Check out how we got the gem for all boxes in 'Bears Repeating'. Enjoy!
Check out how we got the gem for all boxes in 'Bears Repeating'. Enjoy!
Armed and ready to go, Taiwan air force jets screamed into the sky on Tuesday in a drill to simulate a war scenario, showing its fleet's battle readiness after dozens of Chinese warplanes flew into the island's air defence zone over the weekend. Taiwan, claimed by China as its territory, has been on edge since the large-scale incursion by Chinese fighters and nuclear-capable bombers into the southwestern part of its air defence identification zone on Saturday and Sunday, which coincided with a U.S. carrier group entering the South China Sea. The base in the southern city of Tainan, home to F-CK-1 Ching-kuo Indigenous Defence Fighters (IDF), frequently scrambles jets to intercept China's air force.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Sarah Sanders, Donald Trump's former chief spokeswoman, announced she's running for Arkansas governor at a time other Republicans are distancing themselves from the former president facing an impeachment charge that he incited the deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol. But the former White House press secretary, who left the job in 2019 to return to her home state, ran the other direction with an announcement Monday that embraced Trump as much as his rhetoric. “With the radical left now in control of Washington, your governor is your last line of defence,” Sanders said in a nearly eight-minute video announcing her 2022 bid that prominently featured pictures of the president as well as some of his favourite targets. Trump, who publicly encouraged Sanders to run, wasted no time putting his seal of approval on her bid. The former president on Monday night backed Sanders' candidacy — his first official, public endorsement since leaving office — and called her a “warrior who will always fight for the people of Arkansas and do what is right, not what is politically correct." The daughter of former Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sanders is the most high-profile Trump official to seek major office and is doing so less than a week after the tumultuous end of his presidency. Her candidacy could showcase just how much of a hold Trump still has on the GOP. “Trump is simply not a liability here,” said Janine Parry, a political scientist at the University of Arkansas. “At least for the time being, we’re in a state where he remains an asset.” That’s even as the Senate is preparing for an impeachment trial over the Jan. 6 insurrection by Trump supporters that was aimed at halting the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory over Trump. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell rebuked the president last week, saying he “provoked” the siege. Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson told reporters days before Biden’s inauguration he wanted Trump’s administration to end, though he also opposed the president’s impeachment. Sanders’ announcement makes a brief reference to the Capitol siege that left five dead, equating it with violence that occurred at some protests last year over racial injustice and the 2017 shooting at a congressional baseball practice that injured U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise and four others. “This is not who we are as Americans,” Sanders said in the video, but not mentioning Trump’s role in encouraging his supporters who stormed the Capitol. She joins a Republican primary that already includes two statewide elected leaders, Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge. The three are running to succeed Hutchinson, who is unable to run next year due to term limits. No Democrats have announced a bid to run for the seat. Griffin and Rutledge had already spent months positioning themselves ahead of Sanders’ entry by lining up endorsements, raising money and trying to stake their claims as the most conservative candidate. Griffin has called for the outright elimination of the state’s income tax, while Rutledge signed on to Texas’ ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit challenging the result of the presidential election. Following the riot, Griffin and Rutledge issued statements condemning the storming of the Capitol but not addressing Trump’s role in stirring up his backers. Combined, the two have raised more than $2.8 million for the race. Griffin on Monday criticized Sanders for promising in her video to cut off funding to so-called sanctuary cities that violate immigration laws. He noted a 2019 measure Hutchinson signed into law already does just that by cutting off funding to cities that don’t co-operate with immigration authorities. “It sounds like she needs to catch up on what’s been going on in Arkansas,” Griffin said in a statement. Rutledge, meanwhile, said in a statement the race was about “who has a proven record and not merely rhetoric.” The race could also get even more crowded. Republican State Sen. Jim Hendren, a nephew of Hutchinson’s, is considering a run for the seat and said he hoped to make a decision within the next three weeks. “Right now we have three announced candidates but they all do represent the far right part of the Republican Party,” said Hendren, who has been much more willing to criticize Trump and hasn’t ruled out an independent bid. “The question I have to decide is, is there room for a more pragmatic, centrist type of approach?” Sanders was already well known in Arkansas politics, going back to when she appeared in ads for her father’s campaign. She managed Sen. John Boozman’s 2010 election and worked as an adviser to Sen. Tom Cotton’s in 2014. During Sanders’ nearly two-year tenure at the White House, daily televised briefings led by the press secretary ended after Sanders repeatedly sparred with reporters who aggressively questioned her. She faced questions about her credibility, but she also earned reporters’ respect working behind the scenes to develop relationships with the media. She remains an unknown on many issues and wasn’t made available for interviews Monday, though she staked out some positions in her introductory video that include reducing the state’s income tax. Her introductory video indicates she’s leaning more on her time with Trump, with it featuring images of or calling out those who frequently drew his ire including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and CNN. Republicans hold a firm grip on Arkansas, with the GOP holding all statewide and federal seats. They also hold a majority in both chambers of the Legislature. Trump in November won the state by nearly 28 percentage points, one of the biggest margins in his ultimate loss to Biden. State Democratic Party Chairman Michael John Gray on Monday called the GOP primary a “race to the bottom.” But national party leaders indicated Sanders’ candidacy may draw more resources and attention to a long-shot race that will coincide with 2022 congressional midterm elections. “As we close the book on a dark chapter in our history, we must make sure Trump’s brand of politics stays in the past," Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison tweeted. “Now, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is running on his record." Hutchinson, who has remained generally popular since taking office in 2015, said he didn't plan on endorsing anyone at this time in the race. “I am a voter, so I will follow the campaign with interest, but I have a job to do for the next two years, and I will devote my energies to bring Arkansas out of the pandemic and to revitalize our economy," he said in a statement. ___ Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo Andrew Demillo, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Easing off a stalemate, the Senate moved forward Tuesday with a power-sharing agreement in the evenly-split chamber after Republican leader Mitch McConnell backed off his demand that Senate Democrats preserve the procedural tool known as the filibuster. The stand-off between McConnell and new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had all but ground the Senate to a halt in the early days of the Democratic majority and threatened President Joe Biden's agenda. Schumer refused to meet McConnell's demands. “I'm glad we're finally able to get the Senate up and running,” Schumer said Tuesday as he opened the chamber. “My only regret is it took so long because we have a great deal we need to accomplish.” While the crisis appeared to have resolved, for now, the debate over the filibuster — the procedural tool that requires a 60-vote threshold to advance most legislation — is far from over. Progressive Democrats see the tool as an outdated relic that can be used by the minority Republican Party under McConnell to derail