Several Democratic lawmakers blast the U.S response to a hack of computer systems in the U.S. and around the globe that officials suspect was carried out by Russia. (Dec. 18)
Several Democratic lawmakers blast the U.S response to a hack of computer systems in the U.S. and around the globe that officials suspect was carried out by Russia. (Dec. 18)
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
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA is considering a second firing of its moon rocket engines after a critical test came up short over the weekend, a move that could bump the first flight in the Artemis lunar-landing program into next year. The space agency had aimed to launch its new Space Launch System, or SLS, rocket and an empty Orion capsule by the end of this year, with the capsule flying to the moon and back as a prelude to crew missions. But that date could be in jeopardy following Saturday’s aborted test. “We have a shot at flying it this year, but we need to get through this next step," said Kathy Lueders, head of NASA's human spaceflight office. All four engines fired for barely a minute, rather than the intended eight minutes, on the test stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. The countdown rehearsal for the 212-foot (65-meter) core stage — made by Boeing — included the liquid hydrogen and oxygen tanks, as well as the all necessary computers and electronics. On Tuesday, NASA attributed the automatic shutdown to the strict test limits meant to protect the core stage so it can be used on the first Artemis flight. The hydraulic system for one engine exceeded safety parameters, officials said, and flight computers shut everything down 67 seconds into the ignition. Two other engine-related issues also occurred. NASA said it can adjust the test limits if a second test is deemed necessary, to prevent another premature shutdown. Engineers will continue to analyze the data, as managers debate the pros and cons of proceeding with a second test firing at Stennis or shipping the rocket straight to Florida's Kennedy Space Center for launch preparations. Some of that Kennedy work might be able to be streamlined, Lueders said. This core stage can be loaded with super-cold fuel no more than nine times, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters Tuesday evening. A second full-blown test firing would reduce the remaining number of fill-ups. The Artemis program is working to put astronauts back on the moon by 2024, a deadline set by the Trump administration. It's uncertain how the incoming White House will approach that timeline. In its annual report Tuesday, the Aereospace Safety Advisory Panel urged NASA to develop a realistic schedule for its Artemis moon program and called into question the 2024 date for returning astronauts to the lunar surface. On the eve of his departure from NASA, Bridenstine, a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma, stressed that key programs like Artemis need to encompass multiple administrations, decades and even generations. It's crucial , he said, that "we've got buy-in and support from all of America and members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.” ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — Quebec Premier Francois Legault says he won't grant a curfew exemption for Montreal's homeless population, telling reporters Tuesday he has confidence that police will use their good judgment in dealing with cases. Legault told reporters during a COVID-19 briefing in Montreal that altering the government's decree to exclude the homeless from the provincial curfew would be used as a loophole by others to flout the measure. Montreal's mayor had made the formal request just an hour earlier, calling on Quebec to relax the COVID-19 measure on the city's most vulnerable population. "What I'm say is right now, the police are doing a very good job. They use their judgment," Legault said. "If we change the rules and say that you can't give a ticket to someone who is saying they're homeless, you may have some people that will pretend to be homeless." Mayor Valerie Plante's appeal followed the weekend death of Raphael "Napa" Andre, a 51-year-old Innu man found dead in a portable toilet not far from a shelter he frequented. Andre often spent time at a day centre for the homeless called The Open Door, which was forced to close its overnight service last month following a COVID-19 outbreak. He visited the centre Saturday evening and was found dead Sunday morning, not far from the shelter, which had to send him out at 9:30 p.m. The coroner is investigating Andre's death. Plante said there's evidence the curfew is causing problems for the homeless and those who work with them. "What we've been seeing in the past week is that it created a lot of stress — not only for the homeless population itself but also the workers," Plante told reporters outside Montreal City Hall. "The curfew just adds to that and creates a sense of insecurity for a lot of users and we don't want that.... I want people to feel safe in the streets." Plante says the 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew — which began Jan. 9 and is scheduled to last at least until Feb. 8 — is creating an untenable situation for the city's most vulnerable. Legault said police aren't there to ticket homeless people, but direct them to homeless shelters. Plante agreed Montreal police have shown compassion, noting they had helped at least 400 homeless people find shelter. The mayor says on most nights the city's overnight shelters are at least 95 per cent full. While she wants the rules relaxed to relieve the pressure, she doesn't want people sleeping on the street. "I want people to have access to a bed, a place where it's warm, where there's food, where there's services for them," she said. Plante said a 100-bed facility is set to open in the coming days. Legault said the province has added 800 beds and it stands ready to add more as needed. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
The United States swore in its 46th President on Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attended their inauguration in Washington, D.C. with a slew of distinguished guests, but few onlookers as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a need for social distancing.Several past presidents were in attendance, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., however the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, did not attend. Trump flew to his golf club in Florida earlier in the day. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence did attend the ceremony with his wife.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
LOS ANGELES — Don Sutton, a Hall of Fame pitcher who was a stalwart of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rotation spanning an era from Sandy Koufax to Fernando Valenzuela, died Tuesday. He was 75. The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, said Sutton died at his home in Rancho Mirage, California, after a long struggle with cancer. The Atlanta Braves, for whom Sutton was a long-time broadcaster, said he died in his sleep. A four-time All-Star, Sutton had a career record of 324-256 and an ERA of 3.26 while pitching for the Dodgers, Houston Astros, Milwaukee Brewers, Oakland Athletics, California Angels and the Dodgers again in 1988, his final season. Sutton’s passing comes on the heels of seven Hall of Famers dying in 2020, the most sitting members of Cooperstown to pass away in a calendar year. They were Lou Brock, Whitey Ford, Bob Gibson, Al Kaline, Joe Morgan, Phil Niekro and Tom Seaver. ___ AP Sports Writer Paul Newberry in Atlanta contributed to this report. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Beth Harris, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Troops in riot gear lined the sidewalks, but there were no crowds. Armored vehicles and concrete barriers blocked empty streets. Miles of fencing cordoned off many of the nation's most familiar landmarks. Joe Biden was safely sworn in as president in a Washington on edge, two weeks after rioters loyal to former President Donald Trump besieged the Capitol. Law enforcement officials contended not only with the potential for outside threats but also with rising concerns about an insider attack. Officials monitored members of far-right extremist and militia groups, increasingly concerned about the risk they could stream into Washington and spark violent confrontations, a law enforcement official said. There were a few scattered arrests but no major protests or serious disruptions in the city during Biden's inauguration ceremony. As Biden put it in his address: “Here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever.” After the deadly attack that killed five on Jan. 6, the Secret Service stepped up security for the inauguration early, essentially locking down the nation's capital. More than 25,000 troops and police were called to duty. The National Mall was closed. Checkpoints were set up at intersections. In the hours before the event, federal agents monitored “concerning online chatter,” which included an array of threats against elected officials and discussions about ways to infiltrate the inauguration, the official said. In right-wing online chat groups, believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory expressed disappointment that top Democrats were not arrested for sex trafficking and that Trump did not seize a second term. Twelve National Guard members were removed from the security operation a day earlier after vetting by the FBI, including two who had made extremist statements in posts or texts about Wednesday's event. Pentagon officials would not give details on the statements. The FBI vetted all 25,000 members in an extraordinary security effort in part over the presence of some ex-military in the riot. Two other U.S. officials told The Associated Press that all 12 were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or to have posted extremist views online. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe groups the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials told the AP they had all been removed because of “security liabilities.” The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, confirmed that Guard members had been removed and sent home, but said only two cases were related to inappropriate comments or texts related to the inauguration. He said the other 10 cases were for issues that may involve previous criminal behaviour or activities but were not directly related to the inaugural event. The FBI also warned law enforcement officials about the possibility that members of right-wing fringe groups could pose as National Guard troops, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter. Investigators in Washington were particularly worried that members of right-wing extremist groups and militias, like the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, would descend on Washington to spark violence, the law enforcement officials said. Some of the groups are known to recruit former military personnel, to train extensively and to have frequented anti-government and political protests. In addition to the thousands of National Guard troops, hundreds of law enforcement officers from agencies around the country were also brought into Washington. The increased security is likely to remain in the nation's capital for at least a few more days. ___ Associated Press writers Lolita Baldor in Washington and James LaPorta in Delray Beach, Florida, contributed to this report. Ben Fox, Colleen Long And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
FREDERICTON — More than half of New Brunswick was moved to the red level of the province's COVID-19 recovery plan as Premier Blaine Higgs warned Tuesday of even more severe measures if the spread of the virus doesn't slow. Health officials reported one new death and 31 new COVID-19 cases in the province Tuesday, with 21 of them in the Edmundston region, which entered the red level Monday. The Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John zones were to join Edmundston as of midnight Tuesday. At the red level, gyms, salons and recreational facilities must close, and restaurants can only offer takeout or delivery. Outdoor gatherings are limited to a maximum of five people, with masks and physical distancing. "We have had some success in slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus across our province, and we have succeeded because we acted swiftly and decisively," chief medical officer of health Dr. Jennifer Russell said Tuesday. "We haven't waited, as some other jurisdictions have done, until critical levels have been breached." Russell called the increase in cases across the province this month alarming. "The threat it poses to our health-care system and the well-being of our citizens cannot be ignored," she said. Russell said the death of a person in their 80s at the Parkland Saint John long-term care facility brings to 13 the number of COVID-related deaths in the province. There are currently 316 active cases of COVID-19 in New Brunswick, and there have now been more than 1,000 cases since the pandemic began. Four hundred of those have been in the last 30 days. Russell said many of the new cases were spread through large social gatherings, such as parties and holiday gatherings around Christmas and New Year's. Higgs said the province will consider imposing more stringent measures if the latest restrictions don't limit the spread of the virus. "We are not making enough progress with the current measures that are in place," he said. "We know there are more cases in these zones that exist but have not yet tested positive, and we cannot take the risk of potentially overwhelming our hospitals." He said a continuing rise in case numbers could mean a return to a full lockdown as was in place in March, with schools closed and people staying home except to buy essential items. Higgs said the all-party COVID cabinet committee would meet again Thursday to discuss next steps. "Public health is currently working to determine exactly what a lockdown would look like if we need to take this additional step," he said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press
Despite an array of challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency responsible for stocking B.C.’s lakes with freshwater fish successfully completed its mission for 2020, ensuring a smooth transition for the recreational fishery going into the new year. The importance of the achievement by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC (FFSBC) is heightened this year with a 20 per cent spike in new licence holders expecting the most from this outdoor pursuit. “It was a huge feat, because this past year was unique given the pandemic,” Andrew Wilson, president of FFSBC said. “We had to develop new protocols, new procedures to ensure we were compliant with the the provincial health officer and WorkSafe BC, and that meant a bit of a rethink on how we were able to culture the fish and deliver them. But at the end of the day we were able to do that. We never got to the place where we thought it wasn’t going to happen.” FFSBC is solely responsible for stocking B.C.’s freshwater lakes on behalf of the provincial government. Throughout 2020 the society stocked 5.63 million rainbow trout, coastal cutthroat trout, eastern brook trout and kokanee into 662 lakes across the province. More than 311,000 steelhead smolts were also raised and released into six rivers in the Lower Mainland, and four rivers on Vancouver Island. The society’s Vancouver Island Trout Hatchery also released 15,306 anadromous coastal cutthroat trout into the Oyster and Quinsam rivers on Vancouver Island. Wilson said once new procedures were in place, operations moved smoothly. He credits the participation of BC Parks, BC Rec Sites and Trails, and BC Hydro to develop workable plans for accessing the bodies of water. Without the completion of the program, Wilson said anglers would have experienced immediate impacts. “At the beginning of the year there were so many unknowns … particularly with the government having to walk that fine line of trying to look after British Columbians while also encouraging them to get outside to stay healthy.” The annual provincial recreational stocking program is funded through the sale of B.C. freshwater fishing licences. In the early stages of the pandemic the society was concerned about deep financial losses in 2020, as many in the tourism sector experienced, but the government’s encouragement for residents get outdoors resulted in a 20 per cent uptake in new freshwater fishing licences sales to B.C. residents. The 16-20-year old category saw the largest gains of 64 per cent. “That 20 per cent increase in resident anglers pretty much offset the 94 per cent decrease in international anglers,” Wilson said. “It is big news. People are getting out and engaging with their backyard, getting out on the water in a really healthy pursuit.” Quinn Bender, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Rupert Northern View
The small Saskatchewan town of Biggar made headlines in 2018 when the federal government approved the demolition of their CN Rail Station, which was designated a national heritage site in 1976. The town took a blow, said D'Shea Bussiere, community development officer for the Town of Biggar, but now, the mayor and town office is excited for the potential transformation of the space thanks to the Brownlee Family Foundation. The town, as well as former residents Ina Lou and Wayne Brownlee, have been in discussions since 2019 on how a large charitable donation can “revitalize and energize” the community, said Bussiere in a Jan. 18 press release. Updating the downtown core and the former CN Station site became an important goal for the community. The Brownlee Family Foundation will match up $2.5 million in fundraiser dollars raised by the town and residents, meaning there is upwards of $5 million going towards the project. Especially with COVID-19 and vaccines dominating the news, communities need to start looking at how they can revitalize their communities, Bussiere said. “We have the same struggles as any small town. It's hard to compete with the cities, so anything to try and encourage a beautiful place for our people and other people to come, hang out, and shop is good development.” Mayor Jim Rickwood said the town has banded together during COVID-19 and when that is over, that need will still be there. Developing the CNR Grounds into a welcoming community space will bring tight-knit residents even closer, he said. “(The new development) is going to bring some opportunities for some gatherings, for some reasons to be downtown, and just to tighten us up a little bit more, and to give us more of a spirit of community. Communities are not just where we live, it's who we live with. (The development) is going to be a good step for that.” Ina Lou and Wayne Brownlee felt it was important to honour their roots with this donation and leave a last legacy that celebrates their families. “Town leaders have framed a renewal concept that showcases Biggar’s history and speaks to its bright future. If the town is behind it, so are we,” said Ina Lou in the press release. A Public Open House on Jan. 22 and 23 and an online open house on Jan. 25 will share a concept plan that will turn the “Canadian National Railway grounds into a multi-use park, tourism hub and interpretive center,” said the release. Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
TORONTO — A Toronto-area constable under investigation for corruption told an undercover officer he wanted to file an intelligence report about his mistress's alleged involvement in the drug trade after their affair was revealed, his trial heard Tuesday. The undercover officer, who cannot be identified under a publication ban, is testifying for a second day at the trial of Richard Senior, a longtime constable with York Regional Police. He told a virtual court Tuesday that roughly two months after he began secretly investigating Senior, the constable mentioned having an extramarital affair with a woman who at one point allegedly sold cocaine, hash and heroin and whose family was allegedly connected to organized crime. "He told me that he wanted to do an intel report on this girl" to disclose her involvement in the drug business, and talked about how "he was exposed in regards to the cheating," the undercover officer testified. In an exchange of texts read to the court, the undercover officer told Senior he had some ideas on how he could file such a report and still "insulate" himself from the information. But the undercover officer testified he never ended up sharing those ideas with the constable. At another point, Senior expressed concern that the woman would know he was behind the report, the undercover officer testified. The undercover officer asked Senior how many people had the same information, noting that the more there were, the less likely it was to be traced back to him, he said. Senior has pleaded not guilty to 14 charges, including breach of trust and trafficking cocaine and steroids, in connection with a corruption investigation. He was arrested in October 2018 and initially charged with 30 offences, but the remaining 16 charges were withdrawn as the trial began. Prosecutors allege, among other things, that Senior filed an intelligence report about his former flame and falsely attributed it to an informant, who was in fact one of his friends using an alias. They further allege the officer planned to rob a fictitious drug warehouse after hearing about it from a second undercover officer posing as an informant, and offered to sell the drugs to two men he knew. In an opening statement earlier this week, the Crown also alleged Senior sold steroids to the undercover officer who is currently testifying and another officer; stole money he was given to pay informants; and inappropriately accessed a police database and disclosed confidential information. The undercover officer has said he was assigned to investigate Senior for corruption and breach of trust in June 2018, but wasn't told at the time what kind of offences the officer was suspected of. He testified Tuesday that a supervisor mentioned the possible involvement of steroids in late July. Part of the undercover officer's objectives was to set up regular workouts with Senior to "continue to build rapport," and he eventually started making inquiries about steroids. In late July, Senior acknowledged he "used to know some meatheads" who had access to steroids but suggested the undercover officer get on a good diet plan first and take some supplements, court heard. At one point, the undercover officer asked Senior how much it would cost for a cycle of steroids, and the constable replied, "How should I know?" the undercover officer testified. In the following days, they exchanged texts about diet plans and supplements, court heard. At the same time, the undercover officer said he began to engage in "suspicious behaviour" to suggest he also may be involved in criminal activity. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press
NEW YORK — After leaving the White House, President Donald Trump may lose his SAG card, too. The Screen Actors Guild said Tuesday that the SAG-AFTRA board voted “overwhelmingly” that there is probable cause that Trump violated its guidelines for membership. The charges, the guild said, are for Trump's role in the Capitol riot on January 6, “and in sustaining a reckless campaign of misinformation aimed at discrediting and ultimately threatening the safety of journalists, many of whom are SAG-AFTRA members.” If found guilty by a disciplinary committee, Trump faces expulsion. Trump has been a SAG member since 1989. His credits include “The Apprentice,” “Saturday Night Live” and many cameos in films and TV series including “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York," “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Sex in and City.” The SAG board acted in response to a request from Gabrielle Carteris, the guild's president. “Donald Trump attacked the values that this union holds most sacred — democracy, truth, respect for our fellow Americans of all races and faiths, and the sanctity of the free press,” said Carteris in a statement. “There’s a straight line from his wanton disregard for the truth to the attacks on journalists perpetrated by his followers.” A White House spokesman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Losing SAG membership doesn't disqualify anyone from performing. But most major productions abide by union contracts and hire only union actors. Online petitions have recently circulated to have Trump removed from some films. One is trying to rally support to have President-elect Joe Biden digitally substituted for Trump in “Home Alone 2.” Jake Coyle, The Associated Press
REGINA — Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe says he won't shut down all restaurants and bars because a few are flouting COVID-19 rules. Instead, he says he's asking public-health officials to look at more enforcement measures, such as forcing rule breakers to close. Moe says "enough is enough" and is expressing frustration at a recent video that shows young people dancing without masks and mingling at a bar in Regina. Health officials are reporting another 309 COVID-19 infections and say six more residents have died. Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer says the province remains stuck at a daily average of around 300 new cases and hospitalizations are on the rise. Moe says he doesn't believe the province needs to introduce stricter public-health measures to stem the virus's spread, but people need to follow the rules already in place. There are 207 people in hospital, with 31 of them in intensive care. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2020 The Canadian Press
La ville de Grande-Rivière et de nombreux acteurs de l’industrie de la pêche dénoncent l’inaction de Québec et d’Ottawa vis-à-vis un projet d’agrandissement du parc d’hivernement du port municipal. Amorcées à l’automne 2018, les démarches sont dans une impasse, ministères et gouvernements se renvoyant la balle, au désarroi des élus et des pêcheurs. «On ne demande pas la charité, on veut de l’équité», lance d’emblée le maire de Grande-Rivière, Gino Cyr. Depuis deux ans, son administration multiplie les démarches afin de faire approuver un projet d’agrandissement du parc d’hivernement de la municipalité, sans succès. D’un ministère à l’autre, «on se renvoie la balle», dénonce-t-il. Avec les années, les espaces disponibles dans les parcs de la péninsule gaspésienne se font de plus en plus rares. «Les bateaux sont toujours plus gros et les grands parcs de la région sont presque pleins. Le besoin est criant», explique le homardier et vice-président de l’administration portuaire de Grande-Rivière, Vincent Gallagher-Duguay. Aussi, un nombre grandissant de crabiers des provinces atlantiques viennent entreposer leurs bateaux dans les parcs gaspésiens. Les glaces se libérant plus rapidement du côté québécois, la pêche pourraiy débuter plus tôt. Ces embarcations, souvent plus grosses, ont priorité sur les petits homardiers, qui doivent se trouver d’autres endroits pour passer l’hiver. De nombreux acteurs locaux, allant des associations de pêcheurs jusqu’aux transformateurs, souhaitent donc voir apparaître de nouvelles places pour entreposer les homardiers, comme le demande la Ville de Grande-Rivière. Cette dernière a proposé aux différents ministères un projet qui ferait passer son parc d’hibernation à 48 places pour les petits bateaux. En plus d’ajouter des espaces d’entreposage, l’administration portuaire de Grande-Rivière souhaite installer une grue-portique ainsi qu’une rampe adaptée sur le site, rendant la mise à l’eau et l’hivernation des embarcations beaucoup plus sécuritaires. «En ce moment, on utilise une remorque archaïque, mal adaptée et dangereuse. En 2017, on a échappé un homardier avec cette remorque artisanale. Qui va prendre la responsabilité si un accident survient?», se demande le maire. La communauté met la main à la poche Le coût du projet, estimé à un peu plus de deux millions $, serait en partie assumé par la communauté, qui a déjà récolté 200 000$ en ce sens. Au moyen d’une contribution de leur part, les pêcheurs financeraient 300 000$ supplémentaires si le projet devait voir le jour. La municipalité souhaite que les gouvernements se partagent le reste de la facture, mais elle se bute à des barrières administratives. «Il n’y a pas de flexibilité dans les programmes. Après trois ans de démarches, le ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation (MEI) nous a ramenés à la case départ en faisant valoir la non-admissibilité du projet aux programmes et en renvoyant la responsabilité de ce dossier au MAPAQ qui n’a pas de programme pour soutenir ce genre de projets», dénonce le maire de la municipalité, dont l’économie est étroitement liée à la pêche. M. Cyr dénonce aussi la rigidité du Fonds des pêches du Québec. «La majeure partie des budgets sont toujours disponibles. Encore un exemple éloquent que ce dernier répond très peu aux besoins de l’industrie! Des changements de fond sont nécessaires rapidement». Des précédents sur la Côte-Nord et aux Îles-de-la-Madeleine Les acteurs locaux s’indignent surtout de la différence de traitement qu’a reçu leur projet si on le compare à d’autres installations similaires récemment financées à 100% par les gouvernements. Au cours des dernières années, les Îles-de-la-Madeleine et la Côte-Nord ont toutes deux vu des agrandissements dans leurs parcs d’hivernement, entièrement financés par les gouvernements via des décrets et des enveloppes dédiées. «Nous connaissons le traitement qu’ont reçu les projets des Îles et de la Côte-Nord : Nous sommes aussi des pêcheurs du Québec», conclut le vice-président de l’Administration portuaire de Grande-Rivière. MM. Cyr et Gallagher-Duguay souhaitent obtenir une rencontre avec le ministre de l’Agriculture, des Pêches et de l’Alimentation du Québec, André Lamontagne, dans le but que celui-ci signe un décret pour financer le projet. Simon Carmichael, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Soleil
Trapped for months in Southwestern Ontario by COVID-19 travel restrictions in their Caribbean homeland, some migrant farmworkers from Trinidad and Tobago will finally fly home Friday. But many are opting to stay put, hoping to avoid a catch-22: not being able to return to Canada to work in the spring when the next growing season begins. “It’s been a really long ordeal . . . some people have been waiting for months,” said Ken Forth, president of Foreign Agricultural Resource Management Services, a non-profit that helps co-ordinate processing requests for foreign seasonal workers. “I can’t imagine what it would be like to be stranded here.” Ongoing COVID-19 travel woes with the border-locked Caribbean nation stranded nearly 400 Trinidadian migrant workers in Ontario late last year. A flight home is set for Friday, with more workers having received travel exemptions required by Trinidad and Tobago that before were few and far between. Schuyler Farms near Simcoe employs about 100 Trinidadian workers, and until this week, few had made it home. Owner Brett Schuyler said 18 of his workers — all those who want to — will be on this week’s flight back. “It’s been a long time coming,” he said. “Everyone just has to get their (COVID-19) tests done, have a negative result, and it should all come together, which I’m very glad for.” Trinidad requires workers to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of their flight. Schuyler said the workers were left in limbo for months, awaiting word from Trinidad on flights home and whether they'd get travel exemptions. But despite the option to head home, about 70 Trinidadian workers at Schuyler Farmers are staying put. “Some of the reasoning behind the group that stayed is out of fear of not getting back to Canada,” Schuyler said. “Last spring, people that were set to come up in March didn’t end up coming until July. This fall, people trying to get home, there are huge delays again.” Canada’s new requirement that incoming travellers show a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of their flight also could be a “potential hurdle” for returning workers, Schuyler said. Last month, Ontario extended health-care coverage and provided financial aid to the stranded migrant workers. Immigrant, Refugees and Citizenship Canada enacted a temporary public policy, in effect until Feb. 21, to let stranded workers apply for temporary status, get a six-month open work permit and be eligible for employment insurance. Forth couldn't estimate how many Trinidadian migrant workers were still stranded in Ontario as of late January, as small numbers have flown out since December. After Friday's flight to Trinidad and Tobago, only one more will be needed to get the rest of those who want to go, back home, he said. No date has been confirmed for that flight. “At the first of December, there was no light at the end of the tunnel, now they will get home,” Forth said. “I feel for the people too because the unknown was the big problem.” email@example.com Twitter.com/MaxatLFPress Max Martin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, London Free Press
Pfizer told Canadian officials there would be delays in deliveries of its vaccine, but the delays now mean Canada will receive zero Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines next week. It’s left provinces scrambling to manage the doses they have left.
Yukon's first community vaccination clinic for COVID-19 wraps up Tuesday in Watson Lake, and local officials say it's been well-received. "As a community, we're just very thankful, and we really appreciate being put at the front of the line," said Mayor Chris Irvin, who was the second person to get the Moderna shot on Monday. Irvin said he experienced no side effects, and that he felt "great." "I almost felt like it was a bit euphoric, honestly, just because it's kind of a light at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel is long and dark, we don't know where the end of it is, but there is a light." Two mobile vaccination teams will spend the coming weeks travelling across the territory to provide the Moderna vaccine. They bring everything they need with them — including tables, metal folding chairs and even their own sink. Stephen Charlie, chief of the Liard First Nation in Watson Lake, was first in line for a shot on Monday. He says the First Nation has been urging citizens to get the shot. "Well, I think some individuals are really excited about it, the opportunity to combat the virus," he said. "We've been going door to door. We've been having the resources available to our health team from Liard First Nation getting the word out and offering rides to the individuals that would like to go to the to the clinic." Under Yukon's vaccine strategy, priority is given to people living in long term care homes and shelters, health care workers, people over the age of 70 and residents of remote or rural communities, including First Nations citizens. The territory is expecting enough doses to vaccinate about 75 per cent of the adult population in the territory, between now and March. After Watson Lake, mobile vaccine clinics will be set up this week in Old Crow and Beaver Creek. Appointments can be booked on the government's website. 'A lot of apprehension' Charlie says hundreds of people registered ahead of time for the Watson Lake clinic. But he says some in his community are still reluctant to get the shot. "There's a lot of apprehension out there. There's a lot of misinformation. There's a lot of stuff online," he said. Doris Bill, chief of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation in Whitehorse, agrees. This week, she posted a video online, urging citizens to get informed about the vaccine. "I see it online all the time. And I see people talking about the vaccine and the information that they have is just not accurate," she said. She says there is still some "unease" about how new the vaccine is, and that some people have suggested those at the front of the line are like "guinea pigs." "You try and assure people that things are going to be OK and that, you know, we're doing this to protect our community," Bill said. "You know, if you're not going to take the vaccine, at least know why you're not going to take it. And at least know the information that's out there."
CALGARY — A lawyer for a rancher trying to get a judge to force the Alberta government to reconsider its decision to throw out a policy that protected the Rocky Mountains from coal mines says his client wants to be treated fairly."What my clients are seeking is not to be left out in the cold," Richard Harrison told a Court of Queen's Bench judge Tuesday at a hearing to decide whether a judicial review into the move should go ahead.The United Conservative government is trying to persuade Justice Richard Neufeld to throw out the application for the review. Melissa Burkett, a lawyer for the province, said it's a matter for elected officials, not judges. "This case is not about an unlawful exercise of government power," she argued earlier Tuesday. "This case is about the government's ability to create and dictate policy based on economic, social, political and other relevant factors."Southern Alberta ranchers and area First Nations are attacking the government's decision to revoke a coal policy from 1976 that blocked development on some parts of the eastern slopes of the Rockies and tightly restricted it elsewhere. The policy was quietly revoked without consultation by Energy Minister Sonya Savage last May.Burkett, saying there is nothing to review, argued the policy was not rooted in legislation or regulation. "The adaptation and any amendment of the coal policy is exclusively under the mandate of the minister of energy," she said.Allowing a review would wrongly tie governments to the decisions of their predecessors, she added.Burkett said the policy had become obsolete given the development of Alberta's energy review bodies and laws. Overturning the policy has "no practical impact" because agencies such as the Alberta Energy Regulator now exist, she said And because those oversights now exist, revoking the policy hasn't violated the rights of those seeking the review, Burkett said.Her colleague, Andrea Simmonds, disputed the ranchers' arguments that requirements for public consultation exist in land-use law and in regional plans.She said the Alberta Land Stewardship Act doesn't allow for judicial review of decisions made under its purview. Regional plans "have no legal status," she said.Harrison argued that the coal policy, far from obsolete, was being used to judge mine proposals right up until the minister revoked it. He emphasized that one coal mine proposal calls for infrastructure right through the middle of his client's grazing lease and would intrude nearly to the doorstep of a cabin that's been in his family for a century.Simple fairness should have required the government to at least talk to him before its decision."Whether consultation, a hearing, a phone call, they want any kind of procedural fairness that reflects the impact it is going to have. "I cannot think of a more detrimental impact than an open-pit coal mine."Harrison argued the land stewardship act does require consultation. He noted that it says property rights should not be infringed on without due process. "(The act) was amended for the express purpose of inserting consultation requirements."He disagreed that regional plans have no legal force and pointed out they have been incorporated into the legally enforceable South Saskatchewan Regional Plan. Earlier Tuesday, ranchers and First Nations who filed separate requests for the review agreed to have their arguments heard together. The Bearspaw, Kainai, Siksika, Blood, Ermineskin and Goodfish Lake First Nations kept the right to bring separate constitutional arguments, which are not part of the application filed by rancher Macleay Blades. The hearing is to last through Wednesday.Popular Alberta entertainment figures, including Corb Lund and Jann Arden, have strongly opposed the decision. Petitions against it have gathered more than 100,000 signatures.On Monday, Savage announced in a news release that the recent sale of 11 coal leases would be cancelled and that no more would be sold on land where open-pit mines were forbidden under the old policy.She did not provide any more details, promise any consultation or offer to reconsider the decision on the 1976 policy.Environmental groups point out the 11 leases represented a tiny fraction of the leases sold since the policy was quashed. At least eight provincial recreation areas are either completely or largely surrounded by coal exploration leases. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021.— By Bob Weber in Edmonton. Follow @row1960 on Twitter The Canadian Press
The U.S. Secret Service opened an investigation into comedian John Mulaney over jokes believed to be made about President Donald Trump on “Saturday Night Live” last year, according to records obtained by The Associated Press. Mulaney, 38, revealed last month that the Secret Service had investigated the comedian and “SNL” alum for “inappropriate jokes about President Trump” after he made a joke about Roman dictator Julius Caesar, who was stabbed to death by a group of senators on the Ides of March. The file obtained by the AP through Freedom of Information Act request showed the bureau contacted NBC but did not interview the comedian for its inquiry, which found no wrongdoing. “Another thing that happened under Julius Caesar, he was such a powerful maniac that all the senators grabbed knives, and they stabbed him to death. That would be an interesting thing if we brought that back now,” Mulaney said to laughter from the audience. The joke was said during Mulaney’s opening monologue during the “Saturday Night Live” broadcast on Feb. 29, 2020. The Secret Service noted other remarks during the monologue, including: “I asked my lawyer if I could make that joke, he said, let me call another lawyer, and that lawyer said yes. I don’t dwell on politics, but I dislike the Founding Fathers immensely. ... I hate when people are like, God has never created such a great group of men than the Founding Fathers. Yeah, the ’92 Bulls. ... That’s a perfect metaphor for the United States. When I was a boy, the United States was like Michael Jordan in 1992. Now the United States it like Michael Jordan now.” Two days after Mulaney’s “SNL” monologue, law enforcement officials contacted Thomas McCarthy, the global chief security officer and senior vice-president at NBC Universal, to express the agency’s desire to discuss the joke with the comedian's attorneys. The Secret Service file included a report from Breitbart entitled, “SNL: John Mulaney Jokes that Senators Should Stab Trump Like Julius Caesar.” The investigation into Mulaney was opened in March and closed in December, five days after the comedian revealed the investigation during an interview with Jimmy Kimmel. The Secret Service file notes that Mulaney made no direct threats towards Trump. “The person vetting me was very understanding that the joke had nothing to do with Donald Trump because it was an elliptical reference to him,” Mulaney said to Kimmel. “I didn’t say anything about him. In terms of risk assessment, no one who’s ever looked at me thought I registered above a one.” He added: “I said I have been making jokes about him since 2007, so I have been making fun of him for 13 years,” Mulaney said. “They said if it’s a joke, then I am cleared by the Secret Service.” —— LaPorta reported from Delray Beach, Florida. James Laporta, The Associated Press
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia joined other provinces Tuesday in having to rapidly recast its plans to provide Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this month and next. Provincial officials initially provided an estimate that it would have 13,500 fewer doses than expected over the next six weeks. However, by mid-afternoon, chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang said that with Ottawa's announcement that Pfizer was shipping no vaccine next week, plans were underway to cope with a "substantive reduction in the weeks ahead." The province had forecast, as of midday on Tuesday, that due to the slowdown it would receive only 16,575 doses of the vaccine from Pfizer's Belgium plant by the end of the month and 28,275 in February. An official later confirmed Nova Scotia would no longer be receiving the 975 doses of vaccine it had expected next week. The federal government has said it's expected that the shipments will ramp back up after the company has made changes to its production facility in Belgium. Nova Scotia public health officials say it is among the best positioned jurisdictions in the country to cope with the vaccine delays due to its low case counts of the illness. As of Tuesday morning, the province has just 22 active cases, with four new cases of COVID-19 detected on Monday. Asked about the Pfizer announcement's impact, Strang said the news was still fresh. "We'll be able to talk in more detail in the next few days about what our vaccine supply will mean for the next few weeks," he said. However, Premier Stephen McNeil said the closure of a production line to allow for the increased production rate in the near future is "short-term pain for what we believe will be long-term gain." "The lack of shipment will be made up in the following month and the next six months for sure." The premier said the province will meanwhile focus on setting up vaccination sites in every region of the province. "When Pfizer starts ramping up, or a new vaccine gets permitted by Health Canada, we (will) have a system that allows us to ramp up vaccinations very quickly across our province," he said. The province had hoped to provide 78,750 vaccinations in March and then have a mass rollout of 333,333 doses in April at clinics in pharmacies and doctors offices. Over the next month, the first wave of shots will go to health workers and long-term care staff and residents, along with a pilot project for African Nova Scotian and First Nations communities. Special care homes for people with intellectual and physical disabilities will also have vaccinations for staff and residents. The second phase, happening over the next 60 days, will include a pilot project for community clinics for residents over 80 years old in Halifax and Truro, more vaccinations of health workers and special care facilities and a pilot project for delivering vaccines at pharmacies. The 90-day plan is to have mass immunization clinics established in all communities with cold storage locations. As of Monday evening, about 2,200 Nova Scotians had received both vaccine doses, and 8,520 total doses had been administered from the province's supply of 23,000 doses. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press
A new OPP detachment has opened its doors in Moosonee. The $20-million facility has 11 holding cells, closed-circuit television technology (CCTV), a modern infrastructure design to meet technological requirements and other security features, according to a Ministry of the Solicitor General news release Located at 16 Butcher Rd., the approximately 18,000-square-foot facility is a satellite station that is a part of the OPP James Bay Detachment. "This modern, new workspace allows our Moosonee detachment members to enhance their policing services and support to many vast, remote communities and First Nations territories that present significant land and air accessibility challenges," OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique said in the news release. "This important modernization project demonstrates the commitment we share with our government to preserve public safety and uphold the law." The new building is accessible and was designed to meet the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Standard, which recognizes buildings with reduced environmental impacts, according to the government announcement. It was built as part of the $182-million OPP Modernization - Phase 2 project. Announced in 2018, the modernization project replaced nine aging OPP facilities across the province. All nine detachments were built by Bird Capital OMP Project Co Inc. The initiative was delivered by Infrastructure Ontario through its public-private partnership (P3) model. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com