Speaking to the media on Wednesday afternoon, Toronto Mayor John Tory reported 438 new cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in the City of Toronto in the past 24 hours.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday afternoon, Toronto Mayor John Tory reported 438 new cases of COVID-19 had been confirmed in the City of Toronto in the past 24 hours.
Any members of the U.S. Congress who helped a crowd of President Donald Trump's supporters storm the Capitol should face criminal prosecution, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday. The unprecedented Jan. 6 attack on the seat of Congress left five dead and led the House to impeach Trump a second time, for a fiery speech that day in which he urged thousands of his followers to fight Democratic President-elect Joe Biden's victory. Democratic Representative Mikie Sherrill, a former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot, has accused some Republican lawmakers of helping Trump supporters, saying she saw colleagues leading groups on "reconnaissance" tours on Jan. 5.
A Yukon farmer was in court Wednesday asking for more time to file an appeal to an order requiring him to get rid of his goats. Jim Dillabough appeared before Yukon Supreme Court Justice Edith Campbell in Whitehorse, arguing that he had always opposed the order but didn't have the financial resources to formally fight it. Dillabough's legal issues stem from the fact that he owns about a half-dozen goats, which he keeps on his property along the Klondike Highway outside of Whitehorse. He was convicted in October of failing to keep the animals in an approved enclosure, a requirement under a territorial animal control order that came into effect in 2020. The order is intended to prevent the spread of a pneumonia-causing pathogen, Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae or M.ovi, from domestic goats and sheep to wild populations. Following his conviction, a judge ordered Dillabough to either slaughter his goats or move them outside the territory; to date, he's done neither and is also about three weeks past the 30-day deadline to appeal court decisions. He filed an application in December asking for an extension. Goats have 'every right' to be on property, he argues The hearing of the application Wednesday was scheduled to take 20 minutes but went on for nearly two and a half hours, with Campbell often pausing the proceedings to explain legal concepts or procedure to Dillabough, who was self-represented. She also took the unusual step of having Dillabough sworn in as his own witnesses, noting that he was both giving evidence and making legal arguments at the same time. Dillabough told the court that he had opposed his conviction and the subsequent order about his goats "from the get-go," but didn't have the money to order transcripts of the trial that he needed to file a formal appeal. He also said he couldn't afford to hire a lawyer, explaining that he had called two but both had asked him for $5,000 up-front. "What did you do after that?" Campbell asked him. "Well, I had to do it myself," he replied, referring to mounting a legal appeal. Dillabough levelled a number of accusations at Yukon government animal health officials throughout his submissions, alleging that "they're trying to force some of us right out of business" and that no one would come out to check his goat fence or test his animals for M. ovi. You people want to screw up agriculture? Don't forget you have to eat too. - Jim Dillabough, Yukon farmer He also argued that the animal control order made no sense, questioning why anyone would spend money to build a proper enclosure only for their goats or sheep to be killed if the animals ended up testing positive for M. ovi. He claimed he had never seen any wild sheep or goats near his farm (Dillabough lives in thinhorn sheep habitat range), and that the fence he'd built around his goat enclosure was the strongest in Canada. His goats, he argued, had "every right to be on [my] property." "There's no way I'm going to give up my livelihood," Dillabough said. "I was out there raising animals before any of you were born." Rules matter, Crown says Territorial Crown Megan Seiling argued against granting Dillabough's application. "There really needs to be special circumstances in place because the rules are there for a reason," she said, later adding that just because he doesn't like the rules doesn't mean he doesn't need to follow them. Dillabough had plenty of time to deal with both his animal and then legal issues, Seiling argued, noting that officials had tried to work with him for months to get him to comply with the animal control order before finally charging him. He also gave no indication that he intended to appeal his conviction until the government filed a legal petition to seize his goats. Seiling argued there was an added need to deal with the matter because it was an ongoing offence, not a one-off, and sends a poor message to the "many" other goat and sheep farmers who had suffered "significant" costs in order to comply with the control order. "[Dillabough] waited for the consequences to come to him," she said. "At the end of the day, the rules matter … It's not in the interest of justice to allow this appeal to be heard." Dillabough remained defiant to the end of the hearing, accusing Seiling of "bitching" about how he had filed his legal paperwork and at one point muttering, "You people want to screw up agriculture? Don't forget you have to eat too." Campbell is expected to give her decision on Dillabough's application next month.
GUELPH/WELLINGTON– Guelph/Wellington Paramedic Service is using remote patient monitoring to take the strain off the healthcare system at a critical time. Chief Stephen Dewar said remote patient monitoring involves community paramedics examining patients who have either been discharged from hospital or flagged by a family physician. Patients use various tools – such as weigh scales, blood pressure and oxygen saturation monitors – that are linked to a modem and results are reviewed by a community paramedic at least once a day. Any issues based on these results can lead to necessary intervention whether that be contacting their doctor or the patient. “Our goal is to try to prevent them from having emergencies in the first place,” Dewar said. This program has been ongoing for a few years, but Dewar said the program has been expanded during the pandemic. “The Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) offered us the opportunity to expand our program and to try to help people who are either mild or moderate symptoms of COVID but staying home,” Dewar said. “Just to make sure that they’re staying safe.” GW paramedics have been assisting at Caressant Care Arthur retirement home which has been in a major COVID outbreak since mid-December. Again, this is to keep people safe and to notify any nursing staff or others if someone begins to show worsening symptoms. Dewar said this is a collaborative effort with staff at Caressant Care and they’re not looking to duplicate any services. This reduces strain on hospitals and assures physicians their patients are resting at home but also allows people to know when they should seek medical help. “That has been our findings a couple of times where people have deteriorated but they weren’t really sure at what point they should be reaching out for more help and we’re able to help them define that,” Dewar said. This has made a large impact in Wellington County as Dewar said that’s where a majority of where remotely monitored patients are based. “Given the rural nature, it’s a lot harder for some of the other organizations to reach those people,” Dewar said. “So remote patient monitoring works really well in Wellington County.” A recent related pilot project has been completely based in the county. Dewar explained the Ministry