Infectious diseases physician Dr. Isaac Bogoch answers our latest COVID-19 questions about the effectiveness of curfews, COVID-19 variants and vaccine news.
Infectious diseases physician Dr. Isaac Bogoch answers our latest COVID-19 questions about the effectiveness of curfews, COVID-19 variants and vaccine news.
The federal government is eyeing a comprehensive North American energy strategy as workers reel from cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. The project's presidential permit was rescinded by U.S. President Joe Biden on his first day in office, prompting outrage from Alberta's provincial government. TC Energy, the proponent, had pre-emptively ceased construction of the project. "I was the minister of natural resources when the Obama administration cancelled Keystone XL. So for me, it's Round 2 of deep disappointment," Minister Jim Carr, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's representative for the Prairies, said Monday. "We have to look forward, however, to a continental energy strategy." That North American energy strategy is enticing to Alberta's premier as well, with Jason Kenney suggesting to the prime minister that they approach Washington together to pitch a collaborative approach to North American energy and climate policy. "Canada and the U.S. share a highly integrated energy system, including criss-crossing infrastructure such as pipelines and electricity transmission systems. Our energy and climate goals must be viewed in the context of that integrated system," Kenney wrote. The premier has called the Keystone cancellation an "insult" and a "gut-punch," repeatedly pressing for retaliation against the U.S. and suggesting economic and trade sanctions if the administration is unwilling to engage in conversations about the future of the pipeline. Last year, Kenney invested $1.5 billion in Keystone XL, arguing it would never be completed without the infusion. The pipeline, first announced in 2005, would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude a day from the oilsands in Alberta to Nebraska. The Biden administration has made no indication it intends to consider reinstating the permit. TC Energy has already laid off 1,000 workers in Alberta. A continental energy partnership has been an elusive goal for more than 15 years, with multiple trilateral meetings ending with consensus but often without measurable outcomes. It's been five years since Carr, then the minister of natural resources, hosted his American and Mexican counterparts to discuss the potential of such a partnership. They agreed to collaborate on things like energy technologies, energy efficiency, carbon capture and emissions reduction. While they signed a document stating these shared goals, synergy between the three countries has been slow to develop. In December 2014, a similar meeting ended with a to-do list to move forward on a continental energy strategy, including mapping energy infrastructure and sharing data. That data website hasn't been updated since 2017. In that meeting, then-natural resources minister Greg Rickford was making the pitch to the Obama administration for why Keystone XL should be permitted to live. It was cancelled — for the first time — less than a year later. "We've gone through a period over the last number of years where relations around energy have kind of died a slow death and become more and more narrowly focused around individual projects," said Monica Gattinger, director of the Institute for Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa. "There's tremendous potential between Canada and the United States to collaborate around energy and environmental objectives in the long term." Gattinger said changes in the United States around hydrocarbon and shale have diminished the country's motivation for a broader energy approach. With the national governments in Canada and the U.S. now more closely aligned on climate priorities, she added there's the potential for a breakthrough. "Both countries have vast potential across a whole host of energy resources," she said. "Those are the conversations that we have not been having in North America for a number of years now. And there is a real opportunity to do so at this time." Carr is optimistic, too. "We're hardly starting from scratch, and there will be alignment," he said, alluding to his hope for co-operation between the U.S. and Canada, but also with the Prairie provinces. "There is an awful lot of work to be done and an awful lot of potential."
Marian Turski, a 94-year-old survivor of the Auschwitz death camp, marked the 76th anniversary of its liberation by Soviet troops on Wednesday only virtually, aware that he might never return as the coronavirus pandemic drags on. Survivors and museum officials told Reuters they fear the pandemic could end the era where Auschwitz's former prisoners can tell their own stories to visitors on site. Most Auschwitz survivors are in their eighties and nineties.
