"As a doctor, I see a lot of very distressed people coming into my office," he said. "The way the government and politicians talk about the virus is making people anxious and that's a big problem."
"As a doctor, I see a lot of very distressed people coming into my office," he said. "The way the government and politicians talk about the virus is making people anxious and that's a big problem."
For two Virginia police officers who posed for a photo during the deadly U.S. Capitol insurrection, the reckoning has been swift and public: They were identified, charged with crimes and arrested. But for five Seattle officers the outcome is less clear. Their identities still secret, two are on leave and three continue to work while a police watchdog investigates whether their actions in the nation's capital on Jan. 6 crossed the line from protected political speech to lawbreaking. The contrasting cases highlight the dilemma faced by police departments nationwide as they review the behaviour of dozens of officers who were in Washington the day of the riot by supporters of President Donald Trump. Officials and experts agree that officers who were involved in the melee should be fired and charged for their role. But what about those officers who attended only the Trump rally before the riot? How does a department balance an officer's free speech rights with the blow to public trust that comes from the attendance of law enforcement at an event with far-right militants and white nationalists who went on to assault the seat of American democracy? An Associated Press survey of law enforcement agencies nationwide found that at least 31 officers in 12 states are being scrutinized by their supervisors for their behaviour in the District of Columbia or face criminal charges for participating in the riot. Officials are looking into whether the officers violated any laws or policies or participated in the violence while in Washington. A Capitol Police officer died after he was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher as rioters descended on the building and many other officers were injured. A woman was shot to death by Capitol Police and three other people died after medical emergencies during the chaos. Most of the officers have not been publicly identified; only a few have been charged. Some were identified by online sleuths. Others were reported by their colleagues or turned themselves in. They come from some of the country’s largest cities — three Los Angeles officers and a sheriff’s deputy, for instance — as well as state agencies and a Pennsylvania police department with nine officers. Among them are an Oklahoma sheriff and New Hampshire police chief who have acknowledged being at the rally, but denied entering the Capitol or breaking the law. “If they were off-duty, it’s totally free speech,” said Will Aitchison, a lawyer in Portland, Oregon, who represents law enforcement officers. “People have the right to express their political views regardless of who’s standing next to them. You just don’t get guilt by association.” But Ayesha Bell Hardaway, a professor at Case Western Reserve University law school, said an officer’s presence at the rally creates a credibility issue as law enforcement agencies work to repair community trust, especially after last summer's of protests against police brutality sparked by the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Communities will question the integrity of officers who attended the rally along with “individuals who proudly profess racist and divisive viewpoints,” she said. “It calls into question whether those officers are interested in engaging in policing in a way that builds trust and legitimacy in all communities, including communities of colour.” In Rocky Mount, a Virginia town of about 1,000, Sgt. Thomas Robertson and Officer Jacob Fracker were suspended without pay and face criminal charges after posting a photo of themselves inside the Capitol during the riot. According to court records, Robertson wrote on social media that the “Left are just mad because we actually attacked the government who is the problem … The right IN ONE DAY took the f(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk) U.S. Capitol. Keep poking us.” Attempts to contact the pair were unsuccessful and court records do not list lawyers. Leaders in Rocky Mount declined to be interviewed. In a statement, they said the events at the Capitol were tragic. “We stand with and add our support to those who have denounced the violence and illegal activity that took place that day,” said Police Chief Ken Criner, Capt. Mark Lovern and Town Manager James Ervin. “Our town and our police department absolutely does not condone illegal or unethical behaviour by anyone, including our officers and staff.” On the other side of the county, five Seattle officers are under investigation by the city’s Office of Police Accountability. Two officers posted photos of themselves on social media while in the district and officials are investigating to determine where they were and what they were doing. Three others told supervisors that they went to Washington for the events and are being investigated for what they did while there. Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz said his department supports officers’ freedom of speech and that those who were in the nation's capital will be fired if they “were directly involved in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.” But police leaders need to evaluate more than just clear criminal behaviour, according to Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a policing research and policy group. They must also consider how their actions affect the department credibility, he said. Officers' First Amendment rights “don’t extend to expressing words that may be violent or maybe express some prejudice,” Wexler said, “because that’s going to reflect on what they do when they’re working, when they’re testifying in court.” Through the summer and fall, Seattle police — along with officers elsewhere — came under criticism for their handling of mass protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd. The city received more than 19,000 complaints against officers, most for excessive use of force and improper use of pepper spray. Andrew Myerberg, director of the Seattle Office of Police Accountability, said none of the officers now under investigation were involved in those cases. But Sakara Remmu, cofounder of Black Lives Matter Seattle/King County, said the officers should be fired regardless. Their public declarations of solidarity with Trump fosters not just community distrust, but terror of the entire department, she said. “It absolutely does matter when the decorum of racial peace cracks and racial hatred comes through, because we already have a documented history and legacy of what that means in this country,” Remmu said. In Houston, the police chief decried an officer who resigned and was later charged in the riot. A lawyer for Officer Tam Pham said the 18-year veteran of the force "very much regrets” being at the rally and was “deeply remorseful.” But many chiefs have said their officers committed no crimes. “The Arkansas State Police respects the rights and freedom of an employee to use their leave time as the employee may choose,” department spokesman Bill Sadler said of two officers who attended the Trump rally. Malik Aziz, the former chair and executive director of the National Black Police Association, compared condemning all officers who were in Washington to tarring all the protesters who took to streets after the killing of George Floyd with the violent and destructive acts of some. A major with the Dallas Police Department, Aziz said police acting privately have the same rights as other Americans, but that knowingly going to a bigoted event should be disqualifying for an officer. “There’s no place in law enforcement for that individual,” Aziz said. Martha Bellisle And Jake Bleiberg, The Associated Press
Saskatchewan's premier says the fight over the Keystone XL pipeline isn't over yet. In a recent interview with CBC's Rosemary Barton, Premier Scott Moe says conversations around the TC Energy project are ongoing, despite U.S. President Joe Biden's recent cancellation of the pipeline's permit by executive order. "I wouldn't say this project is over by any stretch. There is a lot of conversation to have on KXL," Moe said in an interview on Rosemary Barton Live. The 1,897-kilometre pipeline would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude oil daily from oilsands in Hardisty, Alta., to Nebraska, connecting to the original Keystone pipeline running to the U.S. Gulf Coast refineries. A portion of the project would have crossed into southern Saskatchewan. Moe, along with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Ontario Premier Doug Ford, has pushed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal government to take action against the pipeline's halt. That could include economic sanctions, Moe suggested — a possibility also raised by Kenney. "I haven't said that we should go to sanctions and sanctions should be utilized first," Moe said in his interview with Barton. "But sanctions are always on the table in any conversation or any challenge that we may have with our trading relationship with our largest partner." The project, originally blocked by U.S. President Barack Obama, was then approved by President Donald Trump, who wanted to negotiate the terms of the project, before ultimately being blocked again by Biden in the first days of his presidency. Federal Opposition leader Erin O'Toole has also expressed frustration over the cancellation of the project, saying in a statement it "will devastate thousands of Canadian families who have already been badly hurt by the economic crisis." Trudeau's government has repeatedly said that it supports the project and has made that clear to the new U.S. administration, but both the prime minister and Canada's ambassador to the U.S. have said it is time to respect the decision and move on. Speaking on Friday morning, Trudeau reiterated his disappointment with the cancellation and said he would raise the issue during his phone call with Biden scheduled for later in the day. "Obviously the decision on Keystone XL is a very difficult one for workers in Alberta and Saskatchewan who've had many difficult hits," he said. "Over the past years we have been there for them and we will continue to be there for them and I will express my concern for jobs and livelihoods in Canada, particularly in the West, directly in my conversation with President Biden." Trudeau stressed he and the new president are on the same wavelength on fighting climate change and middle-class job creation, as well as the "values of Canadians." Moe called the cancellation a "devastating blow to North American energy security," and said in the interview with Barton he'll continue to advocate for the pipeline, which he says has both economic and environmental benefits for Canada.
