First responders with Washington DC Fire and EMS took their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine Thursday and reinforced messages from medical professionals that the immunization is safe, effective, and essential for ending the pandemic. (Dec. 17)
First responders with Washington DC Fire and EMS took their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine Thursday and reinforced messages from medical professionals that the immunization is safe, effective, and essential for ending the pandemic. (Dec. 17)
WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden's forthcoming immigration plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscoring that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly. In a further complication, several pro-immigration groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratoriums on deportations, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigration push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals' demands illustrated the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump's restrictive and often harsh immigration policies come to an end. “It simply wouldn't have happened without us," Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden's victory. “So we are now in a powerful position." Biden plans to introduce the legislation shortly after being inaugurated Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that's defied major congressional action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump's impeachment trial, confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber's top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him" on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress. Biden's proposal would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden's transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity. With an eye toward discouraging a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package's route to citizenship would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditional trade-off of dramatically enhanced border security that's helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday. “A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., often a central player in Senate immigration battles. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a Monday tweet. That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favours curbing immigration. “Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run," Krikorian said. Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigration, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigration reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible." He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOP-run House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8" senators that helped win Senate approval. Under Biden's legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they pursue citizenship. For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. Biden is also expected to take swift executive actions, which require no congressional action, to reverse other Trump immigration actions. These include ending to the prohibition on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries. The legislation represents Biden's bid to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with the GOP to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades. That kind of major win, even if it involves compromise, could be critical for Biden. He'll be seeking legislative victories in a Congress where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities, like rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending. Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. Democrats currently control the House 222-211, with two vacancies. ___ Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego also contributed to this report. Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
An ambitious project to map and monitor sea kelp forests along the entire B.C. coast is afoot, and scientists are using seemly disparate tools — both ancient and modern — to do it. Researchers are using centuries-old British sea charts and advanced technology, such as camera drones and satellite images, to trace shifts in the abundance and distribution of kelp beds over time, said geographer Maycira Costa. Like rainforests, B.C.’s canopy-forming kelp beds are critical and extensive ecosystems that shelter and feed a host of marine life, including juvenile salmon and marine mammals such as seals and otters, said Costa. “We're trying to combine efforts to understand how these areas have been changing,” she said, adding climate change in particular is a big concern, “and what we can do to minimize those changes because they're such an important habitat.” There is a lack of overall data around kelp beds along the coast, said Costa, who heads the Spectral lab at the University of Victoria, which specializes in using remotely sensed imagery to monitor change in marine environments. Some individual kelp beds in B.C. have been studied, but not consistently over time in a wider way, leaving a poor understanding of what’s going on with the giant algae populations so critical to the marine ecosystem, Costa said. “It’s one thing to look at kelp beds for just one year, but the important part is looking at several years of data,” said Costa, noting kelp bed growth or loss can be quite dynamic over short periods of time. Establishing a widespread picture of where and why kelp is diminishing or growing is critical to determining management or conservation policy and even the commercial harvest of these marine forests, she said. But, curiously, to establish a baseline measurement of kelp on the coast, Costa’s high-tech research team relied on antiquated marine maps for the job. Using information from British admiralty charts from 1858 to 1956, the team created the first historical digital map of B.C.’s coastal kelp beds. Considered navigational hazards, large kelp beds were carefully