One is called the 'English snail' and the other the 'Marseille boar.' Together, Edmund Platt and Frédéric Munsch are walking from Marseille to Paris, collecting thousands of discarded facemasks along the way.
One is called the 'English snail' and the other the 'Marseille boar.' Together, Edmund Platt and Frédéric Munsch are walking from Marseille to Paris, collecting thousands of discarded facemasks along the way.
WASHINGTON — Hours from inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden paused on what might have been his triumphal entrance to Washington Tuesday evening to mark instead the national tragedy of the coronavirus pandemic with a moment of collective grief for Americans lost. His arrival coincided with the awful news that the U.S. death toll had surpassed 400,000 in the worst public health crisis in more than a century — a crisis Biden will now be charged with controlling. “To heal we must remember," the incoming president told the nation at a sunset ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. Four hundred lights representing the pandemic's victims were illuminated behind him around the monument’s Reflecting Pool. “Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights into the darkness ... and remember all who we lost,” Biden said. The sober moment on the eve of Biden's inauguration — typically a celebratory time in Washington when the nation marks the democratic tradition of a peaceful transfer of power — was a measure of the enormity of loss for the nation. During his brief remarks, Biden faced the larger-than life statue of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War president who served as more than 600,000 Americans died. As he turned to walk away at the conclusion of the vigil, he faced the black granite wall listing the 58,000-plus Americans who perished in Vietnam. Biden was joined by Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, who spoke of the collective anguish of the nation, a not-so-subtle admonishment of outgoing President Donald Trump, who has spoken sparingly about the pandemic in recent months. “For many months we have grieved by ourselves,” said Harris, who will make history as the first woman to serve as vice-president when she's sworn in. “Tonight, we grieve and begin healing together.” Beyond the pandemic, Biden faces no shortage of problems when he takes the reins at the White House. The nation is also on its economic heels because of soaring unemployment, there is deep political division and immediate concern about more violence following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Biden, an avid fan of Amtrak who took the train thousands of times between his home in Delaware and Washington during his decades in the Senate, had planned to take a train into Washington ahead of Wednesday's Inauguration Day but scratched that plan in the aftermath of the Capitol riot. He instead flew into Joint Base Andrews just outside the capital and then motorcaded into fortress D.C. — a city that's been flooded by some 25,000 National Guard troops guarding a Capitol, White House and National Mall that are wrapped in a maze of barricades and tall fencing. “These are dark times," Biden told supporters in an emotional sendoff in Delaware. "But there’s always light.” Biden, who ran for the presidency as a cool head who could get things done, plans to issue a series of executive orders on Day One — including reversing Trump's effort to leave the Paris climate accord, cancelling Trump's travel ban on visitors from several predominantly Muslim countries, and extending pandemic-era limits on evictions and student loan payments. Trump won’t be on hand as Biden is sworn in, the first outgoing president to entirely skip inaugural festivities since Andrew Johnson more than a century and a half ago. The White House released a farewell video from Trump just as Biden landed at Joint Base Andrews. Trump, who has repeatedly and falsely claimed widespread fraud led to his election loss, extended “best wishes” to the incoming administration in his nearly 20-minute address but did not utter Biden's name. Trump also spent some of his last time in the White House huddled with advisers weighing final-hour pardons and grants of clemency. He planned to depart from Washington Wednesday morning in a grand airbase ceremony that he helped plan himself. Biden at his Delaware farewell, held at the National Guard/Reserve Center named after his late son Beau Biden, paid tribute to his home state. After his remarks, he stopped and chatted with friends and well-wishers in the crowd, much as he had at Iowa rope lines at the start of his long campaign journey. “I’ll always be a proud son of the state of Delaware,” said Biden, who struggled to hold back tears as he delivered brief remarks. Inaugural organizers this week finished installing some 200,000 U.S., state and territorial flags on the National Mall, a display representing the American people who couldn’t come to the inauguration, which is tightly limited under security and Covid restrictions. The display was also a reminder of all the president-elect faces as he looks to steer the nation through the pandemic with infections and deaths soaring. Out of the starting gate, Biden and his team are intent on moving quickly to speed distribution of vaccinations to anxious Americans and pass his $1.9 trillion virus relief package, which includes quick payments to many people and an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Biden also plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on the first day of his administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status. That would be a major reversal from the Trump administration’s tight immigration policies. Some leading Republican have already balked at Biden's immigration plan. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is often a central player in Senate immigration battles. Many of Biden's legislative ambitions could be tempered by the hard numbers he faces on Capitol Hill, where Democrats hold narrow majorities in both the Senate and House. His hopes to press forward with an avalanche of legislation in his first 100 days could also be slowed by an impeachment trial of Trump. As Biden made his way to Washington, five of his Cabinet picks were appearing Tuesday before Senate committees to begin confirmation hearings. Treasury nominee Janet Yellen, Defence nominee Lloyd Austin, Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken and Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines were being questioned. Yellen urged lawmakers to embrace Biden’s virus relief package, arguing that “the smartest thing we can do is act big.” Aides say Biden will use Wednesday's inaugural address — one that will be delivered in front of an unusually small in-person group because of virus protocols and security concerns and is expected to run 20 to 30 minutes — to call for American unity and offer an optimistic message that Americans can get past the dark moment by working together. To that end, he extended invitations to Congress' top four Republican and Democratic leaders to attend Mass with him at St. Matthew's Cathedral ahead of the inauguration ceremony. ___ Madhani reported from Chicago. Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Alan Fram and Alexandra Jaffe contributed reporting. ___ This story has been corrected to show that flags on the National Mall represent people who couldn't come, not COVID deaths. Bill Barrow And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
