In Ontario, 3,328 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Thursday. As Erica Vella reports, this increase continues to raise concerns around capacity in hospitals across the province.
In Ontario, 3,328 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Thursday. As Erica Vella reports, this increase continues to raise concerns around capacity in hospitals across the province.
WASHINGTON — The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Antony Blinken as America’s top diplomat, tasked with carrying out President Joe Biden’s commitment to reverse the Trump administration’s “America First” doctrine that weakened international alliances. Senators voted 78-22 to approve Blinken, a longtime Biden confidant, as the nation’s 71st secretary of state, succeeding Mike Pompeo. The position is the most senior Cabinet position, with the secretary fourth in the line of presidential succession. Blinken, 58, served as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser during the Obama administration. He has pledged to be a leading force in the administration’s bid to reframe the U.S. relationship with the rest of the world after four years in which President Donald Trump questioned longtime alliances. He is expected to start work on Wednesday after being sworn in, according to State Department officials. “American leadership still matters,” Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at his Jan. 19 confirmation hearing. “The reality is, the world simply does not organize itself. When we’re not engaged, when we’re not leading, then one of two things is likely to happen. Either some other country tries to take our place, but not in a way that’s likely to advance our interests and values, or maybe just as bad, no one does and then you have chaos.” Blinken vowed that the Biden administration would approach the world with both humility and confidence, saying “we have a great deal of work to do at home to enhance our standing abroad.” Despite promising renewed American leadership and an emphasis on shoring up strained ties with allies in Europe and Asia, Blinken told lawmakers that he agreed with many of Trump’s foreign policy initiatives. He backed the so-called Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and several Arab states, and a tough stance on China over human rights and its assertiveness in the South China Sea. He did, however, signal that the Biden administration is interested in bringing Iran back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal from which Trump withdrew in 2018. Trump's secretaries of state nominees met with significant opposition from Democrats. Trump’s first nominee for the job, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, was approved by a 56 to 43 vote and served only 13 months before Trump fired him in tweet. His successor, Pompeo, was confirmed in a 57-42 vote. Opposition to Blinken centred on Iran policy and concerns among conservatives that he will abandon Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. Blinken inherits a deeply demoralized and depleted career workforce at the State Department. Neither Tillerson nor Pompeo offered strong resistance to the Trump administration’s attempts to gut the agency, which were thwarted only by congressional intervention. Although the department escaped proposed cuts of more than 30% of its budget for three consecutive years, it has seen a significant number of departures from its senior and rising mid-level ranks, Many diplomats opted to retire or leave the foreign service given limited prospects for advancement under an administration that they believed didn't value their expertise. A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School and a longtime Democratic foreign policy presence, Blinken has aligned himself with numerous former senior national security officials who have called for a major reinvestment in American diplomacy and renewed emphasis on global engagement. Blinken served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration before becoming staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chair of the panel. In the early years of the Obama administration, Blinken returned to the NSC and was then-Vice-President Biden’s national security adviser before he moved to the State Department to serve as deputy to Secretary of State John Kerry, who is now serving as special envoy for climate change. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
LONDON — For nine months, Gordon Bonner has been in the “hinterlands of despair and desolation” after losing his wife of 63 years to the coronavirus pandemic that has now taken the lives of more than 100,000 people in the United Kingdom. Only recently did Bonner think he might be able to move on — after sensing the spirit of his wife, Muriel, near him on what would have been her 84th birthday. “I suddenly understood I had to change my attitude, that memories are not shackles, they are garlands and one should wear them like garlands around your shoulders and use them to communicate between the quick and the dead,” the retired Army major said in an interview from his home in the northern city of Leeds. “Grief is the price we pay for love.” Bonner, 86, is just one of many hundreds of thousands of Britons toiling with grief because of the pandemic. With more than 2 million dead worldwide, people the world over are mourning loved ones, but the U.K.'s toll weighs particularly heavily: It is the smallest nation to pass the 100,000 mark. While Wuhan, Bergamo or New York City may be more associated with the pandemic, the U.K. has one of the the highest death tolls relative to its population. For comparison, the United States, with five times Britain's population, has four times the number of deaths. Experts say virus tallies, in general, are undercounts due to limited testing and missed cases, especially early in the pandemic. Alongside excess deaths comes excess grief, made even more acute by the social distancing measures in place to slow the virus's spread. “There’s going to be a tsunami of grief and mental health issues this year, next year, ongoing, due to the complications, because of course people haven’t been able to have the usual rituals,” said Linda Magistris, founder of the Good Grief Trust, which brings bereavement services in the U.K. together under one umbrella. Bonner understands the need for restrictions but that hasn't made it any easier. Six weeks after he was prevented from going to Muriel’s care home because of lockdown restrictions and 10 days after she was diagnosed with COVID-19, Bonner was summoned to the hospital and, “dressed like a spaceman,” he bore witness to his wife’s final agonizing moments. “She