Travis Dhanraj has more on the Ontario government's latest moves to curb rising COVID-19 cases, including the movement of Hamilton into lockdown as of Dec. 21.
Travis Dhanraj has more on the Ontario government's latest moves to curb rising COVID-19 cases, including the movement of Hamilton into lockdown as of Dec. 21.
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.
For musicians Andrew Adoranti and Austin DiPietro, it's been tough not being able to perform in front of a live audience during the pandemic. The lockdown forced the duo to instead perform online, but on Sunday, they — along with a handful of other musicians — drove around the city performing for small groups outside of their homes. It's an initiative launched by Tom Lucier, the owner of Phog Lounge, and his business partner Ian Phillips. The restaurant offers customers a Sunday special: a hot meal and a live music show. Musicians they've partnered with perform along driveways, or on front lawns, while restaurant staff drop off poutine, pizza or other food and drink. Despite the snow and cold weather, Adoranti and DiPietro said it felt good to perform live again. "Any chance we can get to get out and play, especially for people? Yeah, it's nice to have as opposed to online," DiPietro said. "Anything like that is great." "It's definitely different because, you know, people are separated. They're smaller audiences. And to get the crowd that we previously had, it requires us to go to a bunch of different locations, whereas before it was everyone was in the same spot at the same time. But I think this allows it to be a little bit more intimate and make a deeper connection, or a closer connection, with the people that you're playing for," said Adoranti. "I think people are more appreciative of it for sure," DiPietro added. For customer Debbie Hazlett, the experience has been wonderful. "It's cold out here, but I don't very often get the chance to share this with my neighbours. So it's wonderful that everybody came out to see what was going on and just listen to the music and share some happiness for a change," she said, adding that she's glad to be supporting local businesses and local bands. "They exceeded my expectations. The music was great. They were all amped up and the whole neighborhood could hear them," she said. The restaurant has been running the initiative for six weeks. Lucier said five artists make about eight to 10 stops, averaging 30 to 50 shows per Sunday. "It has been the most lucrative, supportive thing we've seen for musicians out of all of the work we've done in the 17 years I've been at Phog," he said. "I haven't seen this kind of support financially for the musicians like I've seen in the past five weeks. It's startling, and it's definitely something that needs to continue for the betterment of creative people, for people who lend themselves to the cultural tapestry of not just Windsor, but of Canada." Lucier said the response has been "mind-boggling," adding that he's seen repeat customers requesting the Sunday special. Up to 50 shows a Sunday "It does not surprise me that it is mood altering. It is the kind of thing that brightens up an entire neighborhood. People realize how important this kind of thing is and they are extremely responsible with masks and social distancing and keeping their groups to less than five on their lawn or on their property or on the street to watch these things," Lucier said. "There's a level of respect for live music that I have never seen before. And it's obviously because people have been removed from it for so long, but it speaks volumes to the community to be able to back these artists, this many of them in a pandemic. And it speaks volumes to the artists' talent that they have been rewarded so heartily for their efforts because they're just so gifted," he continued. He said the initiative has been such a success so far that he plans to keep it going post-pandemic.
SYDNEY, Australia — Australia’s medical regulator has approved use of its first coronavirus vaccine, paving the way for inoculations to begin next month. The Therapeutic Goods Administration on Monday gave provisional approval for people aged 16 and over to use the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. Residents and workers at aged-care facilities, frontline healthcare workers and quarantine workers are among the groups being prioritized for the first doses. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed the development. He said Australia was among the first countries to complete a comprehensive process to formally approve a vaccine rather than just grant an emergency approval. Australia has an agreement for 10 million doses of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine and an option to buy more if supplies allow. Health Minister Greg Hunt said Monday the country overall had secured 140 million vaccines, one of the highest dosing rates per head of population in the world. The biggest of the pre-orders, conditional on regulatory approval, is 53.8 million doses of the vaccine made by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, 50 million of which would be made in Australia in a partnership with Melbourne-based biopharmaceutical company CSL. Australia is aiming to complete inoculations by October. The nation of 26 million people has reported fewer than 30,000 virus cases and a little over 900 deaths. In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region: — Australia has suspended its partial travel bubble with New Zealand after New Zealand reported its first coronavirus case outside of a quarantine facility in two months. Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said Monday the suspension would last for three days and was being implemented out of an abundance of caution. Travelers affected need to cancel or face two weeks in quarantine upon arrival. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she’d told Morrison she had confidence in New Zealand’s systems and processes, but it was up to Australia to decide how they managed their borders. Health officials in New Zealand say genome tests indicate the woman contracted the virus from another returning traveller just before leaving quarantine. However, there was no evidence the virus has spread further. Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield said the 56-year-old woman had recently returned from Europe. During her mandatory two weeks in quarantine, she tested negative twice. She developed symptoms at home later and tested positive. Officials say the woman appears to have caught the more infectious South African variant of the virus from another traveller on her second-to-last day in quarantine, and they’re investigating how the health breach happened. — Bangladesh received 5 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine from an Indian producer on Monday. Under a three-way agreement, it plans to buy 30 million doses from the Serum Institute of India in phases. A Bangladeshi company, Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd., received the 5 million doses as distributor for the South Asian country. Nazmul Hasan Papon, managing director of Beximco Pharmaceuticals, said the vaccine will be provided to government authorities across the country. The government is training thousands of volunteers to administer the vaccine. The country received 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine last Thursday as a gift from India, while Monday’s doses were purchased. The vaccine, manufactured under license by Serum Institute of India, will be given first to front-line workers, including doctors and nurses. Bangladesh has recorded more than 8.000 deaths from the coronavirus. — Sri Lanka's government says it will start administering a coronavirus vaccine this week. Sri Lanka is to receive a donation of 500,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from India on Wednesday and will begin inoculations the next day, the government said. It will first be given to health workers, the military and police. Sri Lanka has also ordered supplies of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, and separately is to receive enough vaccine for 20% of its population through