Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks with Rosemary Barton, CBC's chief political correspondent, about the federal fiscal update and how the government will continue to provide financial support through the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks with Rosemary Barton, CBC's chief political correspondent, about the federal fiscal update and how the government will continue to provide financial support through the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For two Virginia police officers who posed for a photo during the deadly U.S. Capitol insurrection, the reckoning has been swift and public: They were identified, charged with crimes and arrested. But for five Seattle officers the outcome is less clear. Their identities still secret, two are on leave and three continue to work while a police watchdog investigates whether their actions in the nation's capital on Jan. 6 crossed the line from protected political speech to lawbreaking. The contrasting cases highlight the dilemma faced by police departments nationwide as they review the behaviour of dozens of officers who were in Washington the day of the riot by supporters of President Donald Trump. Officials and experts agree that officers who were involved in the melee should be fired and charged for their role. But what about those officers who attended only the Trump rally before the riot? How does a department balance an officer's free speech rights with the blow to public trust that comes from the attendance of law enforcement at an event with far-right militants and white nationalists who went on to assault the seat of American democracy? An Associated Press survey of law enforcement agencies nationwide found that at least 31 officers in 12 states are being scrutinized by their supervisors for their behaviour in the District of Columbia or face criminal charges for participating in the riot. Officials are looking into whether the officers violated any laws or policies or participated in the violence while in Washington. A Capitol Police officer died after he was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher as rioters descended on the building and many other officers were injured. A woman was shot to death by Capitol Police and three other people died after medical emergencies during the chaos. Most of the officers have not been publicly identified; only a few have been charged. Some were identified by online sleuths. Others were reported by their colleagues or turned themselves in. They come from some of the country’s largest cities — three Los Angeles officers and a sheriff’s deputy, for instance — as well as state agencies and a Pennsylvania police department with nine officers. Among them are an Oklahoma sheriff and New Hampshire police chief who have acknowledged being at the rally, but denied entering the Capitol or breaking the law. “If they were off-duty, it’s totally free speech,” said Will Aitchison, a lawyer in Portland, Oregon, who represents law enforcement officers. “People have the right to express their political views regardless of who’s standing next to them. You just don’t get guilt by association.” But Ayesha Bell Hardaway, a professor at Case Western Reserve University law school, said an officer’s presence at the rally creates a credibility issue as law enforcement agencies work to repair community trust, especially after last summer's of protests against police brutality sparked by the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Communities will question the integrity of officers who attended the rally along with “individuals who proudly profess racist and divisive viewpoints,” she said. “It calls into question whether those officers are interested in engaging in policing in a way that builds trust and legitimacy in all communities, including communities of colour.” In Rocky Mount, a Virginia town of about 1,000, Sgt. Thomas Robertson and Officer Jacob Fracker were suspended without pay and face criminal charges after posting a photo of themselves inside the Capitol during the riot. According to court records, Robertson wrote on social media that the “Left are just mad because we actually attacked the government who is the problem … The right IN ONE DAY took the f(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk) U.S. Capitol. Keep poking us.” Attempts to contact the pair were unsuccessful and court records do not list lawyers. Leaders in Rocky Mount declined to be interviewed. In a statement, they said the events at the Capitol were tragic. “We stand with and add our support to those who have denounced the violence and illegal activity that took place that day,” said Police Chief Ken Criner, Capt. Mark Lovern and Town Manager James Ervin. “Our town and our police department absolutely does not condone illegal or unethical behaviour by anyone, including our officers and staff.” On the other side of the county, five Seattle officers are under investigation by the city’s Office of Police Accountability. Two officers posted photos of themselves on social media while in the district and officials are investigating to determine where they were and what they were doing. Three others told supervisors that they went to Washington for the events and are being investigated for what they did while there. Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz said his department supports officers’ freedom of speech and that those who were in the nation's capital will be fired if they “were directly involved in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.” But police leaders need to evaluate more than just clear criminal behaviour, according to Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a policing research and policy group. They must also consider how their actions affect the department credibility, he said. Officers' First Amendment rights “don’t extend to expressing words that may be violent or maybe express some prejudice,” Wexler said, “because that’s going to reflect on what they do when they’re working, when they’re testifying in court.” Through the summer and fall, Seattle police — along with officers elsewhere — came under criticism for their handling of mass protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd. The city received more than 19,000 complaints against officers, most for excessive use of force and improper use of pepper spray. Andrew Myerberg, director of the Seattle Office of Police Accountability, said none of the officers now under investigation were involved in those cases. But Sakara Remmu, cofounder of Black Lives Matter Seattle/King County, said the officers should be fired regardless. Their public declarations of solidarity with Trump fosters not just community distrust, but terror of the entire department, she said. “It absolutely does matter when the decorum of racial peace cracks and racial hatred comes through, because we already have a documented history and legacy of what that means in this country,” Remmu said. In Houston, the police chief decried an officer who resigned and was later charged in the riot. A lawyer for Officer Tam Pham said the 18-year veteran of the force "very much regrets” being at the rally and was “deeply remorseful.” But many chiefs have said their officers committed no crimes. “The Arkansas State Police respects the rights and freedom of an employee to use their leave time as the employee may choose,” department spokesman Bill Sadler said of two officers who attended the Trump rally. Malik Aziz, the former chair and executive director of the National Black Police Association, compared condemning all officers who were in Washington to tarring all the protesters who took to streets after the killing of George Floyd with the violent and destructive acts of some. A major with the Dallas Police Department, Aziz said police acting privately have the same rights as other Americans, but that knowingly going to a bigoted event should be disqualifying for an officer. “There’s no place in law enforcement for that individual,” Aziz said. Martha Bellisle And Jake Bleiberg, The Associated Press
Saskatchewan's premier says the fight over the Keystone XL pipeline isn't over yet. In a recent interview with CBC's Rosemary Barton, Premier Scott Moe says conversations around the TC Energy project are ongoing, despite U.S. President Joe Biden's recent cancellation of the pipeline's permit by executive order. "I wouldn't say this project is over by any stretch. There is a lot of conversation to have on KXL," Moe said in an interview on Rosemary Barton Live. The 1,897-kilometre pipeline would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily from oilsands in Hardisty, Alta., to Nebraska, connecting to the original Keystone pipeline running to the U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. A portion of the project would have crossed into southern Saskatchewan. Moe, along with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Ontario Premier Doug Ford, has pushed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal government to take action against the pipeline's halt. That could include economic sanctions, Moe suggested — a possibility also raised by Kenney. "I haven't said that we should go to sanctions and sanctions should be utilized first," Moe said in his interview with Barton. "But sanctions are always on the table in any conversation or any challenge that we may have with our trading relationship with our largest partner." The project, originally blocked by U.S. President Barack Obama, was then approved by President Donald Trump, who wanted to negotiate the terms of the project, before ultimately being blocked again by Biden in the first days of his presidency. Federal Opposition leader Erin O'Toole has also expressed frustration over the cancellation of the project, saying in a statement it "will devastate thousands of Canadian families who have already been badly hurt by the economic crisis." Trudeau's government has repeatedly said that it supports the project and has made that clear to the new U.S. administration, but both the prime minister and Canada's ambassador to the U.S. have said it is time to respect the decision and move on. Speaking on Friday morning, Trudeau reiterated his disappointment with the cancellation and said he would raise the issue during his phone call with Biden scheduled for later in the day. "Obviously the decision on Keystone XL is a very difficult one for workers in Alberta and Saskatchewan who've had many difficult hits," he said. "Over the past years we have been there for them and we will continue to be there for them and I will express my concern for jobs and livelihoods in Canada, particularly in the West, directly in my conversation with President Biden." Trudeau stressed he and the new president are on the same wavelength on fighting climate change and middle-class job creation, as well as the "values of Canadians." Moe called the cancellation a "devastating blow to North American energy security," and said in the interview with Barton he'll continue to advocate for the pipeline, which he says has both economic and environmental benefits for Canada.
ATLANTA — Six months after his death, the late civil rights leader and longtime Georgia congressman John Lewis will retain a palpable influence in Congress: The state’s two new Democratic U.S. senators — both personal friends and admirers — promise to carry on his legacy. Sen. Raphael Warnock was Lewis’ pastor and stood at his bedside before Lewis died. Sen. Jon Ossoff, the Senate’s youngest current member, served as an intern in Lewis’ Washington office years ago. Both were sworn into office Wednesday. Their victories have already brought about significant change. Warnock is Georgia’s first Black senator, and Ossoff is the first Jewish senator from the state. Together, their election victories swung control of the Senate to Democrats. Stacey Abrams, a Democrat who narrowly lost the nationally watched race for Georgia governor in 2018, said in a statement to The Associated Press that Warnock and Ossoff represent Lewis’ legacy in the Senate “as champions of civil rights, human rights and voting rights." “Congressman Lewis is irreplaceable,” Abrams wrote. "However, Georgians gave America the opportunity to pass sweeping reforms that will strengthen our democracy and commemorate his fight for all.” Both of the newly minted senators have pledged to pursue legislation to expand and protect voting rights, a cause that Lewis championed for most of his life. Democrats and their supporters are hopeful that their newfound control of the White House and Congress could mean voting protections previously stalled by a GOP-led Senate could receive quick passage. Chief among those is a bill passed by the House in 2019 that has since been renamed after Lewis. It seeks to restore portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. The ruling in Shelby County v. Holder ended a requirement that jurisdictions with a history of discriminatory voting practices receive preclearance from the federal government for any changes to voting procedures. Democrats and voting rights groups argue that the ruling has led to a cascade of changes in many states that have disenfranchised voters, including polling place closures. In a news conference Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi identified the legislation as a top priority and said she was optimistic about its prospects. That said, the Senate could have its hands full with the impending impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, as well as consideration of appointments by President Joe Biden and his early legislative proposals, including a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan. Lewis died in July at the age of 80 after battling pancreatic cancer. He served in the House for 33 years representing Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, which includes most of Atlanta. Lewis became a key player in the civil rights movement as a young man in the 1960s. He helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, was among the original Freedom Riders who challenged segregated bus terminals in the South, and was the youngest person to speak at the March on Washington in 1963. Most associated with the pursuit to secure and protect voting rights, Lewis led protesters in the 1965 Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where he had his skull fractured by police, and was a driving force behind voting rights laws in the U.S. for decades. Lewis was a parishioner of Warnock's for years at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached and Warnock remains pastor. Warnock was called to Lewis' bedside days before his death and presided over his funeral service. “Today the world lost a giant. I lost a mentor, a church member and a friend," Warnock said in a tweet shortly after Lewis' death. “In his youth, John Lewis wrestled with a call to ministry. But instead of preaching sermons, he became a sermon for all the world to see.” Ossoff first met Lewis when, as a teenager, he was inspired by Lewis' book “Walking With the Wind” and wrote him a letter. “I was so inspired by how a person so young had taken a leadership role in the pursuit of justice and confronting the abuse of power, and was just in awe of his life,” Ossoff said in an interview with The Associated Press in December. Lewis wrote back and invited Ossoff to come work in his office for a few months, spawning a yearslong relationship between the two. Lewis' early endorsement of Ossoff helped him defeat a challenger with far more experience in elected office to clinch the Democratic nomination for Senate. Warnock and Ossoff defeated Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who both ran on fealty to Trump, in a runoff election on Jan. 5. They are the first Democrats to win a U.S. Senate election in Georgia since 2000. On the night of the election, as the Democrats’ leads became clear, members of Congress who worked alongside Lewis paid tribute to the late congressman, saying he laid the groundwork for the victories. “My friend John Lewis planted the foundation of this Georgia over his career,” Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey said in a tweet. “I wish he were here tonight to watch this.” Ben Nadler, The Associated Press
LONDON — Britain is expanding a coronavirus vaccination program that has seen almost 6 million people get the first of two doses — even as the country’s death toll in the pandemic approaches 100,000. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Sunday that three-quarters of the U.K.’s over-80s have received a vaccine shot. He said three-quarters of nursing home residents have also had their first jab. Almost 5.9 million doses of vaccine had been administered by Saturday. Health officials aim to give 15 million people, including everyone over 70, a first vaccine shot by Feb. 15, and cover the entire adult population by September. Britain is inoculating people with two vaccines — one made by U.S. pharma firm Pfizer and German company BioNTech, the other by U.K.-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca and Oxford University. It has authorized a third, developed by Moderna. It is giving them at doctors’ offices, hospitals, pharmacies and vaccination centres set up in conference halls, sports stadiums and other large venues. Thirty more locations are opening this week, including a former IKEA store and a museum of industrial history that was used as a set for the TV show “Peaky Blinders.” Britain’s vaccination campaign is a rare success in a country with Europe’s worst confirmed coronavirus outbreak. The U.K. has recorded 97,329 deaths among people who tested positive, including 1,348 new deaths reported Saturday. The U.K. is set within days to become the fifth country in the world to record 100,000 COVID-19 deaths, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico — all of which have much larger populations than Britain's 67 million people. Some health experts have questioned the Conservative government’s decision to give the two vaccine doses up to 12 weeks apart, rather than the recommended three weeks, in order to offer as many people as possible their first dose quickly. AstraZeneca has said it believes a first dose of its vaccine offers protection after 12 weeks but Pfizer says it has not tested the efficacy of its jab after such a long gap. The British Medical Association says the government should “urgently review” the policy. ___ 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 The Associated Press
The new groomed trails in the Blue Mountains seem to be a hit. The Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) began grooming the Georgian Trail from Cristie Beach Sideroad to Grey Road 21 for walking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fat biking, and other eco-friendly activities on Dec. 28. Keith Hargreaves, a relatively new Thornbury resident who moved to the community from Toronto with his family last year, says the groomed trails have been a much safer option for his early morning runs. “I run early before work and it’s good to be off the roads when it’s dark and the traction [on the trail] has been good,” Hargreaves said. “In the afternoons, they’re great for pulling kids in their toboggans. A great option to get outside when we all need a break for our mental health.” In addition to the Georgian Trail, TBM groomed a loop trail at the Tomahawk Golf Course that includes a set track for cross-country skiing. Jody Weir says she hadn’t been much of a cross-country skier in the past but this season she and her husband have been making use of the cross-country ski tracks. “I have been on the trails since Christmas and they are very nice. My husband who is way more of an advanced skier than I also likes skiing on them,” Weir said. Ryan Gibbons, director of community services for TBM says town staff have not had any issues with the maintenance of the trail and feedback from the community has been overwhelmingly positive. “The community has been very appreciative of the efforts of staff. The only negative feedback has been related to pet owners not cleaning after their pets. We are working to improve signage and communication to address these concerns,” Gibbons said. Jayne Sutherland, a Thornbury resident who lives in close proximity to the trail, recently wrote a letter to town council in appreciation of the new outdoor amenity. “I have seen steady usage on the trail from dog walkers, hikers, winter bicyclists and cross-country skiers. This is especially relevant now that many of us are stuck at home. We’re lucky our environs allow us to get outdoors, something I believe is important for our overall well being, especially now,” Sutherland wrote. Local resident Alison Carey agrees, saying she is getting more exercise this winter than ever before because it is more enjoyable to walk without having to manoeuvre through the snow. “Yesterday I was able to take my 90-year-old mom for a walk on the trail and she loved it,” Carey said. Prior to the snow falling, TBM council members made the decision to invest in grooming the facilities to add more outdoor recreation options for the community this winter and through the COVID-19 stay-at-home order. “We're more than just a ski location. I think we're an outdoor activity location. And we've tried to do what we can this year by clearing the snow and making the Georgian trail and Tomahawk available through the winter months,” said TBM councillor and chair of the town’s Leisure Activity Steering Committee, Peter Bordignon. Gibbons says that with the success of the project, staff have discussed the potential of continuing to groom these facilities in future winter seasons, and these efforts will be included in future budgets for council consideration. For this season, staff anticipated the cost of maintaining this stretch of the Georgian Trail for the winter months to be $26,800, and the cost of operating Tomahawk through the winter months at $12,600. “Looking ahead at future budgets, equipment upgrades may be recommended, such as a blade for the ATV, which will help with clearing road crossings,” Gibbons added. For up-to-date information on winter activities in TBM, visit www.exploreblue.ca/recreation. For an overview of winter activity options in Grey County, visit the County’s Winter Activity Map. Jennifer Golletz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CollingwoodToday.ca
Rioters looted stores, set fires and clashed with police in several Dutch cities on Sunday, resulting in more than 240 arrests, police and Dutch media reported. The unrest came on the second day of new, tougher coronavirus restrictions, including a night curfew, which had prompted demonstrations. Nearly 200 people, some of them throwing stones and fireworks, were detained in the city, police said.
There was no distribution plan for the coronavirus vaccine set up by the Trump administration as the virus raged in its last months in office, new President Joe Biden's chief of staff, Ron Klain, said on Sunday. "The process to distribute the vaccine, particularly outside of nursing homes and hospitals out into the community as a whole, did not really exist when we came into the White House," Klain said on NBC's "Meet the Press." Biden, a Democrat who took over from Republican President Donald Trump on Wednesday, has promised a fierce fight against the pandemic that killed 400,000 people in the United States under Trump’s watch.
Take a look at this review of the Canon 28-70mm f/2 RF lens. A great lens for wedding-photography, portrait-photography, documentaries and for filming. Enjoy! +++ PROS +++ 1. Sharpness 2. Bokeh 3. f/2 over entire focal length 4. fast focusing 5. lens ring for own settings +++ CONTRAS +++ 1. weight 2. no wide-angle coverage
NEW YORK — Larry King was easy to poke fun at, particularly late in his career at CNN: the pinched look, guffaws and coke-bottle glasses, the suspenders and old-time microphone on the desk in front of him. He was grandpa trying to dance to Drake at a wedding. But at least grandpa tried, didn't he? And if you sat down to talk with him, he could take you places with his words, and you would enjoy the journey. You'd certainly be sorry if he wasn't there. Hearing about King's death Saturday at age 87 stirred a similar feeling. The Brooklyn-born King was a classic conversationalist, a throwback to a different era in showbiz and media even during the height of his on-air career. For 25 years until 2010, “Larry King Live” was a fixture on CNN's weeknight schedule, and that was after a lengthy career as a late-night radio host. King talked to politicians and musicians, the serious and the silly, not as a newsman but as anyone would if suddenly thrust into the room with a famous face. Sometimes it felt that way; King would never be accused of over-preparing for an interview. Journalists at CNN gnashed their teeth at missed opportunities to show off their toughness and knowledge if they'd been in his place asking questions of premiers or presidents. He described himself as a minimalist whose chief goal was to make his guests look good. “I ask short questions,” he said once. “I have no pretense at intellectuality.” King could fill a blooper reel of gaffes that would have been fatal to the careers of lesser personalities. He mistakenly addressed Ringo Starr as “George," and notoriously asked Jerry Seinfeld if it was his choice to leave his namesake sitcom or if the network had cancelled it. But, hey, “Seinfeld” aired at 9 p.m. on Thursdays. So did “Larry King Live.” He was busy. “You're not a reminiscencer?' he asked Prince once. “Is that a word, Larry?” Prince asked. “I invented it,” King said. While King may have sat down to talk to authors without reading their books, he did homework, said Tammy Haddad, his producer for the first eight years King was on CNN. And he wasn't necessarily an easy inquisitor. Ross Perot didn't intend to announce his candidacy for president on King's show in 1992, but the host pressed him - both on the air and during commercial breaks - until he did, Haddad said. He would make interview subjects feel so comfortable that sometimes they'd reveal more than they had intended, she said. “Whenever you sat down in Larry King's TV living room, you felt like you were just having a conversation with a friend and forgot that millions around the world were watching you,” singer Tony Bennett tweeted on Saturday. The lineup for King's 25th anniversary shows - LeBron James, Bill Gates, Barack Obama and Lady Gaga - spoke to the eclectic mix he tried to bring to “Larry King Live.” “He'd be happy talking to a taxi driver,” Haddad said. “He came to each of them with the same level of interest.” His connections brought in some big names: Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra in the last interview he gave before his death. King also had a penchant for fading B- or C-list stars, and few things gave him more pleasure than laughing with Don Rickles for an hour. He was more than game enough to speak to a younger generation of stars, too, and took a souped-up ride with Snoop Dogg through the streets of Los Angeles. “Larry King Live” was a type of show that would feel foreign on cable news today, given its obsession with hard-nosed political combat. Podcasts would now be the closest place to get something similar to what King offered, Haddad said. “I think that's one of the reasons people are so nostalgic about Larry,” she said. “They really got to know people (King interviewed) in a way that you just don't have the opportunity to do anymore.” Among the personalities who took time Saturday to tweet memories and photos of themselves with King was filmmaker Kevin Smith. “My dad always asked me, 'Did you see who Larry King talked to last night?'" Smith wrote. “Would've blown his mind to know that one day, it would be his son. "Thanks for that.” David Bauder, The Associated Press
An Olympic hopeful is trying to keep her head above water amid speculation over whether the Summer Games will go ahead in six months. "We have to focus on what we can control," said Haley Daniels, a member of Canada's canoe slalom team, from her home in Calgary. On Friday, British tabloid The Times reported that Tokyo was looking to get out of hosting the Games. The Japanese government dismissed the report, and International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach has said he is confident the Games will go ahead July 23 to Aug. 8, after being postponed last year. Daniels said she woke up to a flood of condolence text messages that day. "I didn't believe it … it was a mini heart attack," she said. Daniels said she and other athletes reached out to Olympic officials, who reassured athletes the Games would go forward. WATCH | IOC denies reports Tokyo Olympics may be cancelled Canadian Olympic Committee CEO David Shoemaker has said the committee has confidence the Games can be staged in a safe way. "I hope that we can make it happen safely," Daniels said. "At the end of the day the Olympics was started to bring nations together … I think if we can have an Olympics to bring the world back together, so be it, let's have it." Much of Japan, including Tokyo, is under a state of emergency due to a third wave of COVID-19 infections, and a recent study found that a government campaign promoting domestic tourism may have contributed to the sharp increase in cases. The country reported 5,047 new cases and 108 new deaths, a daily record, on Friday. Daniels said she's preparing herself for the possibility the Games won't go forward. She said personally, the impact the pandemic has had on athletes has been a setback but she's trying to stay hopeful. "I'm 30-years-old and I thought that when I was 29 I'd hopefully be competing in my first Olympic Games," she said. "There's no other way to describe it, it's a blow ... but for me it was also an opportunity to really slow down and look at how I can be better." Daniels said this is the most time she has spent at home in Canada in 15 years. "We're on the road close to nine months of the year … it's hard because when you're a high-performance athlete your identity is defined in your vocation. When I finish work I don't get to go home and put my feet up," she said. If the Games don't go ahead, it oddly won't be the only time a member of Daniels' family has seen their Olympic dreams dashed. Her uncle Tom Daniels made the Olympic team for water polo in 1980, the year Canada boycotted the Summer Games in Moscow due to the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. Michael Holroyd, Daniels' coach and the head coach for Alberta Slalom Canoe Kayak, said he hopes athletes like Daniels have the opportunity to compete. "For Haley it's enormous, right? It's everything she's been working for, for 15 years now." He said athletes have adapted to the challenges of the pandemic, from dealing with cancelled events to training at home. He hopes that flexibility will be an asset in the long-term. "I just remain hopeful and go from there," he said. Daniels has been training on the Kananaskis River on days warmer than 0 C. Last week her life jacket froze to her body. On colder days, she's training in her garage — a makeshift gym that includes weights purchased at Value Village. But right now with travel not an option, it's how she can keep going. "That's the only way we can train right now, so we just have to look at what we can do and do it," she said.
Submerged in saltwater their discovery in the Bay of Fundy, two prehistoric walrus skulls are now resting peacefully at the New Brunswick Museum in Saint John. Scallop fishermen from St. Mary's First Nation discovered one of the skulls in the Bay of Fundy in 2016 and the other skull in the same area in 2019. The First Nation donated the skulls to the museum, which estimated they were up to 10,000 years old. Walrus haven't been seen in the Bay of Fundy since the 1700s. Dee Stubbs-Lee, the museum's conservator, said both skulls were, and still are, fragile and had to be kept submerged in saltwater at the start to prevent further degradation. "if you think of seawater, you know how salty it is," said Stubbs-Lee. "Unfortunately, those salts would crystallize and become much bigger, much faster than the surrounding bone and ivory and would essentially cause it to explode." The walrus skulls were brought into the museum in Coleman coolers filled with seawater. Skulls salty Then came the long process of preserving the skulls. This was complicated by the fact the skulls are essentially made of three materials: teeth, ivory and fossilized bone. "And all of these materials react differently to the environment," said Stubbs-Lee. "So it's very difficult to find something that's going to make all of those materials happy at the same time." The first step was to start removing the salt from the walrus skulls by slowly diluting the saltwater with fresh water. "I changed out the saltwater for freshwater … very slowly, about 200 millilitres a day over the course of about a month," said Stubbs-Lee. "I monitored the salinity in the water. … When I started out, it was about 30 per cent. And after a little over a month, it got down to zero per cent. So I knew that basically, all of those nasty salts that were in there had been flushed out, and then we could start the process of drying it. " Drying out The drying process took about a year and a half to complete, with the skulls being placed in what Stubbs-Lee describes as a large ziplock bag and occasionally weighing the bag until she was sure the skull had dried out. But there was a bump along the way. "There was a period where we had a bit of a glitch with our heating system, and the lab got very hot and very dry for a few days. And that really accelerated things faster than was ideal," said Stubbs-Lee. The ivory tusks had started to flake, which concerned Stubbs-Lee, especially considering the skulls' possible use in research. "We have a very long view in the museum," she said. "We're thinking very much in terms of what are the consequences of everything we decide to do or not to do today. What are the consequences of that decision, you know, 10 years, 50 years, 100 years, 200 years down the road." To obtain as much information as possible, Stubbs-Lee enlisted colleagues in the museum's geology department to essentially create a 3D scan of the skulls. "It's essentially hundreds of different individual images of the specimen that are stitched together in a computer program so that you can manipulate it in space, you can turn it around, you can look at the underside, you can lift it up, you can change the angles, all that sort of thing, without actually touching the original specimen," said Stubbs-Lee. "That way we knew that that information that's inherent in the specimen or at least part of the information, would be safe regardless of what happened with the original." The skulls are now stored at the museum's Douglas Avenue building in a custom-made case, locked in a metal cabinet in the geology collection.
Taiwan will more than double the number of people who have to quarantine at home to more than 5,000 as it seeks to contain a rare domestic cluster of COVID-19 connected to a hospital, the health minister said on Sunday. While Taiwan has kept the pandemic well under control thanks to early and effective prevention, with the large majority of its 890 infections imported cases, it has since Jan. 12 been dealing with a small number of domestic transmissions at a hospital. Health Minister Chen Shih-chung told reporters that they will expand the number of people who have to quarantine at home for 14 days who may have had contact with the infected patients from the hospital cluster.
Officials in President Joe Biden's administration tried to head off Republican concerns that his $1.9 trillion pandemic relief proposal was too expensive on a Sunday call with Republican and Democratic lawmakers, some of whom pushed for a smaller plan targeting vaccine distribution. "It seems premature to be considering a package of this size and scope," said Republican Senator Susan Collins, who was on the call with Brian Deese, director of the White House's National Economic Council, and other top Biden aides.
OTTAWA — Canada's taxpayers' ombudsperson says his office has seen a steep spike in complaints compared to one year ago, delivering an early warning about how complicated returns should be handled this year. François Boileau says the number of complaints from taxpayers about the Canada Revenue Agency was up 93 per cent in December from the same month in 2019. Urgent requests, for people in dire financial straits, are up 120 per cent since the start of the pandemic, he says. Boileau says the statistics paint a portrait of the difficult circumstances some Canadians find themselves in as a result of COVID-19, and the need for the agency to improve services for the coming tax season. He says too many Canadians still spend hours trying to get through to a call centre agent. Boileau adds that delays are especially frustrating for people who received the Canada Emergency Response Benefit last year and are now trying to sort out whether they have to repay some of the aid. Just a few weeks ago, the CRA sent out letters to 441,000 people questioning their eligibility for the CERB, and warning they may owe back some of the payments. The Liberals have promised leniency for people who will have problems paying the money back, but have yet to say what options will be available. Boileau noted that some callers continue to complain about waiting five hours or more to speak with an agent. He says he is worried the CRA won't be able to meet response-time standards as the calendar ticks closer to what will likely be a complicated tax season due to the pandemic. "I hope it (won't) be," Boileau says. "They are preparing for it. They know what's going on and they're taking all the necessary steps." While the pandemic has been a focus of Boileau in his first few months as ombudsperson, his office continues to work away on a review of how the CRA has handled the processing of Canada Child Benefit payments. Boileau's predecessor, Sherra Profit, launched the review of the CCB in late 2019 after three years of flagging overly stringent eligibility rules that prevented payments to some of Canada’s most vulnerable families. In some cases, newcomer families to Canada haven't receive child benefits because they can’t get needed documents, such as a note from a school or family doctor. In other situations, women fleeing domestic violence have felt like they need to get their partner's signatures on forms and other information about custody — despite the government promising that wouldn’t be the case. Boileau says some of these situations add complications for the CRA, which has to take time to sort things out. "It takes time and time is of the essence with the CCB," he says. "It's really touching the lives of citizens, taxpayers that are in a vulnerable state of mind." Boileau says his officials are currently reviewing answers from the agency to some additional questions, although there is no firm timeline on when the review will be complete. The office of the federal auditor general is doing its own review of the CCB, which it expects to publish this year. According to the auditor general's website, the review will focus on whether recipients were eligible for the benefits, and that payments are made in a timely and accurate manner. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2021. Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
Celebrities and interview subjects, from Bill Clinton to Oprah Winfrey, are mourning the death of Larry King. His broadcast interviews with world leaders, movie stars and ordinary Joes helped define American conversation for a half-century. King died Saturday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles at age 87. On social media, King was remembered by a number of figures and fans, including singers Barbra Streisand and Bette Midler, entertainer 50 Cent and actors Reese Witherspoon, George Takei and Albert Brooks. ___ “I enjoyed my 20+ interviews with Larry King over the years. He had a great sense of humour and a genuine interest in people. He gave a direct line to the American people and worked hard to get the truth for them, with questions that were direct but fair. Farewell, my friend," former President Bill Clinton wrote on Twitter. ___ “It was always a treat to sit at your table. And hear your stories. Thank you Larry King," Oprah Winfrey tweeted. ___ “He was one of a kind! May he Rest In Peace. #LarryKing," singer Barbra Streisand wrote on Twitter. ___ “When I was a young morning DJ, I listened to Larry King’s overnight radio show every night on my way to work. He was one of the greats and I am glad to have known him ‘Bethesda, Maryland you’re on the air...,’" talk show host Jimmy Kimmel tweeted. ___ “I’ve known Larry King since I arrived in LA 42 years ago. Larry King Live changed CNN in the 80s blending entertainment with news & I loved being on the show," former NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson wrote on Twitter. “Larry was one of the best interviewers on TV. Always well prepared, asked intelligent questions, & always made the interviews fun, serious, & entertaining!" ___ “Larry King was a Brooklyn boy who become a newsman who interviewed the newsmakers. He conducted over 50,000 interviews that informed Americans in a clear and plain way," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted. “New York sends condolences to his family and many friends." ___ “I’m sad to learn about Larry King’s passing. He was such a kind gentleman, and he made all of us feel as though we were speaking with a lifelong friend. There will never be anyone like him, and he will be missed by many. My sincerest condolences to his family & friends. Celine xx…," singer Celine Dion wrote on Twitter. ___ “Goodbye and Godspeed to Larry King; a great interviewer and a great listener, and they are not the same thing. He always made me feel as though I were the only person in the room. Condolences to his family, friends, and fans around the world," Bette Midler wrote on Twitter. ___ “Oh no!!! RIP Larry King...what a Titan you were! One of our true icons. You are no longer in pain. Rest well," actor Viola Davis wrote on Twitter. ___ “So sad to hear the news about Larry King today. I was lucky enough to be interviewed by him and see his unique interview style first hand. He was a deeply thoughtful, intelligent, kind man... Sending love to his family & all of his many fans," actor Reese Witherspoon tweeted. ___ “R.I.P. Larry King. I loved his all night radio show in the 80’s. You could call in at 1 in the morning and just riff for hours. His radio show made a great opening for Lost In America. Rest easy Larry," actor Albert Brooks tweeted. ___ “My friend Larry King has died," news commentator Keith Olbermann wrote on Twitter. “It is literally true that thousands of us can make that sad statement this morning. While he was easily caricatured, I’ve never known anybody who made a bigger deal out of the slightest kindness afforded him." ___ “I lost a dear friend and mentor. Truly an American treasure. Rest in peace, Larry King," TV personality Ryan Seacrest tweeted. ___ “R.i.P To the legend Larry King God bless him," entertainer 50 Cent wrote on Twitter. ___ “Thanks for the countless interviews and insights, Larry King. You understood human triumph and frailty equally well, and that is no easy feat. There was no one else like you, and you shall be missed. Rest with the heavens now," actor George Takei tweeted. ___ “It is with emotion and affection that I remember #LarryKing, king of the talk show and legendary face of @CNN, a remarkable individual, a great journalist and a good man who loved life deeply," singer Andrea Bocelli wrote on Twitter. ___ “RIP Larry King!!!! I loved the easy breezy format of his CNN show, and his amazing voice," Bravo TV Producer and Executive Andy Cohen wrote on Twitter. ___ “Larry King was my @CNN colleague and good friend. He was an amazing interviewer and a mentor to so many of us. He loved what he did and all of us loved him. He was a real mensch. My Deepest Condolences to his loving family. May He Rest In Peace and May His Memory Be A Blessing," CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer tweeted. ___ “I mourn the passing of Larry King whom I have known for nearly 40 years. He was a great interviewer - sensitivity, humorous and witty. And he actually let you talk! An all around mensch. Millions around the world shall miss him, including myself," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on Twitter. ___ “The Los Angeles Dodgers are saddened by the passing of Larry King and offer their deepest condolences to his family and friends," the baseball team tweeted. ___ “I’ve had the honour of being interviewed by Larry King multiple times in my life. It was always a joy and a pleasure. He truly was the King of Talk. On a personal level, I’ll miss him. Professionally, we’ll all miss him. Rest In Peace, my friend," Jesse Ventura, former governor of Minnesota, wrote on Twitter. Associated Press, The Associated Press
AMSTERDAM — A suspected Canadian drug baron has been arrested in the Netherlands on an Interpol warrant, according to Dutch and Australian police. The 57-year-old was detained Friday and is of “significant interest” to Australian and other law enforcement agencies, according to a statement Sunday from the Australian federal police. It says he was targeted as part of an operation that dismantled a global crime syndicate in 2019 that was accused of trading large amounts of illegal drugs and laundering the profits. The Australian police plan to seek his extradition. Dutch national police tweeted that he was arrested at the request of Australian authorities via Interpol. The international police agency did not comment on the arrest. The suspect's name was not released by Dutch authorities, in line with the country's privacy rules, but media widely reported it to be Tse Chi Lop. Australian police said they would work with the country's Attorney-General’s Department to prepare an extradition request. Dutch National Prosecutor's Office spokesman Wim de Bruin said Sunday no extradition hearing had yet been scheduled. The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Under fluorescent lights, Wendy Muckle surveys the supervised consumption site that sits in quiet contrast to Ottawa's peppy ByWard Market nearby. Users filter into the brick building — dubbed "the trailer," a nod to the service's former digs — offering up greetings and grins en route to 16 basement booths, each furnished with a chair, a shatter-resistant mirror and a needle disposal box. The injection facility halved the number of booths to ensure distancing when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in March, resulting in a "huge increase" in overdoses in the surrounding community, says Muckle, who for 20 years has headed Ottawa Inner City Health, which provides health care for vulnerable populations. She restored full capacity in response to the spike in overdoses but many services remain reduced or accessible only virtually. “We've seen a really frightening, rapid increase in the number of people using drugs in this pandemic," Muckle says. "I think people feel like maybe they just aren't going to make it through this one." Drug users face greater dangers as the second wave forces harm reduction sites and outreach programs to curtail their services, leaving at-risk communities out in the cold. Shorter hours, physical distancing measures and a curfew in Quebec, combined with a more lethal drug supply due to border closures, have sent addictions services scrambling to help users across the country as opioid overdoses and the attendant death toll continue to mount. In British Columbia, fentanyl-related deaths had been on the decline for more than a year until April, when monthly numbers routinely began to double those of 2019. Deaths linked to fentanyl, a lethally potent synthetic opioid, reached 360 in B.C. between September and November compared to 184 in the same period a year earlier, according to the B.C. Coroners Service. Opioid-related deaths countrywide could climb as high as 2,000 per quarter in the first half of 2021, far surpassing the peak of nearly 1,200 in the last three months of 2018, according to modelling from the Public Health Agency of Canada. It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply and users turning to substances as a way of coping with high stress. Social services have limited capacity or shut down communal spaces, while programs from meal provision to laundry — some of which are near injection sites, encouraging their use — are now tougher to access. Canada's ongoing border shutdown has disrupted the flow of illicit drugs, and dealers looking to stretch their limited supplies are more apt to add potentially toxic adulterants. Benzodiazepines, or benzos, have been detected in drugs circulating in parts of several provinces. Users can be difficult to rouse and slow to respond to naloxone — the drug that reverses opioid overdoses — and more likely to overdose when fentanyl or other opioids are also in the mix. “With the benzodiazepine, there is no antidote for that," said Paula Tookey, program manager for consumption and treatment at the South Riverdale Community Health Centre in Toronto. "People are sedated deeply for hours, often 10 hours or even more," forcing workers to turn away other users who then may shoot up alone, she said. The Riverdale site saw 42 out of 1,110 visitors overdose last month — none fatally — compared to just two overdoses in 700 visits in December 2019, Tookey said. Pared-down services have also diminished harm reduction sites' role as de facto community spaces, cutting off a key point of social contact. "We used to have memorials, which were super important for people because we have constant deaths," Tookey said. “A lot of our folks don't have families ... The community and other people in their situations and the workers are kind of the informal family that people have." Limits on gathering in the pandemic have also closed off a critical source of knowledge sharing. "There’s no people to say, ‘Hey, that’s really, really strong, don’t use that much,'" said Karen Ward, a drug rights advocate as well as a drug policy and poverty reduction consultant with the City of Vancouver. "Those facts, that social information, is really, really important to have. You know, ‘Hey, there’s a bad batch,’ that sort of thing.” Health authorities run alert systems for poisoned drugs across B.C., but their patchwork structure leaves lives in jeopardy, she said. In Quebec, Montreal's four supervised consumption sites have seen visits drop sharply since the 8 p.m. provincial curfew came into force earlier this month. Even a mobile unit has reached far fewer users, says Kim Charest, outreach program coordinator at L'Anonyme, which runs the portable site. "Unfortunately, people are less likely to go outside their door basically past 8 p.m.," she said. "But we do know that people don't necessarily stop taking drugs." Even before the curfew, the number of EMS calls where paramedics administered naloxone to opioid users in Montreal and the suburb of Laval nearly doubled last year, reaching 270 compared to 146 in 2019, according to the Urgences-santé ambulance service. Another danger lies in sharing needles — injection sites provide clean ones — and the risk of blood-borne infections. Advocates, outreach workers and users are calling for better drug alert systems and broader support services in the short-term. However, nothing short of decriminalization of possession of small quantities of drugs — requested by Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart to the federal government — and more stable housing will help beat back the tide of overdoses, Muckle says. "At the end of the day, if people are unhoused, all of the things that you're doing really have a marginal benefit," Muckle says. "You cannot heal in a shelter .... A home is such a fundamental part of our health." Meanwhile, the social isolation and unsupervised consumption of tainted drugs ratcheted up by the pandemic bode ill for vulnerable Canadians. "We had a pretty significant problem with addiction when this pandemic started. We're going to come out of it way worse." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2021. Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is confronting the political risk that comes with grand ambition. As one of his first acts, Biden offered a sweeping immigration overhaul last week that would provide a path to U.S. citizenship for the estimated 11 million people who are in the United States illegally. It would also codify provisions wiping out some of President Donald Trump's signature hard-line policies, including trying to end existing, protected legal status for many immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and crackdowns on asylum rules. It's precisely the type of measure that many Latino activists have longed for, particularly after the tough approach of the Trump era. But it must compete with Biden's other marquee legislative goals, including a $1.9 trillion plan to combat the coronavirus, an infrastructure package that promotes green energy initiatives and a “public option” to expand health insurance. In the best of circumstances, enacting such a broad range of legislation would be difficult. But in a narrowly divided Congress, it could be impossible. And that has Latinos, the nation's fastest growing voting bloc, worried that Biden and congressional leaders could cut deals that weaken the finished product too much — or fail to pass anything at all. “This cannot be a situation where simply a visionary bill — a message bill — gets sent to Congress and nothing happens with it,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, which advocates for low-income immigrants. “There’s an expectation that they will deliver and that there is a mandate now for Biden to be unapologetically pro-immigrant and have a political imperative to do so, and the Democrats do as well.” If Latinos ultimately feel betrayed, the political consequences for Democrats could be long-lasting. The 2020 election provided several warning signs that, despite Democratic efforts to build a multiracial coalition, Latino support could be at risk. Biden already was viewed skeptically by some Latino activists for his association with former President Barack Obama, who was called the “deporter in chief” for the record number of immigrants who were removed from the country during his administration. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont defeated Biden in last year's Nevada caucuses and California primary, which served as early barometers of the Latino vote. In his race against Trump, Biden won the support of 63% of Latino voters compared with Trump's 35%, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of more than 110,000 voters nationwide. But Trump narrowed the margin somewhat in some swing states such as Nevada and also got a bump from Latino men, 39% of whom backed him compared with 33% of Latino women. Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate since 1996 to carry Arizona, in part because of strong grassroots backing from Mexican American groups opposed to strict GOP immigration policies going back decades. But he lost Florida by underperforming in its largest Hispanic county, Miami-Dade, where the Trump campaign's anti-socialism message resonated with Cuban- and some Venezuelan Americans. Biden also fell short in Texas even though running mate Kamala Harris devoted valuable, late campaign time there. The ticket lost some sparsely populated but heavily Mexican American counties along the Mexican border, where law enforcement agencies are major employers and the GOP's zero-tolerance immigration policy resonated. There were more warning signs for House Democrats, who lost four California seats and two in South Florida while failing to pick up any in Texas. Booming Hispanic populations reflected in new U.S. census figures may see Texas and Florida gain congressional districts before 2022's midterm elections, which could make correcting the problem all the more pressing for Democrats. The urgency isn't lost on Biden. He privately spent months telling immigration advocates that major overhauls would be at the top of his to-do list. As vice-president, he watched while the Obama administration used larger congressional majorities to speed passage of a financial crisis stimulus bill and its signature health care law while letting an immigration overhaul languish. “It means so much to us to have a new president propose bold, visionary immigration reform on Day 1. Not Day 2. Not Day 3. Not a year later,” said New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, his chamber's lead sponsor of the Biden package. Menendez was part of a bipartisan immigration plan championed by the “Gang of Eight” senators that collapsed in 2013. Obama then resorted to executive action to offer legal status to millions of young immigrants. President George W. Bush also pushed an immigration package — with an eye toward boosting Latino support for Republicans before the 2008 election — only to see it fail in Congress. Menendez acknowledged that the latest bill will have to find at least 10 Republican senators' support to clear the 60-vote hurdle to reach the floor, and that he's “under no illusions" how difficult that will be. Former Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a moderate Republican from Florida, said Biden may find some GOP support but probably will have to settle for far less than what’s in his original proposal. “Many Republicans are worried about primary challenges,” Curbelo said, adding that Trump and his supporters’ championing of immigration crackdowns means there's “political peril there for Republicans.” But he also said Democrats could alienate some of their own base by appearing to prioritize the needs of people in the country illegally over those of struggling U.S. citizens and thus “appearing to overreach from the perspective of swing and independent voters.” Indeed, Democrats haven't always universally lined up behind an immigration overhaul, arguing that it could lead to an influx of cheap labour that hurts U.S. workers. Some of the party's senators joined Republicans in sinking Bush's bill. Still, Latinos haven't forgotten past immigration failures and have often blamed Democrats more than Republicans. Chuck Roca, head of Nuestro PAC, which spent $4 million on ads boosting Biden in Arizona, said that while Hispanics have traditionally tended to support Democrats, he has begun to see trends in the past decade where more are registering as independent or without party affiliation. Those voters can still be won back, he said, but only if Latinos see real change on major issues such as immigration “even if it's piecemeal.” “They have to get something done if they want to start to turn around the loss of Latino voters,” said Rocha, who headed Latino voter outreach for Sanders’ presidential campaign. “They have to do everything in their power now to get Latinos back.” ___ Associated Press writer Alan Fram contributed to this report. Will Weissert, The Associated Press
With the return of some Ontario students to the classroom set for less than three weeks away, opinions on whether classrooms are as safe as they should be are piling up. The provincial government told CBC Toronto its plan to reopen Ontario's schools "has been informed by the best medical and scientific minds in the country, including SickKids and other hospitals." In-person classes are set to re-start in Toronto, Peel, Hamilton, Windsor and York on Feb. 10. A number of other boards still haven't been told when they'll resume. Among the new measures greeting students upon their return: adding mask requirements for Grades 1 to 3, expanding voluntary asymptomatic testing, and continuing to fund HVAC and ventilation improvements — though the government says at least 95 per cent of schools have already had upgrades. Meanwhile, the plan to reopen — and the province's approach to school safety in general — continues to draw mixed reactions and sharp criticism. Adalsteinn Brown, dean of the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health and co-chair of Ontario's COVID-19 science advisory table, told CBC Radio last week that "the decision about opening schools has to be taken very, very carefully." Students mixing and spreading the disease "could be very dangerous," he continued. Responding to a recent Toronto Star article that reported that the province had ignored or dialled back several pieces of school safety advice, the Ontario NDP took a harder line. "Parents, teachers, education workers and children are living with anguish, frustration and fear," the party wrote in a statement, adding that the Premier "chose saving money over saving kids' health and their education." The province has also been roundly criticized by teacher's unions, both for the revelations in the Star article and for a perceived failure to be included in the planning process. "What we're asking for is to have an advisory table where all of the stakeholders are there where the government will actually pay attention," said Liz Stuart, president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association, in an interview with CBC Toronto. SickKids guidance says closures are 'last resort' One element of the return to school that is not being debated: the importance of getting students back into physical classrooms. In its updated guidance for re-opening, put out this past Thursday, SickKids wrote that the suspension of in-person learning should be "a last resort for pandemic control" given the "significant negative impact" it can cause. That negative impact — and the blanket closure — was also the subject of another criticism levelled at the government last week, this time from a group called "Opening Schools & Daycares Full Time Safely In Ontario." "The most significant harm your Government has done is the universal closures of schools regardless of the rate of COVID in each school's community," the group wrote in its statement. On Monday, seven health units will send students back to physical classrooms, something infectious disease expert Dr. Zain Chagla is welcoming, given the low rates of community transmission in those regions. "This is a time to restart schools and track what actually happens in the next two to four weeks," he said in a recent interview with CBC News. "We can't keep… saying schools are the issue and shutting them down." School boards prepare For school boards looking ahead to a Feb.10 opening, the task now is to prepare to roll out the new measures. Dawn Danko, chair of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, says she's grateful to have time to iron out the details. Take asymptomatic testing — first introduced as a pilot project in some Ontario hot spots back in November — now being brought to new areas, including Hamilton. Danko is glad to hear it's coming, adding that "what we need time to do here is talk to local public health. How do we operationalize that, who does the testing?" she told CBC Toronto. The same goes for confirming the details around new forms families will likely have to sign — possibly every day. As for HVAC improvements, Danko says proactive work in the summer and early fall means every HWDSB school has been inspected, with HEPA air filters installed in classrooms where ventilation could not be improved. Forty new custodial staff members were also hired, she said, though there are plans to hire even more staff this winter. "We're in a really good position in terms of our facilities being updated," she said. The Toronto District School Board is also feeling confident about the return, writing to CBC Toronto in an email that they "have taken a number of important steps since the beginning of the school year." HVAC repairs and improvements largely carried out in the fall CBC Toronto e-mailed the province and all four GTA school boards to ask how much work had been done on their HVAC and ventilation systems to this point. The Toronto District School Board says that every school and instructional space has been reviewed, and that any classroom without mechanical ventilation has had a HEPA filter installed. (The most recent SickKids guidance says there is "insufficient evidence" to routinely recommend the filters, though they can be considered in situations where there's limited ability to improve ventilation in other ways.) In the Halton District School Board, as of November 2020, all HVAC equipment filters have been upgraded, and HEPA filters are also being used in classrooms. In all, 397 new air filtration units have been installed in schools. At the Peel District School Board, "100 per cent of our classrooms have been reviewed and upgraded in some capacity," wrote a spokesperson, adding that the work was helped along by $3 million from the province. Peel is also using nearly 1000 portable filters. A more thorough overhaul via system recommissioning has been completed at four sites and is being worked on at 32 others. York Region District School Board did not respond to the CBC's request.
PALM DESERT, Calif. — Jimmie Rodgers, singer of the 1957 hits “Honeycomb” and “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” whose career in music and movies was disrupted by a severe head injury a decade later, has died at age 87. Rodgers died from kidney disease on Jan. 18 in Palm Desert, California, and had also tested positive for COVID-19, publicist Alan Eichler said Saturday, citing family. Rodgers performed for $10 a night around Nashville while stationed there with the U.S. Air Force after the Korean War. He appeared on a talent show and got an audition with Roulette Records, which signed him after hearing him perform “Honeycomb,” a song by Bob Merrill. With a style of singing and playing guitar that included elements of country, folk and pop, the Camas, Washington native recorded many other Top 10 hits during the late 1950s, including “Secretly," “Oh-Oh, I'm Falling in Love Again,” and “Are You Really Mine?” Rodgers continued making albums for the better part of the 1960s, producing music that ranged from covering traditional songs like “The Wreck Of The ‘John B.’” and "English Country Garden” to popular fare such as the ballad “Child of Clay.” He had established himself on television with performances on variety shows when he moved into acting in movies during the 1960s. His film credits included “The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come” and “Back Door to Hell” with a young Jack Nicholson. In 1967, Rodgers was found in his car on a Los Angeles freeway suffering from a fractured skill and other injuries. He said he had pulled over and stopped in response to a driver behind him who was flashing his lights and that an attack from an an off-duty police officer had caused his head injuries. "I rolled the window down to ask what was the matter,” he told The Toronto Star in 1987. “That’s the last thing I remember.” Los Angeles police officers insisted that Rodgers had injured himself in a fall while drumk. Rodgers filed a lawsuit and agreed to a $200,000 settlement. He subsequently developed a condition that caused spasms in the muscles of his voice box. He also had occasional seizures, which he said were due to the attack. After his initial recovery, Rodgers had a summer TV show on ABC in 1969 and also performed at his own theatre in Branson, Missouri. In a 2016 interview with The Spectrum, a Utah newspaper, Rodgers recalled finding a $10 guitar and singing when he was in the Air Force and stationed in Korea in 1953. “We were sitting on the floor with only candles for light, and these tough soldiers had tears running down their cheeks. I realized if my music could have that effect, that’s what I wanted to do with my life," he said. Survivors include his wife, Mary Louise Biggerstaff, and five children from three marriages. The Associated Press