When Ontario’s new state of emergency takes effect on Thursday, many businesses will be forced to close early, but not big-box stores like Costco, Walmart, and others. As Sean O’Shea reports, some business leaders say this is unfair.
When Ontario’s new state of emergency takes effect on Thursday, many businesses will be forced to close early, but not big-box stores like Costco, Walmart, and others. As Sean O’Shea reports, some business leaders say this is unfair.
The A-list is back. How A-list? Try Lady Gaga and J. Lo. Inauguration officials announced on Thursday that the glittery duo would appear in person on Jan. 20, with Gaga singing the national anthem as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and Jennifer Lopez giving a musical performance. Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen will offer remote performances, and Eva Longoria and and Kerry Washington will introduce segments of the event. Later that day, Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden’s inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons. Despite a raging pandemic that is forcing most inaugural events online, it was a sign that Hollywood was back and eager to embrace the new president-elect four years after many big names stayed away from the inauguration of President Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. The question: How would the star wattage play across the country as Biden seeks to unite a bruised nation? Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant and former Reagan administration official, predicted reaction would fall “along tribal lines.” “I think it all comes down to the reinforcement of pre-existing beliefs,” Dezenhall said. “If you’re a Biden supporter, it’s nice to see Lady Gaga perform.” But, he added, “what rallied Trump supporters was the notion of an uber-elite that had nothing to do at all with them and that they couldn’t relate to.” Presidential historian Tevi Troy quipped that the starry Gaga-J. Lo lineup was not A-list, but D-list — "for Democratic.” "When Democrats win you get the more standard celebrities,” said Troy, author of “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House.” “With Republicans you tend to get country music stars and race-car drivers." Referring to Lady Gaga’s outspoken support for the Biden-Harris ticket, he said he was nostalgic for the days when celebrities were not so political. “Call me a hopeless romantic, but I liked the old days when Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra would come to these events and they were not overtly political,” he said. Still, he said, Biden’s unity message won’t be derailed. “In the end, I don’t think having Lady Gaga or J. Lo is all that divisive,” he said. Attendance at the inauguration will be severely limited, due to both the pandemic and fears of continued violence, following last week’s storming of the Capitol. Outside the official events, one of the more prominent galas each inauguration is The Creative Coalition's quadrennial ball, a benefit for arts education. This year, the ball is entirely virtual. But it is star-studded nonetheless: The event, which will involve food being delivered simultaneously to attendees in multiple cities, will boast celebrity hosts including Jason Alexander, David Arquette, Matt Bomer, Christopher Jackson, Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Keegan Michael-Key, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Patinkin and many others. Robin Bronk, CEO of the non-partisan arts advocacy group, said she's been deluged with celebrities eager to participate in some way. The event typically brings in anywhere from $500,000 to $2.5 million, and this year the arts community is struggling like never before. Bronk noted that planning has been a challenge, given not only the recent political upheaval in the country but also the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic. Given all that, did a celebration make sense? “I was thinking about this when we were trying to phrase the invitation,” Bronk said. “Do we celebrate? This is the most serious time of our lives.” But, she said, especially at a time when the arts community is suffering, it’s crucial to shine a spotlight and recognize that “the right to bear arts is not a red or blue issue. One of the reasons we have this ball is that we have to ensure the arts are not forgotten." The Presidential Inaugural Committee also announced Thursday that the invocation will be given by the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware. On the same platform, Biden sat in 2013 behind pop star Beyoncé as she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama's second inauguration. James Taylor sang “America the Beautiful,” and Kelly Clarkson sang “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” At Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the anthem was performed by 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho. A number of top artists declined the opportunity to perform at the festivities, and one Broadway star, Jennifer Holliday, even said she’d received death threats before she pulled out of her planned appearance. There was indeed star power in 2017, but most of it was centred at the Women’s March on Washington, where attendees included Madonna, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Emma Watson and many others. This year, signs are that Obama-era celebrities are returning. Dezenhall said that in the end, it's logical for organizers to go with the biggest talent. “Lady Gaga is as big as you can get, and she is very talented,” he said. “If I were being inaugurated and I could have Lady Gaga, I would take it.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
Quebec says it will seek leave to appeal at the Supreme Court of Canada a lower court decision that reduced the sentence of convicted mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette. The province's highest court in November reduced the killer's life sentence from 40 years in prison before chance at parole, to 25 years. In 2019, a Quebec Superior Court justice rewrote a 2011 law that granted courts the right to impose consecutive sentences in blocks of 25 years for multiple murders, declaring that the law amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. Justice Francois Huot instead handed Bissonnette a sentence of 40 years. The Court of Appeal agreed with Huot that consecutive sentencing violated the Charter, but decided the lower court judge erred in granting the killer a 40-year sentence and instead opted for 25 years. Bissonnette pleaded guilty in March 2018 to six counts of first-degree murder and six of attempted murder, following the 2017 mosque attack in Quebec City. His murder victims were Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42; Abdelkrim Hassane, 41; Khaled Belkacemi, 60; Aboubaker Thabti, 44; Azzeddine Soufiane, 57; and Ibrahima Barry, 39. In addition to the men killed, five others were struck by bullets. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