of Long-Term Care asked GW Paramedic Service to get involved in monitoring people who are on waiting lists for long-term care. “That’s having one paramedic a day going out and visiting these people to make sure that they’re still okay and seeing what other resources they might need,” Dewar said, adding they can then follow-up with phone calls and other technology involved in remote monitoring. He explained this takes pressure off health care providers and family as well who can take some of the burden of care off themselves. “If you’re in there every day, if you’re a family member, you may not know if this deterioration is worthy of reporting or is this person just having a bad day,” Dewar said. “Our paramedics are able to be a little bit more objective about that.” This pilot has been funded through to March 31 but they have applied to fund this in the future and are looking for a more permanent place to operate as it is temporarily at the Harriston Fire Hall. Dewar is ultimately proud of how the team has stepped up during the pandemic beyond just responding to 911 calls. “We feel like the paramedics have said ‘There’s a major emergency and we need to do everything we can,’” Dewar said. “They could just say ‘No we have enough to do’ but they’re stepping up, so I’m very proud of the team that I’m leading and the work that they’re doing.”Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — The U.S. government executed a drug trafficker Thursday for his involvement in a series of slayings in Virginia’s capital city in 1992, despite claims by his lawyers that the lethal injection would cause excruciating pain due to lung damage from his recent COVID-19 infection. Corey Johnson, 52, was the 12th inmate put to death at the federal prison complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, since the Trump administration restarted federal executions following a 17-year hiatus. He was pronounced dead at 11:34 p.m. Johnson’s execution and Friday’s scheduled execution of Dustin Higgs are the last before next week’s inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, who opposes the federal death penalty and has signalled he’ll end its use. Both inmates contracted COVID-19 and won temporary stays of execution this week for that reason, only for higher courts to allow the lethal injections to move forward. Lawyers have previously argued the lethal injections of pentobarbital caused flash pulmonary edema, where fluid rapidly fills the lungs, sparking sensations akin to drowning. The new claim was that fluid would rush into the inmates’ COVID-damaged lungs immediately while they were still conscious. Johnson was implicated in one of the worst bursts of gang violence Richmond had ever seen, with 11 people killed in a 45-day period. He and two other members of the Newtowne gang were sentenced to death under a federal law that targets large-scale drug traffickers. In their clemency petition, Johnson’s lawyers asked President Donald Trump to commute his death sentence to life in prison. They described a traumatic childhood in which he was physically abused by his drug-addicted mother and her boyfriends, abandoned at age 13, then shuffled between residential and institutional facilities until he aged out of the foster care system. They cited numerous childhood IQ tests discovered after he was sentenced that place him in the mentally disabled category and say testing during his time in prison shows he can read and write at only an elementary school level. In a final statement, Johnson said he was “sorry for my crimes” and said he wanted the victims to be remembered. He said the pizza and strawberry shake he ate and drank before the execution “were wonderful” but he didn’t get doughnuts he wanted. He also thanked his minister and lawyer. “I am okay,” he said. “I am at peace.” In a statement, Johnson’s lawyers said the government executed a person “with an intellectual disability, in stark violation of the Constitution and federal law” and vehemently denied he had the mental capacity to be a so-called drug kingpin. “The government’s arbitrary rush to execute Mr. Johnson, who was categorically ineligible for execution due to his significant impairments, rested on procedural technicalities rather than any serious dispute that he was intellectually disabled,” the attorneys, Donald Salzman and Ronald Tabak, said. Government filings have spelled Johnson’s name “Cory,” but his lawyers say he spells it “Corey.” Richard Benedict, who was Johnson’s special education teacher at a New York school for emotionally troubled kids, said Johnson was hyperactive, anxious and reading and writing at a second- or third-grade level when he was 16 and 17. “I had to have someone walk him to the bathroom because he just couldn’t get back to the classroom,” Benedict said. Prosecutors, however, said Johnson had not shown that he was mentally disabled. “While rejecting that he has intellectual disabilities that preclude his death sentences, courts have repeatedly and correctly concluded that Johnson’s seven murders were planned to advance his drug trafficking and were not impulsive acts by someone incapable of capable making calculated judgments, and are therefore eligible for the death penalty,” prosecutors argue in court documents. A defence psychologist testified during the trial that Johnson’s IQ was measured at 77, above the threshold score of 75 then needed to label someone as intellectually disabled. Johnson’s appellate lawyers say that psychologist was not an expert in intellectual disability and relied on standards that are now outdated. C.T. Woody Jr., the lead homicide detective on the case, said that during his interrogations of Johnson, he denied any involvement in the killings and said police were trying to frame him because of lies people were telling about him. “It did not seem to me that he had any kind of mental problems at all except his viciousness and no respect for human life — none whatsoever,” Woody said. Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard Vick Jr., one of the prosecutors in the case, said the violence committed by Johnson and his fellow gang members was unmatched at the time. One of the gang’s victims was stabbed 85 times and another was shot 16 times. Johnson was convicted of being the shooter in a triple slaying, and participating in four other capital murders, including shooting a rival drug dealer 15 times. “The heinousness of the crimes, the utter senselessness of the crimes, the crimes themselves warranted the seeking of the death penalty this case,” Vick said. In his clemency petition, Johnson’s lawyers said he has repeatedly expressed “sincere remorse” for his crimes. “I’m sorry for the great number of people who are dead, you know, and there is a lot on us, and I feel we are no angels,” he said during his sentencing hearing. He also spoke to a group of students present in the courtroom that day and urged them not to commit crimes or make the mistakes he had made in his life. ___ Lavoie reported from Richmond, Va. Associated Press writer Michael Balsamo in Washington and News Researchers Rhonda Shafner and Jennifer Farrar contributed to this report. Michael Tarm And Denise Lavoie, The Associated Press
SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras — Hundreds of migrants hoping to reach the U.S. border gathered outside a bus station in this Honduran city Thursday despite continued signs from Mexico and other Central American governments that they would not be allowed through. Santos Demetrio Pineda was one of hundreds who showed up with little more than the clothes on their backs for the long, unlikely journey, made that much harder by the coronavirus pandemic. “We lost everything in the hurricane,” said Pineda, referring to two Category 4 hurricanes that hit Honduras in November. “We can't just sit around after what happened to us.” “We are going to leave the country, to ask for help wherever they receive us,” he said. Asked how they would make it past lines of police and immigration agents already preparing for them, Pineda said, “We are going to ask God to open the doors.” Earlier, 200 Honduran migrants walked and caught rides up a highway toward the border with Guatemala on Thursday, a day before a migrant caravan was scheduled to depart San Pedro Sula. That first group set out Wednesday but paused at night before reaching some 75 police officers, dressed in riot gear, who waited along the highway on the outskirts of San Pedro Sula. One officer said the intention was to stop the migrants from violating a pandemic-related curfew, check their documents and make sure they weren't travelling with children that were not their own. By Thursday, more migrants arrived at San Pedro Sula's bus terminal. The station has been the main departure point for caravans in the past and several hundred migrants could be seen around the terminal. Dolores Efrain Ortega, a bricklayer from the town of Cofradía, said he had travelled the route six times before. “Here there are no jobs. Even if you are a bricklayer, there is no work,” Ortega said, adding he was leaving “to get ahead, to have my own house.” But the migrants faced the additional challenge of governments that agreed earlier this week to enforce immigration laws at their borders. On Thursday, Mexico's National Immigration Institute posted videos showing hundreds of agents and National Guard members drilling on the southern border. It said the agents are “keeping vigilant in the states of southern Mexico ... to enforce the immigration law. " For weeks, a call for a new caravan departing Jan. 15 has circulated on social networks. But previous caravans have been turned back. Ariel Villega, from the town of Ocotepeque, was walking with his wife and 10-year-old son. Aware of the hurdles that awaited them, Villega said, “We’ve got everything, the passport and the COVID test.” Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei on Wednesday night decreed a “state of prevention” along the country's border with Honduras. The decree noted the threat of migrants entering without required documentation and without following pandemic-related screening at the border. Guatemala is requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test. The decree said more than 2,000 national police and soldiers would be stationed at the border. The Mexican government said Wednesday that it and 10 other countries in North and Central America are worried about the health risks of COVID-19 among migrants without proper documents. The statement by the 11-member Regional Conference on Migration suggests that Mexico and Central America could continue to turn back migrants due to the perceived risks of the pandemic. The group “expressed concern over the exposure of irregular migrants to situations of high risk to their health and their lives, primarily during the health emergency.” On Thursday, Mexican officials said they discussed migration with U.S. President-elect Joe Biden’s pick for national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, and raised “the possibility of implementing a co-operation program for the development of northern Central America and southern Mexico, in response to the the economic crisis caused by the pandemic and the recent hurricanes in the region.” When hundreds of Hondurans tried to form a caravan last month, authorities stopped them before they even reached the Guatemala border. Other attempted caravans last year were broken up by Guatemalan authorities before they reached Mexico. Pressure to migrate has only been building. Central America was hit with two Category 4 hurricanes in November, devastating a region already struggling with the pandemic. The storms destroyed crops, shuttered businesses and displaced thousands. Migrants have also expressed hope that they could receive a warmer welcome at the U.S. border under the administration of President-elect Joe Biden, who takes office next week. ___ Associated Press writers Sonny Figueroa in Guatemala City and Mark Stevenson in Mexico City contributed to this report. MaríA Verza, The Associated Press
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
The city is urging residents in Ward 22 to get out and vote in the Scarborough-Agincourt byelection on Friday despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Friday's byelection is being held to replace Jim Karygiannis, who was removed as city councillor last year due to a campaign spending violation in the 2018 municipal election. Twenty-seven candidates are running for municipal office. There are 65,793 people eligible to vote. In an email on Thursday, Mayor John Tory urged people to go to the polls and cast their ballots in the byelection. "I want to reassure residents that health and safety has been a top priority for this election and that City staff have been working with Toronto Public Health to make sure all safety protocols are in place," Tory told CBC Toronto. "Your vote matters." The city said in a news release this week that the byelection will proceed as planned on Friday. "Government services, including elections, are essential for the continuity of government," the city said in the release. "Ward 22 Scarborough-Agincourt has been without representation since September 24, 2020, and it is important that the electors are able to exercise their democratic right to vote." The city said the city clerk, with the help of Toronto Public Health, has reviewed the provincial stay-at-home order that took effect in Ontario on Thursday and determined that the vote can and will proceed. City government can carry out byelection, province says The Ontario health ministry said in an email on Thursday that the city can hold the byelection according to the regulation of the Reopening Ontario Act. The province is currently under a second state of emergency and a provincial stay-at-home order as officials try to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. "The byelection is not prohibited by the Emergency Order," the ministry said. General rules for areas in Stage 1, which include Toronto, state: "Nothing in this Order precludes operations or delivery of services by the following in Ontario: 1. Any government. 2. Any person or publicly-funded agency or organization that delivers or supports government operations and services, including operations and services of the health care sector." Pandemic precautions will be in place at all polling stations to keep voters safe. "These measures include health screening, reduced touch points, physical distancing, occupancy standards and specialized health and safety positions in all voting places," the city said in an email. According to the city, a total of 2,227 voters cast ballots on advance polling days on Jan. 8, 9 and 10. The city sent out more than 4,000 mail-in ballot packages and 1,280 have been returned to the city and tabulated. Ward includes temporary hotel shelter Ward 22 includes the Delta Hotels by Marriott Toronto East, which is housing 330 people who were formerly experiencing homelessness, a number that has been confirmed by the city's shelter, support and housing administration. "Toronto Elections provided information flyers to be posted in the facility, as well as copies for distribution to residents so they understand where, how and when they can vote," the city said in the email. The Scarborough Civic Action Network (SCAN), a non-partisan organization that aims to address inequities across the district through civic engagement, has said the ward has many seniors and a substantial population of people born in China and that population is diverse. Ward boundaries run from Victoria Park Avenue to the west, Midland Avenue to the east, Steeles Avenue East to the north and Highway 401 to the south.
The rapid expansion of COVID-19 vaccinations to senior citizens across the U.S. has led to bottlenecks, system crashes and hard feelings in many states because of overwhelming demand for the shots. Mississippi's Health Department stopped taking new appointments the same day it began accepting them because of a “monumental surge” in requests. People had to wait hours to book vaccinations through a state website or a toll-free number Tuesday and Wednesday, and many were booted off the site because of technical problems and had to start over. In California, counties begged for more coronavirus vaccine to reach millions of their senior citizens. Hospitals in South Carolina ran out of appointment slots within hours. Phone lines were jammed in Georgia. “It’s chaos,” said New York City resident Joan Jeffri, 76, who had to deal with broken hospital web links and unanswered phone calls before her daughter helped her secure an appointment. “If they want to vaccinate 80% of the population, good luck, if this is the system. We’ll be here in five years.” Up until the past few days, health care workers and nursing home patients had been given priority in most places around the U.S. But amid frustration over the slow rollout, states have thrown open the line to many of the nation's 54 million senior citizens with the blessing of President Donald Trump's administration, though the minimum age varies from place to place, at 65, 70 or higher. On Thursday, New Jersey expanded vaccinations to people between 16 and 65 with certain medical conditions — including up to 2 million smokers, who are more prone to health complications. The U.S., meanwhile, recorded 3,848 deaths on Wednesday, down from an all-time high of 4,327 the day before, according to Johns Hopkins University. The nation’s overall death toll from COVID-19 has topped 385,000. President-elect Joe Biden unveiled a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan Thursday that includes speeding up vaccinations. Called the “American Rescue Plan,” the legislative proposal would meet Biden’s goal of administering 100 million vaccines by the 100th day of his administration. More than 11.1 million Americans, or over 3% of the U.S. population, have gotten their first shot of the vaccine, a gain of about 800,000 from the day before, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. The goal of inoculating anywhere between 70% and 85% of the population to achieve herd immunity and conquer the outbreak is still many months away. Hard-hit Los Angeles County, the nation’s most populous county with 10 million residents, said it couldn’t immediately provide shots to the elderly because it had inoculated only about a quarter of its 800,000 health care workers. “We’re not done with our health care workers, and we actually don’t have enough vaccine right now to be able to get done more quickly,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “We haven’t heard back from the state about vaccine availability and how it would be distributed.” Santa Clara County health officials said the county of 2 million people had only enough vaccine to inoculate people 75 and older, not the 65-and-older crowd. “It’s almost like a beauty contest. And this should not be a beauty contest,” County Supervisor Cindy Chavez said. “This is about life and death.” In Mississippi, officials said new appointments will probably have to wait until a hoped-for shipment of vaccine in mid-February. In South Carolina, Kershaw Health in Camden implored people not to call its hospitals or doctors to schedule vaccination appointments after receiving more than 1,000 requests in two days. State health authorities said their hot line got 5,000 calls on Wednesday. Francis Clark said she tried repeatedly to schedule an appointment for her 81-year-old mother, who lives alone outside Florence, South Carolina, and doesn’t have internet access. But the local hospital had no openings on Wednesday, Clark said, and the other vaccination sites are too far away. “My mom can’t drive to Charleston,” Clark said. “She’s too old.” Allison Salerno, an audio producer from Athens, Georgia, said she spent the better part of a day calling her state’s health department to get a vaccine appointment for her 89-year-old mother. “I started calling at 8:30 a.m. and on the 67th call I was finally put on hold,” Salerno said. “I had already pre-registered her two weeks before online, but I never received a confirmation." After Salerno had spent 65 minutes on hold, someone finally came on the line and gave her mother a Saturday appointment. “My mother has not been out since the beginning of the pandemic,” Salerno said. “She’s a very healthy woman and she wants to go to the grocery store, she wants to get her hair done.” Meanwhile, some states, like Minnesota, are waiting before throwing open the doors. “As we learn more, we will work to make sure everyone who is eligible for a vaccine knows how, where, and when they can get their shots,” the state Health Department said in an email. “Everyone’s opportunity to get vaccinated will come; it will just take some time.” Arizona, which had the nation’s highest COVID-19 diagnosis rate over the past week, will start signing up people 65 and older next week. It also plans to open a vaccination site at Phoenix Municipal Stadium in addition to the one dispensing thousands of shots daily at the home of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. To step up the pace of vaccinations, South Carolina made a rule change allowing medical students, retired nurses and other certain professionals to administer the shots. California lawmakers are increasing the pressure on Gov. Gavin Newsom to likewise expand authorization for who can give injections to include nursing students, retired medical workers, firefighters and National Guard members with medical training. Newsom said the state’s priority is to deliver vaccines “as quickly as possible to those who face the gravest consequences.” He urged patience for those not yet eligible, saying: “Your turn is coming.” Jeffri, the New Yorker, spent several days trying to book a vaccination and once actually received a slot, only to get a follow-up text saying they didn't have the doses. Finally, with some online sleuthing from her daughter, the retired arts-administration professor got an appointment for her first shot — two weeks from now. “It’s a relief," said Jeffri, who wrote to Gov. Andrew Cuomo about her ordeal. "But I’m not sure I trust it until it’s done.” Janie Har, Jennifer Peltz And Allen G. Breed, The Associated Press
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — An Arkansas man was accused Thursday of beating a police officer with a pole flying a U.S. flag during last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol, according to court documents. In an arrest affidavit filed Thursday in federal court in Washington, an FBI agent said Peter Francis Stager is shown in video and photographs striking a prone police officer repeatedly with the flagpole after rioters dragged the officer down the Capitol's west stairs. Confidential informants had recognized Stager in riot video and photographs and alerted authorities, who have charged Stager with interfering with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder, according to the affidavit. Stager was in custody Thursday, said Allison Bragg, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Little Rock, Arkansas. She referred all questions about the arrest to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, where a spokesman did not immediately return a message Thursday. No attorney was listed for Stager in court records. Stager is the second Arkansas resident to be arrested and charged with participating in the Jan. 6 attack of the Capitol by pro-Trump loyalists that left five people dead, including a police officer. A detention hearing is scheduled for Friday in federal court in Little Rock for Richard Barnett, 60, of Gravette, Arkansas, who remains in federal custody after his arrest on charges that included unlawfully entry to a restricted area with a lethal weapon — in this case, a stun gun. The FBI identified Barnett as a rioter photographed sitting in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office chair during the Capitol insurrection. He surrendered to federal agents on Jan. 8. The Associated Press
The COVID-19 pandemic brought Tamara Whitton's cotton candy business to a standstill in March; within just two days, the cotton candy maker lost every order on her books. Yet despite the cancellation of scores of festivals and fairs, where cotton candy is typically sold, Whitton's business has thrived during the pandemic. Her retail store in Fort Saskatchewan saw record walk-in traffic during the holiday season and customers bought containers of her cotton candy for drive-by birthday celebrations and virtual parties. Whitton said getting her cotton candy — available in a staggering 96 flavours — on major grocery store shelves helped boost the business during the past year, but so did the product's inclusion in a cardboard box packed with local items. In late October, Sobeys introduced The Alberta Box, a package of 22 locally-produced products for $49.99. Along with Whitton's gummy-bear-flavoured cotton candy, boxes included steak spice from Canmore, craft soda from Crowsnest Pass, gluten-free oatmeal from Calgary, energy bars from High River, and other items. Alberta business owners whose products were included in the box say it was not a big money-maker for them — they provided smaller versions of their products to the company — but the local boxes did help spread awareness of their brands across the province. "Any time when you're getting a product into people's hands, that's advertising," said Whitton, who has received new customers as a result of the box. Other local businesses owners also appreciated being included. "If I gained 25 per cent of the people that purchased those, I would be very happy with that," said Michael Heinen, sales manager for Gramma Bee's Honey in Sturgeon County. For Maureen Obrigewitch, who owns Souptacular Soups in St. Albert, getting her peas and barley soup into smaller communities via the box was a great opportunity. "That's what really appealed to us," she said. People who received the box as a gift and tried her soup have been emailing her with positive reviews, she said. Gary Hughes, a development manager for Sobeys, manages merchandise for 149 Sobeys, Safeway and IGA stores in Alberta. To assemble the box, he compared products from the several hundred Alberta suppliers he has relationships with and selected items that were either unique or "highly consumable." "The intent is to drive more business for some of these local companies," he told CBC Edmonton's Adrienne Pan. The box also helped grocery stores nudge customers to try new products. Pre-pandemic, suppliers were encouraged to offer samples in stores. "That's not really an option right now," Hughes said. The boxes are 90 per cent sold out, but the company is working on a spring version and plans to continue releasing them seasonally. Many business and municipal leaders, including Edmonton mayor Don Iveson, have encouraged Albertans to buy local in recent months. Kyle Murray, a marketing professor at the University of Alberta, said the movement started long before the pandemic. "Part of the reason you're seeing it crack grocery store shelves is simply because of demand," he said. Grocery stores, which operate with thin profit margins, can use unique, local merchandise as a way of drawing more customers to stores, he added. Heinen said he suspects people are spending a little more on local products now because they are saving money they would have otherwise spent in bars and restaurants. Whether the boxes continue to be a fixture in stores or not, multiple business owners included in the Sobeys box said they think the pandemic is changing the way Albertans shop. Heinen used his own product — raw honey — as an example. "You get those people who are now trying it because they have that extra dollar or two to buy something local and they realize, 'Hey, this tastes better. Why don't I keep doing this?'"
A Russian entrepreneur has caused a stir by branding his fast food outlet around the murderous tyrant Joseph Stalin. Stalin Doner was visited by authorities and faced a staff walkout, but its very existence reflects the ambiguous view some Russians have of the late dictator.
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 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. 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, 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
Saskatchewan Rivers School Division trustees are continuing professional development despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Usually there are provincial gatherings to help trustees, but they've stopped since the start of the pandemic. Some discussion about that issue took place at the board’s regular meeting on Monday. Education director Robert Bratvold said they're really focusing on learning and development, even though the circumstances can make it challenging. The board will engage in a planning seminar on Jan. 15 and 16 to review and discuss a number of items related to effective governance and leadership. One topic of conversation will be a letter the board received from the School Community Council of Wild Rose School about their trustee representative in the school clusters. “It came as a correspondence item that the board was informed about and then further discussion about that will happen at the seminar,” Bratvold explained. The letter states that another meeting should be held between the parties on Jan. 19. “Obviously, there is some communication and some understanding of what the role of the school clusters are and what a role of a trustee is and those sorts of things, so (there are) lots of opportunities for communication,” Bratvold explained. Bratvold added that trustees will be participating in over 20 online modules scheduled in 90-minute blocks over the next month through the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA). He said these sessions will support new and returning trustees in their role as educational leaders and as effective voices in local government. “I know there are going to be over 20 sessions on everything from legal aspects of being a trustee to student support services to anything you can imagine to make them a better trustee. Our trustees are taking part in those sessions in a big way,” Bratvold said.Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald
NEW YORK — The New York Jets were searching for a leader, someone who could bring a frustrated, playoff-starved franchise back to respectability. They think they found their guy in Robert Saleh. The Jets reached an agreement in principle with the popular and energetic San Francisco 49ers defensive co-ordinator Thursday night to hire him as their head coach. Saleh replaces Adam Gase, who was fired by on Jan. 3 after going 9-23 in two seasons. The 41-year-old Saleh emerged as a favourite for the Jets job when he was brought in for a second -- and this time, in-person -- interview Tuesday night, and those discussions extended into Wednesday. He was the first of the nine known candidates New York interviewed remotely to meet with chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson, team president Hymie Elhai and general manager Joe Douglas at its facility in Florham Park, New Jersey. Saleh left the Jets and met with Philadelphia, which fired Doug Pederson on Monday. And New York also had an in-person meeting with Tennessee offensive co-ordinator Arthur Smith on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. After Smith left without a deal, New York had internal discussions and opted to hire Saleh. “YESSS SIRRRRRRRRRR,” an excited defensive tackle Quinnen Williams wrote on Twitter. Saleh, recognized as an energetic leader who is well liked by his players, had been the 49ers’ defensive co-ordinator under Kyle Shanahan since 2017, overseeing San Francisco’s defence that ranked No. 2 overall on the way to the Super Bowl last season. The 49ers ranked fifth in overall defence this season despite season-ending injuries to pass rushers Nick Bosa — the 2019 AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year — and Dee Ford, as well as defensive linemen Solomon Thomas and Ezekiel Ansah. While San Francisco missed the playoffs, Saleh’s work with a banged-up and short-handed defence made him a popular candidate among the teams looking for a coach. “The @nyjets got a great one!” 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman tweeted. “Congrats to them!” Saleh, the son of Lebanese parents, is the the second minority coach to be hired by the Jets in the last six years and first since Todd Bowles, who is Black, in 2015. He’s the fourth active minority coach in the NFL, joining Miami’s Brian Flores, Washington’s Ron Rivera and Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin. Saleh, who first interviewed remotely with the Jets last Friday, also spoke with Detroit, Atlanta, Jacksonville and the Los Angeles Chargers. New York pounced, though, after Douglas promised the team would “cast a very wide net” in its search. Both Johnson and Douglas spoke about finding a leader, a CEO-type of coach who would oversee the entire operation of the team and help re-establish a culture and identity for the franchise. The 20th coach in franchise history, Saleh beat out Smith, Kansas City offensive co-ordinator Eric Bieniemy, Carolina offensive co-ordinator Joe Brady, Buffalo offensive co-ordinator Brian Daboll, Indianapolis defensive co-ordinator Matt Eberflus, New Orleans defensive backs coach Aaron Glenn, former Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis, and Los Angeles Rams defensive co-ordinator Brandon Staley. Saleh is the seventh straight coach hired by the Jets to not have previous head coaching experience, with the last not fitting that category being Bill Parcells in 1997. He’s also the fifth former defensive co-ordinator to get the job among New York’s last six hires, with Gase the only exception. With the Jets, Saleh will have plenty of work to do. New York hasn’t made the post-season since the 2010 season, the NFL’s longest active playoff drought with both Cleveland and Tampa Bay getting in this season. Saleh and Douglas will also have lots of questions to answer about the roster, none bigger than what the Jets should do at quarterback. Sam Darnold, the No. 3 overall pick in 2018, hasn’t lived up to his lofty draft status and regressed this season under Gase. New York currently holds the No. 2 pick in the draft and could opt to take a quarterback -- perhaps Ohio State’s Justin Fields or BYU’s Zach Wilson -- and start fresh at the position. The Jets, who also have the No. 23 selection, could trade down to collect more picks. A lot will depend on who Saleh brings in as his offensive co-ordinator, and how they view Darnold against the quarterbacks coming out in the draft. Saleh could bring in 49ers passing game co-ordinator Mike LaFleur, brother of Packers coach Matt LaFleur and Saleh's best man at his wedding, to run his offence. The Jets also have 20 players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents, including several standouts on defence, with safety Marcus Maye, cornerback Brian Poole and linebackers Neville Hewitt and Tarell Basham among them. Saleh, from Dearborn, Michigan, began his coaching career in 2002 as a defensive assistant at Michigan State for two seasons, followed by stints at Central Michigan and Georgia. He joined the Houston Texans in 2005 as a defensive intern under Dom Capers and worked three seasons as a defensive quality control coach under Gary Kubiak before being promoted to assistant linebackers coach in 2009. Saleh joined Pete Carroll’s staff in Seattle as a defensive quality control coach in 2011 before being hired by Gus Bradley in 2014 as Jacksonville’s linebackers coach. He spent three seasons with the Jaguars before joining the 49ers. “He makes sure there’s no gray area in terms of coaching and teaching,” San Francisco linebacker Fred Warner said last month. "There’s a lot of coaches out there who just coach. But he’s a great teacher.” ___ AP Pro Football Writer Josh Dubow contributed to this report. — More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL Dennis Waszak Jr., The Associated Press
NEW WESTMINSTER — A Crown prosecutor says there's no reliable evidence to support an argument that a man who stabbed two high school girls in Abbotsford, B.C., was having a psychotic break and didn't realize they were human. Gabriel Klein was convicted of second-degree murder and aggravated assault in March for the 2016 attack that killed 13-year-old Letisha Reimer and injured her friend. Closing arguments wrapped up Thursday in a hearing in which Klein's lawyer argued his client should not be held criminally responsible because he suffered a mental disorder that led him to believe he was stabbing monsters. However, Crown prosecutor Rob Macgowan said the judge hearing the case would have to accept Klein's version of events in order to rule in his favour. "If you don't accept Klein's word for it, we submit that all you would be left with is the same body of evidence upon which he was found guilty of murder and aggravated assault," Macgowan told the judge Thursday. Macgowan argued that instead of a psychotic break, evidence suggests Klein's anti-social personality disorder led him to commit the crimes for "no good reason." The B.C. Supreme Court has heard that Klein was waiting in a rotunda that connects Abbotsford Senior Secondary with a public library when he encountered the girls. He testified in court that he was suicidal and was waiting to use a computer to email his mother. As he waited, he said he saw a witch and zombie with maggots coming out of its back and heard a voice telling him to "kill" before he stabbed them. He did not realize what he had done until after the fact, he told the court. He was later diagnosed with schizophrenia and other mental disorders while in custody awaiting trial. In order to be found not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disorder under the Criminal Code, the judge must conclude that Klein was suffering a disorder that made him incapable of appreciating the nature and quality of his crime, or of understanding that it was wrong. Macgowan said Klein has not suggested he couldn't understand that stabbing people could result in their death, nor that stabbing people is wrong. Instead, Macgowan said Klein's case rests on the judge finding he did not understand that he was stabbing people. "That is the nature of Mr. Klein's defence," Macgowan said. The problem is that any evidence confirming Klein's perceptions at the time leads back to his own words, including reports or testimony from expert witnesses who say they believe Klein's claims, Macgowan argued. Case law indicates it's the court's jurisdiction to make a finding of fact, not the expert witnesses. Klein has offered varying accounts of what he saw, what the voices in his head told him and the events leading up to the attack. He has also described what he saw at different times as a witch, a zombie, a grey owl and a person with a beak, Macgowan said. Martin Peters, Klein's lawyer, said Wednesday that there is general consensus among experts that schizophrenia and memories arising from psychotic events cause deficits in working memory. Inconsistencies, contradictions and imprecisions in memories of psychotic episodes are not unusual and are to be expected, Peters said. But Macgowan argued that doesn't make Klein a reliable witness. "The presence of internal inconsistencies are not rendered irrelevant the moment someone claims to be in a psychotic state," Macgowan said. The diagnosis of a mental disorder is also not enough to prove a person was experiencing a break with reality at the time of an offence, he said. Beyond the incident, Klein has admitted in court to lying on several occasions, including regarding an account of being robbed by someone dressed as a clown, and during a conversation with one of the doctors examining him, Macgowan said. Klein demonstrated a willingness to hurt others even though he understood it was wrong when he said he considered attacking a police officer with a knife while considering suicide, Macgowan argued. Macgowan urged Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes to stick with her assessment of Klein during his conviction as someone who knew what he was doing. Two experts found it likely that Klein suffers from an anti-social personality disorder, which wouldn't lead to a psychotic break but could help explain his actions. "It's the Crown's submission that what emerges on the evidence of this case both at trial and now at this hearing is a picture of an angry, frustrated, depressed and desperate individual — one who has anti-social personality traits, one who has voiced an intention to commit a violent crime," said Macgowan. Holmes said she would set a date to deliver her decision during a meeting on Feb. 10. — By Amy Smart in Vancouver. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021. The Canadian Press
If you’re a diabetic, you probably know what it’s like to prick your finger to get a blood sugar reading. If you’re not, Canada may be calling you to let a little blood as a civic duty. The COVID-19 Immunity Task Force recently rolled out its latest wave of antibody home test kits in its effort to map the prevalence of COVID-19 in the country. This past week, 22,000 of the test kits were mailed to randomly selected Canadians. That’s in addition to 4,000 that were sent before Christmas. In total, 48,000 test kits will be distributed, and Newfoundland and Labrador’s share of that will be almost 3,600. Dr. Catherine Hankins, chair of the task force, says she hopes people realize the service they’re providing by participating. “There are two big reasons to participate,” she said this week. “One is you’re being called to serve, in a sense — to serve your province and your country by helping gather information that’s going to be useful to decision-makers … but also, you get to learn your own result, and I can tell you a lot of people are curious.” However, you can't volunteer to do the test unless you've received a kit. The daily count of COVID-19 cases that appears in the news only tallies those who have tested positive for the disease through PCR testing. That’s a genetic test that can detect even the smallest amount of virus in a person's airways. An antibody test is different. It detects the cells a person's body creates to combat the virus. They can linger for months, or even a year or more, long after a person has recovered. They will also be there even if a person didn’t know they had the disease. One advantage of the Canadian-made test the task force is using is that it can detect the difference between the antibodies that occur naturally to fight viral infection, and those that are induced by a vaccine. Commercially produced tests have not been able to do that until now. Michael Grant, an immunologist at Memorial University in St. John’s, says tests they conducted last year did not have that capability. In his study, Grant said, they recruited people who had COVID-19 or thought they might have it or been exposed to it. Out of 160 volunteers, they found only two cases of people who tested negative for the coronavirus but actually had the antibodies. One of them was someone who had quarantined during a cruise, and tested negative when they got back. However, Grant says he was encouraged by the fact some people still had antibodies in their system several months after being exposed. “It would suggest to me that the (infection) immunity is going to last at least as long as the vaccine-based immunity," he said. “That’s all we can say so far, because it hasn’t been that long a time.” Grant said the task force study will offer some important insights, and may even help inform who is best to vaccinate after the high-priority groups are covered. “Right now, the public health approach is that everyone should get the vaccine,” he said. But he adds that 48,000 tests will only tell so much. “They would have to get out a lot in order to cover the entire country and be able to get an accurate idea of prevalence in different regions,” he said. Hankins agrees the sample size won’t give a clear picture of specific regions of a given province, and tests aren’t being distributed to Indigenous reservations, military facilities or prisons. But the algorithm used by Statistics Canada ensures a representative cross-section of age and gender. That’s why she is hoping for a high participation rate. “You’re representing not just yourself,” she tells test recipients, “but everybody else your age, your sex and your province, so you’re really important.”Peter Jackson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram
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
Residents in small municipalities with water and sewer systems constantly feel the pain of ever-increasing rates, a problem the Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands wants to take up with the province. Township council members are struggling to keep rates at a level that residents can afford, but with only 300 users on their system it’s a losing battle, unless they can successfully lobby the Ontario government. "The legislation is that rates must recover operation and capital costs of a water and wastewater system; it cannot come out of taxes,” said Kate Tindal, director of finance. Right now the township is looking to increase water and wastewater rates by 3.5 per cent, well below the 10 per cent annual increase recommended by the water and wastewater study completed by Watson and Associates in 2020. "These water and wastewater systems were put in by a very zealous (at the time) provincial government and the ultimate unintended consequence is in the magic word 'unaffordable' for small communities. I think we as a township have to knock on the provincial door and say 'you constructed this thing for us generously but didn't think it through' – how is a community of 300 households going to pay for a $20-million asset?" asked Coun. Brock Gorrell. As Tindal warned council at the outset, adopting lower than recommended rate increases will put the township behind in achieving full cost recovery as per the provincial mandate. "Ultimately rates are going to get beyond what our folks can afford. We have a policy issue that users have to pay for the system, so we should take the initiative to open the dialogue with the provincial government to see what remedies there might be in the mid-term," agreed Coun. Mark Jamison. Leeds and the Thousand Islands is not alone. There are numerous other small rural municipalities in the same boat. As things stand under the Ontario Safe Drinking Water Act, there is an expectation that only users pay for the system. If there is a catastrophic failure within a system that needs to be addressed in a single year, a municipality would have to borrow money to pay for the repairs and then recover that outlay from the ratepayers. Water and Wastewater are not and cannot be tax-supported under provincial legislation. "The way the legislation is written, it's intended that the rates recover the money necessary to fund operating and capital operations, and yes it's going to be very challenging with the number of users on the system," said Tindal. Water and wastewater users in Lansdowne already pay on average $1,751 per year for the service. If the township adopted the Watson and Associates recommendation of 10 per cent increases per year for 10 years, those same ratepayers would have to pay $3,639 a year by the year 2030 – more than double what they're paying today. During budget deliberations last month, council members balked at such a hefty increase and opted for a much lower 3.5 per cent increase to be reviewed within two years once the asset management plan gets caught up with the projected needs of the system. But as the township gets ready to ratify the increase, councillors are realizing that user rates are not a reasonable solution for systems that cost tens of millions. "Perhaps we can do some outreach through AMO (the Association of Municipalities of Ontario) and see if they have a working group addressing this issue. I will undertake that," said township CAO Stephen Donachey.Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
The Town of Gananoque will seek funding to develop an environmental action plan. In July 2019, Gananoque council declared a climate emergency, and in early 2020 created an environmental working group. Now, Coun. David Osmond, who sits on the working group, has proposed a motion to apply for funding to pay for an environmental action plan to be developed by a consultant. "I see this as a motion that's a follow-up to a promise we made when we declared a climate emergency, so we hand over the municipality in better shape than we received it," said Osmond, adding: "This climate crisis isn't going away, and it affects every resident and business in this community." Although there was some hesitation, the motion passed, and it authorizes staff to apply for funding from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities under the Green Municipal Fund for up to $40,000 to cover 50 per cent of the cost to develop an environmental action plan for the town. Osmond told council he had done some preliminary research and learned that a formal action plan by a qualified consultant could cost up to $80,000. "I feel this is an important issue, but to spend $80,000 on a consultant seems steep. We can put a plan in place in-house and it doesn't have to cost us anything," said Coun. Adrian Haird. His sentiments were echoed by Mayor Ted Lojko, but as the town's chief administrative officer Shellee Fournier explained, that would be a challenge. "We don't have anyone in-house with environmental expertise," said Fournier, adding that for staff to apply for the funding it would need to have a commitment from council for the other half of the money. "FCM won't consider the application unless council has committed the other piece of the funding," said Fournier. If the town's application is successful, council has committed to kicking in the balance of funds ($40,000) out of reserves, according to town treasurer Melanie Kirkby. It's not clear whether the town will forge ahead if the application fails to secure the funds, but the issue will come back to council. The idea of putting an action plan in place is to set clear objectives and provide the town with a starting point so staff can apply for green grants and start implementing environmental initiatives in town, said Osmond. "Just like the FCM grant we are going after to help cover 50 per cent of this plan, funding bodies require documentation to support applications' most if not all government grants want to know and see a municipality has a plan before they are considered for funding," said Osmond. The current environmental action group is made up of volunteers with a keen interest in the environment. "People and organizations can't sit back and wait, but we urge people to get involved, start something and reach out. It doesn't need to come from this working group to happen or even get support," said Osmond, adding that there is no formal membership for the group and people come and go as they please. At this time the group shares tips and stories through social media. Among its successes was the sharing of an easy way to build compost boxes which, according to Osmond, reached over 1,200 people. "Our site and members promote the green grant to help take-out restaurants switch to biodegradable containers. This got off to a slow start but as people become informed applications have increased significantly, which will have a real impact on waste reduction and keeping our town and rivers clean," said Osmond. The group was also behind setting up a Styro-bin so residents could drop packing grade Styrofoam to be sent to a Belleville company that recycles Styrofoam into solid blocks which eventually become picture frames and trim. "We have already filled one shipping container, which would have all gone to a landfill," said Osmond. There have been other initiatives brought forward by the group that the town has investigated but deferred for now.Heddy Sorour, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brockville Recorder and Times
When Maria Campbell's mentor, lovingly referred to as Old Man, asked her where she was born, his response to her answer shook her. “Without missing a beat, I said, ‘Park Valley,’ and he said, ‘Hmm, so you’re a white woman.’ And I was really disoriented by what he said to me. And I said, ‘I don’t understand. Why would you ask me if I was a white woman? You know I’m not.’ He said, ‘Indians are born in Indian places and white people are born in white places,” she said. Campbell is Cree/Métis. His observations forced Campbell on a journey of self-discovery and decolonization. “I can’t have conciliation ... I can’t go out and educate everybody else. I can’t do anything. I can’t even work with my family right away. I have to set things right for myself first and understand and then I begin with my family, and then I begin with my community and my nation. And then I can do all these other things with white people, with non-indigenous people because I have a place I can begin from,” Campbell explained. Campbell presented virtually on Jan. 13 as part of the University of Calgary’s Indigenous Knowledge public lecture series. The series is part of UCalgary’s larger strategy towards reconciliation and meeting the Calls to Action directed to post-secondary institutions as set out in the 2015 final report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which examined the legacy of residential schools. Campbell is a much-credentialed scholar, the recipient of honourary doctorates, a published author and playwright, fluent in four languages, and Officer of the Order of Canada. “I’m not going to speak about reconciliation and transformation. I have difficulty with those words. I stopped being a Christian a long time ago and for me those are Christian concepts,” said Campbell. “I want to speak from the place that I come from and how I came to this place.” Coming to that place embraced putting things right and coming home, she said. Old Man triggered in her the desire to get answers. She had left northwestern Saskatchewan where she had been born and raised, had travelled to Vancouver and was settled in Edmonton when Old Man spurred her on. When she left home, she swore she would never return to the community she saw as a place of death, a place falling apart like her family. “I wanted a better life for myself. I wanted it for my child. I wanted it for the siblings I had lost to social services. And I often used to think about what was I searching for. What was this good life? I think about what I thought a good life was, an apple a day, a toothbrush, and the search … ended so badly, here I was back at home again, in the place I had run away from trying to find myself,” she said. A couple weeks after Old Man posed the question, Campbell returned home. She was sitting with her father and asked him, “What did we call our land before it became Park Valley?” He told her it was called Neekiwin or “The Stopping Place.” Her father took her on a tour of the land and called the places by their Cree names and told her the stories. She had pushed those stories down, thought the memories of the names had been lost, but she found out that had not been the case. It was when they went to Omisi Pusqua or Oldest Sister Prairie, the place her father told her placentas were buried, a practice that continued until the women started giving birth in hospitals, that Campbell felt grounded. “Up until then for probably 15 years of my life I wandered around looking for something good and couldn’t find it. Not knowing what I was going to do. Coming home when (Old Man) asked me where I was born and I came home and I stood in that community and listened to those names and those stories. It was like I had sunk down into the ground somehow. Something happened in my way of seeing things or my way of knowing, although I didn’t have that language at that time. I just knew that I had come home…. I felt comfortable. I no longer felt that I had to be apologetic for the place I came from. If there was a shame or anger all of those things just seemed like they were gone. They were not there and I’ve never had to deal with that stuff again,” she said. Losing these stories and these memories is dangerous, said Campbell and quotes from Michel Foucault, who wrote that “memory is an important political resource” and used by the colonizer to control by replacing memories with other memories. “We start to believe whatever they tell us about ourselves,” said Campbell. Everybody’s story of where they came from or “their sense of place”, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, links them. Those stories are important, said Campbell, and they need to be honoured. But it also needs to be understood that every story comes with both a dark side and a beautiful side. “All of us suffer from those things. And if we’re going to change that we all have to be able to be honest with ourselves, come to terms with ourselves first before we can begin the work of someplace else,” she said. Understanding this, though, doesn’t mean she is above saying or doing hurtful things, said Campbell. “(What) I have to do is rejig myself a little bit and I’m able to very quickly get back to that Omisi Pusqua Older Sister Prairie and remember why I have to constantly work at … decolonization and conciliation. That I have to constantly remember that everything that I do is what’s going to be inherited by those seven generations ahead of us and that I can’t be busy trying to change lives for other people. I have to change my own life first and that’s a full-time job,” she said. CJWEBy Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, CJWE