COVAX, a program led by the World Health Organization and others. Last week, Sri Lanka’s National Medicines Regulatory Authority approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine amid warnings from doctors that front-line health workers should be quickly inoculated to prevent the medical system from collapsing. On Saturday, health minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi tested positive for COVID-19. The disease resurged in October with two new clusters, one at a garment factory and the other at a fish market. Sri Lanka has reported 58,429 case, with 283 fatalities. — A lockdown in part of Hong Kong's Kowloon neighbourhood was lifted Monday after thousands of residents were tested for the virus. The lockdown that began early Saturday covered 16 buildings in the working-class Yau Tsim Mong district. During the lockdown, residents were not allowed to leave their premises until they had tested negative for the coronavirus. The district has been at the centre of a worsening coronavirus outbreak, with over 160 cases reported over the first three weeks in January. Higher concentrations of the virus were also found in sewage samples, prompting fears the virus could be transmitted via poorly installed plumbing systems in subdivided units that lack ventilation. The government said in a statement early Monday that about 7,000 people were tested for the coronavirus during the lockdown, with 13 positive infections found. As of Sunday, Hong Kong has reported 10,086 cases of the coronavirus overall, with 169 deaths recorded. — South Korea has reported another new 437 infections of the coronavirus as officials raised alarm over an outbreak at a missionary training school. Around 130 students and teachers were found infected so far at the church-run academy in the central city of Daejeon. Prime Minster Chung Sye-kyun during a virus meeting called for health officials to deal swiftly with the outbreak at the Daejeon school and prevent transmissions from spreading further. South Korea throughout the pandemic has repeatedly seen huge infection clusters emerge from religious groups, including more than 5,000 infections tied to the secretive Shincheonji Church of Jesus that drove a major outbreak in the southeastern region in spring last year. “We cannot let that situation repeat,” Chung said. The numbers released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Monday brought the national caseload to 75,521, including 11 deaths. The Associated Press
A former auditor who worked for the provincial auditor general said there needs to be changes to the selection process for the job to give the public more confidence that the next appointee is independent. Brent White said it creates a potential problem when officials who once oversaw spending in the Finance Department are appointed to the job--as has been the case in the last two appointments. "The appearance side is where we have the big issue, because having worked that long inside government, you just cannot disassociate yourself from that problem with appearance," said White, who worked for auditors general for two decades. "You're going to be reviewing some of your own work. So you have a self-review problem. You're going to be thoroughly familiar with the decision-makers inside government, so it can be very hard for you to extract yourself from the familiarity threat." Self-review and familiarity are two of five "threats" to independence that accountants guard against under their professional standards. Mike Ferguson, who was auditor general from 2005 to 2010, and Kim Adair-MacPherson, who has been in the job since 2010, both held the position of comptroller before their appointments. The comptroller is in effect the chief financial officer of the province responsible for financial accounting systems and internal audits, while the auditor general is independent and reports to the public through the legislature. "Such a transition raises questions about how the province responds to the way the profession has articulated auditor independence," White writes in his recent doctoral dissertation at the University of New Brunswick. The public could question how an auditor general can credibly audit programs and spending that they themselves reviewed as comptroller, said White, who left his position of audit director in 2011 and now teaches at Mount Allison University. Former Finance Minister Norm Betts agrees with White's conclusions and said the legislature should choose who gets the job with no input from the executive branch of government. "This is an archaic piece of legislation that should be fixed," said Betts, a professor of business administration at UNB. Betts recalls when Ferguson was chosen for the job from 2005, "I thought, 'boy, that's kind of weird,' the audited becoming the auditor." Ferguson's predecessor Daryl Wilson had been treasurer for the city of Saint John before taking the job. But White notes that four of the seven people to have held the auditor general position since it was created in 1967 had been in the comptroller role beforehand. "I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the quality of the work," White said of Adair-MacPherson's decade in the role and of Ferguson's work before that. During her term, Adair-MacPherson has issued critical audits on ambulance services, road maintenance contracts, school curriculum changes, youth group homes and the Atcon loan fiasco, among others. White's comments are timely because a new auditor general has to be chosen sometime before the end of 2021. Adair-MacPherson's 10-year term is up, but last year it was extended until December. Adair-MacPherson said in an email that a new appointment process put in place since she was chosen "should help address the concern raised when I was appointed." A four-member selection committee that includes a judge and someone from "the university community" now draws up a list of names that goes to the premier, who is required to consult other parties in the legislature on the final choice. "A selection process will be established in the coming months in accordance with legislation," said provincial spokesperson John McNeill. White said because the clerk of the executive council is also part of any selection committee, the group could still be persuaded to appoint the comptroller or someone from within the Finance Department. "I think it certainly makes it less likely, but there's nothing to forbid it," he said. "What we have now is a better process… but it's still flawed. For one thing, the clerk of the executive council should not be there. He recommends giving the legislature sole authority to fill the position. Concerns not new When Adair-MacPherson was appointed in 2010 by Premier David Alward, CBC News reported on the same concerns raised by Queen's University business professor Steven Salterio. White reveals there were also concerns within the auditor general's office. But opposition politicians, other media organizations and provincial associations representing professional accountants "consistently ignored" the issue, White writes. No one from the Chartered Professional Accountants of New Brunswick was available for an interview Friday. White notes in his dissertation that Adair-MacPherson disclosed in her first report that she had held the position of comptroller and had asked her deputy auditor general to sign off on the province's financial statements that year. White interviewed three former New Brunswick premiers, Bernard Lord, Shawn Graham and David Alward for his dissertation. He said Lord and Alward, who appointed Ferguson and Adair-MacPherson respectively, acknowledged they didn't have expertise in professional accounting standards at the time and weren't informed of the issue. They each said they relied on the quality of their appointees in making their decisions. "In effect, these politicians were claiming that the state of mind aspect of independence trumped the appearance side of the equation, although the professional guidelines do not allow for this distinction," White writes. Betts, who sat on White's dissertation review committee, has forwarded copies of White's dissertation to the four party leaders in the legislature.
