New COVID-19 restrictions have been introduced across Europe to combat the rise in cases, but the U.K. has also loosened rules around Christmas gatherings, leaving many people confused and health officials warning about the consequences.
New COVID-19 restrictions have been introduced across Europe to combat the rise in cases, but the U.K. has also loosened rules around Christmas gatherings, leaving many people confused and health officials warning about the consequences.
An envoy hired to defuse tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous commercial lobster fishermen in Nova Scotia has released a bleak interim report highlighting poor communication and a lack of trust between both sides. The report by Université Sainte-Anne president Allister Surette found perhaps the only thing the fishermen can agree on is blaming the Department of Fisheries and Oceans for the situation. "The lack of trust and respect has been presented to me by many of the individuals I interviewed," Surette said in his interim report filed with Federal Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan and Carolyn Bennett, minister for Indigenous-Crown relations. "Firstly, I have heard from Indigenous and non-Indigenous parties of the lack of trust in government," Surette wrote. "Added to this level of the lack of trust and respect, some interviewed also expressed the lack of trust and respect within parties involved in the fishery and I also heard of the lack of trust and respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous individuals, stakeholder groups and organizations." Appointed by Ottawa Surette was named special federal representative by the Trudeau government after an outbreak of violence and protests at the launch of an Indigenous moderate livelihood lobster fishery by the Sipekne'katik band in St. Marys Bay last fall. The band cited the Mi'kmaq's right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood, recognized by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1999 but never defined by Ottawa. The fishery was conducted outside of the regulated season for commercial lobster licence holders in Lobster Fishing Area 34, who objected saying the fishery was a blatant violation of fishery regulations. The reaction included alleged assaults, arson, blockades, volleys of wharfside profanity and online venom. It garnered international attention. The blowup capped years of tensions over an escalating Sipekne'katik food, social and ceremonial lobster fishery in St. Marys Bay that was, in some cases, used as a cloak for a commercial fishery. Lobster caught under food, social and ceremonial licences cannot be sold. In one case, a Crown prosecutor said the lobster caught under those licences from Sipekne'katik supplied an international "black market operation." Despite a number of federal initiatives to integrate the Mi'kmaq into the fishery since 1999 — including half a billion dollars for training and buying out and providing commercial licences — there has been a lack of progress defining moderate livelihood and implementing the fishery. Expectations of the First Nations were not met, leaving many of them to doubt the sincerity of DFO, Surette reported. Debate over enforcement Surette said the issue is complex and will not be easily solved. Non-Indigenous fishermen have argued there is not enough enforcement when it comes to Indigenous lobster fishing while the bands have complained of harassment. "However, the point to note on this matter, and more closely related to my mandate, seems to be the lack of clear direction from the government of Canada and the multiple facets and complexity of implementing the right to fish in pursuit of a moderate livelihood," he said in the report. Surette's mandate is not to negotiate but rather to "restore confidence, improve relations" and make recommendations to the politicians. His interim report calls for more dialogue to build trust, suggesting areas of declared common interest like conservation and marketing. A lack of information from DFO was a recurrent complaint from the commercial fishermen, said Surette. "There should be some type of formal process for the non-Indigenous to be kept up to speed, especially the harvesters, since this could affect their livelihood. Some process, even though they're not involved in negotiation, that they could have input or at least understand what's going on," he told CBC Radio's Information Morning on Friday. Improving communication He made three suggestions for improving communication: a clearinghouse for accurate information, a formal process for talks between the commercial industry and the government of Canada, and forums to create a "safe space" to talk on important issues without extreme emotions. Surette interviewed 85 people — 81 per cent were non-Indigenous. "In some cases, they were heavily focused on the fishery. Others said that they preferred dealing with the ministers at this present time," he told CBC News. Surette said he will be reaching out to gather more perspectives. MORE TOP STORIES
Saskatchewan will start to stretch out the time between COVID-19 vaccine doses, as supplies run short. Second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccine will be administered up to 42 days after the first dose. Official guidelines say the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is meant to be given as two doses, 21 days apart, while Moderna recommends spacing doses 28 days apart. The National Advisory Council on Immunization (NACI), a body made up of scientists and vaccine experts, say provinces should follow the dosing schedule as closely as possible, but the panel is now offering some wiggle room. WATCH | Canada's COVID-19 vaccine advisory committee approves delaying 2nd dose NACI recommends spacing out the doses up to 42 days when necessary. The recommendation is also supported by the World Health Organization and Canada's chief medical health officer. "The flexibility provided by a reasonable extension of the dose interval to 42 days where operationally necessary, combined with increasing predictability of vaccine supply, support our public health objective to protect high-risk groups as quickly as possible," reads a statement released Thursday from Dr. Theresa Tam, as well as the provincial and territorial chief medical officers of health. The same day, Saskatchewan announced it would further space out its doses. "Saskatchewan will be implementing these recommendations of up to 42 days where operationally necessary in order to deliver more first doses to eligible people," the government of Saskatchewan said in a news release. WATCH | Dr. Howard Njoo addresses questions on taking first and second dose of vaccine 42 days apart: Saskatchewan's supply runs short As of Friday, 96 per cent of the province's vaccines have been administered, and new supplies coming in are not enough to replenish what has been used. Pfizer has said it will not ship a single vial of its highly effective vaccine to Canada next week as the pharmaceutical giant retools its production facility in Puurs, Belgium, to boost capacity. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer, Dr. Saqib Shahab, says it's very reassuring to have the length between doses extended to 42 days. "When there's a sudden, further disruption that does present challenges," Shahab said during a news conference on Tuesday. "Most provinces are able to give the second dose of both Pfizer and Moderna within 42 days ... and that becomes very important with the disruption of shipment." Scott Livingstone, the CEO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority, agreed. "It does mitigate some of the decreased doses coming in. We also know through contact with the federal government that once the Pfizer plant is back online, they'll be increasing our shipment," Livingstone said during Tuesday's news conference. Livingstone said the new shipments coming in will be allocated for an individual's first and second shot. WATCH | Canada facing delays in vaccine rollout More vaccines on the way Another shipment of vaccines will arrive in Saskatchewan on Feb. 1, says the government. The province is expecting 5,850 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine and 6,500 doses of Moderna's vaccine. The government says they will be distributed to the Far North West, Far North East, North East and Central West. A second shipment of 7,100 doses from Moderna will arrive on Feb. 22, and will be distributed to the Far North East, North East and Central East. "Our immunization team is trying to be as nimble as possible knowing that we could at any time through the pandemic receive more vaccines, but also then having to readjust our targets and still focusing on the most needy in this Phase 1, and we will continue to do that as vaccine supply keeps coming back up," Livingstone said.
