Marilane Carter was last seen six days ago in surveillance footage of her entering a hotel in Missouri.
Marilane Carter was last seen six days ago in surveillance footage of her entering a hotel in Missouri.
The A-list is back. How A-list? Try Lady Gaga and J. Lo. Inauguration officials announced on Thursday that the glittery duo would appear in person on Jan. 20, with Gaga singing the national anthem as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and Jennifer Lopez giving a musical performance. Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen will offer remote performances, and Eva Longoria and and Kerry Washington will introduce segments of the event. Later that day, Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden’s inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons. Despite a raging pandemic that is forcing most inaugural events online, it was a sign that Hollywood was back and eager to embrace the new president-elect four years after many big names stayed away from the inauguration of President Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. The question: How would the star wattage play across the country as Biden seeks to unite a bruised nation? Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant and former Reagan administration official, predicted reaction would fall “along tribal lines.” “I think it all comes down to the reinforcement of pre-existing beliefs,” Dezenhall said. “If you’re a Biden supporter, it’s nice to see Lady Gaga perform.” But, he added, “what rallied Trump supporters was the notion of an uber-elite that had nothing to do at all with them and that they couldn’t relate to.” Presidential historian Tevi Troy quipped that the starry Gaga-J. Lo lineup was not A-list, but D-list — "for Democratic.” "When Democrats win you get the more standard celebrities,” said Troy, author of “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House.” “With Republicans you tend to get country music stars and race-car drivers." Referring to Lady Gaga’s outspoken support for the Biden-Harris ticket, he said he was nostalgic for the days when celebrities were not so political. “Call me a hopeless romantic, but I liked the old days when Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra would come to these events and they were not overtly political,” he said. Still, he said, Biden’s unity message won’t be derailed. “In the end, I don’t think having Lady Gaga or J. Lo is all that divisive,” he said. Attendance at the inauguration will be severely limited, due to both the pandemic and fears of continued violence, following last week’s storming of the Capitol. Outside the official events, one of the more prominent galas each inauguration is The Creative Coalition's quadrennial ball, a benefit for arts education. This year, the ball is entirely virtual. But it is star-studded nonetheless: The event, which will involve food being delivered simultaneously to attendees in multiple cities, will boast celebrity hosts including Jason Alexander, David Arquette, Matt Bomer, Christopher Jackson, Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Keegan Michael-Key, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Patinkin and many others. Robin Bronk, CEO of the non-partisan arts advocacy group, said she's been deluged with celebrities eager to participate in some way. The event typically brings in anywhere from $500,000 to $2.5 million, and this year the arts community is struggling like never before. Bronk noted that planning has been a challenge, given not only the recent political upheaval in the country but also the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic. Given all that, did a celebration make sense? “I was thinking about this when we were trying to phrase the invitation,” Bronk said. “Do we celebrate? This is the most serious time of our lives.” But, she said, especially at a time when the arts community is suffering, it’s crucial to shine a spotlight and recognize that “the right to bear arts is not a red or blue issue. One of the reasons we have this ball is that we have to ensure the arts are not forgotten." The Presidential Inaugural Committee also announced Thursday that the invocation will be given by the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware. On the same platform, Biden sat in 2013 behind pop star Beyoncé as she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama's second inauguration. James Taylor sang “America the Beautiful,” and Kelly Clarkson sang “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” At Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the anthem was performed by 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho. A number of top artists declined the opportunity to perform at the festivities, and one Broadway star, Jennifer Holliday, even said she’d received death threats before she pulled out of her planned appearance. There was indeed star power in 2017, but most of it was centred at the Women’s March on Washington, where attendees included Madonna, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Emma Watson and many others. This year, signs are that Obama-era celebrities are returning. Dezenhall said that in the end, it's logical for organizers to go with the biggest talent. “Lady Gaga is as big as you can get, and she is very talented,” he said. “If I were being inaugurated and I could have Lady Gaga, I would take it.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
YEI RIVER, South Sudan — First, the soldiers stole their belongings. Then they took their food. On their third and final visit, the woman said, the soldiers raped her and her daughter-in-law until they were unable to walk. What sets these assaults in South Sudan apart from many other rapes by soldiers in the troubled country is this: The women brought the men to court and won. Ten years after South Sudan gained its independence and two years after its own deadly civil war ended, large-scale fighting has subsided but clashes continue between communities and between the government and groups that did not sign the peace deal — and the use of rape as a weapon remains rampant. Justice is exceedingly rare, but the September conviction has raised hopes that such crimes will increasingly be prosecuted. “I was traumatized,” the older of the two women, a 48-year-old mother of eight, told The Associated Press in Yei, a town in the southern state of Central Equatoria where she now lives. The AP does not typically identify people who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they grant permission, and the woman said she continues to fear for her safety and is too afraid, for instance, to return to her home village of Adio. She said she has found some solace in seeing her two attackers convicted and sent to prison after she reported the rape in May to South Sudan's army chief when he visited her village. A new army chief of staff, responding to growing frustration with such crimes, sent military judges from the capital, Juba, to oversee the case and those of 10 other women and girls who also came forward. In the end, 26 soldiers were convicted, some for rape but others for offences including looting. It was the first time soldiers had been convicted of rape since the 2016 rampage at the Terrain Hotel, where five international aid workers were gang-raped and a local journalist was killed. The army hopes the trial will be a warning to its troops. “We apologize, we won’t let it happen again, and we’ll arrest people who do it,” said Michael Machar Malual, head of civilian-military relations for the army in Central Equatoria state. A government spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. The woman hopes the verdict will encourage more survivors to speak up in a country where sexual assault is a scourge. Some 65% of women and girls in South Sudan have experienced sexual or other physical violence, the United Nations children’s agency said in 2019. Between July and September, the U.N. reported an 88% increase in conflict-related sexual violence from the previous quarter even as overall violence dropped. It said there were more than 260 “violent incidents” in total during the period, but it did not specify how many involved sexual violence. The villages around Yei have been hit hard as fighting continues between government forces and the National Salvation Front, which did not sign the peace deal. Civilians say they are caught in the middle, with women often accused by soldiers of supporting the rebels — and assaulted — especially if their husbands aren’t around. In February, three women and a 14-year-old girl were raped by soldiers about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Yei, according to a report by the independent body charged with overseeing the implementation of the peace deal. One woman was gang-raped while held at gunpoint, the report said. When the AP visited Yei in December, civilians and soldiers said the situation was improving and there had been fewer reports of sexual violence since the trial. The once-bustling town and nearby villages are slowly returning to life after the war. Yet some residents said they feel as unsafe as ever. A group of women walking home from the market said they hide their food in the bushes, worried that hungry soldiers will steal it from their homes. An economic crisis in South Sudan fueled by a drop in oil prices and the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic means soldiers haven’t been paid in months — and experts are warning of famine. Rights groups have hailed the recent case as important — but only a first step — and are pushing the government for more accountability. “This should be a lesson for those with power, especially those with guns, to know that they are not above the law,” said Riya William Yuyada, executive director of Crown the Woman South Sudan, an advocacy group that has pressed the government for accountability. A hybrid court is meant to be established as part of the peace deal to try people accused of committing wartime atrocities, but implementation is slow. Nyagoah Tut Pur, a researcher with Human Rights Watch, noted that those convicted of such crimes are often lower-level officers, and senior leaders should be held responsible. She added that accountability must also include compensation and services for survivors. Some women brutalized by soldiers have taken matters into their own hands. In 2017, Mary Poni said she watched soldiers decapitate her father and gang-rape three of her sisters until they died, before she was assaulted herself. She has written a book about her experience in the hope that it will be a small step toward reconciliation in her country. “I want the civilian population to be confident in the army, and the army to be able to protect our women and girls,” Poni said. “Women are living in silent fear, not able to open up about things they went through.” ___ Associated Press writer Maura Ajak in Juba, South Sudan, contributed to this report Sam Mednick, The Associated Press
In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Jan. 15 ... What we are watching in Canada ... In an approach that differs from elsewhere in the country, Alberta announced it would be easing some restrictions next week. Health Minister Tyler Shandro said starting Monday, personal and wellness services, including hair salons and tattoo parlours, can open by appointment only. Outdoor social gatherings will be allowed in groups of up to 10 people and the limit for funerals will increase to 20 people. New daily cases have fallen slightly in the province. Alberta reported 967 new cases of COVID-19 and 21 additional deaths. Shandro said the small adjustments to the restrictions implemented in December will allow people to take part in some activities. But, he said, the virus is still a real risk. For Ontario, today is the second day under a stay-at-home order imposed by the provincial government. It came into effect Thursday as Ontario reported 62 more deaths and 3,326 new novel coronavirus infections. COVID-19 cases, including a new United Kingdom variant, are increasing rapidly in the province. Federal officials have also warned that access to vaccines in Canada will remain a challenge until at least April. --- Also this ... Laurent Duvernay-Tardif misses football. The Super Bowl-winning offensive lineman has no regrets about opting out of the 2020 NFL campaign to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. But the six-foot-five 321-pound Mont-Saint-Hilaire, Que., native is finding it increasingly difficult to be a fan and definitely plans on resuming his pro career with Kansas City after this season. After finishing atop the AFC West with an NFL-best 14-2 record this season, Kansas City begins its Super Bowl defence Sunday when they host the Cleveland Browns in their first playoff contest. Duvernay-Tardif helped Kansas City cap last season with a 31-20 Super Bowl win over the San Francisco 49ers. It was the storied franchise's second NFL championship but first in 50 years. But in July, Duvenay-Tardif — who received his medical degree from McGill in 2018 — became the first NFL player to opt out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While others did so for safety reasons, Duvernay-Tardif temporarily hung up his cleats to work as an orderly at a Montreal long-term care facility. Kansas City head coach Andy Reid — whose mother also graduated from McGill's medical school — and star quarterback Patrick Mahomes were among those to praise Duvernay-Tardif for his decision. Sports Illustrated named Duvernay-Tardif as one of its Sportspeople of the Year and he was later a co-winner of the Lou Marsh Trophy, given annually to Canada's top athlete. Duvernay-Tardif, who turns 30 next month, has taken some time away from the long-term care facility to do work for his foundation as well as towards his master's degree at Harvard. But he's scheduled to receive his COVID-19 vaccination Friday before returning to the facility next week. --- What we are watching in the U.S. ... WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment could go to trial as soon as Inauguration Day, with senators serving not only as jurors but as shaken personal witnesses and victims of the deadly siege of the Capitol by a mob of his supporters. Trump is the only president to be twice impeached, and the first to be prosecuted as he leaves the White House, an ever-more-extraordinary end to the defeated president’s tenure. In pursuing conviction, House impeachment managers said Thursday they will be making the case that Trump’s incendiary rhetoric hours before the bloody attack on the Capitol was not isolated, but rather part of an escalating campaign to overturn the November election results. It culminated, they will argue, in the Republican president's rally cry to “fight like hell” as Congress was tallying the Electoral College votes to confirm he'd lost to Democrat Joe Biden. The trial could begin shortly after Biden takes the oath of office next Wednesday, but some Democrats are pushing for a later trial to give him time to set up his administration and work on other priorities. No date has been set. Already National Guard troops flood the city and protect the Capitol amid warnings of more violence ahead of the inaugural. It's a far different picture, due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the threats of violence, from the traditional pomp and peaceful transfer of power. --- What we are watching in the rest of the world ... MADRID — Most of Europe kicked off 2021 with earlier curfews or stay-at-home orders amid sharp spikes in coronavirus infections increasingly blamed on the more contagious variant first detected in the U.K. But authorities in Spain say the variant causing havoc elsewhere is not to blame for its sharp resurgence of cases and that the country can avoid a full lockdown even as its hospitals fill up. The government has been tirelessly fending off drastic home confinement like the one that paralyzed the economy for nearly three months in the spring of 2020, the last time that Spain could claim victory over the stubborn rising curve of cases. --- On this day in 1962 ... The RCMP Musical Ride became a permanent, full-time unit of the force. --- In entertainment ... With sultry mannerisms and sharp comedic chops, Kim Cattrall fully embodied confident sexpot Samantha Jones on "Sex and the City." But the Canadian-raised star won't be in the upcoming "Sex and the City" revival, and speculation abounds about what will happen with the role of the pleasure-seeking publicist, who was part of the group of four best friends living in New York. Media scholar Robert Thompson says he thinks replacing Cattrall, who was nominated for five Emmys and won a Golden Globe for the role, with another actor "would be a laboratory experiment gone bad." "Every now and again you get perfect casting, the perfect melding of an actor and a role, and I think Kim Cattrall and Samantha was that," Thompson, director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, said in an interview. "Which is why I think recasting would be a grave error," added the professor of television and popular culture. "It's one thing to recast the sister on 'Roseanne'; it's another thing to recast Samantha." Parker confirmed on Instagram that Samantha "isn't part of this story" for the HBO Max original series, "And Just Like That...," which will include herself as the lead character, sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw. Also returning are original co-stars Cynthia Nixon as lawyer Miranda Hobbes, and Kristin Davis as art expert Charlotte York. The news has sparked a flood of articles and social media posts about Samantha's fate. Online betting site Bovada has even released gambling odds for the character’s whereabouts in Episode 1 — options include that she moved away, is dead, or "confined to a prison or institution." Some Twitter users say Samantha was the heart of the show, which ran for six seasons, starting in 1998. There were also two films, which Cattrall was in before she declared she was done with the franchise. --- ICYMI ... Another country music star from Alberta has voiced protest against proposed coal mines on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. Paul Brandt, who leads a committee on human trafficking set up by the Alberta government, has posted his concerns on Instagram in support of fellow musician Corb Lund. Lund released a Facebook video earlier this week in which he calls the government's move to open vast swaths of the area to industry short-sighted and a threat. Brandt says in his post that Lund is right and the plan is a big — and bad — deal. He is asking the provincial government to reconsider putting economic benefit ahead of long-term consequences that would devastate the land for generations to come. Alberta's United Conservative government has revoked a 1976 policy that kept coal mines out of the mountains and eastern slopes of the Rockies. One mine is under review and vast areas of the mountains have been leased for exploration. Lund says coal mines would endanger the ranching lifestyles of his neighbours as well as drinking water for millions downstream. He's urging people to speak out and oppose open-pit coal mines in the Rockies. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021 The Canadian Press
In the week since a mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol, the House has impeached President Donald Trump. Dozens of people have been arrested nationwide over participation in the riots. Politicians and business leaders are loudly condemning the violence. Twitter and other social media sites have banned Trump and thousands of other accounts. Yet amid all the noise, a Capitol Police officer hailed as a hero for confronting the insurrectionists and leading them away from Senate chambers has remained silent. Officer Eugene Goodman isn't saying whether he thinks he saved the Senate, as many of the millions who've viewed the video believe. In fact, Goodman isn't saying anything at all publicly — not to reporters, not on social media. And he's asked the force's union, bosses, family and friends to help him maintain his privacy and not publicly discuss the events of Jan. 6. But the video speaks volumes. Goodman, a Black man facing an overwhelmingly white mob, is the only officer seen for a full minute of the footage, shot by reporter Igor Bobic of HuffPost. Goodman stands in front of the rioters, walks backward until he reaches a collapsible baton lying on the floor, and picks it up. “Back up ... back it up!” he yells, keeping his eyes on the mob. He turns and runs upstairs, waving the baton, as the group follows. Goodman calls “second floor” into his radio, then takes a brief glance and half a step to his left at the top of the stairs. Two chairs sit on either side of an entrance to the U.S. Senate chamber, just a few steps away. Dozens of rioters are right in front of him, no other officers to be seen. Goodman shoves one of the rioters and walks to the right, away from the chamber. The mob follows, and Goodman leads them to a room where other officers wait. The time on the video is 2:14 p.m. The Senate stopped its proceedings to begin clearing the chamber at 2:15 p.m. Five died in the riots, including one of Goodman's fellow officers. Legislative offices were trashed, gallows were built outside, and a video showed a woman shot dead while journalists, Congress members and staff hid. The images of Goodman spread via social media and news sites, a foil to the bloody and messy scenes elsewhere at the Capitol. People called him brave, impressive, effective. They dissected the video, guessing about his strategy and decision-making. But not all the commentary has been kind. Backing up and running away is weak, some said. It was a staged photo op, others alleged. Goodman has been silent. He didn't respond to text messages and phone calls The Associated Press left at potential numbers for him. The head of the Capitol Police union said only that Goodman didn't want to talk to reporters. Spokeswoman Eva Malecki said the Capitol Police isn't giving interviews or discussing Goodman’s actions. Public records shed a little light on Goodman. He served in the Army as an infantryman for more than four years, leaving with the rank of sergeant in December 2006 after a year in Iraq. He has worked for the Capitol Police since at least mid-2009. But that's about it. Goodman's friends, family, buddies he would have known from the military, members of Congress and force colleagues all begged off interviews about him. They say he wants to maintain his privacy. Online and in much of the public eye, Goodman is a hero. Plenty of people, famous and not, suggested he has earned the Medal of Honor. A Republican and two Democrats in the U.S. House introduced a bill Thursday to give him the Congressional Gold Medal. “If not for the quick, decisive, and heroic actions from Officer Goodman, the tragedy of last week’s insurrection could have multiplied in magnitude to levels never before seen in American history," said Democratic U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri. But the representatives didn't respond to messages asking if they met with Goodman. In a tweet promoting the bill, they show not a formal photo of Goodman in uniform, but an image of him facing the mob — his eyes wide open, mask down below his nose, baton behind him. ___ AP news researcher Randy Herschaft contributed. ___ Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP. Jeffrey Collins, The Associated Press
SAO PAULO — Hospital staff and relatives of COVID-19 patients rushed to provide facilities with oxygen tanks just flown into the Amazon rainforest's biggest city as doctors chose which patients would breathe amid dwindling stocks and an effort to airlift some of them to other states. As heavy rain poured down Thursday in Manaus, Rafael Pereira carried a small tank containing five cubic meters of oxygen for his mother-in-law at the 28 de Agosto hospital. He didn’t want to be interviewed because of his stress, but he looked relieved when the tank — which he said would aid her breathing for an additional two hours — was taken inside. Health workers at the Hospital Universitario Getulio Vargas took empty cylinders to its oxygen provider in the hopes there would be some to retrieve. Usually, the provider picks up the cylinders and brings newly refilled ones. Despairing patients in overloaded hospitals waited as oxygen arrived to save some, but came too late for others. At least one of the cemeteries of Manaus, a city of 2.2 million people, had mourners lining up to enter and bury their dead. Brazilian artists, soccer clubs and politicians used their platforms to cry for help. Brazil's health minister, Eduardo Pazuello, said Thursday that a second plane with medical supplies — including oxygen — would arrive Friday, and four others later. The local government’s oxygen provider, multinational White Martins, said in a statement that it was considering diverting some of its supply from neighbouring Venezuela. It wasn't immediately clear whether this would be sufficient to address the spiraling crisis. “Yes, there is a collapse in the health care system in Manaus. The line for beds is growing by a lot — we have 480 people waiting now,” Pazuello said in a broadcast on social media. “We are starting to remove patients with less serious (conditions) to reduce the impact.” Hospitals in Manaus admitted few new COVID-19 patients Thursday, suggesting many will suffer from the disease at home, and some may die. The strain prompted Amazonas state's government to say it would transport 235 patients who depend on oxygen but aren't in intensive care units to five other states and the federal capital, Brasilia. “I want to thank those governors who are giving us their hand in a human gesture,” Amazonas Gov. Wilson Lima said at a news conference Thursday. "All of the world looks at us when there is a problem as the Earth’s lungs," he said, alluding to a common description of the Amazon. "Now we are asking for help. Our people need this oxygen.” Governors and mayors throughout the country offered help amid a flood of social media videos in which distraught relatives of COVID-19 patients in Manaus begged for people to buy them oxygen. Federal prosecutors in the city, however, asked a local judge to pressure President Jair Bolsonaro's administration to step up its support. The prosecutors said later in the day that the main air force plane in the region for oxygen supply transportation “needs repair, which brought a halt to the emergency influx.” The air force said in an emailed statement to The Associated Press that it was deploying two planes to transport patients, starting Friday. The health ministry didn't respond to a request for comment about transportation plans. The U.S Embassy in Brasilia confirmed it had received a request from the federal government to support the initiative, without providing details. Local authorities recently called on the federal government to reinforce Manaus' stock of oxygen. The city’s 14-day death toll is approaching the peak of last year’s first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, according to official data. In that first peak, Manaus consumed a maximum 30,000 cubic meters (about 1 million cubic feet) of oxygen per day, and now the need has more than doubled to nearly 70,000 cubic meters, according to White Martins. “Due to the strong impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the consumption of oxygen in the city increased exponentially over the last few days in comparison with a volume that was already extremely high," White Martins said in an emailed statement to AP. "Demand is much higher than anything predictable and ... continues to grow significantly.” The company added that Manaus’ remote location presents challenging logistics, requiring additional stocks to be transported by boat and by plane.. The governor also decreed more health restrictions, including the suspension of public transportation and establishing a curfew between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. The new measures challenged protesters who on Thursday carried Brazilian flags through the streets. Lima, once seen as an ally of Bolsonaro, has faced criticism from supporters of the conservative president for imposing new restrictions aimed at stemming the virus' recent surge. Bolsonaro has downplayed risks of the disease, saying the economic fallout of the pandemic will kill more than the virus. His son Eduardo, a lawmaker who chairs the international relations committee in Brazil's lower house, was one of the many conservatives who egged on their supporters in December to challenge social distancing and disobey stay at home orders. Park of the Tribes, a community of more than 2,500 Indigenous people on the outskirts of Manaus, went more than two months without any resident showing COVID-19 symptoms. In the past week, 29 people have tested positive for the coronavirus, said Vanda Ortega, a volunteer nurse in the community. Two went to urgent care units, but no one yet has required hospitalization. “We’re really very worried,” said Ortega, who belongs to the Witoto ethnicity. “It’s chaos here in Manaus. There isn’t oxygen for anyone.” ___ Associated Press writer Mauricio Savarese reported this story in Sao Paulo and AP writer David Biller reported from Rio de Janeiro. AP photographer Edmar Barros contributed to this report from Manaus. Mauricio Savarese And David Biller, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
Harry Truman Brown, one of Toronto's basketball pioneers, has died. He was 72. Brown inspired generations of players who became stars or coaches, and helped set the tone for how the game would be played in Toronto. The basketball legend and retired Toronto District School Board teacher died Sunday at St. Michael's Hospital. Brown, a former basketball star at the University of Oklahoma was known as a multi-sport player who had been invited to play basketball with the National Basketball Association's Detroit Pistons and the National Football League's Dallas Cowboys. After a year of pro basketball, he eventually made his way to Toronto. "He was widely acknowledged as one of the best basketball players we'd ever seen on the court here in Toronto," said Dana McKiel, a sports broadcaster and family friend. "From no look passes to shooting from half court at the time when there was no three point line. The way that he used to drive to the bucket," McKiel recalled. Brown would make the rounds of all the city community centres that were early hotspots for the game and would play with the skills and intensity that would inspire a lot of players. "He has had such an impact on basketball in the city for the past 40 to 45 years," said McKiel. "He made basketball important to everyone in Toronto." Local legends in basketball would come out to play with him especially at George Brown College on Sunday nights where the who's who of the city's basketball scene would show up. "If Harry Brown picked you for his side then you knew you were somebody special, you knew you were doing something real well," said McKiel. "It was like being on Broadway. If you could make it there you could make it anywhere." Brown became a pillar of Toronto's basketball community inspiring local stars including Jim Zoet, Val Pozzan, Leo Rautins, Rob Samuels, Norm Clarke, Tony Simms, Simeon Mars, Joe Alexander and Danny Ainge, now president and general manager of the Boston Celtics. From players to coaches and team administrators, McKiel says Toronto has become an epicentre for basketball talent, due in part to the foundation Brown laid. Savanna Hamilton, a host with NBA Canada and the Toronto Raptors, who is a former Ryerson Rams forward, agrees that Brown influenced a generation of basketball players. "I never had the pleasure of meeting him, but a lot of the industry leaders and mentors I work with on a daily basis either played with him or were inspired by him." Hamilton says Brown is not only part of the reason why the game is so popular among GTA youth, but also why Toronto is now one of the hotbeds for top basketball talent in the world. "We have to always pay tribute and homage to those who come before us and how impactful he was to the city and the culture of basketball in Toronto," said Hamilton. "We're known as one the toughest cities to play in and our players are very gritty and you have to wonder where that comes from. "Harry Brown was one of those people who set the foundation for that reputation," said Hamilton. Brown died of complications from diabetes and long-term renal problems. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, family and friends have set up an online memorial on Facebook. A Celebration of Life will be announced at a later date. Donations in his name are being accepted by the Yonge Street Mission. For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
It may be many years before turbines jut out of the Atlantic Ocean around Nova Scotia to spin wind into energy for the electric grid, but the growth of the offshore wind industry in other parts of the world has sparked the province's interest. "In Nova Scotia we are blessed with a long coastline. We're blessed with a tremendous wind resource," said Alisdair McLean, executive director of the Offshore Energy Research Association, which is using $50,000 from the provincial government to commission a report on offshore wind potential. The association wants to find out how Nova Scotia might use government policy to attract the offshore wind industry to build wind farms off the province's coasts, where winds are typically stronger than over land. "The purpose of our work is to try to understand whether it could be viable in Nova Scotia or not," McLean said in a recent interview. "Although it is viable in other jurisdictions, clearly, every jurisdiction has its own peculiarities. And so our role here is to evaluate whether or not it could be useful and productive and affordable in Nova Scotia." Nova Scotia already has hundreds of turbines at dozens of wind farms across the province. They generate about 20 per cent of the electricity on Nova Scotia's grid, and make up the single largest renewable energy source, but they're all onshore. Offshore wind energy farms were established in parts of Europe in the 1990s and the industry is still growing. The European Union released an offshore renewable energy strategy last fall that includes a goal of increasing offshore wind capacity five-fold by 2030, and five-fold again by 2050. The offshore wind industry started developing in the U.S. more recently, particularly along the Eastern Seaboard. According to the American Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the country's first offshore wind farm started operating off Rhode Island in 2016. Targets difficult to meet All the while, Nova Scotia has renewable energy targets that are proving difficult to meet. In 2020, renewable energy sources made up about 30 per cent of electricity on the grid — 10 per cent shy of what the province had hoped to achieve by last year. After the already-troubled Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project faced further delays in 2020, Nova Scotia's 40 per cent renewable energy target has been pushed back to 2022. McLean said "there's no way" any offshore wind projects would develop quickly enough to help achieve that goal, but offshore could fit in with the province's longer-term goals, like reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050. Dan Roscoe said he expects to see more onshore wind farms built in Nova Scotia before any offshore development begins. Roscoe, an engineer and lead of renewable energy at Cape Breton University's Verschuren Centre for Sustainability in Energy and the Environment, said jurisdictions where offshore wind has taken off typically have space constraints on land, which is not currently a problem in Nova Scotia. "I think what it comes down to is what are we going to use that offshore wind energy for? And how can we get it to a spot where it's going to be cost-competitive?" Roscoe said. According to Nova Scotia Power's latest resource plan, released last fall, the cost of generating offshore wind in Nova Scotia in 2021 would be about double the cost of onshore wind — $113 per megawatt hour versus $56 per megawatt hour. The utility has forecast the cost of generating energy from both sources will drop, and the gap between them will tighten. By 2045, NSP's plan predicts onshore wind will cost $44 per megawatt hour and offshore will cost $59 per megawatt hour. Roscoe said wind energy costs are coming down in part because of the economies of scale. Wind turbines are getting bigger, with some recent offshore projects boasting capacities as high as one gigawatt — "which would be more than half the demand and roughly half of the needs of Nova Scotia, all in one project." In order to make projects of that size viable in Nova Scotia, Roscoe said some of the power generated would likely have to be sold for export. Researchers pinpoint best locations for wind energy Two researchers at Dalhousie University's Renewable Energy Storage Lab just published some findings that they think might help with the cost of wind energy. Mechanical engineering professor Lukas Swan and research engineer Nathaniel Pearre mapped out the best places around the Maritime provinces for wind farms, with an eye to mitigating one of the resource's major drawbacks: variability. Because wind speed and strength are constantly changing, the amount of energy generated through wind turbines is also constantly changing. At peak, there can be congestion on the grid. At base, wind power needs to be backed up by other energy sources. Swan and Pearre's mapping study shows potential wind farm locations around the Maritimes that could naturally balance what's already on the grid. "To put it into a bullet point … if you build out more resources towards the periphery of the area, the better," Pearre said in an interview. In Nova Scotia, the offshore area around Sable Island scored well, according to the researchers, as did parts of the Bay of Fundy, on the New Brunswick side. Onshore, they found potential in parts of Cape Breton and northwestern New Brunswick. Swan said he thinks offshore wind's potential deserves more exploration in Nova Scotia, but he isn't counting on the industry exploding any time soon. "Everything is harder than it looks and probably takes a little bit longer than you'd think." MORE TOP STORIES
Ontario residents received an emergency alert on their phone shortly after 10 a.m. on Thursday reminding them that the province’s stay-at-home order has officially come into effect. The directive to stay at home and leave only when absolutely necessary is clear – but the fine details about rules, enforcement and penalties are still being ironed out. Public Health Sudbury and Districts will be working in collaboration with the Greater Sudbury Police and City of Greater Sudbury bylaw officers in a joint initiative to enforce COVID-19 legislation. Under the new rules, indoor gatherings with people from different households and outdoor gatherings of over five people are prohibited. Non-essential businesses will operate under limited store hours, and all employees who can work from home must do so. “The new COVID-19 modelling released by the province this week is alarming, and it shows we could be in for a very difficult few months before mass vaccinations are available,” said Greater Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger. “This virus is on track to overwhelm our health-care system if we don’t get it in check. It’s imperative that we take this seriously. Please follow the orders. Stay home as much as you can. Be smart about the decisions you make. Let’s continue to set a positive example for the rest of Ontario.” On Thursday, three new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Sudbury. Overall, Ontario reported 3,326 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 62 more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott said there are 968 new cases in Toronto, 572 in Peel Region and 357 in York Region. Both law enforcement and public health agencies will operate under the assumption that most people want to follow the rules, and discretion will be used by all parties to determine if an individual or business is violating the law. The health unit said that an emphasis will be placed on education, and complaints will be judged on a case-by-case basis. “For the most part, Public Health will be working with police and bylaw on complaints. When a complaint comes in, we will continue to work with our partners to enforce the legislation as needed,” said Burgess Hawkins, Manager in the Health Protection Division at Public Health. “The normal system, which we’ve been using quite successfully up to this point, is that we go in, talk to people, and educate them. We typically find that if you explain what needs to be done, most people and businesses are willing to comply.” Burgess offered a simple explanation as to why some of the rules seem so vague – it’s just impossible for the province to determine what is essential for every individual and business in Ontario. For example, it’s not easy to determine whether employees need to go into an office or whether they can work from home. “Maybe an employee can technically work from home, but if you talk to them, you find out that their spouse and their child are both on the computer all day for work or school. Their internet access is not great, and a third person on there crashes their internet,” he said. “We really have to find out what the situation is. If we got a complaint like that, we would go in and ask questions and look at the relevant legislation on what needs to happen.” Complaints can be registered with the City of Greater Sudbury by calling 311. They can be about the unauthorized use of closed city facilities, people not self-isolating after international travel, continued operation of non-essential businesses, indoor organized events or social gatherings, or outdoor gatherings of over five people. Once a complaint is filed, it will be logged and directed to the appropriate party depending on the time of day, the severity, and the type of issue, according to the City. “We continue to work with Public Health and Greater Sudbury Police to focus on educating and engaging with residents and businesses to ensure compliance,” said spokesperson Kelly Brooks. “Just like we've been doing up to this point, we do ask people to contact (us) if they have concerns about individuals or businesses not following the provincial orders. Fines could be laid for those who blatantly or repeatedly break the rules.” As part of the state of emergency, Brooks added, the province announced that it has enhanced the authority of law enforcement officers. “We’re working with our partners to evaluate what this means locally and finalize the details of any changes to enforcement efforts. We’ll provide any updates in the coming days,” she said. A spokesperson for Greater Sudbury issued a similar statement, saying police will “continue to engage with, encourage and educate community members and business owners in order to ensure compliance.” “Officers will conduct the enforcement required for all municipal, provincial and federal legislation using the legal framework provided by the Provincial and Federal governments,” said Kaitlyn Dunn. “Those who choose to blatantly disregard the new orders including individuals, businesses or corporations will be fined under Ontario Regulation 11/21.” Set fines vary from $750 for failure to comply with an order to $1,000 for preventing others from following an order. Maximum fines are up to $100,000 for individuals and $10 million for a corporation. Police officers will be able to use their discretion in terms of whether an individual or a business needs to be ticketed. They also have the authority to temporarily close premises or disperse crowds. However, Dunn said that police were not directed to stop vehicles or question people in the streets to check for compliance with the stay-at-home order. Work, school, and childcare are all considered essential purposes under the new order, as well as leaving the house to obtain food, healthcare services or medications, or other necessary items. All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. The restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery. People are also allowed to access government services, social services, and mental health and addictions support services. “Doing anything that is necessary to respond to or avoid an imminent risk to the health or safety of an individual, including protecting oneself or others from domestic violence, leaving or assisting someone in unsafe living conditions and seeking emergency assistance” is considered an exception. Exercise is permitted “using an outdoor recreational amenity that is permitted to be open under the Stage 1 Order.” “The Province mentioned exercise as one of its examples of essential outings. So, outdoor rinks are open for those looking to stay active and get some fresh air, but users should stay two metres away from those who are not part of their household,” said Brooks. “Hockey, shinny, ringette and any other sports or games where people are within two metres of each other are not permitted. Everyone just needs to try and do their part.” Burgess also suggested using discretion when it comes to outdoor activities. If a skating rink, a trail, or a toboggan hill is too crowded to allow for appropriate social distancing, then families are asked to opt out. It’s important to note that if an individual lives alone, they can gather with one other household, and the order “does not apply to individuals who are homeless.” The order also states that “taking a child to the child’s parent or guardian or to the parent or guardian’s residence” and “travelling between the homes of parents, guardians, caregivers, if the individual is under their care” is allowed. A full list of exceptions to the stay-at-home rule is available online at files.ontario.ca/solgen-stay-at-home-order-2021-01-13.pdf. “We realize that the restrictions that have been put in are hard. Staying at home is hard, but the disease is spreading. If we can slow it down, get it to a point where we’re not looking at overcrowding of the ICUs, that’s a benefit for everybody,” said Burgess. “Please stay home. If you are out, you must wear a face covering, wash your hands, and keep that physical distance.” For information about local COVID-19 data, visit www.phsd.ca/covid-19. For information on the provincial public health measures during the State of Emergency, visit www.ontario.ca/page/enhancing-public-health-and-workplace-safety-measures-provincewide-shutdown. Residents with questions about provincial rules and regulations or effects on City programs and services are encouraged to call 311 or live webchat with the City at 311.greatersudbury.ca. The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. email@example.com Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star
A collection of children's drawings made during the pandemic illustrates the mental toll the pandemic is taking on Canadian youth, says the researcher behind a project analyzing their artwork. Many of the submissions by kids and teenagers on childart.ca depict people alone, haunted by shadowy spectres, or worse, their own thoughts. Collectively, the images paint a stark picture of how the trials of young life under lockdown could shape the next generation, says Nikki Martyn, program head of early childhood studies at University of Guelph-Humber. While the study is still underway, Martyn said initial observations suggest that coming of age during the COVID-19 crisis can create an emotional maelstrom during a critical period of adolescent development. Being a teenager is tough enough at the best of times, she said, but finding your place in the world while stuck at home has left many young people feeling like they have no future to look forward to. "The saddest part for me ... is that kind of loss of not being able to see through to the other side," she said. "There's so much pain and so much struggle right now that I think needs to be shared and seen, so that we can support our youth and make sure they become healthy adults." Since September, Martyn's team has received more than 120 pieces from Canadians aged two to 18, submitted anonymously with parental permission, along with some background information and written responses. Martyn marvelled at the breadth of creative talent the project has attracted, with submissions ranging from doodles, sketches, digital drawings, paintings, pastels, photos and even one musical composition. Researchers circulated the call for young artists at schools and on social media. While the collection includes a few tot-scribbled masterpieces, Martyn said the majority of contributors are between the ages of 14 and 17. As the submissions trickled in, she was struck by the potent and sometimes graphic depictions of adolescent anxiety, despair and isolation. Recurring themes include confined figures, screaming faces, phantasmic presences, gory imagery and infringing darkness. Some images contain allusions to self-harm, which Martyn sees as a physical representation of the pain afflicting so many of the study's participants. Just as unsettling are the words that accompany the images. Some artists transcribed the relentless patter of pandemic-related concerns that pervade daily life, while others expressed sentiments like "I'm broken," "this is too much" and "what's the point?" Martyn said many participants wrote of struggling to keep up in school, while some were dealing with family problems such as job loss, illness and even death. Many of these feelings and challenges are common across age groups, Martyn noted. However, while adults are more accustomed to the ups and downs that life can bring, young people are less likely to have fostered the coping skills to help them weather a global crisis. A coalition of Canadian children's hospitals has warned that the pandemic is fomenting a youth mental-health crisis with potentially "catastrophic" short- and long-term consequences for children's wellbeing and growth. This would be consistent with research from previous outbreaks suggesting that young people are more vulnerable to the negative psychological impacts of quarantine, including increased risk of post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety and behavioural problems, according to an August report by Children's Mental Health Ontario. An online survey of 1,300 Ontario children and young adults last spring found that nearly two-thirds of respondents felt that their mental health had deteriorated since COVID-19 hit, with many citing the abrupt end of school, disconnection from friends and uncertainty about the future as significant stressors. Lydia Muyingo, a PhD student in clinical psychology at Dalhousie University, said when she looks through the images in the childart.ca gallery, she can see how these concerns are confounding the typical turmoil of being a teenager. Adolescence is a time for young people to figure out who they are through new experiences, interests and social interactions, said Muyingo. This transition tends to bring about intense emotions, she said, and the pandemic has exacerbated this upheaval by replacing familiar anxieties about fitting in with fears about mortality. Muyingo said she's encouraged to see that the childart.ca project is giving young people an outlet for these difficult feelings they may not even be able to put words to. She encouraged adults to keep an eye out for children's silent struggles, perhaps setting an example by sharing their own vulnerabilities. "I think parents are sometimes scared of talking about dark themes, but the reality is that kids know a lot more than we think," she said. "I think art like this can be used as a tool to communicate that it's OK to feel this way." Martyn said the study has given her hope for what a future led by the quarantined generation could look like, because while pain pervades many of the illustrations, there are also symbols of resilience, connection and compassion. "One of my visions from the very beginning of this was to have this as an art exhibit in a gallery, and to be able to go and be enveloped by it, have it around us and fully experience that lived idea of what children in Canada experienced." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021. Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Flying rocks. Burning tires. Acrid smoke. Deadly gunfire. Haiti braced for a fresh round of widespread protests starting Friday, with opposition leaders demanding that President Jovenel Moïse step down next month, worried he is amassing too much power as he enters his second year of rule by decree. “The priority right now is to put in place another economic, social and political system,” André Michel, of the opposition coalition Democratic and Popular Sector, said by phone. “It is clear that Moïse is hanging on to power.” Opposition leaders are demanding Moïse’s resignation and legislative elections to restart a Parliament dissolved a year ago. They claim that Moïse’s five-year term is legally ending — that it began when former President Michel Martelly's term expired in February 2016. But Moïse maintains his term began when he actually took office in early 2017, an inauguration delayed by a chaotic election process that forced the appointment of a provisional president to serve during a year-long gap. Haiti's international backers have echoed some of the opposition’s concerns, calling for parliamentary elections as soon as possible. They were originally scheduled for October 2019 but were delayed by political gridlock and protests that paralyzed much of the country, forcing schools, businesses and several government offices to close for weeks at a time. Some in the international community also condemned several of Moïse's decrees. One of those limited the powers of a court that audits government contracts and had accused Moïse and other officials of embezzlement and fraud involving a Venezuelan program which provided cheap oil. Moïse and others have rejected those accusations. Moïse also decreed that acts such as robbery, arson and blocking public roads — a common ploy during protests — would be classed as terrorism and subject to heavy penalties. He also created an intelligence agency that answers only to the president. The Core Group, which includes officials from the United Nations, U.S., Canada and France, questioned those moves. “The decree creating the National Intelligence Agency gives the agents of this institution quasi-immunity, thus opening up the possibility of abuse," the group said in a recent statement. “These two presidential decrees, issued in areas that fall within the competence of a Parliament, do not seem to conform to certain fundamental principles of democracy, the rule of law, and the civil and political rights of citizens.” Moïse has dismissed such concerns and vowed to move forward at his own pace. In a New Year’s tweet, he called 2021 “a very important year for the future of the country.” He has called for a constitutional referendum in April followed by parliamentary and presidential elections in September, with runoffs scheduled for November. “There is no doubt elections will happen,” Foreign Minister Claude Joseph told The Associated Press, rejecting calls that Moïse step down in February. “Haiti cannot afford another transition. We need to let democracy work the way it should.” Joseph said Moïse remains open to dialogue and is ready to meet anytime with opposition leaders to solve the political stalemate. He also said the constitutional referendum won't give Moïse more power but said changes are needed to the 1987 document. “It is a source of instability. It does not have checks and balances. It gives extraordinary power to the Parliament that abuses this power over and over,” Joseph said. “It’s not the president’s own personal project. It’s a national project.” While officials haven't released details of the referendum, one of the members of the consulting committee, Louis Naud Pierre, told radio station Magik9 last week that proposals include creating a unicameral Parliament to replace the current Senate and Chamber of Deputies, extending parliamentary terms and giving Haitians who live abroad more power. The referendum and flurry of decrees are frustrating many Haitians, including Rose-Ducast Dupont, a mother of three who sells perfumes on the sidewalks of Delmas, a neighbourhood in the capital. “The political problems in my country have been dragging on for too long,” she said. “They are never able to find a solution for the nation. ... We are the ones suffering.” The nation of more than 11 million people has grown increasingly unstable under Moïse, who received more than 50% of the vote but with only 21% voter turnout. Haiti is still trying to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew that struck in 2016. Its economic, political and social woes have deepened, with gang violence resurging, inflation spiraling and food and fuel becoming more scarce at times in a country where 60% of the population makes less than $2 a day. “I don’t have a life,” said Jean-Marc François, who wants Moïse gone. “I don’t have any savings. I have three kids. I have to survive day by day with no guarantee that I’ll come home with bread to put on the table.” Some days he works in construction; others he does yardwork or disposes of garbage or moves boxes at warehouses, which sometimes pays 500 gourdes ($7) a day. François said he won't take part in the “circus act” of voting in the referendum or elections. “We’re talking about voting for a new president? A new constitution? Deputies and senators? They’re all going to be the same,” he said. “This is a country of corruption.” Moïse has faced numerous calls for resignation since taking office, with protests roiling Haiti since late 2017. The demonstrations have been fueled largely by demands for better living conditions and anger over crime, corruption allegations and price increases after the government ended fuel subsidies. The most violent protests occurred in 2019, with dozens killed, and some worry about even more violence as the opposition steps up its demands that Moïse resign amid fears that elections will be delayed once more. “Can the current status quo continue for another year?” said Jake Johnston, senior research associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington. “Moïse can announce an electoral calendar ... but what signs are there that that’s going to actually happen?” ___ Associated Press writer Evens Sanon reported this story in Port-au-Prince and AP writer Danica Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Evens Sanon And DáNica Coto, The Associated Press
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 40,283 new vaccinations administered for a total of 459,492 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,212.403 per 100,000. There were 5,850 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 594,975 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 77.23 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,506 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.104 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 47.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 2,982 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,102 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 32.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 6,075 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.8 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 83.98 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 1,111 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 3,831 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 3.926 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 13,450 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 28.48 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 2,713 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,732 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.912 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.19 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 8,339 new vaccinations administered for a total of 115,704 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.522 per 1,000. There were 5,850 new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 162,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 71.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 14,237 new vaccinations administered for a total of 159,021 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.826 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 196,125 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 81.08 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 12,409 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.012 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 25,825 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 48.05 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 1,585 new vaccinations administered for a total of 11,985 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.164 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 17,575 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 68.19 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 8,809 new vaccinations administered for a total of 66,953 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 15.21 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 59,800 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 112 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 6,316 new vaccinations administered for a total of 69,746 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.592 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 71,200 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 97.96 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 685 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 16.415 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 9.514 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 512 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 11.348 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 7.111 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 121 new vaccinations administered for a total of 521 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 13.453 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 8.683 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has launched an investigation into 15 stranded pilot whales whose carcasses were found on the Port au Port peninsula in December. Federal authorities were informed of the stranded whales on Dec. 9 and sent a team of fisheries officers to Three Rock Cove to investigate how the group of black, bulbous-headed cetaceans could have died. "In the photographs that I have of these whales, they looked like they're in in good shape," said DFO marine mammal expert Jack Lawson in a recent interview. "They weren't starving, they weren't thin. There's no evidence of net marks on them and there's no evidence of sort of a wounding process [from striking a ship]." "It looks like these animals may have been pursuing food or perhaps got confused," he said, adding that DFO's probe into the incident continues. "They're known worldwide for being a species that strands. Often it's thought to be that they're chasing prey and end up in shallower waters and get stranded that way.... It may be that perhaps the leader of the group got confused or an animal was ill or something, and they all followed that lead animal on shore." Lawson said pilot whales are extremely social animals that travel in pods that can reach hundreds of members. He said the whales, which can reach 2,300 kilograms and seven metres in length, are becoming less common off the coast of Newfoundland, and a group stranding like the one seen in Three Rock Cove is relatively rare. But he said a similar incident, with about 60 stranded pilot whales, did occur on the island's south coast in the 1970s. 3 carcasses remain near community Only three pilot whale carcasses are still on the beach in Three Rock Cove. During a recent storm, most of the whales were washed out to sea or covered with beach rocks, Lawson said. But some residents of the community said that while many of the bodies were pulled back in the ocean, three were pushed away from the water and are now just a few metres from the main road. "We had a lot of wind, a lot of very strong waves," resident Dwight Cornect told Radio-Canada in an interview last week. "The Mainland, Three Rock Cove area can often have 100, 120, 140 km/h winds coming off the ocean." "I'd say these whales could be pushed closer to [the road]. Who knows what could happen?" Cornect said he wants the federal or provincial government to step in and remove the whales, which he fears will be left to rot on the beach. "It's embarrassing for people in the area. You can see the carcasses," he said. "If it were a moose, they'd be here after even two hours to remove the carcass. For a whale, what's the difference?" Who's responsible for cleanup? In a statement, DFO said it "does not have a role in the disposal of stranded, dead whales" in Three Rock Cove. "If a dead whale is beached within a municipality, the municipality is responsible; on Crown land, the government of N.L. is responsible; and, within the boundaries of a national park, Parks Canada is responsible." Cornect said he's contacted Tony Wakeham, the MHA for Stephenville-Port au Port, to inform him of the situation. In an email, Wakeham said he's been in contact with DFO to discuss the situation. For now, Lawson said, there's no need to remove the carcasses. "Generally, you know, within a short period of time, these animals, because they're relatively small, say, compared to the blue whales that washed up on the west coast, they'll tend to rot fairly quickly and get scavenged by gulls and so on and won't last too long," he said. "The degradation process happens relatively quickly for these small whales and soon they'll just be bones on the beach or washed away. So that's why we won't necessarily rush to try and move an animal like this," he said, adding he doesn't believe the whales present a risk to safety. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
The chief of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg says it's good news that 30 vaccine doses are on their way to the western Quebec reserve this weekend, but it's not nearly enough to safeguard the community's elders. The community near Maniwaki, Que., has 18 known active cases. Chief Dylan Whiteduck said he's concerned that number could be higher since they only have data for people who were tested on the reserve. "It's just a matter of time until it hits us hard," Whiteduck told Radio-Canada on Wednesday. "And then we see an elder [test positive], someone who's a knowledge keeper, someone who speaks the language, Anishinaabemowin, Algonquin, and then we're going to really feel it." "That's my biggest concern and my biggest fear." Kitigan Zibi recorded its first cases of COVID-19 in mid-December. According to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, more than 1,600 people live there. Whiteduck said Kitigan Zibi's leadership informed Quebec health officials there were 340 vulnerable people who needed and wanted the vaccine, but they haven't received a commitment on when additional shots will arrive. While Whiteduck expects the first doses to arrive over the next few days, CISSSO did not confirm to CBC when community members can expect to be vaccinated. "Public health is actively planning vaccination in collaboration with the community," a spokesperson for the health network said in an email. "[We are] confident that the vaccination can be carried out soon." First Nations 'at mercy' of governments, chief says On Wednesday, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller announced that the federal government will spend $1.2 billion to fight the spread of COVID-19 in Indigenous communities, from supporting elders to providing personal protective equipment and adapting facilities. Whiteduck said the federal government needs to be proactive and ensure provinces have a clear plan for First Nations. "We're at the mercy of other governments," Whiteduck said. "And we have to depend on the government of Canada — we always have and we've always will." "We don't even know which health authorities we fall under anymore," he added. Whiteduck said a meeting between Quebec officials, CISSSO and Kitigan Zibi is scheduled for Monday. With the reserve so close to Ottawa, Whiteduck said politicians should remember whose unceded land they live on. "I keep asking myself, 'You know, when are we going to get it?'" he said. "We don't know."
CANBERRA, Australia — A pigeon that Australia declared a biosecurity risk has received a reprieve after a U.S. bird organization declared its identifying leg band was fake. The band suggested the bird found in a Melbourne backyard on Dec. 26 was a racing pigeon that had left the U.S. state of Oregon, 13,000 kilometres (8,000 miles) away, two months earlier. On that basis, Australian authorities on Thursday said they considered the bird a disease risk and planned to kill it. But Deone Roberts, sport development manager for the Oklahoma-based American Racing Pigeon Union, said on Friday the band was fake. The band number belongs to a blue bar pigeon in the United States which is not the bird pictured in Australia, she said. “The bird band in Australia is counterfeit and not traceable,” Roberts said. “They do not need to kill him.” Australia's Agriculture Department, which is responsible for biosecurity, agreed that the pigeon dubbed Joe, after U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, was wearing a “fraudulent copy” leg band. “Following an investigation, the department has concluded that Joe the Pigeon is highly likely to be Australian and does not present a biosecurity risk,” it said in a statement. The department said it will take no further action. Acting Australian Prime Minister Michael McCormack had earlier said there would be no mercy if the pigeon was from the United States. “If Joe has come in a way that has not met our strict biosecurity measures, then bad luck Joe, either fly home or face the consequences,” McCormack said. Martin Foley, health minister for Victoria state where Joe is living, had called for the federal government to spare the bird even if it posed a disease risk. “I would urge the Commonwealth’s quarantine officials to show a little bit of compassion,” Foley said. Andy Meddick, a Victorian lawmaker for the minor Animal Justice Party, called for a “pigeon pardon for Joe.” “Should the federal government allow Joe to live, I am happy to seek assurances that he is not a flight risk,” Meddick said. Melbourne resident Kevin Celli-Bird, who found the emaciated bird in his backyard, was surprised by the change of nationality but pleased that the bird he named Joe would not be destroyed. “I thought this is just a feel-good story and now you guys want to put this pigeon away and I thought it’s not on, you know, you can’t do that, there has got to be other options,” Celli-Bird said of the threat to euthanize. Celli-Bird had contacted the American Racing Pigeon Union to find the bird’s owner based on the number on the leg band. The bands have both a number and a symbol, but Celli-Bird didn’t remember the symbol and said he can no longer catch the bird since it has recovered from its initial weakness. The bird with the genuine leg band had disappeared from a 560-kilometre (350-mile) race in Oregon on Oct. 29, Crooked River Challenge owner Lucas Cramer said. That bird did not have a racing record that would make it valuable enough to steal its identity, he said. “That bird didn’t finish the race series, it didn’t make any money and so its worthless, really,” Cramer said. He said it was possible a pigeon could cross the Pacific on a ship from Oregon to Australia. “In reality, it could potentially happen, but this isn’t the same pigeon. It’s not even a racing pigeon,” Cramer said. The bird spends every day in the backyard, sometimes with a native dove on a pergola. “I might have to change him to Aussie Joe, but he’s just the same pigeon,” Celli-Bird said. Lars Scott, a carer at Pigeon Rescue Melbourne, a bird welfare group, said pigeons with American leg bans were not uncommon around the city. A number of Melbourne breeders bought them online and used them for their own record keeping, Scott said. Australian quarantine authorities are notoriously strict. In 2015, the government threatened to euthanize two Yorkshire terriers, Pistol and Boo, after they were smuggled into the country by Hollywood star Johnny Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard. Faced with a 50-hour deadline to leave Australia, the dogs made it out in a chartered jet. Rod McGuirk, The Associated Press
Concluding debate on a resolution to impeach U.S. President Donald Trump for "incitement of an insurrection," Rep. Steny Hoyer invoked one of the fundamental truths about democracy that was exposed by recent events in the United States. "For millennia, people have understood that a republic is only as stable and lasting as the citizens and leaders who commit themselves to its upkeep," the 81-year-old Democratic congressman for Maryland's fifth district said on Wednesday. Shortly thereafter, Hoyer joined 231 other members of the United States House of Representatives in voting to impeach Trump. The violent attack last week on Capitol Hill in Washington was horrifying, but also clarifying. What the mob made clear is where the forces of lying, division, fear and nihilism can lead. Such a traumatic event has provoked another moment of reckoning in the United States. But the sight of the world's so-called greatest democracy nearly collapsing is cause for introspection for every other democratic country looking on, including Canada. WATCH | Trump first U.S. president to be impeached twice: However placid and rational Canadian politics might seem by comparison, an understanding of democracy's frailty necessitates some constant level of concern about its upkeep — across the political spectrum. And there is wear and tear worth thinking about here, too. Conservative strategist Ken Boessenkool, formerly an advisor to Stephen Harper, was among the first commentators in Canada to reflect in the wake of last week's violence, writing that he "won't tolerate casual Trumpism in my personal or political cohort anymore." Going forward, he said, Canadian conservatives must become harsher judges of character and more diligent about who they associate with. To that end, he said that Conservative MP Derek Sloan — who has questioned the national loyalty of Theresa Tam and sponsored a petition that cast doubt on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine — should no longer be allowed to sit with the Conservative caucus. Accusations of 'rigging' election fly In an interview with CBC Radio's The Current this week, Boessenkool suggested he wouldn't want to work with a campaign that only wanted to stoke populist anger and said he's encouraged by the private reaction from Canadian conservatives to what he's had to say. But Boessenkool also stopped short of condemning a recently deleted page from the Conservative party's website that accused the Liberal government of "rigging" the last election. Conservatives levelled such accusations multiple times through 2018 and 2019, but Liberals resurfaced those charges last week after the attack on Capitol Hill. The Conservative party subsequently deleted the page, explaining that the content had become "stale dated" because it pre-dated O'Toole's election as Conservative leader. "Since Liberals were trying to falsely insinuate it was something new and recent, we took it down to prevent that from happening any further," party spokesperson Cory Hann explained via email on Monday. The Conservative claims of "rigging" were based on their objections to changes to the Elections Act proposed by the Liberal government — and both Boessenkool and Hann noted that MPs from other parties, including Liberals, used the term "rig" in 2014 while opposing changes made by the former Conservative government. Thus, perhaps no party has a an indisputable claim to the high ground here. Drawing democratic system into disrepute But all politicians should know that accusing your rival of engineering an unfair election result is among the most serious charges that can be laid and, if the reality of the situation does not actually rise to that level, you can fairly be accused of committing the very dangerous act of unnecessarily bringing the country's democratic system into disrepute. In this moment of reflection, O'Toole might choose to leave other elements of Andrew Scheer's leadership behind too –like the party's opposition to the UN global compact on migration. Under Scheer, the Conservative party joined several far-right parties in opposing the compact, claiming without any basis in reality that the Trudeau government's decision to sign the statement of principles would compromise Canada's ability to control its own borders. Scheer was pilloried for peddling misinformation and entertaining extremist views. But Liberals, obviously now keen to point out anything that might be described as Trumpian, have also challenged O'Toole to account for his own language. As a candidate for the Conservative leadership, he promised to "take back Canada" — though it was never clear who had "taken" Canada, how it had been taken or on whose behalf he aimed to "take" it back. He dropped that phrase after becoming leader, but just before Christmas he adopted the populist theory that Canada can be divided between "somewheres" and "anywheres." Some of O'Toole's colleagues have pushed their rhetoric further. Pierre Poilievre, the party's finance critic, has warned that "global elites" are conspiring to push an agenda that threatens people's freedom. In October, Leslyn Lewis, the former leadership candidate who is now set to run for the Conservatives in the Ontario riding of Haldimand-Norfolk, warned that a "socialist coup" was unfolding in Canada. Federal government must promote unity Conservatives might charge that it is really Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who needs to be more of a unifying figure. Recall, for instance, the Liberal government's clumsily worded attempt to ban anti-abortion groups from using public funds to promote their cause. Significant responsibility for holding this country together — in all its geographic, social and political diversity — will always belong to the federal government. And Liberals should be sensitive to any evidence of social division, be it west versus east, rural versus urban or any other construct. But the other interesting question for Trudeau's Liberals is whether they will have left the major institutions of Canadian democracy better off than when they found them in 2015. Though no amount of parliamentary reform can necessarily prevent a phenomenon like Trump, it stands to reason that healthy and widely respected institutions can at least reduce the cynicism that drives dysfunction. Trudeau's decision to walk away from electoral reform will always figure prominently in this discussion, though it's also possible that Canada's first-past-the-post system provides better protection against extremism. It is, for instance, difficult to win a national majority government in the current system without appealing broadly across racial and ethnic communities. An independent Senate, the significant innovation that Trudeau did go through with, could also prove to be a useful check on any future government. The Liberals made smaller moves to introduce new rules around omnibus legislation and prorogation, but in neither case did they go so far as to significantly curtail a government's ability to abuse such tools — and the Liberals themselves have now made questionable use of both. Those might seem like rather minor issues when compared with the dysfunction of the American legislative system. But any system will suffer when governments and political parties give voters another reason to feel cynical. Underlying everything that has befallen the United States though is a voluminous amount of lying and subterfuge. "Post-truth is pre-fascism, and Trump has been our post-truth president," the historian Timothy Snyder wrote this past weekend. "When we give up on truth, we concede power to those with the wealth and charisma to create spectacle in its place." Beyond partisan politics and parliamentary procedure, the vital importance of truth and fact could frame efforts to address a number of policy and institutional issues, such as further strengthening the independence of Statistics Canada, regulating social-media platforms, finally fixing the woebegotten access-to-information system, increasing the independence of House of Commons committees, and addressing the decline of local media across Canada. It also puts an onus on the remaining mainstream media to be aggressive advocates for truth and substance. As the United States has now amply demonstrated, defeating lies and untruths is frightfully difficult. But nothing about keeping a democracy is ever easy.
The Dutch government is resigning over its response to a child welfare benefits scandal, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday. View on euronews
The way our brains operate may be one of the reasons why misinformation about COVID-19 spreads and comes to be believed, say Sudbury researchers. “Understanding how we think and how our brains process new information is actually part of our tool kit to protect ourselves against misinformation," said Chantal Barriault, the director of the Science Communication Graduate Program at Laurentian University. "Our brains actually like to take mental shortcuts, and we are all like this. “Our human brain wants to make things easy. It’s easier to click, to read just the headline, it’s easier to latch onto something that conforms or fits in to what you already believe or think you believe.” Barriault made the comments as Science North and Laurentian University wrapped up their COVID-19 seminar series this week with a live-stream event that addressed the prevalence of misinformation during the global pandemic. If something is easy, she added, it becomes familiar, then accepted. “If we keep seeing (certain information), even if we’re not consciously consuming it, it becomes familiar, and unfortunately, for our brains, familiar feels true,” she said. Becoming more aware of how our brains take shortcuts is one of the ways we can “inoculate” ourselves against misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Taking the extra step to verify the information we find online is another way to protect ourselves and make sense of what is happening around us. Barriault and other panel members joined Amy Henson, staff scientist at Science North, to discuss how our social circles influence the ways in which we receive, believe, and understand misinformation, how it spreads, and how it can be identified. “Let me ask you a quick question: what colour is COVID-19? I bet what you’re thinking is that COVID-19 is red,” said Dean Millar, interim dean of Science, Engineering, and Architecture at Laurentian University. “We’ve all seen the pictures on TV news, arriving in our social media inboxes, even in brochures at walk-in clinics or in GP surgery – the spiky, red ball. But is COVID-19 really red or is it just someone’s interpretation of the virus’s colour?” Turning to a few of Laurentian’s scientists and researchers, Millar discovered that there is no conclusive answer to that question. The best guess is that the virus is so small that it would not even interact with the wavelengths of light that correspond to colours. “In other words, it would be transparent – not red,” he said. Millar’s question introduced a host of panelists that included Barriault and Timothy Caulfield, Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy at the University of Alberta. The panelists weighed in on conspiracy theories about the pandemic, how to talk to friends and family members about misinformation, the need to empower users of social media to “tease out” what’s real and not real, and learning to pause before sharing information online. “Let’s Talk About COVID-19” is a seminar series that engages local researchers for live discussions about the work they are doing to support the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Science North and Laurentian University have collaborated on the project since May 2020. For more information or to view the most recent episode, visit www.sciencenorth.ca/covidtalks. The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @SudburyStarColleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star
PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Pakistani authorities sacked a local police chief and 11 other policemen for failing to protect a Hindu temple that was set on fire and demolished last month by a mob led by hundreds of supporters of a radical Islamist party, police said Friday. The 12 policemen were fired over “acts of cowardice" and “negligence" for not trying to stop the mob when it attacked the temple, with some having fled the scene. Another 48 policemen were given various punishments following a probe into the attack, the police statement said. The punishments come amid government assurances to the Hindu community that the temple in Karak, a town in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, would be rebuilt. Hours after the Dec. 30 attack, authorities arrested about 100 people on charges of participating or provoking the mob to demolish the temple. The detainees included supporters of the radical Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party, who are currently facing trials on various charges. The attack took place after members of the Hindu community received permission from local authorities to renovate the temple. Although Muslims and Hindus generally live peacefully together in Pakistan, there have been other attacks on Hindu temples in recent years. Most of Pakistan’s minority Hindus migrated to India in 1947 when India was divided by Britain’s government. The Associated Press
The public health authority in York Region, north of Toronto, is reporting three cases of a new and highly contagious coronavirus strain that have no link to international travel, sparking concern that community spread is underway. The strain, known as B117, was first identified in the United Kingdom and led to a rapid surge in cases. Modelling released by the Ontario government this week predicted that community spread of the variant could cause COVID-19 infections to double every 10 days by March. Currently, the doubling time is between 35 and 40 days. "There is evidence of community transmission occurring in York Region," medical officer of health Dr. Karim Kurji told CBC Toronto. 14 confirmed cases in Ontario On Thursday, Ontario reported 14 confirmed cases of the new variant. The number may seem low, given the supercharged transmissibility of the variant, but not many COVID-19 patients are being tested for it. According to guidelines established by Public Health Ontario, only in a small number of circumstances, including those connected to travel, are samples scanned for B117. As a CBC investigation found, the first known cases of the variant in Canada, in a couple from Durham Region, were discovered by fluke. Currently, Public Health Ontario is testing between 500 and 600 samples per week for the variant. Ontario reported 3,326 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday. "We are continually watching for cases … and our lab system is developing specific tests that are utilized for identifying the U.K. variant as soon as possible," Ontario's chief medical officer, Dr. David Williams, said Thursday. Is contact tracing keeping up? The new strain has been proven to spread to others at a much higher rate, but it appears its arrival has not moved Ontario to adopt a new strategy for contact tracing. A spokesperson for Toronto Public Health said that "there are currently no changes that have been made to the case and contact management process based on virus strain type." The statement said Toronto Public Health follows direction from the provincial government for contact tracing protocol. Ontario's Ministry of Health did not respond to questions. Dr. Michael Warner, director of critical care at Toronto's Michael Garron Hospital, said authorities should be doing everything they can to find out more about new strains of the virus. At this point, Warner said it's difficult to determine how severe community spread is based on limited testing. "We're not testing enough people genomically to know how many variants there are," Warner said in an interview. If community spread is under control, Warner said the government could close borders and restrict international travel in order to keep further cases of the new variant from coming into the country.