Biden's agenda, and they want to do away with it. They point to the way the filibuster was wielded during the 20th century to stall civil rights legislation, and warn of a repeat. Democrats control 50 votes in the split chamber, with Vice-President Kamala Harris as a tie-breaking vote, and Biden's allies would typically need Republican senators to reach the 60-vote threshold to advance Democratic priorities on COVID-19 relief, immigration or other issues. Even as he dropped his demand, McConnell warned Tuesday of all the ways the Senate business could still be tied in knots if Democrats try to press on with plans to pursue changes to the filibuster. “They would guarantee themselves immediate chaos,” McConnell warned. “Destroying the filibuster would drain comity and consent from this body to a degree that would be unparalleled in living memory.” Usually a routine matter, the organizing resolution for the chamber became a power play by McConnell once Democrats swept to control after the Jan. 5 special election in Georgia and the new senators took the oath of office after Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20. McConnell had been holding up the organizing agreement, which divides up committee assignments and other resources, as he tried to extract a promise from Schumer of no changes to the filibuster. Schumer would not meet the Republican leader's demands, but McConnell said late Monday he had essentially accomplished his goal after two Democratic senators said they would not agree to end the filibuster. Without their votes, Schumer would be unable to change the rules. “With these assurances, I look forward to moving ahead with a power-sharing agreement modeled on that precedent,” McConnell said in a statement. He was referring to West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Arizona's Kyrsten Sinema who have expressed reservations about doing away with the tool. Schumer's office said the Republican leader had no choice but to set aside his demands. “We’re glad Sen. McConnell threw in the towel and gave up on his ridiculous demand," said Justin Goodman, a spokesman for the Democratic leader. "We look forward to organizing the Senate under Democratic control and start getting big, bold things done for the American people.” But the debate over the filibuster, which has increasingly become weaponized as a tool to thwart the opposite party’s agenda, is far from over. A decade ago, then-Democratic majority leader Harry Reid ended the 60-vote threshold to confirm some judicial and executive branch nominees during the Obama administration that were being blocked by Republicans. Reid told The Associated Press recently that Biden should waste little time testing Republican’s willingness to work with him before eliminating the filibuster. He gave it three weeks. McConnell during the last administration upped the ante, and did away with the 60-vote threshold to confirm President Donald Trump's three nominees to the Supreme Court. He wanted to prevent Schumer from taking it to the next level and ending the filibuster for legislation. The details of the rest of the organizing resolution are expected to proceed largely as they did the last time the Senate was evenly divided, in 2001, with any immediate changes to the filibuster, at this stage, appearing to be off the table. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Monday Jan. 26, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 23,498 new vaccinations administered for a total of 839,949 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 2,216.267 per 100,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 1,122,450 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 74.83 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 3,258 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 8,549 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 16.326 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 16,500 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 51.81 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,423 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 6,525 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 41.134 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 9,225 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 70.73 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 3,483 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 11,083 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 11.357 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 28,850 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 38.42 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 3,821 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 14,257 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 18.277 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 21,675 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 65.78 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 1,960 new vaccinations administered for a total of 220,715 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 25.795 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 238,100 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 92.7 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 5,537 new vaccinations administered for a total of 286,110 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 19.478 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 411,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 810 new vaccinations administered for a total of 29,751 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 21.606 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 55,650 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 4.0 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 53.46 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 314 new vaccinations administered for a total of 33,353 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 28.286 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 32,725 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 101.9 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 406 new vaccinations administered for a total of 99,453 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 22.592 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 122,725 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 81.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 9,284 new vaccinations administered for a total of 119,850 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 23.355 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 144,550 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 82.91 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 222 new vaccinations administered for a total of 3,952 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 94.702 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 14,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 35 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 27.44 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,893 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 41.956 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 14,400 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 32 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 13.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 636 new vaccinations administered for a total of 4,458 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 115.116 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 12,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 31 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 37.15 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. 26, 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. 26 ...What we are watching in Canada ...A new report on billions of dollars the federal government has sent to provinces to help safely reopen the economy suggests much of the money is sitting unused.Today's report also suggests that federal efforts to stretch the financial impact of those dollars is falling short as many provinces have bucked cost-matching requests.The analysis by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says six out of 10 provinces haven't spent all the money the federal government has sent their way, including for things like personal protective equipment.Author David Macdonald says some of the money may yet be spent, but notes the longer it remains unspent, the less likely it ever will be spent.Macdonald's analysis is based on a review of provincial and federal spending announcements, reconciling duplications, as well as provincial spending documents.Federal and provincial governments are allocating hundreds of billions in direct spending and liquidity support to help workers, families, front-line workers and businesses make it through the pandemic.The federal treasury has managed the lion's share of COVID-19 spending — accounting for about $8 in every $10 of aid, according to the federal Finance Department's math.