notated on British charts, which turned out to be an unusual but valuable source of information about coastal habitat in the 19th century, said Costa. A total of 137 charts were scanned, with the co-ordinates and kelp beds included on digital maps after ensuring the scale and quality of the data, according to the study. The chart data suggests most concentrated kelp beds are around the north and west coasts of Vancouver Island, in the Johnstone Strait and in northern waters and northwestern Haida Gwaii. The next step to map the distribution of kelp on the coast over time is compiling satellite data from 2005 to the present, along with available scientific and government data from kelp inventories from the 1970s to 1990s, Costa said. “You wouldn’t believe the amount of data we have (to analyze),” she said. “For the B.C. coast, we have almost 6,000 satellite images. The amount of time spent processing data, it’s almost surreal.” The project is looking at both Bull and giant kelp with help from the Hakai Institute and funding by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the Canadian Hydrographic Service and the Pacific Salmon Foundation, Costa said. A complete kelp map for the Salish Sea, which stretches across the inside passage of Vancouver Island, is expected to be complete by mid-2021, she said, adding maps of B.C.’s central and north coasts will follow. “So, looking at this more recent history in comparison with the past (sea chart map), about 100 years ago, that’s when we're going to have the major findings,” Costa said. “When we understand present and the past and how things have changed.” Once complete, the spatial-temporal kelp maps will be valuable in honing in on what factors, such as climate change, human activity or environmental changes, might be impacting kelp resiliency, she added. Factors like warming waters, sea urchin populations and over-harvesting for commercial uses are all possible threats to kelp beds, Costa said. “What we need to understand is where the kelp is, and what’s changing to support and to preserve the ecological and economic importance of these marine forests.” Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National Observer Rochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
GEORGETOWN – Holland College needs to have more of a presence in Kings County, a member of the Eastern P.E.I. Chamber of Commerce said. "I think it is important, particularly for the development of the rural communities," Alan MacPhee said. MacPhee is on the chamber's board, which invited Holland College to offer a presentation at Kings Playhouse in Georgetown on Jan. 12. College president Sandy MacDonald presented mostly on the college's new strategic plan, but discussion afterward focused on its role in Kings County. While the college's Georgetown centre is operational, its adult education centres in Montague and Souris were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "(So) you can't get adult education in Kings County now," MacPhee said. "It's all virtual." He notes that people in rural communities can have a harder time accessing virtual classes due to internet issues or technology limitations. He believes it would be mutually beneficial for the centres to be reopened and for each to have a staff member for locals to go to if they need guidance and support. "To have that connection, you have to have some sort of presence," he said. MacDonald is all for working more closely with rural communities and for taking suggestions on how to do it. The services Holland College offers ultimately come down to the population's demand, he said. "(Which) depends very much on where the industry goes." For example, discussion was raised toward some programs the college has cut or suspended in recent years due to low attendance rates, such as photography, theatre and dance performance, and commercial diving. While some are available in different forms, others simply can't be provided if they aren't sustainable, MacDonald said. Much of his presentation was framed around how Holland College is working to counter labour shortages on P.E.I., which both he and MacPhee see as prevalent in rural communities. Rural Islanders who can't find work often move away or off P.E.I. altogether. Doug Currie, the college's vice-president, also attended the presentation and said population retention is one of the first steps, as well as focusing more on P.E.I.'s international communities. "We need to think about what we're doing and how we're doing it," he said. "And we can't rely solely on the domestic (population)." The chamber recently secured funding to conduct a two-year study on what P.E.I.'s population and labour market needs to become more sustainable, which may prove a helpful resource for it and the college, MacPhee said. "We both have a problem, but we don't have the solution yet," he said. "The fact they came out here and engaged is really what we were looking for." Twitter.com/dnlbrown95 Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian
Steve Fortin and his family survived a harrowing COVID-19 infection and he wants to share it with everyone “because it may save a life.” Fortin, a trucker and musician, said he and his wife started to notice mild symptoms Dec. 22, three days after exposure. “Sniffles, slight cough, and a dry, sore nose,” he wrote, but they weren’t sure if it was sinus problems or a cold. “Here is our mistake, we should have immediately been tested,” Fortin said, adding they were being careful in case they were infected that they wouldn’t spread it. “We are new to the area so we didn't really go anywhere to spread it but I did go to work and went to the store but wore a mask and sanitized regularly and kept a safe distance at all times,” he said. By New Year’s Eve, he and his wife “became terribly ill” with the full laundry list of symptoms. “We couldn’t get off the couch the pain was so bad, fevers and chills almost unbearable,” he wrote, with “stomach ache and diarrhea with no appetite at all. “My wife was vomiting