Check out how much fun this gorilla baby is having at the Kansas City Zoo. Cuteness overload!
Check out how much fun this gorilla baby is having at the Kansas City Zoo. Cuteness overload!
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 The project's presidential permit was rescinded by U.S. President Joe Biden on his first day in office, prompting outrage from Alberta's provincial government.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."
WARSAW, Poland — Tova Friedman hid among corpses at Auschwitz amid the chaos of the extermination camp's final days. Just 6 years old at the time, the Poland-born Friedman was instructed by her mother to lie absolutely still in a bed at a camp hospital, next to the body of a young woman who had just died. As German forces preparing to flee the scene of their genocide went from bed to bed shooting anyone still alive, Friedman barely breathed under a blanket and went unnoticed. Days later, on Jan. 27, 1945, she was among the thousands of prisoners who survived to greet the Soviet troops who liberated the camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. Now 82, Friedman had hoped to mark Wednesday's anniversary by taking her eight grandchildren to the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial site, which is under the custodianship of the Polish state. The coronavirus pandemic prevented the trip. So instead, Friedman will be alone at home in Highland Park, New Jersey, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Yet a message of warning from her about the rise of hatred will be part of a virtual observance organized by the World Jewish Congress. Other institutions around the world, including the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial museum in Poland, Yad Vashem in Israel and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. also have online events planned. The presidents of Israel, Germany and Poland will be among those delivering remarks of remembrance and warning. The online nature of this year's commemorations is a sharp contrast to how Friedman spent the 75th anniversary of Auschwitz's liberation last year, when she gathered under a huge tent with other survivors and dozens of European leaders at the site of the former camp. It was one of the last large international gatherings before the pandemic forced the cancellation of most large gatherings. Many Holocaust survivors in the United States, Israel and elsewhere find themselves in a state of previously unimaginable isolation due to the pandemic. Friedman lost her husband last March and said she feels acutely alone now. But survivors like her also have found new connections over Zoom: World Jewish Congress leader Ronald Lauder has organized video meetings for survivors and their children and grandchildren during the pandemic. More than 1.1 million people were murdered by the German Nazis and their henchmen at Auschwitz, the most notorious site in a network of camps and ghettos aimed at the destruction of Europe's Jews. The vast majority of those killed at Auschwitz were Jews, but others, including Poles, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war, were also killed in large numbers. In all, about 6 million European Jews and millions of other people were killed by the Germans and their collaborators. In 2005, the United Nations designated Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, an acknowledgement of Auschwitz's iconic status. Israel, which today counts 197,000 Holocaust survivors, officially marks its Holocaust remembrance day in the spring. But events will also be held Wednesday by survivors’ organizations and remembrance groups across the country, many of them held virtually or without members of the public in attendance. While commemorations have moved online for the first time, one constant is the drive of survivors to tell their stories as words of caution. Rose Schindler, a 91-year-old survivor of Auschwitz who was originally from Czechoslovakia but now lives in San Diego, California, has been speaking to school groups about her experience for 50 years. Her story, and that of her late husband, Max, also a survivor, is also told in a book, “Two Who Survived: Keeping Hope Alive While Surviving the Holocaust.” After Schindler was transported to Auschwitz in 1944, she was selected more than once for immediate death in the gas chambers. She survived by escaping each time and joining work details. The horrors she experienced of Auschwitz — the mass murder of her parents and four of her seven siblings, the hunger, being shaven, lice infestations — are difficult to convey, but she keeps speaking to groups, over past months only by Zoom. “We have to tell our stories so it doesn't happen again,” Schindler told The Associated Press on Monday in a Zoom call from her home. “It is unbelievable what we went through, and the whole world was silent as this was going on." Friedman says she believes it is her role to “sound the alarm” about rising anti-Semitism and other hatred in the world, otherwise “another tragedy may happen.” That hatred, she said, was on clear view when a mob inspired by former President Donald Trump attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Some insurrectionists wore clothes with anti-Semitic messages like “Camp Auschwitz” and ““6MWE,” which stands for “6 million wasn't enough.” “It was utterly shocking and I couldn’t believe it. And I don’t know what part of America feels like that. I hope it’s a very small and isolated group and not a pervasive feeling,” Friedman said Monday. Still, the mob violence could not shake her belief in the essential goodness of America and most Americans. “It’s a country of freedom. It’s a country that took me in,” Friedman said. In her recorded message that will be broadcast Wednesday, Friedman said she compares the virus of hatred in the world to COVID-19. She said the world today is witnessing “a virus of anti-Semitism, of racism, and if you don’t stop the virus, it’s going to kill humanity.” Vanessa Gera, The Associated Press
It's a sight familiar to anyone who's driven into or out of Windsor across the Ambassador Bridge — a woman in a bright red bikini, next to a massive number 4. For decades, Studio 4 has greeted millions of drivers entering Canada or heading to the United States; its risqué sign a distinctive —and for some an unwelcome — landmark. But the sign you can't miss won't be there for much longer. The strip club has been sold. "It hasn't really sunk in yet. I think if they demolish it or something I want to be there," said Peter Barth, who had owned the bar since 1984. Negotiations for the lot at the corner of Huron Church and Tecumseh roads began last year, according to Iyman Meddoui, president of Westdell Development Corporation, which bought the property. Both Brath and Meddoui declined to say how much the site sold for, but land registry documents show it was transferred on Jan 21 for $1,250,000. Plans for something 'completely different' The new owners won't say just yet what's coming to the site — but it won't be a strip club. "Our plans are going to be something completely different," said Meddoui. "We do have an exciting development that's under the planning." The company has applied to demolish the red building covered in signs currently advertising the XXXTASY LOUNGE, he added. "Saying that it was rough is putting it lightly. It looked like there wasn't much investment made there for many years now." Knocking down Studio 4 means the loss of a landmark — for better or worse. It was part of Windsor's exotic dancer heyday in the 1980s, when roughly a dozen strip clubs were operating and the city was dubbed "Tijuana North" by American visitors, said local historian Marty Gervais. "When you drive off the bridge and you see Studio 4 it's part of our Sin City image and people have always talked about it." The history of catering to partiers who streamed across the river dates back to Confederation when the city boasted the "best bawdy houses in North America," he explained. During prohibition, Windsor offered dance halls and a place to get a drink. More recently, it's attracted visitors with fully-nude dancing, Cuban cigars and a legal drinking age of 19. "We were constantly feeding thirsty Americans with what they wanted, which they couldn't get on the Detroit side of the border," said Gervais. Studio 4, and its salacious sign is part of that history. "It's very much a part of Windsor life. It just seems to have always been there," he said. Sign survived councillors and controversy But the sign, much like the club it stands outside, has had to weather controversy. Alan Halberstadt is a former newspaper columnist and city councillor. He remembers his council colleague, Caroline Postma, leading a crusade to "get that half-naked sign down because she felt it was against the city's sensibilities." Halberstadt said he wasn't happy about the sign either, but over time he got used to it. "After a while it becomes … kind of a Windsor insignia or landmark," he said, adding he believes any concerns about damage it may have done to the city's image is "overblown." "There's a lot of