La communication dans le contexte de la transition socioécologique sera au coeur d’un colloque organisé jeudi par les étudiantes en éco-conseil de l’Université du Québec à Chicoutimi (UQAC). L’événement, sous le thème « Ensemble vers l’action: comment parler de la transition ? », aura lieu en mode virtuel de 8h30 à 12h30. Le colloque proposera deux conférences, suivies d’une table ronde et d’une activité participative. Les quatre étudiantes au Diplôme d’études supérieures spécialisées en éco-conseil souhaitent ainsi réfléchir à la façon dont la communication peut être un « propulseur pour le changement ». « En tant que futures éco-conseillères, nous sommes des actrices de changements, a souligné l’étudiante Elizabeth Perron en conférence de presse virtuelle, mardi, en compagnie de sa collègue Mathilde Sauvé Gagnon. Nous allons être formées pour outiller les organisations à atteindre leur transition, donc nous devons avoir des outils de communication efficaces. » La pandémie de COVID-19 a aussi influencé les étudiantes dans le choix de cette thématique, alors que parler de transition dans ce contexte représente selon elles un nouveau défi. « On développe une nouvelle façon de faire », a indiqué Mathilde Sauvé Gagnon. Catherine Lemay-Belisle, représentante de l’Association professionnelle des éco-conseillers du Québec, a pour sa part mentionné que la communication est la compétence la plus utilisée par les éco-conseillers, selon les membres de l’organisation. Conférences et invités Oumar Kane, professeur en communication sociale et publique de l’Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), offrira la première conférence de l’événement, consacrée à l’apport mutuel que peuvent avoir la communication et l’écologie. Rémi Toupin, doctorant en science, technologie et société à l’UQAM, entretiendra ensuite les participants au sujet de la communication de la recherche sur les enjeux écologiques dans un contexte numérique. Cinq acteurs prendront ensuite part à une table ronde pour discuter de leurs stratégies de communication. Alice-Anne Simard, directrice générale de Nature Québec, Adrien Guibert-Barthez, co-porte-parole de la Coalition fjord, ainsi que la députée Ruba Ghazal, porte-parole de Québec solidaire en matière d’environnement, y prendront part. Marie-Michèle Doyon, fondatrice du forum Le Peuplier, et Sophie Delfa, professeure-chercheuse en communication à l’UQAC et membre du comité de démarrage du Grand dialogue régional sur la transition, y participeront également. L’enjeu des stratégies de communication déployées par certains de ces acteurs mobilisés contre le projet d’exportation de gaz naturel à Saguenay de GNL Québec ne fera pas partie des sujets sur la table. « Non, on ne risque pas de parler de GNL, a indiqué Elizabeth Perron. Sauf que peut-être que ça se peut qu’il y ait des invités qui en parlent dans leurs questions plus personnelles ; sûrement des messages qui ont été plus difficiles à passer, quelles stratégies de communication ils ont utilisées pour que ça fonctionne, mais on ne va pas nécessairement dans l’enjeu du GNL. » Les organisatrices ont reçu jusqu’à maintenant 76 inscriptions en ligne à l’événement gratuit. Les étudiantes organisent également un rallye à Saguenay en prévision du colloque, dont les détails ont été publiés sur la page Facebook Éco-conseil UQAC.Myriam Gauthier, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
BERLIN — A German state governor has apologized for referring to Chancellor Angela Merkel as “little Merkel” during a recent online event, saying he had unintentionally displayed macho behaviour. Bodo Ramelow, who governs the state of Thuringia, told German weekly Die Zeit that he greatly regretted using the term “Merkelchen” while talking chatting with other politicians and the public on the social networking app Clubhouse. Die Zeit on Wednesday quoted Ramelow saying that he should have used the diminutive form in reference to male politicians. “Instead, I spoke about a woman. That was dumb and appeared disrespectful,” he said. Ramelow, a member of the Left Party, said he had since apologized personally to Merkel. The 64-year-old has also faced criticism for playing the game “Candy Crush” during lengthy video meetings with Merkel and other governors to discuss the coronavirus pandemic. He defended playing games on his smartphone, saying he only did so during lulls in the meeting when others were replying to emails or going outside to smoke. The Associated Press
COUNTRY HARBOUR – Better now than during the summer is the general reaction from people in the Country Harbour area when it was announced last week (Jan. 20) that the Country Harbour ferry would continue to be out of service – due to mechanical problems – until May, when a new ferry comes into service. The Stormont II served as a link between the communities of Country Harbour and Port Bickerton for more than 40 years and was scheduled for replacement in May; a schedule the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal says is on track. The cable ferry makes 13,000 voyages a year carrying 25,000 passengers and 15,000 vehicles but traffic is greatly reduced over the winter months. Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) Councillor Rickey McLaren, whose district includes Country Harbour, told The Journal that he had not gotten any calls about the disruption to service. If service were stopped in the summer, he expected there might have been more of a reaction. That’s a sentiment shared by the local stores in the Country Harbour area; Smokey Hollow General Store and Rhynold's Gas and Convenience. Paul MacLennan of Smokey Hollow General told The Journal that the temporary closure of the Country Harbour ferry at this time of year made little difference in his business but added if it had happened in the summer, tourism would be affected. At Rhynold’s store there was similar comment, with the exception that one of the part-time employees now has to add 30 minutes’ drive to her commute. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Lloyd Hines, who is also MLA for the Country Harbour area, said in the TIR press release, “This is disappointing news, especially during a year that has already been hard…We had hoped the old ferry would takes us through to the arrival of the brand new ferry. The Stormont II served the community well for more than 40 years, but unfortunately the mechanical issues are significant." The Stormont II has been out of service since November. During the pause in service, a detour has been in place. It runs from Port Bickerton, on Route 211, to Route 7 and then to Melrose Country Harbour Road and onto Route 316. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday warning of the lingering potential for violence from people motivated by antigovernment sentiment after President Joe Biden's election, suggesting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol may embolden extremists and set the stage for additional attacks. The department did not cite any specific plots, but pointed to “a heightened threat environment across the United States” that it believes “will persist” for weeks after Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration. It is not uncommon for the federal government to warn local law enforcement through bulletins about the prospect for violence tied to a particular event or date, such as July 4. But this particular bulletin, issued through the department’s National Terrorism Advisory System, is notable because it effectively places the Biden administration into the politically charged debate over how to describe or characterize acts motivated by political ideology, and suggests it regards violence like the kind that overwhelmed the Capitol as akin to terrorism. The bulletin is an indication that national security officials see a connective thread between different episodes of violence in the last year motivated by anti-government grievances, including over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results and police use of force. The document singles out crimes motivated by racial or ethnic hatred, such as the 2019 rampage targeting Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, as well as the threat posed by extremists motivated by foreign terror groups. A DHS statement that accompanied the bulletin noted the potential for violence from “a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors.” “Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the bulletin said. The alert comes at a tense time following the riot at the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump seeking to overturn the presidential election. Authorities are concerned that extremists may attack other symbols of government or people whose political views they oppose. “The domestic terrorism attack on our Capitol earlier this month shined a light on a threat that has been right in front of our faces for years,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “I am glad to see that DHS fully recognizes the threat posed by violent, right-wing extremists and is taking efforts to communicate that threat to the American people.” The alert was issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske. Biden’s nominee for the Cabinet post, Alejandro Mayorkas, has not been confirmed by the Senate. Two former homeland security secretaries, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano, called on the Senate to confirm Mayorkas so he can start working with the FBI and other agencies and deal with the threat posed by domestic extremists, among other issues. Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, said attacks by far-right, domestic extremists are not new but that deaths attributed to them in recent years in the U.S. have exceeded those linked to jihadists such as al-Qaida. “We have to be candid and face what the real risk is,” he said in a conference call with reporters. Federal authorities have charged more than 150 people in the Capitol siege, including some with links to right-wing extremist groups such as the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers. The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against 43-year Ian Rogers, a California man found with five pipe bombs during a search of his business this month who had a sticker associated with the Three Percenters on his vehicle. His lawyer told his hometown newspaper, The Napa Valley Register, that he is a “very well-respected small business owner, father, and family man” who does not belong to any violent organizations. Ben Fox And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
The Charlottetown Islanders say they will play by the COVID-19 rules when their season resumes in Cape Breton on Friday. The Charlottetown Driving Park is the only open harness racing track in Canada right now, and it was first to open in the spring, and that created a surge in revenues in 2020. The final numbers are in, and they show what many observers already suspected — 2020 was the worst year on record for the Charlottetown Airport in the last 45 years. The pandemic has slowed down the process of turning Hog Island, along P.E.I.'s North Shore, into a national park reserve. Provincial qualifiers for the Scotties and the Brier are short on competitors, and Curl P.E.I. says it is because of the self-isolation requirements. A trauma and orthopedic surgeon has been splitting his time between work in three New Brunswick hospitals and his home and family in P.E.I. And he's got dozens of COVID-19 test results to show for it. UPEI's writer-in-residence will not actually be in residence this year. A 24-year-old P.E.I. woman from the Summerside area has been fined for not following the province's COVID-19 self-isolation rules. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases reported on P.E.I. remains 110, with six still active. There have been no deaths or hospitalizations. New Brunswick reported 14 new cases Wednesday. Nova Scotia had four new cases, with 12 active. 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.
Saskatchewan’s top doctor spoke for the first time following a rally outside of his family home over the weekend.
BERLIN — A survivor of the Holocaust and a young Jewish immigrant spoke about their lives in Germany at a special parliamentary session Wednesday commemorating the victims of the Holocaust 76 years after the Soviet army liberated the Auschwitz death camp in occupied Poland. Charlotte Knobloch, 88, and Marina Weisband, 33, told lawmakers on International Holocaust Remembrance Day how their lives as Jews in Germany are still far from normal, almost eight decades after the Nazis and their henchmen murdered 6 million European Jews in the Shoah. Knobloch, the president of the Jewish Community of Munich, looked back at her life from when she was a little girl and had to hide from the Nazis under a false identity. “I lost my homeland, I fought for it and I reclaimed it,” she said. “Today, I am standing here in front of you as a proud German,” she told lawmakers. But Knobloch also warned of democracy's fragility and asked lawmakers to protect the achievements of the last decades for both Jews and non-Jews and defend Germany against extremists. “I'm asking you, please watch out for our country,” she said. Both Knobloch and Weisband warned of resurging anti-Semitism in Germany, especially while false claims of Jewish responsibility for the coronavirus pandemic abound online and at anti-government protests. “It is still dangerous for us to be visible as Jews in Germany,” Weisband, who immigrated from Ukraine as a child, said. She described how Jews are under constant police protection whether during visits to the synagogue, in school or at university clubs. However, Weisband also expressed hope that one day Jewish life may become