood, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Environment Canada has lifted the last of its remaining weather warnings for B.C.'s South Coast, as the weather system that was expected to dump heavy snow faded away. A final snowfall warning for Metro Vancouver was lifted just before 8:30 a.m. on Monday. Weather alerts were in effect for much of the South Coast over the weekend, but many residents expecting a dump of snow woke up to rain on Sunday instead. The snow that did fall was not as heavy as expected in areas like the Fraser Valley, though the central and northern areas of Vancouver Island saw a healthy amount of snow. Shelter available Despite the lack of snow, temperatures are still cold. The City of Vancouver has opened additional indoor shelter spaces until Jan. 27 for people experiencing homelessness. The Powell Street Getaway, at 528 Powell St., from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. The Vancouver Aquatic Centre, at 1050 Beach Ave., from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. The Creekside Community Centre, at 1 Athletes Way., from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. The Odd Fellows Hall, at 1443 West 8th Ave., from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. First Avenue Shelter at 1648 East 1st Ave., from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. The Gathering Place, 609 Helmcken St., from 8:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. The city said these centres will allow people who have pets and carts, and hot drinks and snacks will be provided. All sites have reduced their capacity to meet the province's COVID-19 physical distancing requirements. In Abbotsford, B.C., people can warm up at the Gateway Christian Reformed Church on Gladys Avenue, which is open from 7:30 p.m. to 8 a.m. whenever the weather dips below freezing or there is snow on the ground. Jesse Weygand, an extreme weather shelter coordinator in Abbotsford, said all shelter guests are screened for COVID-19. "We've been resourced to isolate people who are exhibiting symptoms, who are then brought often to hotel rooms as they await their test results," said Weygand, speaking Monday on CBC's The Early Edition. In Surrey, B.C., seasonal shelters are open at Pacific Community Church at 5377 180th Street and Peace Portal Church at 15128 27B Ave. Tap here, or dial 211, to find a shelter location in Metro Vancouver.
Paris City Hall has instructed the landlord seeking to close down the city's indebted Fan Museum to extend its deadline for payment, the museum said Monday. Director Anne Hoguet said her beleaguered museum — a registered historic monument — owed 117,000 euros in rent arrears due to losses incurred during virus lockdowns last year. The money was due Jan. 23 and the landlord had threatened to seize the museum's priceless artifacts as payment. In response to AP’s reporting, on Thursday UNESCO called on France to do more to protect the small museum that French officials had placed on an intangible heritage list only last year. Hoguet said that Paris City Hall officials confirmed to her that they had intervened to get the landlord to delay the deadline. “It's a huge relief. We hope to live another day,” Hoguet said. Paris Deputy Mayor Karen Taieb told the AP that officials are now meeting with Hoguet on Feb. 5 “in order to think about long-term solutions for this heritage museum which is in a very complicated situation.” Hoguet said that she has been inundated with offers of donations since last week’s media reports. The Associated Press
A U.S. voting machine company filed a $1.3 billion lawsuit against former President Donald Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani, accusing him of defamation in what it called his "big lie" campaign about widespread fraud in the presidential election, court documents on Monday showed. The Denver-based company, Dominion Voting Systems Inc, filed an earlier lawsuit against pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell, whom the company also accused of spreading false conspiracy theories about the election that Trump lost to Democrat Joe Biden. A senior Dominion employee, Eric Coomer, also filed a defamation lawsuit against the Trump campaign, saying he had been driven into hiding because of death threats from Trump supporters.