SILVER SPRING, Md. — Wells Fargo had its best quarter of 2020 as its profit rose 4% in the fourth quarter of a year defined by the coronavirus outbreak. The bank, based in San Francisco, said Friday that its earnings rose to $3 billion, or 64 cents per share, compared with earnings of $2.87 billion , or 60 cents a share, a year earlier. The results surpassed Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 12 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of 59 cents per share. The biggest U.S. mortgage lender posted revenue of $17.93 billion in the period, just short of projections of $18.1 billion. Net interest income fell 17%, the company said, mostly due to falling interest rates. However, economists are forecasting modest mortgage rate rises this year. Long-term bond yields, which can influence interest rates on mortgages and other consumer loans, have climbed recently amid expectations of higher U.S. government spending on pandemic relief and an economic recovery as more people get vaccinated for COVID-19. On Thursday night, President-elect Joe Biden unveiled a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan that would speed up vaccines and deal financial help to those struggling with the pandemic’s prolonged economic fallout. Biden proposed $1,400 checks for most Americans and extending a temporary boost in unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures through September. Like it has for most businesses, it’s been a tumultuous year for Wells Fargo, which set aside $3.83 billion in the first quarter to cover potentially bad loans as the economy ground to halt because of the coronavirus outbreak. Then the lender lost $2.4 billion in the second quarter, its first quarterly loss since the real estate crash of 2008. Wells bounced back somewhat last quarter with $2 billion in profit. As if the challenges presented by the virus pandemic weren’t enough, Wells has been in hot water with regulators for years. Wells has been operating under strict federal guidelines due to a series of scandals, limiting its ability to grow. Wells Fargo shares fell 7.2% in morning trading and have declined almost 33% in the last 12 months. Matt Ott, The Associated Press
The Township of Seguin and the other six municipalities that make up west Parry Sound have signed off on a letter, dated Dec. 1, to Ontario’s minister of the environment, conservation and parks. The letter states that they would like the ministry to reconsider the transition of the blue box from 2025 to 2024. What exactly is the blue box transition program? The Blue Box Transition program is being legislated by the Province of Ontario and means the responsibility of collecting and processing recyclable products will be on the manufacturers who make the items. What that means is the duty of recycling is being shifted to the manufacturers who produce the material rather than society. Will this effect how I put out my recycling? The government says there shouldn’t be any change of service. You may have to go to a different location to drop off your recycling, if rural, or you may have a new company that picks up your curbside blue box materials. When is this supposed to come into effect? For the municipalities that make up west Parry Sound — Parry Sound, Archipelago, Seguin, McKellar, McDougall, Carling and Whitestone — the change is supposed to come into effect in 2025; however, all seven municipalities have signed a letter to Minister Jeff Yurek requesting the transition take place in 2024. Why? The District of Muskoka is transitioning in 2024 and, currently, the west Parry Sound municipalities process blue box materials in Bracebridge. They are concerned about issues that may happen if the transition happens at a different time than Muskoka. Another concern is the fact the Greater Toronto Area is transitioning in 2023 and the expanded list of recyclables there will differ from what is offered in west Parry Sound for a time. Residents who migrate north for the summer may expect to recycle the same list of items, which may cause contamination in waste systems. Will this transition raise my taxes? Once the producers and manufacturers take over the recycling process, it’s going to save the taxpayers; however, prices for products may go up to pay for the manufacturers’ cost of processing the recycling. The Township of Seguin said at its Jan. 11 council meeting that the mayors from the seven municipalities would follow up on the letter once a response was received. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
MILAN — Italy’s fashion chamber is opening on Friday the first Milan Fashion Week that won't have VIPS populating runway front rows, as the reality of Italy's persistent resurgence of the coronavirus has forced an all-virtual format for presenting menswear previews. The National Fashion Chamber maintained a live element during the July and September fashion weeks in Milan. But after planning to stage live shows with guests during this round, Fendi, Etro and outdoor brand Kway announced their events will be livestreamed from behind closed doors. Dolce & Gabbana cancelled its runway show entirely, citing restrictions in place due to COVID-19. The other 36 participating fashion houses on the pared-down calendar -- including Zegna and Prada -- will all have digital-only presentations. “We did everything to preserve some runway shows, but the anti-COVID norms in this moment don’t allow us to have guests, and therefore, the runway shows will be closed-door,” fashion chamber president Carlo Capasa said. The organizers of Paris Fashion Week plan to hold audience-free men’s and haute couture shows later this month. Prospects for Milan's February shows of mostly womenswear previews remain unclear; the Italian government on Friday announced a new round of virus-control restrictions through Feb. 15 that extend a ban on travelling between regions. Capasa acknowledged that closed-door shows deprive fashion of some of its energy. But the pandemic, which has all but shut down global travel and closed retail stores for long periods , has made fashion houses quickly update their digital communication strategies and e-commerce platforms, he said. There is some evidence the investments are paying off, with one-quarter of online luxury sales last year to consumers who went high-end for the first-time, Capasa said. The Italian fashion chamber found that 45 million people streamed Milan Fashion Week shows in September, a number that Capasa said was beyond his wildest dreams a year ago. Still, the fashion industry is in dire financial straits. The Italian industry recorded a 25% drop in revenues to 50.5 billion euros ($61.2 billion) in 2020 compared with 2019, with exports down 22% to nearly 43 billion euros ($52.1 billion). A more drastic decline was avoided thanks to so-called “revenge shopping” in China, with eager consumers returning to luxury shopping as soon as lockdowns expired, and moves toward e-commerce and a bump in global luxury sales in October, Capasa said. In Europe, where governments have ordered new lockdowns, the market remained weakest. Capasa said the industry, one of the biggest generators of Italy's gross domestic product, is seeking a share of the government’s