NEW YORK — The head of the Republican National Committee on Wednesday declined to encourage former President Donald Trump to run for the White House in 2024, saying the GOP would stay “neutral” in its next presidential primary. In an interview, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel also described the pro-Trump conspiracy theory group known as QAnon as “dangerous." The national GOP, under McDaniel's leadership, spent the past four years almost singularly focused on Trump's 2020 reelection. But should he run again in 2024 — and he has publicly and privately suggested he wants to — the national party infrastructure would not support his ambitions over those of other prospective candidates, in accordance with party rules, she said. “The party has to stay neutral. I’m not telling anybody to run or not to run in 2024,” McDaniel told The Associated Press when asked whether she wanted to see Trump run again in the next presidential election. “That’s going to be up to those candidates going forward. What I really do want to see him do, though, is help us win back majorities in 2022.” Just months removed from the last presidential election, several Republican prospects have already begun jockeying for position for the 2024 contest. McDaniel is far more focused on the 2022 midterms, when Republicans have an opportunity to break the Democrats' monopoly on Congress. McDaniel is in a difficult political position as she begins her new term as the national GOP chair. She has been a devoted Trump loyalist, but as the RNC leader, she is also tasked with helping her party recover from its painful 2020 election season in which Republicans lost the Senate and the White House and failed to win back the House. Trump's fervent base continues to demand loyalty to the former president, even as some party officials acknowledge that Trump's norm-shattering behaviour alienated elements of the coalition the GOP needs to win future elections. Tensions are especially high within the party as the Senate prepares for Trump's second impeachment trial. Ten House Republicans voted earlier in the month to impeach the former president for inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, and on Tuesday, five Senate Republicans voted to move forward with a trial that could ultimately ban him from holding public office ever again. McDaniel acknowledged the frustration of Trump's base, which remains a powerful voice in the party and has little tolerance for Republican officials unwilling to stand behind the former president and his achievements in office. But she repeatedly called for party unity and discouraged elected officials from attacking other Republicans — even those who voted to impeach Trump. She declined to single out any specific Republicans when pressed, however, including Trump loyalist Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who is travelling to Wyoming this week to campaign against Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, the highest-ranking House Republican who voted for Trump's impeachment. “If we’re fighting each other every day and attacking each other and brandishing party purism, we’re not going to accomplish what we need to to win back the House and take back the Senate, and that’s my priority,” McDaniel said. She also forcefully condemned the pro-Trump QAnon movement, a large group of conspiracy theorists who were a visible presence at the Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6. Trump repeatedly declined to denounce the group while in the White House. “I think it’s really important after what’s just happened in our country that we have some self-reflection on the violence that’s continuing to erupt in our country,” McDaniel said, pointing to violence across the political spectrum. “I think QAnon is beyond fringe. I think it’s dangerous.” Moving forward, she said that voters, not Trump, are the head of the Republican Party, though Trump continues to maintain “a huge, huge presence” with his base. McDaniel said she's expecting several Republican leaders to play a significant role in the party's future, mentioning former Vice-President Mike Pence and Nikki Haley, the former ambassador to the United Nations. Both are also considered potential 2024 presidential contenders. She also downplayed reports that Trump is considering leaving the GOP and starting a new party, warning that such a move would divide Republicans and "guarantee Democrat wins up and down the ticket. “It would be basically a rubber stamp on Democrats getting elected. And I think that's the last thing that any Republican wants,” she said. "It’s clear that he understands that.” Steve Peoples, The Associated Press
Alphabet unit Google on Wednesday opened a centre to tackle harmful online content, in a move also designed to ease regulatory concerns about how the company and other tech giants police a growing problem on the internet. The world's most popular search engine, along with other U.S. tech giants, has drawn criticism because of the spread of illegal and harmful content via their platforms, triggering calls for more regulatory action. The 27-country European Union has taken the lead in proposing tough new rules to curb their powers, protect smaller rivals and make them take more responsibility for removing harmful content from their platforms.
Police in six European countries, as well as Canada and the United States, completed a joint operation to take control of Internet servers used to run and control a malware network known as "Emotet," authorities said in a statement. "Emotet is currently seen as the most dangerous malware globally," Germany's BKA federal police agency said in a statement.
