WASHINGTON — It's taken only days for Democrats gauging how far President Joe Biden's bold immigration proposal can go in Congress to acknowledge that if anything emerges, it will likely be significantly more modest. As they brace to tackle a politically flammable issue that's resisted major congressional action since the 1980s, Democrats are using words like “aspirational” to describe Biden's plan and “herculean” to express the effort they'll need to prevail. A cautious note came from the White House on Friday when press secretary Jen Psaki said the new administration views Biden's plan as a “first step” it hopes will be “the basis" of discussions in Congress. Democrats' measured tones underscore the fragile road they face on a paramount issue for their minority voters, progressives and activists. Immigration proponents advocating an all-out fight say Democrats' new hold on the White House and Congress provides a major edge, but they concede they may have to accept less than total victory. Paving a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally, the centerpiece of Biden's plan, is “the stake at the summit of the mountain,” Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigration group America’s Voice, said in an interview. He said proponents may have to accept “stepping stones" along the way. The citizenship process in Biden's plan would take as little as three years for some people, eight years for others. It would make it easier for certain workers to stay in the U.S. temporarily or permanently, provide development aid to Central American nations in hopes of reducing immigration and move toward bolstering border screening technology. No. 2 Senate Democratic leader Richard Durbin of Illinois said in an interview this week that the likeliest package to emerge would start with creating a path to citizenship for so-called Dreamers. They are over 1 million immigrants who’ve lived in the U.S. most of their lives after being brought here illegally as children. Over 600,000 of them have temporary permission to live in the U.S. under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. Former President Barack Obama created that program administratively, and Durbin and others want to protect it by enacting it into law. Durbin, who called Biden's plan “aspirational,” said he'll push for as many other elements as possible, including more visas for agricultural workers and others. “We understand the political reality of a 50-50 Senate, that any changes in immigration will require co-operation between the parties,” said Durbin, who is on track to become Senate Judiciary Committee chairman. He said Senate legislation likely “will not reach the same levels” as Biden’s proposal. The Senate is split evenly between the two parties, with Vice-President Kamala Harris tipping the chamber to Democrats with her tie-breaking vote. Even so, passing major legislation requires 60 votes to overcome filibusters, or endless procedural delays. That means 10 Republicans must join all 50 Democrats to enact an immigration measure, a tall order. “Passing immigration reform through the Senate, particularly, is a herculean task,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who will also play a lead role in the battle. He said Democrats “will get it done” but the effort will require negotiation. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who's worked with Democrats on past immigration efforts, said “comprehensive immigration is going to be a tough sale” this year. “I think the space in a 50-50 Senate will be some kind of DACA deal,” he said. Illustrating the bargaining ahead, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a moderate who’s sought earlier immigration compromises, praised parts of Biden's plan but said she wants changes including more visas for the foreign workers her state's tourism industry uses heavily. Democrats' hurdles are formidable. They have razor-thin majorities in a House and Senate where Republican support for easing immigration restrictions is usually scant. Acrid partisan relationships were intensified by former President Donald Trump's clamourous tenure. Biden will have to spend plenty of political capital and time on earlier, higher priority bills battling the pandemic and bolstering the economy, leaving his future clout uncertain. Democrats also must resolve tactical differences. Sharry said immigration groups prefer Democrats push for the strongest possible bill without concessions to Republicans' demands like boosting border security spending. He said hopes for a bipartisan breakthrough are “a fool’s errand” because the GOP has largely opposed immigration overhauls for so long. But prevailing without GOP votes would mean virtual unanimity among congressional Democrats, a huge challenge. It would also mean Democrats would have to eliminate the Senate filibuster, which they may not have the votes to do, or concoct other procedural routes around the 60-vote hurdle. “I'm going to start negotiating" with Republicans, said Durbin. He said a bipartisan bill would be better “if we can do it" because it would improve chances for passage. Democrats already face attacks from Republicans, eyeing next year's elections, on an issue that helped power Trump's 2016 victory by fortifying his support from many white voters. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Biden’s proposal would “prioritize help for illegal immigrants and not our fellow citizens.” Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., who heads the Senate Republican campaign committee, said the measure would hurt “hard-working Americans and the millions of immigrants working their way through the legal immigration process." Democrats say such allegations are false but say it's difficult to compose crisp, sound-bite responses on the complex issue. It requires having “an adult conversation” with voters, Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-Va., said in an interview. “Yeah, this is about people, but it's about the economy" too, said Spanberger, a moderate from a district where farms and technology firms hire many immigrants. “In central Virginia, we rely on immigration. And you may not like that, but we do." Alan Fram, The Associated Press
There are no new cases of COVID-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador on Saturday. The province now has five active cases, with one person in hospital, as the Department of Health reported two more recoveries in Saturday's update. The health department did not say which region of the province the recoveries came from. This means 386 people have recovered from the virus in the province since the pandemic began in March. In total, 77,725 people have been tested as of Saturday. That's an increase of 259 in the last day. Further daily updates will continue to come via media releases sent by the Department of Health. The exception is on Wednesdays, when Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald will provide live updates on her own, until at least the end of the province's general election on Feb. 13. Around the rest of Atlantic Canada, Nova Scotia reported no new cases, while New Brunswick reported 17 on Saturday. There has been no update on Prince Edward Island as of 3 p.m. NT, but the province continues to have seven active cases. Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
PARIS — When Kylian Mbappe's two goals took him back to the top of the French league's scoring charts on Friday night, the move seemed natural and inevitable. What is far less certain is whether Mbappe will stay at PSG, or accept the challenge of moving to a more demanding club like Real Madrid next season. After his brace in the 4-0 win against Montpellier took him to 14 goals — and 106 overall for PSG — the 22-year-old Mbappe said he has yet to decide whether to sign a new deal. “We're in discussions with the club to find a plan. I'm thinking it over, because I think that if I sign then it's to commit myself long term to Paris Saint-Germain,” Mbappe told broadcaster Telefoot following the match. “I'm very happy here, I've always been very happy here. The fans and the club have always helped me. For that, I'll always be thankful.” Mbappe's contract expires at the end of June next year, as does striker partner Neymar's, and PSG sporting director Leonardo is working hard to persuade the two global stars to sign new contracts. But the club faces stiff competition. Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane is reportedly interested in making Mbappe a marquee signing to form a potentially prolific partnership with veteran Karim Benzema. Mbappe has also been linked with Premier League champion Liverpool. Because of his young age — he is six years younger than Neymar and 11 years younger than Benzema — Mbappe would represent the brightest future of any club. “I want to think about what I want to do in the years to come, where I want to be,” said Mbappe, who grew up in the Paris suburbs. “Yes, the time will soon come to make a choice ... If I had the answer now I would already have given it. I'm not trying to buy some time, I'm really thinking about it." The Frenchman has already won the World Cup, scoring in the 2018 final against Croatia, but has yet to win the biggest trophies at club level. A key part of his reflection is whether he thinks he can do so with PSG. Last season’s defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League final profoundly frustrated Mbappe, and to many observers seemed like an opportunity missed for PSG to finally win on the biggest stage after years of falling short in Europe. Mbappe's current market value is estimated at 180 million euros ($220 million), which is the same amount PSG paid to buy him from Monaco four years ago. But the longer he stays without putting pen to paper, the lower the fee becomes should PSG eventually sell him. With all clubs losing vast amounts of money because of the coronavirus pandemic, and a collapsed TV deal further harming French soccer, Mbappe and Neymar are huge assets. “I don't want to sign a contract and one year later say I want to leave,” Mbappe said. “No, if I sign it's to stay and this calls for thought.” PSG fans will hope his heart rules his head. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Jerome Pugmire, The Associated Press
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The developer of the Pebble Mine in Alaska has filed an appeal with the Army Corps of Engineers that asks the agency to reconsider the developer's application to build a gold mine upstream from Bristol Bay. The Army Corps of Engineers rejected Pebble Limited Partnership's application in November on the grounds that the mine would not comply with the Clean Water Act. The proposed mine was to be built on state land, but dredging and filling in federal waters and wetlands requires a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska Public Media reported. Pebble CEO John Shively said the Corps' decision was rushed and came only days after the company filed its final document. Opponents to the proposed mine have said the project would pose a threat to important salmon spawning streams and could ruin the area's sport and commercial fisheries. Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy had announced two weeks ago that the state would appeal the permit rejection. Dunleavy said the decision endangers the state’s right to develop its own resources. The Associated Press
Spain's top general resigned on Saturday after allegations he had received the COVID-19 vaccine ahead of priority groups, one of a number of public officials who have sparked public anger because of reports they have jumped the vaccination queue. Defence Minister Margarita Robles had asked General Miguel Angel Villaroya, chief of defence staff, for explanations after media reports on Friday that he had received the vaccination.
Police detained more than 1,000 people across Russia and used force to break up rallies around the country as tens of thousands of protesters demanded the release of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, whose wife was among those arrested.
OTTAWA — Conservative Leader Erin O'Toole says he was once willing to give his former leadership rival Derek Sloan the benefit of the doubt, but no longer. And he dismissed the idea that kicking Sloan out of caucus this week has pitted him against one of the party's most powerful wings, social conservatives, whose support O'Toole courted directly during the leadership race last year in part by backing Sloan at the time. In an interview with The Canadian Press, O'Toole said he didn't believe Sloan meant to be racist last year in his characterization of chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam. That's why he opposed efforts then to kick him out of caucus, O'Toole said. "I always will give a colleague, or anyone in Parliament, in public life, the benefit of the doubt or, you know, listen to them the first time," O'Toole said. "And that was the case early on with Derek, when he said he did not mean to malign the intentions of Dr. Tam." But O'Toole said a "pattern developed" since then, and frustrations mounted that Sloan's extreme social conservative views posed an ever-present danger to the party's goal of forming government. It all appeared to come to a head last week. In the aftermath of riots in the U.S. led by extreme right wing supporters of now-former U.S. president Donald Trump. O'Toole faced pressure from caucus, conservative supporters and his rivals to firmly disavow any elements of extremism in his party's ranks. Last Sunday, O'Toole issued a statement doing just that. The next day, media organization PressProgress reported O'Toole's outrage over Sloan's leadership campaign accepting a donation from a known white nationalist. While O'Toole moved swiftly to start the process of kicking Sloan out — getting 20 per cent of MPs on side as required by law — he insisted the demand was driven by caucus, as evidenced in the majority vote to remove him. "The caucus was ready to make that decision and send a strong message that we are a welcoming party, we respect one another, and we respect Canadians," he said. O'Toole disputed accusations from Sloan and anti-abortion groups that the decision to kick him out had nothing to do with the Ontario MP's previous statements. In recent weeks, Sloan has been pushing to get as many socially conservative delegates as possible registered for the party's policy convention in March. Sloan, as well as the Campaign Life Coalition and RightNow, want enough delegates in their camp so motions they support will pass, including one that would remove the existing policy stating a Conservative government would never regulate abortion. They also want to elect a slate of directors to the party's national council to entrench their strength. Sloan said the decision to kick him out was a kneejerk reaction to what happened in the U.S. But he also contends the move was driven by anger from his fellow MP's unhappy to se him actively courting money and support in their ridings. He's pledged to name them so social conservatives know who is trying to silence their voices, he said. "They think they are little petty princes ruling these fiefdoms and no one else can have a say," Sloan said. O'Toole rejected the idea that Sloan's efforts amount to an attempt to take over the party, and O'Toole's own move was a bid to stop it. "There is no such effort to the extent that Mr. Sloan is suggesting," he said. Sloan had little national profile when he entered the Conservative leadership race just a few months after becoming an MP. But early on, he garnered attention for suggesting he wasn't certain of the scientific basis for a person being LGBTQ. From there, he quickly became well known for his often extreme social conservative views. His comments about Tam, in which he suggested her loyalty lay with China rather than Canada, sparked outrage and took criticism against him to the next level. Last spring, in discussing the Liberal government's pandemic response and Tam's use of suspect World Health Organization data from China, Sloan provocatively asked whether Tam was working for Canada or China. Tam was born in Hong Kong. Questioning someone's loyalty is considered a racist trope. Sloan denied he was being racist. Still, a number of Ontario MPs — some who were supporters of leadership contender and longtime Conservative Peter MacKay — began an effort to have him removed from caucus. O'Toole shut it down, for reasons he wouldn't divulge then, but to observers, it smacked of politics. MacKay was running a progressive campaign. O'Toole's was aimed at the more centre right, while Sloan and Leslyn Lewis were targeting the socially conservative right. With Sloan gone, his backers would have more likely gone to Lewis, splitting the vote on the right between her and O'Toole, giving MacKay a path to victory. Except O'Toole backed Sloan, and would later take out social media ads hyping his decision. It was one of several steps he took to directly court Sloan's supporters, and when it came to voting time, they would ultimately help put O'Toole over the top to beat MacKay. The way the race played out has led to questions for O'Toole ever since about how he'd balance the demands of the social conservative wing of the party with his stated intent to broaden its overall appeal. O'Toole said he's aware people have "trust issues" with his party, suggesting social media contributes to the issue and noting he must break that online bubble if he hopes to see his party win. "The Prime Minister has to try and bring the country together: the diversity of its people, its geography, its industries, and the points of view and backgrounds of everyone," he said of the office he hopes to hold. "No one ever said it's easy." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 23, 2021. Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press
Genome sequencing has confirmed that a variant of COVID-19 first detected in the United Kingdom is present at a long-term care home in Barrie, Ont., according to the local public health unit. This variant is considered highly contagious and can be transmitted easily. In a news release on Saturday, the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) said the testing done on Friday has determined that six samples taken from the Roberta Place Long Term Care Home are of the variant that is known as the B.1.1.7 variant. The home is north of Toronto. On Wednesday, preliminary testing of the six cases at the home had shown a high likelihood of that they were of this COVID-19 variant. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for the SMDHU, said in the statement that the development is of great concern. "The rapid spread, high attack rate and the devastating impact on residents and staff at Roberta Place long-term care home has been heartbreaking for all," Gardner said. "Confirmation of the variant, while expected, does not change our course of action. We remain diligent in doing everything we can to prevent further spread." Public health unit concerned about further spread The public health unit added in the release: "This variant of concern is more easily transmitted, resulting in much larger numbers of cases in a very rapid fashion." In a media briefing on Saturday, Gardner said 127 residents have tested positive for COVID-19, all but two of the residents at the home. Six residents are currently in hospital. Eighty-four staff members have tested positive for the virus, which Gardner says account for nearly half of the home's staff. Gardner also said there have been 32 deaths at the home, as of Saturday. The outbreak was declared on Jan. 8. He said he is "very concerned about potential impact with spread into the community." Garder said the variant has spread to 21 household members of staff at the home and other people who have entered the home. "This progressed so rapidly," he said. "I'm very concerned it'll make it a challenge in future outbreaks in other LTC facilities." Two essential visitors and three others have tested positive. The Canadian Red Cross was deployed to the home on Jan. 17 to help stop the ongoing outbreak. As of Jan. 16, eligible residents of all long-term care facilities in the region have received their first dose of immunization. Officials said they planned to immunize residents at the other retirement homes throughout Simcoe Muskoka over the weekend. Known variant strains of the virus were first detected in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil. In an email on Saturday, the Ontario health ministry expressed concern. "The province continues to determine the impact the delay in shipments from the federal government will have on the province's vaccine rollout," ministry spokesperson Alexandra Hilkene said. "We continue to vaccinate our most vulnerable and remain committed to vaccinating long-term care and high-risk retirement home residents as quickly as we receive vaccines from the federal government."
ROME — After a week marked by the highly anticipated arrivals of former Juventus forward Mario Mandžukic and Chelsea defender Fikayo Tomori, AC Milan was expected to celebrate winning Serie A's halfway title in style. Instead, the Rossoneri were handed a humbling 3-0 defeat at home by Atalanta on Saturday and saw their lead over city rival Inter Milan trimmed to two points. The only consolation was that Milan still secured the “Winter title” — which seven times out of 10 leads to the actual Italian league championship. Cristian Romero, Josip Ilicic and Duván Zapata scored for Atalanta -- the surprise Champions League quarterfinalist last season. It was Milan’s second defeat of the season but also the second in four matches, having been beaten 3-1 by nine-time defending champion Juventus earlier this month, also at home. Inter drew 0-0 at Udinese under driving rain. Third-place Roma, which trails Milan by six points, gained some relief after a rough spell with a 4-3 win over visiting Spezia. At the San Siro, Atalanta took control midway through the first half with a diving header from Romero. A bloodied Ilicic then converted a penalty shortly after the break after getting elbowed in the face by Franck Kessié. Mandžukic came on in the second half and nearly scored immediately, forcing a save from close range from Atalanta goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini. But Milan produced little more and Zapata then hit the post before he finished off a counterattack in the 77th to seal it. In Udine, Inter coach Antonio Conte was sent off in added time for protesting. ROMA RELIEF Lorenzo Pellegrini scored the winner for Roma two minutes into stoppage time after former Giallorossi winger Daniele Verde had equalized for Spezia in the 90th. Borja Mayoral scored twice and Rick Karsdorp also found the target for the Giallorossi, who were without captain Edin Džeko due to an apparent feud with coach Paulo Fonseca. Roma was beaten 3-0 by Lazio in last week’s league derby and then lost 4-2 to Spezia in the Italian Cup on Tuesday. On Friday, the Cup defeat result was changed to a 3-0 loss by the league judge due to an impermissible sixth substitution that Roma used. The recent results have led to speculation that Fonseca is at risk of losing his job. Roma players celebrated wildly after Pellegrini’s goal, which was the product of work from Leonardo Spinazzola and Bruno Peres, whose chest pass left a clear look for Pellegrini from close range. Pellegrini then ran over to hug Fonseca “It was an emotional moment,” Fonseca said. “That run and that embrace show that we’re all together. It was a nice team moment.” Still, Fonseca wouldn’t address the issue with Džeko, who watched the match from the tribune. “I don’t want to say anything further,” Fonseca said. “What counts today is what was done today -- the guys obtained a great team victory.” Roberto Piccoli and Diego Farias also scored for Spezia, which is playing in the top division for the first time. Spezia was left four points above the drop zone. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Andrew Dampf is at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf Andrew Dampf, The Associated Press
TORONTO — Health officials say a U.K. variant of COVID-19 is behind a deadly outbreak at a long-term care home in Barrie, Ont., north of Toronto. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit says genome sequencing on six COVID-19 samples from Roberta Place Retirement Lodge have been identified as the highly contagious variant. The local health unit announced earlier this week that they had found a variant at the home and were conducting tests to determine what it was. Known variant strains of the virus were first detected in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil. An outbreak at Roberta Place was first declared on Jan. 8. A news release says as of Friday, 124 of 127 residents, and 84 staff were positive for the virus, resulting in 29 deaths. The health unit, in partnership with the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, says it accelerated its immunization program on Friday and vaccinated all eligible residents and staff. Officials say they're also immunizing residents at the other retirement homes throughout Simcoe Muskoka this weekend. As of Jan. 16, eligible residents of all long-term care facilities in Simcoe Muskoka have also received their first dose of immunization against COVID-19. "The rapid spread, high attack rate and the devastating impact on residents and staff at Roberta Place long-term care home has been heartbreaking for all," Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, said in a statement Saturday. "Confirmation of the variant, while expected, does not change our course of action. We remain diligent in doing everything we can to prevent further spread." Ontario reported 2,359 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday and 52 more deaths related to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott said there were 708 new cases in Toronto, 422 in Peel Region, and 220 in York Region. She said there were also 107 more cases in Hamilton and 101 in Ottawa. Nearly 63,500 tests have been completed in Ontario over the past 24 hours. The province reported that 11,161 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine were administered since the province's last report. A total of 276,146 doses have been administered in Ontario so far. Since the pandemic began, there have been 252,585 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario. Of those, 222,287 have recovered and 5,753 people have died. Saturday's numbers were down from Friday's figures of 2,662 new cases and 87 more deaths. Meanwhile, the Ontario government has announced it's expanding its "inspection blitz" of big-box stores to ensure they're following COVID-19 guidelines this weekend. The workplace inspections, which started in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton areas last weekend, will now stretch out to Ottawa, Windsor, Niagara and Durham regions. Officials want to ensure workers and customers at the essential businesses are properly protected from COVID-19 during the provincewide shutdown. The blitz was developed in consultation with local health units and also includes a variety of other workplaces, including retail establishments and restaurants providing take-out meals. The province's labour ministry says more than 300 offences officers, as well as local public health inspectors and municipal bylaw officers, will conduct the inspections. Corporations can now be fined $1,000, and individuals can be fined $750 or charged for failing to comply with the orders. Labour Minister Monte McNaughton says the province is confident that the majority of workplaces in Ottawa, Windsor, Niagara and Durham are following orders. "However, if we find that businesses are putting the safety of workers and customers at risk, our government will not hesitate to take immediate action," McNaughton added in a statement Saturday. "The only way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and end the provincewide shutdown is for everyone — owners, customers and staff alike — to follow the proper guidelines." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 23, 2021. Victoria Ahearn, The Canadian Press
Kristy Sykes lost her best friend to a fentanyl overdose five years ago and knows what it's like to bottle up grief about loved ones lost. She believes other people share that feeling so the Kamloops, B.C., landscaper came up with a creative idea. Sykes turned an old, yellow phone she bought from a local thrift store into a conduit to the next world, tucked away in the trees in a local park. "We are at the Telephone of Infinity," Sykes told CBC story producer Jenifer Norwell on a hiking trail in Peterson Creek Nature Park south of downtown in the southern Interior city. "This phone is here to help express feelings and energy, and to remind you that although your loved one has passed, they are always here to listen," reads the phone's introductory note attached to a plywood board affixed to a tree. "Dedicated to the memory of Tyler Robinson," the final line of the note says about Sykes's best friend and ex-boyfriend, who died in January 2016. Sykes's creation was inspired by U.S. travel journalist Corey Dembeck, who installed his rotary Telephone of the Wind in November at Priest Point Park in Olympia, Wash., after his grandfather, parents and his friend's daughter died. "I just started crying, like tears just came to my eyes right away," Sykes said. "A lot of people, even if they know they can make connections with someone who has passed away, just might need a physical, real item that could be a gate towards doing that," she said. Sykes lost her grandmother to cancer five years ago, and over the years many of her friends passed away due to opioid overdose. Sykes hasn't used the Telephone of Infinity herself, but says speaking on the phone while imagining a loved one on the other side can be a miraculous, emotional experience. "You could write [your feelings] in a journal, but I just think sitting and speaking out loud is important as well," she said. "It's a natural gift that we have to use communication that way." Tap the link below to hear Kristy Sykes's conversation with Jenifer Norwell on Daybreak Kamloops:
WASHINGTON — When Joe Biden took the oath of office as the 46th president, he became not only the oldest newly inaugurated U.S. chief executive in history but also the oldest sitting president ever. Biden was born Nov. 20, 1942, in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He was 78 years, two months and one day old when he was sworn in on Wednesday. That’s 78 days older than President Ronald Reagan was when he left office in 1989. A look at how the country Biden now leads has changed over his lifetime and how his presidency might reflect that. BIGGER, MORE DIVERSE PIE The U.S. population is approaching 330 million people, dwarfing the 135 million at Biden's birth and nearly 60% greater than when he was first elected to the Senate in 1972. The world population in Biden’s lifetime has grown from about 2.3 billion to 7.8 billion. More striking is the diversity in Biden’s America. The descendant of Irish immigrants, Biden was born during a period of relative stagnant immigration after U.S. limitations on new entries in the 1920s, followed by a worldwide depression in the 1930s. But a wave of white European immigration followed World War II, when Biden was young, and more recently an influx of Hispanic and nonwhite immigrants from Latin America, Asia and Africa has altered the melting pot again. In 1950, the first census after Biden’s birth counted the country as 89% white. Heading into 2020, the country was 60% non-Hispanic white and 76% white, including Hispanic whites. So, it’s no surprise that a politician who joined an all-male, nearly all-white Senate as a 30-year-old used his inaugural address 48 years later to promise a reckoning on racial justice and, later that afternoon, signed several immigrant-friendly executive orders. BIDEN, HARRIS AND HISTORY Biden took special note of Vice-President Kamala Harris as the first woman elected to national office, and the first Black woman and south Asian woman to reach the vice presidency. “Don’t tell me things can’t change,” he said of Harris, who was a student in the still-mostly segregated Oakland public elementary school when Biden became a senator. The first time Biden addresses a joint session of Congress, there will be two women behind a president, another first: Harris and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. But change comes slowly. Harris was just the second Black woman ever to serve in the Senate. When she resigned Monday, the Senate was left with none -- and just three Black men out of 100 seats. Black Americans account for about 13% of the population. MONEY MATTERS Minimum wage in 1942 was 30 cents an hour. Median income for men according to the 1940 census, the last before Biden's birth, was $956. Today, the minimum wage is $7.25. The federal government's most recent weekly wage statistics reflect a median annual income of about $51,100 for full-time workers. But the question is buying power, and that varies. The month Biden was born, a dozen eggs averaged about 60 cents in U.S. cities -- two hours of minimum wage work. A loaf of bread was 9 cents, about 20 minutes of work. Today, eggs can go for about $1.50 (12 minutes of minimum-wage work); a loaf of bread averages $2 (16 minutes). College tuition is another story. Pre-war tuition at Harvard Business School was about $600 a year -- roughly two-thirds of the median American worker’s yearly wages. Today, the current Harvard MBA class is charged annual tuition of more than $73,000, or a year and almost five months of the median U.S. salary (and that’s before taxes). Biden proposes raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour -- a move already drawing opposition from Republicans. He’s called for tuition-free two-year community and technical college and tuition waivers for four-year public schools (so, not Harvard) for students from households with $125,000 or less in annual income. DEBT National debt has soared in Biden’s lifetime, from $72 billion to $27 trillion. But it’s a recent phenomenon. Biden finished 36 years in the Senate and became vice-president amid the fallout from the 2008 financial crash, when the debt was about $10 trillion. Now he takes office amid another economic calamity: the coronavirus pandemic. To some degree, this is a biographical bookend for Biden. He was born when borrowing to finance the war effort generated budget deficits that, when measured as percentage of the overall economy, were the largest in U.S. history until 2020, when emergency COVID spending, the 2017 tax cuts and loss of revenue from a lagging economy added trillions of debt in a single year. Reflecting how President Franklin Roosevelt approached the Great Depression and World War II, Biden is nonetheless calling for an additional $1.9 trillion in immediate deficit spending to prevent a long-term economic slide. AUTOMOBILES As part of his proposed overhaul of the energy grid, Biden wants to install 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations by 2030, a move analysts project could spur the sale of 25 million electric vehicles. For context, federal statistics counted 33 million cars in the U.S. altogether in 1948, as Biden began grammar school. A FIRST FOR THE SILENT GENERATION Biden is part of the Silent Generation, so named because it falls between the “Greatest Generation” that endured the Depression and won World War II, and their children, the Baby Boomers, who made their mark through the sweeping social and economic changes of the civil rights era, Vietnam and the Cold War. True to the stereotypes, Biden’s generation looked for decades as if it would never see one of its own in the Oval Office. The Greatest Generation produced John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Then Boomers took over. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Donald Trump were born in a span of 67 days in 1946, the first of the Boomer years. Barack Obama, born in 1961, bookended their generation as a young Boomer. If his inaugural address is any indication, Biden seems eager to embrace the characteristics of his flanking generations. He ticked through the “cascading crises” -- a pandemic and economic fallout reminiscent of the Depression and subsequent war effort, a reckoning on race that’s an extension of the civil rights era -- and summoned the nation “to the tasks of our time.” PLENTY OF FIRST-HAND LEARNING Biden lived through 14 presidencies before beginning his own, nearly one-third of all presidents. No previous White House occupant had lived through so many administrations before taking office. Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
South Africa jazz trombonist and composer Jonas Gwangwa, whose music powered the anti-apartheid struggle, died on Saturday aged 83, the presidency said. President Cyril Ramaphosa led the tributes to the legendary musician who was nominated for an Oscar for the theme song of the 1987 film "Cry Freedom". "A giant of our revolutionary cultural movement and our democratic creative industries has been called to rest," Ramaphosa said.
Reece Howden is accustomed to leading ski cross competitions but on Saturday employed a different strategy, purposely sitting back before waiting for a break on the way to a second World Cup victory in 33 days. The 22-year-old from Cultus Lake, B.C., settled in the middle of the pack for much of the big finals until the final turn on the full-length course in Idre Fjall, Sweden. "The plan was to not come out in front, the draft was too strong," he told Alpine Canada. "I wanted to chill in the middle of the pack and give my legs a bit of a break and once I made that last turn fire up those engines and get out in front," said Howden, who sits atop the season rankings. "Today was a day of racing, not a day of leading, so I was super happy with my execution and it couldn't have gone any better." WATCH | Reece Howden earns his 3rd World Cup medal: Howden captured silver and the next day gold in late December in Val Thorens, France. He has been able to devote more time to skiing this season after graduating from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in the spring. Howden's teammate, veteran ski cross racer Chris Del Bosco of Montreal, was third in the small finals on Saturday and seventh overall for his best finish since 2018. "It's been a while since I've been back in the small finals," said Del Bosco, who ruptured his Achilles last summer. "It felt really good to get the monkey off my back. I made a few small mistakes in that last round, but I am heading in the right direction." Hoffos, Thompson inside top 10 Ottawa's Jared Schmidt delivered a career-best 29th-place finish while Brady Leman (27th), Kris Mahler (32nd) and Carson Cook (48th) rounded out the Canadian contingent. In the women's event, Tiana Gairns of Prince George, B.C., placed a career-best fifth, followed by Courtney Hoffos (Invermere, B.C.) and Marielle Thompson (Whistler, B.C.) in sixth and eighth, respectively. "Idre is interesting since it's such a long track with such a long straight section that you don't want to pass at the beginning," Gairns said. Added Hoffos: "You almost want to be patient and hold your composure in fourth place so you can boost ahead of everyone at the last second." Zoe Chore (16th) and Hannah Schmidt (17th) were the other Canadian competitors. The men and women return to the Swedish course on Sunday at 6 a.m. ET.
VANCOUVER — Residents of British Columbia's south coast are being urged to prepare for a blast of wintry weather this weekend. Environment Canada warns that snow is in the forecast for parts of Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast and the Central Coast. The federal weather agency expects snowfall to begin on Saturday night and continue Sunday morning on Vancouver Island and in the southwest area of Metro Vancouver, including Richmond and Delta. It says two to four centimetres of snow are forecast in Richmond and Delta, while on the island, amounts could range from two centimetres on the coasts to five to 10 centimetres inland. By Sunday afternoon, the snow is expected to become mixed with rain in many areas. Meanwhile periods of snow are anticipated Saturday night through Monday morning in the Fraser Valley, including Chilliwack and Hope, with the potential for significant snowfall Sunday night. Environment Canada warns that wet and slushy snow may make for a messy commute in the valley Monday morning and power outages are also possible if heavy, wet snow accumulates on trees. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
P.E.I. Liberal MP Wayne Easter says he wasn't surprised by Julie Payette's decision to resign as governor general given reports that had been coming out recently. But he said Canadians should look at the "total picture" when it comes to the work of the federal Liberals. He said Payette did a remarkable job at any public event he attended, but said it's clear now there were problems with how staff were being treated. In an unprecedented move, Payette and her secretary, Assunta di Lorenzo, resigned Thursday after a workplace review of Rideau Hall probed allegations she had belittled, berated and publicly humiliated Rideau Hall staff. Easter, the MP for Malpeque, said employees must be treated with respect and without harassment. He said there should be a different vetting process for the next governor general, though he noted there have not been similar issues with past appointments. "Will the Liberals be hurt by this? Look, it's one appointment out of many, I think. Yes, there will be a bit of a bump in the road, if I could put it that way, over this appointment. "But you have to look at the total picture. And I think the prime minister and his team has been doing a very good job under very difficult circumstances in terms of the pandemic." More from CBC P.E.I.
The United States is closely watching the more infectious variant of COVID-19 after British officials warned that it may also be more deadly, two top U.S. health officials said on Saturday, cautioning more data is needed. Officials are somewhat more worried about a separate variant from South Africa, although it has not yet been identified among U.S. cases of the novel coronavirus, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins and Dr. Anthony Fauci, President Joe Biden's top COVID-19 medical adviser, also said.
People are turning to different coping mechanisms during life amid the pandemic, but for some coastal-dwelling British Columbians, dipping into icy cool water has been a source of relief and respite this winter. Craig Stewart, president of the Vancouver Open Water Swim Association, says there's nothing like swimming outside under open skies. "I usually compare it to cycling in a gym versus cycling outside. For me, there's no comparison. I want to be outside. I want to be in nature and swimming is no different," Stewart said. The waters around B.C. can dip to a frigid 6 C or 7 C. The water itself can be quite opaque in the winter, Stewart said, and it can be unnerving to not see to the bottom. But Stewart says the challenge is part of the draw. "Part of the draw is it's like an inoculation. You are choosing to suffer a little bit and then endure it, and you feel good for having done that," he said. Deborah Calderon of Powell River is part of a local swimming group — the Powtown Popsicles — who go for a socially distanced swim or dip every day. "Everybody's got a completely different reaction," Calderon said. "When I get out [of the water], I get calm, which is what I need." She says the activity has been a huge source of comfort during the pandemic. "It's probably the biggest thing I've done to reduce isolation, to make sure I get outside with a bit of a purpose, to feel that kind of rush and then come out and then on with your day," Calderon said. Tips for open water swimming Like any new activity, Stewart says it's important to be prepared and do your research. Here are some other tips if you want to try cold water swimming. 1) Don't swim alone. It's always good to go with other people so that you can look out for one another, said Stewart. This is especially important if your body temperature plunges after coming out of the water and you need help. 2) Take it slowly. "The worst thing you can do is to jump into cold water and think you're going to be fine. No, that gives you cold water shock," Stewart said, noting the last time he went cold water swimming, it took him 10 minutes to get used to the cold water. Getting slowly acclimatized is important to help your body adjust to the conditions. Wearing proper gear — like layering on a swim cap and a wetsuit — can also help you stay warm in the water. 3) Know your water. "Don't jump into water you don't know. You don't know how deep it is, you don't know where the currents are," said Stewart, noting that ocean currents in particular can be very, very strong. 4) Listen to your body. It's important post-swim or post-dip to make sure you refuel and have hot beverages on hand. "It gives your body fuel because you've just been spending at an incredible rate. And have layers of warm clothing," he said. Finally, Stewart said, learn about the sport and try it out with people who are experienced. "It's inherently rewarding. You feel good. You feel tough. But joyful."
MOSCOW — Canadian Marion Thenault finished third in a World Cup freestyle ski aerials event Saturday.It was the first career podium finish for the 20-year-old from Sherbrooke, Que.Thenault qualified for the final in third spot and maintained that position to secure the bronze medal. The Canadian began competing on the NorAm circuit in 2019 and appeared in her first World Cup event last season, finishing 18th.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 23, 2021. The Canadian Press
A concrete manufacturing facility in Surrey has been destroyed by a massive overnight fire. Surrey firefighters responded to the call just before 4 a.m. Saturday, and arrived on the scene at 192 Street and 54th Avenue to find a 20,000 square foot building engulfed in flames. The fire had also spread to several buildings nearby. Steve Serbic, assistant chief of operations for the Surrey Fire Service, said 36 firefighters and 15 fire trucks responded, and were forced to fight the fire from the outside, because of the explosive nature of the flames. "The fire consumed the whole building and the crews went into a defensive attack," said Serbic. Serbic said there were large propane tanks just outside the building, which the crews protected to avoid an explosion. "The challenging part of this fire was the gas, there were large propane tanks and natural gas that took some time to get shut off so the crews were battling some gas fires," he said. Serbic said there were no employees on the scene when the fire broke out, and the cause of the fire is under investigation. "It was a very cold night. There was lots of ice, lots of water, lots of aerials went up and the crews did a really good job," he said. "There were no injuries, so it was a productive outcome considering what they arrived to." Crews remained on the scene into Saturday morning, and excavators will go through the collapsed building to ensure hotspots are completely put out.