---Also this ...Critics are asking why Alberta Environment has been sitting on years worth of data about pollution from coal mines while the government considers a dramatic expansion of the industry."It raises some important questions about our ability to trust what's going on," said New Democrat environment critic Marlin Schmidt. "The fact (Alberta Environment) hasn't reported publicly is extremely concerning."On Monday, The Canadian Press reported on analysis of coal mine contamination in the Gregg and McLeod Rivers and Luscar Creek near Jasper, Alta., dating back to the 1990s. It found toxic levels of selenium many times over the amount considered safe for aquatic life. The Gregg and Luscar Creek mines closed in the early 2000s. Selenium levels from both declined, at best, only gradually over more than 15 years of remediation.In the case of the Cheviot mine on the McLeod River, levels gradually grew between 2005 and 2017. The operation closed last June. The data also shows the provincial government knew about the levels for at least 15 years and did not report anything after 2006. The information was available in raw form, but Schmidt said it isn't enough to simply collect information."There are numbers and then there are the numbers that the stories tell. That's the piece that's missing."---What we are watching in the U.S. ...Donald Trump is adding another South Carolina attorney to his impeachment legal team, according to a trial lawyer group in the state.In an email sent to South Carolina members of the American College of Trial Lawyers, group chairman Wallace Lightsey wrote that Deborah Barbier — a former federal prosecutor-turned-defence attorney who specializes in white-collar crime — had been hired to join Butch Bowers in crafting a defence for Trump's unprecedented second impeachment trial, set for the week of Feb. 8.“Regardless of one's personal view of Mr. Trump, it says a great deal about Debbie's skill and reputation as a trial lawyer that she was chosen for this task,” Lightsey wrote in the email, obtained by The Associated Press. “We know you will acquit yourself well (even though some of us may be hoping that your client is not).”Neither Lightsey nor Barbier returned messages seeking comment late Monday.In Barbier, Bowers — an ethics and election lawyer picked last week to lead the team — has a co-counsel who spent more than a decade as a federal prosecutor and who now, in private practice, specializes in white-collar defence. Barbier, a graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law, was an assistant U.S. Attorney in South Carolina for 15 years, working on both criminal and civil cases and ultimately serving as chief of the civil division.After leaving the office in 2012, Barbier went into private practice. Her clients have included Republican political consultant Richard Quinn, who had at times counted former President Ronald Reagan and Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham among his clients. Conspiracy and illegal lobbying charges in connection with a wide-ranging legislative corruption probe were dropped in 2017 when Quinn’s son, then-state Rep. Rick Quinn, agreed to plead guilty to misconduct in office and resign.Barbier also in 2016 served as defence attorney for a friend of the man convicted of shooting nine Black parishioners to death at a historic Charleston church. Joey Meek, Barbier's client, was later sentenced to more than two years in prison for telling people not to share the shooter's identity with authorities.---What we are watching in the rest of the world ...Groups of youths confronted police in Dutch towns and cities Monday night, defying the country's coronavirus curfew and throwing fireworks. Police in the port city of Rotterdam used a water cannon and tear gas in an attempt to disperse a crowd of rioters who also looted shops.Police and local media reported trouble in the capital, Amsterdam, where at least eight people were arrested, Haarlem, where vandals set a large fire in a street, The Hague and other towns before and after the 9 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. curfew began.It was the second night of unrest in towns and cities across the Netherlands that initially grew out of calls to protest against the country's tough lockdown, but degenerated into vandalism by crowds whipped up by messages swirling on social media.“Unfortunately, we’re seeing the same things as last night,” police chief Willem Woelders told Dutch current affairs show Nieuwsuur. He said around 70 rioters had been arrested and police had used tear gas in the western city of Haarlem as well as Rotterdam.Rotterdam police said youths took to the streets “seeking a confrontation with police.” Riot officers attempted to break up the violence and made a number of arrests, before firing tear gas. Police warned people to stay away from the area. National broadcaster NOS showed video of police using a water cannon and reported that some shops had been looted.Police in the southern city of Den Bosch said that a shop was looted there and riot police were attempting to restore order.---On this day in 1980 ...Prime Minister Joe Clark said Canada would boycott the Summer Olympics in Moscow if Soviet troops were not out of Afghanistan by Feb. 20. Canada skipped the Games.---In entertainment ...Dance your cares away, "Fraggle Rock" fans — the fluffy-haired creatures are back in Canada for a new show.The Jim Henson Company says production has officially started in Calgary on a reboot of the original 1980s children's puppet series, which was filmed in Toronto.Last April a new U.S.-shot limited series of shorts called "Fraggle Rock: Rock On!" debuted on Apple TV Plus, with guests including Canadian singer Alanis Morissette.But the Jim Henson Company says that summer, with the pandemic in full swing, they wanted to find a new home where they could produce an entire series of full-length episodes. A spokesperson says the new series will also stream on Apple TV plus and is shooting at the Calgary Film Centre.Chris Lytton, chief operating officer of The Jim Henson Company, says Calgary was "the obvious choice" because of Alberta's production rebate structure.Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says the city also has a talented film sector and a "reputation as a world leader in the art of puppetry." ---ICYMI ...Officials with the Yukon government have confirmed the identities of a couple from Vancouver who allegedly travelled to a remote community last week to receive doses of COVID-19 vaccine amid media reports that the former president of the Great Canadian Gaming Corp. was one of those charged with breaching the territory’s Civil Emergency Measures Act. Tickets filed with a court registry in Whitehorse last Thursday show 55-year-old Rodney Baker and Ekaterina Baker, who is 32, were each charged with one count of failing to self-isolate for 14 days and one count of failing to act in a manner consistent with their declarations upon arriving in Yukon.The tickets were issued on Thursday under Yukon's Civil Emergency Measures Act and both face fines of $1,000, plus fees.The allegations against them have not been proven in court and the tickets indicate the couple can challenge them.Great Canadian Gaming Corp. president and chief executive Rodney Baker resigned on Sunday and media reports say he is the same person charged in Whitehorse.Rodney Baker and Ekaterina Baker could not be reached for comment and The Canadian Press could not independently confirm their identities, including that they are married and that Ekaterina is an actress.Great Canadian Gaming Corp. spokesman Chuck Keeling says in a statement that the company does not comment on personnel matters.The statement also says the company complies with guidelines from public health authorities in all the jurisdictions where it operates.---This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021 The Canadian Press