Mount Pearl city council has chosen a new chief administrative officer, seven months after the acrimonious departure of her predecessor and the dismissal of two councillors following longtime internal drama at city hall. Dana Spurrell will take the reins of the city on Feb. 10. According to a press release from the city Tuesday afternoon, she has 25 years of public service experience and most recently served as assistant deputy minister of immigration, workforce development and labour with the provincial government. Council formalized her appointment to the job of CAO in a unanimous vote Tuesday evening. "With an extensive portfolio of experience, and strong background in people management and labour relations, she brings an empowered leadership approach based on mutual respect that makes us confident that she will lead our staff and city forward, into the future," Mayor Dave Aker said in the statement. Spurrell said she is excited to lead the organization. "I look forward to working with council, and most importantly the staff in Mount Pearl, as we focus on the city's future," Spurrell said in the press release. Steve Kent departed post last summer Her predecessor, Steve Kent, was suspended from the top civil service job in Mount Pearl in October 2019, after council called in an outside investigator to probe his workplace interactions with city staff. He remained on leave until June, when he departed the post before council could vote to fire him, then sued for wrongful dismissal and breach of privacy. A few days later, Mount Pearl city council voted to dismiss two councillors, Andrea Power and Andrew Ledwell, over allegations they had a conflict of interest they failed to declare in the harassment investigation involving Kent. The deputy mayor accused them of "colluding" with Kent to find ways to influence other councillors. The dismissed duo have maintained their innocence, and have also filed legal action. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
WASHINGTON — Orders to U.S. factories for big-ticket manufactured goods rose a modest 0.2% in December, held back by a big drop in the volatile aircraft sector. A key category that tracks business investment decisions slowed. The rise in orders for durable goods, items expected to last at least three years, followed much stronger increases of 1.2% November and 1.8% in October, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Orders for commercial aircraft, hard hit because of the sharp drop in air travel during the pandemic fell 51.8% in December. A category that covers business investment plans rose 0.6% but this was slower than gains in the previous two months. Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday warning of the lingering potential for violence from people motivated by antigovernment sentiment after President Joe Biden's election, suggesting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol may embolden extremists and set the stage for additional attacks. The department did not cite any specific plots, but pointed to “a heightened threat environment across the United States” that it believes “will persist” for weeks after Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration. It is not uncommon for the federal government to warn local law enforcement through bulletins about the prospect for violence tied to a particular event or date, such as July 4. But this particular bulletin, issued through the department’s National Terrorism Advisory System, is notable because it effectively places the Biden administration into the politically charged debate over how to describe or characterize acts motivated by political ideology, and suggests it regards violence like the kind that overwhelmed the Capitol as akin to terrorism. The bulletin is an indication that national security officials see a connective thread between different episodes of violence in the last year motivated by anti-government grievances, including over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results and police use of force. The document singles out crimes motivated by racial or ethnic hatred, such as the 2019 rampage targeting Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, as well as the threat posed by extremists motivated by foreign terror groups. A DHS statement that accompanied the bulletin noted the potential for violence from “a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors.” “Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the bulletin said. The alert comes at a tense time following the riot at the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump seeking to overturn the presidential election. Authorities are concerned that extremists may attack other symbols of government or people whose political views they oppose. “The domestic terrorism attack on our Capitol earlier this month shined a light on a threat that has been right in front of our faces for years,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “I am glad to see that DHS fully recognizes the threat posed by violent, right-wing extremists and is taking efforts to communicate that threat to the American people.” The alert was issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske. Biden’s nominee for the Cabinet post, Alejandro Mayorkas, has not been confirmed by the Senate. Two former homeland security secretaries, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano, called on the Senate to confirm Mayorkas so he can start working with the FBI and other agencies and deal with the threat posed by domestic extremists, among other issues. Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, said attacks by far-right, domestic extremists are not new but that deaths attributed to them in recent years in the U.S. have exceeded those linked to jihadists such as al-Qaida. “We have to be candid and face what the real risk is,” he said in a conference call with reporters. Federal authorities have charged more than 150 people in the Capitol siege, including some with links to right-wing extremist groups such as the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers. The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against 43-year Ian Rogers, a California man found with five pipe bombs during a search of his business this month who had a sticker associated with the Three Percenters on his vehicle. His lawyer told his hometown newspaper, The Napa Valley Register, that he is a “very well-respected small business owner, father, and family man” who does not belong to any violent organizations. Ben Fox And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