recovery funds to help improve innovation and to keep small artisanal businesses from failing. He said he hopes to see a gradual return to normality in fashion show calendars and travel this summer, as vaccines reduce the threat of the coronavirus. “For now, we need to do the best we can, in the moment we are living,’’ Capasa said. Colleen Barry, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The line stretched nearly a block long. Nobody was grumbling about the wait. Those gathered at a senior wellness centre in Washington, D.C., viewed it as a matter of life or death. The nation's capital had just opened up coronavirus vaccines to people 65 and older because of their increased risk. I was among those who had a shot within reach. In the nation's capital, along with the rest of the country, coronavirus cases have surged since the holidays. More than 32,800 positive cases have been recorded overall in the city. Nearly 850 people have died. And now add fears that the mob insurrection at the Capitol earlier this month could turn into a superspreader event, adding to the totals. People were on edge. As I waited for my shot, I wondered if I should be there. The district had offered the vaccine first to health care workers, but were there others who should have come before me, people like teachers and workers in grocery stores and other businesses providing essential services during the pandemic? What about the older old — people over 75? Yes, journalists are considered essential, and I also am a teacher at the college level. But equally important to me, I haven't seen my grandson and his parents in California for more than a year — half his life — and l long to get on a plane to visit. And I do fit the new criteria for vaccines, people 65 and older. So I was all in. The city started offering appointments to the over-65 crowd Monday. I called up the website, filled in the questionnaire and looked for a location. The site closest to my home had no times available so I widened my search, finally choosing a senior centre about 3 miles away. Later, I checked my neighbourhood listserv. It was filled with complaints from residents who found the whole process unwieldy and were furious that all the available appointments had been booked. A D.C. council member acknowledged that “the rollout came with a significant number of frustrations and challenges" but said there would be other opportunities for seniors to get the vaccine. It's an issue of supply and demand. There are just under 85,000 D.C. residents 65 and older who qualify for shots, but only 6,700 appointments were available the first week. I was one of the lucky ones. It was cold, but the length of the line at the wellness centre didn't bother me. I was grateful that we were outside for much of the wait, and that people were voluntarily self-distancing. That was enforced once we moved inside. Everyone wore a mask. Some people who were visibly frail were moved to front of the line. No one complained. And while I waited, I worked. In a bit of irony, that meant consulting with a colleague on a story about the Trump administration's push to expand vaccination to more people, including those over 65. The District of Columbia, it turns out, was ahead of the curve. Ninety minutes after I arrived, I was given the Moderna vaccine, administered by a Safeway pharmacy manager brought in from Rehoboth, Delaware. After we talked about her hometown — a favourite beach vacation spot for my family — and other vaccinations I might need, she told me how to sign up for the second dose. Then I was sent to wait in another room to make sure I didn't have a serious allergic reaction to the shot. I didn't. I get my second dose Feb. 10. I've already started thinking about booking that flight to California. There's only one negative — now everyone knows my age. ___ Virus Diary, an occasional feature, showcases the coronavirus pandemic through the eyes of Associated Press journalists around the world. Follow Washington-based AP news editor Carole Feldman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CaroleFeldman Carole Feldman, The Associated Press
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A partnership with the Trump administration has reduced disparities in Alaska Native access to COVID-19 testing, treatment and protective equipment, tribal health care leaders said. The administration’s coronavirus initiative has treated Indigenous tribes as sovereign governments and set aside special vaccine shipments, Alaska Public Media reported Thursday. Operation Warp Speed, as the initiative is known, designated vaccine doses for tribes in the same manner as for the Department of Defence, Veterans Health Administration and Bureau of Prisons. The federal government distributed more than 35,000 doses to Alaska tribes, in addition to 78,000 doses to Alaska’s state government. More than 250,000 doses were dedicated to tribes nationwide through the Indian Health Service. “It’s something to celebrate,” Alaska Native Health Board CEO Verné Boerner. “When you embrace tribes and tribal sovereignty, you can bring so much more to the state.” Tribal shipments have afforded broad vaccine access for rural and Indigenous Alaskans and expanded availability of doses beyond older people. Providers acknowledge part of their ability to offer expanded access is because about a third of health care workers and older residents have declined to immediately take vaccines. While tribal providers are vaccinating Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, state and Native leaders said there is a legal basis for separate shipments because of longstanding recognition of tribes as sovereign governments. Officials said the decision also is appropriate from a scientific and medical standpoint because of the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on Alaska Native people and the dynamics in many rural communities that make the virus difficult to control. Factors include crowded, multi-generational homes, lack of running water and sewer and distance from advanced medical care. “It’s never been about equal distribution of the vaccine. It’s about equitable distribution,” said Dr. Ellen Hodges, Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. chief of staff. “The congregate living settings that exist in most of our villages are a setup for the virus to just spread like wildfire, and there’s no defence against that.” For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The Associated Press
Amazon Inc's cloud computing division opened its first office in Greece on Friday to support what it said was a growing number of companies and public sector agencies using its cloud services. The move by Amazon Web Services (AWS) comes as Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis's conservative government has stepped up efforts to attract foreign investment and draw high tech companies to Greece. "We have seen increased customer adoption of AWS in the country and decided to open an office in Athens to better support new customers," Przemek Szuder, the head of AWS operations in central and eastern Europe said in a statement.