MILAN — Italy’s data protection authority said Friday it was imposing an immediate block on TikTok’s access to data for any user whose age has not been verified. The authority said it was acting with “urgency” following the death of a 10-year-old girl in Sicily, who died while participating in a so-called “blackout” challenge while using the Chinese-owned video-sharing social network. Prosecutors in Sicily are investigating the case. The data protection authority noted it had advised TikTok in December of a series of violations, including scant attention to the protection of minors, the ease with which users under age 13 could sign up for the platform — against its own rules — the lack of transparency in information given to users and the use of automatic settings that did not respect privacy. “While waiting to receive a response, the authority decided to take action to ensure the immediate protection of minors in Italy registered on the network,’’ the authority said in a statement. The block will remain in place at least until Feb. 15, when further evaluations will be made. The Associated Press
FREDERICTON — New Brunswick's Edmundston region is moving into a 14-day lockdown beginning Saturday at midnight as health officials try to curb rising infections, chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said Friday. "The growth of cases in this zone and the spread through several workplaces and long-term care homes has really reached a point where the strongest measures are needed," Russell told reporters. "The measures being announced today are stern but they are necessary." Russell's new health order forces the closure of all non-essential businesses as well as schools and public spaces, including outdoor ice rinks and ski hills. The situation in the region will be evaluated every seven days, Russell said, adding that cabinet may extend the lockdown if required. She said the Edmundston area, which borders northern Maine and Quebec's Bas-St-Laurent region, has 129 active reported infections. Because of the way the virus multiplies, that number could grow to 200 cases by next week and 400 before the end of the month, she said. Russell said the infection rate in the northern region is 309 cases per 100,000 people — nearly six times the rate for the entire province, which is 59 cases per 100,000 people. Health Minister Dorothy Shephard told reporters all non-essential travel is prohibited in and out of Edmundston. "We are trying to minimize interaction," Shephard said. "Fewer people going out and about for non-essential reasons will allow us to get out of this lockdown faster." Formal indoor gatherings, such as weddings and religious services, are also prohibited. Shephard said there will be a ban on evictions during the lockdown, adding that landlords will have to wait until at least 10 days after the measures are lifted to evict tenants. Gatherings are restricted to members of a household, she said. New Brunswick's recent spike in cases traces back to gatherings over the holidays and increased travel in and out of the province, Russell said. "We had almost 3,000 more travellers around that period of time than we normally do." New Brunswick reported 30 new COVID-19 infections Friday — 19 of which were identified in the Edmundston area. Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton will remain at the red pandemic-alert level, while Campbellton, Bathurst and Miramichi will stay at the lower, orange level, Russell said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. — — — This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
TOPEKA, Kan. — Republicans on Friday pushed a proposed anti-abortion amendment to the Kansas Constitution through the state House, a bitter reminder of election setbacks for abortion rights Democrats on the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion nationwide. The vote was 86-38 on a measure that would overturn a 2019 Kansas Supreme Court decision that declared access to abortion a “fundamental” right under the state's Bill of Rights. Abortion opponents had two votes more than the two-thirds majority necessary for passage, sending the proposal to the Senate, where a debate could occur as early as next week. The measure would add language to the state constitution declaring that it grants no right to abortion and that the Legislature can regulate abortion in line with U.S. Supreme Court decisions. The measure is not a state abortion ban, but it could allow one if a more conservative U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision protecting abortion rights. “I think it’s about as ugly as you can get,” said Rep. Annie Kuether, a Topeka Democrat who supports abortion rights. Republicans said the timing of the debate was a coincidence, but abortion rights Democrats, particularly women, saw it as a pointed message that GOP legislators and anti-abortion groups intend to keep moving toward a state ban. A similar proposal failed last year in the House when four GOP members objected, and elections last year left the Republican supermajority more conservative. “It’s remarkable and it shows you that Kansas, that we are a pro-life state,” said Rep. Tori Arnberger, a Republican from the central Kansas town of Great Bend, who led the anti-abortion side during the debate. Anti-abortion lawmakers said that if the Kansas court decision stands, two decades' worth of restrictions on abortion enacted with bipartisan support could fall in state court challenges. The 2019 ruling put on indefinite hold a law banning a common second trimester procedure — designated as “dismemberment abortion” in its language. Special health and safety standards for abortion providers, described by them as unnecessary and burdensome, have been on hold since 2011 because of a lawsuit. Abortion opponents also worry that also in jeopardy are a 24-hour waiting period for an abortion, a requirement that most minors seeking abortions notify their parents and rules for what providers must tell their patients. “The people, over the last three decades, have supported very strongly reasonable regulations on the abortion industry, and they want those protected,” said Jeanne Gawdun, a lobbyist for Kansans for Life, the state's most influential anti-abortion group. But several Republicans said in explaining their yes votes that they would continue to push for a ban on abortion if the amendment is added to the constitution. Freshman Republican Rep Patrick Penn, of Wichita, said his late mother, a survivor of abusive relationships, had been urged by family to abort him “in accordance with every excuse promoted by the pro-death forces.” If the Senate also approves the measure by a two-thirds majority, it would go on the ballot in the August 2022 primary, when approval by a simple majority of voters would add it to the state