was working so hard to draw breath, her lips were pursed as if she was sucking on a straw," he said. "I can see her face now with her lips in that position and it was devastating and it knocked me sideways.” That was the last time he saw Muriel, and that image haunts him. And in what he termed a “wicked twist in the tale," Bonner was not offered the chance to replace that memory as his wife's body was deemed a “reservoir of active coronavirus.” He wasn’t even able to have her dressed the way he wanted for her cremation. Hugs with friends and family — well, they’re not advised. Those rituals help people cope, a task made harder now because there's no escape from the scale of death in the U.K. — beyond the annual average of around 600,000 — from the regular sound of ambulance sirens to the alarming headlines on news bulletins. “The backdrop of death, of grief, around creates quite a caustic context,” said Andy Langford, clinical director at Cruse, a leading charity for bereaved people. Many left behind are unsure where to seek help, partly because they are navigating the grieving process at a time when local health services are not operating as normal. Bereavement charities have stepped in, tailoring support groups online, that may appeal to those who may otherwise have been reluctant to search out help in the pre-COVID-19 world. But resources are stretched, especially when the country is regularly recording over 1,000 deaths a day. The government is being urged to provide extra funding to bolster helplines, counselling services and other community support programs. “It’s really important we don’t pathologize grief as indicative of mental health difficulties, but equally a huge proportion of people will need support,” said Dr. Charley Baker, associate professor of mental health at the University of Nottingham. Many won't need any or only minimal outside support. But there is a concern that some of the grief is pent up: that people may be be subconsciously shielding themselves from its full impact, and they may end up being hit hard as the pandemic comes under control. “I think it will be strange because it will be a really positive thing when things can hopefully get back to some degree of normality, but I think that would also be a very difficult moment because we’ve all been a bit frozen in time,” said Jo Goodman, who lost her 72-year-old father Stuart last April, just days after he tested positive for the virus. A couple of months after her father died, Goodman, 32, co-founded the COVID-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group to pressure the government to back a public inquiry into how the pandemic was handled last spring. “We can’t normalize the fact that hundreds upon hundreds of people are dying everyday and knowing what their families are going through,” Goodman said. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said an inquiry will take place — but only after the crisis is over. But already critics are arguing that the government has repeated the mistakes it made in the spring in the current resurgence, such as locking down the country too late. The U.K. is also contending with a new, more contagious variant that may carry a higher risk of death than the original strain. Bonner, meanwhile, is hoping that the country will take the time to properly mourn and is considering sending a letter to Johnson, who has yet to back a national commemoration for virus victims, to suggest a "a simultaneous remembrance service so those of us who have lost people to COVID can go somewhere to seek some solace.” ___ Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak. Pan Pylas, The Associated Press
QUEBEC — The 24-year-old man accused in the Quebec City Halloween night sword attack appeared briefly before a judge today. Carl Girouard appeared by video conference in a Quebec City courtroom, where he was granted the right to have his vehicle and cellphone returned to him. The prosecution disclosed more evidence it had collected against the suspect and told the court it had almost completed disclosure, adding that some laboratory test results were pending. Girouard, from Ste-Therese, a northern suburb of Montreal, remains in detention and is scheduled to return to court March 12. He is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder after a man dressed in a medieval costume and wielding a Japanese-style sword went on a rampage Oct. 31 in Quebec City's historic district. Two local residents, Francois Duchesne and Suzanne Clermont, were killed and five others were seriously injured in the attack. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
Be careful what you wish for, they say. Community volunteer Robbie Jones is celebrating his 57th birthday today as a Town of Mattawa council member. Jones, who was the first runner-up in the 2018 municipal election, fills the seat left open after deputy mayor Corey Lacelle resigned at the end of November 2020. See: 10-year veteran resigning from Mattawa council Mayor Dean Backer said appointing the next in line candidate is the "fairest and most logical" way to fill the seat and council is getting a “great guy” who has volunteered for many years with minor hockey and a number of other initiatives. “It’s prudent we get Robbie on board as soon as possible,” Backer said, noting there is a lot of work ahead for council this year. Jones garnered 285 votes in the last election, 31 more than the next person on the ballot, Bernie MacDonald, and 58 votes behind Councillor Laura Ross, who earned the last of six seats with 343 votes. “I’m happy to get the opportunity to work with my fellow councillors and looking forward to see what we can accomplish,” Jones said Tuesday morning. Other than five years in the 1990s working out west, Jones has been a resident of Mattawa for his entire life. He worked in the rail road business for 30 years before changing careers to drive a logging truck to be closer to his family. He and his wife Lise have one son, Casey, 14, who runs his own landscaping business. The inaugural meeting for Jones will be Feb. 8 or earlier if a special meeting is called before then. Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada. Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