Officials are debating whether additional public health measures are needed to rein in a coronavirus variant first detected in the United Kingdom that is now spreading in Ontario. Premier Doug Ford said he is so concerned about the threat posed by the more transmissible mutation that he wants Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to halt all non-essential travel by foreigners into Canada. Ford said Monday he would like mandatory testing at Toronto's Pearson International Airport, which he plans to visit on Tuesday. "We have to test every person that comes into Pearson and any other crossing. It's absolutely critical. We need to put barriers up every which way we can," Ford told reporters. "I can't emphasize enough: close down our borders and make sure anyone that's coming in gets tested." Ontario has confirmed at least 34 cases of the variant that was first identified in the U.K., some among people who have not travelled outside of the province. Dr. Vanessa Allen, chief of microbiology and laboratory science at Public Health Ontario, told reporters on Monday that the province will analyze every COVID-19-positive sample from one day last week to learn just how prevalent the variant is. Allen said the strain is considered more contagious and there is evidence that it causes more severe disease in some people. This particular strain has been found in more than 60 countries, she said. Asked if the variant can actually be contained at this stage, she said: "We don't know yet, but we will be finding out in the days to come." Public Health Ontario is deploying tests to find possible cases of the "variants of concern" before sending them up for genomic screening, which can take days, Allen said. The screening test is focusing on cases considered "high-risk" for the mutations, such as aggressive outbreaks known as "superspreader events" and cases affecting known travellers. "The goal based on the data right now is to do everything we can to contain every single case we find and increase our capacity to find them, recognizing that we still don't have the full picture because we have not tested everybody to date," Allen said. 'Very much on top of it' Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, an infectious disease physician with Trillium Health Partners in Mississauga, Ont., said he is not convinced of the need to ban travel. "Our existing public health protocols, such as physical distancing, wearing masks, ventilation, all these types of things, still work to prevent the variant from infecting you," Chakrabarti said. Health Minister Christine Elliott said Monday that the province is testing samples to look for three new variants — separate strains that first emerged in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil — to determine where they are and how they spread. So far, only the variant first detected in the U.K. has been found in Ontario. Cases have been confirmed by public health units covering Toronto, Ottawa, York, Durham and Peel regions, as well as Simcoe Muskoka, Middlesex-London and the Kingston area as of Monday. Elliott said the province had tested more than 9,000 samples for the new variants as of Monday, and is aiming to assess 1,500 samples per week starting next week. "We are very much on top of it and we are detecting it very quickly so that we'll know how to deal with different geographic areas where it may show up," Elliott told reporters. Deadly outbreak The new variant is deemed to have caused a deadly outbreak at Roberta Place Long Term Care Home in Barrie, Ont., that has infected more than 200 people. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit said it was investigating whether the variant was also a factor in an outbreak at the Bradford Valley Care Community, a long-term care home in the town of Bradford West Gwillimbury. The health unit, which has confirmed seven cases of the variant, announced a strategy on Monday to curb spread. Measures include more frequent testing for residents, visitors and staff at care homes dealing with outbreaks where the variant is suspected. The variant has been confirmed by Simcoe Muskoka health officials as "the causative agent" in the outbreak at Roberta Place, in Barrie, Ont., after six cases were confirmed in samples. The seventh individual with a confirmed case of the new strain was a close contact of someone infected in another outbreak at Bradford Valley Care Community. Public health officials were still investigating the link on Monday. The public health unit said 44 residents at Roberta Place had died from COVID-19, and the outbreak had infected 127 residents and 86 staff. Five other people assisting with the outbreak had been infected, the health officials said Monday, including two essential caregivers. One of the caregivers had died from the illness. Toronto Public Health has also reported 10 cases of the variant.
A giant mass of rubbish that clogged a dam has finally been cleaned up in Bulgaria. Nearly 600 tonnes of garbage and debris were removed from the Iskar river near the capital Sofia.View on euronews
WASHINGTON — These suspects weren't exactly in hiding. “THIS IS ME,” one man posted on Instagram with a hand emoji pointing to himself in a picture of the violent mob descending on the U.S. Capitol. “Sooo we’ve stormed Capitol Hill lol,” one woman texted someone while inside the building. “I just wanted to incriminate myself a little lol,” another wrote on Facebook about a selfie he took inside during the Jan. 6 riot. In dozens of cases, supporters of President Donald Trump downright flaunted their activity on social media on the day of the deadly insurrection. Some, apparently realizing they were in trouble with the law, deleted their accounts only to discover their friends and family members had already taken screenshots of their selfies, videos and comments and sent them to the FBI. Their total lack of concern over getting caught and their friends' willingness to turn them in has helped authorities charge about 150 people as of Monday with federal crimes. But even with the help from the rioters themselves, investigators must still work rigorously to link the images to the vandalism and suspects to the acts on Jan. 6 in order to prove their case in court. And because so few were arrested at the scene, the FBI and U.S. Marshals Service have been forced to send agents to track suspects down. “Just because you’ve left the D.C. region, you can still expect a knock on the door if we find out that you were part of criminal activity inside the Capitol,” Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington office, said earlier this month. “Bottom line — the FBI is not sparing any resources in this investigation.” In the last few weeks, the FBI has received over 200,000 photos and video tips related to the riot. Investigators have put up billboards in several states with photos of wanted rioters. Working on tips from co-workers, acquaintances and friends, agents have tracked down driver’s license photos to match their faces with those captured on camera in the building. In some cases, authorities got records from Facebook or Twitter to connect their social media accounts to their email addresses or phone numbers. In others, agents used records from license plate readers to confirm their travels. More than 800 are believed to have made their way into the Capitol, although it's likely not everyone will be tracked down and charged with a crime. Federal prosecutors are focusing on the most critical cases and the most egregious examples of wrongdoing. And they must weigh manpower, cost and evidence when charging rioters. A special group of prosecutors is examining whether to bring sedition charges against the rioters, which carry up to 20 years in prison. One trio was charged with conspiracy; most have been charged with crimes like unlawful entry and disorderly conduct. Many rioters posted selfies inside the Capitol to their social media accounts, gave interviews to news outlets describing their experience and readily admitted when questioned by federal investigators that they were there. One man created a Facebook album titled “Who’s House? OUR HOUSE” filled with photos of himself and others on Capitol grounds, officials said. “They might have thought, like so many people that work with Trump, that if the president tells me to do it, it’s not breaking the law,” said Michael Gerhardt, an expert on impeachment and professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law. Others made blunders, like a Houston police officer, who denied he went into the Capitol, then agreed to let agents look at the pictures on his phone. Inside his deleted photos folder were pictures and videos, including selfies he took inside the building, authorities said. Another man was wearing a court-ordered GPS monitor after a burglary conviction that tracked his every movement inside the building. A retired firefighter from Long Island, New York, texted a video of himself in the Capitol rotunda to his girlfriend’s brother, saying he was “at the tip of the spear,” officials said. The brother happened to be a federal agent with the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, who turned the video over to the FBI. A lawyer for the man, Thomas Fee, said he “was not part of any attempt to take over the U.S. Capitol” and that “the allegation is that he merely walked through an open door into the Capitol — nothing more." Another man who was inside the