constitution. “It will almost certainly lead to an abortion ban," said freshman Democratic Rep. Lindsay Vaugh, a Kansas City-area abortion rights supporter, noting moves for near bans in other states, including Alabama, Tennessee and West Virginia. The timing of the statewide vote was a key issue last year, when anti-abortion groups pushed to have the measure on the ballot in the August 2020 primary. Four Republicans voted then against that measure, joining many Democrats in arguing that the larger and broader group of voters in the November general election should decide. In Kansas since 2010, an average of 3.5 times as many Republicans as Democrats have cast ballots in primaries, and the primary electorate tends to be more partisan. Three of those Republican dissenters retired, and another lost his GOP primary race. The GOP had a net gain of two seats in the November election, making its majority 86-38, with one independent House member. In Friday's vote, only Republicans backed this year's proposal, and only Democrats and the independent House member voted no. The failure of last year's proposal led to an intensified focus by both anti-abortion and abortion rights groups on legislative races. They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, sent hundreds of thousands of text messages, made tens of thousands of phone calls and knocked on thousands of doors. The national anti-abortion group Students for Life also became involved in Kansas races for the first time. “It was, ‘This is the time to protect life,’” said Kristan Hawkins, Students for Life's president. “We need to stand up and hold elected officials accountable, regardless of what party they're in.” But Kuether argued that Kansas legislators keep repeating the same decades-old “debates over controlling women" even after the U.S. elected its first female vice-president, Kamala Harris. She said there's no debate over any proposal “to deny a right to men.” “Equality?" she said. "Not in Kansas.” ___ Follow John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna John Hanna, The Associated Press
If this little guy gives you the heebie-jeebies then you’re likely not going to like this discovery. Eight Simon Fraser University researchers uncovered trace fossils of a predatory sand worm out in Taiwan. The worm spanned up to 2 meters in length with a 2 -3 cm diameter based on their estimates. Basically, imagine a loonie-thick garden hose with teeth as long as you’re supposed to socially distance. Modern-day variants of the worm bury their soft bodies below grounds level and snatch prey using their jaws. If that image terrifies you, then it’ll come as a comfort that this predator is long dead but likely roamed the ocean floor 20 million years ago, according to the paper published in Scientific Reports. SFU researchers pieced this all together using trace fossils of the animal’s burrow. Lead author Yu-Yen Pan and her team’s trace fossil is the first known produced by a sub-surface ambush predator.
Last week Daisy Ridley and Jennifer Hudson went to a movie premiere together. They posed for photos and made remarks from a stage while an audience watched quietly. Or, more accurately, their avatars did. The actors were actually on different continents, brought together for a few minutes through virtual reality headsets to walk a red carpet, pose for photos in front of a step and repeat and to speak to a crowd of other avatars on behalf of their short film “Baba Yaga.” It’s being called the first ever VR movie premiere. “I truly feel like I went to a premiere,” Hudson said later. “But I didn’t leave home! I think it’s a cool way to do it, especially right now.” She especially liked seeing her team and how much their avatars looked like themselves. Virtual movie premieres have become standard in Hollywood since the pandemic started. The “events” typically just involve a start time for the film to broadcast on your home screen and, sometimes, a zoom-style Q&A with talent afterward. But Baobab Studios, the 6-year-old interactive animation studio behind a handful of cinematic VR experiences, decided to push the envelope for “Baba Yaga.” “I really don’t think we would have ever thought of this if it wasn’t for COVID,” said Eric Darnell, the man behind the “Madagascar” films and co-founder of Baobab. “We usually have our films premiere at festivals.” “Baba Yaga” actually got a real festival premiere too as part of the Venice Film Festival last year. But as it became increasingly clear that there would not be an opportunity stateside, the company started working alongside the XR consultancy firm MESH to produce the ambitious event, which included designing a rainforest room inspired by the one in the film. The virtual reality movie premiere is not entirely dissimilar to an actual premiere. There are publicists, filmmakers and actors, things to look at and displays to take selfies with (really). At this particular event, there was also a roped off “restricted” area, although organizers said it was simply there to designate the end of space and not an exclusive side party. And not unlike at actual events, sometimes you find yourself without anyone to talk to and just awkwardly wander around eavesdropping. But at a virtual reality premiere you can’t even pretend to send text messages or respond to emails. This reporter also had to take off her headset for a few minutes after getting VR dizzy. Darnell co-wrote and directed the film/experience alongside Mathias Chelebourg. It also features the voices of Kate Winslet and Glen Close. The film and the rainforest room are currently available to experience through Oculus Quest. Events like this may have been born out of necessity, but they could be the way of the future. “Even if we did go back to premiering at festivals, I still think this is an amazing way to bring people together and to say let’s celebrate this medium by actually having a party inside of it,” Darnell said. —- Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr Lindsey Bahr, The Associated Press