ATLANTA — Six months after his death, the late civil rights leader and longtime Georgia congressman John Lewis will retain a palpable influence in Congress: The state’s two new Democratic U.S. senators — both personal friends and admirers — promise to carry on his legacy. Sen. Raphael Warnock was Lewis’ pastor and stood at his bedside before Lewis died. Sen. Jon Ossoff, the Senate’s youngest current member, served as an intern in Lewis’ Washington office years ago. Both were sworn into office Wednesday. Their victories have already brought about significant change. Warnock is Georgia’s first Black senator, and Ossoff is the first Jewish senator from the state. Together, their election victories swung control of the Senate to Democrats. Stacey Abrams, a Democrat who narrowly lost the nationally watched race for Georgia governor in 2018, said in a statement to The Associated Press that Warnock and Ossoff represent Lewis’ legacy in the Senate “as champions of civil rights, human rights and voting rights." “Congressman Lewis is irreplaceable,” Abrams wrote. "However, Georgians gave America the opportunity to pass sweeping reforms that will strengthen our democracy and commemorate his fight for all.” Both of the newly minted senators have pledged to pursue legislation to expand and protect voting rights, a cause that Lewis championed for most of his life. Democrats and their supporters are hopeful that their newfound control of the White House and Congress could mean voting protections previously stalled by a GOP-led Senate could receive quick passage. Chief among those is a bill passed by the House in 2019 that has since been renamed after Lewis. It seeks to restore portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013. The ruling in Shelby County v. Holder ended a requirement that jurisdictions with a history of discriminatory voting practices receive preclearance from the federal government for any changes to voting procedures. Democrats and voting rights groups argue that the ruling has led to a cascade of changes in many states that have disenfranchised voters, including polling place closures. In a news conference Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi identified the legislation as a top priority and said she was optimistic about its prospects. That said, the Senate could have its hands full with the impending impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, as well as consideration of appointments by President Joe Biden and his early legislative proposals, including a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan. Lewis died in July at the age of 80 after battling pancreatic cancer. He served in the House for 33 years representing Georgia’s 5th Congressional District, which includes most of Atlanta. Lewis became a key player in the civil rights movement as a young man in the 1960s. He helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, was among the original Freedom Riders who challenged segregated bus terminals in the South, and was the youngest person to speak at the March on Washington in 1963. Most associated with the pursuit to secure and protect voting rights, Lewis led protesters in the 1965 Bloody Sunday march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where he had his skull fractured by police, and was a driving force behind voting rights laws in the U.S. for decades. Lewis was a parishioner of Warnock's for years at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. preached and Warnock remains pastor. Warnock was called to Lewis' bedside days before his death and presided over his funeral service. “Today the world lost a giant. I lost a mentor, a church member and a friend," Warnock said in a tweet shortly after Lewis' death. “In his youth, John Lewis wrestled with a call to ministry. But instead of preaching sermons, he became a sermon for all the world to see.” Ossoff first met Lewis when, as a teenager, he was inspired by Lewis' book “Walking With the Wind” and wrote him a letter. “I was so inspired by how a person so young had taken a leadership role in the pursuit of justice and confronting the abuse of power, and was just in awe of his life,” Ossoff said in an interview with The Associated Press in December. Lewis wrote back and invited Ossoff to come work in his office for a few months, spawning a yearslong relationship between the two. Lewis' early endorsement of Ossoff helped him defeat a challenger with far more experience in elected office to clinch the Democratic nomination for Senate. Warnock and Ossoff defeated Republican incumbents Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who both ran on fealty to Trump, in a runoff election on Jan. 5. They are the first Democrats to win a U.S. Senate election in Georgia since 2000. On the night of the election, as the Democrats’ leads became clear, members of Congress who worked alongside Lewis paid tribute to the late congressman, saying he laid the groundwork for the victories. “My friend John Lewis planted the foundation of this Georgia over his career,” Democratic Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey said in a tweet. “I wish he were here tonight to watch this.” Ben Nadler, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Larry King was easy to poke fun at, particularly late in his career at CNN: the pinched look, guffaws and coke-bottle glasses, the suspenders and old-time microphone on the desk in front of him. He was grandpa trying to dance to Drake at a wedding. But at least grandpa tried, didn't he? And if you sat down to talk with him, he could take you places with his words, and you would enjoy the journey. You'd certainly be sorry if he wasn't there. Hearing about King's death Saturday at age 87 stirred a similar feeling. The Brooklyn-born King was a classic conversationalist, a throwback to a different era in showbiz and media even during the height of his on-air career. For 25 years until 2010, “Larry King Live” was a fixture on CNN's weeknight schedule, and that was after a lengthy career as a late-night radio host. King talked to politicians and musicians, the serious and the silly, not as a newsman but as anyone would if suddenly thrust into the room with a famous face. Sometimes it felt that way; King would never be accused of over-preparing for an interview. Journalists at CNN gnashed their teeth at missed opportunities to show off their toughness and knowledge if they'd been in his place asking questions of premiers or presidents. He described himself as a minimalist whose chief goal was to make his guests look good. “I ask short questions,” he said once. “I have no pretense at intellectuality.” King could fill a blooper reel of gaffes that would have been fatal to the careers of lesser personalities. He mistakenly addressed Ringo Starr as “George," and notoriously asked Jerry Seinfeld if it was his choice to leave his namesake sitcom or if the network had cancelled it. But, hey, “Seinfeld” aired at 9 p.m. on Thursdays. So did “Larry King Live.” He was busy. “You're not a reminiscencer?' he asked Prince once. “Is that a word, Larry?” Prince asked. “I invented it,” King said. While King may have sat down to talk to authors without reading their books, he did homework, said Tammy Haddad, his producer for the first eight years King was on CNN. And he wasn't necessarily an easy inquisitor. Ross Perot didn't intend to announce his candidacy for president on King's show in 1992, but the host pressed him - both on the air and during commercial breaks - until he did, Haddad said. He would make interview subjects feel so comfortable that sometimes they'd reveal more than they had intended, she said. “Whenever you sat down in Larry King's TV living room, you felt like you were just having a conversation with a friend and forgot that millions around the world were watching you,” singer Tony Bennett tweeted on Saturday. The lineup for King's 25th anniversary shows - LeBron James, Bill Gates, Barack Obama and Lady Gaga - spoke to the eclectic mix he tried to bring to “Larry King Live.” “He'd be happy talking to a taxi driver,” Haddad said. “He came to each of them with the same level of interest.” His connections brought in some big names: Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra in the last interview he gave before his death. King also had a penchant for fading B- or C-list stars, and few things gave him more pleasure than laughing with Don Rickles for an hour. He was more than game enough to speak to a younger generation of stars, too, and took a souped-up ride with Snoop Dogg through the streets of Los Angeles. “Larry King Live” was a type of show that would feel foreign on cable news today, given its obsession with hard-nosed political combat. Podcasts would now be the closest place to get something similar to what King offered, Haddad said. “I think that's one of the reasons people are so nostalgic about Larry,” she said. “They really got to know people (King interviewed) in a way that you just don't have the opportunity to do anymore.” Among the personalities who took time Saturday to tweet memories and photos of themselves with King was filmmaker Kevin Smith. “My dad always asked me, 'Did you see who Larry King talked to last night?'" Smith wrote. “Would've blown his mind to know that one day, it would be his son. "Thanks for that.” David Bauder, The Associated Press
Dene elders are working to get terminology around COVID-19 in their traditional dialects so fellow elders are informed about the disease and the vaccine. It can be difficult for Dene elders, who either don't speak English or for whom it's a second language, to make well-informed decisions because there's no terminology about the disease in their language. A lot of material about COVID-19 is only in English. "Some of the elders do not have any reading skills in English," said Rose Betthale-Reid, an elder in Fort Liard, N.W.T. She said she's been frustrated by the communication surrounding COVID-19 in her community, where a cluster of cases has led to a two-week containment order, which are a number of measures to prevent the spread. Even those who do speak English don't necessarily understand the terminology surrounding COVID-19, Betthale-Reid said. "Look, even the word containment order. What does that mean?" she asked. "Those people from the government world, they can understand that, but it's frustrating for Native people that are fluent in their [own] language." Urgently needed Paul Andrew, a Dene elder and former CBC broadcaster, is trying to make the situation better. He recently helped organize and conduct a virtual Dene language terminology workshop, inviting three members from the five major Dene regions, to talk about COVID-19 and how to start translating some medical terminology in the different dialects. It's urgent to get it done, Andrew says, because the N.W.T. government has started to vaccinate people in the communities and many, including elders, don't have the proper information to make well-informed decisions. Look, even the word containment order. What does that mean? - Rose Betthale-Reid, Fort Liard elder One of the terms that he says is difficult to understand is "getting a dose of vaccine." "What does that mean? We had to ask the medical professionals," said Andrew. Terms like immune system, side effects, antibody, pandemic, and contact tracing are also difficult to translate. "These are not terms we've used in the past," he explained. He says the lack of terminology in the Dene language is causing a lot of confusion and fear. "There are a number of Indigenous people who do not function at all, and some do not function very well in the English language, and that special care must be given for them," he said. "They can't access programs or services from the government of Northwest Territories. And I think this particular, very fluid situation that we see with COVID-19, is evident. It has become very real now." Gov't trying to translate brochures, posters Premier Caroline Cochrane said the territorial government has tried to translate its brochures and posters in the territory's nine official Indigenous languages. She said the government is also using community radio to distribute information about COVID-19 in Fort Liard, and contracting people who speak the local language to go door-to door with information sheets about how to keep safe during the pandemic. "We're trying to do everything we can to get the information and to reach as many people as possible," she said. Putting more COVID-19 information out on community radio that broadcasts in the Dene dialects was also an idea at the Dene workshop, said Andrew, along with having youth work with elders to make sure they understand about COVID-19 and the vaccine, and training more translators. It would help reassure elders that it's OK to take the vaccine, said Andrew, but it needs to happen now. "One of the things we found with [Fort] Liard is that things can happen so quickly, so we need those people on the ground ready."
PARIS — A suspected Canadian drug baron has been arrested in the Netherlands on an Interpol warrant, according to Dutch and Australian police. The 57-year-old was detained Friday and is of “significant interest” to Australian and other law enforcement agencies, according to a statement Sunday from the Australian federal police. It says he was targeted as part of an operation that dismantled a global crime syndicate in 2019 that was accused of trading large amounts of illegal drugs and laundering the profits. The Australian police plan to seek his extradition. Dutch national police tweeted that he was arrested at the request of Australian authorities via Interpol. The international police agency did not comment on the arrest. The suspect's name was not released. The Associated Press
There was no distribution plan for the coronavirus vaccine set up by the Trump administration as the virus raged in its last months in office, new President Joe Biden's chief of staff, Ron Klain, said on Sunday. "The process to distribute the vaccine, particularly outside of nursing homes and hospitals out into the community as a whole, did not really exist when we came into the White House," Klain said on NBC's "Meet the Press." Biden, a Democrat who took over from Republican President Donald Trump on Wednesday, has promised a fierce fight against the pandemic that killed 400,000 people in the United States under Trump’s watch.
BEIJING — Eleven workers trapped for two weeks by an explosion inside a Chinese gold mine were brought safely to the surface on Sunday. State broadcaster CCTV showed workers being hauled up one-by-one in baskets on Sunday afternoon, their eyes shielded to protect them after so many days in darkness. One worker was reported to have died from a head wound following the blast that deposited massive amounts of rubble in the shaft on Jan. 10 while the mine was still under construction. The fate of 10 others who were underground at the time is unknown. Authorities have detained mine managers for delaying reporting the accident. The official China Daily said on its website that seven of the workers were able to walk to ambulances on their own. State broadcaster CCTV showed numerous ambulances parked alongside engineering vehicles at the mine in Qixia, a jurisdiction under Yantai in Shandong province. Increased supervision has improved safety in China’s mining industry, which used to average 5,000 deaths per year. However, demand for coal and precious metals continues to prompt corner-cutting, and two accidents in Chongqing last year killed 39 miners. The Associated Press
NEW YORK — Screenwriter Walter Bernstein, among the last survivors of Hollywood’s anti-Communist blacklist whose Oscar-nominated script for “The Front” drew upon his years of being unable to work under his own name, died Saturday. He was 101. The cause was pneumonia, according to his wife, the literary agent Gloria Loomis. A World War II correspondent for the military who also had been published in The New Yorker, Bernstein was at the start of what seemed a promising film career when the Cold War and anti-Communist paranoia led to his being blacklisted in 1950, a fate which ruined the lives of many of his peers and led some to suicide. Job offers to Bernstein were rescinded and onetime friends stopped speaking to him. FBI agents looked through his trash, showed up at his door and followed him outside. “I was starting to look around when I left my house, looking over my shoulder when I walked down the street, bracing myself for the inevitable encounter,” he wrote in his memoir “Inside Out,” published in 1996. “Even expecting it, I was startled when it came, and there would be the sudden sour taste of fear for a moment and then a shaming wave of anger, not at them but at myself for being afraid. I could never really get angry at them. They were only doing their job, like delivering milk.” Unwilling to provide the House Un-American Activities Committee names of suspected Communists, the way director Elia Kazan and others had been spared from banishment, Bernstein found employment through the use of “fronts,” people willing to lend their names (and receive part of the proceeds) for scripts he had written. His fronts included an actor’s wife hoping to help her husband break through in movies and a friend of a friend, a guy named Leo, who had a gambling habit to support. Few were aware at any given time that Bernstein had contributed to such hit CBS television series as the crime drama “Danger” and to “You Are There,” hosted by Walter Cronkite and featuring re-enactments of historical events ranging from the Boston Tea Party to the death of Cleopatra. While many were blacklisted just for supporting left-wing causes, Bernstein actually was a member of the American Communist Party and remained so until 1956, when the Soviet Union invaded Hungary and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev revealed the many brutalities of Joseph Stalin, who had died three years earlier. Bernstein would remember his decision with “relief” over no longer abiding Soviet dogma and “sadness” for the people who were fellow idealists. “I had left the Party, but not the idea of socialism,” he wrote in his memoir, “the possibility that there could be a system not based on inequality and exploitation.” The blacklist began to weaken in the late ’50s and ended for Bernstein in 1959 with “That Kind of Woman,” starring Sophia Loren. He was soon working on “The Magnificent Seven,” the Hollywood adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s classic “Seven Samurai,” and on an A-list film that ended in tragedy, “Something’s Gotta Give.” Marilyn Monroe was cast as a shipwreck survivor who returns to her husband and children after being presumed lost. But Monroe was often late or absent altogether from the set and was fired in June 1962. Two months later, she was found dead from an apparent suicide. In the 1970s, Bernstein was able to use his own story for what became his most acclaimed project, “The Front,” starring Woody Allen as a stand-in for blacklisted writers and featuring Bernstein’s friend Zero Mostel, who also had been ostracized in the ’50s. Bernstein received an Academy Award nomination in 1977 and a Writers Guild of America prize for best screen drama. Around the same time, Allen gave him an acting cameo in the Oscar-winning “Annie Hall.” His other writing credits included the Burt Reynolds football comedy “Semi-Tough” and films by such old friends as Martin Ritt (“The Front,” “The Molly Maguires,” a story of rebelling miners he once cited as his personal favourite) and Sidney Lumet (“Fail-Safe”). Bernstein himself directed “Little Miss Marker,” a 1980 release based on the Damon Runyon short story. In 1994, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Eastern branch of the Screen Writers Guild. Into his 90s, he taught screenwriting at New York University and was an adviser to the film school at the Sundance Institute, founded by Robert Redford. Bernstein was married four times, most recently to Loomis, and had five children. Over his long life, he also enjoyed an eclectic range of friends and acquaintances, from authors Irwin Shaw and Shirley Jackson to songwriter Irving Berlin and actress Bette Davis, who, Bernstein was surprised to learn, shared his admiration for the writings of Karl Marx. “The most wonderful books,” she called them. Descended from Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, Bernstein was born and raised in New York City and by his teens had found his passions for movies and politics. As an undergraduate at Dartmouth College, he reviewed movies for the campus newspaper until he was fired for panning the popular 1937 fantasy “Lost Horizon.” In his spare time, he read Marx and Engels, Steinbeck and Dreiser, and sought out films by Sergei Eisenstein and other Russian directors. “The books had opened my head,” he wrote. “The movies opened my heart.” He was drafted in 1941 and spent much of World War II as a reporter for the Army publication Yank, filing dispatches from the Middle East, Sicily and Yugoslavia, where he became the first American to interview the country’s longtime leader, Josip Broz Tito. After the war ended, in 1945, he joined the staff of The New Yorker and received a 10-week contract to work for Columbia Pictures in Hollywood. He stayed 10 months, long enough to be noticed by government agents and to discover his love for movies wasn’t dispelled by learning how they were made. “I had been initiated into the mystery, participated in the sacred process,” he wrote in his memoir. “Making a movie was like building a cathedral, the hard and skilled work of many hands. Then you looked at it when it was finished and, if you were blessed, you saw Chartres. If not, you saw St. Patrick’s on Fifth Avenue. It was still a cathedral. Even as an acolyte I could still enter the dark, embracing cave and feel mysteriously freed.” Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
New U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, during his first phone call with his Japanese counterpart, reaffirmed America's commitment to Tokyo to defending a group of East China Sea islets claimed by both Japan and China, the Pentagon said. Austin, in talks with Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, confirmed that Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan security treaty, which stipulates U.S. defence obligations to Japan, covers the uninhabited islands, the Pentagon said in a statement.
Huit mois après le décès de Désiré Buna Ivara, père de famille congolais emporté par la COVID-19 en mai dernier, son épouse et ex-préposée aux bénéficiaires au CHSLD de Dorval, Amoti Furaha Lusi, ainsi que ses six enfants ont toujours besoin de soutien moral et matériel. Début décembre, l’organisme NSK a pris le flambeau afin de venir en aide à ces résidents de Deux-Montagnes, après la naissance de la plus jeune membre de la famille. Les semaines suivant le décès de M. Buna Ivara, qui était âgé de 50 ans, les membres de sa congrégation à l’église Arche de Dieu, le personnel de la Commission scolaire de la Seigneurie-des-Mille-Îles, des organismes et des voisins se sont succédé pour venir en aide à Mme Furaha et ses enfants Elliot, Jérôme, Jeanne, Cécile et Christian, âgés de 3 à 20 ans aujourd’hui. Une campagne de socio-financement avait aussi été lancée pour leur fournir une aide financière. Arrivée du Congo en 2010 pour rejoindre son mari, Mme Furaha a accouché de son sixième enfant, Désirée Tabitha, le 25 novembre dernier. « J’ai eu beaucoup de complications et j’ai dû rester à l’hôpital 15 jours. L’organisme NSK est venu chez nous pour nous livrer des paniers de produits deux fois depuis », dit la mère de famille, reconnaissante du soutien reçu. « Mme Furaha et moi faisons partie de la même congrégation. Je n’ai pas pu assister aux funérailles de son mari, mais son histoire m’avait beaucoup attristée », raconte Carine Nkulu, bénévole et responsable des relations publiques depuis plus d’un an pour l’organisme haïtien à but non lucratif NSK Faisons ce que nous pouvons (Nap fe san kapab), qui siège à Anjou. Actuellement, l’objectif de l’organisme est de contribuer à minimiser l’effet de la pandémie pour les familles en situation vulnérable. « Nous avons amassé des denrées alimentaires, des couches et des produits de nettoyage, et nous les leur avons apportés début décembre », poursuit la travailleuse en imagerie médicale, arrivée du Congo avec sa famille en 2013. « Mme Furaha et ses enfants ont encore grand besoin de soutien moral et émotionnel. C’est un peu compliqué de lui rendre visite en raison de la pandémie, mais nous faisons de notre mieux pour les aider », explique Carine, ancienne bénévole pour Oxfam à Québec. « Je tiens à aider les gens, notamment les femmes, car il y en a qui m’ont aidée dans la vie sans rien me demander en retour. Une dame m’a dit un jour : “Si tu as l’opportunité, tu peux aussi aider d’autres personnes plus tard” », nous confie-t-elle. L’équipe de NSK se débrouille pour venir en aide aux familles à Montréal, Gatineau, Drummondville et Longueuil actuellement. « Nous ne recevons presque aucune aide financière, nous comptons avec le soutien d’autres partenaires », indique le fondateur et président de l’organisme, Johnley Pierre, arrivé d’Haïti en 2018. « En plus de distribuer des denrées alimentaires et des repas chauds, quelques membres de notre équipe de 30 bénévoles font des suivis téléphoniques afin de s’assurer que la population garde le moral durant le confinement, surtout les personnes qui vivent seules », ajoute-t-il, précisant que l’équipe fait une cinquantaine d’appels par semaine. « Ma petite sœur va bien, on va tous mieux, mais j’ai beaucoup de stress ne sachant pas comment l’année va se passer ou quelle sera la prochaine étape pour nous. J’ai même perdu un peu mes cheveux », confie Cécile, l’aînée des filles d’Amoti Furaha Lusi et étudiante au Cégep de Saint-Jérôme. « En ce moment, j’apprends à conduire. Je finis mon cours bientôt, alors ce sera un stress de moins ! » lance-t-elle. Cécile déplore le vide laissé par son père dans la maison. « Avant, il y avait beaucoup de vie chez nous, maintenant, personne ne fait de bruit », affirme la jeune femme âgée de 18 ans. « C’est vraiment pas facile de vivre la situation avec la COVID. Mes petits frères, Jérôme et Elliot, pleurent et cherchent toujours notre père, c’est triste. » « C’est très difficile pour mes enfants, car mon mari les aidait beaucoup avec leurs études, entre autres. Il avait pris une année sabbatique au travail pour terminer sa thèse de doctorat à l’UQAM. Il ne lui restait qu’un mois pour graduer », raconte Mme Furaha. La COVID-19 est rentrée dans la famille congolaise début avril, après que Mme Furaha, ex-préposée aux bénéficiaires au Centre d’hébergement Foyer Dorval, a été infectée par un de ses collègues, qui avait été appelé en renfort au premier étage du centre bien qu’il présentât des symptômes de la maladie. « J’ai exprimé mon inquiétude à mon chef d’unité, mais il n’a rien fait », déplore-t-elle. Quelques jours après avoir été déclaré positive, son mari et ses enfants sont eux aussi tombés malades. « Les gens de la santé publique n’ont pas voulu les tester, car ils ont dit que ça coûtait cher », renchérit la mère de famille, qui a dû appeler l’ambulance l’après-midi du 12 avril, lorsque son mari est tombé en détresse respiratoire. « La maladie avait déjà envahi son corps. Il m’a appelé de l’hôpital pour me dire qu’il allait être intubé, mais il était sûr que tout allait bien se passer, car il n’avait pas d’autres problèmes de santé connus. Ce fut la dernière fois que je lui ai parlé », poursuit-elle. Son mari a été transféré de l’hôpital de Saint-Eustache au CHUM à Montréal cette nuit-là, car il avait besoin d’un traitement d’oxygénation par membrane extra-corporelle (ECMO). « Après un mois sous coma artificiel, les médecins m’ont dit qu’il allait mieux et qu’ils allaient le retirer de l’ECMO », se souvient Mme Furaha. Toutefois, M. Buna Ivara a subi une hémorragie cérébrale quelques heures plus tard. « On m’a demandé de me rendre à l’hôpital et de prendre la décision de débrancher mon mari, mais je ne pouvais pas le faire. Il est parti trois jours plus tard sans savoir que j’étais enceinte », confie-t-elle avec chagrin. « Ce que j’ai vécu avec le décès de mon mari dépasse la souffrance que j’ai vécue quand mon père est mort décapité au Congo pendant la guerre. Je prie et je m’accroche à la vie pour mes enfants, mais j’ai beaucoup de questions qui n’ont pas de réponse », avoue la mère de famille. Elle affirme être en colère contre les gens de son lieu de travail. « Si j’ai attrapé la COVID-19 et que mon mari est mort, c’est par la négligence de mon chef d’unité », soutient-elle.Karla Meza, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Devoir
Take a look at this review of the Canon 28-70mm f/2 RF lens. A great lens for wedding-photography, portrait-photography, documentaries and for filming. Enjoy! +++ PROS +++ 1. Sharpness 2. Bokeh 3. f/2 over entire focal length 4. fast focusing 5. lens ring for own settings +++ CONTRAS +++ 1. weight 2. no wide-angle coverage
Israel will ban passenger flights in and out of the country from Monday evening for a week, the government announced on Sunday, as protesters in some ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities clashed with police over coronavirus lockdown measures. Clashes broke out between ultra-Orthodox protesters in the city of Bnei Brak and police forces who came to enforce the lockdown. One police officer, feeling his life was in danger, fired in the air to repel the crowds, police said.
With the return of some Ontario students to the classroom set for less than three weeks away, opinions on whether classrooms are as safe as they should be are piling up. The provincial government told CBC Toronto its plan to reopen Ontario's schools "has been informed by the best medical and scientific minds in the country, including SickKids and other hospitals." In-person classes are set to re-start in Toronto, Peel, Hamilton, Windsor and York on Feb. 10. A number of other boards still haven't been told when they'll resume. Among the new measures greeting students upon their return: adding mask requirements for Grades 1 to 3, expanding voluntary asymptomatic testing, and continuing to fund HVAC and ventilation improvements — though the government says at least 95 per cent of schools have already had upgrades. Meanwhile, the plan to reopen — and the province's approach to school safety in general — continues to draw mixed reactions and sharp criticism. Adalsteinn Brown, dean of the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health and co-chair of Ontario's COVID-19 science advisory table, told CBC Radio last week that "the decision about opening schools has to be taken very, very carefully." Students mixing and spreading the disease "could be very dangerous," he continued. Responding to a recent Toronto Star article that reported that the province had ignored or dialled back several pieces of school safety advice, the Ontario NDP took a harder line. "Parents, teachers, education workers and children are living with anguish, frustration and fear," the party wrote in a statement, adding that the Premier "chose saving money over saving kids' health and their education." The province has also been roundly criticized by teacher's unions, both for the revelations in the Star article and for a perceived failure to be included in the planning process. "What we're asking for is to have an advisory table where all of the stakeholders are there where the government will actually pay attention," said Liz Stuart, president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association, in an interview with CBC Toronto. SickKids guidance says closures are 'last resort' One element of the return to school that is not being debated: the importance of getting students back into physical classrooms. In its updated guidance for re-opening, put out this past Thursday, SickKids wrote that the suspension of in-person learning should be "a last resort for pandemic control" given the "significant negative impact" it can cause. That negative impact — and the blanket closure — was also the subject of another criticism levelled at the government last week, this time from a group called "Opening Schools & Daycares Full Time Safely In Ontario." "The most significant harm your Government has done is the universal closures of schools regardless of the rate of COVID in each school's community," the group wrote in its statement. On Monday, seven health units will send students back to physical classrooms, something infectious disease expert Dr. Zain Chagla is welcoming, given the low rates of community transmission in those regions. "This is a time to restart schools and track what actually happens in the next two to four weeks," he said in a recent interview with CBC News. "We can't keep… saying schools are the issue and shutting them down." School boards prepare For school boards looking ahead to a Feb.10 opening, the task now is to prepare to roll out the new measures. Dawn Danko, chair of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, says she's grateful to have time to iron out the details. Take asymptomatic testing — first introduced as a pilot project in some Ontario hot spots back in November — now being brought to new areas, including Hamilton. Danko is glad to hear it's coming, adding that "what we need time to do here is talk to local public health. How do we operationalize that, who does the testing?" she told CBC Toronto. The same goes for confirming the details around new forms families will likely have to sign — possibly every day. As for HVAC improvements, Danko says proactive work in the summer and early fall means every HWDSB school has been inspected, with HEPA air filters installed in classrooms where ventilation could not be improved. Forty new custodial staff members were also hired, she said, though there are plans to hire even more staff this winter. "We're in a really good position in terms of our facilities being updated," she said. The Toronto District School Board is also feeling confident about the return, writing to CBC Toronto in an email that they "have taken a number of important steps since the beginning of the school year." HVAC repairs and improvements largely carried out in the fall CBC Toronto e-mailed the province and all four GTA school boards to ask how much work had been done on their HVAC and ventilation systems to this point. The Toronto District School Board says that every school and instructional space has been reviewed, and that any classroom without mechanical ventilation has had a HEPA filter installed. (The most recent SickKids guidance says there is "insufficient evidence" to routinely recommend the filters, though they can be considered in situations where there's limited ability to improve ventilation in other ways.) In the Halton District School Board, as of November 2020, all HVAC equipment filters have been upgraded, and HEPA filters are also being used in classrooms. In all, 397 new air filtration units have been installed in schools. At the Peel District School Board, "100 per cent of our classrooms have been reviewed and upgraded in some capacity," wrote a spokesperson, adding that the work was helped along by $3 million from the province. Peel is also using nearly 1000 portable filters. A more thorough overhaul via system recommissioning has been completed at four sites and is being worked on at 32 others. York Region District School Board did not respond to the CBC's request.
Celebrities and interview subjects, from Bill Clinton to Oprah Winfrey, are mourning the death of Larry King. His broadcast interviews with world leaders, movie stars and ordinary Joes helped define American conversation for a half-century. King died Saturday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles at age 87. On social media, King was remembered by a number of figures and fans, including singers Barbra Streisand and Bette Midler, entertainer 50 Cent and actors Reese Witherspoon, George Takei and Albert Brooks. ___ “I enjoyed my 20+ interviews with Larry King over the years. He had a great sense of humour and a genuine interest in people. He gave a direct line to the American people and worked hard to get the truth for them, with questions that were direct but fair. Farewell, my friend," former President Bill Clinton wrote on Twitter. ___ “It was always a treat to sit at your table. And hear your stories. Thank you Larry King," Oprah Winfrey tweeted. ___ “He was one of a kind! May he Rest In Peace. #LarryKing," singer Barbra Streisand wrote on Twitter. ___ “When I was a young morning DJ, I listened to Larry King’s overnight radio show every night on my way to work. He was one of the greats and I am glad to have known him ‘Bethesda, Maryland you’re on the air...,’" talk show host Jimmy Kimmel tweeted. ___ “I’ve known Larry King since I arrived in LA 42 years ago. Larry King Live changed CNN in the 80s blending entertainment with news & I loved being on the show," former NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson wrote on Twitter. “Larry was one of the best interviewers on TV. Always well prepared, asked intelligent questions, & always made the interviews fun, serious, & entertaining!" ___ “Larry King was a Brooklyn boy who become a newsman who interviewed the newsmakers. He conducted over 50,000 interviews that informed Americans in a clear and plain way," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted. “New York sends condolences to his family and many friends." ___ “I’m sad to learn about Larry King’s passing. He was such a kind gentleman, and he made all of us feel as though we were speaking with a lifelong friend. There will never be anyone like him, and he will be missed by many. My sincerest condolences to his family & friends. Celine xx…," singer Celine Dion wrote on Twitter. ___ “Goodbye and Godspeed to Larry King; a great interviewer and a great listener, and they are not the same thing. He always made me feel as though I were the only person in the room. Condolences to his family, friends, and fans around the world," Bette Midler wrote on Twitter. ___ “Oh no!!! RIP Larry King...what a Titan you were! One of our true icons. You are no longer in pain. Rest well," actor Viola Davis wrote on Twitter. ___ “So sad to hear the news about Larry King today. I was lucky enough to be interviewed by him and see his unique interview style first hand. He was a deeply thoughtful, intelligent, kind man... Sending love to his family & all of his many fans," actor Reese Witherspoon tweeted. ___ “R.I.P. Larry King. I loved his all night radio show in the 80’s. You could call in at 1 in the morning and just riff for hours. His radio show made a great opening for Lost In America. Rest easy Larry," actor Albert Brooks tweeted. ___ “My friend Larry King has died," news commentator Keith Olbermann wrote on Twitter. “It is literally true that thousands of us can make that sad statement this morning. While he was easily caricatured, I’ve never known anybody who made a bigger deal out of the slightest kindness afforded him." ___ “I lost a dear friend and mentor. Truly an American treasure. Rest in peace, Larry King," TV personality Ryan Seacrest tweeted. ___ “R.i.P To the legend Larry King God bless him," entertainer 50 Cent wrote on Twitter. ___ “Thanks for the countless interviews and insights, Larry King. You understood human triumph and frailty equally well, and that is no easy feat. There was no one else like you, and you shall be missed. Rest with the heavens now," actor George Takei tweeted. ___ “It is with emotion and affection that I remember #LarryKing, king of the talk show and legendary face of @CNN, a remarkable individual, a great journalist and a good man who loved life deeply," singer Andrea Bocelli wrote on Twitter. ___ “RIP Larry King!!!! I loved the easy breezy format of his CNN show, and his amazing voice," Bravo TV Producer and Executive Andy Cohen wrote on Twitter. ___ “Larry King was my @CNN colleague and good friend. He was an amazing interviewer and a mentor to so many of us. He loved what he did and all of us loved him. He was a real mensch. My Deepest Condolences to his loving family. May He Rest In Peace and May His Memory Be A Blessing," CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer tweeted. ___ “I mourn the passing of Larry King whom I have known for nearly 40 years. He was a great interviewer - sensitivity, humorous and witty. And he actually let you talk! An all around mensch. Millions around the world shall miss him, including myself," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on Twitter. ___ “The Los Angeles Dodgers are saddened by the passing of Larry King and offer their deepest condolences to his family and friends," the baseball team tweeted. ___ “I’ve had the honour of being interviewed by Larry King multiple times in my life. It was always a joy and a pleasure. He truly was the King of Talk. On a personal level, I’ll miss him. Professionally, we’ll all miss him. Rest In Peace, my friend," Jesse Ventura, former governor of Minnesota, wrote on Twitter. Associated Press, The Associated Press
Chinese air force planes including 12 fighter jets entered Taiwan's air defence identification zone for a second day on Sunday, Taiwan said, as tensions rise near the island just days into U.S. President Joe Biden's new administration. China views democratically ruled Taiwan as its own territory, and has in the past few months increased military activity near the island. But China's activities over the weekend mark a ratcheting up with fighters and bombers being dispatched rather than reconnaissance aircraft as had generally been the case in recent weeks.
The Nova Scotia government has quietly dissolved a non-profit arm's-length government organization dedicated to funding gambling prevention and research groups, moving the money to a more general mental health pool. The decision to end Gambling Awareness Nova Scotia (GANS) is being criticized by a community group that received grants through the organization, and which says there's now looming uncertainty about whether its work will be supported. "In the middle of COVID ... isn't there more of a need to do this prevention work and community awareness work?" said Bruce Dienes, chair of Gambling Risk Informed Nova Scotia, a non-profit that aims to reduce the community harms associated with gambling. "This is the time when people are most vulnerable." Part of the funding for GANS, according to the government's website, was "generated from a percentage of VLT revenues, matched by the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation." The province said in a statement that VLT retailers provide about $250,000 annually to support mental health and addictions services. The province did not say when the organization was dissolved, but Dienes said he learned of it in the fall and GANS's regulations were changed in October. He said he was told by the Department of Health and Wellness that because of "new information" it had come to realize there are comorbidities with gambling also associated with depression and anxiety, which justified sharing the funds more widely. "The idea that this is new information is ridiculous, we've known this for decades," he said. Dienes believes the province made the move as a way to deal with the "profound lack of funding for mental health in Nova Scotia." No one from the Department of Health and Wellness was available to speak to CBC for this story. In a statement, spokesperson Marla MacInnis confirmed that GANS will become part of the overall mental health and addictions budget — which is roughly $300 million annually — citing changes in the last two decades around gambling and how best to support it. "Problem gambling often occurs with other mental health and addictions issues, and due to the stigma, people often initially seek help for other issues. It's best if people can access support that addresses these issues together," MacInnis said. One of the consequences of the pandemic has been the restrictions placed on gambling in Nova Scotia related to public health protocols. There were no sports games to bet on, and many casinos and bars were ordered to closed. In the height of the spring COVID-19 lockdown, counselling therapist Elizabeth Stephen said some of her clients simply stopped gambling. "It was like a gift to some people that have problems that never really get that break," said Stephen, who is based in Halifax. "Of course, that didn't last long." After a second shutdown late in 2020, the province reopened the Halifax and Sydney casinos, video lottery terminals and First Nations gaming establishments on Jan. 8. Igor Yakovenko, an assistant professor at Dalhousie University, said international data found that gambling decreased in all forms as things were closed globally. When restrictions loosened in Nova Scotia, Stephen said some of her clients returned to gambling, but it varied case by case. In some instances, she said people who hadn't gambled in a long time returned to VLTs because of the "wearing-you-down kind of stress of COVID." Yakovenko, who is a clinical psychologist, said there are many barriers for people to get help, including not knowing where to go in Nova Scotia. He said research suggests that harm reduction and prevention are the most effective ways to help people. "We need services and public health resources that minimize problems from developing in the first place or, if you're already gambling, they prevent you from escalating that gambling," he said. Earlier this month, CBC News reported that the Atlantic Lottery Corporation is preparing to expand its online casinos to Nova Scotia and P.E.I., which would allow for bigger bets than what is currently allowed on in-person VLTs. The pandemic is believed to have made a significant dent in Atlantic Lottery's revenues. Dienes said having VLTs available online goes against the province's VLT moratorium, which removes the gaming devices if a bar shuts down instead of reallocating them. "They call them the crack cocaine of gambling," he said. "To backtrack on that acknowledgement of the danger of VLTs and to be slowly getting rid of them, and to move to amplifying that on the internet with essentially unlimited access is appalling. It's totally irresponsible." According to the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation's website, there are 2,012 VLTs in the province and 651 VLTs in Mi'Kmaw communities. Both the Nova Scotia Department of Finance and Atlantic Lottery say the implementation of online casino-style games in Nova Scotia is still being evaluated. Neither provided a timeframe for when a decision will be made. Greg Weston, a spokesperson with Atlantic Lottery, said they regularly consult with responsible gambling experts when developing new products. He also said he believes it's important to offer a regulated alternative to the 3,000 offshore gambling websites available to Atlantic Canadians. "One benefit would be to repatriate players now playing with illegal offshore providers, and by doing so repatriating money being spent on offshore sites to help fund public services to benefit Atlantic Canadians," he said in a statement. Both Yakovenko and Stephen hope the province consults with experts in the area and uses current research in deciding whether Atlantic Lottery should be allowed to move to an online casino model. "From my perspective, the risks far outweigh the profits," Stephen said. "Someone has to lose in order for us to make money." MORE TOP STORIES
German car manufacturer Volkswagen is in talks with its main suppliers about possible claims for damages due to a shortage of semiconductors, a company spokesman said on Sunday. Automakers around the world are shutting assembly lines due to problems in the delivery of semiconductors, which in some cases have been exacerbated by the former Trump administration's actions against key Chinese chip factories. The shortage has affected Volkswagen, Ford Motor Co, Subaru Corp, Toyota Motor Corp, Nissan Motor Co Ltd, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and other car makers.
A couple of weeks ago, a snowy owl in the care of Atlantic Veterinary College staff was released back into the wild after recovering from severe emaciation. It was an event Dave McRuer says is uncommon — usually, by the time snowy owls are found in this condition, he said it is too late to save them. McRuer is a wildlife health specialist with Parks Canada based at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown. His job takes him to national parks across Canada, where he has periodically come in contact with snowy owls. He was also director of wildlife services for 11 years at the Wildlife Centre of Virginia, where they would occasionally receive snowy owls, and worked with them as intern at the University of Saskatchewan. Since snowy owls are in the news, we asked McRuer to share what he finds most interesting about the rarely seen species, and he generously obliged. 1. Why they're suddenly here Snowy owls breed and usually stay in the North, on the flat, frozen tundra territories of Canada, the U.S., Greenland and Russia. Some, however, migrate even further north to pack ice where they forage on polar bear kills, and to open water there where they feed on sea ducks. Still others will migrate as far south as the Carolinas and do so annually. Every five years or so there's what scientists call an irruption, when large numbers of them migrate south. Rarely — once every few decades or so — there's a "super movement" of snowy owls south. Right now, snowy owls are in an irruption year, which is why more are being spotted in southern locales including P.E.I. These periodic moves south were thought to be because of a lack of food, but scientists have now debunked that theory and are working to discover why, McRuer said. For more on the owls' migration, he suggests checking out the Project Snowstorm website. 2. 'Young and dumb' The snowy owls that show up here in Canada are typically younger, McRuer said. Scientists affectionately call them "the young and dumb" because they haven't had as much practice catching food. If they miss a few attempts in a row, they can become weak, which can lead to a "downhill spiral" ending in starvation and death, McRuer said. "Those are typically the birds that don't move at all when you walk up to them here," he said. They can end up at the AVC and other wildlife rehabilitation centres, and usually die because they are too severely emaciated. "It's pretty rare that they make it through," he said. "There's no muscle left on their bodies whatsoever." 3. Females are bigger Like most raptors, the females of the species are bigger by up to one third. The males are almost pure white, McRuer said. The females have some black marking or "barring" across their chests, wings and heads, and the young snowy owls have even more barring. 4. That's a lot of eggs Normally the females each lay five to seven eggs a year, but in years where food is very plentiful, they will lay 12 to 16 eggs in one nest. "Those years, there is a ton of snowy owls, and when winter comes, there are territories that these owls do have, and there's just not as much room for all of these young owls, so they tend to migrate south," McRuer said. Those are the years people report seeing more snowy owls. 5. 1,000-yard stare Snowy owls can see for up to a kilometre — really well. As in, a mouse half a kilometre away scurrying across the snow. That's lunch! "As soon as they see it they're off, and they can actually fly really quickly" in pursuit of food, McRuer said, even though at four to five kilograms they are the heaviest North American owls. 6. People make them nervous Because they can see so far away, they can of course see you coming, and they don't like people getting too close. McRuer said if they are fidgeting and staring directly at you, you're too close. The best way to observe them, he said, is with binoculars, from your car. "Cars are fantastic blinds," he said. "You can generally get closer to any kind of wildlife in a car than you can just generally walking." If you "bump" the owl, or get so close it flies away, that's a bad thing, McRuer said: It makes them more vulnerable to predation, and it uses up valuable energy they need to hunt and survive. It also stresses their immune system. 7. Mmm, tundra grouse Prey consists of small rodents like lemmings and voles, and the occasional ptarmigan, a small tundra grouse. And, because they are used to hunting in 24-hour darkness in the North, they usually hunt at night. "Never feed owls," McRuer said, even if they look hungry. "It just encourages the owls to come close to cars," and they are often hit by vehicles. 8. Watch out for that eagle Snowy owls are listed as a vulnerable species and therefore hunting is forbidden. There are 100,000 to 400,000 around the world, he said. But other animals don't know that. Arctic foxes eat the owls' chicks and eggs, but McRuer said adult owls can take on a small Arctic fox (about the size of a domestic cat) and win. Arctic wolves and polar bears will also scavenge on the nests if they find them, he said. People hunted them and stuffed them for show in large numbers in the late 1800s and early 1900s, McRuer said. In southern climes such as P.E.I., their main predators are red-tailed hawks and eagles. But mostly they die due to human activities, McRuer said, such as collisions with vehicles or utility wires, eating rodents that have been poisoned, or being snared accidentally by hunters. 9. Where to spot them The owls' habitat in the Arctic tundra is flat, so they're most at home along the shoreline or perching on a sand dune or telephone pole, but not in trees, McRuer said. 10. Life span Wild snowy owls, like most raptor species, can live as long as 15 years but generally most die "pretty quickly," McRuer said. That's why they attempt to have and care for as many chicks as possible. Snowy owls can live close to 30 years in captivity, McRuer said. 11. The myth of the wise owl McRuer is also a falconer, and trains raptors such as hawks, falcons and even some species of owls. "I can tell you owls are not as easily trained as other raptors. They just don't pick up on things as quickly," he said. "I'm not going to say they're dumb, but they're a little slow on the pickup." The birds he has trained are ones rescued at rehabilitation centres and are used for educational purposes, he said. However, he has not trained a snowy owl. "Having a bird on your glove, you get a lot more attention than just sort of standing up there with a power-point presentation," he said. "They make great education ambassadors." McRuer does not encourage people to try to keep them as pets. 12. They can breed with other owls Scientists have seen snowy owls breeding with other large owl species — so far only in captivity, McRuer said. But don't be surprised if climate change brings about a hybrid in the wild soon, he said. "That's occurred in other Arctic species like polar bears and grizzly bears, for example," he said. More from CBC P.E.I.
OTTAWA — Under fluorescent lights, Wendy Muckle surveys the supervised consumption site that sits in quiet contrast to Ottawa's peppy ByWard Market nearby. Users filter into the brick building — dubbed "the trailer," a nod to the service's former digs — offering up greetings and grins en route to 16 basement booths, each furnished with a chair, a shatter-resistant mirror and a needle disposal box. The injection facility halved the number of booths to ensure distancing when the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in March, resulting in a "huge increase" in overdoses in the surrounding community, says Muckle, who for 20 years has headed Ottawa Inner City Health, which provides health care for vulnerable populations. She restored full capacity in response to the spike in overdoses but many services remain reduced or accessible only virtually. “We've seen a really frightening, rapid increase in the number of people using drugs in this pandemic," Muckle says. "I think people feel like maybe they just aren't going to make it through this one." Drug users face greater dangers as the second wave forces harm reduction sites and outreach programs to curtail their services, leaving at-risk communities out in the cold. Shorter hours, physical distancing measures and a curfew in Quebec, combined with a more lethal drug supply due to border closures, have sent addictions services scrambling to help users across the country as opioid overdoses and the attendant death toll continue to mount. In British Columbia, fentanyl-related deaths had been on the decline for more than a year until April, when monthly numbers routinely began to double those of 2019. Deaths linked to fentanyl, a lethally potent synthetic opioid, reached 360 in B.C. between September and November compared to 184 in the same period a year earlier, according to the B.C. Coroners Service. Opioid-related deaths countrywide could climb as high as 2,000 per quarter in the first half of 2021, far surpassing the peak of nearly 1,200 in the last three months of 2018, according to modelling from the Public Health Agency of Canada. It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply and users turning to substances as a way of coping with high stress. Social services have limited capacity or shut down communal spaces, while programs from meal provision to laundry — some of which are near injection sites, encouraging their use — are now tougher to access. Canada's ongoing border shutdown has disrupted the flow of illicit drugs, and dealers looking to stretch their limited supplies are more apt to add potentially toxic adulterants. Benzodiazepines, or benzos, have been detected in drugs circulating in parts of several provinces. Users can be difficult to rouse and slow to respond to naloxone — the drug that reverses opioid overdoses — and more likely to overdose when fentanyl or other opioids are also in the mix. “With the benzodiazepine, there is no antidote for that," said Paula Tookey, program manager for consumption and treatment at the South Riverdale Community Health Centre in Toronto. "People are sedated deeply for hours, often 10 hours or even more," forcing workers to turn away other users who then may shoot up alone, she said. The Riverdale site saw 42 out of 1,110 visitors overdose last month — none fatally — compared to just two overdoses in 700 visits in December 2019, Tookey said. Pared-down services have also diminished harm reduction sites' role as de facto community spaces, cutting off a key point of social contact. "We used to have memorials, which were super important for people because we have constant deaths," Tookey said. “A lot of our folks don't have families ... The community and other people in their situations and the workers are kind of the informal family that people have." Limits on gathering in the pandemic have also closed off a critical source of knowledge sharing. "There’s no people to say, ‘Hey, that’s really, really strong, don’t use that much,'" said Karen Ward, a drug rights advocate as well as a drug policy and poverty reduction consultant with the City of Vancouver. "Those facts, that social information, is really, really important to have. You know, ‘Hey, there’s a bad batch,’ that sort of thing.” Health authorities run alert systems for poisoned drugs across B.C., but their patchwork structure leaves lives in jeopardy, she said. In Quebec, Montreal's four supervised consumption sites have seen visits drop sharply since the 8 p.m. provincial curfew came into force earlier this month. Even a mobile unit has reached far fewer users, says Kim Charest, outreach program coordinator at L'Anonyme, which runs the portable site. "Unfortunately, people are less likely to go outside their door basically past 8 p.m.," she said. "But we do know that people don't necessarily stop taking drugs." Even before the curfew, the number of EMS calls where paramedics administered naloxone to opioid users in Montreal and the suburb of Laval nearly doubled last year, reaching 270 compared to 146 in 2019, according to the Urgences-santé ambulance service. Another danger lies in sharing needles — injection sites provide clean ones — and the risk of blood-borne infections. Advocates, outreach workers and users are calling for better drug alert systems and broader support services in the short-term. However, nothing short of decriminalization of possession of small quantities of drugs — requested by Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart to the federal government — and more stable housing will help beat back the tide of overdoses, Muckle says. "At the end of the day, if people are unhoused, all of the things that you're doing really have a marginal benefit," Muckle says. "You cannot heal in a shelter .... A home is such a fundamental part of our health." Meanwhile, the social isolation and unsupervised consumption of tainted drugs ratcheted up by the pandemic bode ill for vulnerable Canadians. "We had a pretty significant problem with addiction when this pandemic started. We're going to come out of it way worse." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 24, 2021. Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press