normal again in Germany, “and then we can simply be human beings.” Following the speeches in parliament, several high-ranking government officials bore witness in the prayer room of parliament as a rabbi put the finishing touches on a carefully restored Torah scroll. In the presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and others, Rabbi Shaul Nekrich wrote the last 12 letters of the Sulzbacher Torah Scroll, one of Germany's oldest Torah scrolls. The Torah was created in 1792 in Bavaria and survived a city fire in Sulzbach in 1822, and the so-called Night of Broken Glass in 1938, when Germans across the country destroyed synagogues and killed Jews. After the end of World War II, the Torah scroll stood unnoticed for around 70 years in the shrine of the Amberg synagogue in Bavaria, until it was discovered again in 2013. The faded letters and animal skin of the Torah were carefully restored for 45,000 euros ($54,520) with German federal funds in Israel and the Torah will now be used again in services at the Jewish community in Amberg. Kirsten Grieshaber, The Associated Press
Anglers on P.E.I. are being given a chance to fish for perch through the ice this year, in an experiment to see if a regular fishery is viable. The licence is free, but you have to apply and report all you catch. Because the perch are coastal, the province is partnering with Fisheries and Oceans Canada on the project. David Richards, owner of Richards Bait and Tackle in Alberton, is one of the Islanders who has one of the new licences. "It's a little struggle to find them because we've never had a nice winter fishery up here for perch before," Richards told Island Morning host Mitch Cormier. He and his sons got organized in advance of the fishery, heading out on the ice, drilling some holes and scouting with a GoPro camera to see where the fish were. He said it was pretty exciting to spot some, but the fish turned out to be smarter than they thought. "Lo and behold the perch were not where we thought they'd be. They swim," he said. But Richards said he and his family, three generations worth, are still having a good time out on the ice. It doesn't take much in the way of gear, he said, just an ice auger and an ice-fishing pole. He said his own family is spoiled, with a gas-powered auger, an ice-fishing tent and propane heaters. "You don't need all that stuff. You can just get there with your bucket and your auger, a little bit of bait. It's a little cooler but it's still nice to enjoy the great outdoors," said Richards. Finding another reason to get his grandchildren outside has been particularly nice during the pandemic, when kids have been even more tempted than usual to sit at home in front of a screen. More from CBC P.E.I.
LONDON — Arsenal has signed Norway midfielder Martin Odegaard on loan from Real Madrid for the rest of the season, the latest step in the career of a player who is looking to fulfil the promise he showed after making his international debut as a 15-year-old. Odegaard has been at Madrid since 2015 — when he joined at the age of 16 — but failed to establish himself at the Spanish giant and has had loan spells at Heerenveen and Vitesse Arnhem in the Netherlands and then at Real Sociedad last season. Following the departure of Mesut Ozil to Fenerbahce last week, the 22-year-old Odegaard will provide competition in the attacking-midfield department at Arsenal. “Martin is, of course, a player that we all know very well,” Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said on Wednesday, “and although still young, he has been playing at the top level for a while. Martin will provide us with quality offensive options.” Odegaard was the youngest ever player to feature in Norway’s top division when he made his debut for Stromsgodset at 15 in April 2014. He made his first senior international appearance the following August — as Norway’s youngest debutant — before joining Madrid five months later, when he was billed as one of Europe’s most talented youngsters. Emile Smith Rowe, 20, currently plays in the No. 10 role at Arsenal under Arteta, who has been keen to promote youth since taking charge in December 2019. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
A motion to prohibit fossil fuel producers and sellers from sponsoring city events or advertising on city property has been withdrawn unanimously at Regina's city council. At the executive committee meeting a week ago, councillors voted 7-4 in favour of a motion that would prevent fossil fuel companies from sponsoring city events, advertising or buying naming rights for city buildings. City administration said in a report that these sponsorships are expected to produce between $100,000 to $250,000 in net revenue annually for the city. Coun. Dan LeBlanc says he proposed the motion because the city has a policy to be energy sustainable by 2050, and it's up to the current council to help reach that goal. "I heard from a lot of people in the last week, and most of those I heard from support sustainability and understand that we need to get moving on it," LeBlanc said. "Despite support, I don't think this is one to push on. We don't have enough support at this point. I think taking a step back, let us cast a wider net for sustainability." Ward 4 Coun. Lori Bresciani, who had voted against the ban, says council reversing the decision was admirable and she thanked the councillors who did. "It's listening to your residents," Bresciani said. "And I will speak for all of the councillors that are here that have done that and vocally said that, 'You know what? We made a mistake. We heard you loud and clear,' and that is the job of a councillor." A total of 20 delegations, including the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and Canadian Labour Congress. Krystal Lewis, one of two delegations who spoke in favour of the amendment, says climate change is an important issue with voters. "Young people want movement on this and they are less afraid than us to talk about it," said Lewis, a member of the Regina Public Interest Research Group that advocates for climate change action. "I hope that we can be a lot more courageous in our thinking and not be afraid despite some backlash or negative feedback, we still need to move forward with these conversations. "We owe it not just to ourselves, but all of these young folks and leaders of tomorrow who will be dealing with the consequences of our decisions today." Twenty of the 21 delegations spoke against the amendment, including John Hopkins, CEO of the Regina and District Chamber of Commerce. Hopkins requested the council defeat the amendment. "The Saskatchewan energy sector is vital to our province. It is one of our big economic factors employing thousands of unionized workers as well as businesses," Hopkins said. "These employees are family, friends and neighbours." Hopkins says energy companies are using