Founders Hall in Charlottetown wants to develop its outdoor space to create a place where people can gather more safely during the pandemic. More people were allowed in churches and other places of worship Sunday after the province eased some COVID-19 measures this weekend. There have been no reported cases of influenza on P.E.I. this season, as well as fewer cases of coughs and colds, which the Chief Public Health Office credits to "unintended impacts" of pandemic restrictions. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases reported on P.E.I. remains 110, with seven still active. There have been no deaths or hospitalizations. New Brunswick reported 20 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, mostly in the Moncton and Edmundston regions. The province now has 334 active cases. Nova Scotia had a single new case of COVID-19 to report along with two recoveries, bringing the total of known active cases to 19. Also in the news Further resources Reminder about symptoms The symptoms of COVID-19 can include: Fever. Cough or worsening of a previous cough. Possible loss of taste and/or smell. Sore throat. New or worsening fatigue. Headache. Shortness of breath. Runny nose. More from CBC P.E.I.
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
Italian consumer association Altroconsumo said on Monday it had told Apple it has launched a class action against the U.S. tech giant for the practice of planned obsolescence. In a statement Altroconsumo said it was asking for damages of 60 million euros ($73 million) on behalf of Italian consumers tricked by the practice which had also been recognised by Italian authorities. Altroconsumo said the lawsuit covers owners of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, 6S and 6S Plus, sales of which in Italy totalled some 1 million phones between 2014 and 2020.
Nunavut's main internet service provider has secured more satellite capacity to fix a shortage that forced them to stop taking on new customers. SSi has joined a multi-year agreement with a European satellite network SES to increase their internet capacity. SSi Canada runs the internet service Qiniq— which is the main provider for Nunavut communities outside Iqaluit. "They [SES] have actually liberated a satellite, a whole satellite that was already in space, and pointed it north," said Dean Proctor, SSi's chief development officer. Proctor says the satellite covers all of Canada and will allow SSi to continue to provide the same quality service to existing customers while being able to take on new customers. In the fall, Qiniq had to stop taking on new customers because they didn't have the bandwidth to take on more users without the quality of the existing service going down. "We have been running out of [internet] capacity in Nunavut because there are only so many satellites that deliver service there," said Proctor. "It has been a real issue." The deal with SES is the solution to that problem. "This is providing much more than we had, but there is much more to be done," said Proctor. However, Proctor says satellite is still a much more costly service than other internet options like fibre optic, DSL, or cable — options that don't currently exist in Nunavut because of a lack of infrastructure. "We're still not at a point where we can deliver the same capacity for the same price as you would find in southern Canada," said Proctor. Proctor says this deal is another step in closing the digital divide in the North and improving connectivity. "This is an essential step," said Proctor. "It's one that comes in the time of COVID where more than ever we need this."
When the novel coronavirus, which first emerged in China in 2019, slid silently across the United Kingdom in March, Johnson initially said he was confident it could be sent packing in weeks. But 98,531 deaths later, the United Kingdom has the world's fifth worst official death toll - more than its civilian toll in World War Two and twice the number killed in the 1940-41 Blitz bombing campaign, although the total population was lower then. Behind the numbers there is grief and anger.
There's a new attempt to find a balance between the economy and the environment in northern Ontario's most watched forest. For decades, Temagami was gripped by logging road blockades, with environmentalists and Indigenous protesters chaining themselves to bulldozers. But now some of those who used to be on opposing sides are sitting around the same board table with the formation of the Temagami Forest Management Corporation. "This was the way to do it," says Temagami Mayor Dan O'Mara. "To get the people who were all involved in the past together to come up with a future for the Temagami forest that everybody could live with." The management corporation is the second of its kind in the province, after one created in the Pic River area in the northwest in 2012. It brings together logging companies, municipal leaders and First Nations to decide which trees to cut and find buyers for that wood. "Even by that happening it's a statement that we can work together for the benefit of all," says John Yakabuski, Ontario's Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. "We'll be talking about this in generations to come because it'll be managed in that regard." "It took us six years and a lot of frowns and raised eyebrows and talking and going back and forth around the table," says John McNutt, the woodland manager for Goulard Lumber in Sturgeon Falls. The company has cut in the Temagami forest for decades and some of its employees were forced into confrontations with protesters in years past. McNutt says about 20 per cent of the trees that arrive at their sawmill come from Temagami and he is "hoping it will increase in a positive way" particularly with new markets opening up through partnerships with First Nations. He is also hoping the new management corporation will cut down on wildfires, like the one that started in Lady Evelyn Provincial Park in 2018. It went on to scorch some 27,000 hectares and threatened towns like Temagami and Elk Lake. McNutt says from the air he has seen how older preserved stands of trees fuelled the flames, while younger trees in managed forest areas didn't catch. But John Kilbridge, who took part in the protests of the 1980s and has worked for years to promote wilderness tourism in Temagami, sees this as the province handing the forests over to the timber companies. "They don't want to be paying for all this oversight. They just want to sit back and collect stumpage fees," he says. Kilbridge also says the Ford government's decision to take forestry projects out of environmental assessment legislation was a "betrayal" because it was "our one way to call the industry to account." "I'm not imagining the scenario about the big bad logging companies giving us a hard time. They are giving us a hard time and the government is giving us a hard time. They're stonewalling us," he says. Kilbridge says more permanent logging roads are already snaking through the Temagami wilderness he and others were fighting to protect all those years ago. "I think it has been lost," he says of the battle over the Temagami forest that started in the 1970s. Much of that was led by the Indigenous peoples of Bear Island. No one from Temagami First Nation or the nearby Matachewan First Nation was available to speak about their involvement in the new management corporation. There is also a seat at the table for the Timiskaming First Nation, across the border in Quebec. Chief Sacha Wabie says 60 per cent of her community's traditional territory is in what is today called Ontario. "Currently, we are disappointed with the way the forest is being managed, as we are excluded from the decision-making process," she wrote in an email. "So, the creation of the new forest management corporation gives us hope that we will have a say in how our lands and territory will be managed." Wabie says she hopes the new corporation will lead to more jobs for her community of 2,200, 600 of whom live on reserve and "receive none of these benefits" from the Ontario forests that "generate a lot of profit for a few companies." "It is a highly bureaucratic and colonial process," she says. "The current forestry regime doesn't take into account our communities' traditional knowledge nor do they share the economics gained from our forested lands. These concerns still remain." Timiskaming, as well as several Ontario First Nations including Mattagami and Teme-Augama Anishnabai, say they are also concerned about the recently approved plan for the Timiskaming forest to the north of Temagami. They are worried about the impact of aerial herbicide spraying and the lack of revenue sharing with Indigenous communities.