The province is set to undertake a major consultation process on the future of health care and it says everything is on the table. The Department of Health kick–started the consultations Tuesday by releasing a policy paper about the state of the province's health–care system titled "Striving for Dependable Public Health Care." The province will hold virtual town halls in about a dozen communities, including the six where the province had announced reductions in ER hours that they later walked back, and said "anyone interested in attending a virtual session will be able to register to attend." In an interview with Information Morning Fredericton, Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said she's looking forward to hearing from New Brunswickers about what they want from their health–care system. She promised all topics and potential reforms will be on the table if the public demands it, including more private services, user fees and increased access to abortion. "We have to look at the whole picture," said Shephard. "I'm not predetermining anything." Family doctors Shephard said she expects to hear a lot from New Brunswickers about primary care, including family doctors. "Ninety-five per cent of New Brunswickers have a family physician, but only 55 per cent of them can see one within five days," said Shephard. "We need to try with our medical society and our family physicians to find out how we can make sure that care is delivered more comprehensively and in a very timely fashion to keep people out of ERs and to keep people out of hospital." The New Brunswick Medical Society said 2018 polling indicated 44,000 New Brunswickers did not have access to a primary care doctor. Shephard said she understands the need to hire more nurses and doctors, but said every other jurisdiction is in the same position. While she wants to make New Brunswick a more attractive place for medical professionals, changing how services are delivered may be necessary. She said the aging population makes these consultations all the more important. "Twenty-six per cent of our population is going to be over the age of 65 in five years," said Shephard. "The response needs to be to what their needs are at that point and so it needs to be evolving. I don't know that there are going to be that many more doctors available. So how do we utilize our medical professionals in the best way? What services can we shift with other medical professionals? Those are the challenges and the discussions we have to have at a community level and I think they're very ready for that conversation." Consultations during COVID The push to evaluate the province's health–care system comes as COVID-19 restrictions remain, with one zone in lockdown and another in the red phase of recovery. But Shephard said the review has already been delayed several times and can't be put off forever. "The challenges are there, they're going to remain there and our province has been without a real five year health–care plan for a year now," said Shephard. "We need to be able to deliver a five year plan to the [Regional Health Authorities] that we can be accountable to and that they can be accountable to." Shephard said the province is engaging with 26 different stakeholder groups, including First Nations, as well as other government departments. Shephard said the province must abide by the Canada Health Act, and she believes health care must remain public and available to all, but she did leave the door open to more privatization. "I don't know how the next several years is going to evolve … with the way that maybe a private sector comes into this," said Shephard. "We already use pharmacists, they're private. We already use some, you know, some other medical professionals who come into this." People looking to give feedback on the department's discussion paper can email them to email@example.com.
Saskatchewan’s top doctor spoke for the first time following a rally outside of his family home over the weekend.
Jean-Marc Bonhomme knows all too well what it's like to be homeless in Montreal in the middle of the winter, having once lost part of a toe to the cold because shelters were full and he had no place to stay. He's now among those relieved that a Quebec Superior Court judge has made homeless people exempt from the province's curfew, but he says it doesn't fix the underlying problem. Bonhomme says there just isn't enough emergency shelter space available, despite the publicly funded effort to add more beds during the pandemic. "You got Place Dupuis, and now there's two other shelters, but that's not enough," he said, noting missions have reduced capacity due to physical distancing or were forced to suspend operations because of an outbreak. Now Bonhomme has a place to stay, but he regularly visits Cabot Square, a popular gathering place for homeless people, and he frequents the nearby day centre, Resilience Montreal. Premier François Legault has claimed there is plenty of shelter space available in Montreal. That just shows how little the premier understands what it's like to be homeless, Bonhomme said. "He doesn't know what he's talking about," he