Weather is getting cooler and beards are getting bushier as some Canadian men look to add an extra layer of warmth to their faces this winter.Others, motivated by lockdown measures and extended work-from-home terms, may view this as a perfect time to see how unruly those whiskers can get before a trim is needed.But as long as mask-wearing is encouraged amid the COVID-19 pandemic, should they worry about facial hair interfering with the effectiveness of face coverings?Some experts say men should shave their beards in order to obtain the best mask fit, but others say it depends how long the stubble gets, and if their job requires a tighter-fitting respirator.The CDC has an infographic on facial hair and N-95s on its website, outlining styles that are safe, including handlebar mustaches and soul patches. Other looks — like extended goatees, muttonchops and Van Dykes — cross the seal of the mask and need to go. Dr. Christopher Labos, a Montreal-based physician, says that advice is fine for health-care workers, but when it comes to regular cloth masks, breaking a seal isn't as much of a concern."If it's covering your mouth and nose, it's doing what it's supposed to do," he said. "Whether there's a gap on the side isn't really here or there because there's always a gap." Dr. Jane Wang, a clinical instructor at UBC who has studied face masks extensively, disagrees.Wang's recent research suggests men with beards experience more leakage — droplets expelling through gaps in the mask — than those without. Leaky areas of masks are most prominent around the nose, chin and the cheeks, and pleated masks tend to leak more than other styles.Having facial hair jutting out of a mask increases that leakage zone, she said. So the most effective way to ensure a cloth mask fits around the face is to remove the beard."Having more leaks decreases the filtration," Wang said, adding that research on mask fit and leaks date back to the 1990s. "So the air we breathe will go through the leak and not the filter of the mask."Dr. Lisa Bryski, an emergency-room physician in Winnipeg, has seen many colleagues shave off their beards in order to properly wear masks in the health-care field. While a cloth covering doesn't provide the same level of protection as an N-95, Bryski suggests men outside front-line work settings might want to pick up the razor too."It's a personal choice, but anything you do to increase your own protection and protection of others is appropriate in these times," she said. "Where shaving is not an option, keeping the beard groomed and trimmed may reduce the amount of hair and help with mask seal."Bryski acknowledged that for some men, like those in the Sikh community, beards may be an integral part of religious identity.Sukhmeet Sachal, a second-year medical student at UBC, recognized that and is offering a solution. Sachal is part of a group that has been handing out modified face masks to Sikh men at gurdwaras, or places of assembly and worship. The masks, made by volunteers, wrap around beards and tie over turbans, offering Sikh men a better alternative than a regular face mask they could buy at a store.Sachal said he got the idea when he walked into a gurdwara with his father and saw hardly anyone wearing a mask. While he says there may have been a combination of reasons for that, the beards played a part."We heard from people directly that there were no masks available for them," Sachal said. "When they went to the store, they didn't find any."Sachal says hair, whether it's on your face or head, is seen in Sikhism as a gift from God. Turbans are wrapped around hair to protect it, and most Sikh men refrain from cutting their hair or shaving their beards."That's why these masks are important," Sachal said. "They allow people to practise their religion while being safe."Colin Furness, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, looks at beards as a "variable" in how well a mask fits, but "not a determiner."A mask can be ill-fitting whether you have a beard or not, he explained. And while the length of facial hair will impact fit further, he says mask-wearing is only one safety precaution we should be practising."I don't think beards should be demonized, because it's not just about wearing a mask," he said. "You're also maintaining physical distance, you're also not doing large crowds... "It's when you start thinking that masks protect you completely that beards become more risky."Wang says those keeping their beards should still wear face masks."It'll be less effective, but it's better than nothing," she said.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
Plusieurs pays ont pris l’engagement de réduire leurs émissions de gaz à effet de serre à zéro d’ici le milieu du siècle. Mais de nouvelles recherches montrent que ce n’est pas suffisant.
TORONTO — Few things have lifted Rojhan Paydar’s spirits during the COVID-19 pandemic quite like a Netflix watch party.Isolated inside her home, the Toronto resident is too often short on social opportunities and long on streaming options. So like many people, she’s recreated the experience of watching Netflix with friends through an unofficial web browser application called Teleparty, formerly known as Netflix Party.It’s been an opportunity for Paydar to gather with pals on a virtual couch while they gasp over the twists of true crime series, “Unsolved Mysteries." Even more often, she's used the app with her boyfriend for date nights watching the dysfunction unfold on “Tiger King" and other bingeable series.“Sometimes we’d eat dinner and set up our webcams to see each other,” she said.“Knowing he was there and we were doing something in real-time — it felt really good and made me less lonely."Not long ago, viewing party technology was a tool reserved for unique situations: a long-distance couple or fans of a niche TV series searching for like-minded people.But a year into the pandemic, weekly rituals have evolved, and online watch parties have proven many of us are desperate for some semblance of connection.As the winter months stretch on, and strict stay-at-home orders grip large parts of the country, observers say the watch party, and apps that help make it happen, are due for a second wave of popularity.“I think we may have seen a cultural shift,” suggested Daniel Keyes, associate professor of cultural studies at the University of British Columbia.“The pandemic and the fact we had to self-isolate totally accelerated it. It made it more mainstream.”For younger generations raised on YouTube and Twitch, watch parties are already part of the zeitgeist. Everyone else, including streaming giants themselves, seem to be playing cultural catchup.Last year, as the pandemic wore on, Amazon Prime Video introduced group chat elements into the laptop version of its platform. Disney Plus took a more restrained approach with a feature that allows up to seven people to sync their screens, but only communicate through emojis.Other streamers, such as Netflix and Crave, have so far chosen not to launch social elements on their platforms. That move could be strategic as the companies observe a sea change in how some viewers consume television, suggested Carmi Levy, director at technology advisory firm Info-Tech Research Group."It's almost as if the snow globe has been shaken and companies like Netflix are waiting for everything to settle down before they decide where to place their bets," he said."Social TV is a thing and it isn't going anywhere. It's very much like remote work: considered the exception before the pandemic, but now the rule."Levy said the entertainment industry couldn't have predicted how quickly the change took hold with casual viewers. For years, upstart tech companies launched second-screen watch party innovations, and most of them failed miserably.That's left the door open for the latest generation of alternatives to capitalize on filling the void, among them TwoStream, a paid monthly watch party option, and Syncplay, which is free.One of the most ambitious newcomers is Scener, a venture-funded operation out of Seattle that currently supports the likes of Netflix, Disney Plus, Vimeo and horror platform Shudder. In a few clicks, viewers can react to a show through their webcam or type out thoughts on their keyboard.Co-founder Joe Braidwood said replicating the in-person experience, in particular, “the laughter, the screams and the horror,” was a goal of his company long before the pandemic. But it wasn’t always easy getting others to see the value.“Two years ago I would talk to investors about social TV and they would laugh at me,” he recalled over a Zoom chat.“They told me, ‘People don't want social experiences when they're watching television.’ But all you need to do is look on Twitter.”Even before the pandemic, he said, people were engaging over social media platforms about their favourite shows. Now, since everyone's holed up in their homes, Scener's growth has been exponential. Cumulative weekly minutes of programming watched grew nearly 42,000 per cent from March 2020 to January 2021 (57,785 minutes versus 24.2 million minutes), according to data provided by the company.“People who haven't hung out with their best friend while watching ‘The Flight Attendant’ or shared a family Christmas while watching an old classic movie on Scener, they just don't know what this feels like,” he added.“There's this real texture to it... it's warm engagement with people that you care about.”Hoovie, a Vancouver-based virtual watch party service, aims to bridge the gap between art house cinema outings and the comfort of a living room chat.Hosts can dive into the company’s independent film catalogue and book ticketed showings for small groups, typically in the range of 10 to 20 people. After the movie, they’re encouraged to engage in a webcam conversation on the platform that’s inspired by the film’s themes.Co-founder Fiona Rayher describes Hoovie as a platform meant to evoke those experiences outside the cinema where groups of people – sometimes strangers – would passionately discuss what they’d just watched and maybe head to a nearby restaurant for drinks."You’d meet new people and you’d stay connected," she said. "It was all serendipitous."Hoovie plans to debut a "book club for movies" early this year that'll build on connecting movie fans. Every month, subscribers will gather for online screenings that include a post-film conversation with members, filmmakers and critics. Each film will be rounded out with a wine pairing sent by mail.Selling nostalgia for the pre-pandemic days may sound appealing in lockdown, but the question remains on how attractive watch parties will be once a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available.It's a question Paydar said she thinks about often as she logs onto a watch party for another episode of "Unsolved Mysteries.""Whenever someone asks, 'If COVID ended right now, where would you go?' the first thing I say is, 'I'd like to go to a movie theatre,'" she said."There's something about being in a physical theatre and going with a group of friends...Those end-of-the-night goodbyes, getting late-night eats with my friends.. (we're) creating memories I get to hold on to forever," she said."I don't think that can be replaced."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. David Friend, The Canadian Press
Organizers of a food bank for Black Edmontonians say there will be many families left behind if the service ends in March. Each week, dozens of families of African and Caribbean descent ranging from two to 10 members collect hampers packed with culturally relevant food. Despite demand, organizers had to cap the program at 90 families so staff and volunteers could keep up with collection, packing and distribution. The service was launched in May thanks to the collaboration of multiple Black-led Alberta organizations under the banner of African Diaspora COVID-19 Relief. But the funding and food from donors such as the Edmonton Community Foundation, Islamic Relief Canada, The Ghana Friendship Society and Loblaws, as well as personal donations, will soon run out. "It is a need that needs to be filled," said Emmanuel Onah, youth program manager at the Africa Centre, where the program is coordinated, clients pick up hampers and donations are being accepted. "It's a gaping hole in all of the resources that are currently available." The Liberia Friendship Society of Canada, the Jamaica Association of Northern Alberta and the Black Students Association University of Alberta are also among more than a dozen groups involved that will meet Sunday to determine next steps. Nii Koney, executive director of the Nile Valley Foundation, who rallied the coalition to action, said the program emerged from weekly meetings among Black organizations looking for ways to best respond to the pandemic. Initially they were surprised by all the middle-class community members who needed help. "People are bringing nice cars, they will come and park in the front, they will come with their wife and husband, they will sometimes come, the whole family," Koney said. "So now I know that if we didn't provide these services, it would be a great disservice to the community." Onah said a large part of the appeal comes from offering culturally relevant food tailor-made for each family whether it's injera, an Ethiopian fermented flatbread, or turtle beans, popular in the Caribbean. "The peace of mind you get when you're eating something that you're familiar with or you grew up with and is inline with your culture and your background — that all contributes to overall wellness. That all contributes to mental wellness, especially in the time where we're in a pandemic," said Onah. The initiative also supports local businesses largely by sourcing food from community stores on 118th Avenue and Stony Plain Road.
The Medicine Hat Police Service has rolled out a new tool to use in the community. Every local police officer has been issued a communication card, which were created in conjunction with Saamis Immigration. Each card has a series of pictures to allow officers to communicate with people who may not speak English as their first language. Insp. Brent Secondiak says it isn’t overly common, but communication breakdowns can happen during routine traffic stops. “I know for sure one of the officers has already used the new communication card,” he said. “We identified a gap in what we were doing and what other services were doing in other communities. That’s how this started. “We developed this locally and we’re excited to have these in our hands.” Pictures on the card include a stop sign, red light, a speed limit indicator and others. In the centre of the card the officer can point to whether someone is being ticketed, warned or arrested. The card can be used to communicate further need for help from EMS or towing services. The back of the card aims to help the officer with what the best ways to communicate with people are in different situations, whether that is texting, writing, verbally or sign language. “This is a really cool idea and a neat card,” said Secondiak. “We managed to fit a lot on it.” Secondiak says it is a great tool for communicating with people who have trouble hearing. “This is a great initiative that was really easy to plan,” he said. “Every patrol officer will have one in their vehicle and can reference them when needed. “We’ve been working on this since around September, so it was nice that it came together pretty quickly.” Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
Initial doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are set to roll into the country in the next few weeks, and Canadians will be wondering where they stand in the inoculation line.Which segment of the population will get the first doses, once Canada approves them for use, and how long will it take before most of us are inoculated and we can reach that point of herd immunity?The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) has already recommended early doses be given to: residents and staff of long-term care homes; adults 70 years or older (starting with those 80 and over); front-line health-care workers; and adults in Indigenous communities — but there's still some debate among experts on whether that's the best strategy for a vaccine rollout.Dr. Ross Upshur of the University of Toronto's School of Public Health, agrees with NACI's recommendations, but he says there's also an argument to be made for vaccinating those more likely to spread the virus first — including people with jobs in the community that can't work from home."There is quite a vigorous debate and ... quite a varied set of arguments about who should go first and the priority list," Upshur said. "And that's because people have very deep and different intuitions about what fairness means, and which fundamental values should illuminate the distribution of scarce resources." Upshur says prioritization, which will fall to the provinces and territories to determine, will depend on the goal of the vaccination strategy.If the main objective is to ensure economic recovery by limiting community spread, essential workers might get vaccinated first, Upshur explained. But if the goal is to limit deaths by preventing our most vulnerable populations from getting COVID, older people, especially those in long-term care, should jump to the front of the line."Each one of those aims leads to favouring a different kind of population," he said. "So priority-setting is a complex task."But because there's going to be a limited number of doses available, choices will have to be made soon."Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday that up to 249,000 doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine will arrive on Canadian soil by the end of the month, with the first doses delivered next week.Canada, which is currently reviewing several vaccine candidates, has purchased 20 million doses of the two-dose Pfizer vaccine, and is set to receive four million doses — enough to inoculate two million people — by March.Kelly Grindrod, a researcher and associate professor at the University of Waterloo's School of Pharmacy, says the concept of prioritizing the COVID vaccine may be hard for some to grasp. Grindrod agrees with NACI's recommendations of where the first stage of vaccine distribution should go, but subsequent stages of rollout become trickier.Certain individuals may perceive themselves to be in a higher-risk group and therefore more deserving of a vaccine than others, she said, and it will be hard to determine for example, if a 50-year-old with asthma who works from home should be vaccinated over a taxi driver."What I always say is: if you don't know anybody who's gotten the virus, you're probably one of the last to get the vaccine," Grindrod said. "So that might mean you have a middle-class income and you don't work in a factory or a grocery store."If you're feeling like COVID is something that's not really in your world, that's probably a suggestion that you're fairly low-risk for getting the virus in the first place."Grindrod says it's important to remember that immunizing the majority of Canadians will take a long time. The first stage alone could take months, she said, estimating that Canada will be able to vaccinate roughly three million people (in a country of 38 million) in the first quarter of 2021. "If we're all vaccinated by next Christmas, we will have done a great job," she said.Upshur agrees that getting to herd immunity will take time, but having multiple vaccine candidates reporting high efficacy rates should speed up that process — at least in theory."As exciting as it is to have these studies showing really good results, there's still a lot more questions," he said. "There's a lot more that needs to be done before we can be sure that these vaccines are going to achieve the goals that we hope."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2020. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
GENEVA — The candidate for FIFA’s top decision-making body who lost after facing gender bias and improper influence said on Tuesday the Asian Football Confederation should re-run its tainted election. Mariyam Mohamed said the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s verdict Monday -- after she alleged misconduct by the AFC and Olympic powerbroker Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahad al-Sabah -- undermined the winning candidates at Asian soccer elections in 2019. The court found the allegations of discrimination against women and inducements offered to be proven in Mohamed’s appeals but let the election results stand. “The currently elected officials at the AFC and FIFA have no legitimacy and there should be new elections as soon as possible,” she said in a statement to the Associated Press. The AFC said on Tuesday it would “review the CAS awards to understand what appropriate action(s) can be taken.” “The AFC notes that it is always determined to maintain the highest possible standards in these important areas.” Mohamed filed formal complaints to the AFC in April 2019 saying pressure put on her by its officials and Sheikh Ahmad left her feeling “unsafe (and) threatened.” She alleged the Kuwaiti sheikh offered her inducements to withdraw from a vote to join the FIFA Council as Asia’s female delegate. In 2017, U.S. federal authorities implicated him in buying influence in soccer elections. He denied wrongdoing but was forced out of his own FIFA Council seat. She said Sheikh Ahmad told her at a luxury hotel in Kuala Lumpur she would have no future in soccer if she stood against his favoured candidate. Mohamed lost to her opponent from Bangladesh 31-15 in a poll of AFC member federations. All 15 candidates for AFC positions on a list circulated before the vote, and reportedly backed by the Olympic Council of Asia which Sheikh Ahmad leads, ended up winning. The OCA declined to comment after the elections. Mohamed filed two appeals at CAS in the Olympic home city of Lausanne, Switzerland. The court said its judges agreed with both, finding fault with the AFC election committee’s refusal to investigate Mohamed’s complaint of discrimination, and the disciplinary committee’s failure to do a timely investigation of improper third-party influence. “The CAS panel found denial of justice, serious corruption and discrimination,” Mohamed said, hailing the verdict “a fabulous result.” However, it was a partial win for the Maldives soccer official as the three judges did not annul the vote or order new AFC elections. The court decided the proven offer of inducements had no effect because Mohamed did not withdraw her candidacy. The judges also said the AFC’s electoral and disciplinary committees had no authority to annul or re-run polls, nor amend the soccer body’s legal statutes. The AFC legal director in 2019, Benoît Pasquier, declined comment on the case on Tuesday to the AP. He cited having left the soccer body and now being on the CAS list of approved arbitrators. The court has not yet published the full written verdict of its judging panel chaired by John Boultbee, an Australian barrister and former long-time official at rowing’s governing body. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press
That "smile" is totally contagious. How cute is this dog?!
Movies US charts: 1. Tenet 2. News of the World 3. Promising Young Woman 4. American Skin 5. The War with Grandpa 6. National Treasure 7. Honest Thief 8. The Croods: A New Age 9. National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets 10. Let Him Go Movies US charts - Independent: 1. Promising Young Woman 2. Our Friend 3. MLKFBI 4. The Dissident 5. No Man’s Land 6. Some Kind of Heaven 7. Love Sarah 8. Assassins 9. Kajillionaire 10. PG: Psycho Goreman The Associated Press
If it wasn’t for the pandemic, Timon Wientziak probably wouldn’t be buying a car while living in downtown Toronto. He’s looking into purchasing his first vehicle after the pandemic pushed him into carpentry work outside of the city, instead of his usual work as a composer and sound designer. But the purchase isn’t just based on his job: Wientziak said it’s easy to feel stifled in the city during COVID, and having the freedom to get out of town is a plus. “Toronto is such a concrete place,” said Wientziak, a first-time buyer who’s in the market for an affordable, older used car. “Even though it’s called a city within a park, we would love to get out more, and doing it with the GO train is just not as enticing.” Data from auto industry analysts shows there are many people like Wientziak who’ve been nudged towards buying a car during the pandemic. And prospective buyers should be aware that higher demand usually means higher prices. According to research by online marketplace autotrader.ca, the pandemic has caused a surge in demand as people avoid public transport and ride-hailing services. A survey released by the company in December showed 46 per cent of people who were interested in buying a new car listed the pandemic as a direct reason for their purchase. The website also saw a nearly 28 per cent increase in traffic from May to December. But the demand was underpinned by supply shortages in both new and used car markets, since some manufacturers stopped production at the start of the pandemic and continue to deal with supply chain issues. Baris Akyurek, Director of Marketing Intelligence at autotrader.ca, said a lower number of new car sales at the start of the pandemic translated to fewer vehicles being traded in, leading to tighter supply in both markets before an increase in demand. As a result, the average listing price of a vehicle on the marketplace in December was 5.2 per cent higher than the previous year, now sitting at $19,888. Akyurek said used cars are a particularly hot commodity because they’re an economical option at a time of financial uncertainty, and depreciation isn’t as much of a concern. “Moreover, with certified pre-owned programs, you are eligible for extended warranties on used vehicles,” said Akyurek, which protects consumers from the risk associated with used cars. The Canadian Automobile Dealers Association says it’s optimistic about the growth of new car sales, which have benefited from low interest rates and greater demand as more people move further away from city centres in search of larger homes as a result of the pandemic. The industry saw an unprecedented 20 per cent drop in sales this year, which CADA Chief Economist Oumar Dicko says was much higher than the 11 per cent drop in auto sales during the 2008 global financial crisis. Even though sales have rebounded and the pandemic has created strong demand, Dicko said manufacturers are still vulnerable to COVID-19. “The auto forecast is very closely dependent on the trajectory of the virus in the months to come and the ability to broadly roll out the vaccine,” said Dicko. “We’re also very concerned about the impact of COVID outbreaks even if they’re very localized, on the global supply chain. This could create labour shortages and there’s a concern right now about the shortage of semiconductor microchips that are used in the production of vehicles.” Dicko said the current shortage of microchips will already affect inventory in 2021. Despite the challenges the pandemic has placed on the auto industry, both Akyurek and Dicko expect it to have a lasting and positive effect on auto sales. “Given the current circumstances of COVID-19, the restrictions and overall fear of contracting the virus by Canadians, this is a better than expected performance by the industry,” said Dicko. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Salmaan Farooqui, The Canadian Press
Orangeville Hydro plans to borrow $1 million to sustain its capital works plan, half the amount it originally planned, as it attempts to cut costs. A report, presented to Grand Valley council on Jan. 12, states this is done to fund regulatory-related payments, such as increased Hydro One low voltage, network and connection charges. “Historically, Orangeville has provided safe and reliable and cost-effective power to our customers, and our business plan shows that,” said Rob Koekkoek, president of Orangeville Hydro. A $2-million loan was previously budgeted in 2021, but with some expenditures deferred due to COVID-19, as well as a corporate-wide attempt to reduce expense, including financing costs, the forecasted loan was reduced to $1 million. The business plan calls for another $1 million increase in borrowing in 2022 and $2 million in borrowing in 2024. In terms of revenue, the total cost per customer is calculated as the sum of Orangeville Hydro’s capital and operating costs and dividing this cost figured by the total number of customers it serves. Orangeville Hydro’s cost performance increased in 2019 to $568 per customer, above the cost performance in 2018 at $551 per customer. Koekkoek states the number of the company’s customers go up, as the population continues to grow, and infrastructure is constantly upgraded. Orangeville Hydro’s service areas have a population of about 32,000 and are expected to grow to 42,540 by 2036, according to forecasts contained within the Dufferin County Official Plan. Koekkoek said he understands the devastating impacts COVID-19 may have had on customers' budgets and he discussed a way for them to save money. “For businesses and residential that are struggling with their bills, that have been economically impacted by COVID-19, we have the energy response program available for residential and business customers,” he said. “They can get, basically a rebate, on their electricity bills to help them with their costs if they are falling behind.” Joshua Santos, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Orangeville Banner
Canada will soon make foreign travel harder in a bid to clamp down on the coronavirus, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Tuesday without giving details, prompting major provinces to demand action. A second wave of coronavirus is sweeping Canada and health officials say some hospitals run the risk of being overwhelmed. Trudeau is urging Canadians not to travel abroad and said Ottawa intended to introduce more restrictions.