An Indigenous youth who was in care of Robert Riley Saunders when he was working as a social worker in Kelowna, B.C., says they would like youth to have a chance to tell Saunders how his alleged actions have affected them. Saunders is alleged to have stolen basic living allowances from more than 100 — mostly Indigenous — youth who were in his care between 1996 and 2018. He’s facing 13 criminal charges, including ten counts of fraud over $5,000, one count of theft over $5,000, one count of breach of trust, and one count of uttering a forged document. “He certainly deserves anything more than what he’s going to get in jail, but I also think we need some sort form of restorative justice,” says ‘Alex’ — whose real name we are withholding due to a court-ordered publication ban prohibiting the sharing of information that could identify victims, including their gender. Alex says they would like youth who were in Saunders’ “care” to have the opportunity “to come and talk with him or write to him, or somehow get their message across to [him] about how he’s affected them.” Saunders was released on bail on Dec. 18 by B.C. Provincial Court judge Monica McParland. His trial is set to resume at the B.C. Provincial Courts in Kelowna on Monday, Jan. 25, but Saunders won’t be appearing in person, according to an email from a B.C. Prosecution Service spokesperson. Instead, he’ll be represented by his lawyer. As the trial unfolds, Alex says self-care will be “quite difficult.” “I have PTSD, so I have days where I can’t manage and my [partner] has to do a lot of the work,” they say. “And then there are days where, you know, I’m feeling better and I do the work.” “I have lots of therapy ahead of me,” they add. “It’s hard when you have a young child and you have to explain to them what intergenerational trauma is.” Asked what message they have for other youth who were in Saunders’ care, Alex says, “Always remember that you’re a warrior and that nothing can take that away from you.” “I’m really proud of those people who have come forward and those who couldn’t, I’m proud of as well. “I’m proud of all the people who help us protest this man and help us take him down, but I need people to continue fighting,” they say. “This is not just one corrupt person, in my opinion. This is a group of corrupt people we’re up against, and we’re up against systematic racism.” Beyond a restorative justice process, Alex wants a total overhaul of the child welfare system. For example, they would like to see it become mandatory for social workers with B.C.’s Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD) to register with the B.C. College of Social Workers (BCCSW). Saunders allegedly faked his credentials on his résumé in order to get hired by MCFD as a social worker, according to documents disclosed in a separate legal matter, which was settled in 2020. In B.C., social workers employed by MCFD may voluntarily register, but “mandatory registration is only required of those social workers employed by BC’s health authorities,” says Michael Crawford, president of the B.C. Association of Social Workers. Crawford says he’s been pushing MCFD to make registration mandatory for all B.C. social workers, as he believes it will “improve services to children, youth, and families.” “The BCCSW has a code of ethics, standards of practice, a duty to report, and a scope of practice statement,” he wrote in an email to IndigiNews. “Additionally, the BCCSW has the authority to receive and investigate complaints, and it has the authority to discipline registrants.” For Alex, mandatory registration represents the tip of the iceberg. “I would like to see [social workers] have to have more credentials than they currently do and to be registered — that would be awesome,” says Alex. “But if we could abolish the system entirely, that would even be better. “These systems, no matter how much we change them, are still designed against specifically Indigenous people because they’re designed to take our children. “I would like to indigenize our systems, and I don’t mean delegating Aboriginal agencies for child protection … I mean truly indigenizing communities, like, in our traditional knowledge,” they say. “Uproot the systems that keep us oppressed and create an entirely new one, because clearly the one we have, no matter how we change it, it’s still not working for us.” The Saunders case should be “thoroughly examined” by Indigenous leadership, Alex says. “I don’t mean, like, governmental departments. What I mean is departments like the missing and murdered Indigenous women department where they can approach it from a culturally appropriate and meaningful way,” they say. “I think that our traditional governing systems need to be put in place to help with this process.” Chehala Leonard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Discourse
WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets have placed forwards Patrik Laine and Nate Thompson on injured reserve. Laine has missed the past three games with an upper-body injury. The second overall pick in the 2016 draft, Laine had two goals and an assist in the Jets' season-opening game before being sidelined. Thompson suffered a lower-body injury on Thursday in a win over the Ottawa Senators. He has been held pointless through four games. Winnipeg has added defenceman Dylan DeMelo to the active roster. The Jets complete a three-game series against Ottawa on Saturday night in Winnipeg. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
Nipissing First Nation Chief Scott McLeod says the public health directive supporting in-class learning in northern Ontario schools is more political than scientific. The community’s high school opted to keep Nbissing students online until at least February 16 after the province extended its COVID-19 pandemic emergency order. The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit is one of the few in Ontario to support in-class learning, a decision panned by many in light of it closing down toboggan hills, outdoor skating rinks and snowmobile trails. “We're just trying to deal with the Covid and we just shut our rinks down and we're just kind of monitoring what provinces and municipalities are doing and making sure that we're consistent or more stringent in areas like our school being closed,” McLeod said about Nbisiing Secondary School Thursday. “It's all online right now, despite the provinces still allowing it, at least in northern Ontario, the high schools are still open,” he said, noting that seems to be out of step with what some provincial experts are saying. “I was listening to Dr. Kevin Brown. He's the co-chair of the Covid Science Table for Ontario,” said Chief McLeod. “He was giving an update to the Chiefs of Ontario and he honestly can't understand why the schools in northern Ontario are still open. And you know, that, to me was troublesome, right? ‘You have one of the top epidemiologists saying that he doesn't understand. I was expecting ‘Here, this is the data, shows this or that,” because I like listening to the data, not just listening to people rant on Facebook. But, yeah, he was lost for an answer as to why it's still open. “And so obviously it's a more political call than a science one,” McLeod said. The school posted the update on its website, as did the community. “In response to Ontario’s second declaration of emergency and to align Nbisiing with Nipissing First Nation’s response to the provincewide stay-at-home order and shutdown restrictions, Nipissing First Nation (NFN) Council has approved changes to Nbisiing’s return to in-person learning date,” it reads. “In order to keep people