said. "Him, he's never been homeless." Government accepts judge's order In a tweet Wednesday morning, Lionel Carmant, the province's junior health minister, said the government will not appeal Tuesday's court ruling. In that ruling, Judge Chantal Masse found the "measure as worded would not apply" to homeless people, since they have no place to go at night. Since Jan. 9, Quebec residents have only been allowed outside between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. for essential travel, a measure meant to help control the spread of COVID-19. During curfew hours, they are supposed to stay in their homes or on their property. The curfew was meant to last a month, until Feb. 8. Masse's safeguard order suspends the curfew for homeless people until Feb. 5. As late as last week, Legault refused to make an exception for homeless people. Calls for leniency intensified after Raphaël André, a 51-year-old Innu man, was found dead in Montreal but Legault said he was concerned an official exemption could encourage people to "pretend" to be homeless. Leagault's hard-set stance on the issue was heavily criticized by advocates for homeless people. Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante called for the curfew to be scaled back. On Wednesday, she said the ruling was a "relief" for the homeless population and those who work with them. "Ultimately you cannot ask someone without a roof to go under a roof at a specific time," she said. More help needed, advocates say While the controversy over the curfew has been settled for now, Bonhomme is far from the only one saying more help is needed for Montreal's homeless population. David Chapman, a project co-ordinator at Resilience Montreal, said clients dealing with a range of health problems, from mental illness to addiction, are streaming in, asking for food, clothing and warmth. They are offered all those things, and directed to further resources, but still, others are hesitant to seek such help or stay in shelters, even if space is available, for a variety of personal reasons, he said. All the curfew did was ensure those who were already hiding in the shadows, went further into hiding, Chapman says, even if police were showing discretion. However, just knowing they could get a $1,500 ticket only added more stress to those already struggling to feed themselves and keep warm, Chapman said. Nakuset, executive director of the Native Women's Shelter, was among the first to call on the Quebec government to grant homeless people amnesty from the curfew. "There are not enough spaces in Montreal for the people that are homeless," Nakuset said. For Sam Watts, CEO of the Welcome Hall Mission, there is ultimately only one solution. "The answer is that we need to help them get back into housing," he said. "Governments have been very hesitant to provide solution-type support, instead providing temporary solutions and band-aids."
A McMurrich/Monteith firefighter recruit is shaving his impressive beard to raise money for a new off-road vehicle for the fire department. Jacob Comer said that he was interested in joining the fire department and one of the requirements is a clean-shaven face in order to be able to wear an air pack. “With that being said, an idea popped into my head: why not start it as a fundraiser,” said Comber, adding that he wanted to join the fire department to be able to help the community. The money raised will go to the McMurrich/Monteith Firefighters Association to upgrade the departments' off-road vehicle. “(The Fundraiser) would add some fun into my life along with others,” said Comer about the fundraiser. “Plus, the beard’s got to go.” On Jan. 16, the fire department posted about the fundraiser on its Facebook page. The post states that the fire station is hoping to raise $1,000 to put towards a new off-road vehicle and donation “boots” can be found at Kirk’s Gas or the Township office in Sprucedale. “Once we have raised our goal, we will do a live video of Jake having his beard taken off,” the post reads. So far, according to a separate Facebook post by the fire department, Jeff Maki Trucking Inc. has donated $100 and challenged other local businesses to meet or beat his donation of $100. Answering the call was Chris MacArthur, owner of Big Bear Motor Lines, who “sweetened the pot” and matched Jeff Maki Trucking’s donation. Asked why he donated, MacArthur replied, while he couldn’t serve on the fire department any more due to his career, he felt he could still support its endeavours. “I am a former resident of McMurrich/Monteith and served on the fire department there – I know how important fundraising is and the challenges small departments face in getting proper training,” said MacArthur. So far, the fire department said it has raised a total of $510 to put towards the new off-road vehicle. For those who are unable to make it into Sprucedale to donate, e-transfers to firstname.lastname@example.org are available. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, muskokaregion.com