BETHEL, Alaska — Residents of an Alaska village met with health officials and government agencies to consider methods to restore running water after a fire destroyed the community's water plant. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation has provided bottled water and hand sanitizer to residents of Tuluksak since the community's water plant and laundromat burned Jan. 16. Alaska State Troopers said the fire burned as residents of the Alaska Native community northeast of Bethel unsuccessfully tried to douse the flames with water hauled from the Tuluksak River. Health corporation President Dan Winkelman said in a statement that everything possible will be done to help restore Tuluksak's water service. “We understand the importance of this resource, and our staff will continue to work hand-in-hand with Tribal, state, and federal representatives to bring about solutions to restore access to it as quickly as possible,” Winkelman said. The corporation hosted a meeting last week for local, state and federal agencies. The groups discussed connecting a community well to the school, which is equipped to provide running water. Residents could temporarily use the system for laundry and to transfer water to their homes. John Nichols of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, who attended the meeting, said the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation has a portable water treatment plant in Bethel that could be operational in the village by the summer. But officials must determine if the plant can purify water from the Tuluksak River, a tributary of the Kuskokwim River. Residents have previously complained to the state Legislature about sediment making Tuluksak River water unsafe to drink. Nichols said purifying the water would require different processes than those used in other water sources. “If you were to, say, look at the waters of the Kenai River versus the Copper River versus the Kuskokwim River, you can tell just by looking that the water quality is very, very different,” Nichols said. If the corporation's purifier does not work, a portable system from the continental U.S. may be required. The tribe must verify whether the building was insured before agencies can release funds to subsidize any system. Community officials said the person who has the insurance information was not immediately available after testing positive for COVID-19. The Associated Press
POLITIQUE. À l’issue d’une rencontre avec des acteurs des milieux économiques, la députée de Shefford, Andréanne Larouche et son collègue d’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Sébastien Lemire, par ailleurs vice-président du Comité permanent de l’industrie, des sciences et de la technologie, proposent un fonds propre aux régions. «Je voulais ouvrir un espace de dialogue avec des dirigeants d’organismes économiques, d’entreprises et de municipalités pour échanger sur nos propositions pour la relance», a expliqué Andréanne Larouche au sujet de sa tournée de consultations économiques. Elle a reçu de nombreux témoignages d’entrepreneurs en difficulté selon les bureaux de circonscription des deux élus. «La pénurie de main-d’œuvre est aussi un enjeu qui freine le développement économique de nos régions et qui comporte de nombreuses ramifications. Je pense à la complexité et aux délais en matière d’immigration en lien avec les travailleurs étrangers et aux problématiques de logements qui limitent grandement les possibilités d’attraction de travailleurs», analyse le député d’Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Sébastien Lemire. Sa collègue de Shefford et lui saluent les contributions des centres d’aide aux entreprises (CAE), mais ils préconisent qu’on leur donne «plus de moyens afin qu’ils assurent un soutien de proximité aux entrepreneurs.» En effet, plus de 200 000 PME, soit 20 % des emplois du secteur privé, envisagent sérieusement de mettre la clé sous la porte selon la dernière mise à jour de l’analyse de la fédération canadienne de l’entreprise indépendante. Un fonds de développement par et pour les régions Sébastien Lemire estime que les questions du développement territorial nécessitent des « solutions flexibles adaptées aux régions » et non des approches globales développées à Ottawa. En parlant d’Internet, le bloquiste annonce que le comité de l’industrie a dans ses cartons un rapport sur cet «enjeu fondamental» pour lequel sa circonscription, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, a pris 20 ans de retard. «Il faut s’assurer de démocratiser son accès pour tous, même dans les zones moins densément peuplées… il faut sortir de la logique de rentabilité », dit-il en conférence de presse dans un plaidoyer énergique sur l’accès au développement régional. Les deux élus soutiennent «la mise en place d’un fonds de développement par et pour les régions», qui devra être déployé en fonction des besoins spécifiques de celles-ci. Ils déplorent «des improvisations d’Ottawa» même s’ils reconnaissent que les programmes s’ajustent progressivement. Ils prônent «les enjeux identifiés par les régions», comme les incubateurs d’entreprises ou l’innovation territoriale plutôt que «des programmes mur à mur mal adaptés» conçus à partir des mégalopoles uniformes. En cette veille de rentrée parlementaire et en prélude au budget fédéral, Andréanne Larouche envisage de poursuivre ses consultations «afin que les programmes soient les mieux adaptés aux besoins des entrepreneurs.»Godlove Kamwa, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Canada Français