and I was lucky enough not to vomit,” Fortin wrote. “Then we got the call, a friend of ours who works in the medical field tested posted for COVID-19. “Immediately we called the North Bay COVID centre for testing and our results came back positive as well. “My wife, kids, and myself all had COVID-19,” he said, explaining the children had no symptoms. “They didn’t even know they had it but my wife and I were very ill. “Public Health and I back-tracked all our steps to make sure we didn’t come into contact with anyone. They called my work and had employees that were around me tested and thank God they were all negative,” Fortin said. See: Some provinces see positive signs in COVID fight See: Two new COVID cases “My stupidity could have made a lot of people sick. I became so ill I should have been hospitalized but was afraid that I may never see my kids again,” he said. A Public Health nurse called to check and suggested they be hospitalized for treatment and to be more comfortable, he added. “I had every symptom possible and by the second week it started to affect my lungs, nose, and bronchial tube,” Fortin said. “It burned to breathe. One night, I woke up and asked my wife to talk to me because I was sure it may be our last conversation.” Things started to improve after being sick for three weeks and the Fortin family cases were considered resolved Sunday. “I feel much better but still a little weak,” he said, adding praise for the support they received. “As sick as we were, our neighbors were amazing with support and help. My closest neighbor Marcel did our grocery shopping and his wife made our family an amazing meat pie,” he said. “Neighbors were calling to check on us and to offer their help and I must say thank you so much to them” for being there in their time of need. “Sturgeon Falls is the most amazing community we have ever lived in and thank you for accepting us and making us feel so welcomed,” he wrote. He suggests people be diligent and follow Public Health advice: “If you show any cold or flu symptoms don't assume it is. Go get tested, it’s easy, painless, and fast. “Always keep your mask on and practice safe distancing in public. It’s so easy to spread this virus. When you go through a drive-thru or use a debit machine, sanitize immediately before they hand your stuff to you. “When grocery shopping, ask if your cart was sprayed before you use it and if not clean it yourself or request it to be and the most important thing when you’re around friends or family you don't live with, WEAR YOUR MASK. “I made one mistake and almost lost my life so I feel very lucky to be here and just want to help this amazing community in any way I can. Thank you,” he wrote. Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada. Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca
ATCO began the process of changing out all of the town’s streetlights to LED lights last week as per their agreement with the Town of Swan Hills. There isn’t an exact date available for the end of this project, but it will more than likely take a couple of months to accomplish. The streetlights would usually be switched out when they had to be replaced, but this process is generally haphazard and could take a few years until all of the streetlights in town had been changed out. The Town of Swan Hills entered into the agreement with ATCO to change all of them out at once to avoid having a random spattering of LED streetlights here and there amongst the traditional streetlights for an extended period of time. Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
This dynamic Northern Lights display shone in the winter sky near the Finnish town of Muonio, by the Swedish border.
As President Donald Trump entered the final year of his term last January, the U.S. recorded its first confirmed case of COVID-19. Not to worry, Trump insisted, his administration had the virus “totally under control.” Now, in his final hours in office, after a year of presidential denials of reality and responsibility, the pandemic’s U.S. death toll has eclipsed 400,000. And the loss of lives is accelerating. “This is just one step on an ominous path of fatalities,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University and one of many public health experts who contend the Trump administration’s handling of the crisis led to thousands of avoidable deaths. “Everything about how it’s been managed has been infused with incompetence and dishonesty, and we’re paying a heavy price,” he said. The 400,000-death toll, reported Tuesday by Johns Hopkins University, is greater than the population of New Orleans, Cleveland or Tampa, Florida. It's nearly equal to the number of American lives lost annually to strokes, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, flu and pneumonia combined. With more than 4,000 deaths recorded on some recent days — the most since the pandemic began — the toll by week's end will probably surpass the number of Americans killed in World War II. “We need to follow the science and the 400,000th death is shameful,” said Cliff Daniels, chief strategy officer for Methodist Hospital of Southern California, near Los Angeles. With its morgue full, the hospital has parked a refrigerated truck outside to hold the bodies of COVID-19 victims until funeral homes can retrieve them. “It’s so incredibly, unimaginably sad that so many people have died that could have been avoided,” he said. The U.S. accounts for nearly 1 of every 5 virus deaths reported worldwide, far more than any other country despite its great wealth and medical resources. The coronavirus would almost certainly have posed a grave crisis for any president given its rapid spread and power to kill, experts on public health and government said. But Trump seemed to invest as much in battling public perceptions as he did in fighting the virus itself, repeatedly downplaying the threat and rejecting scientific expertise while fanning conflicts ignited by the outbreak. As president he was singularly positioned to counsel Americans. Instead, he