Brandon Sun readers request specific questions be asked about COVID-19. QUESTION: Will Manitoba will be lowering the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test cycles, which is currently 40 cycles? The World Health Organization has said to reduce the cycles to under 30 to help prevent any false positives. DR. JAZZ ATWAL: Great question. We work closely with our lab and we have been from the beginning. We have a standard in place in relation to PCR testing and how we utilize that result. We’re going to continue to work with her lab to ensure that the results that we get are accurate. We do look at specific numbers all the way through, so if there are question marks in relation to is this a true positive or a remnant, etc., we are looking at those CT (cycle threshold) values in relation to that. But there’s no plan on changing that, at this point. Again, we look at what’s happening provincially here, we also talk to our national partners in public health right across the country, as well. QUESTION: Regarding the testing pilot project at care homes — at least one worker at Donwood Manor was confirmed to be COVID-19 positive after an asymptomatic test, and Donwood subsequently declared an outbreak. Dr. Roussin and Premier Pallister like to compare their handling of the pandemic to that of other provinces, and they like talk about all the "what-ifs" — like the 1,700 lives their restrictions saved. So how many lives did this one, that we know of, asymptomatic test save? How many lives has NOT testing asymptomatically cost? ATWAL: The information on the pilot program, it’s being analyzed right now. We have to review it on the public health side to look at the impact of that, as well. I mean, care homes are, you could argue, some of the most protected places. We have staff, we have procedures and processes in place, including full use of PPE. Obviously, there still are issues in those environments, including hospitals. So we’re gonna have to review that information, review the data, review what that test result meant, as well. I believe there’s some information on that coming out soon. I don’t have the exact date for that. But, once we have that information, we’ll be able to better look at the risk and the impact of that program, as well. Do you have a question about something in your community? Send your questions to email@example.com with the subject line: Readers Ask. Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
OTTAWA — The Canadian Armed Forces is dealing with a dramatic increase in the number of troops who have been infected with COVID-19 over the past month. New Department of National Defence figures provided to The Canadian Press show nearly 250 Canadian military members tested positive for the illness since the end of December. That number compares to fewer than 700 cases reported during the first nine months of the pandemic. While the increase coincides with a recent surge in cases across Canada and many other parts of the world, it also comes amid an outbreak among the 540 Canadian troops deployed in Latvia. Defence Department spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier says Armed Forces members on four other missions have also tested positive for COVID-19 since March, along with an unspecified number here at home. Meanwhile, the federal government says more than 1,000 military personnel have received vaccines, with the priority being given to troops working in health-care settings or who have health conditions that could put them at greater risk from COVID-19. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — An out-of-bounds snowboarder is recovering in hospital from various injuries including a possible fractured pelvis after being caught in an avalanche on Vancouver's North Shore mountains. North Shore Rescue says its members were called late Tuesday afternoon and braved considerable avalanche conditions to reach the man in a treacherous area north of the Cypress Mountain resort. The slide had swept the man into a tree leaving him disoriented, hurt and hypothermic, but he was able to call a friend who contacted rescuers. Online posts show the high-risk mission took about six hours and involved numerous avalanche and rope experts, three medical specialists and a helicopter. A North Shore Rescue spokesman says the man was alone when the slide hit and the outcome could just as easily have been deadly. He says the man made several serious errors, including venturing out of bounds, snowboarding alone and calling a friend rather than immediately calling 911 when he knew he was in trouble. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
Barry’s Bay – In a trifecta of municipal decision-making worthy of that famous old Brudenell horse track back in the 1870s, Madawaska Valley Township council continued last week to race forward in dealing with its two most prickly issues -- doctor recruitment and the future of the Paul J. Yakabuski Community Centre (PJYCC). The good news coming out of last Tuesday’s meeting centred on the news of three separate agreements that had been reached and were expected to be signed shortly by all municipal governments involved and two new doctors and one medical student expected to become a doctor this summer. Dr. Danial Ostapowicz, Dr. Teresa Ostapowicz, and Erin Murray, have all been offered $150,000 each to set up their practices in the area. The funding will be jointly shared by various local governments, though it will likely be the last such agreement made. Currently, the municipal government group includes North Algona Wilberforce; Brudenell, Lyndoch and Raglan; Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards; South Algonquin and MV Township, but Killaloe, Hagarty and Richards already has voted to leave the group this year. The rest are expected to follow suit with an official announcement expected shortly. More bad news was in the air at MV council by what was not said. Apparently, no new ‘free’ money has been found nor did the mayor mention she had heard of any grant money thought to be forthcoming to finance a $1.4 million retrofit of the ice surface at the Paul J. Yakabuski Community Centre. Still, council moved forward with two new proposals, one, a cost saving measure, the other, a new source of funds that might minimize the need to take out a $1.4 million loan and, thus, raise local taxes by as much as 2.5 per cent. Given the PJYCC is all but shut down due to the recent provincial Stay-at-Home order that council expects to be extended, and given the arena operating costs are over $1,800 a day on average, council voted, over the sole objection of Councillor Ernie Peplinski, to remove the artificial ice as soon as possible. Coun. Peplinkski’s objection was centred on his