politicians and people that would have liked to see that sign come down, but she's stood the test of time," he said with a wry smile. Tussles with councillors and police officers enforcing the no-touching rule are among memories that were top of mind for Brath on Tuesday. He doesn't have any worries about his sign being a bad first impression of Windsor, or Canada for that matter. "We were right in their face, right on the corner," he said. The sign that's so recognizable today was also once a little more risque. "We had to draw on panties and a bra," said the former owner. "Originally, it was showing a little bit more." Strip clubs have been shut down by COVID-19, but even before the pandemic, Brath, who's 80 now, said business wasn't what it once was. Gone are the days of limousines pulling up out front, seven servers working non-stop and a lineup that extended beyond the canopy snaking out the back door. "The first week we were full, full, full," he said. "Lately? Nothing. Adult entertainment in Windsor is dead." Studio 4's new owners are planning to turn the site into a shopping development, he added. A 'fresh new look' coming to sign Meddoui was tight-lipped about his company's plans, saying they're still being developed. Westdell has also purchased an empty lot next to the club, along with the University and Ambassador shopping centres across the street. They're planning to "transform" the intersection over the next couple of years, said Meddoui. As for the sign? He's promising a very different look in the meantime. "You'll see a fresh new look on that sign on an interim basis," he said. "As the building will be removed, the sign will also be rebranded."
Most countries in Europe now require people to wear facemasks on public transport and in shops. In Germany, new rules allow only medical masks to be worn on public transport and supermarkets. Euronews has visited one small factory in the German capital that is ramping up its production.View on euronews
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4.m. ET on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 28,505 new vaccinations administered for a total of 868,454 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 2,291.479 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 77.37 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 1,207 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,117 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 44.866 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 77.15 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 3,102 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 11,622 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 11.909 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 40.28 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 4,164 new vaccinations administered for a total of 224,879 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 26.281 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 94.45 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 9,707 new vaccinations administered for a total of 295,817 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 20.139 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 71.86 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 1,618 new vaccinations administered for a total of 31,369 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 22.781 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 56.37 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 727 new vaccinations administered for a total of 34,080 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 28.902 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 104.1 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 361 new vaccinations administered for a total of 99,814 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 22.674 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 81.33 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 2,509 new vaccinations administered for a total of 122,359 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 23.844 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 84.65 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 445 new vaccinations administered for a total of 4,397 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 105.365 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 30.53 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting 7,578 new vaccinations administered for a total of 9,471 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 209.912 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 65.77 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 265 new vaccinations administered for a total of 4,723 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 121.959 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 39.36 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 January 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
Federal ministers are holding virtual meetings with provincial and territorial health counterparts, First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation representatives and medical experts over the next two days to talk about anti-Indigenous racism in Canada's health-care system. "We know going into the meeting that there is racism in the health-care system," Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said on Wednesday morning at a press conference in Ottawa. "We also know that this is a jurisdiction that is jealousy guarded by provinces, but when it comes to issues like racism, systemic racism and discrimination, every leader in this country has a leadership role to play in calling it out and getting rid of it." These conversations are meant to follow up on an urgent meeting hosted by Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller last October in response to the death of Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamekw mother who filmed her last moments in a Quebec hospital. While that meeting focused on hearing stories about racism in the health-care system, this week's meetings are about changing the treatment many Indigenous people encounter when they seek health services. Echaquan's viral video captured her screams of distress as hospital staff made degrading comments, calling her stupid and saying she would be better off dead. It sent shock waves across the country. "That was the tip of the iceberg," said Ontario Sen. Yvonne Boyer, a Métis lawyer and former nurse who is taking part in the video calls today and tomorrow. "When [Echaquan's] story came out, there were a hundred more that did not. So it's really important that we do address this." Use Canada Health Act to force changes, says senator Provincial and territorial health ministers have been invited to the two days of meetings, but there have been no official discussions yet with the premiers about the issue, said a senior federal government source. Boyer — who has called on the federal government to act on reports of coerced sterilizations of Indigenous women — said federal and provincial governments need to work on relationship-building before they can move forward. Boyer said that if the federal government can't come to an agreement with the provinces, it should strike a task force to look into addressing racism in the health care system through the Canada Health Act. "Let's examine each one of those pillars and see if there are some [financial] sanctions we can put in place to actually force a good, hard look at how to eradicate systemic racism in the Canadian health care system," Boyer said. The federal source said the government is considering all options to attack the problem, but Miller said he does not agree with Boyer's task force suggestion. "This is not a time to be holding back money, as a threat, particularly during a pandemic," Miller said. "Maybe convince me otherwise in a couple of months, but I don't think it's the right approach. I think there are many, many more carrots than sticks out there that we haven't really examined, and this is one where we really have to exercise the spirit of cooperation." Miller said he is "attracted" to an idea being promoted by health experts, who are calling on Ottawa to add an anti-racism pillar to the Canada Health Act, which would compel the provinces and territories to address the issue. Some Indigenous leaders and health experts say they don't want the federal government to withhold money either. "I would worry that this conversation would devolve very quickly into a federal and provincial and territorial fight around jurisdiction, which is often where we end up when Indigenous peoples' policy areas are discussed and it is really unfortunate," said Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, a national organization representing more than 65,000 Inuit living across Canada. Self-determination seen as key Obed said Ottawa can respect Inuit self-determination — and act against systemic racism in health care — by sending health transfers to Inuit organizations instead of letting the provinces and territories administer them. "If you take this completely out of an Indigenous perspective — what if, to have cancer care in Ottawa, you had to go to Mexico?" Obed said. "That really is the jurisdictional difference between coming from Grise Fiord in the High Arctic to Ottawa [for] care. I don't think Canadians realize just how ... self-determination is completely lost. Yes, we may be thankful for the care no matter where we receive it, but that does not mean we should be subjected to racism." University of British Columbia law professor Mary Ellen Turpel Lafond recently found evidence of widespread stereotyping, racism and profiling of Indigenous peoples in an anti-Indigenous racism review of the B.C. health-care system — findings that she said could be consistent across Canada. "Those are significant findings in British Columbia, but certainly the evidence would suggest that that may not be unique to British Columbia," Turpel-Lafond said. In her research, Turpel-Lafond also found that the opioid epidemic and COVID-19 are disproportionately affecting Indigenous peoples, and Indigenous health care workers and students are facing significant racism in their work and study environments. Like Obed, Turpel-Lafond said she doesn't want to see financial punishments used against the provinces but she does want to see Indigenous-specific health legislation that defines the quality of care — one that includes anti-racism tools that can measure results. "We need to get people on-side to address it," Turpel-Lafond said. "We need to incentivize treatment." If the two-day meeting fails to produce tangible results, it may not bode well for the success of promised federal Indigenous health legislation Ottawa is trying to co-develop with Indigenous leaders and communities, said the federal source. The virtual conference couldn't come at a better time for the Métis Nation, which is struggling to work out health care funding arrangements between the provincial and federal governments, said David Chartrand, vice-president of the Métis National Council. Indigenous Services' First Nations and Inuit Health Branch does not provide services or coverage for Métis people. "There's clearly a truly different way that Métis are being treated in Canada, which is unbelievable," Chartrand said.
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
OTTAWA — Newly released documents show federal officials have been aware since the fall that some new parents might be receiving a smaller amount of money than they would have if not for a change in the way COVID-19 pandemic benefits are delivered to Canadians. That is due to a shift in late September, when the employment insurance system kicked back into gear and three new benefits rolled out to replace the Canada Emergency Response Benefit that was supporting Canadians who had lost income since the spring. On Sept. 27, eligible recipients started moving on to the decades-old EI system where the minimum weekly payment was set at $500 in line with the three "recovery" benefits. Prior to that date, benefits were calculated based on earnings, meaning any new parent that started their EI claim before the change could receive less than $500 a week. The documents obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act note the policy created inequities, and point to a similar effect for parents who will start claims after Sept. 25 this year, when the temporary rules are set to expire. Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough's office says the government will make any necessary changes so new parents don't face "additional barriers accessing maternity or parental benefits as a result of COVID-19." Changes to the EI program can take anywhere between three and 18 months to come into force, and they generally take effect on a particular date. Claims made before that date are often ineligible unless the change is simple and very specific to avoid what the document describes as the need to review claims that began "as much as 100 weeks in the past." But the undated memo outlines multiple, rapid changes and revisions to parental benefit rules in the wake of the CERB. When partial or retroactive changes were made, more problems seem to have cropped up. There were issues with how the system handled soon-to-be-mothers applying for emergency aid, which denied them CERB payments until changes to the system could be made and back payments processed. As well, other new parents, or those waiting the birth of their child, were put directly on EI benefits if they had enough hours to qualify, while those that didn't were put on the CERB until the government came up with a fix. That fix meant a one-time reduction in the number of hours needed to qualify for benefits to address concerns that some parents would lose out on benefits because they lost work hours through no fault of their own. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, over 35 per cent of new mothers outside of Quebec, which has its own system, didn't qualify for federal benefits. The pandemic has shone a light on the long-standing issue around the hours requirement, said Brock University's Andrea Doucet, an expert on parental-leave programs. "This was made even worse as women lost jobs and reduced (their) hours," Doucet said. "The reduction in insurable hours was presented as temporary, but will it lead to more inclusive policies that enable more parents to make claims?" Kate Bezanson, an expert on family and labour market policy, said the document points a need for a rethink of the parental leave program, noting that leave policies work hand-in-hand with child care and employment efforts. The Liberals have said they want to create a national child-care system, part of a plan to help more mothers enter the labour market. "We want people to have babies, and take care of those babies happily, and also have jobs to return to and be able to do that seamlessly," said Bezanson, associate dean of social sciences at Brock University. "This is one of those moments where if we're looking holistically and we're looking globally at our policy portfolios, let's put them together and get them to talk to each other and make the changes that have been long overdue." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
RCMP in Alberta are investigating Yellowknife RCMP officers and their role in an alleged incident that took place in cells in October 2020. The incident in question revolves around the arrest of a 25-year-old Whatı̀ woman, Tracella Romie. According to court documents, employees of a Yellowknife liquor store called RCMP on the evening of Oct. 14, 2020, after Romie reportedly assaulted workers there. Romie was arrested a short while later and charged with two counts of assault and one count of mischief. In an interview with CBC, Romie says she was put in the back of an RCMP vehicle by two officers and brought to the Yellowknife detachment, where two other officers also detained her. Romie says she was intoxicated and remembers very little of that night. She says she does remember spitting up blood and officers pulling her handcuffed hands high in the air in a painful manner. "I don't really remember much. I remember being in the cells for like 14 hours, maybe 16," Romie says. She says after she was released from cells she went to a friend's house and found bruises on her back, shoulders and wrists. "I knew I had been mistreated that night." Use of force investigation Romie says she thought about making a complaint against the RCMP, but ultimately changed her mind. More than a month after the arrest, Romie says she received a call from two RCMP officers in Alberta who said they were investigating what happened that night. Romie says the investigators told her that a Yellowknife officer who had witnessed her detainment in cells had made a complaint about their colleagues' excessive use of force. Emails Romie provided to CBC show that two investigators from the RCMP's Maskwacis detachment in central Alberta flew to Yellowknife the first week of December to interview her. I'm trying to stand up for those people that never really had a voice when they were mistreated. - Tracella Romie Maskwacis RCMP deferred CBC's questions to the Yellowknife detachment. Yellowknife RCMP refused to say how the alleged incident came to their attention. They also refused to provide CBC News with an arrest report or video footage from the night in question. "As this is an ongoing investigation, we will not be able to provide either of the items you requested, nor comment on how the incident that is part of the investigation was reported," N.W.T. RCMP spokesperson Marie York-Condon wrote in an email. If indeed it was an RCMP officer who came forward, Romie says she's grateful to them. "If it wasn't [for that officer] all of this investigation would not have been brought to attention," she said. "I'm trying to stand up for those people that never really had a voice when they were mistreated." Neither the Yellowknife or Maskwacis RCMP would comment on when the investigation is expected to be finished. Romie is being represented by a lawyer with legal aid services in relation to the charges, which are still working their way through the courts.
Evotec rose sharply on Tuesday amid market speculation that Melvin Capital Management was unwinding its positions in the German drugmaker after some of its investments turned sour. Evotec's shares jumped 10% at one point on Tuesday with three traders saying the move was likely linked to Melvin Capital closing out its shorts following losses on GameStop and other investments. Battery maker Varta surged for a similar reason, a German-based trader said, while shares in Polish videogame firm CD Projekt also saw strong demand.
OTTAWA — United Nations human rights experts are alarmed by what they see as a growing trend to enact legislation allowing medical assistance in dying for people suffering from non-terminal, disabling conditions. Three experts, including the UN's special rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities, say such legislation tends to be based on "ableist" assumptions about the quality and worth of the life of a person with a disability. In a statement issued earlier this week, the experts do not specifically mention Canada's proposed legislation, which would expand assisted dying to people who are suffering intolerably but are not approaching the natural end of their lives. But the arguments they make echo those advanced by Canadian disability rights advocates, who are vehemently opposed to Bill C-7. The bill has been passed by the House of Commons and is currently before the Senate. It is intended to bring the law into compliance with a 2019 Quebec Superior Court ruling that struck down a provision in the current law that allows assisted dying only for those whose natural death is reasonably foreseeable. The near-death restriction was challenged by Nicole Gladu and Jean Truchon, both of whom suffered from degenerative, disabling conditions but were not at the end of their lives. Justice Christine Baudouin agreed with them that the restriction violated their charter rights to equal treatment under the law and to life, liberty and security of the person. However, the UN experts argue that extending assisted dying to people with non-terminal conditions contravenes Article 10 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, "which requires states to ensure that persons with disabilities can effectively enjoy their inherent right to life on an equal basis with others." "When life-ending interventions are normalized for people who are not terminally ill or suffering at the end of their lives, such legislative provisions tend to rest on — or draw strength from — ableist assumptions about the inherent 'quality of life' or 'worth' of the life of a person with a disability," they say in a statement issued Monday by the UN Human Rights Council. "Disability is not a burden or a deficit of the person. It is a universal aspect of the human condition," they add. "Under no circumstance should the law provide that it could be a well-reasoned decision for a person with a disabling condition who is not dying to terminate their life with the support of the state." The experts who issued the statement are Gerard Quinn, the UN Human Rights Council's special rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities; Olivier De Schutter, special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; and Claudia Mahler, who was described as "an independent expert on the enjoyment of all human rights by older persons." They argue that everyone accepts there can be no justification for assisting "any other protected group — be it a racial minority, gender or sexual minorities — to end their lives because they are experiencing suffering on account of their status." And they say it should be no different for people with disabilities. "Disability should never be a ground or justification to end someone's life directly or indirectly." Even when assisted dying is restricted to people near the end of life, they argue people with disabilities, the elderly and especially elderly people with disabilities "may feel subtly pressured to end their lives prematurely" due to societal attitudes and a lack of support services. Those living in poverty may decide to seek an assisted death "as a gesture of despair," not as a real choice, they say. The government has until Feb. 26 — after being granted three extensions — to bring the law into compliance with Baudouin's ruling. The Senate's legal and constitutional affairs committee, which has already conducted a pre-study of Bill C-7, is to resume its study and consider possible amendments during three, daylong meetings, starting Monday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — There's a race between COVID-19 and the rollout of vaccine as researchers and health officials in B.C. warn of two faster-spreading variants. The number of variant cases may start low, but increased transmission could only be a few weeks away, just as delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is delayed, said Caroline Colijn, the Canada 150 Research Chair in Mathematics for Infection, Evolution and Public Health at Simon Fraser University. Colijn's lab released modelling data this week showing public health rules in several provinces, including B.C., would not be sufficient to prevent exponential growth in cases starting around March if a COVID-19 variant with a 40 per cent higher transmission rate became established. "By established I mean some cluster doesn't get stopped and takes off and we don't notice or we don't act and we are unable to stop those chains of transmission and so they take off the way the current COVID has," she said. Colijn added she would expect public health officials to enact further restrictions before such exponential growth in variant cases. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry told a news briefing this week that B.C. has detected three cases of a variant found in South Africa and none were linked to each other or to travel, pointing to community spread. By completing whole genome sequencing, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control has also recorded six travel-related cases of the COVID-19 variant first found in the United Kingdom, which appears significantly more transmissible than earlier strains of the new coronavirus. B.C. is sequencing about 15 per cent of samples that test positive for COVID-19 in the province, said Natalie Prystajecky, head of the environmental microbiology program at the centre's public health lab. Sequencing is more labour-intensive than diagnostic testing, she said, so it can take up to two weeks to produce data from a given sample. B.C. has sequenced about 11,000 COVID-positive samples since last February and generated quality data from about 9,500 of them, she said. The average rate of sequencing across Canada is between five and 10 per cent, said Prystajecky, a member of the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network that received funding last spring to sequence 150,000 samples. In addition to targeting samples from travellers and youth, she said, B.C. is prioritizing more general, "background" sampling to understand if public health officials are missing anything, such as transmission of new variants. "We're ramping up," she said. "We did 750 genomes last week and we're aiming to continue to increase the amount of sequencing we're doing." Prystajecky said her lab is also planning to do a "point prevalence study" to screen a high number of samples at a given point in time. B.C. is taking a smart approach to sequencing by targeting travel-related cases, said Colijn, but at the rate sequencing data becomes available, "there could be 10 or 50 or 100 cases of whatever we detect at the time." Colijn believes B.C. should consider Atlantic Canada's approach and create a so-called "Pacific bubble" that would require travellers from other provinces to self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival in B.C. Data from Pfizer and Moderna — the pharmaceutical companies behind the two COVID-19 vaccines approved in Canada — show their products still protect people against the U.K. and South African variants, said Fiona Brinkman, a professor in the molecular biology and biochemistry department at Simon Fraser University. "What this means is people really need to hunker down until this vaccine gets out into the population further," she said in an interview this week. "We really are in a race between the vaccine and the virus right now." Basic measures including physical distancing and avoiding non-essential travel are still effective in preventing new variants from spreading, she said. B.C. reported 4,260 active cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday out of more than 65,000 confirmed cases since the pandemic began. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Brenna Owen, 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. 27 ... What we are watching in Canada ... Three people who allegedly supplied ammunition to the gunman who murdered 22 people in the April 18-19 mass shooting in Nova Scotia are scheduled for court hearings today. RCMP have charged Lisa Banfield, the 52-year-old spouse of the killer, with unlawfully transferring ammunition, specifically .223-calibre Remington cartridges and .40-calibre Smith and Wesson cartridges. Police have laid the same charges against 52-year-old James Blair Banfield and 60-year-old Brian Brewster. The offences are alleged to have occurred between March 17 and April 18 last year. When the charges were announced on Dec. 4, police said the three "had no prior knowledge" of the actions of the gunman, who was killed by an RCMP officer on April 19. A spokeswoman for the Crown says the arraignments are expected to occur via teleconference in Dartmouth provincial court. The RCMP has said that on the night of April 18, Banfield was handcuffed by the gunman, Gabriel Wortman, but managed to escape into nearby woods in Portapique, N.S. --- Also this ... Liberal Leader Andrew Furey is set to return to the campaign trail today after a man driving a truck loaded with knives was arrested in what police said was a mission to stop the provincial election. Furey is on Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula today as his team recovers from an incident that a spokeswoman says targeted the incumbent premier. Police say they arrested the man Tuesday after a high-speed chase that began with him saying he was going to Deer Lake to disrupt the Feb. 13 election. He was arrested in a parking lot outside a candidate's office in Deer Lake, which is in the Humber-Gros Morne district where Furey is running. Furey's campaign said they were advised the incident was likely targeted toward him. In a tweet Tuesday night, NDP Leader Alison Coffin extended her best wishes to Furey and his team and said reports about the incident were troubling. --- What we are watching in the U.S. ... President Joe Biden on Tuesday ordered the Department of Justice to end its reliance on private prisons and acknowledge the central role government has played in implementing discriminatory housing policies. In remarks before signing the orders, Biden said the U.S. government needs to change “its whole approach” on the issue of racial equity. He added that the nation is less prosperous and secure because of the scourge of systemic racism. “We must change now,” the president said. “I know it’s going to take time, but I know we can do it. And I firmly believe the nation is ready to change. But government has to change as well." Biden rose to the presidency during a year of intense reckoning on institutional racism in the U.S. The moves announced Tuesday reflect his efforts to follow through with campaign pledges to combat racial injustice. Beyond calling on the Justice Department to curb the use of private prisons and address housing discrimination, the new orders will recommit the federal government to respect tribal sovereignty and disavow discrimination against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community over the coronavirus pandemic. Biden directed the Department of Housing and Urban Development in a memorandum to take steps to promote equitable housing policy. The memorandum calls for HUD to examine the effects of Trump regulatory actions that may have undermined fair housing policies and laws. --- What we are watching in the rest of the world ... Tens of thousands of protesting farmers drove long lines of tractors into India's capital on Tuesday, breaking through police barricades, defying tear gas and storming the historic Red Fort as the nation celebrated Republic Day. They waved farm union and religious flags from the ramparts of the fort, where prime ministers annually hoist the national flag to mark the country's independence. Thousands more farmers marched on foot or rode on horseback while shouting slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. At some places, they were showered with flower petals by residents who recorded the unprecedented rally on their phones. Police said one protester died after his tractor overturned, but farmers said he was shot. Protesters laid his body on the road after draping it in an Indian flag and sat around it. Television channels showed several bloodied protesters. Leaders of the farmers said more than 10,000 tractors joined the protest. For nearly two months, farmers — many of them Sikhs from Punjab and Haryana states — have camped at the edge of the capital, blockading highways connecting it with the country’s north in a rebellion that has rattled the government. They are demanding the withdrawal of new laws which they say will commercialize agriculture and devastate farmers' earnings. --- On this day in 1965 ... Queen Elizabeth signed a Royal Proclamation permitting Canada's new Maple Leaf flag to be flown. It was flown for the first time on Feb. 15. --- In entertainment ... The Jasper Park Lodge has been booked out from the end of February until the end of April, but hotel management isn't disclosing who will be staying at the well-known Rocky Mountain retreat during the nine-week block. All 446 rooms at the sprawling Alberta hotel are unavailable to book online between Feb. 23 and April 29. A hotel spokesperson says there is a private booking, but could not comment further for privacy reasons. Guests who previously made bookings for that time have had their reservations cancelled, fuelling speculation online that the hotel could be soon be a filming site. Steve Young, a spokesman for Jasper National Park, says officials have not received a request for a film permit. He says one would be required if any commercial filming was being done in the park. Asked about the possibility of a film crew coming up to Alberta, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, the chief medical officer of health, said her team is working on a framework to decide whether to give such crews exemptions to COVID-19 restrictions. --- ICYMI ... A survey the United Nations calls the largest ever taken on climate change shows Canadians are Angry Birds when it comes to the issue. The mammoth U-N survey drew respondents by inviting them to take part as they played popular online games such as Angry Birds, Subway Surfers and Dragon City. It ranks Canada seventh out of 50 countries in its perception of the importance of climate change. Some 75 per cent of respondents called it an emergency compared with the global average of 64 per cent. Canadians were also near the top in their support for solutions involving conservation to fight climate change as well as in wanting polluters to pay. Canada had the largest gap between men and women in their assessment of the importance of climate change. Canadian women and girls surveyed were 12 per cent more likely to rate it an emergency than men and boys. The poll drew more than one million respondents in 17 languages. It is considered accurate to within two percentage points, 19 times of 20. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021 The Canadian Press
A management team from the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is now helping staff at a Regina nursing home try to contain a COVID-19 outbreak that has claimed the lives of 12 residents. Santa Maria Senior Citizens Home in Regina is operated according to a contract with the SHA. Health officials declared an outbreak at the 141-person home on Dec. 18. According to an update the home provided family members on Monday, the SHA "is piloting an outbreak management team." "This team will meet with us early [Tuesday] morning to see if we can implement new strategies to more effectively contain this virus and stop its spread," the update said. Kelly Chessie, the home's executive director, said it has been working with the SHA and other homes in the Regina area throughout the pandemic, "taking every opportunity to make important changes and improvements as we learn together about what works best when fighting this virus." She said the SHA reached out last Friday with its offer of help. "We happily welcomed their expertise," Chessie said Tuesday in an email to CBC News. "They came this afternoon and I am grateful for the fresh eyes and am optimistic that we can work together to further improve and tighten our infection control measures. "Responding to an outbreak takes a lot of time and effort. Everyone here has been working very hard to contain this virus and stop its spread. Having extra hands and fresh eyes to help with this critical work will be valuable." It's not the first time the SHA has come in to assist a Saskatchewan care home amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In early December, the SHA signed a co-management agreement at Extendicare's Parkside home in Regina, where 43 deaths have been linked to COVID-19. That outbreak has since been declared over and the arrangement is set to expire on Jan. 31. The Saskatchewan NDP has called on the province to take similar steps at Extendicare's Preston home in Saskatoon, which is in active outbreak. Three residents have died and more than 30 residents were infected as of last week. SHA CEO Scott Livingstone said on Tuesday the authority is in daily contact with Extendicare Preston's leaders and is supporting them. "Our local teams are given daily updates," Livingstone said. "We've been in the facility doing safety reviews and supporting the use of PPE. The facility is fully staffed, which is different from some of the other situations we've seen." Home is 'slowly building immunity' As of Tuesday, 31 residents and five staff members at Santa Maria Senior Citizens Home were actively infected with COVID-19. Several others had recovered. Santa Maria was among the first long-term care homes in Saskatchewan offered a COVID-19 vaccine, with staff receiving their first Pfizer-BioNTech doses on Dec. 24. Second doses then followed about 21 days later, Chessie said. On Jan. 14, 114 residents received their first dose. No second doses have been administered to residents yet, Chessie said. Since Jan. 14, 17 new cases of COVID-19 have been found at the home, including some residents who were vaccinated with their first dose, Chessie said. "We are slowly building immunity in this home," she stated in a note to families last week. In a subsequent note to families on Monday, Chessie said the home has a "GO team" consisting of a respiratory therapist and nurse as well as a consulting physician. "[They] continue to be here every weekday, during the day, and the physician is available on call," Chessie wrote. She said there are some residents "who need help with this fight."
China said on Wednesday that the Indian government's decision to keep a ban on 59 Chinese apps was a violation of the World Trade Organization's fair rules of business and would hurt Chinese firms. The ban dates from last year when political tension between the neighbours rose over their disputed border. This month the Indian government decided to keep the ban on TikTok and other apps.
Ever wanted to know more about sweat, but were afraid to ask? Sarah Everts, with three million sweat glands to her name, can tell you plenty. The Ottawa science writer has a fascination with perspiration, and has explored our "mercurial relationship" with the necessary — but sometimes nasty — bodily function. She's even arranged to have her sweat glands counted, which is how she knows she's got three million, well within the normal human range of two to five million. Everts, 44, has even attended a "sweat dating" event in Moscow, where connections were made irrespective of gender or sexual orientation, but instead were based on how one's body odour jived with the natural essences of other participants. Kind of like Tinder, but you swipe right based on smell, not looks. "You get this little cotton pad and you pat yourself down," said Everts. "Then you put it into a little jar that's numbered and anonymized. Then everybody at the event lines up and smells each little jar of all the different people, and if any of the odours appeal to you, you mark those down. "I actually ended up getting matched with this woman who imports handbags." The paradox of perspiration "Evolutionary biologists count bountiful sweating as one of the things that makes us human," Everts said. And yet it remains largely taboo. Call it the perspiration paradox. "We're so embarrassed by it and so mortified by it that we spend $75 billion annually on deodorants and antiperspirants, trying to pretend that we don't actually sweat, that we don't smell and that armpit stains are not actually there." At the same time, and in the right context, sweating is the right thing to do. "Humans also crave the catharsis of a good sweat," said Everts, who admits to the pandemic purchase of a spin bicycle to get her own healthy glow on. We both are mortified by sweat, and yet we also totally crave it. - Sarah Everts Indeed, the taboo isn't universal: Everts points to Indigenous sweat lodges, haman or Turkish baths across the Middle East, banyas in Russia, saunas in Finland, jimjilbangs in Korea and sentos in Japan. "The list goes on." But even in those perspiration-positive environments, we humans tend to cover our tracks. "There's something utterly absurd about going for a workout or sitting in a sauna where the goal is to sweat bountifully, and then to apply antiperspirant," said Everts. "We both are mortified by sweat, and yet we also totally crave it." Get over it Everts recalls doing hot yoga once, and being momentarily mortified as sweat dripped onto her yoga mat. Then she got over it. "Jeez, why am I even embarrassed by this? I'm not going to evolve an alternative for temperature control any time soon," she thought. Everts breaks down the taboo into two parts: visible sweat, the kind that drips down your face or creates unsightly circles under your armpits, and the invisible yet odiferous body odour that often accompanies it. There are also two kinds of sweat glands: the kind that help with temperature control, and the kind that appear at puberty "and turn those zones stinky during the teenage years," said Everts. But don't blame your teen's B.O. on the sweat glands alone. "Wherever your hair grows in adolescence, a new kind of gland also grows there, and it releases a waxy sweat that actually is odourless when it comes out," said Everts. "But the bacteria living in your armpits eat that and metabolize it … into stinky odour." "I don't know if it's good news or bad news, but the odour that you have in your armpit is not actually yours. It's the responsibility of all the bacteria living in your armpits," said Everts. In the final analysis, it's all a perfectly natural and necessary function of the healthy human body. "Humans have wasted too much energy throwing shade at our perspiration," Everts said. "We could all use a perspiration pep talk, myself included." Evert's work has resulted in a book called The Joy of Sweat, to be published this July. She'll be talking about the smelly subject in Carleton University's virtual Science Café: The Science of Sweat, Wednesday, Jan. 27 at 1:30 p.m. Click here to register for free.
A B.C. couple who met at Christmas dinner in 1965 found out they both had COVID-19 on Christmas Day in 2020. In the 55 years between those fateful holidays, John and Helen Eberherr had three children and five grandchildren, and were active members of their church and community in Prince George. They died just days apart, unable to see each other or say goodbye while sitting in the same hospital. He was 85, she was 78. At age 23, Helen moved from Kelowna to Prince George to work at the Royal Bank. John's sister also worked there, and invited Helen to spend the holiday with her family, including John, who took an immediate liking to his sister's new co-worker. "My aunt always said, 'We knew that as soon as your dad met someone he liked enough, it was going to be quick,'" daughter Tracy Glaciar said. Sure enough, John and Helen were engaged within a week, and married six months later. A homebody whose wife refused to sit still Joseph (John) Eberherr was born to homesteaders in Prince George in 1935. His grandparents wound up in the community after taking a wrong turn on their way to Kelowna and decided to stay. John's father started a small sawmill, and John dropped out of Grade 7 to work there. He spent the rest of his career working for mills in the city while everyone else in his family departed for the Okanagan and the Lower Mainland. "He was a homebody," Glaciar said. Helen put her career on hold to focus on raising Glaciar and her two brothers. Not content to sit on the sidelines, she would volunteer and get involved in her kids' lessons, learning to ski and teaching them how to swim. "She actually drove me crazy," Glaciar said. "She could never just watch." Helen particularly loved swimming, and in retirement one of her dreams came true: The Eberherrs built an pool in their home and opened it up for swimming lessons for the neighbourhood. "Hundreds of people must have learned to swim there," Glaciar said. Among them were the Eberherrs' five grandchildren, all of whom were raised in Prince George. John and Helen would often care for their grandchildren, but family visits came to a stop when the COVID-19 lockdowns began last year. While John had limited mobility and stayed home, Helen remained active, going for daily walks and keeping in touch with friends and family. "She wore a mask and sanitized but she just really felt that staying locked up wasn't what she wanted," Glaciar said. "So she would continue to shop and continue to live." Final days The family isn't sure how they caught the virus, but on Dec. 22, Helen told Glaciar that John was losing his appetite. Glaciar convinced her parents to get tested for COVID-19 on Christmas Eve, and they received the positive results the next day. On Dec. 28, Glaciar could hear a change in her mother's voice — slurred and disjointed. She told Helen to dial 911, hung up and started driving to her parents' home. Watching from a distance, Glaciar watched first John and then Helen get loaded into ambulances. Her parents insisted they didn't want to be hooked up to ventilators. Glaciar spoke to her father via video chat one last time before he passed on Jan. 5, and had several phone calls with her mother. While her father had been extremely ill and chances of recovery seemed low, her mother appeared to be in relatively good health — until she learned John had died. "She just sort of stopped after that," Glaciar said. "I think it just became too much."
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
Indigenous women traumatized by birth alerts continue to be haunted by them long after the alerts were first entered into the health-care system, says Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond (Aki-Kwe) — and she's not alone in saying simply ending the practice doesn't go far enough. "We have to repair the harm. [Government] has to acknowledge it," said Turpel Lafond, whowas the First Indigenous woman appointed to the bench in Saskatchewan. She is now a professor at the University of British Columbia's school of law and recently headed an intensive study that found widespread racism and discrimination against Indigenous peoples in B.C.'s health-care system. Saskatchewan posted an anouncement online Monday saying it would stop using birth alerts on Feb. 1. Under the practice, social workers or health-care workers would place an alert on the file of a mother-to-be — in Saskatchewan, most often an Indigenous woman, according to government data — considered high-risk before they entered labour. The baby would often then be seized by government and put into provincial care. Turpel-Lafond says women who were flagged were labelled as bad parents, drinkers or drug seekers. "Instead of working prenatal and postnatal with mums and families, it was just putting the alert in the system, doing the harsh removals [of babies]," she said. She's spoken to women affected years after having an alert placed upon them. "They're so traumatized to this day … they will not access the health care because they don't feel it's culturally safe," she said. "All of this extremely hostile profiling that came with the child welfare … goes with them, especially through the emergency departments." Turpel-Lafond said the data should be deleted and the government should apologize, acknowledging the harm caused by birth alerts. "There wasn't really appropriate attention to whether that was even legal, and in my respectful view as a lawyer, a law professor, I don't think it is legal to take private information and blast it through the health-care system." The government did not apologize in its recent announcement. "Our decision aligns with recommendations from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action and the federal Indigenous child welfare legislation," Janice Colquhoun, executive director of Indigenous Services with child and family programs at the Ministry of Social Services, said in a statement Tuesday. The TRC's final report was released in 2015. In 2019, the Saskatchewan government said it would continue using birth alerts, despite calls to immediately abandon the practice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. B.C. announced an end to birth alerts in 2019, with Manitoba and Ontario following in 2020. Saskatchewan's Ministry of Social Services said its latest decision came after "recognizing concerns raised by various Indigenous partners and community stakeholders across Saskatchewan." Between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2020, Saskatchewan issued 76 birth alerts — 53 involving Indigenous women, according to a Ministry of Social Services spokesperson. Data dating back to 2016 shows Indigenous moms had their children taken away at rates far higher than non-Indigenous moms. A spokesperson said the ministry is actively working on reunification. Gaps in support for expecting moms Jamesy Patrick, interim executive director at Sanctum Care Group in Saskatoon, said the alerts were essentially another discriminatory extension of colonial programs such as residential schools and the Sixties Scoop. Patrick, who holds a master's degree in law and focused her research on Indigenous children and youth in the child-welfare system, says the government needs to turn focus to supporting vulnerable women who would have been flagged. "There are significant gaps for prenatals in our community who interface homelessness, addiction, substance abuse, who are potentially HIV-positive or at risk of becoming, and also who have other children in care," she said. Patrick said they've served 54 moms (most postnatal) in a two-year period, and consistently have dozens of women on the wait-list. She advocates for the province to develop prenatal case management teams to connect vulnerable women to agencies providing support. She said case workers could help make women feel more comfortable accessing health care. "We know that many of our moms don't access prenatal care because they're worried about being alerted or they're worried that they're going to be discriminated against or marginalized, or they're going to face stigma in accessing care." Turpel-Lafond said anecdotes indicate Saskatchewan Indigenous women in the province receive less health-care in pre- and post-natal periods. "I think this is also connected to this tradition of birth alert, judging, shaming and and well and segregating Indigenous health care," she said. Patrick said stronger prenatal supports for vulnerable women are needed province-wide. She said this should be supported by government by lead by Indigenous leadership and frontline community organizations. The Ministry of Social Services said it will work with the Ministry of Health, the Saskatchewan Health Authority and other partners to ensure supports are available. Turpel-Lafond said in addition to supporting vulnerable moms-to-be, much more work is needed to make the health-care system as a whole accessible for Indigenous women who no longer feel safe accessing it. "Let's hope people in Saskatchewan will begin to use anti-racism tools in their workplace, in health and social services and child welfare, and eradicate the scourge of racism that is in the system."
MONTREAL — Quebec's director of national health said he's still not sure when the province will begin administering COVID-19 booster shots — 43 days since officials started injecting people with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Dr. Horacio Arruda said Tuesday that while he doesn't want Quebecers to wait more than seven weeks to receive a booster shot, he said he was still waiting to hear back from government scientists studying the efficacy of the vaccine among those who received their first of two injections. Quebec has taken a different approach from other provinces, focusing on giving a first dose to as many people as possible before giving anyone a second, a strategy that Arruda maintains will save more lives and keep more people out of hospital at a time when vaccine supplies are limited. "We did it because we don't have enough vaccine," he told reporters. Vaccine maker Pfizer has said the second dose of its vaccine should be given within 21 days. Moderna, the maker of the other vaccine approved for use in Canada, has set the date for the second shot at 28 days. Ottawa's National Advisory Committee on Immunization, however, has said the second dose of both vaccines can wait up to 42 days. Relatives of long-term care residents say they don't believe the government is making a science-based decision. Quebec is "playing Russian roulette with our loved ones' lives," Joyce Shanks, member of the Maimonides Family Advocacy Committee, said Monday. Her group, which represents residents of the Maimonides Geriatric Centre in Montreal, is considering suing the government over its vaccine strategy. Her father, a Maimonides resident, was one of the first people in Quebec to get a dose of vaccine, on Dec. 14. "We signed up for the two doses. We did not sign up to be part of a clinical trial," Shanks said. Kathy Assayag, chair of the users' committee at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, said the government's vaccine strategy is "a mistake." "It's a gamble and we cannot gamble with people's lives." Experts, however, differ on whether Quebec's plan is a well-calculated risk or an ill-fated wager. Dr. Caroline Quach, chair of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, said the committee's guideline that patients can wait up to 42 days between injections is based on trials from vaccine makers. Trial participants, she said, were encouraged to return after 21 or 28 days from their first injection — depending on whether they received the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine — but she said they were allowed to return up to 42 days later. "The problem after the 42 days is that we don't have any data," Quach said. While it's possible a single dose remains effective after 42 days, she said, there's a decent risk its efficacy decreases, but no one knows how fast that could happen. "We know that the second dose helps with the maturation of the antibodies," Quach said. "The two companies decided that a second dose was needed, so we have no data with only one dose and we have no data with extended intervals." Dr. Andre Veillette, a research professor at the Universite de Montreal's department of medicine and a member of the federal government's COVID-19 vaccine task force, said the further Quebec moves away from what's been proven in clinical trials, the higher the chance the vaccine won't have the same results. "I think it's a gamble," he said. "I think there's not enough information." Veillette said he's particularly worried about older people who generally don't respond as well to vaccines as younger people do. Even in a situation with constrained supply, he said the government should stick to the vaccine schedule that's been proven in clinical trials. "Take the drops as they come and give them the way they're supposed to be given," Veillette said. While the results of the vaccination campaign in Israel have raised concerns about the amount of protection given by the first dose of vaccine, Dr. Donald Sheppard, chair of the department of microbiology and immunology at McGill University's faculty of medicine, said the data matches what was demonstrated in the clinical trials. The protection offered by both vaccines 14 days after the first shot exceeds 90 per cent, he said. Studies of other vaccines indicate the timing of the second dose isn't critical, Sheppard added. But, he said, there's no specific data on the consequences of delaying the COVID-19 vaccines. Like other provinces, Quebec has been forced to manage with fewer COVID-19 vaccines than anticipated, following Pfizer's recent decision to suspend deliveries to upgrade its European production facility. As a result, Quebec doesn't expect to receive any vaccine shipments this week. The Health Department said Tuesday it had received 238,100 doses of vaccine and had administered 224,879. Given the shortage of vaccine and the high number of COVID-19 cases in Quebec, Sheppard said he thinks the government made the right calculation — though if there were fewer cases or more doses, he added, there wouldn't have been the need to take the risk. "But that's not where we are right now, in January, in Quebec," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press