'Deep pockets': Lawmaker on why Congress, Trump administration haven't acted to curb vaping

The Trump administration is moving to ban flavored e-cigarettes, but one lawmaker says both Congress and the administration have not acted quickly enough to combat the risks posed by vaping.

“Quite frankly, we need to have some significant and detailed answers about what the heck is going on, because people are up in arms right now about vaping,” says Illinois Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), whose committee held hearings in July about marketing practices of e-cigarette maker Juul.

The comments from Krishnamoorthi and the action by the Trump administration come amid a surge of vaping-related lung illnesses that were linked to at least six deaths. Krishnamoorthi called the “mystery illnesses” and deaths shocking. Krishnamoorthi confirmed his committee has scheduled additional hearings to take place September 24 to investigate the outbreak, during which CDC principal deputy director, Anne Schuchat, will testify.

‘They have very deep pockets’

“I think that Congress has not acted fast enough. The administration has not acted fast enough, Krishnamoorthi said. “The e-cigarette industry is incredibly powerful. They have very deep pockets. They're spending a lot of money on lobbying, and now they have the power of Big Tobacco behind them...I think that the strength of Big Tobacco and the e-cigarette industry helps explain the slow action in Washington.”

Indeed, in December 2018 tobacco giant Altria (MO) acquired a 35% stake in JUUL for $12.8 billion. Juul is a key player in the e-cigarette business and sells pods with flavors like mint and mango.

Signage for Juul vaping products is seen on a storefront in New York City, U.S., September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

The Trump administration on Wednesday announced a forthcoming Food & Drug Administration (FDA) policy to end sales of non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes, and prioritize the agency’s enforcement ability.

Juul said in a statement: "We strongly agree with the need for aggressive category-wide action on flavored products. We will fully comply with the final FDA policy when effective."

The move comes after Kansas state health officials confirmed a sixth U.S. death believed to be related to e-cigarette or vape product use, and after the FDA officially warned e-cigarette giant Juul on Monday that it violated law by marketing its products as safer alternatives to traditional cigarettes without FDA approval. The agency said it was particularly concerned because statements by Juul about lower risk levels were made directly to children in school.

While federal agencies have been working to identify the link between use of the products and illness, so far the cause has alluded health experts. In addition to the reported deaths, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) last week issued a notice confirming 450 reported cases of lung illness possibly connected to e-cigarette use. Five other reported deaths, the agency said, occurred in California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Oregon.

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 06: A man vaping an e-cigarette on September 06, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Ricardo Rubio/Europa Press via Getty Images)

“Initial published reports from the investigation point to clinical similarities among cases,’” the CDC’s September 6 notice states. “Patients report e-cigarette use and similar symptoms and clinical findings.”

Among the cases of e-cigarette-related illness, the CDC said it had not identified any specific substance or product linked to all cases, but it did say “many” patients reported using e-cigarette products “with liquids that contain cannabinoid products, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)” found in marijuana.

Krishnamoorthi said, so far, he had not received any confirmation of links between specific liquified vape products and e-cigarette-related deaths.

‘This is really alarming’

Variations in how e-cigarette or vape products are used makes finding a causal connection difficult. Some experts have pointed to liquid nicotine flavor additives as possible toxic culprits, while the CDC’s notice seems to point to vape liquids containing THC.

A sign advertising vaping products is seen at a shop in Manhattan in New York, U.S., September 10, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar

“This is really alarming,” Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center toxicologist and associate professor of oncology, Maciej Goniewicz, told Yahoo Finance. Goniewicz’s research aims to identify what chemicals, in addition to nicotine, are contained in various vape products, and the effects of the chemicals.

“There are solvents for nicotine, there are flavorings added to the products, and there might be some other chemicals, or toxins, or impurities in the products that may be harmful,” he said. “Some of that flavorings showed quite alarming results in our lab studies, and some of [the flavorings], not all of them, were more toxic than the others.”

While the majority of e-cigarette flavor ingredients are taken from the food industry, it doesn’t make them automatically safe to heat and inhale, Goniewicz explained. “We know that when we eat them, they are quite safe, but there are no real data of what's going on when we inhale those chemicals.”

Goniewicz said he’s also concerned about solvents used to extract nicotine, and possibly THC, which is more difficult to study based on its classification as a federally illegal substance.

“Actually it’s the heating of the nicotine solvent, not the nicotine itself, but propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin — those are the solvents for nicotine — and this is what creates this vapor effect. And these two chemicals if they are overheated, if temperatures go too high, then they decompose. And once they decompose, they create some of the toxic chemicals, and one of those toxic chemicals is formaldehyde.”

On Monday, the CDC issued guidance saying consumers should consider not using e-cigarette products while its investigation is ongoing, and to seek prompt medical care for symptoms resulting from their use.

Alexis Keenan is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow on Twitter @alexiskweed.

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  • Prince Harry and Meghan's arrival could mean 'new grounds' for Canada's privacy laws
    News
    CBC

    Prince Harry and Meghan's arrival could mean 'new grounds' for Canada's privacy laws

    British paparazzi may soon come face-to-face with Canada's privacy laws as the arrival of Prince Harry and Meghan has already prompted a warning to the U.K press to back off or face legal action.But it's unclear what legal recourse the royal couple will have to keep news photographers away from their family.David Fraser, a Halifax-based privacy lawyer, says, when it comes to privacy claims in Canada, he hasn't found any related to celebrities and paparazzi.The lawsuits here that relate to invasions of privacy, most recently, deal with large-scale business data breaches, or hidden cameras, he said."So this is relatively new grounds that we're looking at, maybe because we don't have the same sort of paparazzi culture or the same sort of celebrity culture in Canada. But so far, a claim like this has not been made or at least hasn't gone to a published decision," he said. "It's not something that's really been tested a whole lot in Canada. We don't have a paparazzi culture."Buckingham Palace announced Saturday that the prince and his wife will give up public funding and try to become financially independent. The couple is expected to spend most of their time in Canada while maintaining a home in England near Windsor Castle in an attempt to build a more peaceful life. Video from Sky News showed Harry landing at Victoria's airport late Monday. The prince, Meghan and their eight-month-old son Archie were reportedly staying at at mansion on the island. Lawyers for the couple sent a letter to British new outlets, accusing photographers of "harassment," and claiming that paparazzi have permanently camped outside their Vancouver Island residence, attempting to photograph them at home using long-range lenses.They also allege that pictures of Meghan — on a hike with Archie and her two dogs, trailed by her security detail, on Vancouver Island on Monday — were taken by photographers hiding in the bushes. "There are serious safety concerns about how the paparazzi are driving and the risk to life they pose," the letter read.When it comes to privacy issues in Canada, there are a few ways Canadians can take action, says Iain MacKinnon, a Toronto-based lawyer. One can argue "intentional infliction of mental stress" in which the conduct of the defendant has to be proven to be flagrant and outrageous; calculated to produce harm, and results in visible and provable illness, he said.There's also what's known as "intrusion upon seclusion" in which the defendant's conduct must be intentional or reckless and have invaded the plaintiff's private affairs "without lawful reason." Also, a "reasonable person would regard the invasion as highly offensive causing distress, humiliation or anguish," MacKinnon said.And there's public disclosure of private facts, when one publicizes an aspect of another's private life — without consent — that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person. The publication also would not be of legitimate concern to the public."And Meghan Markle walking her dog in a public space … would not fall under any of those," MacKinnon said.They may seek recourse under the B.C. Privacy Act which specifically says it's a violation for somebody to willfully and without a legal basis violate the privacy of someone else, and allows for someone to sue the alleged perpetrator.In making that determination, a judge is required to take into account the circumstances of the situation, the relationships between the parties and other people's rights and interests. There is an exemption, however, for journalistic publications and if the matter is of public interest. "Up until now, certainly when they've been part of the Royal Family and are highly public figures and are paid, their whole and entire lifestyle is paid for by public funds, then that's certainly one justification for arguing that what they do is a matter of public interest," MacKinnon said."As they may recede from public life and become more private citizens, that argument may be more difficult to make. But certainly today, this is headline news, them leaving England, leaving the Royal Family, moving to Canada. It's tough to say that this is not a matter of public interest."Most people won't consider it to be highly offensive that someone took a picture of Meghan in public park because there isn't a reasonable expectation of privacy, MacKinnon said."Now, if they're shooting with telephoto lenses into a house where Harry and Megan are staying and they're photographing them in their private lives inside a house, that might be a different story."Fraser says, under the act, an invasion of privacy can also include surveillance."It's really going to depend upon the exact circumstances of what's alleged. But it certainly sounds like a group of photographers, paparazzi following them around might fit into the category of surveillance," he said.Fraser said even if one is in a public place, there's still an expectation of privacy.Being in a public park, there's a significantly reduced expectation of privacy. But when it comes to a photographer hiding in a bush, a court might say it's arguable that one has an expectation of privacy if they are in a place, looking around, not seeing other observers and somebody has hidden themselves, Fraser said."There would also probably be an element of kind of additional intrusion based on the fact that the person has hidden themselves and is covertly trying to surveil somebody," Fraser said.The Charter of Rights and Freedoms doesn't give anybody a particular privacy interest among individuals — only against the state. It does, however, provide a right for freedom of expression, which would be the right that the photographers have, Fraser said."So any court considering these issues would have to balance those interests which includes the rights of journalists to collect information, to disseminate that information, against a particular privacy interest."Still, Fraser believes Harry and Meghan could find a "level of sympathy" in the courts "Given that, it seems that they're moving from the United Kingdom to Canada, least part time, in order to get away from this glare and get away from these invasions of privacy," he said. It's unlikely that the royals would see a big cash windfall in the event their legal claims were successful. Privacy damages are relatively low or modest in Canada, Fraser said. "But I would expect that an injunction so a court order requiring the paparazzi to stay away might be something that they would seek as well."And as MacKinnon noted, Harry and Meghan, through their lawyers, are probably attempting to set new ground rules."My guess is that they're trying to draw a new line in the sand here with both the Canadian media [and], more likely, the Fleet Street tabloids."

  • Cash-strapped rural Alberta 'can't wring money' from struggling oil and gas firms, premier says
    News
    CBC

    Cash-strapped rural Alberta 'can't wring money' from struggling oil and gas firms, premier says

    Premier Jason Kenney urged rural municipalities to work with the province to help struggling oil and gas companies Tuesday, adding they can't get "money from a stone."He made the comments following a survey that said the oil and gas sector owes $173 million in unpaid taxes to rural municipalities — more than double since a similar report was done last spring.Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Kenney said the sector has seen a few bankruptcies in the past year while other companies are barely hanging on."You can't wring money from a stone," Kenney said, suggesting that could be the case for a number of smaller natural gas producers who are having trouble right now."The best solution, in our view, is to create a future for those companies that are struggling."Rural Municipalities Alberta (RMA) distributed a survey of its members Monday that showed the amount of unpaid taxes from oil and gas companies had grown by 114 per cent since a similar survey last March.Years of low oil prices have left many small producers in dire straits but rural communities say those unpaid taxes are leaving significant holes in their budgets.The RMA said legislative gaps make it difficult to recover lost taxes from energy companies. When an oil and gas company goes bust, municipalities rank below regulators as creditors, the association said.Al Kemmere, president of the RMA, told CBC News Tuesday he will meet with the provincial minister of municipal affairs next month to discuss the situation.Asked about the premier's comments, Kemmere agreed there needs to be discussion about solutions, but cautioned rural municipalities only have so much flexibility under the Municipal Government Act."We are also in a very limited scope of what we can do, too, because [while] other levels of government can … build a deficit into their budget, we cannot," Kemmere said."That limits us again on what we can do and how we can find solutions. We either balance a budget every year or we are in contempt of our own act."Kenney said rural municipalities have the legal ability to take action when taxes go unpaid.But Kemmere maintained they don't have that authority other than through the civil courts — something he said could be "really messy" and puts risk on taxpayers.On Tuesday, Kenney was asked how the province would find a balance between the rural municipalities and the industry. He said he didn't view them as competing priorities but competing realities. "On the one part, the municipalities need the revenue and they have every right to assess it and and to seek to collect it — they have the legal right to collect it," Kenney said. "But for companies that are on the verge of bankruptcy, they have no cash and very little in the way of assets. There's not a lot to go after."So I would just say with the municipalities, you know, work with us to try to create the best conditions to turn that economic situation around."The industry is seeking reforms to how taxes are assessed on oil and gas companies.Properties are assessed by the provincial government, which evaluates them on replacement cost and not on market value, Ben Brunnen, vice president of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said Monday."What we're seeing is a need to update the way our assets are valued inside municipalities," he told CBC News."If we do that, we'll find a way for companies to then … perhaps invest more because the economics are better over the long term and our industry will come out stronger."On Monday, Ponoka County Reeve Paul McLauchlin said about 40 per cent of unpaid taxes are from severely distressed companies in an industry hard and widely hit by lower resource prices. The rest of the shortfall is from companies that continue to operate but don't pay."My personal opinion is that this is a tax revolt," McLauchlin told Canadian Press. "They are using this as a lever to decrease their assessment and change those costs."A group concerned about the unpaid taxes, the Alberta Liabilities Disclosure Project, is planning a protest outside the McDougall Centre in downtown Calgary on Wednesday.

  • Trump impeachment: Who will be making the case for and against the U.S. president in the Senate trial
    News
    CBC

    Trump impeachment: Who will be making the case for and against the U.S. president in the Senate trial

    As the Senate impeachment trial of U.S. President Donald Trump begins in earnest this week, those arguing for and against his removal from office are gearing up for a contentious battle.Trump is accused of abusing his presidential power by pressuring Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden, using military aid approved by Congress as leverage. Trump is also charged with obstructing Congress in the ensuing probe.Seven House impeachment managers will make their case as to why the president should be ousted. Trump, meanwhile, will be defended by several high-profile lawyers.Republican and Democratic senators will sit and listen to each side, acting as jurors.The presidential impeachment trial — only the third in U.S. history — will be overseen by the chief justice of the Supreme Court, who has little actual power over the proceedings.Here are the key figures whose actions will help determine whether the 45th president of the United States will be removed from office:These seven Democratic members of the House of Representatives were chosen by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to make the case against Trump, making them de facto prosecutors:A former federal prosecutor, Schiff is chair of the House intelligence committee and the lead  impeachment manager. For many, he has become a familiar face of the proceedings, leading the investigation into the allegations against the president. He presided over the House impeachment hearings in the lead-up to the Senate trial, earning the scorn of Trump — and a nickname: "Shifty Schiff."Nadler is chair of the House judiciary committee, which drafted the two articles of impeachment against Trump. Nadler was also a member of the judiciary committee during president Bill Clinton's impeachment in 1998. Nadler was an earlier supporter of a Trump impeachment, declaring last August that his panel would hold impeachment hearings related to special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.A member of the House judiciary committee, Jeffries is also House Democratic caucus chairman. The former litigator is considered a rising star in the Democratic Party, and is seen as someone who could eventually replace Nancy PelosiA former U.S. Army Ranger who served in Iraq and Afghanistan who also worked as a lawyer, Crow is a freshman member of Congress. He is the only manager who is not a member of either the judiciary or intelligence committees, but, as the New York Times noted, is considered a leading voice on national security.A former Houston judge and newly elected congresswoman, Garcia became one of the first two Latinas to represent Texas in U.S. Congress. She has also worked as a social worker, legal aid lawyer and as a city controller for Houston. She serves on the House judiciary committee.A judiciary committee member, Lofgren, who has been in Congress for almost 25 years, is the only manager who was involved in the two other presidential impeachment proceedings, against Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. Specifically, she worked on the congressional staff investigation of Nixon's impeachment. (Nixon resigned before he was impeached).Demings is a member of both the judiciary and intelligence committees, but is the only manager without a law degree. However, she does have law enforcement experience. She worked for the Orlando Police Department for 27 years, becoming the force's first female police chief in 2007.Trump's lawyers will present their case for the president and will be allowed to cross-examine the impeachment managers, along with any witnesses.Cipollone is the current White House counsel, who advises the president on all legal matters. He leads Trump's defence team but has spent most of his career in commercial litigation and doesn't have extensive experience with trials. But he has worked on numerous high-profile cases, including the lawsuit against credit-reporting company Equifax after a massive data breach.The personal lawyer to Trump, Sekulow also represented the president during the Mueller investigation. Sekulow hosts a radio talk show and is chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, a non-profit that advocates for religious freedoms.A former prosecutor and independent counsel, Starr's 445-page report formed the basis for the House impeachment of Clinton in late 1998. The former appeals court judge had been appointed to investigate the Clintons in relation to a real estate deal known as the Whitewater controversy, among other matters, but his probe widened to include Bill Clinton's sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.The Harvard law professor has been part of the legal team for a number of high-profile defendants, including O.J. Simpson, Claus von Bulow, Jeffrey Epstein and Mike Tyson. A self-described Democrat, Dershowitz nevertheless says he doesn't believe the actions of the president necessitate his removal from office.The former federal prosecutor succeeded Starr as independent counsel during the investigation of Clinton. But Ray declined to prosecute Clinton in connection with perjury and obstruction charges.The former attorney general of Florida and a longtime Trump supporter, Bondi joined the White House communications team late last year on a temporary basis to help shape the administration's defence strategy around the House impeachment investigation. Jane Raskin: The former federal attorney has handled organized crime and racketeering cases, including the nine-month trial and conviction of the underboss of the New England Mafia. Raskin and her husband, Martin, were both part of Trump's legal team during the Mueller investigation.Eric D. Herschmann: Herschmann is a partner at Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, a law firm that has represented Trump in numerous cases over the last 15 years. He's also a former assistant district attorney in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.The U.S. Constitution mandates that a Senate presidential impeachment trial be presided over by the chief justice of the Supreme Court, a position currently held by Roberts.Appointed to the high court by George W. Bush in 2005, Roberts's role in the Senate trial is mostly ceremonial, as he has limited powers over the proceedings. He won't be ruling on objections, but he does have authority to hold someone in contempt, if, for example, a witness refuses to testify.He can rule on the relevance of material, but the Senate majority can overrule him.

  • Manitoba premier says grain-drying would be exempt from a provincial carbon tax
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Manitoba premier says grain-drying would be exempt from a provincial carbon tax

    BRANDON, Man. — One day after signalling a compromise on a carbon tax, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister pitched the idea to agriculture producers who have largely opposed a tax on carbon and who have faced big bills from the federal levy.Pallister told an agricultural exposition Tuesday that he plans to introduce a provincial carbon tax which, unlike the federal one, would not apply to grain-drying costs."Just that alone is a significant indication of the cost benefits of having a Manitoba plan," Pallister told a few hundred people at Manitoba Ag Days."We are going to implement our made-in-Manitoba green plan because it is better for the economy than Ottawa's, it is better for the environment than Ottawa's and, most importantly it is better for us, our children and grandchildren than Ottawa's."The announcement follows Pallister's decision Monday to open a door to negotiate with the federal government toward a provincial carbon tax.Manitoba originally proposed a flat $25 per tonne levy, but withdrew the plan when Ottawa said it was not good enough. The federal government imposed its own tax, which is set to rise to $50 per tonne by 2022.Pallister's stance breaks with his fellow Prairie conservative premiers. Alberta's Jason Kenney and Scott Moe of Saskatchewan are vocal opponents of the federal tax and have refused demands to implement their own carbon pricing system. All three provinces are challenging the federal levy in court.The federal carbon tax has also been widely opposed in Manitoba's farming areas — a big base for Pallister's Progressive Conservatives.Keystone Agricultural Producers, the province's largest farm group, said it is pleased with Pallister's promise to exempt grain-drying costs,"I would think it is a step in the right direction," said Keystone president Bill Campbell."When you put (it) all together, it looks like ... about $1.7 million that Manitoba agriculture is paying in a carbon tax for grain corn alone."Farmers across much of the West faced a soggy harvest in the fall and have had to spend time and money drying grain with natural gas and propane. Campbell said they also face competition from farmers in the United States who do not pay a carbon tax.Pallister promised other help for producers. He reiterated an election pledge to increase the amount of ethanol required in gasoline and biofuel required in diesel, and said the change will come this year.While Pallister is working to convince people of the benefits of a provincial carbon tax, he is not prepared to say what dollar amount he is planning. He has only said he wants credit from the federal government for the billions of dollars Manitoba has spent on developing clean hydroelectricity.However, federal Environment Minister Jonathan Wilkinson did not appear enthusiastic about crediting the province for past measures. Wilkinson said on Monday that carbon plans should be focused on reducing emissions that exist currently.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2020Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press

  • St. John's airport opens, relieves stranded passengers
    News
    CBC

    St. John's airport opens, relieves stranded passengers

    After five days without commercial flights flying in or out of the St. John's airport, travellers are happy to finally be able to take off and touch down.The City of St. John's has agreed to allow the St. John's International Airport to resume operations as of 5:00 a.m. Wednesday morning.The announcement is somewhat bittersweet for Beverly Steele whose sister who lives in St. John's missed a surgery that could only be done in Halifax. The 12 hour surgery would be critical in removing some of the cancer in her abdomen."The sooner she gets the surgery the better," said Steele, who is concerned about the cancer getting worse as she waits. It's good to be back at work and seeing people's smiling faces. \- Patrick HanlonSteele said the surgery was booked for Wednesday but the hospital needed her sister there by Tuesday, which didn't happen due to so many cancellations. "There is nobody to blame, it is just the luck has not been in our corner as of right now," she saidSteele said it has calmed her family's nerves to secure another appointment for surgery and to see those flights back up and running."I am relieved, yes, because it's not just my sister in this situation, there are a lot of people that have to leave for many other reasons," Steele said."We just really need the airport, don't we."Krista Mulrooney, who lives in Edmonton, was among the first passengers to land Wednesday morning.Her father passed away Sunday."We're home for his funeral," she said. "I've been trying to get home for my mom and my family."Heading homeSome of those crowding around the departures board Wednesday had been trying to leave the island for days.Dean Blotto Gray, a photographer for snowboarding company Burton on his way to Japan, wasn't frustrated about being stranded.His crew had "never seen anything like this," he said. "Being in a hurricane made out of snow --it was quite thrilling. And it made our trip actually better because we stayed a little bit longer hung out with the community more and did some more snowboarding."Sherry Stinson nearly made it out ahead of the storm Friday, but ended up stuck at a hotel. She said staff and guests all came together in — even grabbing shovels to help hotel workers clear out cars."The people that I've met [are] really going to be the shining part of the entire situation," she said.Stinson's friend Karen Gray said, despite the exhaustion and intermittent feelings of isolation, she found the entire experience fantastic."We all kind of bonded together, hung out, played cards, drank some beer," Gray said."I don't think I'd want to be stuck anywhere else."Additional flights Peter Avery, CEO of the St. John's Airport Authority, told CBC Radio that the airport is prepared to open Wednesday morning and get back to business as usual."We're in pretty good shape right now. All of our main facilities, and our airfields, parking lots and roadways are cleared. So, we're ready for the go-ahead tomorrow morning," Avery said.Avery said St. John's International Airport is expecting at least 2,000 passengers inbound on Wednesday, with the same amount looking to fly out. Air Canada said in a tweet that the company plans on adding capacity to and from the St. John's Airport once it re-opens to get passengers to where they need to be as quickly as possible. Taxis back on the road Taxis were allowed to resume full operation Tuesday evening to not only get people to and from the airport but to also get people to grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies and doctors offices."It's good to be back at work and seeing people's smiling faces and being part of the community," said Patrick Hanlon, owner and operator of Independent Taxi NL.Hanlon who was out helping people get their groceries Tuesday said the road conditions were "rather rough" but is hoping the conditions will improve for Wednesday. "All day [Tuesday] everybody was very courteous, pedestrians were also understanding of the vehicles … and vehicles were yielding to pedestrians," he said.While the city has kept taxis off the roads to help with snowclearing, Hanlon said that means time he didn't get paid. "[It's] difficult, I am out of work just like many people.""Over the last number of days I have received a good number of calls looking for service and I have been unable to service my customers … so it provides me a little more relief now."The city is asking residents to try to carpool or take a taxi to reduce traffic on the roads if possible.Read more stories from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    5th body found on Tijuana lot; suspect remains in custody

    TIJUANA, Mexico — A fifth body has been found on a property in this border city, and Mexican officials said Tuesday that they are beginning to suspect they may have a serial killer in custody.Baja California state prosecutor Hiram Sánchez said the suspect, who is the son-in-law of the first couple found buried on the property last week, may have lured victims with offers of cars for sale. The suspect's name has not been released.Sánchez said the suspect will face murder charges in the deaths of his in-laws. But he added that investigators are looking into several other reported disappearances in which the missing people were last ween near the property on the city's south side.A fifth body was found found there Monday, a male who had not yet been identified, officials said.Four bodies were uncovered at the property last week. Authorities said they initially found the bodies of the suspect's in-laws, dual U.S.-Mexican citizens. Then late Saturday, officials announced two more bodies in an advanced state of decomposition were discovered.The suspect was deported from the U.S. in 2012 and had been living at a property in Tijuana owned by his in-laws, officials have said.Maria Teresa López, 65, and her husband, Jesús Rubén López, 70, entered Mexico on Jan. 10 to retrieve the equivalent of $6,400 in rent for apartments they owned in the city that their son-in-law had supposedly collected on their behalf.A daughter reported the couple from Garden Grove, California, missing the next day.Authorities suspect the man killed his in-laws in a dispute over money. They say he confessed to burying them on their property where he lived.The other victims have not been identified.Investigators are focusing on reports of people who disappeared after inquiring about cars for sale. In one case, it was a man, and in another instance a couple disappeared, Sánchez said it was too early to know if they were the other bodies found on the property.The Associated Press

  • Tour agencies: N Korea bans foreign tourists over new virus
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Tour agencies: N Korea bans foreign tourists over new virus

    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — North Korea has banned foreign tourists to guard against the spread of a new virus from China, tour operators in China said.Foreign travel to North Korea has been temporarily suspended as of Wednesday, the Beijing-based Uri Tours said on its website citing its partners in Pyongyang.It said it wasn’t immediately known how long the travel suspension will last or what protocols will be implemented.“Our future tours remain open for booking,” the agency said. “But should this border closure affect your travel, we are giving tourists the ability to reschedule at any time or to receive a complete refund of their deposit (less bank charges) as per our terms and conditions.”Two other well-known North Korea tour operators based in China confirmed the border closure.Koryo Tours said in an email that North Korea “has closed all of their borders until further notice due to coronavirus.” Young Pioneer Tours said details about the travel suspension had not been elaborated by its North Korean partners.South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles relations with North Korea, said Wednesday it couldn’t confirm the border closure with China.Most foreign tourists to North Korea are Chinese or people who travel to the North from China, its major diplomatic ally and biggest aid benefactor.Tourism has been one of the few legitimate sources of foreign currency for North Korea, which is under multiple rounds of U.N. sanctions over its nuclear program. The North has been building ski slopes, spas and other attractions to entice more tourists and revive its troubled economy.North Korea hasn’t reported any cases of the new coronavirus centred in China. But its state media have reported about the outbreak in China to try to increase public awareness of the disease and its symptoms.In 2003, North Korea closed its borders during the scare over SARS, which is caused by a different coronavirus. For several months between late 2014 and early 2015, North Korea also banned foreign tourists over fears of the spread of the Ebola virus.In 2003, North Korea suspended South Korean tours to its scenic mountain for two months. The joint tour program was eventually put on hold in 2008 after a North Korean soldier fatally shot a South Korean tourist.Hyung-Jin Kim, The Associated Press

  • CDC confirms first U.S. case in Washington State
    Global News

    CDC confirms first U.S. case in Washington State

    After infecting over 400 people worldwide, and killing 9, Coronavirus arrives to North America. A Washington state man is placed into quarantine. Sarah MacDonald explains.

  • Facebook spurred central banks to study digital currencies: former Japan central banker
    News
    Reuters

    Facebook spurred central banks to study digital currencies: former Japan central banker

    The challenge posed by Facebook's Libra cryptocurrency likely prodded major central banks to set up a new group to study the potential for issuing their own digital currencies, a former Bank of Japan executive said on Wednesday. The central banks of Britain, the euro zone, Japan, Canada, Sweden and Switzerland on Tuesday announced a plan to share experiences to look at the case for issuing digital currencies, amid a growing debate over the future of money. Hiromi Yamaoka, former head of the BOJ's division overseeing payment and settlement systems, said the decision was a sign of how Libra has triggered a global competition among central banks to make their currencies more appealing.

  • Tesla crosses $100 billion stock market valuation in extended trading
    News
    Reuters

    Tesla crosses $100 billion stock market valuation in extended trading

    The milestone comes less than a month after Tesla's stock crossed $420, the infamous price at which Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk had tweeted he would take the electric car maker private. Musk tweeted he had "funding secured" to take Tesla private in August 2018, when its shares were trading in the mid-$330s, only to later give up under investor pressure and regulatory concerns. Tesla shares were last up 1.4% at $555 after the bell, building on a 7.2% gain during trading when brokerage New Street Research raised its price target to $800.

  • 'It's a downer for everybody': St. Dorothy school community laments end of an era
    News
    CBC

    'It's a downer for everybody': St. Dorothy school community laments end of an era

    Nick Calasurdo has fond memories of his days at Montreal's St. Dorothy Elementary School, so it was with a heavy heart some four decades later that he picked up his youngest child from the school Tuesday.This will be the last year that Calasurdo, whose eldest child attended the school as well, will be picking anybody up at St. Dorothy — one of three east-end schools slated to shutter in June.With the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) facing declining enrolment, the closures announced Monday evening were not unexpected, but Calasurdo said he was not the only one not to see the writing on the wall."It's pretty sad," he said. "It's a downer for everybody. All the parents are down. All the kids are down."He described St. Dorothy as a centre point for the English community in Saint-Michel, with students coming in from surrounding boroughs to attend.St. Dorothy's student population will be merged into Our Lady of Pompei Elementary School, located 1.2 kilometres away in Ahuntsic. Both schools are operating at less than 50 per cent capacity.Calasurdo said he's not sure if he will send his child to the Ahuntsic school for Grade 5 in the fall."We've never been there. It's just a different school. A different set-up. Whereas here, we've been here for years," he said. "We weren't really expecting it."'An English footprint' in Saint-Michel"Everybody's feeling quite emotional," acknowledged St. Dorothy's principal, Denis Maroun. "We're all coming together as a school community.""Some of our parents' parents went to school here," she said. "It's been a cornerstone of this community — it's been an English footprint."She said she hopes to keep together as many students, families and staff as possible through the merger. The decision to close three east-end schools was made by former MP Marlene Jennings, the Quebec-government appointed trustee of the EMSB, who said she had no choice given the lack of English-language students signing up for school in the area.The deeds of John Paul I Junior High and General Vanier Elementary School are being revoked along with St. Dorothy's."I'm actually pretty sad because I love this school and it's pretty fun," said Brandon, eight, a Grade 2 student at St. Dorothy who took a break from his basketball game to speak to reporters."I really love this school, and I want to stay here."At the same time, Brandon said he's excited to go to a new school and make new friends.St. Dorothy students will have the chance to visit their new school to "make sure they aren't going in cold," said EMSB spokesperson Mike Cohen. "We're thinking of it as less of a closure and more of a merger," Cohen said. "It's a merger many St. Dorothy's students say they're excited to take part in — especially making new friends."Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge said Jennings' decision was a tough one, but it was necessary. "Of course, some parents will be sad," he said, stressing the decision was made by the EMSB and not the government. Jennings was appointed to take over the powers and functions of the EMSB's commissioners last fall after a scathing report found serious irregularities in how the board was run. Roberge said it's too soon to say if her mandate will be extended.

  • Alex Community Health Centre debuts its new mobile medical clinic
    News
    CBC

    Alex Community Health Centre debuts its new mobile medical clinic

    The Alex Community Health Centre debuted its new mobile health clinic on Tuesday.The new bus — which replaces the old community health bus that was out of commission for a year — comes with Wi-Fi, better access to the health centre's medical records and improved space for medical and social service care, thanks to support from public funding and private sources like Telus.Besides providing support and care at no cost to vulnerable Calgarians, it also will deliver medical, social and mental health services to youth as it shares duties with the Alex Youth Health Bus on regular visits to high schools."When an individual steps on that bus, we meet them where they're at, what their needs are, and address any of their presenting issues, and so that's the best part about it," said Joy Bowen-Eyre, the centre's CEO.'A huge impact'Dr. Deb Putnam has worked as a family physician and doctor at the Alex's Youth Health Centre for more than five years."We can see such a huge impact that we make by going to the kids," she said. Putnam added the bus has become an important part of the lives of vulnerable Calgarians."We try to be a one-stop shop and we create a real community," she said."Some wouldn't have graduated from school, wouldn't have been able to get out of abusive or unsafe environments and would have had difficulty getting free of addiction."The current youth bus rotates between eight schools, four days a week, and the new bus will allow the centre to visit an additional six schools, three days a week, Putnam said."We hear repeatedly from the youth that if we didn't go to the schools, they wouldn't be accessing care.… We know that these kids are likely going to have difficulty going elsewhere for care sometimes, so when they come on the bus, we want to provide them with whatever they need."Whether dropping in for a snack or in-depth mental health counselling appointments, the youth buses impact the community, Putnam said.The new bus will also provide care to adults, two days a week. "The medical bus can help patients who are diabetic and need to get their labs checked regularly, and maybe wound care that they need to have followed," she said.Ange Neil, a previous client of the Alex, said they now work as a social worker in the community — often sending clients to the Alex for help."I think it is necessary in breaking down the barriers that people face in accessing typical health services," Neil said.Neil said they know a lot of transgender clients, especially youth, who refrain from accessing health services because of fears of transphobia."There's a lot of kids that fall through the cracks and they miss out on their health needs — especially our homeless youth," said Neil.

  • The strange tale of the paid protesters supporting Meng Wanzhou at her extradition hearing
    News
    CBC

    The strange tale of the paid protesters supporting Meng Wanzhou at her extradition hearing

    Two people who demonstrated in support of Meng Wanzhou outside B.C. Supreme Court during her extradition hearing say they were unwittingly recruited under false pretences and paid to be there.Meng, the CFO of Chinese tech giant Huawei, was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018 at the request of the U.S., which seeks to extradite her to face charges of fraud. A number of people showed up on the first day of her hearing Monday and held signs supporting her.For actor Julia Hackstaff of Vancouver it all started with a promise of $100 for two hours of work in what she understood to be an appearance as an extra in a movie shoot. Hackstaff said the offer came over Facebook from a person in the acting community she has never met."It's terrible, it's horrifying," she said. "I was sincerely going to participate in something that seemed cool and a nice opportunity. And they took advantage of my profession and my passion ... to make a false protest."The second person, whom CBC News has agreed not to identify and will refer to as SP, said she was recruited by a friend promising a $150 payday just to show up at the courthouse and hold a sign."I was told it was to free Ms. Meng. I had never heard that name before in my life," said SP, also of Vancouver. "I had to go after and Google what Huawei was because I never heard that [name] before in my life. I didn't even know it was a company."Both women say they don't know who was ultimately offering the payment for their participation.SP says a woman identified only as "Jowe" [pronounced "Joey"] handed out the signs at the courthouse."She didn't say much, she just shook our hands," said SP, who was standing with a small group of people. "She disappeared for a bit and came back and she had the red signs that you can see in the pictures a lot of people holding. So I assume either she made them or someone got them made for her, and she just basically handed them out. That was it. We were given no instruction, no information on what we're doing."Hackstaff says she and a friend were told by her contact to go to the Holiday Inn a few blocks away and then brought to the courthouse. When they arrived, they approached a group of young people who looked "lost" she assumed were background actors."I went and asked, 'Are you guys the extras?' And one guy said yes. He then asked me my name and my friend's name. So we gave him our first names and he checked on his phone like [as] if he had a list."Hackstaff said she was handed a red sign that said "Free Ms. Meng, Equal Justice!" Soon after, she began questioning what was actually going on."A CBS reporter approached me and my friend and she started interviewing us. And it was in those moments and questions where I started realizing, OK, if this was background work, they wouldn't need detail on background people.""And then I started realizing, wait, no one called 'action,'" she said. Hackstaff says she "freaked out" when a second reporter approached, coming to the realization that the movie she thought she was appearing in was, in fact, something very real. She says that's when she left without being paid.SP says her friend paid her $150 via an e-transfer. She says after she read up on Meng and Huawei, she feels deep regret at having participated in what she feels was a faux protest.  "I wasn't educated ... and that's a shame on me," she said. "I really wish there was a way to go back in time."CBC News has left messages with the woman identified as Jowe. She has not responded.

  • News
    Reuters

    Indigenous people make up 30% of Canadian inmate population: report

    The proportion of indigenous people in Canada's total inmate population has risen by five percentage points over the past four years to 30%, despite an overall drop in inmate population, a government report released on Tuesday showed. The number of federally sentenced indigenous people has steadily increased for decades despite only accounting for 5% of the general population in Canada, the report https://bit.ly/36gl4Zg by Canada's correctional investigator found.

  • News
    CBC

    Water pressure could be low in some areas downtown due to watermain repairs

    Water pressure could be low and tap water slightly discoloured starting on Wednesday as crews repair a watermain damaged by a private contractor, the city says.In a news release on Tuesday, the city said a watermain was damaged near Gerrard and Yonge streets on Monday. Emergency repairs are expected to begin at 7 a.m. on Wednesday. Water service will not be interrupted, a safe water supply will be maintained, but repairs are expected to continue until April 30, the city said in the release. Repairs will take place downtown underground and no disruption to traffic is expected.The city said water pressure could be low in the following areas: * College and Carlton streets to the north. * Dundas Street to the south. * Sherbourne Street to the east. * Spadina Avenue to the west.The city said water will be rerouted through surrounding watermains to ensure a safe water supply to all customers. "When this happens, the flow of water in other local watermains may change direction and become slightly discoloured due to disruption of iron deposits. To minimize discoloration, Toronto Water will be flushing local watermains in the area," the city said.Water safe to drink, city saysThe city said the water is safe to drink and any discolouration will not have a negative impact on health.Residents in buildings less than four storeys high who notice the water is discoloured should flush the taps by running the water until it is clear, for up to 30 minutes.Residents in taller residential buildings are told to call their property manager. If the water continues to be discoloured after flushing, people should call 311.The city said minimal water pressure will be maintained while the watermain is repaired.Residents who have no water, or extreme low water pressure, should also call 311.

  • Police look for owner of ice-covered boat found on B.C.'s Okanagan Lake
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Police look for owner of ice-covered boat found on B.C.'s Okanagan Lake

    WEST KELOWNA, B.C. — A photo of a sailboat covered in icicles has been released by police in West Kelowna, B.C., in the hope of finding its owner.The RCMP say the sailboat was found leaning against a retaining wall on the shore of Okanagan Lake.The Mounties say in a news release they've been unable to locate any lost or stolen property reports related to the icy white sailboat.The vessel is coated with a thick layer of ice, with long icicles adorning the bow and a flaring skirt of ice around the bottom.The boat's sail is down and wrapped in a yellow sail cover for storage.To claim the vessel, police say the owner will have to provide proof of ownership and information about how the boat landed where it did.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2020. The Canadian Press

  • News
    CBC

    Prince Rupert schools using bottled water until copper levels confirmed to meet standards

    The school district in Prince Rupert has issued a notice that for the time being, all students and staff will be provided bottled water following recent tests showing copper levels found in the water at local schools does not meet new standards.In March, Health Canada updated its guidelines for the amount of lead and copper allowed in drinking water, cutting the amount of heavy metals permitted."The water has not changed, but the limits that we're allowed to have for our staff and students have changed," said  Prince Rupert School Board chair James Horne."Upon the last round of testing in October, we discovered we no longer met the new standard of Health Canada for both lead and copper."This isn't the first time that schools in Prince Rupert have had issues with water. In 2016, the district discovered that the level of lead found in the drinking water did not meet the standards set by Health Canada.At that point, some of the water fountains were already being replaced, and those ones met the lead standards at the time. However, the older ones tested too high, so the district worked closely with the Northern Health Authority to make sure they were in compliance and replaced the taps and the remaining older water fountains in schools. Since then, the district has increased the frequency of their water tests from every three years to once a year, added Horne.After finding too much copper and lead during October's test, the district increased flushing in schools using an automatic flushing system. That lowered the levels of lead in schools to an acceptable level — but not copper."[Northern Health has] told us to now institute a bottled water system in all of our schools, which we've started doing already, until they can confirm that we can meet the copper standard," said Horne.Old schools"Our schools are not new. This is an infrastructure issue," said the education board chair.The district is looking into several options including either replacing the lines or upgrading the filtration system, or changing the pH of the water."Whatever it takes to make the world safe for our staff and our students," said Horne.In the interim, there are signs on taps and fountains telling students and staff to use water provided from 20 litre jugs with pumps on them. However, he added that the water itself has not changed, so from that point of view, he is not worried."But to keep ourselves compliant within the new standard of Health Canada, clearly we have to change what we're doing within our schools."

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    B.C. health officials prepare coronavirus diagnostic test, screen at airports

    VICTORIA — British Columbia's health minister and provincial health officer say officials are closely monitoring an international outbreak of respiratory illness linked to a novel coronavirus after a case was confirmed across the border in Washington state Tuesday.Minister Adrian Dix and Dr. Bonnie Henry say in a joint statement there have been no cases of illness caused by the coronavirus in Canada and the risk to British Columbians is considered low.However, they say health-care workers have been asked to be vigilant and take a travel history for anyone reporting respiratory symptoms following an outbreak first identified in China.The BC Centre for Disease Control has developed a diagnostic test for the new coronavirus, which is different from the SARS outbreak when there was no similar test.Public health teams have also implemented screening for early detection of infections for travellers arriving in airports.Dix and Henry say quarantine officers are available at Vancouver International Airport to co-ordinate response and Richmond Hospital infection control practitioners are ready to respond should there be a need to investigate.Health-care workers who suspect an instance of coronavirus are asked to report it to their local medical health officers immediately."Anyone who is concerned that they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus should contact their primary care provider, local public health office or call 811," the joint statement says."We encourage anyone travelling to or from China to visit the federal source of destination-specific travel information that provides important advice to help travellers make informed decisions and travel safely while abroad."Most cases of the illness have been reported in Wuhan and other cities in China, with smaller numbers reported in Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and Thailand.The first case in the United States was reported Tuesday in Washington state, where a resident had recently returned from travel to Wuhan.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2020.The Canadian Press

  • News
    CBC

    Tensions high as teachers protest Premier Doug Ford's visit to Windsor-Essex

    Ontario Premier Doug Ford's quiet and unpublicized visit to Windsor-Essex quickly became quite the opposite, when teachers protesting cuts to education showed up at a private affair in Amherstburg.A Progressive Conservative event at the Fort Fun Centre led educators to stall vehicles from entering. Police were on scene to keep the peace, and had to intervene when a man who appeared angered by the protestors got out of his vehicle. At least six cruisers were at the protest."Get the hell out of the way," the driver could be heard shouting.The event wasn't open to the general public or members of the media — only invited guests and ticket holders could enter. Ford had a brief photo-op for the media in Windsor, but did not take any questions.Outside, on a day when Catholic school teachers held a one-day strike, educators from several different unions wanted Ford to hear their message during his visit to Essex County.The Greater Essex Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario (ETFO) said some of its key issues during negotiations include class size increases, escalating levels of violence in schools, more e-learning, potential changes to full-day kindergarten and "inadequate" supports for special education students.The province has been saying its main sticking point centres around wage increases. The government is proposing a one per cent hike, while teachers' unions want wage increases to better reflect inflation, which is anywhere from 1.8 per cent to two per cent.Wage issue 'controlling' bargaining discussionsLocal ETFO president Adelina Cecchin said the government is making negotiations about a one per cent wage increase legislation that's been passed."That interferes with bargaining," said Cecchin. "This is about bargaining and we should have the right to be able to speak about any of those priorities ... in a free and open way at the table, and that's not happening, because there's that one per cent legislation that's controlling those discussions."Although the issue of pay is on the union's radar, it's not the "primary priority," she said.Minister of Education Stephen Lecce issued a statement Tuesday calling on union leaders to end the strikes, "given the adverse effects on students and financial hardship on parents.""While this union-led escalation happens far too often, we are committed to negotiating deals that keep students in class, while providing financial support for families for child care needs," said Lecce.

  • News
    The Canadian Press

    Ottawa launching 'Buy Canadian' campaign focusing on food and agriculture

    A "Buy Canadian" advertising campaign focusing on local food and the national agricultural system will be rolling out in the coming months, the federal government said Tuesday.Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada officially began seeking bids for a firm to design and implement the multimillion-dollar campaign earlier this week, according to a document posted on the department's website.Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau, meanwhile, issued a statement confirming the general aim of the campaign that's expected to roll out this summer."We are investing $25 million to the "Buy Canadian" campaign to build consumer confidence and pride in Canada's food producers and highlight the advantages of their products," Bibeau said. "Consumers in Canada can be extremely proud of Canadian producers, who continue to innovate to meet the growing demand for food, while finding solutions to challenges such as environmental sustainability."The request for proposal, which gives interested companies until Feb. 18 to submit a pitch, indicates the government is committing to a five-year "social marketing" campaign to give Canadians a better understanding of the country's agriculture system and educate them on what constitutes Canadian food. The successful bidder will be hired for a year ending next March, with the possibility of extending the contract for up to three more years.The document lays out short and long-term goals for the project, stating the first priority is to raise awareness of the standards and practices at play in the Canadian agricultural sector. The intermediate goal involves making it easier for Canadians to identify domestic products, leading to the ultimate goal of urging residents to seek and identify more food, seafood and agri-food products when shopping.The government proposes spending between $1.5 million and $4 million a year on media advertising for the campaign, which will use digital platforms as the primary means of communication."The campaign should tell the story of Canada's agri-food sector and reach audiences on an emotional level in order to instill pride and confidence in the country's food systems," the document reads, stressing that particular effort should be made to connect with historically "under-represented groups" such as women, seniors, Indigenous Canadians and official language minority groups.The request for proposal indicates the successful bidder will need to be mindful of provincial efforts to promote their own fresh, local offerings, but does not provide any specific guidance.That potential conflict is one of many reasons why at least one industry observer views the government campaign with skepticism.Sylvain Charlebois, senior director of Dalhousie University's Agri-Food Analytics Lab, said discussions around food have always been complex due to a fundamental tension between the two government ministries with a stake in the issue.While Health Canada focuses on nutrition through efforts such as the recently retooled Canada's Food Guide, Charlebois said Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada has traditionally concentrated more on economic development and sector growth.As a result, he said, conversations around Canadian food tend to focus either on health benefits or financial cost, but rarely incorporate both.The request for proposal appears to acknowledge as much, noting that "cost and nutritional value still rank higher in consumers' decision-making" before outlining its vision for the "Buy Canadian" campaign.Charlebois also said that several provincial governments have run successful promotional efforts for decades, citing Foodland Ontario and Prince Edward Island's Canada's Food Island as notable examples."There's a legacy there that needs to be recognized," he said. "Provinces have actually been doing this for a very long time, so for the feds to come into the game of promoting local foods all of a sudden could actually create some confusion."But Charlebois foresees other complications as well, including a failure to clearly define what Canadian food truly means.He said the request for proposal makes no mention of whether Canadian food processors will be included in the effort, noting such facilities also make significant contributions to the domestic economy.The agriculture department said food producers and processors would both be included in the scope of the new campaign, adding provincial promotional efforts would not be overlooked."We are committed to working with our counterparts at the provincial level to ensure that efforts under the 'Buy Canadian' Promotional Campaign complement existing initiatives," the department said in a statement.This report by the Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2020.Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

  • Risk of new coronavirus spreading to the North low, say territories' top doctors
    News
    CBC

    Risk of new coronavirus spreading to the North low, say territories' top doctors

    Health officials in the Northwest Territories and Yukon say the risk of the new coronavirus spreading to the territories is probably low.Dr. Kami Kandola, the N.W.T.'s chief public health officer, said her office is monitoring the situation and that right now, the majority of reported cases globally are related to exposure in Wuhan, the city in mainland China where the virus was first reported.There are no direct flights to Canada from Wuhan, said Kandola, and Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver airports are screening travellers who are at risk.    "It's just important that the initial ports of entry won't be through Yellowknife, Northwest Territories — it will be through these larger cities," she said.  We don't want to miss that case, should it arrive. \- Brendan Hanley, Yukon chief medical officerThe coronavirus belongs to a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging in severity; from the common cold to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), says the Public Health Agency of Canada. Coronavirus is not currently as serious as SARS, said Kandola, but it's likely the cause of a cluster of pneumonia cases.As of Jan. 20, 282 cases of the virus were confirmed, and six people had died, according to the World Health Organization. Outside of China, cases have been confirmed in Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and the United States, and all are linked to people who had travelled from mainland China.  "The situation right now, from the Public Health Agency of Canada is that the risk is extremely low," said Kandola. However, she added, that can change with the Lunar New Year on Jan. 25, when millions of people travel around China and abroad. "We don't know what the situation is going to be after that," she said. Kandola urges people travelling between Canada and China to look at travel advice issued by the Canadian government.In Yukon, chief medical officer Brendan Hanley said the risk of seeing the virus in Yukon is "probably fairly low," but said it's worth being vigilant."I mean, look how kind of random it was that it showed up in Seattle. It's something we need to be vigilant for, prepared for ... We don't want to miss that case, should it arrive," he said.Tourists in N.W.T. have mixed feelingsAt the Nova Hotel in Yellowknife on Tuesday, tourists expressed mixed feelings about the coronavirus outbreak. Sandy Lee, a traveller from San Francisco with roots in Hong Kong, said she's "getting nervous."  "Our friends in China, they still travel." \- Bing Yem, tourist in Yellowknife"Hopefully we can prepare," she said. "Unfortunately, I don't know, because now Chinese New Year is coming up [and] people will be going back to their own region to visit their relatives."Bing Yem is a visitor from Toronto whose family is originally from mainland China. "We can manage the situation ... no worries," he said, adding he believes China's government will be able to control the situation. "Our friends in China, they still travel," he said.Practise good coughing, sneezing etiquetteThe symptoms of coronavirus mimic other common viruses, such as a fever, coughing and shortness of breath, said Kandola. She said people can protect themselves and others by washing their hands regularly and for at least 20 seconds, and by coughing and sneezing into a tissue or their elbow. They should also avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. While the risk of catching the new virus is low, other viruses, such as influenza and pertussis (whooping cough) are circulating around the territory. Kandola said people with cold- and flu-like symptoms should stay home, and if their symptoms are severe, they should go to the emergency room.Front-line health practitioners are being told to ask patients about their recent travel history to Wuhan, said Kandola.

  • Province overhauls SEED program again, announces fewer placements
    News
    CBC

    Province overhauls SEED program again, announces fewer placements

    The New Brunswick government is making another round of sweeping changes to its provincial student employment program in hopes of making the process more equitable for employers and employees.The Student Employment Experience Development (SEED) program will provide fewer job placements and limit employers to non-profit groups, First Nations and municipalities, the province announced Tuesday.The Progressive Conservative government is also scrapping the lottery system used to select students and allowing MLAs to recommend employers. Trevor Holder, the minister of post-secondary education, training and labour, told reporters the program overhaul brings a greater level of fairness to the process while taking politics out of it. Under the previous model, high school and post-secondary students entered a draw for placement vouchers and employers would then have to find a student with a voucher.Holder said that system meant some unlucky students never received a placement and it also created a disadvantage for rural employers and some non-profits that relied on students to run summer programs because there weren't enough nearby students with vouchers."We have heard consistently from communities, from MLAs, from stakeholders in the community that the non-profit sector was not necessarily given the attention that it had previous when, in the past, this had been strictly a non-profit, municipality program," Holder said.The new system, which is already in place, has employers applying to his department for SEED funding. Each MLA will be allowed to recommend 22 placements in their riding. The applications are reviewed, approved employers will be notified in March and the jobs will be posted online.Students can then apply directly to the employers.De-politicizing the processHolder said he trusts MLAs to be engaged in their districts and to understand the local needs, noting it's part of the government's "strategy to empower MLAs."He said each employer will be vetted and the department has the final say."In my view we have finally taken the politics out of it and treated every region around the province equal regardless of how the people in that area voted," Holder said. "And I think this will go a long way to de-politicizing this process."But the executive director of the New Brunswick Student Alliance said the changes are doing the exact opposite."I think it politicized the process," said KJ Conyers-Steede, adding the alliance pushed to remove MLAs from the process a few years ago. "We have wonderful civil servants who work within [the department] who are capable of providing insight of the services and the jobs placements."Conyers-Steede, who said the alliance was not consulted about the changes, said provincial governments continue to tinker with programs like SEED and student financial aid, using them as a "political football."He said post-secondary students who are investing in the New Brunswick system "want some predictability."The SEED program alone has been changed three times in the last five years.Fewer placementsHolder said the budget won't be changed, but there will be about 200 fewer placements available than the 1,400 last year.He said non-profit groups often require more than a 50 per cent subsidy — in some cases 100 per cent — meaning fewer dollars to go around with the new emphasis on non-profit employers.The minister said the subsidies aren't needed in the private sector."This gives us a lot more flexibility," Holder said. "It allows us to focus squarely on on the priority of making sure our non-profit sector was supported here."

  • Canadian Laurent Duvernay-Tardif didn't need long to get into Super Bowl mode
    News
    CBC

    Canadian Laurent Duvernay-Tardif didn't need long to get into Super Bowl mode

    It didn't take Canadian Laurent Duvernay-Tardif long to get into Super Bowl mode.On Sunday, the offensive lineman and the Kansas City Chiefs advanced to the Super Bowl with a 35-24 AFC championship win over the visiting Tennessee Titans. That secured the franchise its first berth in the NFL title game in 50 years.Duvernay-Tardif, from Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que., will be playing for a championship for the first time as a football player on Feb. 2 against the San Francisco 49ers in Miami.But that didn't take away from his focus during all the on-field chaos and celebrations on Sunday."I just went back home, grabbed dinner with family and friends and went to bed,'' Duvernay-Tardif, 28, said during a conference call Tuesday."I think that's the way you have to approach it because the next day I was back in the gym getting ready for the week of practice that started (Tuesday).""I celebrated the moment on the field, went back home grabbed a nice dinner and the next morning when I woke up I was already in a Super Bowl mindset," he said.From McGill to Kansas CityThe Chiefs' veteran right guard is a converted defensive lineman who played collegiately at McGill University in Montreal. The towering six-foot-five, 321-pound Canadian will become just the second player in school history to play in the Super Bowl.Linebacker/long-snapper J.P. Darche, a Montreal native, was the first. The former Toronto Argonaut played for Seattle in its 21-10 Super Bowl loss to Pittsburgh in 2006 in Detroit.Darche played nine pro seasons with the Argos (1999), Seahawks (2000-06) and Kansas City (2007-08).Duvernay-Tardif and Darche will both make the trip to Miami with Kansas City. Darche, 44, is currently one of the Chiefs' team doctors.Ironically, Duvernay-Tardif graduated from McGill with his doctorate in medicine in May 2018. That made him the first active NFL player to hold a medical degree although he must still complete his residency.After missing most of last season with a broken leg, Duvernay-Tardif will complete his sixth NFL campaign — all with Kansas City — playing in the Super Bowl. The Chiefs selected Duvernay-Tardif in the sixth round, No. 200 overall, in the 2014 NFL draft.In March 2017, Duvernay-Tardif signed a five-year extension with the Chiefs. The deal was reportedly worth US$41.25-million, with $20 million guaranteed.Kansas City's Andy Reid is just the seventh NFL head coach to lead two teams to the Super Bowl. But Reid lost in his only other appearance, that being Feb. 6, 2006 when the New England Patriots edged the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21."Coach Reid is more than a coach, he's also a mentor for me and the team,'' said Duvernay-Tardif."The team he's put together the last five years is really talented and I think we owe him to go all the way this year. Personally, he's kind of the one who understood what I was trying to do with medical school and football and gave me the opportunity to combine both at the highest level. If it wasn't for him, I don't think I would've been able to do it so I'm really grateful.''Chasing a second titleThe Chiefs will chase a second Super Bowl title — they downed Minnesota 23-7 in Super Bowl IV — after mounting consecutive comebacks this year.After spotting Houston a 24-0 advantage, Kansas City rallied for the 51-31 victory before reeling off 28 straight points against Tennessee to erase a 10-0 deficit."We're going to have to address that . . . because the further you get along in the playoffs the better the teams are and you can't really allow yourself to be behind,'' he said."But I feel like no matter what happened those last two weeks were really good learning opportunities and as a team I think we all showed character because were able to stick together. If we're able to fix it and have that kind of confidence going into the big game I think it will help us.''Of course, having Patrick Mahomes at quarterback certainly helps. Duvernay-Tardif admits Chiefs players are routinely amazed by Mahomes' play.Kansas City had its way with a Titans defence that had allowed 13 points to New England and 12 versus Baltimore previously. But with Mahomes under centre, the Chiefs amassed 27 first downs and 404 yards of total offence.Duvernay-Tardif said Mahomes gives the Chiefs a huge edge heading into the Super Bowl."I think Pat is the greatest quarterback right now playing in the league,'' he said."Sometimes we look at the jumbotron and it's, 'Oh my God, how does he do that?' It's almost not human the amount of things he's able to process at the same time.'''That gives me goosebumps'Duvernay-Tardif admits being so close to a first-ever football championship can be a little nerve-wracking."I feel like after every season I've played football . . . you go to the playoffs and you always finish out the season losing,'' he said."This is the only time so far in my career that I have an opportunity to finish a season winning and after that there's nothing else, you've reached the top. That gives me goosebumps thinking about it.''Especially when thoughts of Super Bowl title were so very distant when Duvernay-Tardif was playing at McGill."For me throughout my whole career, it's been kind of a one step at a time approach,'' he said."It was only once I started being a consistent starter for the Kansas City Chiefs that I began having that vision of going all the way to the top and winning the Super Bowl.''

  • Netflix holds its own in the streaming wars - for now
    News
    The Canadian Press

    Netflix holds its own in the streaming wars - for now

    SAN FRANCISCO — Netflix is holding its ground in the streaming wars, passing its first big test since Apple and Disney launched rival services.The company added 8.8 million worldwide subscribers during its fourth quarter, surpassing expectations at a time when it faces heated competition.Netflix had said it expected to add 7.6 million subscribers, and analysts thought the service would fare even better. The increase pales slightly next to the 8.9 million subscribers the service added in the fourth quarter of 2018.The stock dropped about 2.5% immediately in after-hours trading, likely due to a cautious forecast for the first quarter. But shares rebounded and later traded up more than 2%.The company — a pioneer in producing streaming media and binge-worthy shows — now boasts more than 167 million subscribers worldwide, bolstered by a list of well-received movies and shows released late last year. That includes the fantasy show “The Witcher” and Oscar nominees “The Irishman” and “Marriage Story.”The boost helps reaffirm Netflix’s strong standing in the increasingly crowded world of video streaming. The fourth quarter was an important milestone for Netflix, as it was marked its first head-to-head competition with Apple’s $5-per-month streaming service and Disney’s instantly popular $7-a-month option.Still, it’s unlikely to be a smooth road for Netflix. NBC, HBO and startup Quibi are all planning to launch new streaming services soon.Two big questions loom: How much are consumers willing to pay for each video streaming option? And how many will they pay for before reaching subscription fatigue?Netflix CEO Reed Hastings acknowledged the increased competition in a call following earnings, but said he believes the services are mostly capturing new viewers who are transitioning from traditional TV watching."It takes away a little bit from us,” he said of the Disney Plus launch. “But again, most of the growth in the future is coming out of linear TV.”Netflix has one major advantage over competitors: it has been collecting data on the shows viewers crave for years.“Netflix's scale allows it to reach mass audiences, which makes it easier for them to create hits when compared to newcomers to the market," EMarketer analyst Eric Haggstrom said.Netflix’s most popular plan costs $13 a month, far more than competitors from Disney, Apple and Quibi. But its price is comparable to HBO Now, and it boasts one of the largest libraries of TV shows and movies, not to mention regularly updated original shows.Hastings reiterated that Netflix isn't interested in introducing ads. Noting that the digital advertising market is dominated by companies such as Google, Amazon and Facebook, he said, “there's not easy money there.”It's also less controversial to avoid digital advertising and the scrutiny around companies making customers' personal information that comes with it, he said.In its quarterly letter to shareholders, Netflix included a chart of Google search trends that showed people searching more often for “The Witcher” than for competing shows including “The Mandalorian,” “The Morning Show” and “Jack Ryan,” from Disney, Apple and Amazon, respectively.In the U.S., Netflix added 420,000 subscribers, below its own estimates. Growth in its home country has been slowing in the last year, partly because most people in the U.S. who want Netflix already subscribe.The company reported profit of $587 million on revenue of $5.47 billion, exceeding expectations.Netflix said it expects to add 7 million subscribers during the first three months of this year, well below the 9.6 million subscribers it added in the first quarter last year.—Technology writer Michael Liedtke contribued to this report.Rachel Lerman, The Associated Press

  • Latest Toronto pedestrian death spurs calls for action
    Global News

    Latest Toronto pedestrian death spurs calls for action

    A fatal hit-and-run in Toronto’s north end has once again renewed calls for more action to achieve vision zero. But the mayor is condemning the death and some say enough isn’t being done from the top. Matthew Bingley reports.