MADRID — As soon as the lifeless body is silently pushed away on a stretcher, a cleaning battalion moves into the intensive care box. In a matter of minutes, the bed where the 72-year-old woman fought for over two weeks for another breath gets rubbed clean, the walls of glass isolating it disinfected with a squeegee. There is little time to reflect on what has just happened, as death gives way to the possibility of saving another life. “Our biggest source of joy is obviously emptying a bed, but because somebody is discharged and not because they have passed away,” said Ignacio Pujol, the head of this Madrid ICU. “That's a little space there for somebody else to get another chance.” As a surge of infections is once again putting Spain’s public health system against the ropes, the Nurse Isabel Zendal Hospital that employs Pujol, a project seen by many as an extravagant vanity enterprise, is getting a fresh opportunity to prove its usefulness. Named after the 19th-century Spanish nurse who took smallpox vaccination across the Atlantic Ocean, the facility was built in 100 days at a cost of 130 million euros ($157 million), more than twice the original budget. It boasts three pavilions and support buildings over an area the size of 10 soccer fields, looking somewhere between a small airport terminal and an industrial warehouse, with ventilation air ducts, medical beds and state-of-the-art equipment. The original project was for 1,000 beds, of which roughly half have been installed so far. The Zendal opened to a roar of competing fanfare and criticism on Dec. 1, just as Spain seemed to dampen a post-summer surge of coronavirus infections. By mid-December, it had only received a handful of patients. But Spain on Monday recorded over 84,000 new COVID-19 infections, the highest increase over a single weekend since the pandemic began. The country’s overall tally is heading to 2.5 million cases with 53,000 confirmed virus deaths, although excess mortality statistics add over 30,000 deaths to that. As the curve of contagion steepened after Christmas and New Year's, the Zendal has gotten busy. On Monday, 392 patients were being treated, more than in any other hospital in the region of 6.6 million. Spain's surge follows similar infection increases in other European countries, most notably in the U.K. following the discovery of a new virus variant that experts say is more infectious. The London Nightingale, one of the temporary hospitals across Britain designed to ease pressure on the country's overwhelmed health care system, has also reopened for patients and as a vaccination centre. Spain's top health officials insist they have found no evidence that new variants wreaking havoc elsewhere are contributing in any way to its own rocketing infections. Some experts dispute that, claiming the country's limited ability to sequence coronavirus cases is distorting reality and that a new stay-at-home order is necessary. On the ground, increasing hospitalizations for the virus already surpass the peak of the second resurgence. Nearly one out of every five hospital beds has a patient with COVID-19. The new illness is also taking up one-third of the country's ICU capacity and non-urgent surgeries are already being called off. Joined by some medical experts, left-wing politicians and workers’ unions accuse Madrid's conservative government of spending on vote-attracting hardware instead of reinforcing a public health system they have underfunded for years. Investing in contact tracing and primary care previously, they say, could have averted the need for a Zendal altogether. “Rather than the success they boast, the filling up of this makeshift hospital represents a tremendous failure of those at the helm of the pandemic's response, and also a failure of all of us as a society that could have done better," said Ángela Hernández, a spokeswoman for Madrid's main medical workers' union, AMYTS. The last straw for the unions, she said, has been the regional government laying off medical staff who refuse to abandon their positions in regular hospitals when they are reassigned to the Zendal. "The project has been nonsense from beginning to end," Hernández said. "A few beds without adequate personnel don't make a hospital.” Fernando Prados, Zendal's manager, says he doesn't mind the debate but the 750 patients treated over the last month and a half have already taken significant pressure off other hospitals. “We have already contributed in one way or another," Prados said. "We know that we will continue to have COVID patients and once the pandemic is over this infrastructure will be here for any other emergency.” Past automatic glass doors, patients recover in modules of 8 beds, leaving little space for privacy but providing better monitoring of possible complications in their recovery, said Verónica Real, whose challenge as the head nurse has been to organize staff teams drawn from other hospitals. “Some of the sanitary workers arrive with a degree of anger for all the noise out there about our hospital,” Real said. “But once here, the attitude completely changes.” The Zendal's managers say a modern ventilation system renews the entire facility's air every 5 minutes, which contributes to a safer work environment. But they are most proud of the expansion of the intermediate respiratory care unit, where patients receive varying types of assisted respiration to overcome lung inflammation. The unit's chief, Pedro Landete, says by admitting potentially worsening patients in one of its 50 highly-equipped beds, they are reducing the number of people who later require the more demanding intensive care. José Andrés Armada arrived with mild symptoms at the facility after all his family was infected despite what he said was a very careful approach to the pandemic. But the 63-year-old's health quickly deteriorated and last week he was on the brink of being intubated in one of the Zendal's dozen ICU boxes. “I know that the economy is something to safeguard, but health is more important. We should be in lockdown by now. You can’t have bars and other places open," the former entrepreneur said. “I never imagined it could attack you in such a way." ___ AP reporter Jill Lawless in London contributed to this report. ___ Follow AP’s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Aritz Parra, The Associated Press
Health officials in northern Quebec Cree communities are pleased with the early rollout of a region-wide vaccination campaign launched in a snowstorm over the weekend. Shipments of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine were delivered safely Saturday across the nine inland and coastal communities of Eeyou Istchee, the traditional name of the Cree territory in northern Quebec. "[Teams] were fully prepared ... as the vaccines arrived, everybody was set to go," said Bertie Wapachee, the chairperson of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay. As the vaccines arrived, everybody was set to go. - Bertie Wapachee, Chairperson of CBHSSJB "We were very proud of our team. And I'm very grateful to have all of them on the ground," said Wapachee. Cases up in two Cree communities More than 3,000 vaccinations have already been administered across Eeyou Istchee, according to officials. That includes 1,200 advance doses sent to Mistissini and Oujé-Bougoumou, two communities currently dealing with outbreaks of the virus. On Monday, local officials confirmed there are 26 cases of COVID-19 in Oujé-Bougoumou and 25 in Mistissini, up from last week. "Vaccination is an important first step toward being able to finally put this pandemic behind us as a nation," said Grand Chief Abel Bosum, who was vaccinated last week in Oujé-Bougoumou. In Chisasibi, the largest of the Cree communities, more than 700 people had been vaccinated by 3 p.m. Monday, according to Jeannie Pelletier, who is the local director of the community's health clinic. "I believe the vaccine will help us, and I am happy that many [people] came," said Pelletier in Cree. She also reminded people of the importance of continuing with the measures in place, such as physical distancing and wearing a mask, even after they have been vaccinated. "I wish to tell people that this won't end soon, and we still need to be vigilant in keeping with the safety protocols that are in place to keep us all safe," she said. The launch of the territory-wide vaccination campaign has been months in the planning, according to Jason Coonishish, coordinator of the pre-hospital and emergency measures for the CBHSSJB. In recent weeks, the coordinating team has been meeting weekly to go over the logistics of the arrival of the doses and the transportation by air charter and car to the different communities across the vast territory. The vaccination campaign is expected to last eight weeks. "We've been doing this for many years since H1N1, and every year after that we've been having influenza vaccines," said Coonishish. "We know how to handle it and we're ready." Coonishish is confident as the campaign gathers momentum and more people share photos and stories of being vaccinated, more and more Cree will choose to receive the vaccine and protect their families.