unique and innovative ways to reduce emissions and their carbon footprints. The fossil fuel producer and seller change wasn't the only amendment to the policy. Executive committee had also approved prohibiting political candidates or parties from sponsoring city events. On Wednesday, council voted unanimously to allow political parties or candidates to advertise or sponsor events as long as they indicated who it was paid by. Report on ew process for approving downtown parking lots postponed 'City council was set to discuss a report showing that 46.7 per cent of Regina's private land downtown is currently either surface parking or structured parkades. However it was pushed to the next meeting due to time constraints. If approved, the report would create a new process for approving new downtown lots and decommissioning lots when the allotted time ran out. The report was commissioned by the previous city council in August. It had asked city administration to look into amending the official Design Regina community plan to accommodate temporary surface parking lots. City administration looked into allowing lots for three to five years, researched how other cities consider downtown surface lots and consulted with the Regina and Downtown Business Improvement District, downtown property owners and developers. Administration also looked into how to decommission a temporary parking lot. Regina city councils have previously approved three temporary parking lots. The report shows none of them went on to be developed as expected. One such site is at 1755 Hamilton Street. It was approved as a three-year temporary parking lot in 2012, but was supposed to be developed afterward. It remains a vacant lot. A second is at 1840 Lorne Street. In 2015, it was approved for a three-year term. In 2019, another three-year term was approved. It is still a parking lot. "There is a risk that allowing surface parking lots, even on a temporary basis, would cause several demolitions downtown if left uncontrolled," city administration said in the report. Administration is recommending limiting future temporary surface parking lots and creating an underutilized land improvement strategy to redevelop existing sites.
MOSCOW — The lower house of Russian parliament on Wednesday approved the extension of the last remaining nuclear arms control pact days before it’s due to expire. The State Duma voted unanimously to extend the New START treaty for five years. The vote came a day after a phone call between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which they voiced satisfaction with the exchange of diplomatic notes about extending the New START treaty. They agreed to complete the necessary procedures in the next few days, according to the Kremlin. The pact’s extension doesn’t require congressional approval in the U.S., but Russian lawmakers must ratify the move. Top members of the Kremlin-controlled parliament said they would fast-track the issue and complete the necessary steps to extend the treaty this week. The Associated Press
A former residence for horse racing jockeys is now being used to give Edmontonians struggling with homelessness better odds at finding a home. The former jockey dorms at Northlands have been renovated and operating as a bridge housing facility for the past month. Kevin Chapman, 56, has been staying at the dorms for about a month. He's one of 35 people who have a private room and is provided daily meals through the building's dining service. His stay is expected to be temporary. Chapman has been struggling with homelessness for the past two years and say he's grateful to be staying somewhere private. "I don't have to worry when I get up and crawl from underneath that pine tree or wherever," he said. "Shelters turn me away sometimes, because they're full. So, you look wherever you can. Having a place over your head is a big thing." Like other guests at the dorsm, Chapman has a housing support coordinator from Homeward Trust who helps him get what he needs to find a permanent home, from proper documentation to finding suitable vacancies and setting up viewings. "It's helped get my mind straightened out a little bit more focused on what I do," Chapman said. "So in the end, I think it helps tremendously." Guests at bridge housing facilities are expected to stay for anywhere from one to three months before transitioning into a home. They're referred through Boyle Street Community Street Community Services. The jockey dorms bridge housing facility opened last month after signing a three-year lease with the City of Edmonton. So far, five people have found or are in the process of moving into permanent housing. While the facility is in its early stages, Homeward Trust's CEO Susan McGee says it's allowed coordinators to find housing options specific to individual needs of guests. "It's really meeting a very important gap and certainly it's building off of the experience we've had in our community with the bridge housing offered at the Coliseum Inn," she said. "So as we work and as we grow as a system to make sure that we get that immediate access to really stable environments, a focus of the team has been to really nuance and make sure that as the folks that are being referred there, we're identifying potential barriers, challenges." 2 of 3 bridge housing facilities considered temporary Two Edmonton hotels are also being used as bridge housing. An EconoLodge in south Edmonton has 35 available rooms and The Coliseum Inn on Wayne Gretzky Drive has 95 rooms. Since the Coliseum Inn bridge housing opened in the spring of 2020 there have been 231 people who have moved from the hotel to permanent housing. The two bridge housing hotels have been funded through pandemic relief money, as a part of the City of Edmonton's plan to get people out of encampments and into safe shelter during the pandemic, which also included opening the Edmonton Convention Centre and Commonwealth Stadium as 24/7 shelter spaces. The plan is expected to be in place until the end of March, but it doesn't mean the temporary bridge housing programs will be scrapped. "Those funding programs are time limited. They potentially run out in March, but we are also just continually assessing our needs and ability to continue to keep them open," said Colton Kirsop, manager of project development for affordable housing and homelessness with the City of Edmonton. "So if there is a major need to keep those open, I think we will be continually looking at whether or not we can fund them through a different funding stream. The federal government may extend their funding packages as well." As for Chapman, he's happy that bridge housing now exists in the city at a time when he's ready to find a home. "I'm glad. Finally somebody is doing something about it. it's great. It's good for me, so far and anybody else," he said. "You can just start working on getting your life straight."