used his pulpit to spout theories — refuted by doctors — that taking unproven medicines or even injecting household disinfectant might save people from the virus. The White House defended the administration this week. “We grieve every single life lost to this pandemic, and thanks to the president’s leadership, Operation Warp Speed has led to the development of multiple safe and effective vaccines in record time, something many said would never happen,” said White House spokesman Judd Deere. With deaths spiraling in the New York City area last spring, Trump declared “war” on the virus. But he was slow to invoke the Defence Production Act to secure desperately needed medical equipment. Then he sought to avoid responsibility for shortfalls, saying that the federal government was “merely a backup” for governors and legislatures. “I think it is the first time in history that a president has declared a war and we have experienced a true national crisis and then dumped responsibility for it on the states,” said Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health care policy think-tank . When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tried to issue guidelines for reopening in May, Trump administration officials held them up and watered them down. As the months passed, Trump claimed he was smarter than the scientists and belittled experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top authority on infectious diseases. “Why would you bench the CDC, the greatest fighting force of infectious disease in the world? Why would you call Tony Fauci a disaster?” asked Dr. Howard Markel, a medical historian at the University of Michigan. “It just doesn’t make sense.” As governors came under pressure to reopen state economies, Trump pushed them to move faster, asserting falsely that the virus was fading. “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” he tweeted in April as angry protesters gathered at the state capitol to oppose the Democratic governor’s stay-at-home restrictions. “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” In Republican-led states like Arizona that allowed businesses to reopen, hospitals and morgues filled with virus victims. “It led to the tragically sharp partisan divide we’ve seen in the country on COVID, and that has fundamental implications for where we are now, because it means the Biden administration can’t start over," Altman said. “They can’t put the genie back in the bottle.” In early October, when Trump himself contracted COVID-19, he ignored safety protocols, ordering up a motorcade so he could wave to supporters outside his hospital. Once released, he appeared on the White House balcony to take off his mask for the cameras, making light of health officials' pleas for people to cover their faces. “We’re rounding the corner,” Trump said of the battle with the virus during a debate with Joe Biden in late October. “It’s going away.” It isn’t. U.S. deaths from COVID-19 surpassed 100,000 in late May, then tripled by mid-December. Experts at the University of Washington project deaths will reach nearly 567,000 by May 1. More than 120,000 patients with the virus are in the hospital in the U.S., according to the COVID Tracking Project, twice the number who filled wards during previous peaks. On a single day last week, the U.S. recorded more than 4,400 deaths. While vaccine research funded by the administration as part of Warp Speed has proved successful, the campaign trumpeted by the White House to rapidly distribute and administer millions of shots has fallen well short of the early goals officials set. “Young people are dying, young people who have their whole lives ahead of them,” said Mawata Kamara, a nurse at California’s San Leandro Hospital who is furious over the surging COVID-19 cases that have overwhelmed health care workers. “We could have done so much more.” Many voters considered the federal government’s response to the pandemic a key factor in their vote: 39% said it was the single most important factor, and they overwhelmingly backed Biden over Trump, according to AP VoteCast. But millions of others stood with him. “Here you have a pandemic," said Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant, "yet you have a massive per cent of the population that doesn’t believe it exists.” Adam Geller And Janie Har, The Associated Press
After four years, U.S. President Donald Trump will be leaving office as President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into the position on Jan. 20, 2021. The weeks leading up to Trump’s departure have been tumultuous, with a siege on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, five federal executions, and 143 presidential pardons, just to name a few pivotal moments.Trump began the day by speaking to a crowd at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland before boarding Air Force One. He is traveling to his golf club, Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, and will not be attending Biden’s inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C.Supporters of the 45th U.S. President gathered in West Palm Beach, Fla. to greet Trump’s motorcade when it arrived in the city.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
Four people have been arrested in connection with the death of Amber Dawn Wood, 38, of Bienfait, Sask. Justin Julien Englot, 29, and Jayden Marie Sanford, 25, both of Regina, have been charged with accessory after the fact to murder and possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000. Sanford and Englot made their first appearance in Regina provincial court Tuesday morning. Two other people, both males, are also in custody. They haven't been charged, but police say an investigation is continuing. Wood died after being severely injured Saturday morning at a home on the 700 block of Athol St., police said. Police were called to the scene following a report someone had been shot. Wood was taken to hospital where she was pronounced dead. It was the city's first homicide of 2021.