BERLIN — Chancellor Angela Merkel is holding a virtual meeting Tuesday with the governors of Germany’s 16 states to discuss the country’s pandemic measures amid concerns that new mutations of the coronavirus could trigger a fresh surge in cases. The country's infection rate has stabilized in recent days, indicating that existing restrictions may have been effective in bringing down the numbers. On Tuesday, the country's disease control centre reported 11,369 new virus infections and 891 new deaths, for an overall death toll of 47,622. The government tightened the country's lockdown in early January until the end of this month. However, surging infections in Britain and Ireland, said to be caused by a more contagious virus variant, have experts worried that the mutation could also spread quickly in Germany if measures are not extended or even toughened. Therefore, Merkel and the state governments are meeting earlier than planned to considered stricter rules. While restaurants, most stores and schools have already been closed and those shutdowns are likely to be extended, there's also talk about possible nightly curfews, an obligation to wear the more effective FFP2 or KN95 masks on public transportation, and a push to get more people to work at home to avoid office-driven infections. Medical workers have been demanding an extension or toughening of the lockdown since many hospitals are still on edge, with intensive care wards overflowing in some areas. “The current measures on limiting social contacts seem to be showing an effect,” Susanne Johna, the head of the physicians' association Marburger Bund, told the dpa news agency, adding that the measures should continue to be upheld to further reduce new infections. “We urgently need further relief,” Johna said. ___ __Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic,https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak Kirsten Grieshaber, The Associated Press
Albertans logged hundreds of rat reports in 2020, double a typical year, but it's not necessarily because more pests are scurrying around the province. Norway rats are considered to be extremely destructive — they can carry disease and eat through valuable crops. For more than 70 years the province has been determined to stop these pests from calling Alberta home, concentrating efforts along the Saskatchewan border, banning the animals as pets, and investigating any hint of a rat inside the province's borders. Out of 481 rat reports, just 17 turned out to be the real deal last year. Karen Wickerson, specialist with Alberta's Rat Control Program, said the province set up an email in 2020 which helps turn around a case faster than the 310-RATS number. The new reporting method could have helped bolster reporting numbers last year. "When they're out in the environment outside, they have their phones with them and so they can easily take out their phone and email us in a photo, and then we can respond very quickly and tell them which species it is," Wickerson said. "If it is a confirmed rat then we can contact the appropriate people and have them go out and investigate." Wickerson said while Albertans are diligent about reporting rats they usually get it wrong. "What I've noticed about Albertans is they feel a really strong responsibility to report a rat sighting because they know that we are rat-free, which is great," Wickerson said. "Because we don't have a resident population of rats in Alberta, they don't know what a rat looks like." Muskrats more common About half of the sightings in 2020 turned out to be muskrats. But Wickerson doesn't mind. "I'd rather have 100 muskrat emails and, you know, not miss out on a rat sighting or a confirmed rat than people think, 'oh, it might be a muskrat, I'm not going to send an email,'" she said. She added there may be an educational campaign coming in the spring to help Albertans better identify what rats look like. For her, the difference between a waddling muskrat, and a scurrying rat is night and day — but she has daily practice identifying the critters that land in her inbox. It's unclear if the pandemic played a role in last year's rat sightings. Dr. Kaylee Byers is the Regional Deputy Director with the B.C. Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative. She's also a researcher with the Vancouver rat program. Byers said throughout the pandemic rats made headlines. The pests were seen in the daylight, reportedly on the move scouring the streets for scraps of food as more humans retreated indoors. "We would certainly expect to see some changes in rat behaviours in relation to major changes in the environment," Byers said. "What exactly those have looked like? All of those reports have been largely anecdotal." Rat research still in its infancy Byers said in many areas there aren't baseline studies or statistics to help better understand what kinds of effects the pandemic has had on rat populations. Rats are notoriously hard to research, as studying wild ones means catching them, sometimes more than once to monitor behaviour. "Wouldn't it have been nice if we were set up to study this in advance?" Byers said. "The way we answer these kinds of questions is through having systems of reporting so we can say whether or not rat sightings have gone up or down." Alberta's Saskatchewan border is patrolled several times a year to check rats aren't crossing over into the province. Rats can't live in mountainous areas, which is good as it keeps British Columbia rats at bay. But, Wickerson said the rodents are crafty hitchhikers. Out of the 26 rats found in 2020, many rode into Alberta on transport trucks or even personal vehicles, which is something Wickerson hopes to work on. There's also been a trend of rats ending up at recycling centres across the province. Wickerson said in Calgary, a family drove from Vancouver Island back to Calgary, making a stop in Kelowna before parking their SUV inside their garage at home. The next morning the homeowner found a rat dead in the garage, floating in a pail of water. Rats like to hitchhike "Check your vehicle when you come back from B.C. so that it doesn't increase our risk of rats entering into the province," Wickerson said, adding many Albertans own property in the neighbouring province. Wickerson hopes to collect more data on rats found in Alberta, mapping out where they are found, recording their specific species, all to see if she can tease out a pattern. "Location, urban-rural, the type of rat and then where it was reported, I'll put in the GPS location, alive or dead, how many, that sort of thing," Wickerson said. "I would like someone to come along, like a grad student, to do a study."
In a moment of nation-splintering turmoil, an incoming American president, Abraham Lincoln, travelled by train to his inauguration in Washington, D.C., in a nerve-racking ride cloaked in disguise as he faced threats to his life. Now, 160 years later, an incoming president has cancelled plans for a train ride to Washington. It was supposed to be a symbolic journey highlighting Joe Biden's decades-long habit of riding the rails to D.C. each day from his family home in Delaware. Instead, it has taken on a sad new symbolism, of an American capital clenched shut in fear of political violence at Wednesday's inauguration. The question nagging at residents here, and at security analysts, is whether the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the worst of a passing storm, a one-off, or the start of a dark era of political violence. What's already clear is this will be no normal inauguration. The American capital has transformed into a heavily armed and tightly barricaded fortress. "Clearly, we are in uncharted waters," Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser told a news conference last week, urging tourists to stay away from her city during the inauguration. Fences are now up around Washington's downtown. Thousands of soldiers are patrolling the streets, bridges are blocked, parking garages are shut, bicycle-sharing services are suspended, Airbnb reservations are cancelled, and residents are being urged on neighbourhood chat groups against renting rooms to tourists. Suspicion strikes Capitol Hill neighbourhood Security concerns are most acute in the neighbourhood near the Capitol. Lawyer Matt Scarlato already has an overnight bag packed in case unrest spills into his neighbourhood and he's forced to flee the city with his family. He lives near one of the new security barriers near Capitol Hill, where police are forcing residents on some streets to show ID if they want to access their home. Scarlato was working from home the day of the riot in the Capitol building, when unexploded bombs were found near political party offices. He received a message from his son's daycare urging parents to immediately come pick up their children. Scarlato grabbed a baseball bat and tossed it in the car for the ride to the daycare. "It was a minute-by-minute escalation," Scarlato said. "We were all just sitting in the house saying, 'What the hell is going on?'" A longtime resident of the area, he compared the recent panic to a smaller-scale version of what he witnessed during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. On the day of the Capitol riot, he was concerned by the sight of an unfamiliar RV on his street given the reports of bombs in Washington and the recent explosion in Nashville. For her part, Monica Ingram, a retired health-care administrator, was rattled yesterday morning by the sound of helicopters hovering over the same Capitol Hill neighbourhood. Around that same time, the congressional precinct was ordered evacuated. The panic was the result of an explosion and fire nearby, caused by a propane tank in a homeless encampment. Ingram said people now look at each other differently, warily. Ingram saw a man taking pictures of streets near the Capitol the other day and she worried whether he was up to something nefarious. "We're suspicious of each other now. It's sad," she said. "It's very disheartening, upsetting. It's like I don't even know this country anymore." WATCH | Staff and media scramble as a blast goes off during inauguration rehearsal: Some call for indoor inauguration She's among the many people with mixed feelings about whether this inauguration should even be happening in public. Ultimately, she prefers it going forward, as opposed to moving to a makeshift indoor location, in order to deliver a message: that this country won't buckle in fear. There is, however, a part of her that hopes Biden might throw another inaugural party, a year from now, a real festive party, after this pandemic, and this panic. Biden should have a "redo" inauguration, she said. "It's so sad that president-elect Biden has to be sworn in like this. It should be a day of joy for this country." There's no guarantee this place will feel safer in a year. Mark Hertling, a retired lieutenant-general who led U.S. soldiers in Europe, said he worries about whether the United States is now entering an era of political insurgency. And he's not alone. One-time riot or preview of insurgency? Some analysts who study domestic political violence have warned for years (in thesis papers and books and government reports) that the conditions existed for an American insurgency on the right. Those conditions include a proliferation of guns, a surge in ex-military joining militia groups, two increasingly hostile political parties, and a split along racial and cultural lines in a rapidly diversifying country. A 2018 book, Alt-America, charts how membership in armed militia groups skyrocketed after the election of a first Black president, Barack Obama, in 2008, and these fringe groups began showing up at political protests. Alleged members of such militias are now accused of participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, where numerous people were dressed in paramilitary-themed clothing and several could be heard in the crowd warning they'd be back with weapons. "Welcome to the reality of other countries," said Greg Ehrie, who led FBI domestic terrorism units and is now vice-president of law enforcement and analysis at the Anti-Defamation League. "There is sort of an underlying belief that if we can get through Wednesday, this stops and then it moves on. And that's just not true.