Capitol was willing to rat out another rioter who stole House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lectern and emailed the video to an FBI agent, even signing his own name to it. “Hello Nice FBI Lady,” he wrote, “Here are the links to the videos. Looks like Podium Guy is in one of them, less the podium. Let me know if you need anything else.” In another case, a man was on a flight leaving D.C. two days after the riot when he kept shouting “Trump 2020!” and was kicked off. An airport police officer saw the man get off the plane and the man was booked on another flight. Forty-five minutes later, the officer was watching a video on Instagram and recognized the man in a group of rioters. The man, who was wearing the same shirt as the day he stormed the Capitol, was arrested at the airport, authorities said. Even defence attorneys have acknowledged that the evidence poses a problem for them. “I’m not a magician,” said an attorney for the man seen in a photo carrying Pelosi's lectern. “We’ve got a photograph of our client in what appears to be inside a federal building or inside the Capitol with government property,” he told reporters. Police at the Capitol planned only for a free-speech demonstration and were overwhelmed by the mob that broke through and roamed the halls of the Capitol for hours as lawmakers were sent into hiding. Five people died in the melee, including a Capitol police officer who was struck in the head with a fire extinguisher. Trump was impeached after the riot on a charge of “inciting violence against the government of the United States.” Opening arguments will begin the week of Feb. 8. He is the first president to be twice impeached and the first to face a trial after leaving office. Unlike criminal cases, impeachment trials do not have specific evidence rules so anything said and done that day can be used. And several of the people charged have said in interviews with reporters or federal agents that they were simply listening to the president when they marched to the Capitol. ___ Richer reported from Boston. Michael Balsamo, Alanna Durkin Richer And Colleen Long, The Associated Press
It's not the SHIELD you're probably thinking of — the one with the super-spies and flying battleships from Marvel comics and movies. In fact, the SHIELD at the centre of the upcoming evolution of NORAD — the six-decade-old North American defence pact — shares nothing with its fictional counterpart but the acronym. But those trying to sell pandemic-weary, deficit-swamped governments on the proposed Strategic Homeland Integrated Ecosystem for Layered Defense may be hoping for a little reflected glamour for their multi-billion-dollar idea. The current Liberal government committed to the renewal of NORAD early on; it was the top item in the first meeting between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and now-former U.S. president Donald Trump in 2017. The proposal now presents a host of thorny political and financial problems for Canada. The SHIELD concept is not your grandfather's version of NORAD — which was simply a chain of radar stations across the North primed to warn of approaching Russian bombers and missiles. A NORAD for now The new strategy was first sketched out last fall in a paper written for the Wilson Center's Canada Institute by the former U.S. NORAD commander, retired general Terrence O'Shaughnessy, and U.S. Air Force Brig.-Gen. Peter Fesler, the current deputy director of operations at the U.S. air defence headquarters. Fesler and O'Shaughnessy argued that, faced with a variety of new and improved weapons — everything from hypersonic glide vehicles to next-generation cruise missiles — North America needs a defence surveillance system that knits together space, air and land-based surveillance in real time. Such a system "pools this data and fuses it into a common operational picture," said the paper, published last September. "Then, using the latest advances in machine learning and data analysis, it scans the data for patterns that are not visible to human eyes, helping decision-makers understand adversary potential courses of action before they are executed." What they're talking about is predictive analysis and artificial intelligence. The SHIELD concept envisions a "global sensing grid" that can sniff out threats as they develop by drawing on data from "traditional and nontraditional sources," such as civilian air traffic control grids. To an extent, the SHIELD concept is being put to work already by NORAD through operational testing of a cloud-based data fusion system called Project Pathfinder. A hard sell The U.S. Air Force signed off on the Pathfinder prototype and has ordered a production model through an $8 million US contract, according to Air Force Magazine. The NORAD refurbishment was never costed in the federal government's 2017 defence policy and it presents a host of challenges and tough decisions for the Liberal government now, ranging from the fiscal to the political to the military. The arrival of the Biden administration in Washington seems to have made government-to-government negotiations more politically palatable in Ottawa. Many in Canada's defence community were convinced there was little appetite among federal officials to haggle with Trump over NORAD after the bruising experience of re-negotiating the NAFTA trade deal. One of the first challenges for government officials will be to present the NORAD renewal project to a Canadian public and political establishment overwhelmed by the pandemic, said one defence expert. An economic argument "If you try to quickly sell this in the context of 'the Russians are coming, the Russians are coming,' that is politically problematic, I think, particularly for this government," said James Fergusson, deputy director of the Centre for Defence and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba. Framing it in economic terms — highlighting the opportunities for innovation and high-tech jobs — likely would help, he said, but the overall cost will be an issue given the damage done to the economy and government balance sheets by the pandemic. Estimates of the cost of NORAD's renewal range between $11 billion and $15 billion. Whatever it ends up costing, Canadian taxpayers would be on the hook for 40 per cent of the total. The price tag is "the elephant in the room," said Fergusson, adding that he's skeptical about the assurances he's heard from senior government officials that the money for NORAD will be in addition to already-promised defence policy funding. Belt-tightening and BMD He said he attended a conference in Ottawa a year ago that heard a senior Department of National Defence (DND) official state that the department had "been promised we're going to get extra money for NORAD ..." "No, you're not," Fergusson added. He said he believes it's more likely that DND will be asked to cover Canada's NORAD contribution within its existing budget — forcing the department to make cuts elsewhere. The NORAD project also promises to drag a reluctant federal government back into a political debate over ballistic missile defence (BMD). The recent Liberal defence policy reaffirmed the 2005 decision by Paul Martin's government to remain on the sidelines of any continental BMD effort, despite pleas from both the Senate and House of Commons defence committees to reconsider joining. BMD is a non-starter for New Democrats and for some experts in the defence community who argue that missile defence merely contributes to the arms race. Fergusson said recent advances in technology and military doctrine may force the government's hand. "The United States is moving very quickly to integrate air and missile defence into single units, rather than have them separated," he said. "So that has big implications for us. We can't simply do air defence without having to work with or having to do missile defence." And embedded in the concept of a "global sensing grid" is the expectation that threats — once identified — would be taken out. Instead of focusing on the missiles — the "arrows," to use NORAD parlance — the expectation is that a defensive network would focus its response on the "archers," or the launch platforms. Russian bombers circling far outside of North American airspace, for example, would be targeted under the SHIELD strategy. "That will be unpalatable to the Canadian government," said Fergusson, pointing out that the Canadian military doesn't have the long-range capability to conduct those kinds of defensive operations. It's a conversation Canada can't avoid for much longer, he said, because much of the existing North Warning System reaches the end of its operational life by 2024. "The United States cannot defend itself without Canada and we can't defend ourselves without the United States."
JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia’s confirmed coronavirus infections since the pandemic began crossed a million on Tuesday and hospitals in some hard-hit areas were near capacity. Indonesia’s Health Ministry announced that new daily infections rose by 13,094 on Tuesday to bring the country’s total to 1,012,350, the most in Southeast Asia. The total number of deaths reached 28,468. The milestone comes just weeks after Indonesian launched a massive campaign to inoculate two-thirds of the country's 270 million people, with President Joko Widodo receiving the first shot of a Chinese-made vaccine. Health care workers, military, police, teachers and other at-risk populations are being prioritized for the vaccine in the world's fourth most populous country. Officials have said that Indonesia will require almost 427 million doses, taking into account the estimate that 15% of doses may be wasted during the distribution process in the vast nation of more than 17,000 islands, where transportation and infrastructure are limited in places. Jakarta continues to be hardest hit city in Indonesia, confirming more than 254,000 cases as of Tuesday, including 4,077 deaths. Only 8.5% of a total 8,066 hospital beds in the city were left for new patients as of Tuesday, while beds with ventilators were filled. Niniek Karmini And Edna Tarigan, The Associated Press
In the boreal forest of Northern Saskatchewan, a bright pink artificial tree stands out against the muted browns and greens. Through a trail camera, Jeff Meldrum watches as bears pull at the tree. Whitetail deer giving it a smell as they walk by. "I've just sort of always been interested in the animals of the forest. They're kind of mysterious," Meldrum said. "I thought it would be interesting to document how the animals are reacting to the sculptures." The pink tree is part of an ongoing project by Meldrum called Art for Animals. Meldrum has now self-published a book showcasing his project with a humorous take. The project started off simply, Meldrum said. In 2017, he had some friends that wanted to move a sculpture they were holding onto. Meldrum said he has some property outside of Choiceland in northern Saskatchewan and suggested they take it up there. "From there I started building my own sculptures as well and getting a little bit more in tune with the technology and the sort of grew from there," Meldrum said. The Regina-based artist said he likes to see what the animals can get up to when isn't at his northern property. "I think that they do a lot more when I'm not around, I think my presence at least sort of inhibits their actions," he said. "Maybe in a way, it kind of allows them to explore and play a little bit more." Meldrum said to people concerned about him disturbing natural habitats that it's naive to think animals aren't being disrupted by humans and his land is a type of safe haven, especially for bears. "I don't hurt bears and if they're coming to my property, they're possibly staying away from areas where people are hunting them," he said. Meldrum said he was surprised to see the bears appreciate the sculptures so much. They seem to have a sense of play, especially with a sculpture that was a rigid yellow tree, he said. "The veracity in which they destroyed that was pretty surprising. It went from being this like, quite beautiful sculpture … to existing in shambles in about 20 minutes," he said. He said the bears also critique his work in a way, by showing what they're interested in and not interested in. Meldrum wanted to use his book to address the good and bad of the contemporary art world. "Using a satirical voice in the book made it easy to make fun of things, make fun of myself, and make fun of different ideas within the art world," he said. Meldrum said he printed 100 copies for friends and family and they sold out right away. He then printed more and sold them at the Penny University Bookstore and Mortise and Tenon in Regina. "I hope that people learn not to take themselves so seriously and just to recognize that animals are capable of a lot more than we give them credit for," Meldrum said. "It's less about elevating animals to the status of humans, and it's more about trying to diminish our viewpoint of ourselves." Sometimes humans put themselves on a pedestal compared to animals, Meldrum said. He hopes people look at the animals on their own, rather than comparing them to people. Meldrum said he intends to create more sculptures for the animals and hopes to share his work in a gallery one day.
With shops boarded up and riot police out in force, it was relatively calm in Dutch cities on Tuesday night after three days of violence during which nearly 500 people were detained. In several cities, including the capital Amsterdam, some businesses closed early and emergency ordinances were in place to give law enforcement greater powers to respond to the rioting, which was prompted by a nighttime curfew to curb the spread of the coronavirus. On Tuesday when the 9 p.m. curfew went into effect, rowdy crowds of youths gathered in Amsterdam and Hilversum, but were broken up without incident.