If you have high-interest consumer debt, getting control of your money in the new year might sound overwhelming. Most Americans say the COVID-19 outbreak has caused financial stress, according to a survey released in October by the National Endowment for Financial Education, with 30% listing debt as their top stressor. Despite the pandemic, you can still pay down your debt with the right plan. Here’s how. CONFRONT YOUR DEBT The first step is simple, but it can be the hardest: You have to face the problem. Angela Moore, a Miami-based certified financial planner and founder of Modern Money Advisor, which offers virtual advising and education for consumers, says it’s common for her clients to know they’re in debt but not know how much. She recommends compiling your debt onto one document or spreadsheet, listing all balances, minimum payments and interest rates. Though the task is daunting, most of her clients feel relief once it’s finished. “Debt is an emotional burden,” she says, “but a lot of times that overwhelm goes away once you have clarity.” COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR LENDERS After listing your debt, it’s time to get on the phone with your creditors. Ask for a temporarily lowered interest rate, reduced monthly payment or waived late fees. Make sure to explain how the pandemic has influenced your finances. Most creditors will be willing to work with you, says Dan Herron, a California-based CFP at Elemental Wealth Advisors. “It doesn’t hurt to say, ‘I’m still trying to do the right thing, I’m still trying to make payments. Where can we meet in the middle?’” he says. Any break you get, take that money and apply it to your debt. If you need help negotiating, contact a credit counsellor at a reputable non-profit organization, like the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Counselors have relationships with creditors and can negotiate on your behalf. Services are typically free for those experiencing financial difficulties due to COVID-19. CONSIDER CONSOLIDATING If you have multiple types of debt, such as loans, credit cards and medical bills, you may want to take out an unsecured personal loan to consolidate it into one monthly payment. A consolidation loan is a good idea only if you can qualify for a lower interest rate than those on your current debts. Some lenders have tightened their approval standards in the pandemic, but borrowers with good to excellent credit (690 FICO or higher) should have a good shot. Look for a lender that specializes in debt consolidation and offers perks like direct payments to creditors or rate discounts for automated payments. If you have credit card debt, you could apply for a balance transfer card. Though these cards typically charge a 3% to 5% fee, they offer an introductory 0% interest period, so all payments go toward your principal, which helps you pay off debt faster. You’ll likely need good credit to qualify. Charles Ho, a California-based CFP and founder of Legacy Builders Financial, urges caution for some consumers. Though consolidation tools can save money, they also free up your credit cards for more spending. “It might make mathematical sense to consolidate your loans, but the math is meaningless if we don’t account for our behaviour and end up almost doubling our debt,” he says. PICK A STRATEGY AND STICK TO IT If you choose not to consolidate, there are two common methods for approaching debt payoff: the snowball or avalanche. With the snowball method, you pay off your smallest debt first, while making minimum payments on the others, then move to the second smallest and so on. The avalanche method uses the same strategy, but you start with the debt that has the highest interest rate. According to Herron, the avalanche method may get you to the finish line faster since the money you save on interest can be applied to other debts, but it’s more important to pick the method that motivates you the most. BREAK THE CYCLE As you make your way out of debt, start to automate your finances. Moore has her clients set up automatic bill payments and savings contributions, so the money is put aside without having to think about it. If finances are tight in the pandemic, build toward a $500 emergency fund. She also advises clients to use a separate account for nonessential spending — 30% of your post-tax income is a good target to hit in this account. Clients can use the money to buy whatever they want, but once it’s at $0, “that’s it,” she says. “By automating and creating systems, it helps you stick to your financial strategy and take the emotional aspect out of it. That’s the key.” ______________________ This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Jackie Veling is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. RELATED LINKS NerdWallet: Compare debt consolidation loans http://bit.ly/nerdwallet-debt-consolidation-loans National Foundation for Credit Counseling: Get help for debt https://www.nfcc.org/ Jackie Veling Of Nerdwallet, The Associated Press
European football teams face losing up to $10 billion due to disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest forecast of the umbrella organization for clubs on the continent. Supporters have been kept out of stadiums in Europe's main leagues longer than anticipated as the second wave of COVID-19 cases has devastated the continent. Andrea Agnelli, the Juventus chairman who leads the European Club Association, said it would be “extremely difficult" to see spectators being allowed back in this season. There have also been rebates to broadcasters and sponsors due to the pandemic after some leagues, including France, were abandoned last season and others paused for up to three months. “When I look at the best information I’ve had so far, we’re looking at a bottom-line loss for the industry in the region of €6.5 billion ($7.9 billion) to €8.5 billion ($10.3 billion) for the combined two years," Agnelli said on a News Tank Football virtual event on Wednesday. Italy — like England — had brought a small number of