concern the impact such ice removal might have on jobs at the arena. “I don’t disagree…but …were talking…of laying people off, and I’m just wondering if we should be having more of a discussion in closed session about perhaps that particular issue… I just don’t know how we can move forward (with the decision to remove the ice) without having that discussion. It’s affecting people’s lives.” Just when the council meeting was about to wrap up for the day, Councillor David Shulist proposed some new business, a new option for financing the ice-pad rehab project. “I may have a solution,” said Coun. Shulist, who said he proposed something similar when he was mayor, though he also said his idea went nowhere at that time. He then went on to describe what he believed was a 400-acre piece of property adjacent to the Bark Lake Dam that, he said, was owned by MV Township. He suggested it could be sold, with all income from the sale, after costs, to be given to the ice resurfacing project. His idea caught on like a house on fire. Before long, Mayor Kim Love was recommending parkland she was certain was owned by the municipality near her home that might also be considered for sale. And, so, before council ended its public session and went into another in-camera session to discuss its never-ending legal issues with a particular ratepayer, staff was directed to run up a comprehensive list of any piece of property owned by MV Township that might be considered for immediate sale. No mention was made of using any of the 400-acres adjacent to Bark Lake to build a race track similar to the one made famous in Brudenell back in the 19thCentury. Barry Conway, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader
GENEVA — Independent human rights experts who work with the United Nations say Italy failed to protect the “right to life” of over 200 migrants who died when the boat they were on sank in the Mediterranean Sea over seven years ago, The Human Rights Committee also called on Italian authorities to “proceed with an independent and timely investigation and to prosecute those responsible” for the deaths. The boat departed from Libya on Oct. 10, 2013 carrying some 400 people, mostly Syrians. In a decision published Wednesday, the committee said Italy “failed to respond promptly” to distress calls after the vessel was shot “by a boat flying a Berber flag in international waters” some 113 kilometres south of the Italian island of Lampedusa. The committee of 18 experts says distress calls to Italian authorities were redirected to Malta, which was some 218 kilometres away. By the time a Maltese patrol boat arrived the boat had capsized. More than 200 people, including 60 children, drowned. Committee member Helene Tigroudja called it a “complex case” since the migrants' boat was in international waters within Malta's search and rescue zone, but she said a timely response might have averted the tragedy. "Had the Italian authorities immediately directed its naval ship and coast guard boats after the distress calls, the rescue would have reached the vessel at the latest two hours before it sank,” Tigroudja said. The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Kevin Hart will debut his new SiriusXM original podcast with Jerry Seinfeld as the series’ inaugural guest. The satellite radio company announced on Wednesday the launch of Hart’s “Inside Jokes with Kevin Hart” along with two other original programs. He will host the series premiere with Seinfeld’s guest appearance on the Laugh Out Loud Radio channel on Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST. On “Inside Jokes,” Hart will interview top comedians and rising stars. The superstar comedian-actor will chronicle their comedy club experiences and touch on “never-before-heard” stories. Along with Seinfeld, the show’s upcoming lineup includes Steve Harvey, Bill Burr, Cedric the Entertainer, Desus & Mero, Nick Kroll, Hasan Minhaj and Zainab Johnson. “I’m sitting down with some of the best voices in comedy to give my listeners the stories behind the jokes they hear on stage,” Hart said in a statement. “Comedians have been through it all, and I’m excited that I’ll be digging deep into the lives of my peers for my first podcast.” In addition to “Inside Jokes,” Hart’s Laugh Out Loud will air two new shows, “Date Night with Chris and Vanessa” on Fridays and “The Ladies Room with Jazzy” on Mondays and Wednesdays. Both shows launched Tuesday. Last year, SiriusXM announced a new multi-platform deal with Hart and his comedy network Laugh Out Loud. Along with his channel, Laugh Out Loud Radio, he’s expected to expand additional comedic programming that includes radio shows, podcasts and on-demand video. Hart said the deal with SiriusXM will give him more creative control. He launched LOL three years ago. His radio show “Straight from the Hart” premiered on his channel in 2018. Scott Greenstein, SiriusXM’s president and CCO, said he is excited about Hart’s “Inside Jokes” podcast and new shows as “we continue to collaborate with Laugh Out Loud to shape Kevin’s channel into the pinnacle of diverse comedy programming in audio entertainment." Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Associated Press
By Jamie Mountain Local Journalism Initiative Reporter LATCHFORD – The Town of Latchford will be receiving funding to upgrade its water pollution control plant. The Government of Canada has announced that it is investing $196,784 in the project through the Green Infrastructure Stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure plan. The Government of Ontario is providing $163,970, while Latchford is contributing $131,206. Providing communities with modern and reliable water infrastructure is a shared priority, both governments say. According to the Ontario government, the project will rehabilitate and upgrade the water pollution control plant in Latchford. Work will include the rehabilitation and upgrade of the plant's chlorine contact chamber to allow for the installation of an ultraviolet water disinfection system. A new building also will be constructed to house the system. “On behalf of the residents of Latchford who are privileged to avail themselves of this vital service, I would like to extend our sincere appreciation to both senior levels of government for the financial assistance that they have provided to assist in realizing this essential upgrade,” said Latchford Mayor George Lefebvre during the virtual announcement of the funding on January 22. “Their contributions greatly assist in minimizing the cost to the municipality and thence the users for this necessary improvement to our wastewater treatment system. To the governments of Canada and Ontario, your contributions are sincerely appreciated." The Ontario government also said that the project will improve wastewater treatment by employing environmentally friendly methods to support year-round, continuous disinfection. Latchford’s capacity to treat and manage wastewater will also be increased. Paul Lefebvre, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and MP for Sudbury, on behalf of the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, said that the investments in essential public infrastructure “are vital to building resilient communities and supporting economic growth. “Improving the Town of Latchford’s wastewater treatment system will help protect the environment and support community development,” he said during the funding announcement. Dave Smith, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and MPP for Peterborough—Kawartha, on behalf of the Honourable Laurie Scott, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure, said that he was “pleased that our government has partnered with the federal government, and the Town of Latchford, to make this joint investment of more than $491,000 to improve local water infrastructure. “Ontario’s contribution of nearly $164,000 will help support the much-needed improvements to local wastewater treatment,” he said during the announcement. Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker
While Canada struggles with the COVID-19 pandemic, other respiratory illnesses, like colds and the flu, are down this season — and in Newfoundland and Labrador, not a single lab-confirmed case of influenza has been recorded so far this year. Other respiratory infections are down in the province as well, with physicians seeing far fewer than normal, with notable decreases in long-term care facilities, according to Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald said influenza infections are down significantly across the country, with no evidence of community spread. "Normally this time of year we have on average about 18,000 cases of influenza reported," said Fitzgerald. "I think at this point, it's just over 50 cases that we've had across the country." Normally, N.L. sees a peak in flu cases in late January and another one in the spring, said Fitzgerald, but the lack of cold and flu infections this year is due in part to the public health measures put in place to combat the spread of COVID-19. "Increased handwashing, physical distancing, wearing masks: all that will stop the spread of respiratory droplets, which is part of the way that influenza spreads as well," she said. Another factor is the steep drop in travel to the province. "[The flu] sort of spreads from elsewhere to Canada, and then generally spreads west to east," Fitzgerald said. "We're not seeing that same amount of travel, so we're not seeing the flu coming into our country either." 40% of N.L. residents have had flu vaccine In September, provincial Health Minister John Haggie announced plans to increase the number of people receiving the flu shot, setting a goal of vaccinating 80 per cent of residents. While a little over 40 per cent have gotten their flu shot so far, it's still the biggest turnout in the province on record, he said. "We've done better this year than we've ever done before," Fitzgerald. "We've vaccinated more people than ever before, just over 230,000 so far." Fitzgerald said it's not too late for residents to get a flu shot, because even though the province has had zero cases, and community spread is low nationally, an outbreak could still be dangerous. "Flu can still spread once it gets in and it takes hold, it can still spread very easily from person to person," she said. "The concern of course is that you'll have a flu outbreak, or increased flu cases, as well as COVID cases, and for the individual, you run the risk of being infected with flu and COVID at the same time. Getting the flu shot will protect against that, so it's always a good idea." According to provincial figures, Newfoundland and Labrador had 1,033 cases in the 2018-19 flu season, and 708 in the 2019-20 season. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern): 10:45 a.m. Ontario's new daily case count of COVID-19 is the lowest it's been in seven weeks. The province is reporting 1,670 new cases of the virus today and 49 more deaths related to the disease. Ontario's daily case count hasn't been this low since December 8. Health Minister Christine Elliott says that 450 of those new cases are in Toronto, 342 are in Peel Region, and 171 are in York Region. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
Google's iPhone apps such as Maps and YouTube will stop using a tool from Apple Inc that allows them to personalize ads, avoiding a new Apple warning that informs users their browsing is being tracked. The announcement in a Wednesday blog post by the Alphabet Inc unit comes shortly before Apple is expected to start enforcing new tracking transparency rules. Apple for years has supplied apps with a unique identifier, known as IDFA, to help them link the same user across multiple programs.