… This is going to be something we're going to be living with for several years — this heightened sense of security." Details released since the siege of the Capitol suggest things could have been worse. Jan. 6 could have been worse One man arrested that day allegedly had two guns and enough materials to make 11 Molotov cocktails, and another allegedly had a loaded gun, spare bullets and a gas mask. A federal prosecutor said one air force veteran who carried plastic handcuffs intended to take hostages. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City said in a YouTube video she believed she was going to die during the riot in the Capitol and that she experienced a traumatic event she declined to discuss: "Many, many, many members of Congress were almost murdered," she said in the video. "We were very lucky [to escape]." One police officer died as a result of injuries sustained during the riot. Another said he narrowly survived the angry mob and described how he was Tasered while some wanted to take his gun and kill him with it. Joseph Young, a professor at American University in D.C. who studies the factors that drive political violence, usually in other countries, said he is bothered by the trends he sees. "More and more, my work has been applicable to the United States," he said in an interview. "[And that's] troubling." A word of historical caution He said it's wrong, however, to conclude this is a more violent political era than the 1960s and 1970s. The U.S. experienced hundreds of terrorist attacks back then, from white-supremacist church bombings to political assassinations to the activities of the left-wing group Weather Underground, which bombed the Capitol, the State Department and other government buildings. But he's still worried about the current U.S. situation. As are the authorities preparing for inauguration day. The Pentagon has authorized the Washington, D.C., National Guard to carry weapons on domestic soil amid ongoing worries about the possible use of explosives. About 25,000 National Guard troops from D.C. and several states were expected to be part of the security operation. National Guard members are being screened themselves for any extremist affiliations. On Tuesday, Pentagon officials said 12 National Guard members were removed from securing Biden's inauguration after vetting by the FBI, including two who posted and texted extremist views about Wednesday's event. A Secret Service member was reportedly under investigation over political comments related to the Capitol riot posted on Facebook. Jared Holt, an expert who monitors extremist chatter online, said it has gotten quieter lately. He said he was extremely worried before Jan. 6 about the heated and violent rhetoric he saw in online platforms. People were posting tips for smuggling guns into Washington and maps of the underground tunnels connecting the Capitol to lawmakers' offices. Those same forums erupted in joy after the attack. "It was initially jubilation," said Holt, of the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Washington-based Atlantic Council think-tank. "They were thrilled. They felt incredibly accomplished. [Now], the cohesion between groups has eroded." It became clear within hours of the riot that it might backfire — against those involved and against Donald Trump. It failed to stop the vote to certify Biden's election win. Then it led to Trump's swift impeachment in the House. WATCH | Preparations underway to fortify U.S. capital ahead of inauguration day: Has the threat already receded? Some rioters in the Capitol who posted triumphant images of themselves on social media have been arrested or fired from their jobs, with their posts used as evidence against them. Social media platforms are either limiting extremist rhetoric and shutting out Trump, are offline altogether (Parler), or are unusually slow (Gab). Holt now worries that violent rhetoric is moving to tighter channels that are harder to monitor publicly, such as Telegram and other private messaging apps. So residents of Washington, D.C., and the country as a whole, enter this historic transition week in a fog of uncertainty, about whether they've just witnessed a dark passing moment in the life of the American republic or a sombre omen. "It looks like a police state down here. We've never seen it like this," Emilie Frank, a communications professional, said in an interview a few days ago, referring to the imposing concrete-and-metal labyrinth being erected downtown. "It would normally be bustling, everybody's excited [for the inauguration]. But it's silent, blocked off, police cars everywhere." She doesn't know if any of this will be necessary. But she'd rather have this than the under-preparation by authorities that the city witnessed on Jan. 6, she said. "So, even if it's just [for] show, it's better than nothing, I guess," she said. "If some people will be convinced they should stay away after seeing all this stuff in place, then that's good." WATCH | Ex-FBI agent on the new domestic terrorism:
GENEVA — A panel of experts commissioned by the World Health Organization has criticized China and other countries for not moving to stem the initial outbreak of the coronavirus earlier and questioned whether the U.N. health agency should have labeled it a pandemic sooner. In a report issued Monday, the panel led by former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said there were “lost opportunities to apply basic public health measures at the earliest opportunity” and that Chinese authorities could have applied their efforts “more forcefully” in January shortly after the coronavirus began sickening clusters of people. “The reality is that only a minority of countries took full advantage of the information available to them to respond to the evidence of an emerging pandemic,” the panel said. The experts also wondered why WHO did not declare a global public health emergency sooner. The U.N. health agency convened its emergency committee on Jan. 22, but did not characterize the emerging pandemic as an international emergency until a week later. At the time, WHO said its expert committee was divided on whether a global emergency should be declared. “One more question is whether it would have helped if WHO used the word pandemic earlier than it did,” the panel said. WHO did not describe the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic until March 11, weeks after the virus had begun causing explosive outbreaks in numerous continents, meeting WHO’s own definition for a flu pandemic. As the coronavirus began spreading across the globe, WHO's top experts disputed how infectious the virus was, saying it was not as contagious as flu and that people without symptoms only rarely spread the virus. Scientists have since concluded that COVID-19 transmits even quicker than the flu and that a significant proportion of spread is from people who don't appear to be sick. Over the past year, WHO has come under heavy criticism for its handling of the response to COVID-19. U.S. President Trump slammed the U.N. health agency for “colluding” with China to cover up the extent of the initial outbreak before halting U.S. funding for WHO and pulling the country out of the organization. An Associated Press investigation in June found WHO repeatedly lauded China in public while officials privately complained that Chinese officials stalled on sharing critical epidemic information with them. Although the panel concluded that “many countries took minimal action to prevent the spread (of COVID-19) internally and internationally,” it did not name specific countries. It also declined to call out WHO for its failure to more sharply criticize countries for their missteps instead of lauding countries for their response efforts. Last month, the author of a withdrawn WHO report into Italy’s pandemic response warned his bosses in May that people could die and the agency could suffer “catastrophic” reputational damage if it allowed political concerns to suppress the document, according to emails obtained by the AP. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak The Associated Press
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 42,543 new vaccinations administered for a total of 613,285 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,618.197 per 100,000. There were 31,065 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 848,565 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 72.27 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 1,531 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.104 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 47.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,502 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,102 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 32.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 61.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 3,769 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,600 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 7.788 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 23,000 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 33.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 2,704 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 10,436 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.379 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 17,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 58.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 6,845 new vaccinations administered for a total of 153,539 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.944 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 196,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 78.27 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 9,691 new vaccinations administered for a total of 209,788 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 14.282 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 277,050 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 75.72 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 4,212 new vaccinations administered for a total of 17,751 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 12.891 per 1,000. There were 12,665 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 46,290 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 38.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 2,459 new vaccinations administered for a total of 22,618 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 19.182 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 29,300 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 77.19 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 3,879 new vaccinations administered for a total of 89,814 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 20.403 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 101,275 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 88.68 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 11,432 new vaccinations administered for a total of 87,346 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.021 per 1,000. There were 18,400 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 117,875 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 74.1 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 163 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,347 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 32.278 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 18.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 512 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 11.348 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 7.111 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 1,158 new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,141 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 55.286 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 35.68 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
Beijing-based ByteDance recently launched its own third-party payment service for Douyin, the Chinese version of its hit short video app TikTok, as it presses to expand into the e-commerce business in China. "The set-up of Douyin Pay is to supplement the existing major payment options, and to ultimately enhance user experience on Douyin," Douyin said in a statement to Reuters on Tuesday. Users of Douyin, which accumulated 600 million daily active users, previously could use Ant Group's Alipay and Tencent Holdings' WeChat Pay, the country's two ubiquitous third-party mobile payment channels, to buy virtual gifts for livestreamers or items from shops on the platform.