During a COVID-19 modelling update on Friday, Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said the rise in case numbers is largely due to Canadians gathering during the holidays. She added that measures must be “further intensified,” in order to help stop the spread.
The Redcliff Youth Centre was able to renovate its entire space thanks to $60,000 in funding. The youth centre applied for and received $30,000 from the Home Depot Foundation. That amount was then matched by the Alberta Government’s Community Facility Enhancement Program. “The Home Depot Foundation supports at-risk youth and the organizations that help that demographic,” said executive director Janae Ulrich. “The money we were granted was specifically for renovation and restoration within our facility. “That funding ended up being matched by the provincial government, which was amazing.” The Youth Centre’s building is old and was showing its age, said Ulrich. “This was definitely needed,” she said. “I know the centre has been around for 30 years and it was pretty clear that the building needed some TLC.” Renovations began in the spring of 2019 and are just about concluded now. The money from Home Depot allowed the centre to renovate the front half of the building. When funding from the government came in 2020, the centre was able to renovate the back half. “We used to rent the back half out to a preschool,” said Ulrich. “We decided to renovate it to allow us to have better access to it. We opened up a couple of walls so we can use it for programming, but we made sure we could still rent it out if need be.” The centre got new paint, flooring, updated lighting to LED, new doors, trim, and is waiting on new furniture to arrive. “It’s just so nice to be able to give the kids a space that is welcoming and can kind of feel like home,” she said. “The space was outdated and kind of dirty. The floor was cement and it just gave off a feeling. “It’s so rewarding to know the kids can feel welcome and at home.” The youth centre was able to renovate its backyard as well, which is now complete with sod, a patio, fire pit and a volleyball court. The youth centre works with 290 registered children and sees between 15-40 kids each day.Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
NEW YORK — A bound edition of materials about President Donald Trump's second impeachment will feature a foreword from an estranged associate — former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. Skyhorse Publishing announced that “The Second Impeachment Report: Materials in Support of H. Res. 24, Impeaching Donald John Trump, President of the United States, for High Crimes and Misdemeanours by the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary" will come out Feb. 9. Publishers do not require permission to release Congressional reports as books because they are not copyrighted. The House impeached Trump earlier this week on a single charge, incitement of insurrection, over his role in last week's bloody attack on the U.S. Capitol. Trump also was impeached a year ago for pressuring Ukraine's president to investigate President-elect Joe Biden. The Senate voted to acquit him. Cohen already has written a book about his falling out with Trump, the bestselling “Disloyal.” In his foreword to the new book, he writes, “We should never have to call Donald Trump ‘Mr. President’ again after January 20, 2021.” The Associated Press
Les gens sont définitivement au rendez-vous depuis l’ouverture du Mont Lac-Vert le 28 décembre dernier. S’ils sont nombreux à dévaler les pistes, le centre n’a toutefois pas encore affiché complet. « On a passé plusieurs semaines avant l’ouverture à analyser nos chiffres des dernières années pour se préparer à la nouvelle saison. On a ainsi pu instaurer un quota de personnes dans la montagne par plage horaire. Jusqu’à maintenant, nous n’avons pas encore atteint le maximum de nos capacités, même si nous avons beaucoup de gens qui viennent dévaler les pentes », mentionne la responsable des communications, Claudia Carrière. Concernant les quotas, Claudia Carrière explique que sur semaine, de jour, c’est un maximum de 150 personnes qui est permis en au Mont Lac-Vert. La fin de semaine, le quota est divisé en trois plages horaires, soit un maximum de 150 personnes le matin, l’après-midi et le soir. « Ça fonctionne bien, on est heureux du résultat. Il n’y a pas de longue attente au télésiège et il n’y a pas d’encombrement dans le chalet non plus. Tout se passe super bien. » Les sentiers de fat bike et de raquettes sont aussi populaires en ce début de saison. Il n’y a cependant pas de quota pour ces deux activités. « C’est certain qu’on ne se retrouvera pas avec 150 à 200 fat bikes dans nos sentiers. Par jour, en moyenne, on en reçoit environ une vingtaine. » Billets de saison L’organisation du Mont Lac-Vert est très satisfaite également de la vente de billets de saison. Selon Claudia Carrière, les chiffres ressemblent beaucoup à ceux des dernières années. « Avec la situation actuelle, on pouvait croire que nous allions connaitre une baisse des ventes de billets de saison. Au final, on ne se retrouve pas perdant, mais pas gagnant non plus. Je dirais que c’est demeuré assez stable. » Ouverture progressive Dans les prochaines semaines, les cours de glisse débuteront. Les inscriptions sont déjà débutées et les résultats semblent encourageants, dit-on. Concernant les pentes de ski, au moment d’écrire ces lignes, cinq pistes sont ouvertes. « Les chaudes températures à Noël ont eu des impacts. Ça nous retarde aussi pour l’ouverture des glissades sur tube. Nos canons à neige fonctionnent pratiquement 24h sur 24 ! »Janick Emond, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Lac St-Jean