A Canadian clothing line is helping transgender kids feel confident at the beach or pool with bathing suits designed to maximize comfort without compromising style. Jamie and Ruby Alexander are the Toronto father-daughter duo behind Rubies, a fledgling fashion business that specializes in form-fitting clothing for trans and non-binary girls. Ruby says she's proud to see how the brand is allowing other trans kids to take part in the same activities as their friends without worrying about what they're wearing. "A lot of trans kids just stopped doing what they love to do, because they don't feel comfortable," Ruby, 12, said in an interview. "We wanted to change the kids' lives, and we're happy to do that." Since Ruby came out as transgender at nine years old, Jamie Alexander said fashion has been an important part of how she expresses her identity. But it hasn't always been easy to balance style against concerns for her safety. At first, Ruby wore baggy boardshorts and sweatpants to athletic activities such as swimming, gymnastics and dance, Alexander said. Eventually, Ruby wanted to wear a bikini like her friends, so they got her one at a department store. But as they were getting ready for a vacation in Central America in 2019, Alexander started to worry about what Ruby should wear to the beach in a place where there may not be the same cultural awareness of transgender identity. He looked online for a swimsuit that would allow her to safely have fun in the sun, but the limited options he could find didn't seem age-appropriate. Alexander knew that other families must be dealing with similar struggles, so he set out to launch a company that would offer a solution. He teamed up with Ryerson University's Fashion Zone to design prototypes for bathing suit bottoms that uses a soft compression to provide a worry-free fit. After getting in touch with other parents online, Alexander biked around Toronto to deliver samples, so transgender kids could try them on and give feedback. Some families said their kids hadn't had much exposure to other transgender children, Alexander said, and it soon became clear that Ruby had a gift for connecting with customers. "To say, 'hey, there's someone else out there just like you that understands you and understands what you're going through' is a really powerful thing," Alexander said. "It's really touching to hear the impact Ruby and I can have with these families." Alexander partnered with a Toronto clothing manufacturer to gear up for a launch last spring, but production was set back by the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, Rubies has managed to sell roughly 1,000 swimsuits in its first year, Alexander said. Ruby writes a personal message to accompany every shipment, which for some customers seems to be just as valuable as the product itself, said Alexander. "We've gotten feedback that said some kids will put these postcards under their pillows, like it's this special treasure," he said. Alexander also launched a crowdfunding campaign so Rubies could donate swimsuits to families who many not be able to spend $57 on bikini bottoms. The brand has also expanded its offerings to include T-shirts, and recently started accepting preorders for a line of underwear. Alexander said Ruby has been involved in every step of getting the business off the ground, helping her father keep up with the latest trends on top of the usual demands of homework and chores. While it can be hard to juggle her duties as Grade 7 student and fashion maven, Ruby said it's worth it to see the impact that Rubies is having on kids like her across the globe. "There's other trans kids in the world who need help, and I'm happy to see them smile, and I'm proud to be the person who I am," she said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte handed in his resignation to the head of state on Tuesday, hoping he would be given an opportunity to put together a new coalition and rebuild his parliamentary majority. The deepening political crisis is playing out against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 86,000 Italians -- the second highest death toll in Europe after Britain and the sixth highest in the world. Conte lost his absolute majority in the upper house Senate last week when a junior partner, the Italia Viva party headed by former premier Matteo Renzi, quit in a row over the government's handling of the coronavirus crisis and economic recession.
COVID-19 might be partly to blame for a spike in cooking fires in Charlottetown over the past month, says a fire inspector with the capital city. Kent Mitchell said over the past 24 days, Charlottetown firefighters have responded to 10 cooking fires. Damage has ranged from a burned-out pot to extensive kitchen damage. Mitchell believes the spike in fires could be connected to people being home more because of the pandemic. "We've had five since Friday, and we've had 10 incidents in the last 24 days so we're certainly concerned about it," Mitchell said during an interview from Charlottetown Fire Station 1 in the city's downtown. 'They just leave for a few minutes' "They just leave for a few minutes and come back and find themselves with a bit of a fire," he said. Four people were forced out of their home during the latest cooking fire, which happened Saturday morning, said Mitchell. Firefighters were called to a four-unit apartment building on St. Peters Road in Charlottetown. One of the units sustained extensive damage, he said, with the fire originating from a pot of oil on the stove. "There was quite a bit of damage to the kitchen," said Mitchell. 'Injuries occur when people are trying to put out the fire' "It got into the cupboards and impinged on the ceiling some so there's quite a bit of soot damage and some fire damage done to the kitchen." There were no damages to the other three units in the building. Mitchell said when a kitchen fire happens, it's best to contain it with a pot cover or a cookie sheet to reduce the flow of oxygen which fuels the fire. If that's not easily doable, he said to call 911 and evacuate the home immediately. "Half the household injuries occur when people are trying to put out the fire," he said. The spike in kitchen fires appears isolated to Charlottetown. CBC News contacted Summerside, North River and Crossroads fire departments. None of them reported an increase in kitchen fires. 'No way of controlling that temperature' Mitchell said cooking fires are the most common firefighters have to deal with. The fire inspector said it's important to keep a close eye on what is being cooked and ensure nothing combustible, like an oven mitt or towel, is close to the stove. He also cautions against cooking with a pot of oil, sometimes used to deep fry french fries. Use a proper deep fryer, he urges. "We are still seeing open pots of oil," he said. "The risk is it can overheat and there's no way of controlling that temperature so if you turn your burner on maximum and you do leave for a few minutes it's going to be unattended and that could risk bursting into flames." More from CBC P.E.I.
Britain will be able to work with the European Union to ensure there is no disruption to vaccine supplies, Health Minister Matt Hancock said on Tuesday, arguing protectionism was not right during a pandemic. German Health Minister Jens Spahn earlier said he backed proposals to restrict vaccines leaving the EU, saying Europe should have its "fair share". The European Commission later said it had no plans to impose an export ban, explaining its proposal would require firms to register vaccine exports.