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. There are 715,072 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 715,072 confirmed cases (73,919 active, 623,033 resolved, 18,120 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 5,225 new cases Monday from 55,172 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 9.5 per cent. The rate of active cases is 196.65 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 46,889 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 6,698. There were 80 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 990 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 141. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.38 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 48.21 per 100,000 people. There have been 16,612,155 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 396 confirmed cases (nine active, 383 resolved, four deaths). There were zero new cases Monday from 122 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 76,491 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 108 confirmed cases (10 active, 98 resolved, zero deaths). There were four new cases Monday from 251 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.6 per cent. The rate of active cases is 6.37 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of six new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 86,471 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,557 confirmed cases (25 active, 1,467 resolved, 65 deaths). There were zero new cases Monday from 909 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 2.57 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 24 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is three. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 196,719 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 973 confirmed cases (305 active, 656 resolved, 12 deaths). There were 26 new cases Monday from 719 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 3.6 per cent. The rate of active cases is 39.26 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 173 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 25. There were zero new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of three new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.06 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 128,996 tests completed. _ Quebec: 244,348 confirmed cases (19,936 active, 215,325 resolved, 9,087 deaths). There were 1,434 new cases Monday from 7,600 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 19 per cent. The rate of active cases is 234.96 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 13,658 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 1,951. There were 32 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 352 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 50. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.59 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 107.1 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,664,134 tests completed. _ Ontario: 240,364 confirmed cases (28,621 active, 206,310 resolved, 5,433 deaths). There were 2,578 new cases Monday from 38,983 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 6.6 per cent. The rate of active cases is 196.48 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 21,244 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 3,035. There were 24 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 375 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 54. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.37 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 37.3 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,672,567 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 27,629 confirmed cases (3,108 active, 23,748 resolved, 773 deaths). There were 118 new cases Monday from 5,188 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.3 per cent. The rate of active cases is 226.95 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,181 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 169. There were four new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 32 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.33 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 56.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 441,424 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 20,562 confirmed cases (4,265 active, 16,078 resolved, 219 deaths). There were 290 new cases Monday from 1,165 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 25 per cent. The rate of active cases is 363.14 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,036 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 291. There were four new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 20 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.24 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 18.65 per 100,000 people. There have been 322,431 tests completed. _ Alberta: 117,311 confirmed cases (11,923 active, 103,941 resolved, 1,447 deaths). There were 474 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 272.76 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,220 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 746. There were 11 new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 140 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 20. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.46 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 33.1 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,979,663 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 61,447 confirmed cases (5,713 active, 54,656 resolved, 1,078 deaths). There were 301 new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 112.65 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,340 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 477. There were five new reported deaths Monday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 68 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 10. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.19 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 21.26 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,021,911 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (zero active, 69 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Monday from 19 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,175 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 28 confirmed cases (four active, 24 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Monday. The rate of active cases is 8.92 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of four new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is one. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 8,323 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 266 confirmed cases (zero active, 265 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Monday from 216 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,774 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 19 ... What we are watching in Canada ... OTTAWA — A new poll suggests almost two-thirds of Canadians would support imposition of a nightly curfew if necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19 — even though they're not convinced it would be effective. Sixty-five per cent of respondents said they would support a temporary curfew in their province if recommended by public health officials. In Quebec, where the government imposed a month-long curfew 10 days ago, 74 per cent said they support the move. Nevertheless, only 57 per cent of Quebecers and just 39 per cent of respondents in the rest of the country said they think curfews are an effective way to reduce the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The poll, conducted Jan. 15 to 18 by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies, also suggests that Canadians' mental health has suffered as the pandemic drags on; it registered an eight-point rise since last April in the number of respondents who rate their mental health as bad or very bad. The online poll of 1,516 Canadians cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples. --- Also this ... OTTAWA — Ontario Conservative MP Derek Sloan says he'll fight efforts by his party's leader to boot him from caucus. Sloan says a decision by leader Erin O'Toole that he should be tossed out over a donation to his leadership campaign by a known white supremacist is ridiculous. O'Toole announced he's launching the effort to remove Sloan late Monday, after news broke that Sloan's campaign had received a donation from Paul Fromm last year. O'Toole framed the decision as being a question of having no tolerance for racism within his party. But Sloan is raising questions about that approach, saying Fromm is a party member and that fact would have previously been known both to O'Toole and to the party itself. Sloan generated controversy during the leadership campaign for his aggressively social conservative views, and his presence in caucus has been polarizing ever since. He had survived a bid to oust him during the leadership race itself, when comments he made about the country's chief public health officer saw him accused of racism, a charge he denied. --- And ... EDMONTON — Alberta has decided to cancel recently issued coal leases in the Rocky Mountains, as public opposition grows to the United Conservative government's plan to expand coal mining in the area. Late Monday afternoon, Energy Minister Sonya Savage issued a press release saying the sale of 11 recently purchased coal leases would be cancelled. Savage added that no further leases would be sold on lands that were protected from open-pit mines under a policy the government revoked last May. She also said the move will have no effect on existing coal projects currently under regulatory review. The cancelled leases are a small portion of the coal exploration leases the government has issued since revoking a policy that protected the eastern slopes of the Rockies — home to endangered species as well as the water source for millions downstream — since 1976. The decision came as more than 100,000 signatures had been collected on two petitions opposing increased mining on two related fronts. One, sponsored by environmental groups on Change.org, was addressed to the provincial government and had 77,000 signatures Monday afternoon. Another, sponsored by a private citizen and addressed to federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, had nearly 28,000 names opposing the Benga coal project in southern Alberta, which is undergoing a federal-provincial environmental review. Members of the Blood Tribe in southern Alberta have sent more than 700 postcards to Wilkinson asking him to block coal development in the Rockies and another 2,000 have joined an online group to that end, said organizer Latasha Calf Robe. --- What we are watching in the U.S. ... WASHINGTON — The U.S. Capitol complex temporarily locked down during a rehearsal for president-elect Joe Biden's inauguration after a fire in a homeless encampment roughly a mile away sent a plume of smoke into the air and caused security concerns in an already jittery city. The false alarm briefly interrupted Monday's rehearsal for Wednesday's inauguration ceremony, a quadrennial exercise in which stand-ins take the roles of Biden and other VIPs and the U.S. Marine Band goes through its paces, including practising "The Star-Spangled Banner" for Wednesday’s performance by Lady Gaga. Rehearsal resumed not long afterward, accompanied by