home as much as possible to reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 in our community, protect vulnerable populations, and keep our school community safe, Nbisiing will continue to teach all classes virtually and will return to in-person learning on Tuesday, February 16th, 2021 (Monday the 15th is Family Day).” Nipissing FN only closed its outdoor rink in Garden Village, which is enclosed with walls and roof, because they don’t want people from outside the community taking advantage of it while their rinks are ordered closed. “Our problem with the skating rinks, as soon as North Bay and Sturgeon closed, we have to close because they all come down hours and we don't want them there,” he said. Chief McLeod did what many others are doing in response by creating their own ice sheets, whether that’s in a yard or on the lake. They can control the numbers and make it safe by following the known protocols, he added. “Well, I made one in my backyard and I Facebooked all my family members saying, ‘You want to come skating with your family, book it … just message me so I know that there's no other family there and you can have it to yourself.’” 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
WASHINGTON — Opening arguments in the Senate impeachment trial for Donald Trump on the charge of incitement of insurrection for the Capitol riot will begin the week of Feb. 8. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced the schedule late Friday after reaching an agreement with Republicans. Under the timeline, the House will transmit the impeachment article against Trump late Monday, with initial proceedings Tuesday. From there, Trump's legal team will have time to prepare the case before opening arguments begin in February. THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will send the article of impeachment against Donald Trump to the Senate on Monday, triggering the start of the former president's trial on a charge of “incitement of insurrection” in the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer announced Pelosi's intentions Friday for the quick trial, rebuffing Republicans' proposal to push the proceedings to mid-February to give Trump more time to prepare his case. Schumer said there will be “a full trial," and "it will be a fair trial." Unlike any in history, Trump's impeachment trial would be the first of a U.S. president no longer in office, an undertaking that his Senate Republican allies argue is pointless, and potentially even unconstitutional. Democrats say they have to hold Trump to account, even as they pursue new President Joe Biden's legislative priorities, because of the gravity of what took place — a violent attack on the U.S. Congress aimed at overturning an election. The trial could start as soon as Tuesday, but timing remains uncertain as leaders negotiate. If Trump is convicted, the Senate could vote to bar him from holding office ever again, potentially upending his chances for a political comeback. The urgency to hold Trump responsible is somewhat complicated by Democrats' simultaneous need to get Biden's government in place and start quick work on his coronavirus aid package. The trial could halt Senate work on those priorities. “The more time we have to get up and running ... the better,” Biden said Friday in brief comments to reporters. A trial delay could appeal to some Democrats, as it would give the Senate more time to confirm the Cabinet and debate the new round of coronavirus relief. The timing and details of the Senate trial eventually rest on negotiations between Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who are also in talks over a power-sharing agreement for the Senate, which is split 50-50 but in Democratic control because Vice-President Kamala Harris serves as a tie-breaking vote. Whenever the start, Pelosi said Friday the nine House impeachment managers, or prosecutors, are "ready to begin to make their case” against Trump. Trump’s team will have had the same amount of time since the House impeachment vote to prepare, Pelosi said. Democrats say they can move quickly through the trial, potentially with no witnesses, because lawmakers experienced the insurrection first-hand. One of the managers, California Rep. Ted Lieu, said Friday that Democrats would rather be working on policy right now, but “we can't just ignore" what happened on Jan. 6. “This was an attack on our Capitol by a violent mob,” Lieu said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It was an attack on our nation instigated by our commander in chief. We have to address that and make sure it never happens again.” Trump, who told his supporters to “fight like hell” just before they invaded the Capitol two weeks ago and interrupted the electoral vote count, is still assembling his legal team. White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday deferred to Congress on timing for the trial and would not say whether Biden thinks Trump should be convicted. But she said lawmakers can simultaneously discuss and have hearings on Biden's coronavirus relief package. “We don’t think it can be delayed or it can wait, so they’re going to have to find a path forward,” Psaki said of the virus aid. “He’s confident they can do that.” Democrats would need the support of at least 17 Republicans to convict Trump, a high bar. While most Republican senators condemned Trump's actions that day, far fewer appear to be ready to convict. A handful of Senate Republicans have indicated they are open — but not committed — to conviction. But most have come to Trump's defence as it relates to impeachment, saying they believe a trial will be divisive and questioning the legality of trying a president after he has left office. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close Trump ally who has been helping him find lawyers, said Friday there is “a very compelling constitutional case” on whether Trump can be impeached after his term — an assertion that Democrats reject, saying there is ample legal precedent. Graham also suggested that Republicans will argue Trump's words on Jan. 6 were not legally “incitement.” “On the facts, they’ll be able to mount a defence, so the main thing is to give him a chance to prepare and run the trial orderly, and hopefully the Senate will reject the idea of pursuing presidents after they leave office,” Graham said. Other Republicans had stronger words, suggesting there should be no trial at all. Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso said Pelosi is sending a message to Biden that “my hatred and vitriol of Donald Trump is so strong that I will stop even you and your Cabinet from getting anything done.” Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson suggested Democrats are choosing “vindictiveness” over national security as Biden attempts to set up his government. McConnell, who said this week that Trump “provoked” his supporters before the riot, has not said how he will vote. He said Senate Republicans "strongly believe we need a full and fair process where the former president can mount a defence and the Senate can properly consider the factual, legal and constitutional questions.” Trump, the first president to be impeached twice, is at a disadvantage compared with his first impeachment trial, in which he had the full resources of the White House counsel’s office to defend him. Graham helped Trump hire South Carolina attorney Butch Bowers after members of his past legal teams indicated they did not plan to join the new effort. ___ Associated Press writers Aamer Madhani in Washington, Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina, and Jill Colvin in West Palm Beach, Florida, contributed to this report. Mary Clare Jalonick And Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