Tanya Bogatin's once pristine home is no longer quite so organized, and she's waiting a little longer between loads of laundry, but it's no skin off her back. Her priorities have shifted now that she'll be helping her two young kids attend classes from their home in Vaughan, Ont., for another month. "Things are gonna fall to the backburner," she said. "I tell my kids, don't stress about it ... relax, relax. We're happy, we're safe, we're healthy." With online learning extended until late January across southern Ontario, and for even longer in Toronto, York, Peel, Durham and Windsor-Essex, parents like Bogatin are finding a litany of strategies to manage all their responsibilities. She said she briefly panicked when she found out her kids would be learning remotely until at least Feb. 10, but then she came up with a game plan. Each morning, she and her kids get up at around 8:20 a.m., with half an hour to spare before classes begin. Once classes start, her son -- who is in Grade 4 -- stations himself in the dining room, and her daughter -- in Grade 2 -- sets up her laptop at the desk in the toy room. Bogatin sits on the stairs between them, listening in case they call for help. At recess, she said, she bundles them up in winter gear and sends them out to play in the backyard. Right after classes end, they get to work on homework. Bogatin works part-time, and as of this week she's able to do that from home. "I'm very, very lucky that I have a very flexible job," she said, noting that she's mostly able to set her own schedule, and will sometimes retreat into her bedroom for online meetings. Her days are busy, she said, but they're "good busy." Parents are making it work, said Rachel Huot with the Ontario Parent Action Network, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's easy. "It's extremely challenging to try and support children learning remotely," she said. "Your kids are not meant to learn sitting in front of a computer screen for six hours a day." Parents who have to juggle supervising kids and working -- either in or out of the home -- are stretched even thinner, she said. "Then there's the fact that we're watching the government fail us day after day. And there's no clear end in sight," she said. Huot echoed calls from teachers' unions that are requesting broader testing of asymptomatic students, smaller class sizes and better ventilation systems in schools so that kids can safely return to the classroom. A spokeswoman for Education Minister Stephen Lecce said student safety is the government's top priority. "We know that parents want their children back in class and we firmly agree, and our commitment to deliver on that is to further enhance our safety protocols and provincewide targeted surveillance testing to ensure our students can safely go back to class," she said. The government has cited rising COVID-19 positivity rates amongst children as well as soaring daily infections for its decision to have students learn virtually for longer. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
After months of requesting to meet with Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, the Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN) chiefs will be sitting down with her at the end of the month to discuss issues surrounding Giant Mine. The YKDFN initially requested a rights and recognition table — a mechanism designed to solve long-standing disputes with First Nations — in May 2020 with the minister, but the department asked for more information. In November, the YKDFN produced a report in which they outlined the impact of the former Giant Mine on their communities. Displacement from the western part of Yellowknife Bay has affected their harvesting rights, contaminated water and led to long-term social impacts, the report says. The YKDFN demanded a federal apology, compensation, and a formal role in the remediation of their traditional lands — lands mined without consent from 1948 to 2006, and left poisoned with arsenic trioxide. Northwest Territories MP Michael McLeod says he supports the First Nation going to a rights recognition table. "If it doesn't happen, then this issue will end up in the courts," he said. "This is something our government has stated we would work out in the fashion of a nation-to-nation relationship and I'm hoping that's where we're going to end up." Procurement process 'railroading YKFDN,' says CEO In November 2017, the federal government awarded a $1-billion contract to clean up the site to California-based Parsons Corporation. Ndilo Chief Ernest Betsina said remediation work at the former gold mine is imminent, and that the YKDFN is seeking set-aside contracts that would make them the only eligible bidder for water treatment, and long-term environmental consulting and monitoring. "We just want to make sure that we don't miss an opportunity to have a table with the minister and make sure she directs her staff to make sure all departments have directions to work with YKDFN," said Betsina. In an email to CBC News, the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations said it is open to discussing set-aside contracts and will maximize the use of Indigenous labourers in the work at the mine. But it added that there is already a contract in place for long-term environmental monitoring and it will not be tendering a new one any time soon. As contracts for the remediation go out, YKDFN CEO Jason Snaggs says the procurement strategy is "railroading the First Nation into going out for competitive bids on these projects." "If the negotiated contracts and the community benefits plan are not in place, it leaves YKDFN in a position to have to compete with Indigenous First Nations across Canada," said Snaggs, adding that YKDFN is the First Nation bearing the brunt of Giant Mine's impacts. Chief Betsina said Bennett has committed herself to working with the YKDFN, and that he's optimistic she will. Contracts issued to date The federal government says it will tender contracts using the same procurement strategy as the Sydney tar ponds that saw the Mi'kmaq get a major stake in the remediation. The Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations says by using this strategy, Parsons has issued 39 subcontracts worth $74 million between December 2017 and November 2020. Of that, $49 million went to northern Indigenous companies, and $43 million went to YKDFN-affiliated companies or joint ventures, said a spokesperson in an email. In the last year, Indigenous people performed 30 per cent of on-site work. Parsons will start awarding contracts between now and July.