frequent passes by a helicopter patrolling the skies over the Capitol. Law enforcement officials said there was no threat to the public and the fire was not believed to be a threat to the inauguration. Local firefighters put out the blaze quickly. The evacuation of some participants from the area and the lockdown were ordered by the acting chief of Capitol Police in an abundance of caution, officials said. But the fast decision to lock down underscores the fear that has gripped Washington since the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by pro-Trump rioters and prompted extraordinary measures ahead of the inauguration. Armed protests planned for this past weekend around the country were mostly a bust, but anxiety is still skyrocketing. U.S. Secret Service tightened security in and around the Capitol a week early in preparation, and the city centre is essentially on lockdown with streets blocked, high fencing installed and tens of thousands of National Guard and other law enforcement officers stationed around the area. But U.S. defence officials, worried about a potential insider attack or other threat from service members involved in securing the event, pushed the FBI to vet all of the 25,000 National Guard troops coming into the area. Acting Defence Secretary Christopher Miller said in a statement Monday that vetting of National Guard troops continues and that the Pentagon has found no intelligence so far that would indicate an insider threat. --- On this day in 1943 ... Princess Margriet of the Netherlands was born in an Ottawa hospital. Crown Princess Juliana, who became queen in 1948, and her two oldest daughters, fled from the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands in 1940 and eventually came to Canada. --- In entertainment ... "Schitt's Creek" continues to flood the awards circuit. The Canadian CBC series, which swept the Emmys' comedy categories with seven trophies last September, is now up for five Critics Choice Awards. The story of the riches-to-rags Rose family is nominated for best comedy series and in acting categories for stars Eugene Levy, Catherine O'Hara, Daniel Levy, and Annie Murphy. Other series with five nominations apiece include HBO's "Lovecraft Country," and FX's "Mrs. America" and "What We Do In The Shadows." Two Netflix series lead the pack, with "Ozark" and "The Crown" each up for six awards, including best drama series. --- ICYMI ... The backcountry survival skills of a British Columbia teen who got lost while snowmobiling are being praised by search and rescue volunteers who found him safe. The South Cariboo Search and Rescue Society says the 17-year-old did everything right when things went wrong. The society says in a social media post that the teen became separated from his group and when he realized he was lost he parked his snowmobile in an open area, built himself an overnight snow cave and waited for help to arrive. RCMP say they received a call for help around the dinner hour on Saturday and a search team reported finding the teenager at about 10:30 p.m. It society says when team members found the young man he was waiting in the snow cave with food and water. It says he and his family and friends were snowmobiling near Mahood Lake, located about 80 kilometres east of 100 Mile House in B.C.'s Cariboo region. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021 The Canadian Press
The company that operates the Eurostar rail service between the UK and mainland Europe has called for a UK government bailout following a collapse in travel. The train operator runs daily services through the Channel Tunnel between London, Paris and Brussels.View on euronews
Sometimes, it's a split-second decision that changes the course of history — or, in the case of Alec Snelgrove, changes our view of history. Thanks to Snelgrove and his family, 843 photos depicting the early years of Corner Brook and its paper mill are now in the safe keeping of the Corner Brook Museum and Archives. Snelgrove was a mill supervisor at the newsprint mill in Corner Brook in 1984 when the mill was sold by the Bowater Corporation to Kruger, the current owner. Snelgrove came across a pile of photos and mementos set aside to go in the trash and, instead of letting them end up in a landfill, he gathered up some of the photos to rescue them from that fate. After he died in 2001, his family donated the photos to the museum, which has been sharing some of the images recently on its Facebook and Instagram accounts. "He would be so proud. He would be so happy right now," said Snelgrove's daughter, Catherine Cooke, in an interview for CBC Newfoundland Morning. Disbelief over discards Cooke said her father loved history and would often take her to the Corner Brook waterfront to watch the log booms coming down the Humber River. She believes it was his love for the mill and for the community that made him want to take the photos home with him. The Corner Brook newsprint mill was built in the early 1920s and first produced paper in 1925. The photos rescued by Snelgrove show the mill under construction and in its early years of operation, as well as logging operations in an era when horses were used to haul logs out of the woods. Cooke said her father couldn't believe the photos were being discarded. But Cooke's husband, Mark, who also happens to work at the paper mill, said he can understand why the mill's new owner didn't have the same appreciation for the history of the mill as Bowater did. "For a new company coming in, there's no nostalgia to the area. There's no connection with the building of the power plant or the horse-drawn log hauling of the past. But this is all the history of Corner Brook," said Mark Cooke. Treated like trash The disposal of items that may have historical significance is not as uncommon as one might hope, according to George French, archivist and manager at the Corner Brook Museum and Archives. French knows of other instances when businesses have been sold or shut down and people have rescued materials from being thrown out, but he is resigned to the fact that not everything gets saved. "Things are lost every day, unfortunately, that I would see value in. But not everybody sees the same value," said French. One-of-a-kind photos French said, thanks to the photos donated by the Cookes, the Corner Brook Museum and Archives now has one of the largest collections of photos of the mill that exist anywhere. "I think they're very important. Every time we get more documentary evidence of life in Corner Brook through its past, I think it adds to the local culture, the heritage, and also a sense of community memory," said French. While some of the 843 photos are duplicates that exist elsewhere, French said some of them offer a completely new perspective on the mill, based on the vantage point from which the photos were taken. "I've seen a lot of photographs of the mill over the past 20 years here at the museum, and it's the first time I've ever seen this portion of the mill being built and near what was called the acid plant," French said, with reference to one of the photos. "This is the first time I've seen when it was the train tracks going along there and they were using the area as a parking lot as opposed to where the road is now for the [Lewin] Parkway. So I have not seen the image of that perspective before. And sometimes that different perspective and context can bring new light to information," said French. Pandemic photo sharing The photos donated by the Cookes were posted publicly just recently, following years of museum staff worked with them, adding descriptions to catalog them properly and, last summer, scanning them to create digital images. Then, due to the pandemic, the museum did not open up to visitors so staff weren't busy with the usual tours and programming. As a result, French directed staff to spend time digitizing the photos, which are now being shared on social media. French said it's been a way to stay connected with the public despite COVID-19 restrictions. "It's really been an outlet, a way of still providing services to the public during the pandemic and still being there in the public sphere," said French. As for Snelgrove's family, they're delighted to see the photos popping up on their social media feeds. "I mean these were not something you'd want to tuck away and look at every now and then, like wedding photos," said Mark Cooke. "This is not just pictures of us and our family, but pictures that everybody in the city should have access to." Thanks to Alec Snelgrove's quick action more than 35 years ago and the Cookes' donation to the museum, city residents and history buffs far and wide will be able to see and appreciate the photos well into the future. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
City council unanimously voted on Monday to direct the fire service to start carrying naloxone nasal spray kits. The decision came after a motion was brought forward by Coun. Kieran McKenzie. "The numbers bear out the fact that we should be looking at adding this particular service as part of the the toolkit, the broader toolkit that we have with respect to harm reduction," he said, adding that it's a service used by many other communities in Ontario. Fire chief Stephen Laforet told city council he favoured the idea, noting that firefighters arrived first on scene of a suspected overdose before EMS 25 times last year. Naloxone can save lives when administered to someone who has overdosed on opioids. It temporarily reverses the effect of an overdose. "Putting [naloxone] on the trucks right now is not a significant burden and there is potential to help somebody in the future with it. So based on that, at this point in time, I would put it on," he said. Coun. Rino Bortolin said it's a "no-brainer" for all first responders to be carrying it across the region. "Naloxone is not the end-all-be-all, but it's a no-brainer that we should have it," he said. "Firefighters who are paid to respond to these types of events, who are trained, physically active and strong, capable people can easily be trained on how to address this." "If it gets used once in five years, that once makes it more than worth it." Laforet told city council it will cost $2,000 to train the fire department and will take about eight weeks. A report to council stated that drug-related overdoses and deaths "continue to be growing problem in North America" particularly those related to opioids. The report said the annual rate of opioid-related deaths in Ontario increased 285 per cent between 1991 and 2015. It said that 2018, there were 220 opioid-related emergency department visits in Windsor and Essex County. In 2019, there were 249, which is 3.2 times greater than the 78 opioid overdose ED visits in 2007. In 2019, 47 people died from opioid overdoses, according to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. Council supports WPS to carry naloxone Council also passed a motion advising the police that council was in favour of them carrying the life-saving drug as well, but not everyone was in favour of this, including Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens. "Arming your police officers to attend medical calls as opposed to crime-related calls, the chief will have to make that decision," he said. Coun. Fred Francis said he felt uncomfortable "micromanaging" the police board on what to do with respect to carrying naloxone. Currently, Windsor police have officers with three units — detention, city centre patrol and problem-oriented policing — that have access to the drug.
ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey on Tuesday slapped advertising bans on Twitter, Periscope and Pinterest over their non-compliance with a controversial new law that requires social media platforms to appoint legal representatives in the country. The law — which human rights and media freedom groups say amounts to censorship — forces social media companies to maintain representatives in Turkey to deal with complaints about content on their platforms. Companies that refuse to designate an official representative are subjected to fines, followed by advertising bans and could face bandwidth reductions that would make their platforms too slow to use. Facebook avoided the advertising ban after it announced Monday that it had begun the process of assigning a legal entity in Turkey, joining LinkedIn, YouTube, TikTok, Dailymotion and the Russian social media site VKontakte, which have agreed to set up legal entities in Turkey. “We hope that Twitter and Pinterest which have still not announced their representatives will rapidly take the necessary steps,” said Omer Fatih Sayan, the deputy minister in charge of communications and infrastructure, after the advertising bans for Twitter, it’s live video-streaming app, Periscope and on the image sharing network, Pinterest, were announced on Turkey’s Official Gazette. Sayan added: “It is our last wish to impose bandwidth reductions for social networks that insist on not complying with their obligations.” There was no immediate comment from Twitter and Pinterest over the advertising ban. Under the law that came into effect in October, the local representative of social media companies would be tasked with responding to individual requests to take down content violating privacy and personal rights within 48 hours or to provide grounds for rejection. The company would be held liable for damages if the content is not removed or blocked within 24 hours. The law also requires social media data to be stored in Turkey, raising concerns in a country where the government has a track record of clamping down on free speech. Rights groups have said the decision by international tech companies to bow to Turkish pressure and appoint representatives would lead to censorship and violations of the right to privacy and access to information in a country where independent media is severely curtailed. The Freedom of Expression Association says more than 450,000 domains and 42,000 tweets have been blocked in Turkey since October. Facebook said Monday it remained committed to maintaining free expression and other human rights in Turkey. The Associated Press
P.E.I. Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison confirmed two new cases of COVID-19 on the Island at her regular briefing Tuesday morning. Some Prince Edward Islanders are not self-isolating as they are legally required to and are putting others at risk, Morrison also said at the briefing. The organizers of The Spud hockey tournament in Charlottetown say they had no choice but to cancel the event this year because of COVID-19 restrictions. Twenty-one senators from the Maritimes are urging the federal government to provide financial assistance to an inter-city bus service that they say is in financial peril because of the pandemic. A P.E.I. judge is wrestling with how to sentence a P.E.I. man who failed to self-isolate after testing positive for COVID-19. A variety of circumstances including the pandemic have kept the Charlottetown Bluefins out of the Bell Aliant pool, and they say it's good to be home. P.E.I. reported four new unrelated cases of COVID-19 on Monday. Island dentists are offering their expertise as the province ramps up and rolls out COVID-19 vaccinations. As the number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 on P.E.I. continues to climb, some Islanders who are living with underlying health conditions say they've been left wondering when their shots will come. Two P.E.I. charities, Family Violence Prevention Services and Big Brothers Big Sisters are finding novel ways around the challenges of fundraising during the pandemic. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases reported on P.E.I. is 108, with 10 still active. There have been no deaths or hospitalizations. New Brunswick announced 26 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday. There are now 304 active cases in the province. Nova Scotia reported no new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, marking the second day this month that zero new cases were announced. Also in the news Further resources Reminder about symptoms The symptoms of COVID-19 can include: Fever. Cough or worsening of a previous cough. Possible loss of taste and/or smell. Sore throat. New or worsening fatigue. Headache. Shortness of breath. Runny nose. More from CBC P.E.I.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte narrowly won a confidence vote in the upper house Senate on Tuesday, allowing him to remain in office after a junior partner quit his coalition last week in the midst of the raging COVID-19 pandemic. However, Conte failed to secure an absolute majority, meaning he now heads a minority government that will struggle to implement its policy programme at a time of severe national emergency. Having overcome a similar confidence motion in the lower house on Monday, Conte won in the 321-seat Senate by 156 to 140, with 16 abstentions.
The story has made national headlines in the United States: Foreigners aged 65 and older in Florida, including Canadian snowbirds, are being offered the COVID-19 vaccine. Some snowbirds who made the journey to Florida this winter — despite Canada's advisory not to travel abroad during the pandemic — are counting their lucky stars, as they could wait months to get the shot in Canada. But they also face a backlash from some locals who argue non-Floridians shouldn't get early access to vaccines that are currently in short supply. "We're first. Get to the end of the line if they want to come," Florida resident Judy Allen told a local NBC TV station on Friday at a vaccine clinic in Sanford, Fla., north of Orlando. A week earlier, Canadian snowbirds Andrew Paton, 75, and his wife, Jill, 74, each got their first vaccine dose at a clinic in a gated community in Palm City, Fla., where they own a home. They're set to get their followup shot on Feb. 4. "I'm just glad I got it," said Andrew Paton, who is from Toronto. "Our American friends are thrilled. We're part of this community. Let's get everybody vaccinated if we can." But not everyone is on side. A few days after getting the shot, Paton said someone sent a letter to the board of his gated community, complaining that Canadian residents were offered the vaccine. "It's ridiculous," he said. "We're not taking it from anybody. Everybody in this community who wanted one could get one." Unlike Canada, Florida is offering COVID-19 vaccinations to everyone aged 65 and older during the first phase of its vaccine rollout. While the state discourages visitors from coming specifically to get the shot, seasonal residents are welcome to sign up. That policy has especially angered some Floridians who have yet to secure a vaccination appointment due to a slower-than-planned rollout. "They're taking it from people that are ahead of them … It's not their stockpile," said Clare Archer, 67, of Englewood Isles, Fla., south of Tampa. Archer is a dual Canadian-American citizen who grew up in northern Ontario and has lived in Florida for the past 25 years. She said due to the short supply of vaccines in her region, both she and her husband have yet to snag an appointment. And even though she has Canadian roots, Archer said she objects to snowbirds both travelling to Florida during a pandemic and getting the vaccine before some Floridians. "They absolutely should not be here," she said. "It's beyond infuriating." WATCH | Why Canada's vaccine rollout is so slow: Several Florida politicians are also angry. Last week, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez announced he's trying to revise the rules so that non-permanent residents in Miami are last in line to receive the vaccine. And on Jan. 10, Rick Scott, one of the state's U.S. senators, declared on Twitter: "Vaccines must go first to Floridians." It's up to each U.S. state to decide who gets priority during the vaccine rollout. In a news conference earlier this month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis explained why he's not turning away seasonal residents who meet the current age requirement. "We're a transient state," he said. "People who are here, four or five months a year, they have relationships with doctors, they get medical care in Florida." Canadian snowbirds on Good Morning America Visitors in Florida getting the vaccine has become such a hot topic, the popular TV show Good Morning America covered the issue in a news segment on Friday. "Residents across America — even Canada and Argentina — flocking to Florida … leading to what some are calling vaccine tourism," the segment said. The story featured Canadian snowbirds Shelton and Karen Papple of Brantford, Ont. The couple travelled to their home in Fort Myers before Florida announced its vaccine plans, and are both scheduled to get their first dose on Monday. Papple, 66, told CBC Newshe has no qualms about getting vaccinated in Florida. "We live here, we pay taxes," he said. "We're all in this together. It's a world problem and everybody should be banding together." He said he also believes that reports of Canadians flocking to the state to get the vaccine are overblown, because there are plenty of hurdles. On top of securing a vaccine appointment, you must test negative for COVID-19 before travelling to Florida (effective Jan. 26); stay in Florida for up to a month to get the second dose; receive another negative COVID-19 test before returning to Canada; and quarantine for 14 days upon your return. But some Canadians are still willing to make the trip. Travel insurance broker Martin Firestone of Toronto's Travel Secure said about 100 of his snowbird clients who originally decided not to head to Florida this winter due to the pandemic are now planning to travel to the state to get vaccinated. But these aren't cases of "vaccine tourism," he said, because his clients plan to stay for the rest of the winter. "They all own property and are really just exercising their right, I guess, to head down to a state that is offering vaccines," said Firestone. Papple suggests that as Florida secures and doles out more doses, the backlash against foreigners like him getting the shot will calm down. "As things go along, the more and more people get vaccinated, I think that becomes a duller story." To help speed up the rollout, the state is now offering vaccine shots at a major pharmacy chain in the state. And more than a dozen federal lawmakers representing Florida, including Sen. Marco Rubio, have asked federal officials to beef up Florida's vaccine supply to accommodate its large number of seasonal residents.
BEIJING — Profit at state-owned companies that dominate China’s banking, oil and most other industries rose by as much as 25% last year as the country recovered from the coronavirus pandemic, the government said Tuesday. Total revenue for national-level companies rose 2.2% over 2019 to 30.3 trillion yuan ($4.7 trillion), according to Peng Huagang, secretary general of the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission. Speaking at a news conference, Peng said profit rose 2.1% to 1.4 trillion yuan ($215 billion). The ruling Communist Party has built up such “national champions” over the past two decades, but their monopolies and multibillion-dollar subsidies prompt complaints by the public that they are a waste of money and gouge consumers with high prices. Peng’s agency oversees 97 companies directly under the Cabinet including PetroChina Ltd., Asia’s biggest oil producer; China Mobile Ltd., the world’s biggest phone carrier by number of subscribers, and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd., the world’s biggest bank by assets. SASAC companies also dominate air travel, insurance, securities, shipping, internet access, power generation, construction, nuclear power technology and coal and steel production. Chinese industries benefited from the economy’s relatively early reopening starting in March after the ruling party declared victory over the virus that emerged in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019. Total economic activity rose 2.3% in 2020, possibly making China the only major economy to grow while the United States, Europe and Japan struggled with rising infections. Growth accelerated to a two-year high of 6.5% over a year earlier in the three months ending in December. Profit at 24 national-level state companies rose by more than 25% over 2019 and two had profit of more than 100 billion yuan ($15.4 billion), Peng said, without identifying them or giving other details. Total profit at top state-owned companies grew by at least double digits over a year earlier in each month after June, according to Peng. Revenue growth accelerated to 11.7% over a year earlier in December as China’s economy rebounded, reaching a record 3.7 trillion yuan ($570 billion), Peng said. State-owned companies stepped up investment as part of the ruling party’s effort to support flagging economic activity. Telecom carriers spent 373.1 billion yuan ($57.5 billion) on next-generation networks and other investments, according to Peng. He said spending by power suppliers on hydro, wind and solar technology rose 27.4% over 2019 to 481.5 billion yuan ($74 billion). ___ State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission: http://en.sasac.gov.cn/ Joe McDonald, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Almost two-thirds of Canadians would support a nightly curfew if necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19 — even though they're not convinced it would be effective, a new poll suggests. Sixty-five per cent of respondents to a poll by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies said they would support temporary curfews in their provinces if recommended by public health officials. In Quebec, where the government imposed a month-long curfew 10 days ago, 74 per cent said they support the move. Nevertheless, only 57 per cent of Quebecers and just 39 per cent of respondents in the rest of the country said they think curfews are an effective way to reduce the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The poll of 1,516 Canadians was conducted Jan. 15 to 18. Léger executive vice-president Christian Bourque said the results suggest Canadians "want to do their part and will stand by their governments" in efforts to reduce the spread of the virus. But it also suggests provinces "need to sell this thing (curfews) if they want to make it work." The poll also suggests that Canadians' mental health has suffered as the pandemic drags on. Twenty-one per cent rated their mental health as bad or very bad, up eight points since last April, when the first wave of COVID-19 rolled over Canada. Thirty-two per cent rated their mental health as excellent or very good, a 10-point drop since April. Another 45 per cent described their mental health as good, down three points since April. Bourque said mental health experts do not consider "good" to be a particularly positive rating, akin to someone saying they feel OK. The poll suggests 59 per cent remain somewhat or very afraid of contracting COVID-19, virtually unchanged since April. Seventy-one per cent of respondents said they intend to get vaccinated against the coronavirus when a vaccine becomes available to them. Two vaccines have been approved for use in Canada so far and provinces have begun immunizing front line health care workers, long-term care home workers and residents and some others considered among the most vulnerable. Forty-seven per cent of respondents said they'll take the first vaccine available to them, while 27 per cent said they'll wait for other vaccines to become available. Another 11 per cent said they won't take any vaccine and 15 per cent didn't know what they'll do. The online poll cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press