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 25 ... What we are watching in Canada ... OTTAWA - The federal government’s handling of the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign is set to dominate the agenda when Parliament resumes today. Members of Parliament are expected to work together to allow virtual attendance in the House of Commons once again as many provinces remain in lockdown during the second wave of the pandemic. Yet that show of unity will be the exception, as opposition parties say they plan to press the minority Liberal government on several fronts. That starts with grilling the government on delays in the delivery and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, including Pfizer’s decision to deliver only a fraction of the shots it promised over the next few weeks. The government has also pledged to close a loophole that currently allows people who leave the country on non-essential trips to collect a sick-leave benefit while they quarantine. Opposition parties, meanwhile, want to see more support for families and businesses. Looming in the background will be the ever-present threat of a snap spring election. --- Also this ... It's still too soon to know whether the recent downward trend in new COVID-19 cases will continue, Canada's chief public health officer said Sunday as several provinces grappled with outbreaks that threatened to derail their fragile progress. Dr. Theresa Tam said there's been an improvement in the COVID-19 numbers in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, but the disease is regaining steam elsewhere. "While community-based measures may be starting to take effect in some areas, it is too soon to be sure that current measures are strong enough and broad enough to maintain a steady downward trend across the country," she wrote in a statement. Some long-standing virus hot spots have made headway in lowering the number of new cases in recent weeks, but are still fighting outbreaks and flare-ups as they race to vaccinate vulnerable communities. The federal public safety minister announced Sunday that the Canadian Armed Forces will support vaccine efforts in a large swath of northern Ontario. Bill Blair said on Twitter that armed forces personnel will support vaccine efforts in 32 communities of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, a collection of 49 First Nations spanning about two thirds of the province. The military has previously been asked to help with the vaccine rollout in First Nations communities in Newfoundland and Labrador and Manitoba. Health officials in Ontario were also investigating whether a long-term care home could become the second in the province to be linked to a U.K. variant of COVID-19, after a first home in Barrie, Ont., made headlines when it became infected with the more contagious strain. --- And this ... It's been exactly a year now since COVID-19 arrived in Canada. Beyond the physical, mental and economic devastation that was to follow, the virus prompted a social upheaval that would fundamentally alter the lives of millions of Canadians. By March, with COVID cases spiking, mask wearing became the norm, schools and businesses started closing, lockdowns and travel restrictions were imposed, while major sporting and other events were cancelled. There was also a seismic shift of employees working from home as people were asked to physically distance -- even from loved ones. Jack Jedwab, the president of the Association for Canadian Studies, says the biggest change to Canadians' daily lives has been the isolation from friends, family and co-workers. An online survey done for Jedwab's group in September found over 90 per cent of the 15-hundred people polled said COVID-19 had changed their lives, with most citing the inability to see family and friends as the biggest factors. Jedwab notes that women, newcomers to Canada and people who were already economically and socially vulnerable appear to have been among the most deeply affected, particularly by job losses. --- What we are watching in the U.S. ... WASHINGTON — Top aides to U.S. President Joe Biden have begun talks with a group of moderate Senate Republicans and Democrats on Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. The talks come as Biden faces increasing headwinds in his effort to win bipartisan backing for the initial legislative effort of his presidency. Lawmakers on the right question the wisdom of racking up bigger deficits while those on the left are urging Biden not to spend too much time on bipartisanship when the pandemic is killing thousands each day and costing more jobs. One key Republican, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, said afterward she would reconvene a bipartisan group to focus on “a more targeted package.” --- Also this ... WASHINGTON - President Joe Biden is set to issue an executive order to reverse a Pentagon policy that largely bars transgender individuals from joining the military. Doing so would dump a ban ordered by his predecessor, Donald Trump, in a tweet during his first year in office. A person briefed on the decision tells The Associated Press that the White House could announce the move as early as today. Biden's newly confirmed defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, announced his support for overturning the ban during his confirmation hearing last week. Meanwhile, federal law enforcement officials are examining a number of threats aimed at members of Congress as the second trial of Trump nears. That’s according to a U.S. official briefed on the matter who spoke to The Associated Press on Sunday. Part of the concern is ominous chatter about killing legislators or attacking them outside of the U.S. Capitol. Trump’s Senate trial on a charge of inciting a violent insurrection is set to begin the week of Feb. 8. --- What we are watching in the rest of the world ... MEXICO CITY — Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said he has tested positive for COVID-19, making the announcement as his country registers the highest levels of infections and deaths to date. López Obrador, who has been criticized for his handling of Mexico’s pandemic and for not setting an example of prevention in public, said Sunday on his official Twitter account that his symptoms are mild and he is under medical treatment. “I regret to inform you that I am infected with COVID-19,” he tweeted. José Luis Alomía Zegarra, Mexico’s director of epidemiology, said the 67-year-old had a “light” case of COVID-19 and was “isolating at home.” --- In Sports ... KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Patrick Mahomes threw for 325 yards and three touchdowns as the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs rolled to a 38-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills in the AFC championship game. The Chiefs advanced to face a familiar foe in Tom Brady and the NFC champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Super Bowl in Tampa, Florida. The Buccaneers knocked off the Green Bay Packers 31-26 to get to the big game on Feb.7. --- ICYMI ... TORONTO - George Armstrong, who captained the Toronto Maple Leafs to four Stanley Cups in the '60s and wore the blue and white his entire career, has died at the age of 90. The Maple Leafs confirmed the death Sunday on Twitter. Armstrong played a record 1,187 games with 296 goals and 417 assists over 21 seasons for the Leafs, including 13 seasons as team captain. The right-winger added another 26 goals and 34 assists in 110 playoff games. Known as the Chief, Armstrong was one of the first players of Indigenous descent to play professional hockey. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1975 and some 41 years later, Armstrong was voted No. 12 on the franchise's list of 100 greatest Maple Leafs in its centennial season. "George is part of the very fabric of the Toronto Maple Leaf organization and will be deeply missed," Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said in a statement. "A proud yet humble man, he loved being a Maple Leaf but never sought the spotlight even though no player played more games for Toronto or captained the team longer. Always one to celebrate his teammates rather than himself, George couldn't even bring himself to deliver his speech the day he was immortalized on Legends Row." --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021 The Canadian Press
Millbrook First Nation is nearly a step closer to developing a section of Shannon Park, but will first need an endorsement from the Halifax Regional Municipality. "We've been working on this for quite, quite some time now," said Millbrook Chief Bob Gloade. "We've acquired the part of Shannon Park a number of years ago and we've been working toward an expansion of our community." The band owns about four hectares of land at Shannon Park in Dartmouth, which is being redeveloped by Canada Lands — the real estate arm of the federal government. The land, which is also known as Turtle Grove or Turtle Cove, was acquired by Indigenous Services Canada and declared reserve land after an outstanding Mi'kmaw claim dating back before the Halifax Explosion. Gloade said Millbrook has been working with Canada Lands and Indigenous Services Canada on the redevelopment of this land for at least 10 years. On Nov. 24, Gloade sent a letter to the Halifax Regional Municipality stating that it was nearly finished establishing a reserve on the Shannon Park land, according to a city council document. The office of Mayor Mike Savage then received an email from Indigenous Services Canada stating it would require "an indication of support" for the reserve. It also required a commitment to enter into a municipal services agreement with Millbrook before the land could be developed. By Dec. 18, the municipality's chief administrative officer, Jacques Dubé, sent a letter to Chief Gloade confirming support for the creation of the reserve and his intention to create a municipal services agreement. However, this first needs to be be endorsed by city council. If the development of the land is endorsed, Gloade said this allows Millbrook to have a larger footprint in the Halifax Regional Municipality. Millbrook has also already worked with the Halifax Port Authority to establish a long-term lease for the infilled water lot. "We're looking at doing a mix of residential and commercial development along the waterfront for economic development purposes for our community," Gloade said. He said if all goes well, the area could see between five and 10 years of construction developments on the waterfront, which will eventually draw more people to the area. "There's a significant amount of the land that we're looking at developing and projects that we're going to be undertaking," he said. "So it will take between five to 10 years by the time everything is done and completed." Halifax Regional Council is expected to vote on the endorsement on Tuesday. MORE TOP STORIES
Before Wilf Doyle scratched the Set For Life ticket he had received for Christmas from his partner, Rowena King, he had a rule to follow. It was Jan. 7 and Doyle made sure to remove the Christmas tablecloth that was still on the table in their Gander home. “I said, ‘don’t you dare scratch that ticket on the tablecloth’,” recalls King. Whether Doyle’s adherence to the order had anything to do with what happened next can never be known, but if you suggest that it brought him good luck, it would be tough to argue. Because when he was finished, staring back at him were all the required number of Set For Life symbols, meaning he had won the grand prize. “I really didn’t believe it,” said Doyle. “It was a weird feeling.” As people tend to do in these situations, Doyle checked everything twice. They even called their daughter so she could provide a fresh set of eyes for confirmation. All agreed the numbers made Doyle a big winner. ”It is life-changing,” he said. The ticket was a part of a bundle the couple had purchased at the lotto booth at the Gander Mall as Christmas stocking stuffers for loved ones. King saved the last ticket for the stocking she had for Doyle. “I can’t say how I felt,” said King of first discovering it was the winning ticket. But she knows how it feels now. “It feels good.” Winners of the Set For Life grand prize are presented with a pair of options. They can choose to receive $1,000 a week for the next 25 years or take a one-time payment of $675,000. In this instance, the Gander couple elected to take the lump sum. The decision will pay immediate dividends. Where once they didn’t own a home, they do now. They’ve already picked out their dream house in Bay Roberts — quickly becoming a destination for jackpot winners — and have made a successful offer. They are especially looking forward to making the move since both have family in the Conception Bay North area. As well, their winnings will allow them to eliminate car payments; they recently purchased a new vehicle. They also have plans to purchase an RV sometime in the future. That will allow them to do some travelling around the province. “It could not have come at a better time,” said Doyle. Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice
SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — Samsung scion Lee Jae-yong and prosecutors have decided not to appeal a court ruling that convicted him for bribing South Korea’s former president for business favours, confirming a prison term of two and a half years for the country’s most influential corporate leader, according to lawyers and court officials on Monday. But Lee’s legal troubles aren’t over. He has been indicted separately on charges of stock price manipulation, breach of trust and auditing violations related to a 2015 merger between two Samsung affiliates. The deal helped strengthen Lee’s control over Samsung’s corporate empire. The bribery allegation involving Lee was a key crime in the 2016 corruption scandal that ousted Park Geun-hye from the presidency and sent her to prison. In a much-anticipated retrial of Lee last week, the Seoul High Court found him guilty of bribing Park and one of her close confidantes to win government support for the contentious merger between Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries, which helped strengthen Lee’s control over Samsung’s business empire. The deal faced opposition from some shareholders who argued that it unfairly benefited the Lee family and only succeeded with the support of a state-controlled national pension fund, one of Samsung’s biggest investors. Lee had portrayed himself as a victim of presidential power abuse and his lawyers criticized the ruling. But after mulling his options, Lee decided to “humbly accept” the High Court’s decision, his head attorney Injae Lee said. Prosecutors had sought a prison term of 9 years for Lee Jae-yong. In a statement released to the domestic media, they said the court was too lenient with Lee considering the severity of his crimes but they will not appeal because their biggest goal was to prove that the payments between Lee and Park were bribes. Samsung did not release a statement over Lee’s legal issues. Lee, 52, helms the Samsung group in his capacity as vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, one of the world’s largest makers of computer chips and smartphones. Like other family-run conglomerates in South Korea, Samsung has been credited with helping propel the country’s economy to one of the world’s largest from the rubbles of the 1950-53 Korean War. But their opaque ownership structures and often-corrupt ties with bureaucrats and government officials have been viewed as a hotbed of corruption in South Korea. While never admitting to legal wrongdoing, Lee has expressed remorse over causing “public concern” over the corruption scandal and worked to improve Samsung’s public image. He declared that heredity transfers at Samsung would end, promising the management rights he inherited from his father wouldn’t pass to his children. He also said Samsung would stop suppressing employee attempts to organize unions, although labour activists have questioned his sincerity. It’s not immediately clear what his prison term would mean for Samsung's business. Samsung showed no specific signs of trouble when Lee was in jail in 2017 and 2018. Prison terms have never really stopped Korean corporate leaders from relaying their business decisions from behind bars. The Supreme Court earlier this month confirmed a 20-year prison sentence for Park for the Samsung case and other bribes and extortion while she was in office from 2013 to 2016. Kim Tong-Hyung, The Associated Press
An initial hearing into Irving Oil's request for increases in petroleum wholesale prices begins today in front of the New Brunswick Energy and Utilities Board with supporters raising the stark prospect of the company shutting down if it does not get what it is asking for and skeptics warning the board against being manipulated. "We must be cautiously aware that no business is too big to fail," read one letter on the issue received and posted publicly last week by the EUB. "They are playing the Board," read another about the company's application. New Brunswick adopted petroleum price regulation in 2006 and put the Energy and Utilities Board in place to oversee it. Currently wholesalers are allowed to add 6.51 cents per litre to the price of motor fuels they handle (gasoline and diesel) and 5.5 cents per litre to furnace oil. Irving Oil is applying for a 62.8 per cent (4.09 cent per litre) increase in the allowed wholesale margin for motor fuels and a 54.9 per cent (3.02 cent per litre) increase in the margin for furnace oil. The increases are substantially more than the 11 per cent growth in inflation that has occurred since the margins last changed in March 2013, but the company says fundamental changes in the oil industry and a sudden collapse in demand for petroleum products caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have rendered those old amounts obsolete. "Petroleum pricing regulations in New Brunswick were created 15 years ago," Darren Gillis, Irving Oil chief marketing officer, said in an affidavit supporting the application. "They did not contemplate the challenges of the last several years and were not designed to react to a global pandemic." If granted in full, the increases would apply to all New Brunswick wholesalers and would cost consumers about $60 million per year in higher retail prices. The Energy and Utilities Board has tentatively scheduled a full hearing into the matter for the end of March, but in its application Irving Oil said its situation is dire and it cannot wait that long for relief. Instead it is asking for 85 per cent of the requested increase on motor fuels (3.5 cents) and 99 per cent of the increase on furnace oil (3.0 cents) to be granted immediately pending the outcome of the full hearing next spring. "The entire supply chain in under pressure and at risk," Gillis said in the application. "COVID-19 has exacerbated challenges for the industry and urgent action is required." That tone has alarmed supporters of Irving Oil who fear the company is in trouble. Last week, the company announced layoffs at its Saint John refinery and worried suppliers have been mobilizing to urge the EUB to grant its request in full. Eric Lloyd is president of Sunny Corner Enterprises Inc., an industrial construction firm in Miramichi that does business with Irving Oil. Lloyd wrote to the EUB to say it "must take action to understand the economic forces that are stressing a very important contributor to our economy," and warned it is not "too big to fail" in asking its request be granted. Another Irving supplier, Lorneville Mechanical Contractors Ltd. in Saint John, also sent a letter expressing concern about the company's financial health. "We understand that Irving Oil has identified New Brunswick's highly regulated fuel pricing system as a challenge to its ability to operate reliably and sustainably," wrote Lorneville's president Jim Brewer, in endorsing immediate increases. Local building trade unions warned the viability of the refinery itself could hinge on the EUB's decision. "It would be devastating to lose this asset," wrote union president Jean-Marc Ringuette in his letter supporting Irving Oil's request. But others are skeptical. A number of anti-poverty, union and social justice organizations have signed up to oppose Irving Oil's application and a clutch of private citizens, like Saint John resident Mary Milander, also sent letters opposing the increase. "I believe that that the people of Saint John and the whole province have suffered financially much more than the oil industry during the pandemic," Milander wrote to the board. Although yet to start, the hearing has already been highly controversial following news last week that New Brunswick Natural Resources Minister Mike Holland sent his own letter to the EUB expressing concerns about Irving Oil's ability to supply products at current prices. That led to criticism from all three opposition parties and a call for Holland to resign from Green Party Leader David Coon. Premier Blaine Higgs defended Holland's intervention. The EUB has granted interim relief to applicants in other cases before, but normally on the condition money collected from consumers be returned if the increases are later found to be unjustified. A complicating factor in Irving Oil's application for immediate relief is that Gillis has acknowledged that other than home heating oil sales, returning money to customers will not be possible. "In the unlikely case the permanent increase for motor fuels is lower than the interim increase, Irving Oil cannot effectively and fairly rebate the difference," he said.
BALTIMORE — President Joe Biden plans to sign on Monday an executive order that aims to boost government purchases from U.S. manufacturers, according to administration officials. The United States has shed roughly 540,000 factory jobs since last February as the coronavirus pandemic hurled the world's largest economy into recession. The goal of the order would be to use the $600 billion the federal government spends on procurement to boost domestic factories and hiring, said officials who insisted on anonymity to discuss the forthcoming announcement. Biden's order would modify the rules for the Buy American program, making it harder for contractors to qualify for a waiver and sell foreign-made goods to federal agencies. It also changes rules so that more of a manufactured good's components must originate from U.S. factories. American-made goods would also be protected by an increase in the government's threshold and price preferences, the difference in price over which the government can buy a foreign product. The order also has elements that apply to the separate Buy America program, which applies separately to highways and bridges. It seeks to open up government procurement contracts to new companies by scouting potential contractors. The order would create a public website for companies that received waivers to sell foreign goods to the government, so that U.S. manufacturers can have more information and be in a more competitive position. To help enforce these goals, the order establishes a job at the White House Office of Management and Budget to monitor the initiative and focus on ensuring the government buys more domestically made goods. It also requires federal agencies to report on their progress in purchasing American goods, as well as emphasizing Biden's support for the Jones Act, which mandates that only U.S.-flag vessels carry cargo between U.S. ports. Past presidents have promised to revitalize manufacturing as a source of job growth and achieved mixed results. The government helped save the automotive sector after the 2008 financial crisis, but the number of factory jobs has been steadily shrinking over the course of four decades. The number of U.S. manufacturing jobs peaked in 1979 at 19.5 million and now totals 12.3 million, according to the Labor Department. Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, famously promised a factory renaissance, yet manufacturing employment never returned to its pre-Great Recession levels before the coronavirus struck. Josh Boak, The Associated Press
Susan Larder's life is not her own. She eats, sleeps and relaxes when her mother, Bea, does. Larder moved from her home to her mother's home six years ago to provide care as Bea's dementia worsened. With assistance from her partner, Larder helps her mother get dressed. She makes sure her mother's teeth are clean. She is an unpaid caregiver, 24 hours a day, every day of the week. She said feels privileged to do it. But the pandemic is exhausting her. She and her partner even sleep in shifts to make sure Bea is looked after. "There's a level of fatigue that I don't even know if I have words to put to it, truly," Larder said. "My mother, who is 92, looks younger and fresher than I do." Larder is not alone. No time off Caregivers across the province are taking on the same responsibilities with almost no time off, according to Denise Peterson-Rafuse, executive director of Caregivers Nova Scotia. The group provides support services for family and friends who provide care, and advocates on their behalf. "It's humanly impossible to continue to live your life like that," she said. "So now what's happening is, of course, we're seeing caregivers that are dealing with mental health issues, or physical issues, and they can't look after their loved one because they need someone to look after them. "It's past the breaking point." Since COVID-19 hit, Larder can barely get anyone to provide her some relief. Bea used to be in adult day programs, have in-facility respite care, go out for family dinners and have home-care visits. The pandemic shut all that down. In an average week before COVID, Larder would be able to get about 32 hours off duty. Since the pandemic started, she might get eight. "It's the most privileged work in the world, it was never meant to be this hard," said Larder. "You can't name another job that anyone does 24 hours a day for nine months without reprieve ... and yet I'd still pick it given the alternative. Isn't that crazy?" Finding people to take over some of those home-care duties is a problem across Nova Scotia, said Peterson-Rafuse. Shortage of caregivers She said safety concerns around COVID are part of the problem and "the other is because of the lack of the number of caregivers that are available in our province." She believes that the province needs to invest more in home care and caregiving. She said the province could loosen restrictions around its caregiver benefit. The benefit gives unpaid caregivers of low-income adults $400 a month. She said the benefit should be increased and the rules to qualify should be expanded. Some caregivers also receive money from the self-managed care program that allows them to hire their own home-care workers. But Peterson-Rafuse said it's extremely hard to find workers. Right now, the rules don't allow that money to be used to pay a family member for helping with home care. Peterson-Rafuse said that should change, since it can be easier to recruit a family member to help than anyone else, especially during the pandemic. Nova Scotia's Department of Health doesn't see it that way. "Publicly funded programs in home care are expected to supplement care provided by family and community supports, so family are excluded from providing paid care under the current policy," said spokesperson Marla MacInnis in an email. MacInnis said the department recognizes the challenges some unpaid caregivers may be facing and some exceptions can be made. She said those exceptions are usually approved on a short-term basis. "We welcome feedback on our programs and would encourage people who need flexibility to work with their care co-ordinators to explore options," she said. Larder thinks her options are limited, so she soldiers on waiting for the pandemic to end. "I don't feel in a position to complain, if that makes sense, because I still have my mother," she said. "So many people have lost them. "So when I look at what other families have had to go through in the pandemic all I can say is, 'I'm tired, I'm very tired. I'm a whole new kind of tired, and yet I'm still incredibly lucky.'" MORE TOP STORIES
Professor Jean-Francois Delfraissy has called for swift government action, amid rising concerns about the spread of new variants of the virus.View on euronews
Families battered by the pandemic recession soon may discover that the tax refunds they’re counting on are dramatically smaller — or that they actually owe income tax. Congress offered a partial solution, but the fix hasn’t been widely publicized, consumer advocates say. Refunds are crucial to many lower- and moderate-income households, which use the money to catch up on bills and medical treatments, pay down debt and boost savings. But the unemployment insurance that kept many people afloat last year may cause problems at tax time this year. Unemployment benefits are taxable, but tax withholding is typically voluntary — and many people who lost jobs either didn’t know their unemployment checks would be taxed, or they decided against withholding. (Relief checks, such as the $1,200 sent out last year, are not taxable.) Further, unemployment benefits are not earned income and so don’t count toward two crucial tax benefits that keep millions of working families with children out of poverty: the earned income tax credit and the additional child tax credit. “If you’re a single parent or a couple with kids living on, say, $25,000 a year, you might see 25% or more of your annual income in the form of your federal tax refund because of these credits,” says Timothy Flacke, executive director of Commonwealth, a non-profit that promotes financial security. THERE’S A FIX ON CREDITS, BUT NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT IT There isn’t an easy workaround for tax refunds shriveled by inadequate withholding. But Congress provided a potential fix for the tax credits issue in the $900 billion coronavirus relief legislation passed last month: Filers can choose to use their 2019 income to determine their credits rather than their 2020 income. But that fix hasn’t been widely reported, says Leigh Phillips, chief executive officer of SaverLife, a non-profit that encourages working families to save. Not everyone uses up-to-date tax software or well-informed tax preparers, and Phillips worries that many eligible people won’t learn about it before filing their returns. The IRS will begin accepting returns Feb. 12. “People are going to start trying to file taxes as soon as they possibly can,” Phillips says. “If you think that you’ve got thousands coming in the mail or to your bank account, you’re there day one with your paperwork ready to go.” THOSE WHO RELY ON REFUNDS TEND TO FILE EARLY Research confirms that the earliest recipients of refunds each year tend to be lower income, says Fiona Greig, co-president of the JPMorgan Chase Institute, which studies data from millions of customer bank accounts. “(A tax refund) tends to be a larger relative cash infusion event for them, and as a result, they tend to seek their refund earlier in the tax refund season,” Greig says. In typical years, tax refunds equal almost six weeks’ take-home pay for the average recipient, the institute found. Last year the average refund was more than $2,500. Families who qualify for the earned income tax credit can receive thousands more. The maximum credit for working families with three or more children is $6,660 for 2020, and it’s refundable, which means filers get the money even if they don’t owe any tax. The amount you can earn and still qualify rises with family size, so that a married couple with three or more children could get at least a partial credit with adjusted gross income up to $56,844. A single person without children may qualify for a small credit with an adjusted gross income up to $15,820. Meanwhile, the regular child tax credit for children under 17 is $2,000 and not refundable. But low-income families may qualify for a refundable credit, which can be up to 15% of earned income over $2,500, up to $1,400 per child. TAX CREDITS HAVE WIDESPREAD SUPPORT The credits have been around for decades and have widespread bipartisan support among lawmakers, Commonwealth’s Flacke says. “It’s one of the few areas of some consensus across the parties that rewarding workers on the low end of the wage spectrum with these tax credits makes sense,” Flacke says. If you might qualify for one of the tax credits, make sure your tax software or tax preparer looks at both your 2019 and 2020 incomes before submitting your return. If you find out too late that you could have received a bigger refund, you can file an amended return, but you may face a longer wait. Instead of getting your refund in a few weeks, an amended return can take up to four months to process. Going forward, President Joe Biden has proposed one-year expansions of the credits as part of his coronavirus relief package. He wants to increase the maximum earned income tax credit for childless adults from $538 to nearly $1,500 this year and to raise the income limit. He also wants to increase the child tax credit to $3,000, plus an extra $600 per child under age 6, and make the full amount refundable. If enacted, these credits could be claimed on returns filed in 2022. ____________________________________ This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Liz Weston is a columnist at NerdWallet, a certified financial planner and author of “Your Credit Score.” Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @lizweston. RELATED LINK: NerdWallet: Earned Income Tax Credit (EIC): What It Is and How to Qualify in 2020-2021 http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-EIC-2021 Liz Weston Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
Former Google executive Carlo d'Asaro Biondo has been appointed as Chief executive officer of Telecom Italia's (TIM) newly-created cloud unit Noovle, Italy's biggest phone group said on Monday. The creation of the new company is part of the former phone monopoly's strategy to boost and diversify its revenues, providing services to businesses and state-controlled offices looking to improve their digital reach. D'Asaro Biondo, who has been Google's president for EMEA partnerships, joined the former phone monopoly last year after TIM struck a deal with the tech giant to expand its cloud business in the country.