Public health officials in Prince Edward Island reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, with four cases currently active but in self-isolation.
Public health officials in Prince Edward Island reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, with four cases currently active but in self-isolation.
Canadians are "Angry Birds" when it comes to climate change, shows a survey the United Nations calls the largest ever taken on the issue. The mammoth survey, which drew respondents through the use of popular online games, ranked Canada seventh out of 50 countries in its perception of how important the problem is — and tops in the gap between men and women on the issue. "Canada was at the top end of the group of countries we surveyed in terms of the recognition of the climate emergency," said Steve Fisher, an Oxford University sociologist who helped run the survey on behalf of the United Nations Development Program. The novel survey found respondents through games such as Angry Birds and Dragon City. As people played the games, a questionnaire would pop up instead of an ad. Project director Cassie Flynn, who is with the UN program, said the idea came to her while riding the subway in New York. "Every single person was on their phone," she said. "I started looking over people's shoulders and the huge majority was playing games. I thought, 'How do we tap into that?'" Two years, 1.2 million responses (in 17 languages) and a great deal of innovative statistical thinking later came the People's Climate Vote. It is an attempt, said Flynn, to gauge the public's sense of urgency on climate change and how people feel about different policies. "The decisions (on climate) are going to affect every single person on the planet. What we wanted to do is to bring public opinion into that policy-making." As the federal Liberal government advances on its ambitious climate program, it seems Canadians are more concerned about the issue than most. Three-quarters of those surveyed agreed that climate change is an emergency compared with the global average of 64 per cent. That belief topped out at 83 per cent for respondents under 18. But, at 72 per cent, it wasn't much weaker among those over 60. The survey also found that Canadians who believed climate change is an emergency believed it strongly. Three-quarters said action should be urgent and on many fronts. They really liked solutions based in conservation. Support for nature-based climate policies was higher in Canada at 79 per cent than in any other countries with high carbon emissions from land use. They also wanted polluters to pay. Some 69 per cent favoured policies that regulate company behaviour. Only the United Kingdom, at 72 per cent, registered stronger among high-income countries. And, at 81 and 80 per cent respectively, respondents in the U.K. and Canada were virtually tied at the top in support of ocean and waterway protection. Canada also had the largest gap between men and women in their assessment of the importance of climate change. Canadian women and girls surveyed were 12 per cent more likely to rate it an emergency than men and boys. Globally, there wasn't much difference. Fisher, who researches political attitudes and behaviour, said climate change is a more partisan issue in Canada, the United States and Australia than elsewhere on the globe. "It is related to partisanship in those countries," he said. "Women are much more likely to vote for the more climate-conscious left parties." Fisher said the use of cellphone games gave researchers access to groups that are hard for pollsters to reach, such as young people. "It was kind of new to do the fieldwork in this way," he said. "It reached an awful lot of people." Each respondent was asked to complete the survey only once. The team used 4,000 different games, some popular with children, some with older people. Still, the sample skewed young. The statisticians had to adjust the sample to ensure all groups were given appropriate weight. The survey is considered accurate to within two percentage points, 19 times out of 20. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. — Follow @row1960 on Twitter Bob Weber, The Canadian Press
China's ByteDance is cutting the size of its 2,000-plus India team and is unsure when it will make a comeback, the company told employees in an internal memo on Wednesday, months after its popular TikTok video app was banned. The move came after India this month decided to retain its ban on TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps following responses from the companies on issues such as compliance and privacy.
Intel Corp has invested an additional $475 million in its plant in Vietnam to improve technologies and boost production of its 5G products and core processors, the U.S. chipmaker's local unit said in a statement on Wednesday. The move takes Intel's total investments in Vietnam to around $1.5 billion, it said. "Intel Products Vietnam is an important part in Intel's supply chain," general manager Kim Huat Ooi said, explaining the decision to invest more in facilities and human resources in Vietnam.
Indian farmers on Wednesday postponed a march to parliament on Feb. 1, the day of the government's budget announcement, following violent clashes with police a day earlier that left one person dead and hundreds injured. Tens of thousands of farmers have been camped on the outskirts of New Delhi for two months to protest against reforms of the agriculture sector, which they say benefit big private buyers at the expense of growers. It said on Wednesday the unions would hold rallies and a hunger strike on Saturday but there would be no planned events on Monday, when Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is due to present the annual budget.
Regina– Three more weeks. That’s the length of the most recent extension of public health orders in Saskatchewan meant to limit the spread of COVID-19. Premier Scott Moe made the announcement from the Legislature in Regina on Jan. 26 with chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab. The announcement came on a day when Saskatchewan posted yet another record for COVID-19 related deaths, 14, but has seen a slow drop in new case counts. There are now 2,665 cases are considered active, and on that day, 607 recoveries were reported. Moe said. “The number of new cases in Saskatchewan continues to gradually decline. Today we are reporting 232 new cases, and our seven-day average for new cases is now 254. This is down about 20 per cent from its peak of 321 on Jan. 12. Our active cases are now down to 2,665, the lowest level since Nov. 21, and down over 40 per cent from a peak of 4,763 on Dec. 7. “This gradual decline means that our current public health orders and restrictions are working, but we need to leave them in place a little longer. Therefore, all the current public health orders are being extended for three weeks until Feb. 19.” “These measures are working, when we follow them, as the vast majority of Saskatchewan people and businesses are doing. There have been a small number of mainly bars and restaurants who may not have been following those putting their staff putting their customers and essentially putting their communities at risk. So, I have asked that we increase enforcement on those who choose to break the rules, and in recent days there has been three significant tickets.” Moe also said that two bars in Saskatoon and one in Regina had been issued $14,000 fines. He held out the hope that three weeks from now, Saskatchewan may be able to look at reducing the number of restrictions in place. He pointed out that the province has made a lot of progress in vaccinations. To date, 34,080 doses have been delivered, and those administering it are quite literally getting the most out of every bottle, getting 104 per cent of expected dosages. Moe said, “But we continue to be limited by the slow pace of vaccine deliveries, from to and from the federal government. Saskatchewan now has the highest percentage of vaccines administered, and we have the second-highest per capita rate of vaccinations completed among any of the provinces. “Unfortunately, today we are virtually out of vaccines. And with no new shipments coming this week, our vaccination program will be stalled for the next number of days.” Next week, the province is expecting 12,000 additional doses, of which 5,850 will be Pfizer doses heading to Saskatoon, Regina, North Battleford, Yorkton and Swift Current to allow continued vaccination of long-term care residents and staff, as well as those over 70. A further 6,500 Moderna doses will be going to the far northeast, far northwest, and northeast regions of the province for a second doses. In the central-west region, first shots will be administered, Moe said. The province will continue to push the federal government for more vaccines, and to also look at approving additional types of vaccines for use. He referenced the vaccines that AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson have been working on. Shahab said, “I think it's really important that we are seeing a steady decline in our case numbers; all the indicators are moving in the right direction is slow and steady.” Daily case numbers have come down from 24 per 100,000 population to 20 per 100,000. Test positivity is down under 10 per cent, and is doing so throughout the province. When vaccination starts picking up in March and April, “then we hope to see significant impact on hospitalization and deaths,” he said. Until then, we really have to stay the course. “The other thing is that, with our public health measures, some people say it's too little, some people say it's too much. But, you know, they try to strike a fine balance between minimizing cases, as long as the guidelines are followed, and letting people work, (and) enjoy other amenities as much as possible.” He added, “But the downward trend does show, that if all of us abide by public health principles, it has a significant impact on our case numbers.” On the same day, Manitoba implemented 14-day quarantines for nearly all travellers to that province. Asked about doing something similar for Saskatchewan, Shahab said it have been looked at, but found to be impractical, given our long borders, and people in border communities who work and shop across the border. But he did recommend minimizing travel. Regarding variants of the COVID-19 virus, Shahab said sampling is done with relation to travel, and some sampling with age groups and geography as well. “I would not be surprised if we saw a variant in Saskatchewan, but again, what we’re doing, is exactly the same. We really have to follow all these public health measures.” Asked about adverse reactions to the vaccines in Saskatchewan, Shahab said there have been around 10 to 15 allergic reactions, some tingling on the face, and one anaphylaxis that was managed safely. They were well-described in the product monograph and have been managed, he said. “Most of them have presented in individuals who may have had a history of allergies, and they have managed well, so at this point the signal is not of any concern, compared to what is known about these vaccines what we were expecting, with what’s know about other vaccines.” He noted the importance of watching those vaccinated for 15 minutes after the shot, and if you have any allergies, make it known and you will be monitored some more. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
Students at the University of British Columbia are reacting strongly to the administration's proposed tuition increase for the upcoming academic year. The suggested two per cent hike for most students — and four per cent hike for new international students — comes as classes continue online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "It was just upsetting to me. Like, everybody's going through a tough time right now, and as far as I know, everybody's kind of still paying the same amount of money that they would pay in a normal year," said Joshua Peng, a second year arts student. "It's just quite the bomb to drop on us, emotionally speaking," said Peng. The university sent students an email on Monday with links to a consultation website, but the idea of a consultation having any effect was quickly panned by some students on social media. Matthew Ramsey, director of university affairs, declined an interview request from CBC News. Ramsey sent a written statement that said inflationary pressures are among the reasons UBC is proposing the increase. "If tuition increases are approved as proposed for 2021-22, UBC proposes to allocate all of this year's incremental credit tuition revenue resulting from the rate increase towards COVID-19-impacted key priorities," wrote Ramsey, adding that in total, the tuition increases would result in $19 million in incremental funds in 2021-2022. For Peng, who hasn't yet had a complete year of university unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the university experience has not been what he had expected, or hoped it would be. "It does suck for me, but I know friends who really don't want this [tuition increase]. They're not in the best environment right now," he said. Peng had hoped by this semester, classes might have returned to a hybrid format of online and in-person classes, but the number of COVID-19 cases in the province has remained high. He said he struggles to maintain attention during online lectures at home, and being in the lecture hall "just works better." Beyond the education, Peng said the social and networking aspect of university has been completely absent. When asked about the quality of education at UBC during the pandemic, relative to the cost, Ramsey sent a link to a public relations article posted in August titled Why tuition is not being reduced at UBC. It argues that a fee reduction isn't possible, in part, due to a projected $225 million deficit for the 2020-2021 academic year. In April, students launched a petition asking UBC to issue partial refunds to students during the pandemic. By late January, it had received nearly 9,000 signatures, but has had no success in decreasing tuition or generating refunds. Do you have more to add to this story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker
Myanmar launched a COVID-19 vaccination programme on Wednesday, with healthcare staff and volunteer medical workers the first to receive shots of the AstraZeneca and Oxford University vaccine donated by neighbouring India. Last week, Myanmar received 1.5 million doses of the vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, amid a diplomatic drive by New Delhi to supply neighbouring countries just as regional rival China has also pledged vaccine consignments. "This should create a situation to reduce the rate of infection, so it is such a relief for healthcare workers," Tun Myint, a health ministry official at Yangon General Hospital, told reporters.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga apologised on Wednesday after lawmakers from his ruling coalition visited night clubs despite his government's call for people to avoid unnecessary outings to curb the spread of COVID-19. The news is another headache for Suga whose approval rating has tumbled because of dissatisfaction with his handling of the pandemic, which critics have called too slow and inconsistent. "I'm terribly sorry that this happened when we are asking people not to eat out after 8 p.m. and to avoid non-essential, non-urgent outings," Suga told parliament.
PALM BEACH, Fla. — Donald Trump has lost his social media megaphone, the power of government and the unequivocal support of his party's elected leaders. But a week after leaving the White House in disgrace, a large-scale Republican defection that would ultimately purge him from the party appears unlikely. Many Republicans refuse to publicly defend Trump's role in sparking the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. But as the Senate prepares for an impeachment trial for Trump's incitement of the riot, few seem willing to hold the former president accountable. After House Republicans who backed his impeachment found themselves facing intense backlash — and Trump’s lieutenants signalled the same fate would meet others who joined them — Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly Tuesday for an attempt to dismiss his second impeachment trial. Only five Republican senators rejected the challenge to the trial. Trump's conviction was considered a real possibility just days ago after lawmakers whose lives were threatened by the mob weighed the appropriate consequences — and the future of their party. But the Senate vote on Tuesday is a sign that while Trump may be held in low regard in Washington following the riots, a large swath of Republicans is leery of crossing his supporters, who remain the majority of the party’s voters. “The political winds within the Republican Party have blown in the opposite direction,” said Ralph Reed, chair of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a Trump ally. “Republicans have decided that even if one believes he made mistakes after the November election and on Jan. 6, the policies Trump championed and victories he won from judges to regulatory rollback to life to tax cuts were too great to allow the party to leave him on the battlefield.” The vote came after Trump, who decamped last week to his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, began wading back into politics between rounds of golf. He took an early step into the Arkansas governor’s race by endorsing former White House aide Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and backed Kelli Ward, an ally who won reelection as chair of Arizona’s Republican Party after his endorsement. At the same time, Trump’s team has given allies an informal blessing to campaign against the 10 House Republicans who voted in favour of impeachment. After Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer backed impeachment, Republican Tom Norton announced a primary challenge. Norton appeared on longtime Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast in a bid to raise campaign contributions. On Thursday, another Trump loyalist, Rep. Matt Gaetz, plans to travel to Wyoming to condemn home-state Rep. Liz Cheney, a House GOP leader who said after the Capitol riot that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. — a star with Trump’s loyal base —- has encouraged Gaetz on social media and embraced calls for Cheney’s removal from House leadership. Trump remains livid with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, who refused to support Trump's false charges that Georgia's elections were fraudulent. Kemp is up for reelection in 2022, and Trump has suggested former Rep. Doug Collins run against him. Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s decision not to seek reelection in 2022 opens the door for Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters, to seek the seat. Several other Republicans, some far less supportive of the former president, are also considering running. Trump’s continued involvement in national politics so soon after his departure marks a dramatic break from past presidents, who typically stepped out of the spotlight, at least temporarily. Former President Barack Obama was famously seen kitesurfing on vacation with billionaire Richard Branson shortly after he left office, and former President George W. Bush took up painting. Trump, who craves the media spotlight, was never expected to burrow out of public view. “We will be back in some form,” he told supporters at a farewell event before he left for Florida. But exactly what form that will take is a work in progress. Trump remains deeply popular among Republican voters and is sitting on a huge pot of cash — well over $50 million — that he could use to prop up primary challenges against Republicans who backed his impeachment or refused to support his failed efforts to challenge the election results using bogus allegations of mass voter fraud in states like Georgia. “POTUS told me after the election that he’s going to be very involved,” said Matt Schlapp, the chair of the American Conservative Union. “I think he’s going to stay engaged. He’s going to keep communicating. He’s going to keep expressing his opinions. I, for one, think that’s great, and I encouraged him to do that.” Aides say he also intends to dedicate himself to winning back the House and Senate for Republicans in 2022. But for now, they say their sights are on the trial. “We’re getting ready for an impeachment trial — that’s really the focus,” said Trump adviser Jason Miller. Trump aides have also spent recent days trying to assure Republicans that he is not currently planning to launch a third party — an idea he has floated — and will instead focus on using his clout in the Republican Party. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said he received a call from Brian Jack, the former White House political director, on Saturday at home to assure him that Trump had no plans for defection. “The main reason for the call was to make sure I knew from him that he’s not starting a third party and if I would be helpful in squashing any rumours that he was starting a third party. And that his political activism or whatever role he would play going forward would be with the Republican Party, not as a third party,” Cramer said. The calls were first reported by Politico. But the stakes remain high for Trump, whose legacy is a point of fierce contention in a Republican Party that is grappling with its identity after losing the White House and both chambers of Congress. Just three weeks after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, Trump’s political standing among Republican leaders in Washington remains low. “I don’t know whether he incited it, but he was part of the problem, put it that way,” said Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a strong Trump supporter, when asked about the Capitol siege and the related impeachment trial. Tuberville did not say whether he would personally defend Trump in the trial, but he downplayed the prospect of negative consequences for those Republican senators who ultimately vote to convict him. “I don’t think there’ll be any repercussions,” Tuberville said. “People are going to vote how they feel anyway.” Trump maintains a strong base of support within the Republican National Committee and in state party leadership, but even there, Republican officials have dared to speak out against him in recent days in ways they did not before. In Arizona, Ward, who had Trump’s backing, was only narrowly reelected over the weekend, even as the party voted to censure a handful of Trump’s Republican critics, including former Sen. Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain. At the same time, Trump’s prospective impeachment sparked a bitter feud within the RNC. In a private email exchange obtained by The Associated Press, RNC member Demetra DeMonte of Illinois proposed a resolution calling on every Republican senator to oppose what she called an “unconstitutional sham impeachment trial, motivated by a radical and reckless Democrat majority.” Bill Palatucci, a Republican committeeman from New Jersey, slapped back. “His act of insurrection was an attack on our very democracy and deserves impeachment,” Palatucci wrote. ___ Peoples reported from New York. Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report. Steve Peoples And Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
CALGARY — Mitch Marner's been working on his shot and it showed in the Toronto Maple Leafs' 4-3 win Tuesday over the host Calgary Flames. Marner's quick one-timer amid a crowd of Flames produced the game-winner at 12:14 of the third period. "Trying to get more of a shot mentality," Marner said. "I feel like I really want to try and make an extra play most of the time, but this year, trying to be more of a threat and more of a guy that can be more of a consistent shooter on net, and kind of change things up a lot on goalies." Marner, who also assisted on an Auston Matthews goal Tuesday, continues to vie for the early lead in the NHL points race. He was tied with Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid at five goals and seven assists Tuesday. Matthews also had a goal and an assist for the Maple Leafs (6-2-0). Wayne Simmonds and Travis Boyd scored Toronto's other goals. Frederik Andersen stopped 23-of-26 shots for the win. Johnny Gaudreau scored twice for Calgary (2-2-1). Milan Lucic also scored for the Flames and Jacob Markstrom stopped 17 shots in the loss. Calgary's sluggish start forced the hosts to chase Toronto. Gaudreau's second goal of the game drew Calgary even at 3-3 in the third period, but Marner's deceptive release on a Matthews pass from the boards restored Toronto's lead. "We did a good regrouping in the second getting ourselves back to an even hockey game, but they win from the inside of our slot.," Calgary head coach Geoff Ward said. "The guy is standing right between three of our guys and finds a way to get a shot off. You can't give up four goals in this league regularly and expect to win games." Gaudreau scored top corner from the face-off circle for a power-play goal at 9:03 of the third period. Calgary outshot the visitors 18-5 in the second period, but still trailed by a goal after two. A Juuso Valimaki pass caromed off Leaf Alex Kerfoot's skate to Lucic in the slot for him to beat Andersen between the pads at 14:21 of the second period. Gaudreau halved a two-goal deficit at 1:08, but Boyd restored Toronto's two-goal cushion 61 seconds later. Pierre Engvall dished to an unchallenged Boyd charging into the slot. Boyd scored his first as a Leaf fishing the puck out of his feet and chipping it over Markstrom. Unchecked on Andersen's right side, Gaudreau had time to go backhand-forehand on Toronto's goalie. Toronto outshot the Flames 10-1 and led 2-0 after the opening period. It took nearly 16 minutes for Calgary to register a shot on net. "That was just an awful first period from us," Gaudreau said. "Not the way we're going to win games, playing catchup the whole game." Matthews whipped the puck over Markstrom's right shoulder at 14:16 of the first period for a power-play goal. Simmonds scored his second goal in as many games tucking his own rebound by Markstrom's right toe at 3:44. Leafs backup goaltender Jack Campbell was replaced in the lineup by Michael Hutchinson. Campbell's leg was injured in the final minute of Sunday's 3-2 win over the Flames when Matthew Tkachuk fell on him in a goal-mouth scrum. Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe said Tuesday that Campbell will be sidelined for "weeks". After enjoying the gentlest schedule to start the season of any team in the all-Canadian Scotia North Division, the Flames will now play 21 games in the next 40 days. Calgary departs on a five-game road trip with two games in Montreal starting Thursday, followed by three games in four days in Winnipeg. Toronto faces the Oilers on Thursday and Saturday in Edmonton to conclude a four-game road trip. Notes: The Maple Leafs wore No. 10 patches on their chests in memory of George Armstrong, who captained Toronto to four Stanley Cups in the 1960s and died this week at age 90. Every Leaf wore No. 10 and "Armstrong" on their back during warmup . . . Flames winger Dillon Dube was scratched for a second straight game with an upper-body injury. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
Regina– New Democratic Party Leader Ryan Meili says we are now dealing with the results of not implementing a COVID-19 “circuit breaker” in November, and that the province has not taken full advantage of federal relief funds. Also, at the tail end of a seniors vaccination blitz that, as a doctor, he took part in delivering, Meili received his first dose of one of the vaccines. That blitz led him to suggest the province improve its delivery mechanisms and logistics. Speaking to reporters in the Legislature on Jan. 26, Meili said, “We saw another 14 people lose their lives in the last 24 hours 46 in the last week, is it a lot of people, a lot of families who are mourning, and it's really frustrating that to note that this was avoidable. If we had gone through the circuit breaker back in the fall, had taken action early, we could have avoided these deaths. And yet here we are today, still leading the country in the rate of active cases, over 10 per cent positivity test rate, low testing compared to what we should be doing, and outbreaks and long term care.” Regarding the extension of public health restrictions, Meili repeated his assertion that Saskatchewan should have done a “circuit breaker” in November, when cases were spiking in Manitoba and North Dakota. “This is what we said would happen; that if we didn't do that, we would be seeing months and months of restrictions. It's much more costly to the economy, and over 250 people have died. So, we missed that window. But now, what can we do? We need to make sure that the health measures are the right measures. We've seen no action to protect against long-term care outbreaks, to reduce the density of residents in four-bed rooms in long-term care. And we've still got people going to bars. That's not the case anywhere else in Western Canada. But here, people are still going to bars, despite knowing that those are common sources of super-spreader events. It's happened in Saskatchewan, and it's happened around the world.” Pointing to a Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report, Meili said Premier Scott Moe had left $150 million in federal money “on the table.” Meili said, “That was for childcare, so important in recovering our economy; for wage top-ups for essential frontline health care workers. And over $30 million that was dedicated to preventing the kind of outbreaks we're seeing in long term care today. “Now is not the time to be cheap with Saskatchewan people. And unfortunately, that's what Scott Moe is doing. Now is the time for us to invest. And that's why I'm calling on the premier, today, to acknowledge the seriousness of the problem. Things are not going well, when it comes to COVID-19. We're at great risk that the upcoming COVID-19 variant, of things getting worse before the vaccine arrives. We are in a race, between the vaccine and the virus. Only public health measures will help us win that race; and to come clean about where every single federal dollar has gone, and commit to making sure that all of those dollars go out to protect and support Saskatchewan people in this difficult time.” He added, “This government is using this to backfill their own financial mismanagement, their own fiscal failures. They're using this dollar these dollars to try to cover up the fact that they've allowed budget deficits to grow instead of doing what they should do, which is investing in Saskatchewan people at a time when we really need.” On the same day, Manitoba ordered most interprovincial travellers to quarantine for 14 days. Meili said interprovincial travel restrictions should be looked at in Saskatchewan. He said, “Especially as we're thinking about a new deadly or more contagious variant, we have to think about what's happening in our borders.” Meili, as a physician, has been taking part in providing the vaccine blitz at a seniors home a little over a week ago. Asked about that, and the shortage of additional doses this week, Meili said, “I do know that it has been chaotic in terms of the communication and the delivery of the vaccine so far. It's very disappointing we don't have more vaccine to deliver right now. “I hope the government will take this time to better prepare the delivery mechanisms and logistics and give a clearer message, so that we don't have so many people out there saying, ‘I'm a health care worker, but I don't see where I am on the list.’ ‘I'm a senior, I don't see where I am on the list.’ So people really know when they're going to be getting that vaccine.” He added, “Lots of vaccine got out, which was great to see. I was really delightful to be able to be part of that experience, to give the hope to the seniors who are coming and to hear their stories. And it reminded me how important the lives of seniors are. We often hear people saying, ‘Oh, it's only the elderly that die from this.’ “Well, so what? Those elderly people are really important. Seniors are really important. And they have important stories to tell, and their lives matter. So that was really exciting to be a part of. In that particular vaccine blitz, we had excess doses, and they were going to be thrown away. So, while I had earlier refused a request, or an offer to be vaccinated, those staff members, including myself, who were unvaccinated did get the vaccine that day.” He concluded, “My big message is, if you get a chance, if you get a call from the (Saskatchewan Health Authority), go get the vaccine. It's really important. And we're part of a phenomenal moment in human history. Many downsides, but what an incredible thing, to see a new disease and now have a vaccine for it only a year later.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
NEW ORLEANS — You just can’t keep a good city down, especially when Mardi Gras is coming. All around New Orleans, thousands of houses are being decorated as floats because the coronavirus outbreak cancelled the elaborate parades mobbed by crowds during the Carnival season leading to Fat Tuesday. Some smaller groups announced no-parade plans before the city did. Pandemic replacements include scavenger hunts for signature trinkets that normally would be thrown from floats or handed out from a streetcar, as well as outdoor art and drive-thru or virtual parades. The prominent Krewe of Bacchus has an app where people can catch and trade virtual trinkets during Carnival and watch a virtual parade Feb. 14, when the parade had been scheduled. But the “house float” movement started almost as soon as a New Orleans spokesman announced Nov. 17 that parades were off. That morning, Megan Joy Boudreaux posted what she later called a silly Twitter joke: “We’re doing this. Turn your house into a float and throw all the beads from your attic at your neighbours walking by.” But the more she thought about it, the more she liked it. She started a Facebook group, the Krewe of House Floats, expecting a few friends and neighbours to join. The numbers rose. Thirty-nine subgroups evolved to discuss neighbourhood plans. By Carnival season’s official start Jan. 6, the group had more than 9,000 members, including out-of-state “expats." About 3,000, including a few as far afield as England and Australia, will have their houses on an official online map, said Charlotte “Charlie” Jallans-Daly, one of two mapmakers. Houses are to be decorated at least two weeks before Fat Tuesday, which is Feb. 16 this year. With widespread addresses and two weeks to gawk, the hope is that people will spread out widely in time and space. “I didn’t think I was starting a Mardi Gras krewe. Here I am,” Boudreaux said. “I’ve got myself a second full-time job.” Discussions in the Facebook groups include how-tos, ads for props and neighbourhood themes. Artists have given livestreamed outdoor lessons. Katie Bankens posted that her block’s theme was Shark Week staycation paradise. When a resident worried that she was not “crafty” enough, administrator Carley Sercovich replied that if they could play music and throw trinkets to neighbours, “you are perfect for this Krewe!” Boudreaux also suggested that people could hire or buy from out-of-work Carnival artists and suppliers hit by the parade cancellation. A spreadsheet of artists and vendors followed. One of them, artist Dominic “Dom” Graves, booked more than 20 five-person classes in professional papier mache techniques, at $100 a person. Devin DeWulf, who already had started two pandemic charities as head of the Krewe of Red Beans walking club, kicked the house float idea up a few notches at the suggestion of Caroline Thomas, a professional float designer. Their “Hire a Mardi Gras Artist” crowdfunded lotteries collected enough money to put crews to work decorating 11 houses, plus commissioned work at two more houses and seven businesses. “We’ve put about 40 people to work, which is nice,” DeWulf said. With Mardi Gras approaching, he said a 12th lottery would be the last. One commissioned house is rented by a pair of nuns. Sisters Mary Ann Specha and Julie Walsh, who run a shelter for homeless women with children, had to get permission for their own crowdfunding from the motherhouse of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Dubuque, Iowa. “They loved it,” Specha said. The crowdfunded decorations may be auctioned after Mardi Gras to raise more money, DeWulf said. Several mansions along a short stretch of St. Charles Avenue had elaborate displays with signs noting their creation by one of the city’s biggest float-making studios. Tom Fox, whose wife, Madeline, painted a Spongebob Squarepants scene and made jellyfish from dollar store bowls, said he thinks a new tradition may have begun. “Even when Mardi Gras comes back, I think people are going to keep doing this,” he said. Janet McConnaughey, The Associated Press
Major Taiwanese chipmakers are willing to prioritise supplies for auto makers amid a global shortage of chips for the industry, the island's economics minister said after meeting with company executives. "Chipmakers are willing to follow the government's request and try to support auto chips as much as they can to support production in the U.S., Europe and Japan," Economics Minister Wang Mei-hua told reporters. The issue has become a diplomatic one, with German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier writing to Wang to ask her for help in addressing it.
NEW DELHI — India has vaccinated 2 million health workers in less than two weeks and recorded 12,689 new coronavirus positive cases in the past 24 hours, a sharp decline from a peak level of nearly 100,000 in mid-September. The health Ministry said the daily new cases had fallen below 10,000 on Tuesday with 9,102 cases. The daily new positive cases were 9,304 on June 4 last year. India’s fatalities dropped to 137 in the past 24 hours from a peak level of 1,089 daily deaths in September. India’s total positive cases since the start of the epidemic have reached 10.6 million, the second highest after the United States with 25.43 million cases. India started inoculating health workers on Jan. 16 in what is likely the world’s largest COVID-19 vaccination campaign. India is home to the world’s largest vaccine makers. Authorities hope to give shots to 300 million people. The recipients include 30 million doctors, nurses and other front-line workers. ___ THE VIRUS OUTBREAK: — Vaccine appointments cancelled in U.S. amid confusion over supply. — U.K. is first country in Europe to pass 100K deaths. — EU demands vaccine makers honour their commitments. — Virus variant brings new dimension to Europe’s pandemic fight. — Some hospitals near capacity in hard-hit areas as Indonesia hits 1 million virus cases. — Taiwan quarantines 5,000 people while looking for source of hospital cluster. — 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 ___ HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING: SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korea has reported new 559 cases of the coronavirus, its highest daily increase in 10 days, as health workers scrambled to slow transmissions at religious facilities, which have been a major source of infections throughout the pandemic. The figures released by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Wednesday brought the national caseload to 76,429, including 1,378 deaths. The agency said 112 of the new cases came from the southwestern city of Gwangju where more than 100 infections have so far been linked to a missionary training school. An affiliated facility in the central city of Daejeon has been linked to more 170 infections. Nearly 300 of the new cases came from the Seoul metropolitan area, home to half of the country’s 51 million people, where infections have been tied to various places, including churches, restaurants, schools and offices. The country 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. —- JUNEAU, Alaska -- Alaska has detected the state’s first known case of the coronavirus variant identified last year in the United Kingdom, officials said Tuesday. The infected person is an Anchorage resident who had travelled to a state where the variant had already been detected, the Alaska health department said. The person first experienced symptoms on Dec. 17, was tested three days later and received a positive result on Dec. 22. The resident lived with another person in Anchorage, who also became ill. Both isolated and have since recovered, officials said. It was not yet clear if the second person also was infected with the variant. Dr. Joe McLaughlin, the state epidemiologist, said in a news release that the discovery of the variant is not surprising because viruses “constantly change through mutation.” He said this is one of several “variants that has been carefully tracked because it appears to spread more easily and quickly than other strains of the virus.” Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, said it is likely the variant will be detected again soon. ___ BOSTON — In his annual State of the Commonwealth address, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker defended his vaccine distribution plan, which some have criticized for being confusing and too narrowly focused at first. Baker said the state is prepared to distribute and administer all the vaccine shots delivered by the federal government and is rapidly expanding the number of vaccination sites. “Vaccinating 4 million adults in Massachusetts as the doses are allocated by the federal government is not going to be easy. But be assured that we will make every effort to get this done as quickly and efficiently as possible,” he said. “We can only move as fast as the federal government delivers the vaccines.” ___ SEATTLE - Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Tuesday touted big improvements in distributing the COVID-19 vaccines, but he also urged residents to remain vigilant as new, more contagious variants of the disease spread in the state. Inslee said more than 36,000 doses were administered in Washington on Sunday and 39,000 on Monday — a big jump from about 16,000 a week earlier, and on the way toward the state’s goal of 45,000 per day. The number of vaccines actually administered could be even higher, given lags in reporting, but as of Monday more than 500,000 doses had been administered statewide, with four mass vaccination sites due to open this week. President Joe Biden announced Tuesday the federal government is boosting vaccine supplies to the states by 16% over the next three weeks, giving states more certainty about upcoming deliveries than the one-week notice the Trump administration had been providing. ___ ALABAMA — Alabama will receive an additional 10,000 first doses in its upcoming delivery, State Health Officer Scott Harris said, but supply remains the chief obstacle to getting more people vaccinating. The state which had been receiving about 60,000 first doses each week, but will see that jump to 70,000 in the coming week. Harris said he was happy to have the increase, although the state had been expecting 112,000 weekly doses based on initial conversations with federal officials last year. “Yes, it is less than the original 112,000 amount we had expected, but we are glad to see any increase at all,” Harris wrote in a message to The Associated Press. Harris said Friday that the state has approved nearly 900 pharmacies, doctors’ office and other locations to distribute vaccine, but 500 sites have not distributed any vaccinations because the state doesn’t have doses to give. “Every state had the idea that they were going to get much more vaccine than they ultimately got,” Harris told reporters during a Friday briefing. ___ RALEIGH, N.C. --- Health providers who have seen their coronavirus vaccine supplies substantially cut or temporarily halted because of the state’s abrupt shift favouring mass vaccination clinics will soon receive more doses, North Carolina’s top public health official said Tuesday. “This week is going to feel particularly tight, with many providers getting small or no allocations,” Mandy Cohen, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services, said at a news conference. “But we know that our providers need as much stability as we can give them in what is a very unstable environment.” As part of the department’s plan, the state will guarantee 84,000 new first doses of vaccines to counties each week based on population for the next three weeks. The remaining 36,000 weekly doses will be used to balance out distributions to counties and improve access for racial and ethnic minorities. Cohen and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper have pinned the recent vaccine instability on the federal government. Local officials, in turn, have criticized the state for creating a distribution system it believes is ever-changing, poorly communicated and inequitable. President Joe Biden’s administration will raise the minimum weekly supply to states over the next three weeks from 8.6 million to 10 million, or by 16%. Cohen said on Tuesday afternoon that it’s not yet clear what North Carolina’s new supply count will be. But with nearly all supplies exhausted and more mass vaccination events forthcoming, thousands of North Carolinians with postponed appointments could see further delays. ___ TORONTO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it would be very worrying if the European Union blocked Canada from getting COVID-19 doses from Europe. The EU has threatened to impose export controls on vaccines produced within its borders, and warned pharmaceutical companies that have developed coronavirus vaccines with EU aid that it must get its shots on schedule. All of Canada’s vaccines come from Europe. Trudeau says he spoke to the chief executive of Moderna and he says it was “very clear” that the Canadian contract will be respected. Canada isn’t getting any deliveries of the Pfizer vaccine made in Europe this week, shipments are set to resume next week. Trudeau says he will work with European allies to ensure there are not any disruptions to the Canadian supply chain. ___ WASHINGTON — U.S. health regulators announced new steps Tuesday to block imports of Mexican-made hand sanitizers after repeatedly warning that many brands contain dangerous contaminants. The Food and Drug Administration said U.S. inspectors will now be able to stop any shipment of the products at ports of entry, under a nationwide import alert intended to protect U.S. consumers. Importers will be able to present documentation to show that the products meet U.S. standards The FDA said nearly 85% of alcohol-based sanitizers from Mexico sampled by agency scientists did not meet U.S. requirements for quality and safety. The FDA said Tuesday there have been reports of hospitalizations and death linked to the sanitizers reported to U.S. poison control centres and state health departments. ___ WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is announcing that the U.S. is purchasing an additional 100 million doses each of the two approved coronavirus vaccines for delivery this summer, with the government expecting to be able to deliver enough of the two-dose regimens to states this summer to vaccinate 300 million people. The additional purchases from drugmakers Pfizer and Moderna come as the Biden administration is trying to ramp up vaccine production and states’ capacities to inject them into arms. Biden is also announcing that vaccine deliveries to states and territories will be boosted to at least 10 million doses per week over the next three weeks. Seeking to address concerns from state and local leaders that supplies have been inconsistent, prompting last-minute cancellations of booked appointments, the White House is also pledging to provide states with firm vaccine allocations three weeks in advance of delivery to allow for accurate planning for injections. ___ LOS ANGELES — California is revamping its vaccine delivery system mid-stride, centralizing what has been a hodgepodge of county systems and streamlining appointment sign-up, notification and eligibility for its 40 million residents. The state’s health agency on Tuesday said third-party administrators would take over ordering and distributing vaccine doses with a new state secretary in charge of logistics. The move comes after California faced criticism for a slow rollout as coronavirus cases soared and hospital beds filled up with patients in much of the state. Residents have been baffled by the varying systems as some counties will vaccinate people 65 and older while others are limited to the more restrictive 75 and up. ___ WASHINGTON — “Several hundred” White House staffers have been vaccinated for COVID-19 as the Biden administration looks to create a safe workspace for the new president. Spokesman Kevin Munoz said the White House has provided the first of the two-shot vaccination to those who work on-site and is working toward vaccinating all staffers in the coming weeks. President Joe Biden completed the two-dose regimen a week before his swearing-in, and Vice-President Kamala Harris was given her second shot Tuesday at the National Institutes of Health. Both she and President Joe Biden got the vaccine live on television to help alleviate public resistance to the vaccine and reassure Americans of its safety. ___ RALEIGH, N.C. — An increasing number of COVID-19 vaccination sites around the U.S. are cancelling appointments because of vaccine shortages. States are expected to find out their latest weekly allocation of vaccines on Tuesday. The White House plans to hold a call with governors to discuss the vaccine supply. Governors and top health officials have been concerned about inadequate supplies and the need for more reliable estimates of how much is on the way so that they can plan accordingly. On Tuesday, the CDC reported just over half of the 41 million doses distributed to states have been put in people’s arms. Some vaccination sites have cancelled appointments for first-dose shots. Many are likely holding large quantities of vaccine in reserve to make sure people who have already gotten their first shot receive the required second shot on schedule, three to four weeks later. ___ SAN DIEGO — Several gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park appear to be recovering weeks after testing positive for the coronavirus, including a silverback who received antibody treatment. The park’s executive director Lisa Peterson says the eight western lowland gorillas are eating, drinking and active after being exposed by a zookeeper who tested positive for coronavirus in early January. Peterson says fecal samples from the gorillas are no longer testing positive for the virus. She says some of the gorillas will get the COVID-19 vaccine from a supply made specifically for animals. ___ NEW YORK — Health officials say evidence continues to mount that it’s generally safe to have in-person schooling if U.S. schools require mask-wearing and other precautions. The latest study looks at schools in rural Wisconsin and found cases linked to in-school transmission were very low even while infections were common in the same communities. The Wisconsin study was published online Tuesday by a CDC journal, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. It focused on 17 schools in Wood County in central Wisconsin and found cases were diagnosed at rate 37% lower than reported in the county overall. In the Journal of the American Medical Association, Margaret Honein of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other CDC scientists say it’s reassuring that the kind of spread seen in nursing homes and other places hasn’t been noted in schools with prevention measures. However, they say some extracurricular school-related activities, such as sports, have triggered coronavirus spread in some places. ___ ATLANTA — A member of the Georgia state House has been removed from the chamber for not abiding by the legislature’s coronavirus testing policy. Rep. David Clark, a Republican from Buford, was asked to leave the House floor Tuesday morning. Clark refused to leave on his own and had to be escorted out by police. Members of the legislature undergo testing twice weekly on Mondays and Thursdays. Clark told reporters he is abstaining from twice-a-week testing until it is available to everyone in Georgia, particularly teachers and first responders. A spokesman for House Speaker David Ralston issued a statement that didn’t name Clark. It said he had been “advised numerous times about the requirements and had refused to be tested at any point during this session.” ___ LONDON — More than 100,000 people have died in the United Kingdom after contracting the coronavirus. The health department said 100,162 people have died after testing positive, including 1,631 new deaths reported Tuesday. Britain is the fifth country in the world to pass that mark, after the United States, Brazil, India and Mexico, and by far the smallest. The U.S. has recorded more than 400,000 COVID-19 deaths, the world’s highest total, but its population of about 330 million is about five times Britain’s. The U.K. toll is 30,000 more than the total number of British civilians killed during the six years of World War II. The Associated Press
Tuesday's Games NHL Toronto 4 Calgary 3 Winnipeg 6 Edmonton 4 Buffalo 3 N.Y. Rangers 2 Philadelphia 5 New Jersey 3 Washington 3 N.Y. Islanders 2 Florida 4 Columbus 3 (SO) Boston 3 Pittsburgh 2 (OT) Los Angeles 2 Minnesota 1 Nashville 3 Chicago 2 (OT) Dallas 2 Detroit 1 (OT) Anaheim 1 Arizona 0 Colorado 7 San Jose 3 St. Louis 5 Vegas 4 (OT) --- NBA Atlanta 108 L.A. Clippers 99 Houston 107 Washington 88 Utah 108 New York 94 --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
Queen Sofía has the footballer on her Christmas card list!
Walmart Inc will add small robot-staffed warehouses to dozens of its stores to help fill orders for pickup and delivery, the company said on Wednesday, as Americans shift their spending online amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The robots will work behind the scenes, picking frozen and refrigerated foods as well as smaller general merchandise items from inside the warehouses, or local fulfillment centers, that will carry "thousands of frequently purchased items." The world's largest retailer, which operates nearly 5,000 stores nationwide, did not say how many stores will have the new centers but said it was "planning dozens of locations, with many more to come."
SoftBank Group Corp's robotics unit announced on Wednesday a joint venture with Japanese electronics maker Iris Ohyama, as the conglomerate looks to juice up its robotics business. SoftBank Robotics, whose Pepper robot is a symbol of the company and Chief Executive Masayoshi Son's grand technological ambitions, is an outlier, as the group eschews operating businesses in favour of investing. The joint venture, Iris Robotics, offered an ambitious forecast of 100 billion yen ($965 million) in sales by 2025, but provided little detail on future products at a press conference.
The coronavirus pandemic is on the decline in Moscow, Mayor Sergei Sobyanin said on Wednesday as he abolished some COVID-19 restrictions, allowing bars, restaurants and nightclubs to open overnight. New COVID-19 cases in the Russian capital have not exceeded 3,000 in the past week and more than 50% of beds in coronavirus hospitals were vacant for the first time since mid-June, Sobyanin wrote on his personal blog. "The pandemic is on the decline and under the circumstances our duty is to create conditions for the quickest possible recovery of the economy," said Sobyanin.
NAIROBI, Kenya — The United States said all soldiers from Eritrea should leave Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region “immediately.” A State Department spokesperson in an email to The Associated Press cited “credible reports of looting, sexual violence, assaults in refugee camps and other human rights abuses." "There is also evidence of Eritrean soldiers forcibly returning Eritrean refugees from Tigray to Eritrea,” the spokesperson said. The statement reflects new pressure by the Biden administration on the government of Ethiopia, Africa’s second most populous country and the anchor of the Horn of Africa, and other combatants as the deadly fighting in Tigray nears the three-month mark. The AP this week cited witnesses who fled the Tigray region as saying Eritrean soldiers were looting, going house-to-house killing young men and even acting as local authorities. The Eritreans have been fighting on the side of Ethiopian forces as they pursue the fugitive leaders of the Tigray region, though Ethiopia’s government has denied their presence. The U.S. stance has shifted dramatically from the early days of the conflict when the Trump administration praised Eritrea for its “restraint.” The new U.S. statement calls for an independent and transparent investigation into alleged abuses. “It remains unclear how many Eritrean soldiers are in Tigray, or precisely where,” it says. It was not immediately clear whether the U.S. has addressed its demand directly to Eritrean officials. Witnesses have estimated that the Eritrean soldiers number in the thousands. Eritrean officials have not responded to questions. The information minister for Eritrea, one of the world’s most secretive countries, this week tweeted that “the rabid defamation campaign against Eritrea is on the rise again.“ The U.S. also seeks an immediate stop to the fighting in Tigray and “full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access” to the region, which remains largely cut off from the outside world, with Ethiopian forces often accompanying aid. “We are gravely concerned by credible reports that hundreds of thousands of people may starve to death if urgent humanitarian assistance is not mobilized immediately,” the statement says. The U.S. adds that “dialogue is essential between the government and Tigrayans.” Ethiopia's government has rejected dialogue with the former Tigray leaders, seeing them as illegitimate, and has appointed an interim administration. The former Tigray leaders, in turn, objected to Ethiopia delaying a national election last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and considered Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's mandate over. Cara Anna, The Associated Press