GEORGETOWN – Holland College's president recalls a time when he struggled to find a job because for every job there was a surplus of workers trying to get it. "I can tell you without any degree of uncertainty that that is not the case anymore," Alexander (Sandy) MacDonald said. These days, industries such as early childhood care, resident care and correctional policing need workers, but either there aren't enough available or there are barriers keeping people from attaining the necessary skills, he said. "I can't think of a single industry on P.E.I. that isn't short on labour." MacDonald is hopeful that the college's new strategic plan will help to counter this with its four guiding principles, which he outlined during a presentation at Kings Playhouse in Georgetown on Jan. 12. The principles are innovative and flexible programming, support and inclusion, environmental leadership and corporate innovation. "Our budget (will be) framed around these four things," he said. The college has already adapted some of its programs around the first principle. Last year, the college's early childhood care program partnered with workplaces so students could start the program and learn the basics, then jump into work while still enrolled in the two-year program. Similarly, students pursuing a Red Seal apprenticeship would normally have to take time off work to attend the college's programming, which could be a deterrent for students who have to prioritize a steady income. Moving forward, Red Seal students will be able to continue working while taking part in virtual education. "(Now) they're earning and learning at the same time," MacDonald said. "It's not that there's anything new in the content, it's just in how we deliver it." As well, the college's bioscience program has partnered with UPEI via a joint program that mixes the college's expertise in applied learning with the university's focus on theory. In addition, an entry-level cook position was added to the college's culinary program as many restaurants don't need a fully-trained chef, MacDonald said. The second principle is about better supporting the college's diverse student base, such as people of ethnicity, people with learning disabilities or people with past traumas or addictions. About $300,000 has been set aside toward one day constructing a student support centre. "We have four counsellors now," MacDonald said. "We probably should have eight." The third principle pertains to responding responsibly to the impacts of climate change, such as by reviewing all programs to see about using greener techniques or by reassessing the possibility of including a transit pass in student union fees. As well, the college recently submitted a report to government outlining a potential centre that would act as a headquarters for P.E.I.'s 24 watershed groups, MacDonald said. The fourth principle, which involves the intent to invest in effective partnerships, opportunities and technologies, has proven challenging. That’s because it requires the college to change or restructure how it operates, such as by framing its budget around the four principals. "Because we want to make sure we're spending every nickel as efficiently as possible," he said. Twitter.com/dnlbrown95 Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Tiger King" star Jeff Lowe, the former business partner at the private wildcat zoo featured in the hit Netflix series, has been ordered to surrender his cubs and their mothers after the death of two young tigers in his care. Lowe and his wife Lauren were also ordered not to put animals on public exhibit without a license in a federal court ruling issued in Oklahoma last week, according to a U.S. Justice Department statement on Tuesday. "The Lowes have shown a shocking disregard for both the health and welfare of their animals, as well as the law," Jonathan Brightbill at the Justice Department's Environmental and Natural Resources Division, said in the statement.
Yukon conservation officers euthanized what they're describing as an "emaciated" grizzly bear in Braeburn, a small community about 110 kilometres north of Whitehorse on the Klondike Highway, on Jan. 15 after it was found breaking into structures looking for food. It's the fourth bear to be euthanized since November. A written statement posted to the Yukon Conservation Officer Services Facebook page on Jan. 18 said officers located and tracked a "large, male bear that was in poor condition" after receiving reports about the break-ins. Along with being emaciated, the bear had "extreme tooth wear" as well as "multiple injuries to the face and paws" it likely received while breaking into structures, according to the statement. "The bear's poor condition is likely why it either did not den, or came out of denning to find food to prevent starvation," the statement says. "The bear had been active and roaming the area, indicating that it was food stressed. The bear demonstrated willingness to break into structures in search of food — a behaviour that would have likely continued — creating a significant public safety hazard." 'Last resort' Euthanasia is seen as a "last resort" when it comes to dealing with bears, Environment Yukon spokesperson Diana Dryburgh-Moraal told CBC on Jan. 18, but a high risk to public safety has been a factor in all four cases so far this winter. "The bears have been in extremely poor condition," she said. "They have in common the fact that their teeth have been extremely worn down, they've been emaciated and they're sick, and that puts them at a higher risk of being a danger to humans." The three other bears were in the Haines Junction area, about 150 kilometres west of Whitehorse. While Dryburgh-Moraal acknowledged there have been more bear advisories than usual this winter, she said that "it's not actually that unusual for bears to be out and about throughout the year, whether it's July or January. "The most likely reason that bears are still active in the winter is that they haven't built up enough body fat to survive hibernation, and there's a couple of reasons that that might happen," she said. "The most important one is food availability — if there aren't enough berries or salmon available on the land, they will be motivated to stay longer to meet their food needs. Following that, their body size becomes really important, especially with older bears, because they are bigger and so their energy needs are that much (larger) as well." She added that Yukoners should remain "bear-aware" all year round and take safety measures like carrying bear spray — keep it tucked in your jacket or someplace warm — and securing attractants even during the winter. Bears or any wildlife posing a risk to humans can be reported to the TIPP line at 1-800-661-0525.