fans back into some stadiums but had to prohibit access again as part of a national effort to contain the resurgence of coronavirus cases. There are concerns about the financial impact on the value of broadcast rights to games. “About 360 clubs (in Europe) will need cash injections, whether it’s debt or equity within those two years, for an amount of €6 billion ($7.2 billion)," Agnelli said. Just as the ECA is in talks with UEFA about the distribution of Champions League revenue, Agnelli is painting a gloomier picture of the state of club finances than Deloitte. The accountancy firm reported this week that the top 20 revenue-generating clubs lost around €1.1 billion ($1.3 billion) last season and their turnover could drop by €2 billion ($2.4 billion) in this campaign. “The revenue that’s been missed out on is driven by the lack of fans in the stadium, the lack of interaction on a match day — fans spending in the club shop and buying food and drink — and there is an element that relates to revenue that broadcasters have either clawed back (or deferred) to next year," said Tim Bridge of Deloitte. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Rob Harris, The Associated Press
Regional Librarian for Kings County Grace Dawson, , has noticed shifts in trends, looking back on 2020. “The big trend which is reflected in the numbers is this year’s rise in digital and electronic resource use,” Ms Dawson said. She added this is likely because of COVID-19 and the related shutdowns. Islanders used 49,200 more electronic resources in 2020 compared to 2019. That’s a jump from 179,527 uses to 228,759. On the flip side, new memberships to Island libraries and physical book loans were down this year. Libraries offered 4,163 new library cards in 2019 but only 2,033 in 2020. They also loaned 300,652 physical books in 2020 compared to 471,380 in 2019. Physical items could not be borrowed from libraries between mid-March and early June 2020 when the facilities closed their doors to the public. In June, library services started to gradually reopen with some locations offering curb-side pickup. Eventually all 26 locations reopened and welcomed browsing. But libraries reverted back to curb-side pickup during the December COVID-19 circuit breaker when restrictions were heightened again for Islanders. Despite these interruptions, overall, borrowed library materials increased this year from 819,987 in 2019 to 980,800 iitems borrowed in 2020. Ms Dawson said the growing use of non-traditional library materials such as musical instruments, telescopes, snowshoes, etc increased. These types of items have been available through the province’s libraries since 2018. “I think their popularity reflects the evolution of libraries as a provider of a broad range of materials and items to the entire community,” Ms Dawson said. “Libraries have always been inclusive spaces that provide information and access to all individuals but now we are seeing the public wants information and resources in a wide variety of formats.” The following is a breakdown of non-traditional items loaned this year: • Musical instruments: 2,781 • TCAP Fitness passes (available at Montague Library): 995 • Radon detectors: 165 • Telescopes: 403 • Snowshoes: 731 • Museum passes checked out (July & August 2020): 143 • Books delivered through Library’s Early Learning and Child Care Centre Book Delivery Service (which was started in July 2020): 3,799 • Books delivered through Library’s Community Care Book Delivery Service : 2,671 Ms Dawson said it’s worth noting that it has been difficult to draw conclusive trends from this year’s data given the restrictions libraries have faced due to the pandemic. Krystal Dionne, a branch technician with the Montague Rotary Library, says it has been fun to see the joy kids and adults get out of borrowing less traditional items from the library such as musical instruments. Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic
BRUSSELS — The European Union’s executive body warned the Polish government Wednesday that it has a month to address long-standing concerns about laws that Brussels fears undermine the independence of Supreme Court judges or Poland faces possible legal action. The European Commission considers Poland in violation of EU law for allowing the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court to make decisions which have a direct impact on judges and the way they do their jobs. It says the chamber's independence and impartiality are not guaranteed. The commission warned that it “may refer the case” to the European Court of Justice, Europe’s top court, unless Poland takes action to fix the problem and replies to Brussels’ concerns in time. A series of legislative acts approved in late 2019 governs the way Poland's justice system operates. The laws entered force in February of last year. The European Commission started infringement proceedings against the government in Warsaw in April, and took further steps in October and December. The EU is concerned about cases involving the lifting of judges’ immunity to bring criminal proceedings against them, moves to temporarily suspend them and to cut their salaries. The Supreme Court disciplinary chamber can also rule on labour law, social security and the retirement of judges. The European Commission, which supervises the way EU laws are applied in the 27 member countries, said “the mere prospect for judges of having to face proceedings before a body whose independence is not guaranteed creates a ‘chilling effect’ for judges and can affect their own independence.” In November, the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court Disciplinary Chamber suspended Judge Igor Tuleya and cut his salary by 25%. Tuleya, who has been critical of the changes to the justice system, has become the symbol of the struggle for judicial independence in Poland. Tuleya’s immunity was also waived, allowing prosecutors to press charges against him, for having let the media hear the verdict in a politically sensitive trial. He's the third judge critical of Justice Ministry policy who has been suspended by the chamber, which is largely composed of government loyalists. Poland’s largest association of judges, IUSTITIA, has condemned the decisions. The EU commission's case is part of a long-running row between Brussels and the nationalist governments in Poland and Hungary over concerns that they are undermining democratic standards and the rule of law in the world's biggest trading bloc. The Associated Press
GUYSBOROUGH – This past year has given us a lot of time to reflect, to think globally – as well as locally – about things that matter, things that don’t and about what we want the world to look like when we finally get to see it again in person and not through a computer monitor. But what can we do with so many thoughts and so few people to talk to? ArtWorks East, an association of artists and crafters who live in Guysborough County, has an answer to that question: create. Just as the new year was about to dawn, with the weight of many hopes for the coming months, ArtWorks East (AWE) announced a new project, Letter to the World, on Facebook. The project asks potential participants, “As we enter 2021, what would you like to say to the world? Write a letter, take a picture, and post it … The world needs you!” AWE member Renee Sagebear spoke to The Journal about the genesis of the project last week. The idea started in the form of a calendar which had as its cover the tarot card for ‘The World.’ “I got out my tarot decks and, sure enough, number 21 in the tarot deck is the world. That, to me, was pretty fantastic…. Then I looked through the calendar and one of the contributors had written her letter to the world and I thought ‘This is the year of the world, and it would be so fantastic if we all just realized that,’” Sagebear said. The idea took another step forward due to Sagebear’s familiarity with the Facebook page, View From My Window, where contributors from all around the world post pictures and videos from their location. The page started as an online remedy to the isolation brought on by COVID-19 lockdowns. “I was inspired by that,” Sagebear said, adding that once she had the two ideas together she brought them to AWE President Jack Leonard, “To ask people to contribute a letter to the world on the ArtWorks East Facebook site with the intention, at the end of the year, to have an exhibit of all of the letters, photographs or paintings.” Now that Sagebear’s idea has launched, she said, “I thought, ‘What would I write?’… I’ve only just scratched a few words so far because when you write a letter to the world, that’s quite phenomenal … People will probably come up with ideas that we can’t even fathom.” Studying the tarot has done that for Sagebear. She told The Journal that the addition of the numbers that make up this year, 2021, equal five and, “The number five in the tarot is the peacemaker.” Perhaps a good jumping off point for her letter to the world. The concept is large and initially daunting, but Leonard suggested people start their submission by thinking “about your target audience, think about your context; what’s on your mind. It could be climate change, or it could be the pandemic, or it could be the elections, and then you have to think about your medium.” The medium could be as diverse as anything that can fit on a page or canvas, “We wanted to leave the door wide open for people to create whatever they wanted.” Speaking to the motivation AWE has in hosting this event Leonard said, “The nice thing about it is it invites a lot of people to participate who might not be members of the organization and may not feel that they are visual artists in any way… It’s nice to have something occasionally where you invite everybody, regardless of age or talent, to make a contribution.” Submissions to the Letter to the World project are welcome from anyone, everywhere, in any style of writing. And if words are too small to hold your thoughts, you could see your letter to the world and submit an image. The project is evolving, and the result depends on how many and what kinds of submissions AWE receives. Those interested in submitting an entry have the next eleven months to cogitate and create a Letter to the World. Information about the project and the location for submissions can be found on the ArtWorks East webpage under Events or on the ArtWorks East Facebook page. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
A veteran member of First Nations politics in Saskatchewan has died. For more than 30 years, Ron Michel served in leadership as chief of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, then grand chief of the Prince Albert Grand Council. He died late Monday night. "We would like to extend our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Senator Ron Michel," read a statement from Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron. "He was instrumental and played an influential role in my life." Michel was well-known as a strong advocate for northern Saskatchewan. He served as chief of the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation for 20 years and went on to serve as the Prince Albert Grand Council Grand Chief (PAGC) for 12 years. "There are some leaders who simply command respect, not only because they display a determined, fierce and confident attitude in their cause, but because they display this vision of determination, fierceness and confidence that is driven by compassion and a deep love for the people," read a statement from the current PAGC executive. "Senator Michel was one of those leaders." Michel was also a strong advocate for First Nations children. At a youth suicide conference in 2016, he spoke out about a then-recent wave of suicides in the north. "We're going to strategize about what we can do about these crises. We can no longer wait. We can no longer stand by," Michel said. "Things are getting worse … Our kids are crying out for help." Michel was married to his wife Nancy for more than 50 years. He was 69 years old.