RALEIGH, N.C. — A North Carolina state senator announced Tuesday that he's running for the U.S. Senate in 2022, hoping to flip fortunes for Democrats from his state to serve in the chamber after a string of defeats. Jeff Jackson, a Charlotte business attorney, Afghan war veteran and National Guard soldier, unveiled his bid, saying he is committed to “honest and decent politics” and “working people and working families.” Jackson, 38, is the second Democrat to enter the race to succeed three-term Republican Sen. Richard Burr, who is not seeking reelection. Erica Smith, a former state senator who ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2020 to challenge Republican incumbent Thom Tillis, is in again. Tillis ultimately narrowly defeated Democrat Cal Cunningham in November. Those two campaigns and outside groups spent $287 million combined, an all-time record before the two Georgia Senate elections that went to Jan. 5 runoffs swamped that total. In contrast with North Carolina's hyper-nationalized Senate race in 2020, Jackson said he'll attempt to turn his campaign inward, by pledging to visit all 100 counties as the coronavirus pandemic has subsided. He said he'll hold town halls in each to “build an agenda that’s actually tailored to our state, not an agenda that’s imported from D.C. or from donors.” “People want a different approach. They want an approach that they can respect and one that respects them,” he said in a video that features his wife and three young children. “Look, folks, you should have higher expectations for this office than you currently do.” North Carolina Republicans have now won four consecutive Senate races dating to 2010. Cunningham’s bid for U.S. Senate was derailed in the campaign's final weeks by his acknowledgement of a recent extramarital affair. But Democrats nationally are heartened by victories elsewhere, including those for both Georgia seats. That caused a 50-50 split in the chamber that gave Democrats control because Vice-President Kamala Harris, a Democrat, breaks ties. Other Democrats are weighing whether to enter the contest, which will still require massive fundraising even in the coming months to gain the attention of voters in the March 2021 primaries. On the Republican side, former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker of Greensboro announced he's running last month and is already travelling on the GOP meeting circuit seeking support. North Carolina native Lara Trump, the daughter-in-law of former President Donald Trump, is also considering a bid. Jackson decided against running for Senate in 2020 after meeting with then-Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Schumer ultimately backed Cunningham's bid. Jackson's military career is similar to that of Cunningham. He enlisted in the Army Reserve after the Sept. 11 attacks and served in Afghanistan. He's a military attorney in a North Carolina National Guard unit and a former local prosecutor. Jackson was ordered to guard training in the final weeks of his state Senate race this past fall, handing his reelection campaign to his wife. While Jackson's file of legislative accomplishments in Raleigh is thin — largely the result of serving in the minority party — he's made splashes with recorded floor speeches and social media posts that have gone viral. That social media presence has buoyed his fundraising and profile. State Republicans already tried to link Jackson to Cunningham on Tuesday, calling him “Cal Jr.” “North Carolina needs leaders who get results and Cal Jr. believes success equals retweets,” state GOP spokesman Tim Wigginton said in a news release. Gary D. Robertson, The Associated Press
This translation is part of a new initiative to provide content to our Chinese readers. You can find the English version, written by reporter Sheila Wang here. 聖誕節後不久，約克區的COVID-19病例激增至前所未有的水平，對陽性率的分析表明，病毒在部分城市的社區傳染率遠高於其他地區。 根據非營利組織 ICES 的數據，在1月的第一周內，North Woodbridge 社區的陽性率最高，為18.5％，這意味著在接受COVID-19檢測的人中，有近五分之一是陽性的，這一數字幾乎是當時安省總體陽性率6.8％的三倍。 數據還顯示，在同一時期內，萬錦東南區的陽性率僅次於North Woodbridge，達到17%，是約克區第二高的地區。 這兩個社區的測試陽性率均遠高於約克地區的平均水平，約克地區在同一周內的平均陽性率約為10％。 約克大學流行病學家Susan Rogers Van Katwyk 表示，盡管陽性率沒有「安全閾值」，但根據安省的重啟計劃，陽性率為2.5％或更高的公共衛生區域將被列為紅色「控制」區。 「這是一個很好的指標，表明我們應該在約克區進行更多的測試，它同時也提醒我們在本地區感染COVID-19的危險程度。」 Van Katwyk還說，陽性率與病例數等其他指標一起幫助公共衛生局了解社區的傳染狀況以及是否需要更嚴格的規定。一般而言，如果陽性病例過多或總測試的次數太少，那麽陽性率就會偏高。 約克區公共衛生部門通過其每日更新的頁面追蹤COVID-19測試結果。該數據顯示，截至1月20日，每10萬人中有44,472人做了檢測，較去年12月份大幅增加。 以下交互地圖展示了從1月3日至1月9日約克區每個社區的感染率。 大多數重災區似乎都集中在旺市，例如Kleinburg和Maple社區，那裏的陽性率遠高於10%。 約克南部另一個較為嚴重的社區是Oak Ridges，陽性率12%，是全省平均水平的2倍，也比烈治文山其他社區要高得多。 在北部，大多數社區的陽性率低於省平均水平，除了southwest Newmarket（11%）和Holland Landing/River Drive Park（9%）社區。 下面的折線圖顯示了該地區自8月30日以來各社區每個月的平均陽性率。 盡管秋季有所下降，但陽性率仍呈上升趨勢，並在聖誕節期間大幅上升。 在12月20日當周，約克區的平均陽性率為7.5％，一周後飆升至11％。 Van Katwyk強調：「我認為抗疫措施必須更加明確，那就是嚴格執行居家令。只要檢測呈陽性的人數還在上升，我們就需要采取更有力的措施，或者更加密切地追蹤所有接觸者。」 約克區發言人Patrick Casey 並沒有就該地區「追蹤接觸者的能力」的問題直接置評，他表示，約克區使用安省政府研發的虛擬助手來幫助識別病例接觸者，主要依賴「人們對各自密切接觸者的公開和誠實」。 數據說明:由於使用的數據僅顯示了在測試期間至少有6人呈COVID-19陽性的前排序區域，因此部分社區在這張地圖中沒有顯示。 Scarlett Liu, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Economist & Sun