OTTAWA — Canada’s veterans ombudsman is calling on the federal government to reverse restrictions on mental-health services for veterans' families. Ombudsman Nishika Jardine’s demand is in a scathing report released today, a year after Ottawa cut off this federal funding for veterans' families, even when the family member needs treatment because of their loved one’s military service. That move followed outrage over Veterans Affairs Canada having paid for Christopher Garnier’s PTSD treatment while in prison because he was the son of a veteran, even though Garnier had been convicted of killing police officer in Halifax. Jardine’s report quotes several veterans and their family members about the harm those restrictions have done to them and their children, most of whom were receiving support before the change was made without notice. Some of those quoted also question how the government can justify the restrictions when Canadian Armed Forces commanders have repeatedly stressed how supporting military families at home contributes to successful missions abroad. Jardine says reversing the restrictions is a matter of fairness given the unique challenges facing veterans' families, including constant moves, long periods of separation and the stress of living with someone suffering from physical and mental injuries. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's youngest daughter, Tiffany, is engaged to be married. The 27-year-old recent Georgetown law school graduate announced her good news on Instagram on Tuesday, her father's final full day in office. She shared a photograph of herself and fiance Michael Boulos posing on the West Wing colonnade at the White House. “It has been an honour to celebrate many milestones, historic occasions and create memories with my family here at the White House, none more special than my engagement to my amazing fiance Michael!” Tiffany Trump wrote. “Feeling blessed and excited for the next chapter!” Boulos, a 23-year-old business executive, also shared the photograph on his Instagram account. “Got engaged to the love of my life! Looking forward to our next chapter together,” he wrote. Tiffany Trump is the president's daughter with Marla Maples, his second ex-wife. She and Boutros have been dating for the past few years and have attended White House events together. Darlene Superville, The Associated Press
CALGARY — An Alberta government lawyer says decisions about environmental policy should be made by elected officials, not the courts. Melissa Burkett is speaking at a court hearing that is to decide whether a request for a judicial review into Alberta's decision to revoke a policy protecting the Rocky Mountains from coal mining can proceed. She says the decision revoked a policy, not a law or a regulation, and was entirely within the responsibility of Energy Minister Sonya Savage. She says when the policy was first adopted in 1976 it anticipated a thorough regulatory process, which now exists in the province. Burkett argues that because the Alberta Energy Regulator would review any mine application, revoking the coal policy made little difference. Savage revoked the policy last May without any public consultation, which area ranchers and First Nations say violated laws that have incorporated its guidelines. The decision has been widely criticized, with petitions opposing it gathering more than 100,000 signatures. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
Adam Grant, who first began working for the Region of Queens Municipality (RQM) in 2007 as the assistant director of the engineering and public works department, now gets a turn at the helm. Grant was appointed as the department’s new director at the RQM council meeting on January 12. He has been in the role of acting director since the retirement of Brad Rowter in December 2020. Rowter worked for the municipality for 24 years. He began his career at RQM as an engineer and was appointed Director of Engineering and Public Works in September 2003, after being in the role of acting director for about a year. “We are pleased to have Adam take on this important role with Region of Queens Municipality. With 14 years’ experience as an engineer with the municipality, we are confident Adam can lead the Municipality in our continued growth and continue to advance important infrastructure projects,” Darlene Norman, RQM’s mayor, commented in a press release. As director, Grant will be responsible for overseeing the management, maintenance and development of municipal infrastructure of two sewer systems, its water system, Queens Solid Waste Management Facility and Materials Recovery Facility, streets in Liverpool, parks and green spaces throughout Queens County, as well as the operational components of Queens Place Emera Centre. Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
Alexei Navalny, President Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic who was jailed at the weekend, on Tuesday released a video in which he and his allies alleged that an opulent palace belonged to the Russian leader, a claim the Kremlin denied. The allegations, which first surfaced in 2010 when a businessman wrote about them to then-President Dmitry Medvedev complaining of official graft, come as Navalny's supporters urge people to join nationwide protests on Saturday. Reuters reported in 2014 that the estate in southern Russia had been partly funded by taxpayer money from a $1 billion hospital project.