Approximately 30 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel have been deployed to Garden Hill First Nation to provide humanitarian assistance and address the emergent needs of the community. Between Jan. 17 and 18, members of the CAF were sent to support an Indigenous Service Canada-led liaison and reconnaissance team to rapidly assess the situation in the northern Manitoba community. Following a formal Request for Assistance, the CAF arrived at the First Nation on Wednesday to work alongside other community members and other government departments and agencies. “In Island Lake, we have been working hard to try to mitigate the transmission of the COVID-19 virus,” Alex McDougall, executive director of Four Arrows Regional Health Authority (FARHA) told Winnipeg Sun on Friday. “Bringing down the number of cases in the region is something we want to see very quickly, and having the military personnel in the community to assist with the immunization plan is something that needs to continue.” FARHA oversees health services for all Island Lake Anishininew Nation communities, including Garden Hill First Nation, Wasagamack First Nation, St. Theresa Point First Nation and Red Sucker Lake First Nation. Garden Hill First Nation is located 610 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg and 350 air kilometres southeast of Thompson. Manitoba’s Island Lake district saw a total of 300 active cases as of Thursday with 266 of those cases from Garden Hill First Nation. According to CAF spokesperson Jessica Lamirande, tasks which the CAF has been called to do are: · Provide general duty support to the community and nursing station for clerical, maintenance, cleaning duties of isolating personnel where required; · Integrate into the local Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) command post in the community to coordinate activities with the Chief and his Council and other government partners; · Assist in the establishment and operating of a local Alternative Isolation Area (AIA), · Arrange for training and support to incoming staff in the operation of the AIA; · Provide limited assistance with patient management tasks, including triage, secondary assessment, monitoring of patients, testing and treatment of COVID-19 patients; · Where necessary assist with home wellness checks; and · Offer transportation assistance to other responding government departments in and out of the affected area for cargo and personnel, if required. Last Friday, approximately one-third of the 5,300 Moderna vaccines allocated to Manitoba First Nations arrived at Island Lake. Garden Hill First Nation received 320 doses of the vaccine during the weekend. Despite many COVID-19 cases in the region, there is still some who refuse to receive immunity against the virus. “We are seeing apprehension within the community members in Garden Hill. The situation there is bad as well as overall in Island Lake. Community members are frustrated and scared at the same time,” said McDougall. “This is a strong indicator that we need to continue with our education and awareness piece, and share with our members the importance of participating in the immunization plan,” he added. The FARHA has been working with the provincial and federal government for two decades to bring in critical infrastructure in the area such as a hospital that can provide services to the residents of Island Lake. McDougall said that patients suffering from COVID-19 in Island Lake need to be flown out to Winnipeg to receive treatment. Currently, the Garden Hill community is under lockdown, with non-essential travel prohibited. Nicole Wong is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada. Nicole Wong, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun
Nicola Mining, the company who owns the old Craigmont Mine site on Aberdeen Rd., has announced its 2021 Exploration Objectives at the New Craigmont Copper Project. Last year, the company applied for a multi-year area-based (MYAB) exploration permit that would facilitate a five-year exploration plan. The 2021 program includes five new trenches, the reactivation of six historic trenches and up to 21 drill holes. Trenching is aimed at developing three target areas where copper occurrences have been observed but have not been drill tested. The 2021 season has been divided into two phases, with the second phase contingent on results from phase one. A complete explanation of both phase one and phase two of the 2021 program is available in a report by Yahoo Finance found here. Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald
The NBC Sports Network, which is best known for its coverage of the NHL and English Premier League, will be going away at the end of the year. NBC Sports Chairman Pete Bevacqua announced the channel's shutdown on Friday in an internal memo to staff. “At the conclusion of 2021, we have decided that the best strategic next step for our Sports Group and the entire Company is to wind down NBCSN completely,” Bevacqua said in the memo. NBCSN is available in 80.1 million homes, according to Nielsen's latest estimate, which is less than ESPN (83.1 million) and FS1 (80.2 million). The channel was launched by Comcast in 1995 as the Outdoor Life Network. It was best known for carrying the Tour de France until it acquired the NHL in 2005. It changed its name to Versus in 2006 and then to NBC Sports Network six years later after Comcast bought NBC Universal in 2011. Bevacqua said in the memo that Stanley Cup playoff games and NASCAR races would be moving to USA Network this year. USA Network, which is available in 85.6 million homes, had already been airing early-round playoff games since 2012. “This will make USA Network an extraordinarily powerful platform in the media marketplace, and gives our sports programming a significant audience boost,” Bevacqua said. “We believe that the power of this offering is the best long-term strategy for our Sports Group, our partners, and our Company.” The news of NBCSN shutting down also comes during a time when many of NBC Sports Group’s most valuable sports properties are coming up for renewal. This is the last season of a 10-year deal with the NHL and negotiations for the EPL rights, beginning with the 2022-23 season, are ongoing. Many have predicted that the next rights deal with the NHL will include multiple networks with former broadcast partners ESPN and Fox Sports expected to be in the mix. NBC's current deal averages $200 million per season. Premier League deals are usually for three years, but NBC secured a six-year package in 2015 by paying nearly $1 billion. NASCAR, which has its races from July through November on NBC and NBCSN, has a deal through 2024. IndyCar's contract, which includes the Indianapolis 500 on NBC, expires at the end of this year. The sanctioning body said in a statement that NBC “has always been a transparent partner, and we were aware of this upcoming strategy shift." Tag Garson, Wasserman’s senior vice-president of properties, said TNT and TBS have already proved it's possible to have a cable channel that does a good job of meshing entertainment programming with sports. “NBC has done a great job with hockey and soccer that it would be hard for anyone to walk away from that,” he said. “How many windows can your fit sports programming into at USA? That’s where the internal discussions are going to be and understanding the right balance to have between sports and entertainment.” NBC could also put additional events on its Peacock streaming service, which debuted last year. There are 175 Premier League games airing on Peacock this season. Joe Reedy, The Associated Press
CALGARY — WestJet says a Boeing 737 Max that was scheduled to fly from Calgary to Toronto on Friday returned to the gate before taking off due to a warning in the cockpit. A WestJet spokeswoman, Lauren Stewart, said that after the plane's engines were started, its monitoring system indicated a "potential fault that needed to be verified and reset." The process takes time and requires an engine run, which the airline does not perform with passengers on board, Stewart said. In the interests' of passengers' time, WestJet cancelled the flight and booked passengers on the next available flight to Toronto, Stewart said. The aircraft has since been cleared by maintenance and will return to service as scheduled on Jan. 24, Stewart said. The Max was cleared to fly in Canadian airspace on Wednesday after it was grounded for nearly two years following deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
Nearly a year to the day after the Chinese city of Wuhan went into lockdown to contain a virus that had already escaped, President Joe Biden began putting into effect a new war plan for fighting the outbreak in the U.S., Germany topped 50,000 deaths, and Britain closed in on 100,000. The anniversary of the lockdown Saturday comes as more contagious variants of the coronavirus spread and efforts to vaccinate people against COVID-19 have been frustrated by disarray and limited supplies in some places. The scourge has killed over 2 million people worldwide. In the U.S., which has the world's highest death toll at over 410,000, Dr. Anthony Fauci said a lack of candour about the threat under President Donald Trump probably cost lives. Fauci, who was sidelined by Trump, is now the chief medical adviser to Biden in an ambitious effort to conquer the virus. He told CNN that the Trump administration delayed getting sound scientific advice to the country. “When you start talking about things that make no sense medically and no sense scientifically, that clearly is not helpful,” he said. Biden signed a series of executive orders Thursday to mount a more centralized attack on the virus and has vowed to vaccinate 100 million people in his first 100 days, a number some public health experts say is not ambitious enough. Dr. Eric Topol, head of the Scripps Research Translational Institute, said the U.S. should aim to vaccinate 2.5 million a day and reach 100 million people in 40 days. “This was already an emergency,” Topol said, but with more contagious mutations of the virus circulating, “it became an emergency to the fourth power.” In Britain, where a more transmissible variant of the virus is raging, the death toll hit close to 96,000, the highest in Europe. And the government's chief scientific adviser warned that the mutated version might be deadlier than the original. Patrick Vallance cautioned that more research is needed but that the evidence suggests that the variant might kill 13 or 14 people out of every 1,000 infected, compared with 10 in 1,000 from the original. Germany extended its lockdown this week until Feb. 14 amid concern about the mutant viruses.. Some nations are imposing or considering new travel restrictions for the same reason. France said it will require a negative test from travellers arriving from other European Union countries starting Sunday. Canada said it may force visitors to quarantine in a hotel at their own expense upon arrival. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned the country: “No one should be taking a vacation abroad right now. If you’ve still got one planned, cancel it. And don’t book a trip for spring break,." In another apparent setback, AstraZeneca said it will ship fewer doses of its vaccine than anticipated to the 27-country EU because of supply chain problems. Amid the crisis, Japan is publicly adamant it will hold the postponed Olympics in July. Many experts believe that to pull that off, the nation will have to vaccinate all 127 million citizens, an effort that may not even begin until late February. The 76-day Wuhan lockdown began a year ago with a notice sent to people’s smartphones at 2 a.m. announcing the airport and train and bus stations would shut at 10 a.m. It eventually was expanded to most of the rest of Hubei province, affecting 56 million people. By the time of the lockdown, the virus had spread well beyond China's borders. Wuhan has largely returned to normal. The rollout of shots in the U.S. has been marked by delays, confusion and, in recent days, complaints of vaccine shortages and inadequate deliveries from the federal government as states ramp up their vaccination drives to include senior citizens as well as teachers, police and other groups. At the same time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday that of nearly 40 million doses distributed to the states, just 19 million have been dispensed. Why there are reports of shortages when so many doses are apparently going unused is not entirely clear. But some vaccination sites are believed to be holding back large quantities to make sure that people who got their first shot receive the required second one on schedule a few weeks later. In Boston, nearly 2,000 doses vaccine were spoiled at a Veterans Affairs hospital after a contractor accidentally unplugged a freezer. Biden pledged to set up Federal Emergency Management Agency mass vaccination sites, but some states said they need more doses of the vaccine, not more people or locations to administer them. “We stand ready, willing and able to handle it,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said. “Trying to find FEMA set up sites, first of all, that would take like 30 days. It’s not necessary in Florida. I would take all that energy and I would put that toward more supply of the vaccine.” Brian Melley, The Associated Press
MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Canada Post is telling customers to expect delivery delays due to a COVID-19 outbreak at a key mail facility in Mississauga, Ont., that has sickened dozens of workers. A spokesman says testing at the Dixie Road site has found 39 positive COVID-19 cases over the last three days. Canada Post says 182 workers at the site have tested positive since the start of the new year. Spokesman Phil Legault says the Mississauga facility is central to the crown corporation's entire national delivery and processing network. Legault says the plant continues to operate and process heavy incoming parcel volumes, but there will be delays. More than 4,500 people work at the Mississauga site. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. The Canadian Press
One of the three passengers ejected from the car being driven by Stephen Paul Collings on Aug. 18, 2019, says her life "will never be the same." Collings' sentencing hearing took place in P.E.I. Supreme Court Friday, a year and a half after the Kings County man crashed his car while driving impaired, then fled the scene, leaving his three injured passengers behind. He pleaded guilty in September to three counts of impaired driving causing bodily harm. "The memories of this accident haunt me to this day," one of the passengers told the court as part of her victim impact statement. "I thought I was going to die… I felt worthless and like my life meant nothing." The victim, who didn't want to be identified, had to be airlifted to Halifax with life-threatening injuries, including a broken back, brain bleed, and lacerated liver. She spent 10 weeks in hospital. "I now have many scars all over my body. It has really affected my self-esteem," she said. 'I feel very breakable' The former nurse told the court she had to relearn how to eat and walk, and still isn't able to return to work. "This has put a strain on my family relationships… Financially, I've had to depend on them a lot… I used to be very independent. Now, if I didn't have help, I'd probably be homeless," she said. The victim, the only one to speak at Collings' sentencing hearing, said she "gets scared and anxious so easily," particularly when she's in a car. "I feel very breakable," she said. "I don't like driving with anyone else, because I'm nervous when I'm not in control." "That's the life I live now because of Stephen's decisions." Crown wants 18 to 24 months jail time According to the agreed statement of facts, Collings left the scene after the crash, but was soon located by Island EMS. Analysis conducted by the RCMP National Forensic Lab in Ottawa calculated that Collings' alcohol reading at the time of the crash would have been 122 to 177. The legal limit is 80. In court Friday, Crown prosecutor Chad McQuaid said the 41-year-old should be sentenced to 18 to 24 months in jail, followed by a three-year driving prohibition. "We have an individual here who made a choice. The fault lies solely with him," said McQuaid. "The gravity of the harm suffered by [the three victims] is significant." 'I'll never live this down' Collings' lawyer Brendan Hubley told the court an eight- to 10-month sentence was more appropriate. Hubley highlighted the fact that Collings pleaded guilty, and that he's a dedicated father and worker, who is seeking treatment for addictions issues. "Mr. Collings is clearly remorseful for his actions. He's taken steps to address underlying issues," said Hubley. Before court ended Friday, Collings stood up and apologized to his victims, including the one in attendance. "I'll never live this down… I really hope your life can get back to as much normal as it possibly can," he told her. "I'd also like to apologize to the other people involved that night. It started as a fun day with friends and ended tragically. It was a poor decision on my part. I'm glad things were not worse, which they could have been." Supreme Court Justice Tracey Clements will deliver her sentencing decision April 1. More P.E.I. news
BARRIE, Ont. — An outbreak in a long-term care home in Barrie, Ont., has resulted in more than two dozen deaths after a yet-to-be-identified variant of COVID-19 was detected at the facility. The coronavirus has sickened 122 residents and 81 staff at Roberta Place -- which has 137 beds -- since the outbreak began earlier this month, public health officials said Friday. The number of deaths reported at the facility climbed from 19 to 27 between Thursday and Friday. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit said it has given the COVID-19 vaccine to all eligible residents and staff at a nearby retirement home "in an effort to protect them against what is highly likely a variant of the virus." Immunization of residents at other long-term care and retirement homes throughout the region will also begin this weekend, it said. The unit said its supply of the vaccine is "extremely low and uncertain" due to the shipment delays of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. “Barrie has become ground zero for what is likely a COVID-19 variant of concern, which has spread rapidly throughout Roberta Place," the region's medical officer of health said in a written statement. Dr. Charles Gardner said they are concerned that the virus variant will spread into the community and other long-term care and retirement homes. The unusually rapid spread of the virus at the nursing home prompted officials to test for variants of COVID-19. In the coming days, officials are expected to confirm which specific variant –strains from the U.K., South Africa or Brazil – was detected at the home during initial testing. Researchers have yet to determine whether any of the new variants are more deadly, but the U.K. strain is known to spread much faster. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. The Canadian Press
Paul Lefebvre, parliamentary secretary to Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan, rebuffs calls from Premier Jason Kenney and Premier Scott Moe to impose economic sanctions on the U.S. in response to President Joe Biden rescinding the Keystone XL pipeline permit.