A suspicious package left last week at Cape Breton University for the school's president turned out to be nothing more than some 350-million-year-old rocks. Police were called to investigate the green reusable Sobeys bag that had David Dingwall's name on it. Geology professor Jason Loxton said the rocks are older than the coal fields of Cape Breton and were formed at a time when the land in Nova Scotia was still underwater. "They're not scientifically super-duper important, but they are a really neat, unique set of Nova Scotia history," Loxton told CBC's Mainstreet: Cape Breton. He was the second person officials telephoned after police. "The security guard immediately meets me and says, 'Just the man I was looking for,' which is not a thing you really want to hear from security," Loxton said. He said he immediately knew the rocks were limestone and there was a fossil of a rugose coral, otherwise known as horn corals. Loxton said this was his first time he saw this in Cape Breton. He said the person who left the package knew what they were doing when they found the rocks. "They noted the exact geographic locality down to actual lat-long co-ordinates and wrote it on the rock," said Loxton. "I was able to quickly throw that into a map and confirm not only exactly where it came from, but confirmed my suspicions on the age of it as well." Loxton said the rocks will remain in the geology lab, and Dingwall is welcome to check out the package that was intended for him. Loxton is looking for the person who dropped the rocks off. He hopes they can have a chat. MORE TOP STORIES
A cinematic legend from Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley passed away over the weekend. For nearly 50 years, Al Whittle was a mainstay of the Wolfville movie theatre that now bears his name. Whittle died on Saturday at the age of 91. "Al was a fabric of the community from the time he started working here and [he] rolled with all the punches of the changes of the industry, but constantly cultivated the people that came to watch film," said Bill Zimmerman, a co-founder of the Fundy Film Society who first met Whittle at the theatre. Whittle joined the Acadia Theatre full time in 1953. For the next 47 years, he worked all aspects of the business, serving for decades as manager. He told some of his story in a short film posted to the theatre's website. He stayed involved after the theatre was purchased by a non-profit co-operative. They renamed it the Al Whittle Theatre/Acadia Cinema Co-op in his honour. "He didn't just sit in his office and make the money roll in. He was out there taking tickets, selling concessions ... He was constantly feeling his audience. And I think if there's something that's carried forward, that has to be it," Zimmerman said. Whittle loved having a full house, he said, especially when the 1990s hit Titanic played to packed houses for a long run. He also brought in more obscure movies, too, and created teatime matinees on Sundays for film fans. The theatre is shut now due to COVID-19, but it will resume hosting live theatre, church services and a coffee shop when it reopens. "Our little theatre will be here for quite some time, hopefully screening movies and also live theatre and concerts and whatever we can do," said theatre manager Mary Harwell. "And this building will remain part of this community for a long time. And the theatre will be here with his name on it." MORE TOP STORIES
ROME — Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte went to the presidential palace Tuesday to offer his resignation after a key coalition ally pulled his party’s support over Conte’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Conte is hoping to get President Sergio Mattarella’s support to form a new coalition government that can steer the country as it battles the pandemic and an economic recession and creates a spending plan for the 209 billion euros ($254 billion) Italy is getting in European Union recovery funds. Conte met with his Cabinet early Tuesday and headed to the presidential palace at around noon. A government statement said Conte had opened the Cabinet meeting by telling ministers that he would resign. Conte’s coalition government was thrown into turmoil earlier this month when a junior party headed by ex-Premier Matteo Renzi yanked its support. Conte won confidence votes in parliament last week, but fell short of an absolute majority in the Senate, forcing him to take the gamble of resignation. Mattarella, Italy's largely ceremonial head of state, can ask Conte to try to form a broader coalition government, appoint a largely technical government to steer the country through the pandemic or dissolve parliament and call an election two years early. The current coalition of the 5-Star Movement, Democratic Party and smaller Leu party are all hoping for a third Conte government. Conte's first government starting in 2018 was a 5-Star alliance with the right-wing League party led by Matteo Salvini that lasted 15 months. His second, with the Democrats, lasted 16 months. Salvini and centre-right opposition parties are clamouring for an early election, hoping to capitalize on polls prior to the government crisis that showed high approval ratings for the League and the right-wing Brothers of Italy party led by Giorgia Meloni. Salvini has blasted the “palace games and buying and selling of senators” of recent days as Conte has tried to find new coalition allies, claiming that Conte is incapable of leading Italy through the crisis. “Let’s use these weeks to give the word back to the people and we’ll have five years of a serious and legitimate parliament and government not chosen in palaces but chosen by Italians,” Salvini said Monday. Democratic leader Nicola Zingaretti says an early election is the last thing the country needs. He tweeted Monday: “With Conte for a new clearly European-centric government supported by an ample parliamentary base that will guarantee credibility and stability to confront the challenges Italy has ahead." Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press
ROME — The Vatican has essentially slapped a retired U.S. bishop on the wrist for “flagrant" imprudent behaviour with teenagers, even though a diocesan review board determined a half-dozen allegations of sexual abuse against him were credible. The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith cleared retired Cheyenne, Wyoming Bishop Joseph Hart of seven accusations abuse, determined that five others couldn’t be proven “with moral certitude” and that two cases involving boys, who were 16 and 17, couldn’t be prosecuted given the Catholic Church didn’t consider them minors at the time of the alleged abuse, the diocese reported Monday. Another allegation wasn’t addressed in the decree. Hart, 89, had long maintained his innocence and denied all allegations of misconduct. The Vatican decision clearly disappointed Hart’s successor, Bishop Steven Biegler, who stressed that the Vatican’s findings didn’t mean Hart was innocent, just that the Holy See determined that the high burden of proof hadn’t been met. Biegler has previously stood by the findings of his review board, and a diocesan statement noted the qualifications of its members: “law enforcement; school administration; a doctor of psychology; a pediatrician; a psychotherapist, who treats sexually abused children; and a judge, who was a criminal prosecutor for 13 years involving crimes against children, primarily child sexual abuse.” On the other hand, the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, or CDF, relies on the judgment of priests and bishop canon lawyers, and ultimately the pope. The Vatican for decades has been blasted by victims’ groups for giving bishops a pass when they have been accused of sexual abuse themselves or of covering it up. A few exceptions have been made in recent years, most famously in the case of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was defrocked after the CDF determined he had abused minors as well as adults, including during confession — essentially the same allegations against Hart. As a result, the sentence showed the arbitrary nature of Vatican’s canonical sex abuse judgments, which aren't public. Hart’s previous diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph reached court settlements years ago with at least 10 victims. But Wyoming criminal prosecutors also decided last year not to proceed with charging Hart. In its decree, the CDF rebuked Hart “for his flagrant lack of prudence as a priest and bishop for being alone with minors in his private residence and on various trips which could have been potential occasions endangering the ‘obligation to observe continence’ and that would ‘give rise to scandal among the faithful,'” the diocese said. Hart was also rebuked for failing to observe previous Vatican restrictions prohibiting him from having contact with minors and seminarians and from participating in public engagements, the diocese said, adding that those restrictions remain in place. “Today, I want the survivors to know that I support and believe you” Biegler said in a statement. “I understand that this announcement will not bring closure to the survivors, their family members, Bishop Hart and all those affected.” Hart was a priest in Kansas City, Missouri, for 21 years before moving to Wyoming, where he served as auxiliary and then full bishop from 1976 until his retirement in 2001. The first known allegations against Hart dated to the early 1960s and were made in the late 1980s. At least six men came forward in the past few years to say Hart abused them in Wyoming. Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press