A class at the North Queens Community School hopes that students and the community alike will soon be skating their way to better health. “As part of the Grade 9 Citizenship program, students were challenged to consider needs in their school community. Together they drafted plans for a service-learning project,” teacher Julie Ramey explained in an email to LighthouseNOW. The students came up with a list of ideas, and ultimately wanted to provide the community and the school with sources of entertainment that are physically active, according to Ramey. “They hope to do this by creating multiple ways that people can be active during and after school. The rink is just one phase of this project,” she said. The class ordered a 10.6 metre by 18.3 metre rink kit from the company EZ ICE, which comes with boards, a liner and all the accessories necessary to install it. While it will be placed on school grounds, the rink will be available for everyone to use. The students were keenly awaiting the arrival of the kit late last week or early this week. Once it is put together, it would be just a matter of adding water and hoping for cooler weather. The project is teaching a few life lessons, according to the Grade 9 students. “Our class is also learning to work together, build new skills and learn how to be active citizens and connect with the community,” said Keegan Mounton, adding that, during these hard times, “it will be nice to create another way for people to get some fresh air and exercise.” Fellow student, Presley Freeman, agreed. “I am excited about this project because it will make a new safe space for families and friends to hang-out and spend time together while doing physical activity,” he said. The cost associated with all phases of the project is about $8,500. The class has received several grants to help cover it and is continuing to explore partnerships with community stakeholders regarding the establishment of an equipment program. Meanwhile, it is also looking for funding to support the maintenance of the ice surface, rubber mats for walkway access, a flooder, hoses and more shovels. However, Ramey is hopeful that a community fundraising campaign will help with any financial shortfalls to purchase extra supplies. The rink will be used by the school during the day and will be open for community use in the evenings and on the weekends. An equipment loan program will be in place to allow students and community members to borrow skates and helmets for after-hours use as well. The project has been entirely student-driven, according to Ramey. She said the class developed operational procedures and task teams to maintain the ice surface, remove snow, make repairs, process loan requests, sanitize equipment and troubleshoot other needs as they arise. The class is also considering the installation of a new basketball net at the back of the school, as part of the project, as well as a Gaga Ball Pit - a boundary made with materials used for a game similar to dodge ball. “I’m always amazed by the ideas that are generated by our Citizenship Education 9 students. This particular group is 16 in number and they have a firm vision for improved physical activity,” said the teacher. Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
COVID-19. Découlant de la diminution des arrivages de vaccins de la compagnie Pfizer, le ministère de la Santé et des Services sociaux confirme que le calendrier de la campagne de vaccination a été revu. Initialement fixé à 250 000 doses administrées pour le 8 février, l’objectif est maintenant de 225 000. Toutefois, la volonté de vacciner l’ensemble des résidents des centres d'hébergement et de soins de longue durée (CHSLD) d'ici le 25 janvier est maintenue. Le déploiement de la vaccination dans les résidences privées pour aînés (RPA) l’est également. Cependant, celui-ci se fera plus lentement, à raison de 21 000 doses déployées d'ici le 8 février. De son côté, la cible de vaccination du personnel de la santé est réduite à 127 000 pour cette date tandis que pour les des régions éloignées, la cible de 20 000 personnes vaccinées pour le 8 février demeure. Par ailleurs, c’est à partir du 15 mars que les clientèles ayant déjà reçu la première dose pourront commencer à recevoir la deuxième. Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Division 1 and 2 students at the Swan Hills School will participate in an Earth Rangers virtual presentation on January 22, 2021. Crescent Point Energy has sponsored this presentation at no cost to the school. According to information shared by an Earth Rangers representative, the presentation will include: · Real-time broadcasting from the Earth Rangers Centre · Curriculum-linked education information appropriate for grades 1 - 6 · An integration of technology like green-screens, video segments, and multiple camera angles to create a unique and immersive virtual experience · Interactive elements like trivia and a choose-your-own-adventure format to keep students attentive and engaged · Demonstrations by our beloved Animal Ambassadors · Featured local content, including conservation work happening to restore habitat for the Western Bumblebee in Saskatchewan Earth Rangers is a conservation organization that focuses on “instilling environmental knowledge, positivity, and the confidence to take action in every child in Canada.” They offer free programming for children to participate in at school, home, and in the community. Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette