The federal government is eyeing a comprehensive North American energy strategy as workers reel from cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. The project's presidential permit was rescinded by U.S. President Joe Biden on his first day in office, prompting outrage from Alberta's provincial government. TC Energy, the proponent, had pre-emptively ceased construction of the project. "I was the minister of natural resources when the Obama administration cancelled Keystone XL. So for me, it's Round 2 of deep disappointment," Minister Jim Carr, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's representative for the Prairies, said Monday. "We have to look forward, however, to a continental energy strategy." That North American energy strategy is enticing to Alberta's premier as well, with Jason Kenney suggesting to the prime minister that they approach Washington together to pitch a collaborative approach to North American energy and climate policy. "Canada and the U.S. share a highly integrated energy system, including criss-crossing infrastructure such as pipelines and electricity transmission systems. Our energy and climate goals must be viewed in the context of that integrated system," Kenney wrote. The premier has called the Keystone cancellation an "insult" and a "gut-punch," repeatedly pressing for retaliation against the U.S. and suggesting economic and trade sanctions if the administration is unwilling to engage in conversations about the future of the pipeline. Last year, Kenney invested $1.5 billion in Keystone XL, arguing it would never be completed without the infusion. The pipeline, first announced in 2005, would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude a day from the oilsands in Alberta to Nebraska. The Biden administration has made no indication it intends to consider reinstating the permit. TC Energy has already laid off 1,000 workers in Alberta. A continental energy partnership has been an elusive goal for more than 15 years, with multiple trilateral meetings ending with consensus but often without measurable outcomes. It's been five years since Carr, then the minister of natural resources, hosted his American and Mexican counterparts to discuss the potential of such a partnership. They agreed to collaborate on things like energy technologies, energy efficiency, carbon capture and emissions reduction. While they signed a document stating these shared goals, synergy between the three countries has been slow to develop. In December 2014, a similar meeting ended with a to-do list to move forward on a continental energy strategy, including mapping energy infrastructure and sharing data. That data website hasn't been updated since 2017. In that meeting, then-natural resources minister Greg Rickford was making the pitch to the Obama administration for why Keystone XL should be permitted to live. It was cancelled — for the first time — less than a year later. "We've gone through a period over the last number of years where relations around energy have kind of died a slow death and become more and more narrowly focused around individual projects," said Monica Gattinger, director of the Institute for Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa. "There's tremendous potential between Canada and the United States to collaborate around energy and environmental objectives in the long term." Gattinger said changes in the United States around hydrocarbon and shale have diminished the country's motivation for a broader energy approach. With the national governments in Canada and the U.S. now more closely aligned on climate priorities, she added there's the potential for a breakthrough. "Both countries have vast potential across a whole host of energy resources," she said. "Those are the conversations that we have not been having in North America for a number of years now. And there is a real opportunity to do so at this time." Carr is optimistic, too. "We're hardly starting from scratch, and there will be alignment," he said, alluding to his hope for co-operation between the U.S. and Canada, but also with the Prairie provinces. "There is an awful lot of work to be done and an awful lot of potential."
It's a sight familiar to anyone who's driven into or out of Windsor across the Ambassador Bridge — a woman in a bright red bikini, next to a massive number 4. For decades, Studio 4 has greeted millions of drivers entering Canada or heading to the United States; its risqué sign a distinctive —and for some an unwelcome — landmark. But the sign you can't miss won't be there for much longer. The strip club has been sold. "It hasn't really sunk in yet. I think if they demolish it or something I want to be there," said Peter Barth, who had owned the bar since 1984. Negotiations for the lot at the corner of Huron Church and Tecumseh roads began last year, according to Iyman Meddoui, president of Westdell Development Corporation, which bought the property. Both Brath and Meddoui declined to say how much the site sold for, but land registry documents show it was transferred on Jan 21 for $1,250,000. Plans for something 'completely different' The new owners won't say just yet what's coming to the site — but it won't be a strip club. "Our plans are going to be something completely different," said Meddoui. "We do have an exciting development that's under the planning." The company has applied to demolish the red building covered in signs currently advertising the XXXTASY LOUNGE, he added. "Saying that it was rough is putting it lightly. It looked like there wasn't much investment made there for many years now." Knocking down Studio 4 means the loss of a landmark — for better or worse. It was part of Windsor's exotic dancer heyday in the 1980s, when roughly a dozen strip clubs were operating and the city was dubbed "Tijuana North" by American visitors, said local historian Marty Gervais. "When you drive off the bridge and you see Studio 4 it's part of our Sin City image and people have always talked about it." The history of catering to partiers who streamed across the river dates back to Confederation when the city boasted the "best bawdy houses in North America," he explained. During prohibition, Windsor offered dance halls and a place to get a drink. More recently, it's attracted visitors with fully-nude dancing, Cuban cigars and a legal drinking age of 19. "We were constantly feeding thirsty Americans with what they wanted, which they couldn't get on the Detroit side of the border," said Gervais. Studio 4, and its salacious sign is part of that history. "It's very much a part of Windsor life. It just seems to have always been there," he said. Sign survived councillors and controversy But the sign, much like the club it stands outside, has had to weather controversy. Alan Halberstadt is a former newspaper columnist and city councillor. He remembers his council colleague, Caroline Postma, leading a crusade to "get that half-naked sign down because she felt it was against the city's sensibilities." Halberstadt said he wasn't happy about the sign either, but over time he got used to it. "After a while it becomes … kind of a Windsor insignia or landmark," he said, adding he believes any concerns about damage it may have done to the city's image is "overblown." "There's a lot of politicians and people that would have liked to see that sign come down, but she's stood the test of time," he said with a wry smile. Tussles with councillors and police officers enforcing the no-touching rule are among memories that were top of mind for Brath on Tuesday. He doesn't have any worries about his sign being a bad first impression of Windsor, or Canada for that matter. "We were right in their face, right on the corner," he said. The sign that's so recognizable today was also once a little more risque. "We had to draw on panties and a bra," said the former owner. "Originally, it was showing a little bit more." Strip clubs have been shut down by COVID-19, but even before the pandemic, Brath, who's 80 now, said business wasn't what it once was. Gone are the days of limousines pulling up out front, seven servers working non-stop and a lineup that extended beyond the canopy snaking out the back door. "The first week we were full, full, full," he said. "Lately? Nothing. Adult entertainment in Windsor is dead." Studio 4's new owners are planning to turn the site into a shopping development, he added. A 'fresh new look' coming to sign Meddoui was tight-lipped about his company's plans, saying they're still being developed. Westdell has also purchased an empty lot next to the club, along with the University and Ambassador shopping centres across the street. They're planning to "transform" the intersection over the next couple of years, said Meddoui. As for the sign? He's promising a very different look in the meantime. "You'll see a fresh new look on that sign on an interim basis," he said. "As the building will be removed, the sign will also be rebranded."
COUNTRY HARBOUR – Better now than during the summer is the general reaction from people in the Country Harbour area when it was announced last week (Jan. 20) that the Country Harbour ferry would continue to be out of service – due to mechanical problems – until May, when a new ferry comes into service. The Stormont II served as a link between the communities of Country Harbour and Port Bickerton for more than 40 years and was scheduled for replacement in May; a schedule the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal says is on track. The cable ferry makes 13,000 voyages a year carrying 25,000 passengers and 15,000 vehicles but traffic is greatly reduced over the winter months. Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) Councillor Rickey McLaren, whose district includes Country Harbour, told The Journal that he had not gotten any calls about the disruption to service. If service were stopped in the summer, he expected there might have been more of a reaction. That’s a sentiment shared by the local stores in the Country Harbour area; Smokey Hollow General Store and Rhynold's Gas and Convenience. Paul MacLennan of Smokey Hollow General told The Journal that the temporary closure of the Country Harbour ferry at this time of year made little difference in his business but added if it had happened in the summer, tourism would be affected. At Rhynold’s store there was similar comment, with the exception that one of the part-time employees now has to add 30 minutes’ drive to her commute. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Lloyd Hines, who is also MLA for the Country Harbour area, said in the TIR press release, “This is disappointing news, especially during a year that has already been hard…We had hoped the old ferry would takes us through to the arrival of the brand new ferry. The Stormont II served the community well for more than 40 years, but unfortunately the mechanical issues are significant." The Stormont II has been out of service since November. During the pause in service, a detour has been in place. It runs from Port Bickerton, on Route 211, to Route 7 and then to Melrose Country Harbour Road and onto Route 316. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Halifax regional council will hold public consultations on a request from the province to buy parkland to build a new school. The parkland is located next to Park West, an existing school in Clayton Park West that's overcrowded. Park West was opened in 2000 and was designed for 560 students. There are currently close to 900 students and the school has set up nine portables. "This is a wonderful opportunity," said Coun. Iona Stoddard. "We have a chance to work with our staff and the province to get some badly needed infrastructure." The new school would accommodate 700 pre-primary to Grade 8 students. An existing soccer field would remain, but a wooded area would be affected. Stoddard acknowledged that some residents have concerns about the loss of parkland, bussing and traffic, as well as the safety of pre-primary children in the area. That's why city staff decided community consultations should be done, even though the province does have the ability to exempt itself from such a process. "All that is legally required is notification in the newspaper," said Denise Schofield, executive director of parks and recreation for the city. "But the fact that this is a piece of parkland, we asked, and they agreed to do a true consultation." Provincial officials first showed interest in the site in June 2020 and sent a formal request to city officials in December asking the site selection process be expedited due to enrolment increases. Some councillors wondered if selling the land to the province is the best option and asked about leasing it instead. "We are not taking the lease option off the table," said chief administrative officer Jacques Dube. "There are also ongoing discussions about swapping various parcels of land." Halifax officials were not sure when the public consultations will take place. MORE TOP STORIES
ST. MARY’S – A tiny dirt road near Sonora – a mere afterthought for any mapmaker – has suddenly become an important topic for local decision-makers. In December, the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s issued a formal expression of interest in acquiring a tiny strip of surplus land – once an access road to the St. Mary’s River – after receiving a memo from the Real Property Services Acquisition and Disposal division of the provincial Department of Transportation and Renewal. Last week, elected officials heard that the province had withdrawn its offer pending examination of an expression of interest by another government department. What’s more, a local developer has also come forward, inquiring about the land’s availability. At council’s Jan. 20 committee of the whole meeting, Warden Greg Wier wondered whether council should step back. “I think if a land developer would like it and it would help build a couple of homes and give us some tax revenues, I think it would be a good idea to let them have it,” he told his fellow councillors.” Deputy Warden James Fuller added, “It may be good for the tax base, [but] I think we should just wait and see. We may be out of the running anyway. And, if we are, let’s just see what the developer is developing.” Councillor Everett Baker agreed: “There’s not much we can do right now anyway.” The Nov. 18 letter from the province stated: “We are informing you that the land … identified as PID 35231786 on Property Online, Old Ferry Road/Gegogan Ferry Road, at St. Mary’s River, Guysborough County… is surplus to the needs of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. Please advise if you have any interest in acquiring the property.” Last month, the municipality’s Director of Finance Marian Fraser explained: “Any time the province has land it no longer has a need for, it always sends out a notice to the adjoining municipalities and any other levels of government to see if there is interest. In this case, council did express their interest and put in a formal notice to acquire it.” The most recent Surplus Crown Property Disposal Report shows that the province earned nearly $161,000 on the disposal of 31 pieces of real property to private and public sector interests during the fiscal year ending March 20, 2020. Of these, the Crown conveyed surplus land only once to a municipality – the County of Shelburne – for $1. Chief Administrative Officer Marvin MacDonald told The Journal: “It’s always good for the municipality to have land, especially if there’s water access. It could be used in conjunction with development. So, if there is a piece of development that would increase our tax base, we might eye it for development.” Council has directed municipal staff to inform the private interest that the decision is still with the provincial government. Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday warning of the lingering potential for violence from people motivated by antigovernment sentiment after President Joe Biden's election, suggesting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol may embolden extremists and set the stage for additional attacks. The department did not cite any specific plots, but pointed to “a heightened threat environment across the United States” that it believes “will persist” for weeks after Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration. It is not uncommon for the federal government to warn local law enforcement through bulletins about the prospect for violence tied to a particular event or date, such as July 4. But this particular bulletin, issued through the department’s National Terrorism Advisory System, is notable because it effectively places the Biden administration into the politically charged debate over how to describe or characterize acts motivated by political ideology, and suggests it regards violence like the kind that overwhelmed the Capitol as akin to terrorism. The bulletin is an indication that national security officials see a connective thread between different episodes of violence in the last year motivated by anti-government grievances, including over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results and police use of force. The document singles out crimes motivated by racial or ethnic hatred, such as the 2019 rampage targeting Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, as well as the threat posed by extremists motivated by foreign terror groups. A DHS statement that accompanied the bulletin noted the potential for violence from “a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors.” “Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the bulletin said. The alert comes at a tense time following the riot at the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump seeking to overturn the presidential election. Authorities are concerned that extremists may attack other symbols of government or people whose political views they oppose. “The domestic terrorism attack on our Capitol earlier this month shined a light on a threat that has been right in front of our faces for years,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “I am glad to see that DHS fully recognizes the threat posed by violent, right-wing extremists and is taking efforts to communicate that threat to the American people.” The alert was issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske. Biden’s nominee for the Cabinet post, Alejandro Mayorkas, has not been confirmed by the Senate. Two former homeland security secretaries, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano, called on the Senate to confirm Mayorkas so he can start working with the FBI and other agencies and deal with the threat posed by domestic extremists, among other issues. Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, said attacks by far-right, domestic extremists are not new but that deaths attributed to them in recent years in the U.S. have exceeded those linked to jihadists such as al-Qaida. “We have to be candid and face what the real risk is,” he said in a conference call with reporters. Federal authorities have charged more than 150 people in the Capitol siege, including some with links to right-wing extremist groups such as the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers. The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against 43-year Ian Rogers, a California man found with five pipe bombs during a search of his business this month who had a sticker associated with the Three Percenters on his vehicle. His lawyer told his hometown newspaper, The Napa Valley Register, that he is a “very well-respected small business owner, father, and family man” who does not belong to any violent organizations. Ben Fox And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
GUYSBOROUGH – Three times wasn’t the charm, so the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) invited representatives from ambulance provider Emergency Health Services (EHS) – Derek LeBlanc and Phil Stewart – to council, once again, to answer questions about the provision of service in the area. And, once again, council was disappointed. The EHS representatives joined council by video link at its regular meeting on Jan. 20. They answered questions from Warden Vernon Pitts, CAO Barry Carroll and councillors for almost an hour, but they failed to satisfy the concerns council has about lack of service and long wait times for ambulance transfers between hospital facilities. These issues are, in part, due to staffing shortages. The EHS representatives noted that the company, like any health care service in the province, has had difficulty attracting employees. A full-time job was posted for Canso three times and couldn’t be filled, said Stewart. Councillor Desmond asked if there was a minimum or maximum response time for EHS service. Warden Pitts reiterated that question and was told by Stewart that the complexities pertaining to the question didn’t allow him to provide the answers they were looking for. After council adjourned, Pitts told media present, “In regard to medical first response by EHS what really blew me away, as the warden, was there are no expected minimum or maximum response times within our municipally and to me, that is totally unacceptable … We should be given a minimum time – if your live in a city or whatever, I expect a minimum time in regard to response; same as the fire department or police. If you don’t have a minimum response time what are you measuring it by – this is totally unacceptable. “What it comes right down to is we’re playing Russian roulette and the gun is going to go off one of these times, if it hasn’t already gone off, and it has lately. We want a minimum level of service within MODG and surrounding areas – that’s not too much to ask for,” said Pitts. ‘Unacceptable’ continued to be the theme of the council meeting, with MODG receiving a response from the Department of Environment stating that a freedom of information request would need to be filed in order for the municipality to gain access to information regarding Irving Oil’s plans for a contaminated lot on Main Street in Guysborough. “That’s the only way they will release that information to us,” said Pitts, “And that is also totally unacceptable. “My understanding is that Irving has submitted a plan; now I haven’t got this from a legal source, but my understanding is that Irving has submitted a plan. It’s waiting approval from the province. Apparently, there are two avenues that this can go down. I don’t know exactly what those avenues are, but we just want to be made aware of what the plan is now; that we can have some input into it as a municipal unit as well as the residents. This is not acceptable. This is Main Street in Guysborough and this is impacting people’s lives and property values,” said Pitts. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
The European Union failed to make a breakthrough in crisis talks with AstraZeneca on Wednesday and demanded the drugmaker spell out how it would supply the bloc with reserved doses of COVID-19 vaccine from plants in Europe and Britain. The EU is making more comprehensive checks on vaccines before approval, which means a slower rollout of shots than former EU member Britain and growing public frustration. The issue has been exacerbated by Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca and Pfizer of the United States both announcing delivery hold-ups in recent weeks.
A Cree pilot says he was honoured to be the person who delivered vaccines to some Cree communities in northern Quebec. Air Creebec pilot Willard Petagumskum flew vaccines to all of the coastal Cree communities in Quebec on Jan. 16. It marked the start of a regional vaccination campaign across Cree territory and an important step in the Cree fight against COVID-19. "I was happy that we would be transporting the vaccine. Because with everything we have been going through with this pandemic ... that it would help our people," said Petagumskum in Cree. As of Tuesday, there were 86 positive COVID-19 cases tied to an outbreak at the start of the new year in the region. Two Cree communities — Mistissini and Oujé-Bougoumou — have been hit particularly hard. There are 52 positive cases in Mistissini and 28 in Oujé-Bougoumou, according to the latest numbers from Cree public health. I was happy that we would be transporting the vaccine. - Willard Petagumskum, Air Creebec pilot For Petagumskum, who is from Whapmagoostui, the vaccine is an important way to protect vulnerable people in Cree communities. "There is a vaccine for [COVID-19] to help many ... elders and all our people," said Petagumskum. So far in the vaccination campaign, more than 8,200 people have received the vaccine that Petagumskum delivered, according to health officials. "I'm glad to be a part of this with the nurses and doctors, they do a lot to help our people. The small part of me being able to help out with this, that made me happy." The vaccine delivery happened in the middle of a snowstorm on Jan. 16, but after 30 years as pilot, Petagumskum took it in stride. "When I woke up Saturday morning to get ready for work, I noticed it was snowing a lot. There was a snowstorm in Montreal." Petagumskum needed to have a negative COVID-19 test before he could make the flight. He said he will get the vaccine himself as soon as he's able. 'I want people to look after themselves even after you receive your shot of this vaccine. You still have to be careful," he said. WATCH | Resident Fred Tomatuk watches the flight carrying the vaccine land in Eastmain, Que.:
Lying is something we all do, and we start at a very early age. Research has found that children as young as two tell lies; by the age of seven, we have the art of lying pretty much mastered. There are many reasons for lying, but often it's something we do to contain the damage that unfiltered honesty might unleash. And there are different types of lies: from outright fabrication, to altering some of the facts or to simply leaving out some information. There's a reason why we pledge to "tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," in court — that's the only way to get the full and honest story. Contact tracing When it comes to controlling the spread of infectious disease, getting the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth is vital. Contact tracers depend on accuracy, details and the completeness of information as they try to recreate the past two weeks of someone's life if they're carrying the novel coronavirus. That includes getting a full list of people who were within six feet of contact for five minutes with the person who is infectious. Those people, the ones who have been inside that personal bubble, are at greatest risk of getting infected themselves so contact tracers make every effort to identify and alert them. Any gap in information can be a potential escape route for the virus. Withholding information What happens when someone lies? The consequences of lying are significant, as set out in the Health Protection Act and the Emergency Management Act in Nova Scotia. Communicable disease control is serious business, and the medical officer of health as well as public health inspectors have far-reaching powers if a person is deemed to be putting public health at risk. Fines, into the thousands of dollars, mandatory quarantine at a special facility, involuntary medical treatment and even a prison term are possibilities if you break the rules. But, in all honesty, no one in government wants to use those penalties. They are expensive to enforce, make enforcement officials look bad and are really just a last resort when people refuse to "do the right thing." If fines are imposed, they're often accompanied by great publicity in order to deter others — and to demonstrate how serious a breach of trust can be. By the end of 2020, more than 600 Nova Scotians were fined for breaching pandemic rules, like gathering limits or self-isolation. No one had been jailed and it is unlikely that anyone will be in the future. Contact tracing to control the spread of communicable disease is nothing new; in fact, it's one of the oldest public health tools we've got. In recent history, it's been used to track the spread of tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases, head lice and HIV/AIDS, so the techniques for collecting information are well established. So, too, however, is the stigma associated with having a disease that's being contained — and the likelihood of public shaming that may go with it. Stigma and shaming often happen when there is something we fear or don't understand. Mental illness and addiction are examples that quickly come to mind. Fostering honesty Think back to what happened with trying to trace HIV/AIDS, when stigma and shaming prevented people from disclosing what was considered high-risk behaviours to doctor. It made those people less likely to get tested, even if they thought they had a disease, and made them feel unsafe sharing their exposure with close friends and family. People wanted to protect themselves from being judged, even by their loved ones. Does this sound familiar? It should: it's exactly what we saw at the beginning of the pandemic — and continue to see throughout it. 'To keep everyone healthy, we need to create a safe environment for open disclosure that's met with compassion and support.' - Mary Jane Hampton, health-care consultant Shaming didn't deter risky behaviour in the past. Instead, it deterred disclosure, and we've spent the last 40 years repairing the damage created by stigmatization. We're still working to build that trust, on both sides. A study done last summer at Brock University in Ontario found that that at least one-third of the respondents with COVID-19 lied about having symptoms, and also about the degree that they physically distanced from others. About a quarter of respondents said they lied about how closely they were following health protocols, while those with COVID-19 were even more likely to lie about it. People who hid symptoms said they were afraid of stigma and social judgment, even more so if they had broken public health rules. In short, shaming people and creating a stigma results in less reliable public health data — and that's bad for all of us. Listen to the interview To get the truth, we need to create the conditions for it, but we often do just the opposite. When people hear about a COVID case, their first response is usually to speculate about what bad choices the person must have made to contract it — "Did they travel? Attend a party? Break a rule?" That's quickly followed by blame and the person testing positive with COVID can be set adrift in a sea of guilt. To keep everyone healthy, we need to create a safe environment for open disclosure that's met with compassion and support. We still have a long road before enough people are vaccinated to put the virus behind us and, until then, contact tracing will be one of our best defences. Open disclosure protects everyone and potentially saves lives. This virus is a great equalizer. While some people are at higher risk of getting sick and dying from COVID-19, as humans we all share the same means of spreading and contracting it: we breathe. And there is no shame in that.
MOSCOW — The lower house of Russian parliament on Wednesday approved the extension of the last remaining nuclear arms control pact days before it’s due to expire. The State Duma voted unanimously to extend the New START treaty for five years. The vote came a day after a phone call between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which they voiced satisfaction with the exchange of diplomatic notes about extending the New START treaty. They agreed to complete the necessary procedures in the next few days, according to the Kremlin. The pact’s extension doesn’t require congressional approval in the U.S., but Russian lawmakers must ratify the move. Top members of the Kremlin-controlled parliament said they would fast-track the issue and complete the necessary steps to extend the treaty this week. The Associated Press
The share spikes in GameStop and others including BlackBerry Ltd, headphone maker Koss Corp and Nokia Oyj, have sent short-sellers scrambling to cover losing bets, while raising questions about potential regulatory clampdowns. The top securities regulator in Massachusetts thinks trading in GameStop stock, which has jumped to $148 a share from $19.95 since Jan. 12, suggests there is something "systemically wrong" with the options trading surrounding the stock, Barron's reported on Tuesday. GameStop, BlackBerry and Nokia were among the most heavily traded U.S. stocks before the bell, with analysts putting the moves partly down to herds of amateur investors chasing tips from Reddit discussion threads or the private Facebook group "Robin Hood's Stock Market Watchlist".
BERLIN — A German state governor has apologized for referring to Chancellor Angela Merkel as “little Merkel” during a recent online event, saying he had unintentionally displayed macho behaviour. Bodo Ramelow, who governs the state of Thuringia, told German weekly Die Zeit that he greatly regretted using the term “Merkelchen” while talking chatting with other politicians and the public on the social networking app Clubhouse. Die Zeit on Wednesday quoted Ramelow saying that he should have used the diminutive form in reference to male politicians. “Instead, I spoke about a woman. That was dumb and appeared disrespectful,” he said. Ramelow, a member of the Left Party, said he had since apologized personally to Merkel. The 64-year-old has also faced criticism for playing the game “Candy Crush” during lengthy video meetings with Merkel and other governors to discuss the coronavirus pandemic. He defended playing games on his smartphone, saying he only did so during lulls in the meeting when others were replying to emails or going outside to smoke. The Associated Press
Most countries in Europe now require people to wear facemasks on public transport and in shops. In Germany, new rules allow only medical masks to be worn on public transport and supermarkets. Euronews has visited one small factory in the German capital that is ramping up its production.View on euronews
BERLIN — A German woman has been charged with preparing a far-right attack and other crimes on allegations she was in the process of building a bomb to target Muslims and local politicians in Bavaria, Munich prosecutors said Wednesday. Susanne G., whose last name wasn't given in line with privacy laws, also faces charges of making threats and violations of weapons laws, among other things. She has been in custody since her arrest. Prosecutors allege that the woman started planning a firebombing attack no later than May 2020, motivated by her xenophobic and extreme-right views. She is alleged to have downloaded information on bomb building online and have gathered materials for the construction, including gasoline, fireworks and fuses, by the time of her arrest in September. Between December 2019 and March 2020 the suspect is alleged to have sent six anonymous letters, five including a live bullet, with death threats to a local politician in the Nuremberg area, a Muslim community association, and an asylum seeker aid organization. During the summer of 2020, she started focusing on local police officers and a different local politician than the one threatened by letter as other possible targets, and began scouting their homes and cars. The Associated Press
RCMP in Alberta are investigating Yellowknife RCMP officers and their role in an alleged incident that took place in cells in October 2020. The incident in question revolves around the arrest of a 25-year-old Whatı̀ woman, Tracella Romie. According to court documents, employees of a Yellowknife liquor store called RCMP on the evening of Oct. 14, 2020, after Romie reportedly assaulted workers there. Romie was arrested a short while later and charged with two counts of assault and one count of mischief. In an interview with CBC, Romie says she was put in the back of an RCMP vehicle by two officers and brought to the Yellowknife detachment, where two other officers also detained her. Romie says she was intoxicated and remembers very little of that night. She says she does remember spitting up blood and officers pulling her handcuffed hands high in the air in a painful manner. "I don't really remember much. I remember being in the cells for like 14 hours, maybe 16," Romie says. She says after she was released from cells she went to a friend's house and found bruises on her back, shoulders and wrists. "I knew I had been mistreated that night." Use of force investigation Romie says she thought about making a complaint against the RCMP, but ultimately changed her mind. More than a month after the arrest, Romie says she received a call from two RCMP officers in Alberta who said they were investigating what happened that night. Romie says the investigators told her that a Yellowknife officer who had witnessed her detainment in cells had made a complaint about their colleagues' excessive use of force. Emails Romie provided to CBC show that two investigators from the RCMP's Maskwacis detachment in central Alberta flew to Yellowknife the first week of December to interview her. I'm trying to stand up for those people that never really had a voice when they were mistreated. - Tracella Romie Maskwacis RCMP deferred CBC's questions to the Yellowknife detachment. Yellowknife RCMP refused to say how the alleged incident came to their attention. They also refused to provide CBC News with an arrest report or video footage from the night in question. "As this is an ongoing investigation, we will not be able to provide either of the items you requested, nor comment on how the incident that is part of the investigation was reported," N.W.T. RCMP spokesperson Marie York-Condon wrote in an email. If indeed it was an RCMP officer who came forward, Romie says she's grateful to them. "If it wasn't [for that officer] all of this investigation would not have been brought to attention," she said. "I'm trying to stand up for those people that never really had a voice when they were mistreated." Neither the Yellowknife or Maskwacis RCMP would comment on when the investigation is expected to be finished. Romie is being represented by a lawyer with legal aid services in relation to the charges, which are still working their way through the courts.
GUYSBOROUGH – When the Citizens Supporting Community Health Care group in Guysborough asked to take part in the consultation process on the state of health care in the area, they were expecting more involvement before the report was submitted to the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA). At a Jan. 19 meeting, the group met with health care consultant Mary Jane Hampton – via Zoom – and was told that the report had already been presented to the NSHA and the minister for review. Paul Long, who has been active in the citizens’ group since it formed last August, told The Journal on Friday (Jan. 22) that the group was surprised to learn the report had already been submitted. “I guess we thought that was a little bit backwards to do it that way but that is the way she has gone about it, so we agreed to be as cooperative as possible and review what she has come up with.” As Long understands the situation, once the report has approval from the NSHA and the minister, it will be brought to the community for comment and adjustments. “To be fair,” said Long, “we’ll reserve our judgement on things until we see it. It just didn’t seem like a real process of consultation. My understanding, most of the consultation was done within the health authority’s parameters and really wasn’t as extensive in the community as some people would have liked to have seen.” During the meeting, Hampton reportedly said that she thought the people in the area would be pleased with the report and that there was no recommendation to close the hospitals in Guysborough and Canso. Long said, “There is no indication of what the hospitals would look like, what the services would be, but it wouldn’t be a recommendation for closure. That part is a positive. But we’ll wait and see what the structure is going to look like.” More information should be forthcoming this week and Long said, “I think the idea is that once it is presented (to the citizens’ group), it will be out there for public consumption – for people to look at and make their opinions known.… If it is not something that is palpable to the community then certainly the municipality will have something to say about it and surely the individual citizens will let their feelings be known.” Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
ST. MARY’S – On the subject of feelings, elected officials of the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s got down to business last week. After less than five minutes of deliberation, the Jan. 20 committee of the whole meeting voted to send “whoever is available” on council to a think tank on social wellbeing tentatively scheduled to take place in Guysborough next month. The summit is the brainchild of Engage Nova Scotia, a Halifax-based non-governmental organization responsible for “An Exploration of Wellbeing in Nova Scotia: A summary of Results from the Nova Scotia Quality of Life Survey” released a year ago. “The question to this council [from Engage NS] is whether [you’d] like to participate in this event next month,” Chief Administrative Officer Marvin MacDonald told councillors, adding that the meeting is intended to be a “joint session” also involving council representatives from the Town of Mulgrave, Municipality of the District of Guysborough and the Municipality of the County of Antigonish. “It seems to me a good opportunity to hear what the other councils are talking about,” he said. “It seems to me [it is] a good thing to participate in.” Based on the responses of 861 residents from Antigonish and Guysborough counties, the survey appears to show that people here are among the happiest and well-adjusted in the province. Of the 10 regions designated, Antigonish-Guysborough ranked number one on the ‘satisfaction with life in general’ scale, with 45.7 per cent of respondents declaring that they were ‘very satisfied’. Area residents scored second place (behind Southwest Nova) on satisfaction with government responsiveness; second (behind Lunenburg-Queens) on satisfaction with their financial situations; and second (behind Annapolis Valley-Hants) on the environmental quality of their neighborhoods. In the report’s introduction, Engage Nova Scotia says “this set of results deepens our understanding of how Nova Scotia is doing. It is the result of 12,000 [people] participating in a 23-question survey in May and June 2019. It represents the largest data set of its kind in Canada.” Following the meeting, MacDonald said, “There may be some opportunities of joint interest [with other municipalities] going forward. The joint session among the councils is to just talk about what the survey results were for our districts and talk about possibilities for moving forward with that. That’s a good starting point if people are already happy.” Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
ST. MARY’S – Voters let their fingers do the walking at a special election earlier this month, pushing participation rates to the highest level ever recorded in the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s, according to Chief Administrative Officer Marvin MacDonald. “It is an exceptionally high turnout rate; one that I don’t think we have ever seen before here,” he said of 73.4 per cent voter participation during the race for the District 8 council seat (Port Bickerton, Harpellville and area), which culminated on Jan. 16. He added that of 278 eligible voters, 121 cast their ballots online, while another 83 used their telephones. Seventy-four did not participate. Noting that council had limited the special election to voting by telephone and Internet only, he said: “The use of online technology is increasing. But no matter where you go in the province, this is a high participation rate.” Indeed, Elections Nova Scotia’s official results of the 2017 provincial election (the most recent available) show that the average turnout at St. Mary’s four polling stations during that ballot was 46.25 per cent (Greenfield Oyster Club in Melrose, 46 per cent; St. Luke’s Parish Hall in Liscomb, 46.9 per cent; Sherbrooke municipal office, 44.9 per cent; and the Port Bickerton Community Centre, 47.2 per per cent). The mobile polls arranged for residents of High-Crest Sherbrooke Home for Special Care and Sherbrooke/Harbour View Lodge in that election registered substantially higher turnouts of 65.5 per cent, suggesting that easy access to ballot boxes played a role in those results. MacDonald, who has administered several provincial and local elections in St. Mary’s over the years, cited several possible factors for this month’s robust public interest. “For one thing, it [District 8 special election] came so soon after the general municipal election in October. To have that particular district go back to the polls so soon probably drew more attention to issues. People were already ready to participate.” Specifically, he said, the near-term prospect of an international whale sanctuary in Port Hilford, and the long-term uncertainty over Atlantic Gold’s plans for an open pit mine upriver from Sherbrooke, seemed to resonate with voters. Last week, James Harpell – who won by a margin of 158 to 46 against his rival James Bingley in District 8 – told The Journal that whales and gold were the top two topics of doorstep conversation as he canvassed the constituency for votes. “A lot of people were really excited about the beluga whales coming. The first thing they wanted to know was what I thought about it,” he said. “The second thing they wanted to talk about was the gold mine. It was a hot topic. People were on board with the idea of not being left in the wake of an open pit mine that might harm the environment in the future.” Beyond this, MacDonald thinks online platforms are facilitating the act of voting. “In some places, like HRM, the argument has been that turnout hasn’t been affected by the electronic voting option. Maybe that’s because it has been really new,” he said. “But now people are more inclined to use the computer for more things. They do more online banking and shopping. If you are used to using computers already, the platforms to vote are a lot easier.” The Nova Scotia Internet Funding Trust and other levels of government and the private sector are part way through a $263 million program to bring high-speed internet to 97 per cent of the province’s rural areas, such as St. Mary’s, by 2022. Said MacDonald: “I do think that election turnouts in the future will be higher because of electronic voting.” Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
76 years ago, the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in occupied Poland was liberated. The day is commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This year, pandemic restrictions in Germany mean the anniversary is being mostly marked virtually. View on euronews