Atlanta rapper YFN Lucci is accused of being the driver in a gang-related drive-by shooting that left one man dead and another wounded, authorities said. The 29-year-old rapper turned himself in Wednesday, a day after Atlanta police announced murder charges against Lucci, whose real name is Rayshawn Bennett. Police said Bennett and other “gang members” drove through rival gang territory on Dec. 10 and two people inside the car opened fire, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported citing an arrest warrant. The rivals returned fire, hitting James Adams, 28, in the head, police said. Adams was “manually ejected” from the car and police later found his body lying in the road. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Later that day, Kevin Wright, 32, arrived at a fire station with a gunshot wound to his abdomen. He survived. Police said Ra’von Boyd, 23, was also in the vehicle during the shooting. Boyd and a 17-year-old juvenile were charged in the incident and were both arrested in Miami. A warrant was put out for Bennett's arrest Tuesday, charging him with murder, aggravated assault, participating in criminal street gang activity and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Before he surrendered to authorities Wednesday night, he released his latest music video on his Twitter and Instagram pages. Bennett's attorney Drew Findling said a “review of the initial evidence” provided “no basis for any criminal charges.” Lucci is best known for his 2016 song “Key to the Streets” featuring the Atlanta-area-based rap group Migos. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Chuck Schumer is used to drinking from a firehose. But the incoming Senate majority leader has never taken on such a torrent of challenges, with the opening days of both the Biden administration and Democratic control of the Senate coming at the very moment an impeachment trial gets underway. A 38-year veteran of Congress who first came to the Senate during President Bill Clinton's impeachment, Schumer is a 70-year-old bundle of energy with one overriding mandate: Help Joe Biden become a successful president. To do so, he’ll have to leverage the narrowest possible majority — a 50-50 Senate with the incoming vice-president, Kamala Harris, delivering the tiebreaking vote. It's a tough assignment. It's far easier, though often unsatisfying, to be a minority leader equipped with the tools of obstruction than it is to be a majority leader armed mostly with persuasion. But the goodwill Schumer enjoys with key members, and his careful management of the party's constituencies, could help ease the way. “Chuck Schumer has done a remarkable job as our caucus leader the last four years holding our caucus together," said a beaming Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., as he entered the Senate chamber during last Wednesday's Electoral College count, speaking just before a mob of violent supporters of President Donald Trump assaulted the Capitol and the situation turned dire. It was the day after the twin Georgia runoff elections unexpectedly delivered control to Democrats. Then Schumer appeared. “What did I just give a quote about? Our capable majority leader!" Coons said. “Again!" a jubilant Schumer exclaimed. “More adjectives! More adjectives!" Less than an hour later, Schumer was in peril — on the Senate floor — under the protection of a Capitol Police officer with a submachine gun standing between him and GOP leader Mitch McConnell as the mob breached the building. The ransacking of the Capitol has brought impeachment to the Senate's door again and set Republicans on their heels. And it's put a spotlight on whether the polarized, diminished chamber can process Biden's agenda. Take the installation of Biden's Cabinet. The Senate has traditionally tried to confirm a batch of the most important nominees on Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, and the days thereafter. But to do so requires the co-operation of the entire Senate. Democrats slow-walked many of Trump's Cabinet picks four years ago after a crushing election loss, but there's a palpable sense that Republicans may be more co-operative now, at least when confirming national security nominees and picks like Janet Yellen to run the Treasury Department. Schumer seeks — and is used to operating in — the spotlight, whether he’s helping run the unwieldy, increasingly divided Senate, micromanaging his beloved Democratic caucus or crisscrossing New York. Any of these is a full-time job. And they don’t always point him in the same direction. For instance, Biden is preaching bipartisanship, and Schumer wants to help, but tensions are inevitable with ardent progressives such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an ambitious Bronx Democrat whom Schumer allies are watching closely as he runs for a fifth term in 2022. Schumer was a force in Biden's decision to “go big” on Thursday with a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief and economic stimulus bill that was bigger than earlier Biden drafts. Progressives hailed the measure. Meanwhile, the prospect of an impeachment trial in the opening days of Biden's term adds a huge degree of uncertainty. Senate rules are unforgiving, but Schumer and McConnell are hoping to establish a dual-track process to confirm nominations even as the trial unfolds. McConnell and Schumer have a tortured, tense relationship after years of bruising political battles and fights over Supreme Court nominees. They rarely talk spontaneously and have no hesitation in slinging barbs that earlier generations of leaders managed to avoid. But Biden and McConnell are long-standing friends, and the Kentucky Republican — pondering a “guilty" vote in Trump's second impeachment trial and still absorbing the disastrous Senate losses in Georgia — appears inclined to help Biden as best he can. The events of the past week, as damaging and unsettling as they were for the country, seem likely to assist Biden and Schumer. What is more, Democratic control of the chamber comes with filibuster-proof treatment of Biden's nominees, with only a simple majority needed, though Republicans could easily force delays. McConnell and his Republican caucus want to “reasonably co-operate on the national security nominations,” said Hazen Marshall, a former McConnell policy aide. “His view has traditionally been that presidents deserve their staff, unless their staff are crazy or criminals." But GOP senators are sure to drag their feet on less urgent Cabinet posts given the experience under Trump, when even former Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., had to endure delays. But with the economy slipping and the public appalled by the melee in Washington, GOP resistance to Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package or his slate of Cabinet picks may not be as resolute. “There's a lot to do, but Democrats are on the right side of all of it," said former Schumer strategist and confidant Matt House. “These are good problems to have." Amid the dizzying pace, Schumer also tends to New York. A Brooklyn native, Schumer makes a visit to each of the state's 62 counties every year. And his spur-of-the-moment visits to local events like high school graduations and, more recently, unannounced drop-ins on community Zoom calls are the stuff of legend. Last Thursday, little more than 24 hours after the Capitol riot, Schumer hopped on a call with a community board in Sunnyside, Queens. He spent the opening minutes thanking board members. “You guys and gals do a great job — I know what it’s like," Schumer said, according to the Sunnyside Post. “When things go bad you hear about it; when things are great you hear nothing.” And after Trump's impeachment Wednesday, Schumer heaped praise on local New York media members in a call with publishers and broadcasters thanking him for steering stimulus dollars to struggling news outlets, according to an account by the Syracuse Post Standard. But he had to jump. “Pelosi has called me and Biden, so I won’t be able to be on for too long," Schumer said. Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press
CORNWALL – The first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in the region. Eastern Ontario Health Unit staff along with medical staff and paramedics have begun to deliver the first of two doses of the vaccine at Long-Term Care homes in the region. The first shipment of the vaccine arrived on Wednesday and more shipments of both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are expected this month. Meanwhile, COVID-19 infection numbers continue to increase in the region but the trend is slowing. During his January 14th media availability, Dr. Paul Roumeliotis said the rolling seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 was decreasing. "I'm actually encouraged and hoping to see this trend continue," he told reporters. According to the January 14th EOHU numbers, the average for cases was 120.6, which would still be considered at the Grey-Lockdown level under the province's colour-coded COVID-19 restrictions system. Forty or more cases per 100,000 is the level for Red, 25 cases for Orange. Currently there are 623 active cases of the Novel Coronavirus in the EOHU region, and the overall case count has increased to 2,046 people infected since the pandemic began. Locally, there have been 21 cases in South Dundas, but only four cases are active. North Dundas has had 40 cases overall, five of which are active. Cases still continue to increase in Cornwall and in South Glengarry. Cornwall has 227 active cases, or one in case in every 207 people in the city. South Glengarry has 54 active cases, most of which are due to a large-scale outbreak at a LTC home in Lancaster. Lancaster is one of 13 LTC homes or residences that have COVID-19 outbreaks listed on the EOHU's Facility Outbreak page. One facility that is not in a COVID-19 outbreak is the Community Living Dundas County facility in Winchester. The Leader reported this week that the facility was listed as having a respiratory outbreak that the source was unknown and that the outbreak was COVID-19 related. In fact, all residents and staff have had COVID-19 tests and the results for all tests were negative. Community Living Dundas County executive director Debbie Boardman said that the people were tested for COVID-19 as a precautionary measure. "They have been treated medically for the respiratory condition and are recovering well," Boardman said. "We have also received verbal confirmation that the(unknown) respiratory outbreak is over." She explained that CLDC staff and family members of people who live in CLDC supported homes have been following protocols, requirements and direction received from the EOHU and the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. "Everyone has been doing a fantastic job of following the guidelines," Boardman said. "They have been diligent and to date, no one has had a positive COVID-19 test. She added that they were looking forward to a vaccine being available to people living and working in Dundas County. The EOHU's COVID-19 numbers are updated weekdays (Monday to Friday, except statutory holidays) and are available on the organization's website. Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Leader
Bumble Inc's plans to go public come at a time when companies are seeking to capitalize on what has been the strongest IPO market in two decades. Companies raised a record $168 billion through IPOs on U.S. stock exchanges in 2020, according to Dealogic data. "The deficiency we identified relates to a lack of defined processes and controls over information technology," it said in the filing.