Niagara College now requires staff and students to wear enhanced personal protective equipment where physical distancing is not possible. In a recent release, Niagara College said in consultation with Niagara Region Public Health, and in light of the spread of the new United Kingdom variant of COVID-19 in Ontario, it has implemented the enhanced PPE requirements on campus. A medical-grade face mask and eyewear is now required for all staff and students attending classes, labs and workspaces where it is not always possible to maintain a physical distance of two metres. The college said a reusable fabric face mask is acceptable when outside of classrooms and labs and when physical distancing can be maintained, It will be providing staff and students enhanced PPE with medical-grade face masks and eye protection. The college will address staff and students who have a medical exemption that prevents them from wearing PPE on a case-by-case basis. The college also implemented schedule changes. To comply with provincial orders regarding on-campus/in-person instruction that requires classes and labs to be limited to 10 students or fewer plus faculty, several courses will be re-sectioned to ensure class sizes are within provincial limits. Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Sean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
After arguments between residents who lived near Meadowcrest beach erupted in the later summer, McDougall’s council has decided that boats will not be permitted to launch from that location. At the previous meeting in December, Leduc brought forward three recommendations to council on how to remedy the situation at the small beach. The first option was to operate the beach the same as before the pandemic, with the launching of small boats limited to a vessel that a person can carry to the water. Option two was to operate the beach with the added restriction of no vessel launching of any kind, and the third option was to allow people to launch small boats or vessels on trailers only from ice out until May 31 and then again from Sept. 15 to the time the lake ices. Here are some quotes from the council meeting regarding the decision: “This isn’t a resolution, it’s just direction to staff; currently it is established as a beach and I spoke at the previous meeting about leaving it as a beach and my position hasn’t changed on that,” said Mayor Dale Robinson. “Are there any other spots on Portage Lake where it’s possible to look at for future boat ramps?” asked Coun. Joe Ryman. “The spot at Portage Creek right now is municipal property; there is no dock there currently, so there really is no encumbrance for us to put a dock there if we needed to, as it is our property,” said parks and recreation director Brian Leduc. At the Jan. 20 council meeting, three councillors and the mayor voted in favour of the beach remaining simply a beach. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
It’s that time of the year again for the Huntsville and Lake of Bays Fire Department: they’re set to host their annual recruitment campaign this February to hire part-time firefighters. The department’s recruitment officer says they’re doing everything they can to bring in and train new members in spite of unique challenges the COVID-19 pandemic poses. Starting Feb. 1 going until Feb. 26, the department plans to go through all applications for the job online, host interviews and begin each member’s required 160 hours of training. “We are taking every measure possible to make sure that everybody that shows up on a regular basis is safe,” said Paul Calleja, the department’s training and suppression officer. “We have, I think, an optical responsibility to the public that we are doing things responsibly.” A communiqué from the Office of the Fire Marshal exempts fire departments from standard social gathering protocols during training, effective Oct. 19. Calleja said their department is trying to adhere as close as possible to the normal guidelines throughout recruitment. This year, instead of an in-person meeting, complete with a tour of the firehall, people will participate in a virtual information session on Jan. 28 and submit applications online. “It is what it is,” he said. In lieu of traditional meeting and networking, Calleja said he’s glad to chat with recruits personally over the phone throughout the campaign. He said he doesn’t have a specific goal for recruitment this year, as the numbers of new recruits fluctuates from 75 to 110 across the years. “We’ll run a recruit class with one person, if that’s all that shows up,” he said. The department is hiring part-time members who work an average of 200 hours a year. “A part-time firefighter is no different than a career firefighter,” he said. Part-timers aren’t stationed at a fire hall: they wear a pager and are called to scenes when there’s an emergency. “We do the same job: suppression, rescue, hazardous materials, public education.” Gary Monaham, the department’s deputy fire chief, said they haven’t seen a consistent increase in calls for service from the fire department since the pandemic began which would require them to recruit more members. “Back in March, when they first announced it, our medical calls dropped dramatically. Nobody wanted to call EMS. By the summer time, medical calls started going high again,” he said. “It’s up and down.” Monaham said calls have dropped “dramatically” in the last three weeks since the lockdown began. Calleja said it can be difficult to recruit people from lower-population communities in Lake of Bays: part-timers are “stationed” in their own communities. “It’s easier to find bodies in Huntsville than it is to find them in Dwight,” he said. With this challenge in mind, Calleja said they look to emphasize the benefits to joining the crew: an hourly wage, a compensation and insurance package, the opportunity to learn new life skills and a foot in the door to a new career in firefighting. Zahraa Hmood is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering the municipalities of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Zahraa Hmood, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com