Max Meighen admits to being one of the more fortunate small business owners around. The Avling Kitchen and Brewery he opened in Toronto's Leslieville neighbourhood back in July 2019 has spent more of its young life in COVID-19 lockdown than out of it, but is still making decent income from takeout beer sales and some limited food options. The “whole animal” kitchen already had a butcher on-site to prepare its typical weekly order of a side of beef and a pig, who was quickly put to work selling cuts of meat and sausages out of the same retail store its customers already frequented to buy bottles and cans of Avling's beer before the lockdowns came. A bookkeeper has made it easier to navigate various government relief packages, including the federal wage subsidy that meant they could hire for two specific roles in September, one for a retail manager and another in communications, to respond to the changed circumstances. Apart from a brief opening in the summer, the pub has effectively been closed since March, but with nine months of interruptions, it still made around 60 per cent of the sales he’d expected in 2020, Meighen said. That's not to say the pandemic and the response to it has not brought pain and frustration to the young business owner. The restaurant has had to lay off around 35 mostly full-time kitchen and service staff, while two kitchen workers from the original team provide takeout service and donations to two local community groups. But Meighen has the latitude to hunker down and plan for better days ahead. “We want to represent a post-pandemic possibility,” he told Canada's National Observer. “Not playing catch-up, but trying our best to be leading the way.” After using marigolds planted in the rooftop garden to control pests, make oil infusions for the kitchen and adding them to an upcoming all-Ontario grain beer, Meighen is hoping to find funding for a project to add wastewater treatment or aquaculture to build out an even more circular urban agricultural ecosystem. He has also worked out a deal with his pig farmer to use barley and wheat planted in his fallow fields for another experimental brew, and wonders about whether his own spent grain could go back to the farm. “For my own sanity, maintaining my own optimism, looking forward to these projects and continuing to develop them is important,” Meighen said. “I’m trying to focus more on the possibilities of the future rather than the grim reality of the present.” Meighen says that while nothing could have prepared a restaurant owner for the last year, he has learned that governments can, when they want to, provide much more support for individuals and businesses, and he's hoping the country's political leaders are also looking ahead. “The real question for me is to what degree they take advantage of the months and year following the pandemic to initiate a rebound or a rebuild in a way that I hope looks towards greater equity, a more complete integration of green policy,” he said of the federal Liberal government that has bankrolled most emergency pandemic relief efforts. That could mean heavy funding and policy efforts to help Alberta’s oil and gas workers thrive in a less carbon-intensive world, for example, as the pandemic accelerates problematic trends “people could ignore at their own peril up until February of 2020, but now are completely here to stay,” Meighen said. Unlike many small businesses along the strip of Queen Street East from the railway bridge and Jimmy Simpson Park to Greenwood Avenue, Avling pays a mortgage rather than rent. Meighen said the bank had expected business-as-usual terms after an initial six-month deferral of payment (but not interest). “They were not as understanding as I would have liked nor expected,” he said, noting major lenders talk about being there to support small business. Meighen says Avling's beer sales bumped higher in the early days of the pandemic as customers prepared for some extended time at home, “but as things dragged on and it became apparent that it wasn't just an enforced vacation, a short temporary hiatus, but something much more long term, all of our sales pulled back.” The brief respite of the summer's looser rules and the city's CafeTO program, which made more sidewalk space available for dining, did help get weekly sales to around 85 per cent of typical, with Avling's 40-seat pavement patio replacing an inside space that used to regularly serve 100 people. About a third of Leslieville storefronts are either restaurants, cafés or bars, and the head of the area's BIA (business improvement area) Dominic Cobran credits CafeTO with keeping many of those hospitality businesses afloat through the summer. “It really was a lifeline for the participating restaurants,” he said of the program, which made extra pavement space available for al fresco dining and “helped them out to the point where it could take them through when they closed indoor dining” in October. “It took them through a very difficult period into an even more difficult period,” Cobran said, referring to the tighter restrictions introduced this winter.Alastair Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer