FFL Flash Alert - Andy Behrens explains why the 49ers RB deserves a spot in your starting lineup.
FFL Flash Alert - Andy Behrens explains why the 49ers RB deserves a spot in your starting lineup.
WASHINGTON — Hours from inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden paused on what might have been his triumphal entrance to Washington Tuesday evening to mark instead the national tragedy of the coronavirus pandemic with a moment of collective grief for Americans lost. His arrival coincided with the awful news that the U.S. death toll had surpassed 400,000 in the worst public health crisis in more than a century — a crisis Biden will now be charged with controlling. “To heal we must remember," the incoming president told the nation at a sunset ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. Four hundred lights representing the pandemic's victims were illuminated behind him around the monument’s Reflecting Pool. “Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights into the darkness ... and remember all who we lost,” Biden said. The sober moment on the eve of Biden's inauguration — typically a celebratory time in Washington when the nation marks the democratic tradition of a peaceful transfer of power — was a measure of the enormity of loss for the nation. During his brief remarks, Biden faced the larger-than life statue of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War president who served as more than 600,000 Americans died. As he turned to walk away at the conclusion of the vigil, he faced the black granite wall listing the 58,000-plus Americans who perished in Vietnam. Biden was joined by Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, who spoke of the collective anguish of the nation, a not-so-subtle admonishment of outgoing President Donald Trump, who has spoken sparingly about the pandemic in recent months. “For many months we have grieved by ourselves,” said Harris, who will make history as the first woman to serve as vice-president when she's sworn in. “Tonight, we grieve and begin healing together.” Beyond the pandemic, Biden faces no shortage of problems when he takes the reins at the White House. The nation is also on its economic heels because of soaring unemployment, there is deep political division and immediate concern about more violence following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Biden, an avid fan of Amtrak who took the train thousands of times between his home in Delaware and Washington during his decades in the Senate, had planned to take a train into Washington ahead of Wednesday's Inauguration Day but scratched that plan in the aftermath of the Capitol riot. He instead flew into Joint Base Andrews just outside the capital and then motorcaded into fortress D.C. — a city that's been flooded by some 25,000 National Guard troops guarding a Capitol, White House and National Mall that are wrapped in a maze of barricades and tall fencing. “These are dark times," Biden told supporters in an emotional sendoff in Delaware. "But there’s always light.” Biden, who ran for the presidency as a cool head who could get things done, plans to issue a series of executive orders on Day One — including reversing Trump's effort to leave the Paris climate accord, cancelling Trump's travel ban on visitors from several predominantly Muslim countries, and extending pandemic-era limits on evictions and student loan payments. Trump won’t be on hand as Biden is sworn in, the first outgoing president to entirely skip inaugural festivities since Andrew Johnson more than a century and a half ago. The White House released a farewell video from Trump just as Biden landed at Joint Base Andrews. Trump, who has repeatedly and falsely claimed widespread fraud led to his election loss, extended “best wishes” to the incoming administration in his nearly 20-minute address but did not utter Biden's name. Trump also spent some of his last time in the White House huddled with advisers weighing final-hour pardons and grants of clemency. He planned to depart from Washington Wednesday morning in a grand airbase ceremony that he helped plan himself. Biden at his Delaware farewell, held at the National Guard/Reserve Center named after his late son Beau Biden, paid tribute to his home state. After his remarks, he stopped and chatted with friends and well-wishers in the crowd, much as he had at Iowa rope lines at the start of his long campaign journey. “I’ll always be a proud son of the state of Delaware,” said Biden, who struggled to hold back tears as he delivered brief remarks. Inaugural organizers this week finished installing some 200,000 U.S., state and territorial flags on the National Mall, a display representing the American people who couldn’t come to the inauguration, which is tightly limited under security and Covid restrictions. The display was also a reminder of all the president-elect faces as he looks to steer the nation through the pandemic with infections and deaths soaring. Out of the starting gate, Biden and his team are intent on moving quickly to speed distribution of vaccinations to anxious Americans and pass his $1.9 trillion virus relief package, which includes quick payments to many people and an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Biden also plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on the first day of his administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status. That would be a major reversal from the Trump administration’s tight immigration policies. Some leading Republican have already balked at Biden's immigration plan. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is often a central player in Senate immigration battles. Many of Biden's legislative ambitions could be tempered by the hard numbers he faces on Capitol Hill, where Democrats hold narrow majorities in both the Senate and House. His hopes to press forward with an avalanche of legislation in his first 100 days could also be slowed by an impeachment trial of Trump. As Biden made his way to Washington, five of his Cabinet picks were appearing Tuesday before Senate committees to begin confirmation hearings. Treasury nominee Janet Yellen, Defence nominee Lloyd Austin, Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken and Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines were being questioned. Yellen urged lawmakers to embrace Biden’s virus relief package, arguing that “the smartest thing we can do is act big.” Aides say Biden will use Wednesday's inaugural address — one that will be delivered in front of an unusually small in-person group because of virus protocols and security concerns and is expected to run 20 to 30 minutes — to call for American unity and offer an optimistic message that Americans can get past the dark moment by working together. To that end, he extended invitations to Congress' top four Republican and Democratic leaders to attend Mass with him at St. Matthew's Cathedral ahead of the inauguration ceremony. ___ Madhani reported from Chicago. Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Alan Fram and Alexandra Jaffe contributed reporting. ___ This story has been corrected to show that flags on the National Mall represent people who couldn't come, not COVID deaths. Bill Barrow And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
Health officials in northern Quebec Cree communities are pleased with the early rollout of a region-wide vaccination campaign launched in a snowstorm over the weekend. Shipments of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine were delivered safely Saturday across the nine inland and coastal communities of Eeyou Istchee, the traditional name of the Cree territory in northern Quebec. "[Teams] were fully prepared ... as the vaccines arrived, everybody was set to go," said Bertie Wapachee, the chairperson of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay. As the vaccines arrived, everybody was set to go. - Bertie Wapachee, Chairperson of CBHSSJB "We were very proud of our team. And I'm very grateful to have all of them on the ground," said Wapachee. Cases up in two Cree communities More than 3,000 vaccinations have already been administered across Eeyou Istchee, according to officials. That includes 1,200 advance doses sent to Mistissini and Oujé-Bougoumou, two communities currently dealing with outbreaks of the virus. On Monday, local officials confirmed there are 26 cases of COVID-19 in Oujé-Bougoumou and 25 in Mistissini, up from last week. "Vaccination is an important first step toward being able to finally put this pandemic behind us as a nation," said Grand Chief Abel Bosum, who was vaccinated last week in Oujé-Bougoumou. In Chisasibi, the largest of the Cree communities, more than 700 people had been vaccinated by 3 p.m. Monday, according to Jeannie Pelletier, who is the local director of the community's health clinic. "I believe the vaccine will help us, and I am happy that many [people] came," said Pelletier in Cree. She also reminded people of the importance of continuing with the measures in place, such as physical distancing and wearing a mask, even after they have been vaccinated. "I wish to tell people that this won't end soon, and we still need to be vigilant in keeping with the safety protocols that are in place to keep us all safe," she said. The launch of the territory-wide vaccination campaign has been months in the planning, according to Jason Coonishish, coordinator of the pre-hospital and emergency measures for the CBHSSJB. In recent weeks, the coordinating team has been meeting weekly to go over the logistics of the arrival of the doses and the transportation by air charter and car to the different communities across the vast territory. The vaccination campaign is expected to last eight weeks. "We've been doing this for many years since H1N1, and every year after that we've been having influenza vaccines," said Coonishish. "We know how to handle it and we're ready." Coonishish is confident as the campaign gathers momentum and more people share photos and stories of being vaccinated, more and more Cree will choose to receive the vaccine and protect their families.
ISLAMABAD — A Russian-American climber who went missing last week while trying to scale a mountain amid harsh winter weather in northern Pakistan has been found dead, the region's tourist police and the Alpine Club of Pakistan said Tuesday. The tourist police in the town of Gilgit made the announcement on Twitter, saying Alex Goldfarb went missing on Friday while he was trying to summit the Pastore Peak, not far from K2 — the most prominent peak on the Pakistani side of the Himalayan range, and the world’s second tallest after Mount Everest. Contact with Goldfarb was lost and a helicopter rescue and search team was sent out. The Pakistan army on Monday found the body, after a day-long search, according to alpine official Karrar Haidri. Muhammad Ali Sadpara, a famous Pakistani mountaineer who was part of the rescue team, also tweeted the sad news. Efforts were now underway to bring Goldfarb's body down with the help of Pakistani and foreign mountaineers, Haidri told The Associated Press. Goldfarb and Hungarian mountaineer Zoltan Szlanko had initially planned to scale Pastore together but Szlanko later decided to turn back. Haidri expressed condolences to Goldfarb's family, saying “I will never forget his kindness." On Saturday, a team of Nepalese climbers made history by scaling K2 in the winter season. Haidri said this has never been done in winter. Winter winds on K2 can blow at more than 200 kilometres per hour (125 miles per hour) and temperatures drop to minus 60 degrees Celsius (minus 76 Fahrenheit). Hundreds of local and foreign climbers scale mountains and peaks in northern Pakistan every year and accidents are common because of avalanches and sudden changes in weather. The Associated Press
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Masks off the minute you step inside. Bars packed and pulsing like it’s 2019. Social media stars waving bottles of champagne. DJs spinning party tunes through multi-hour brunches. Since becoming one of the world's first destinations to open up for tourism, Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, has promoted itself as the ideal pandemic vacation spot. It cannot afford otherwise, analysts say, as the virus shakes the foundations of the city-state's economy. With its cavernous malls, frenetic construction and legions of foreign workers, Dubai was built on the promise of globalization, drawing largely from the aviation, hospitality and retail sectors — all hard hit by the virus. Now reality is catching up to the big-dreaming emirate. With peak tourism season in full swing, coronavirus infections are surging to unprecedented heights. Daily case counts have nearly tripled in the past month, forcing Britain to slam shut its travel corridor with Dubai last week. But in the face of a growing economic crisis, the city won't lock down. “Dubai's economy is a house of cards," said Matthew Page, a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “Its competitive advantage is being a place where rules don't apply." While most countries banned tourists from the U.K. over fears of the fast-spreading virus variant found there, Dubai, home to some 240,000 British expats, kept its doors open for the holidays. Emirates flew five daily flights to London’s Heathrow Airport. Within days, the new virus strain had arrived in the emirates, but that didn't stop reality TV and soccer stars from fleeing Britain's lockdown and wintry weather for Dubai’s bars and beaches — without taking a coronavirus test before boarding. Scenes of pre-pandemic revelry were splattered across British tabloids. Facing backlash, Instagram influencers spotted at raucous yacht parties were quick to proclaim their travel “essential.” Dubai was glad of the influx. Hotel occupancy rates surged to 71% in December, according to data provider STR. The London-Dubai air route ranked busiest in the world over the first week of January, said OAG, an aviation data analysis firm. “People have had enough of this pandemic already,” said Iris Sabellano from Dubai's Al Arabi Travel Agency, adding that many of her clients have been forced to quarantine after testing positive for the virus on arrival or before departure. Travelers coming from a select list of countries don't need to get tests before their trips but all must at Dubai's airport. “With vaccines coming out, they feel it's not the end of the world, they're not going to die," she said. For those who do die of COVID-19, Emirates Airlines offers to pay $1,800 to help cover funeral costs. As the outbreak worsens, it seems the stampede will slow. Israeli tourists, who were coming in the tens of thousands following a normalization deal between the countries, have vanished due to new quarantine rules. A decision to suspend visa waivers for Israelis to the UAE until July took effect Monday. Britain's move to mandate a 10-day quarantine for those returning from Dubai threatens to clobber what's left of the tourism sector. “Brits make up such an important proportion of tourists and investors in Dubai,” said David Tarsh, spokesman for ForwardKeys, a travel data-analysis company. “Cutting that pipeline ... is a complete disaster for the city." British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted that the government's decision was prompted by the UAE's latest virus data. Beyond daily infections, however, the data is scant. The UAE does not make public information about disease clusters or hospitalizations. Amid an aggressive testing campaign, the country has reported more than 256,000 cases and 751 deaths. Analysts speculate the UAE’s unique demographics — 90% expatriate, comprising mostly healthy, young labourers — have prevented well-staffed hospitals from becoming overwhelmed and kept the death rate low, at 0.3%. But that hasn’t assuaged Abu Dhabi, Dubai's more conservative neighbour and the country's capital. Without explanation, Abu Dhabi has kept its border with freewheeling Dubai shut, despite promises to reopen by Christmas. Anyone crossing into Abu Dhabi must present a negative coronavirus test. Relations between service-heavy Dubai and oil-rich Abu Dhabi can get tense. During the 2009 financial crisis, Abu Dhabi needed to rescue Dubai with a $20 billion bailout. This time, it's unclear whether Dubai can count on another cash infusion, given the crash in global oil prices. Even pre-pandemic, Dubai's economy was heading toward another downturn thanks to a shaky real estate market, which has plunged 30% in value since 2014 peaks. The emirate and its web of government-linked entities face billions of dollars in debt repayments. Already the government has stepped in to help Emirates Airlines, which received $2 billion in aid last year. Other indebted firms invested in hospitality and tourism may need help, especially with events like World Expo pushed back a year. S&P Global, a ratings agency, estimates Dubai's debt burden to be some 148% of gross domestic product if state-linked industries are included. Under pressure, authorities have seized on vaccines as the only way to contain the outbreak. Plastered across front pages of state-linked newspapers are stories touting the mass inoculation drive, which officials claim to be the world’s second-fastest after Israel, with 19 doses distributed for every 100 people as of Tuesday. The UAE is offering the Chinese coronavirus vaccine Sinopharm to everyone, even as its announcement about the shot's efficacy lacks data and details. Demand has overwhelmed supply for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Dubai, where hotline operators say thousands of high-risk residents remain on a waiting list. With the country shattering its infection record for seven consecutive days, Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, declared that widespread vaccination, not movement restrictions, would “accelerate the full recovery of our country.” But even if Dubai meets its goal of inoculating 70% of the population by the end of 2021, Moody’s Investors Service expects the UAE's economy to take three years to bounce back. “I don't think Dubai's days are numbered,” said Page, the Carnegie scholar. “But if the city were more modest and responsible, it would be a more sustainable place.” Isabel Debre, The Associated Press
OTTAWA — Almost two-thirds of Canadians would support a nightly curfew if necessary to curb the spread of COVID-19 — even though they're not convinced it would be effective, a new poll suggests.Sixty-five per cent of respondents to a poll by Léger and the Association for Canadian Studies said they would support temporary curfews in their provinces if recommended by public health officials.In Quebec, where the government imposed a month-long curfew 10 days ago, 74 per cent said they support the move.Nevertheless, only 57 per cent of Quebecers and just 39 per cent of respondents in the rest of the country said they think curfews are an effective way to reduce the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.The poll of 1,516 Canadians was conducted Jan. 15 to 18.Léger executive vice-president Christian Bourque said the results suggest Canadians "want to do their part and will stand by their governments" in efforts to reduce the spread of the virus. But it also suggests provinces "need to sell this thing (curfews) if they want to make it work." The poll also suggests that Canadians' mental health has suffered as the pandemic drags on.Twenty-one per cent rated their mental health as bad or very bad, up eight points since last April, when the first wave of COVID-19 rolled over Canada.Thirty-two per cent rated their mental health as excellent or very good, a 10-point drop since April. Another 45 per cent described their mental health as good, down three points since April.Bourque said mental health experts do not consider "good" to be a particularly positive rating, akin to someone saying they feel OK.The poll suggests 59 per cent remain somewhat or very afraid of contracting COVID-19, virtually unchanged since April.Seventy-one per cent of respondents said they intend to get vaccinated against the coronavirus when a vaccine becomes available to them.Two vaccines have been approved for use in Canada so far and provinces have begun immunizing front line health care workers, long-term care home workers and residents and some others considered among the most vulnerable.Forty-seven per cent of respondents said they'll take the first vaccine available to them, while 27 per cent said they'll wait for other vaccines to become available. Another 11 per cent said they won't take any vaccine and 15 per cent didn't know what they'll do.The online poll cannot be assigned a margin of error because internet-based polls are not considered random samples.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Joan Bryden, The Canadian Press
In a moment of nation-splintering turmoil, an incoming American president, Abraham Lincoln, travelled by train to his inauguration in Washington, D.C., in a nerve-racking ride cloaked in disguise as he faced threats to his life. Now, 160 years later, an incoming president has cancelled plans for a train ride to Washington. It was supposed to be a symbolic journey highlighting Joe Biden's decades-long habit of riding the rails to D.C. each day from his family home in Delaware. Instead, it has taken on a sad new symbolism, of an American capital clenched shut in fear of political violence at Wednesday's inauguration. The question nagging at residents here, and at security analysts, is whether the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the worst of a passing storm, a one-off, or the start of a dark era of political violence. What's already clear is this will be no normal inauguration. The American capital has transformed into a heavily armed and tightly barricaded fortress. "Clearly, we are in uncharted waters," Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser told a news conference last week, urging tourists to stay away from her city during the inauguration. Fences are now up around Washington's downtown. Thousands of soldiers are patrolling the streets, bridges are blocked, parking garages are shut, bicycle-sharing services are suspended, Airbnb reservations are cancelled, and residents are being urged on neighbourhood chat groups against renting rooms to tourists. Suspicion strikes Capitol Hill neighbourhood Security concerns are most acute in the neighbourhood near the Capitol. Lawyer Matt Scarlato already has an overnight bag packed in case unrest spills into his neighbourhood and he's forced to flee the city with his family. He lives near one of the new security barriers near Capitol Hill, where police are forcing residents on some streets to show ID if they want to access their home. Scarlato was working from home the day of the riot in the Capitol building, when unexploded bombs were found near political party offices. He received a message from his son's daycare urging parents to immediately come pick up their children. Scarlato grabbed a baseball bat and tossed it in the car for the ride to the daycare. "It was a minute-by-minute escalation," Scarlato said. "We were all just sitting in the house saying, 'What the hell is going on?'" A longtime resident of the area, he compared the recent panic to a smaller-scale version of what he witnessed during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. On the day of the Capitol riot, he was concerned by the sight of an unfamiliar RV on his street given the reports of bombs in Washington and the recent explosion in Nashville. For her part, Monica Ingram, a retired health-care administrator, was rattled yesterday morning by the sound of helicopters hovering over the same Capitol Hill neighbourhood. Around that same time, the congressional precinct was ordered evacuated. The panic was the result of an explosion and fire nearby, caused by a propane tank in a homeless encampment. Ingram said people now look at each other differently, warily. Ingram saw a man taking pictures of streets near the Capitol the other day and she worried whether he was up to something nefarious. "We're suspicious of each other now. It's sad," she said. "It's very disheartening, upsetting. It's like I don't even know this country anymore." WATCH | Staff and media scramble as a blast goes off during inauguration rehearsal: Some call for indoor inauguration She's among the many people with mixed feelings about whether this inauguration should even be happening in public. Ultimately, she prefers it going forward, as opposed to moving to a makeshift indoor location, in order to deliver a message: that this country won't buckle in fear. There is, however, a part of her that hopes Biden might throw another inaugural party, a year from now, a real festive party, after this pandemic, and this panic. Biden should have a "redo" inauguration, she said. "It's so sad that president-elect Biden has to be sworn in like this. It should be a day of joy for this country." There's no guarantee this place will feel safer in a year. Mark Hertling, a retired lieutenant-general who led U.S. soldiers in Europe, said he worries about whether the United States is now entering an era of political insurgency. And he's not alone. One-time riot or preview of insurgency? Some analysts who study domestic political violence have warned for years (in thesis papers and books and government reports) that the conditions existed for an American insurgency on the right. Those conditions include a proliferation of guns, a surge in ex-military joining militia groups, two increasingly hostile political parties, and a split along racial and cultural lines in a rapidly diversifying country. A 2018 book, Alt-America, charts how membership in armed militia groups skyrocketed after the election of a first Black president, Barack Obama, in 2008, and these fringe groups began showing up at political protests. Alleged members of such militias are now accused of participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, where numerous people were dressed in paramilitary-themed clothing and several could be heard in the crowd warning they'd be back with weapons. "Welcome to the reality of other countries," said Greg Ehrie, who led FBI domestic terrorism units and is now vice-president of law enforcement and analysis at the Anti-Defamation League. "There is sort of an underlying belief that if we can get through Wednesday, this stops and then it moves on. And that's just not true.… This is going to be something we're going to be living with for several years — this heightened sense of security." Details released since the siege of the Capitol suggest things could have been worse. Jan. 6 could have been worse One man arrested that day allegedly had two guns and enough materials to make 11 Molotov cocktails, and another allegedly had a loaded gun, spare bullets and a gas mask. A federal prosecutor said one air force veteran who carried plastic handcuffs intended to take hostages. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City said in a YouTube video she believed she was going to die during the riot in the Capitol and that she experienced a traumatic event she declined to discuss: "Many, many, many members of Congress were almost murdered," she said in the video. "We were very lucky [to escape]." One police officer died as a result of injuries sustained during the riot. Another said he narrowly survived the angry mob and described how he was Tasered while some wanted to take his gun and kill him with it. Joseph Young, a professor at American University in D.C. who studies the factors that drive political violence, usually in other countries, said he is bothered by the trends he sees. "More and more, my work has been applicable to the United States," he said in an interview. "[And that's] troubling." A word of historical caution He said it's wrong, however, to conclude this is a more violent political era than the 1960s and 1970s. The U.S. experienced hundreds of terrorist attacks back then, from white-supremacist church bombings to political assassinations to the activities of the left-wing group Weather Underground, which bombed the Capitol, the State Department and other government buildings. But he's still worried about the current U.S. situation. As are the authorities preparing for inauguration day. The Pentagon has authorized the Washington, D.C., National Guard to carry weapons on domestic soil amid ongoing worries about the possible use of explosives. About 25,000 National Guard troops from D.C. and several states were expected to be part of the security operation. National Guard members are being screened themselves for any extremist affiliations. On Tuesday, Pentagon officials said 12 National Guard members were removed from securing Biden's inauguration after vetting by the FBI, including two who posted and texted extremist views about Wednesday's event. A Secret Service member was reportedly under investigation over political comments related to the Capitol riot posted on Facebook. Jared Holt, an expert who monitors extremist chatter online, said it has gotten quieter lately. He said he was extremely worried before Jan. 6 about the heated and violent rhetoric he saw in online platforms. People were posting tips for smuggling guns into Washington and maps of the underground tunnels connecting the Capitol to lawmakers' offices. Those same forums erupted in joy after the attack. "It was initially jubilation," said Holt, of the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Washington-based Atlantic Council think-tank. "They were thrilled. They felt incredibly accomplished. [Now], the cohesion between groups has eroded." It became clear within hours of the riot that it might backfire — against those involved and against Donald Trump. It failed to stop the vote to certify Biden's election win. Then it led to Trump's swift impeachment in the House. WATCH | Preparations underway to fortify U.S. capital ahead of inauguration day: Has the threat already receded? Some rioters in the Capitol who posted triumphant images of themselves on social media have been arrested or fired from their jobs, with their posts used as evidence against them. Social media platforms are either limiting extremist rhetoric and shutting out Trump, are offline altogether (Parler), or are unusually slow (Gab). Holt now worries that violent rhetoric is moving to tighter channels that are harder to monitor publicly, such as Telegram and other private messaging apps. So residents of Washington, D.C., and the country as a whole, enter this historic transition week in a fog of uncertainty, about whether they've just witnessed a dark passing moment in the life of the American republic or a sombre omen. "It looks like a police state down here. We've never seen it like this," Emilie Frank, a communications professional, said in an interview a few days ago, referring to the imposing concrete-and-metal labyrinth being erected downtown. "It would normally be bustling, everybody's excited [for the inauguration]. But it's silent, blocked off, police cars everywhere." She doesn't know if any of this will be necessary. But she'd rather have this than the under-preparation by authorities that the city witnessed on Jan. 6, she said. "So, even if it's just [for] show, it's better than nothing, I guess," she said. "If some people will be convinced they should stay away after seeing all this stuff in place, then that's good." WATCH | Ex-FBI agent on the new domestic terrorism:
A new poll suggests Ontario Premier Doug Ford's popularity has dropped in the last three months, along with his government's approval rating, and a market research firm attributes the decline to the province's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ford, however, continues to be Ontario's most popular party leader and his popularity is still higher than it was before the pandemic knocked the province off course, according to the survey released Tuesday. In an online poll entitled "A New Year Brings Old Politics to Ontario," Abacus Data has found that only 39 per cent of respondents have a positive view of the premier, while 35 per cent have a negative view. Ford's personal popularity has plummeted seven per cent over the past three months, according to the survey. When it comes to the Ontario government, 10 per cent strongly approve of it and 34 per cent mostly approve, while 21 per cent mostly disapprove and 10 per cent strongly disapprove. Twenty four per cent feel neither way. There has been a decline of eight percentage points in the government's approval rating over the past three months, the poll suggests. Pollster David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data, told CBC Toronto this week that he believes the decline in numbers can be attributed to the government's handling of the pandemic's second wave. He said the numbers are clearly trending in the wrong direction for Ford and his Progressive Conservative government. "The overall picture that we're seeing in this poll suggests that over the last few months, both the government's approval rating and views of the premier have taken a hit, I think largely because of some mistakes or decisions that the government has made, specifically around COVID-19," Coletto said. Coletto noted that Ford is still viewed more positively than negatively and continues to have more people approving than disapproving of him. "But I think the longer this pandemic has gone on and the more challenging it actually has become to manage this crisis and deal with the second wave, the more toll it has taken to how people feel about this government and the premier specifically," he said. Ford's approval still higher than before pandemic The PC party, however, can take some solace in the finding that Ford is still getting higher approval numbers than he did before the pandemic, he said. In late 2019 and early 2020, more than 60 per cent of Ontarians had a negative view of the premier. Coletto added that Ford's rivals are not reaping benefits from the decline in his popularity. Feelings about NDP Leader Andrea Horwath are mixed, with 27 per cent having a positive view, 27 per cent having a neutral view and 28 per cent having a negative view. Thirty-eight per cent don't know enough about Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca to have an opinion of him. According to the poll, if a provincial election were called today, 34 per cent of Ontario residents would vote for Ford and the PC party, 29 per cent would vote Liberal, while 25 per cent would vote for the NDP. Colletto said he thinks the downward trend in numbers for Ford and his government are tied directly to what the public thinks of the government's pandemic approach. 37% think government in control of situation Only 37 per cent believe the Ontario government is in control of the situation right now, a drop of 25 percentage points since October. "The belief that the province has a clear plan, is providing consistent advice and guidance and is generally making the right decisions have all dropped significantly in the last few months," the poll suggests.. Sixty-one per cent of Ontario residents, for example, continue to believe the government is making public health "the priority." Twenty-seven per cent believe the premier has done a bad job and made crucial mistakes, an increase of 10 percentage points since October. "I think the reason that, despite the numbers softening, the premier remains more popular today than he was prior, is because at the core, far more people believe that the premier's intentions remain sound, that despite some mistakes that have been made, most people believe that he's either doing a really good job or there's some mistakes, but at the end of the day, he's doing the best that he can," Coletto said. "And that is what gives him, I think, some latitude with the public to make mistakes, to change course here and there, but at the end of the day, people have a good sense that he's doing what he can in a very challenging situation." As for the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, Ontario residents give the premier a little more slack. Twenty-two per cent believe Ford has done a good job, while 53 per cent believe he has made mistakes but has done as well as can be expected, while 25 per cent believe he has done a bad job and made crucial mistakes that could have been avoided. According to the survey, 43 per cent say vaccine distribution is going either well enough or very well, while 57 per cent say it is going poorly or very poorly. 75% say holiday trips 'completely unacceptable' Not surprisingly, the poll suggests 75 per cent of residents believe that holiday trips taken outside of the Canada by politicians and health-care leaders are "completely unacceptable." Nine in 10 residents have heard about the Caribbean vacation taken by Rod Phillips, former finance minister. Of those aware, only 37 per cent believe the premier handled the situation well, while 49 per cent believe he handled it poorly, with 14 per cent suggesting it was largely out of his hands. Coletto said he was not surprised by the "overwhelming anger and disappointment" over the trip and the general reaction that it was unacceptable. But he said it has had less of an impact on the government than pundits might expect, although it might have weakened trust in elected officials. "It hasn't cratered support for the government or approval rating for the premier," Coletto said. "And that, I think, continues to remind me and us that the people are looking at government today and all the actors in government through the lens of COVID and how they are trying to make people's lives better and protect people from from this virus." Nearly 900 residents surveyed in January The poll concludes that "a lot of the fundamentals" are declining for the Ford government. "His personal reputation, assessments of his government's leadership, and assessments of his handling of COVID-19 have all been in a steady decline over the past few months. However, vote dynamics are largely unchanged," the poll says. Abacus conducted the poll 793 Ontario residents recuruited online from Jan. 8 to 12, 2021. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 3.48 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 42,543 new vaccinations administered for a total of 613,285 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,618.197 per 100,000. There were 31,065 new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 848,565 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 72.27 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 1,531 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.104 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 47.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,502 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,102 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 32.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 61.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 3,769 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,600 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 7.788 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 23,000 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 33.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 2,704 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 10,436 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 13.379 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 17,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 58.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 6,845 new vaccinations administered for a total of 153,539 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.944 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 196,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 78.27 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 9,691 new vaccinations administered for a total of 209,788 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 14.282 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 277,050 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 75.72 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting 4,212 new vaccinations administered for a total of 17,751 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 12.891 per 1,000. There were 12,665 new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 46,290 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 3.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 38.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 2,459 new vaccinations administered for a total of 22,618 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 19.182 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 29,300 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.5 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 77.19 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 3,879 new vaccinations administered for a total of 89,814 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 20.403 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 101,275 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 88.68 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting 11,432 new vaccinations administered for a total of 87,346 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 17.021 per 1,000. There were 18,400 new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 117,875 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 74.1 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting 163 new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,347 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 32.278 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 18.71 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 512 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 11.348 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 7.111 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting 1,158 new vaccinations administered for a total of 2,141 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 55.286 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 35.68 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
City council unanimously voted on Monday to direct the fire service to start carrying naloxone nasal spray kits. The decision came after a motion was brought forward by Coun. Kieran McKenzie. "The numbers bear out the fact that we should be looking at adding this particular service as part of the the toolkit, the broader toolkit that we have with respect to harm reduction," he said, adding that it's a service used by many other communities in Ontario. Fire chief Stephen Laforet told city council he favoured the idea, noting that firefighters arrived first on scene of a suspected overdose before EMS 25 times last year. Naloxone can save lives when administered to someone who has overdosed on opioids. It temporarily reverses the effect of an overdose. "Putting [naloxone] on the trucks right now is not a significant burden and there is potential to help somebody in the future with it. So based on that, at this point in time, I would put it on," he said. Coun. Rino Bortolin said it's a "no-brainer" for all first responders to be carrying it across the region. "Naloxone is not the end-all-be-all, but it's a no-brainer that we should have it," he said. "Firefighters who are paid to respond to these types of events, who are trained, physically active and strong, capable people can easily be trained on how to address this." "If it gets used once in five years, that once makes it more than worth it." Laforet told city council it will cost $2,000 to train the fire department and will take about eight weeks. A report to council stated that drug-related overdoses and deaths "continue to be growing problem in North America" particularly those related to opioids. The report said the annual rate of opioid-related deaths in Ontario increased 285 per cent between 1991 and 2015. It said that 2018, there were 220 opioid-related emergency department visits in Windsor and Essex County. In 2019, there were 249, which is 3.2 times greater than the 78 opioid overdose ED visits in 2007. In 2019, 47 people died from opioid overdoses, according to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. Council supports WPS to carry naloxone Council also passed a motion advising the police that council was in favour of them carrying the life-saving drug as well, but not everyone was in favour of this, including Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens. "Arming your police officers to attend medical calls as opposed to crime-related calls, the chief will have to make that decision," he said. Coun. Fred Francis said he felt uncomfortable "micromanaging" the police board on what to do with respect to carrying naloxone. Currently, Windsor police have officers with three units — detention, city centre patrol and problem-oriented policing — that have access to the drug.
The union representing thousands of Mounties says it fears pandemic-related delays at the RCMP training depot will worsen its staffing crunch and increase the risk of officer burnout. "The RCMP [has] always had a challenge, from our perspective, of having enough resources in the field," National Police Federation president Brian Sauvé told CBC News. "Either through attrition, retirements, resignations or not enough candidates coming through the door — we can't meet the demand." Before the pandemic put life on hold, the force had 1,280 cadets (40 troops, each made up of 32 Mounties-in-training) enrolled for the 2019-2020 year. But the force temporarily suspended its training program in March and sent 16 troops home before they were able to finish the program in Saskatchewan. After a mandatory 14-day isolation period, cadets have started to return to the training facility. According to the RCMP's departmental report (which casts ahead to the 2021 year), the force is still hoping to graduate about 500 cadets this year. But it remains unclear how that pause might affect the RCMP's overall vacancy rate, which a spokesperson said won't be calculated until April. Sauvé said that while he's impressed with how the RCMP has implemented new safety protocols for returning cadets, he fears the delay will undermine hiring goals across the country. "It's still going to be for everybody, whether it's us or any other police service, a challenge to make up that backlog due to the stall," he said. According to statistics provided to CBC, the RCMP's overall vacancy rate sat at less than one per cent of the service's officer total — 19,050 regular member positions — as of April 1, 2020. The vacancy rate is particularly high in certain parts of the country. The Yukon, for example, has a vacancy rate of 12 per cent. Even after adding more officers, a quarter of shifts in the Moncton, N.B. region did not meet a minimum staff threshold last year. The Codiac Regional Policing Authority Board attributed that situation to the number of Mounties off work on long-term sick leave. The union has asked the federal government, through its pre-budget consultations, for $190 million to increase training capacity at the RCMP academy. It's also asking the RCMP to double the number of troops it moves through the academy every year. Sauvé said the force risks exhausting its front line officers — especially in smaller, under-served areas — by not filling those vacancies. "If there aren't enough people around, they will sacrifice their personal time, their family life and their annual leave in order to get the job done. So that leads to burnout," he said. "That leads to people who are being overworked, overstressed. It leads to a multitude of things — early onset operational stress injuries, post-traumatic stress [and] extended leaves of absence when that burnout culminates. "And also it leads to a degradation of family life, where you have children that don't see their parents that often. You have spouses who get disappointed in the fact that your husband, wife or partner who is a member of the RCMP is never home." Audit flags recruiting issues A June audit of the force's national recruiting program, first reported on by Blacklocks this summer, flagged a number of gaps in the RCMP's approach to recruitment. "With increased demands for police officers and in the absence of clearly defined suitability criteria, [regular member] recruitment focuses on the quantity of applicants with less focus on the quality of applicants," said the audit. In a statement to CBC, an RCMP spokesperson said the police service is in the midst of developing new strategies to recruit new members. "These initiatives are aligned with RCMP senior management's commitments to identify, attract and retain the skills, experience and competencies the organization needs to remain agile and successful in carrying out its responsibilities," said Robin Percival. For example, Percival said, the RCMP is looking to recruit more civilian employees in its federal policing wing, which covers organized crime, national security and cybercrime. "These efforts are also expected to have positive impacts in terms of increasing diversity and equitable representation across the RCMP workforce," she said. Sauvé said he hopes a new collective bargaining agreement between his union and the RCMP — which, when it's completed, will be a first in RCMP history — will make a career in the police force more attractive. "We're hoping to fix that through collective bargaining and ratifying a contract through the next year. But it is a policing problem," he said, adding that "you don't see the young kids today running around playing cops and robbers and wanting to grow up to be a police officer as much as they want to grow up to be a paramedic or a teacher or a fireman. "So as police services grow, we really need to, all of us, need to look at how we're going to make policing a more attractive profession for those who are considering a life in service to Canada."
OTTAWA — Annamie Paul has spent most of the past 10 months holed up in her apartment, just like you. But the Green leader's stationary status belies the quick pivot her team is making as they seek to shed the straitjacket of a single-issue party and reposition it at the vanguard of social justice. Paul, who beat out seven contenders in October to lead the Green Party of Canada, is carving a middle path among members who come in all shades of green. Their environmentalism ranges from market-based mechanisms for cutting pollution to eco-socialism that rejects capitalism as inherently destructive to the environment. But on the broader political spectrum, Paul's calls for a guaranteed livable income, universal pharmacare and child care, and free post-secondary education aim to attract voters who sit squarely to the left of Greens of decades past. Until recently, fiscal conservatism marked a "point of pride" for the party, she said, a way to "neutralize that argument that these green needs are all well and fine but they're not really fiscally responsible." No longer. "There is no plan for a balanced budget from us," Paul said in an interview, citing a "global consensus" among G20 countries that massive spending is needed to prop up sagging economies. While that view fits neatly into Liberal justifications for ballooning deficit forecasts, her criticism of how elected officials have handled long-term care is not so compatible. Perhaps more than any other leader, Paul has zeroed in on the crisis in seniors' homes, where in Ontario the COVID-19 death toll in the second wave threatens to surpass that of the first. She has hosted a half-dozen virtual town halls and roundtables over the past few weeks, speaking with epidemiologists, scientists and researchers to root out the best response to the lethal contagion. Paul, whose father died during the first wave at the care home harbouring Ontario's worst coronavirus infection rate, is demanding Prime Minister Justin Trudeau create a "rapid-response task force" to curb COVID-19 by improving co-ordination between levels of government. She also wants to see Ottawa, in partnership with provinces and territories, move to eradicate private care homes, on top of hiring more and better-paid staff and rethinking shared rooms. "For-profit long-term care absolutely needs to go," she said. Private homes in Ontario were more likely to see extensive COVID-19 outbreaks and a higher number of deaths, indicated a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in August. But 108 days after taking the reins, Paul still struggles to be heard above the din of daily politics. The Greens' rollcall of three MPs, including former party leader Elizabeth May but not Paul herself, means the party does not have official status in Parliament, leaving them little time on the floor. Their polling numbers have barely budged beyond six or seven per cent since the last federal election in October 2019, said Abacus Data CEO David Coletto. Though nearly one in three Canadians say they would consider voting Green, a major hurdle remains the fierce competition for left-leaning voters. "You've got, obviously, the New Democrats who are trying to occupy that kind of space that includes both an environmental agenda and one that's built around social justice and achieving equality," Coletto said in an interview. "The Liberal party, while not as aggressive on some of that rhetoric ... is also in that space." A smaller slice of potential Green voters tilt toward the Bloc Québécois or the Conservatives, he said. "How do you differentiate the Greens, make them a credible alternative for people who might otherwise vote NDP or Liberal or Bloc in Quebec and, on top of that, make a vote for them not feel like a waste in our first-past-the-post system?" While the Greens earned nearly as many votes as the Bloc in 2019 — 6.55 per cent of ballots cast versus 7.53 per cent respectively — the separatist party's concentrated support earned it 32 seats compared to just three for the Greens, whose backing is more diffuse. "I think it often comes down to being a protest vote," Coletto said. "But there still doesn't appear to be in the broader public-opinion landscape a genuine desire to do politics differently, or to feel that the three or four main parties are fundamentally broken. ... And in the midst of a pandemic, it's going to be even harder to convince people to vote for an untested, new kind of party." Paul, a non-practising lawyer who is bilingual and has spent much of her career at intergovernmental institutions such as the International Criminal Court, hopes to gain visibility by participating in the leaders' debates leading up to a potential federal election this year. Critical to that longer-term end — screen time — is first finding a riding where Paul can marshal ballots from students, young people and progressive voters to vault her onto the parliamentary stage. She lost a byelection to replace former finance minister Bill Morneau in the Liberal stronghold of Toronto Centre in October. Now the Princeton-educated activist is eyeing ridings including Toronto—Danforth, Davenport and Guelph, where Ontario Green Leader Mike Schreiner has the party's sole provincial seat. "Strategically, winning in Toronto would send a message that the Greens can compete and win in a different type of riding, one that is more urban and diverse than any they've historically done well in," said Amara Possian, a professor in the government-relations graduate program at Seneca College in Toronto. Paul's team is hoping for breakthroughs that build on last year's successes in the Maritimes and that draw on a more diverse slate of candidates. "Canada's only becoming more diverse. And that still isn't sufficiently reflected in our in our political culture," said Paul, the 48-year-old daughter of immigrants and the first Black Canadian and first Jewish woman to serve as permanent head of a federal party. "Those kinds of things are threats to democracy because it causes people to disengage from the system when they don't see themselves reflected in the institutions." Whether Paul herself can go from her apartment to the House of Commons — and take a few more Green MPs with her — will play out after the writ drops, likely in 2021. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
MILAN — European car sales plunged by nearly a quarter last year as the pandemic provoked the worst crisis ever to hit the capital-intensive industry. New car registrations sank by 23.7%, or 3 million vehicles, to 9.9 million units, according to new figures released Tuesday by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association. It said lockdowns and other restrictions “had an unprecedented impact on car sales across Europe.” All major markets recorded double-digit declines, down 32.3% in Spain, 28% in Italy and 25% in France. Germany suffered a more contained 19% drop. December sales were just 3.3% lower than the previous year, but performance varied drastically between markets. Italy and Spain both had double-digit dips, Germany gained 10% while Spain was flat. Germany’s Volkswagen shed 3% in market share, while gains were posted by PSA Peugeot and Fiat Chrysler -- which on Monday officially launched as a new merged entity -- as well as Toyota. The Associated Press
Sometimes, it's a split-second decision that changes the course of history — or, in the case of Alec Snelgrove, changes our view of history. Thanks to Snelgrove and his family, 843 photos depicting the early years of Corner Brook and its paper mill are now in the safe keeping of the Corner Brook Museum and Archives. Snelgrove was a mill supervisor at the newsprint mill in Corner Brook in 1984 when the mill was sold by the Bowater Corporation to Kruger, the current owner. Snelgrove came across a pile of photos and mementos set aside to go in the trash and, instead of letting them end up in a landfill, he gathered up some of the photos to rescue them from that fate. After he died in 2001, his family donated the photos to the museum, which has been sharing some of the images recently on its Facebook and Instagram accounts. "He would be so proud. He would be so happy right now," said Snelgrove's daughter, Catherine Cooke, in an interview for CBC Newfoundland Morning. Disbelief over discards Cooke said her father loved history and would often take her to the Corner Brook waterfront to watch the log booms coming down the Humber River. She believes it was his love for the mill and for the community that made him want to take the photos home with him. The Corner Brook newsprint mill was built in the early 1920s and first produced paper in 1925. The photos rescued by Snelgrove show the mill under construction and in its early years of operation, as well as logging operations in an era when horses were used to haul logs out of the woods. Cooke said her father couldn't believe the photos were being discarded. But Cooke's husband, Mark, who also happens to work at the paper mill, said he can understand why the mill's new owner didn't have the same appreciation for the history of the mill as Bowater did. "For a new company coming in, there's no nostalgia to the area. There's no connection with the building of the power plant or the horse-drawn log hauling of the past. But this is all the history of Corner Brook," said Mark Cooke. Treated like trash The disposal of items that may have historical significance is not as uncommon as one might hope, according to George French, archivist and manager at the Corner Brook Museum and Archives. French knows of other instances when businesses have been sold or shut down and people have rescued materials from being thrown out, but he is resigned to the fact that not everything gets saved. "Things are lost every day, unfortunately, that I would see value in. But not everybody sees the same value," said French. One-of-a-kind photos French said, thanks to the photos donated by the Cookes, the Corner Brook Museum and Archives now has one of the largest collections of photos of the mill that exist anywhere. "I think they're very important. Every time we get more documentary evidence of life in Corner Brook through its past, I think it adds to the local culture, the heritage, and also a sense of community memory," said French. While some of the 843 photos are duplicates that exist elsewhere, French said some of them offer a completely new perspective on the mill, based on the vantage point from which the photos were taken. "I've seen a lot of photographs of the mill over the past 20 years here at the museum, and it's the first time I've ever seen this portion of the mill being built and near what was called the acid plant," French said, with reference to one of the photos. "This is the first time I've seen when it was the train tracks going along there and they were using the area as a parking lot as opposed to where the road is now for the [Lewin] Parkway. So I have not seen the image of that perspective before. And sometimes that different perspective and context can bring new light to information," said French. Pandemic photo sharing The photos donated by the Cookes were posted publicly just recently, following years of museum staff worked with them, adding descriptions to catalog them properly and, last summer, scanning them to create digital images. Then, due to the pandemic, the museum did not open up to visitors so staff weren't busy with the usual tours and programming. As a result, French directed staff to spend time digitizing the photos, which are now being shared on social media. French said it's been a way to stay connected with the public despite COVID-19 restrictions. "It's really been an outlet, a way of still providing services to the public during the pandemic and still being there in the public sphere," said French. As for Snelgrove's family, they're delighted to see the photos popping up on their social media feeds. "I mean these were not something you'd want to tuck away and look at every now and then, like wedding photos," said Mark Cooke. "This is not just pictures of us and our family, but pictures that everybody in the city should have access to." Thanks to Alec Snelgrove's quick action more than 35 years ago and the Cookes' donation to the museum, city residents and history buffs far and wide will be able to see and appreciate the photos well into the future. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
The company that operates the Eurostar rail service between the UK and mainland Europe has called for a UK government bailout following a collapse in travel. The train operator runs daily services through the Channel Tunnel between London, Paris and Brussels.View on euronews
The race against the virus that causes COVID-19 has taken a new turn: Mutations are rapidly popping up, and the longer it takes to vaccinate people, the more likely it is that a variant that can elude current tests, treatments and vaccines could emerge. The coronavirus is becoming more genetically diverse, and health officials say the high rate of new cases is the main reason. Each new infection gives the virus a chance to mutate as it makes copies of itself, threatening to undo the progress made so far to control the pandemic. On Friday, the World Health Organization urged more effort to detect new variants. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a new version first identified in the United Kingdom may become dominant in the U.S. by March. Although it doesn’t cause more severe illness, it will lead to more hospitalizations and deaths just because it spreads much more easily, said the CDC, warning of “a new phase of exponential growth.” “We’re taking it really very seriously," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government's top infectious disease expert, said Sunday on NBC's “Meet the Press.” “We need to do everything we can now ... to get transmission as low as we possibly can,” said Harvard University’s Dr. Michael Mina. “The best way to prevent mutant strains from emerging is to slow transmission.” So far, vaccines seem to remain effective, but there are signs that some of the new mutations may undermine tests for the virus and reduce the effectiveness of antibody drugs as treatments. “We’re in a race against time" because the virus “may stumble upon a mutation” that makes it more dangerous, said Dr. Pardis Sabeti, an evolutionary biologist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Younger people may be less willing to wear masks, shun crowds and take other steps to avoid infection because the current strain doesn’t seem to make them very sick, but “in one mutational change, it might,” she warned. Sabeti documented a change in the Ebola virus during the 2014 outbreak that made it much worse. MUTATIONS ON THE RISE It's normal for viruses to acquire small changes or mutations in their genetic alphabet as they reproduce. Ones that help the virus flourish give it a competitive advantage and thus crowd out other versions. In March, just a couple months after the coronavirus was discovered in China, a mutation called D614G emerged that made it more likely to spread. It soon became the dominant version in the world. Now, after months of relative calm, “we’ve started to see some striking evolution” of the virus, biologist Trevor Bedford of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle wrote on Twitter last week. “The fact that we’ve observed three variants of concern emerge since September suggests that there are likely more to come.” One was first identified in the United Kingdom and quickly became dominant in parts of England. It has now been reported in at least 30 countries, including the United States. Soon afterward, South Africa and Brazil reported new variants, and the main mutation in the version identified in Britain turned up on a different version “that’s been circulating in Ohio ... at least as far back as September,” said Dr. Dan Jones, a molecular pathologist at Ohio State University who announced that finding last week. “The important finding here is that this is unlikely to be travel-related” and instead may reflect the virus acquiring similar mutations independently as more infections occur, Jones said. That also suggests that travel restrictions might be ineffective, Mina said. Because the United States has so many cases, “we can breed our own variants that are just as bad or worse” as those in other countries, he said. ___ TREATMENT, VACCINE, REINFECTION RISKS Some lab tests suggest the variants identified in South Africa and Brazil may be less susceptible to antibody drugs or convalescent plasma, antibody-rich blood from COVID-19 survivors — both of which help people fight off the virus. Government scientists are “actively looking” into that possibility, Dr. Janet Woodcock of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration told reporters Thursday. The government is encouraging development of multi-antibody treatments rather than single-antibody drugs to have more ways to target the virus in case one proves ineffective, she said. Current vaccines induce broad enough immune responses that they should remain effective, many scientists say. Enough genetic change eventually may require tweaking the vaccine formula, but “it’s probably going to be on the order of years if we use the vaccine well rather than months,” Dr. Andrew Pavia of the University of Utah said Thursday on a webcast hosted by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Health officials also worry that if the virus changes enough, people might get COVID-19 a second time. Reinfection currently is rare, but Brazil already confirmed a case in someone with a new variant who had been sickened with a previous version several months earlier. ___ WHAT TO DO “We’re seeing a lot of variants, viral diversity, because there’s a lot of virus out there,” and reducing new infections is the best way to curb it, said Dr. Adam Lauring, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Loyce Pace, who heads the non-profit Global Health Council and is a member of President-elect Joe Biden’s COVID-19 advisory board, said the same precautions scientists have been advising all along “still work and they still matter.” “We still want people to be masking up,” she said Thursday on a webcast hosted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “We still need people to limit congregating with people outside their household. We still need people to be washing their hands and really being vigilant about those public health practices, especially as these variants emerge.” ___ AP Medical Writer Carla K. Johnson in Seattle contributed reporting. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Marilynn Marchione, The Associated Press
Some Toronto business owners are getting help with e-commerce as government rules aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19 are forcing them into the digital marketplace — and into competition with established online brands. The Chinatown Business Improvement Area (BIA) has hired two students to assist local businesses with setting up online sales and digital marketing strategy. A study conducted by the BIA found that area businesses have been struggling to establish an online presence. Many have been unable to build web pages or even set up basic business profiles on platforms such as Google or Facebook. "They're not on those platforms. They rely mainly on word of mouth," fourth-year U of T student Della Zheng said in an interview. Zheng is one of the students now working with the BIA. She started by surveying Chinatown businesses for their online presence. As a 24 year-old who does most of her shopping online, the results were a reality check. "More than half of them don't have a Google My Business profile online. And that's really surprising to me," she said. Language barrier Making matters worse, the Chinatown area, centred on Spadina Avenue and Dundas Street West in downtown Toronto, relies heavily on foot traffic and in-person sales, which has become heavily restricted in Ontario, especially now that the entire province is under a state of emergency and a stay-at-home order. As well, according to the BIA, Mandarin- and Cantonese-speaking business owners looking to get their shops and restaurants online are also confronting a language barrier in the mostly English-speaking world of e-commerce. The organization hired students who speak all three languages. Tonny Louie, chair of the Chinatown BIA and owner of Grossman's Tavern, says sales at local businesses are down between 60 and 100 per cent. "All the businesses are down. People are suffering, especially the restaurants, and there's no end in sight," Louie said in an interview. It was feedback from owners, Louie said, that pushed the BIA into helping them get online. "We have a fabulous group of staff members that are reaching out to businesses to tell them how to do it," he said. Digital Main Street Grant It begins with setting up a basic online presence for a business, Zheng said. She is also helping them use the Spotify e-commerce platform. Zheng then takes 360-degree digital photos at the businesses that can be uploaded online for virtual browsing or just so customers can get a sense of where they're shopping. The BIA is also connecting business owners with the Ontario government's Digital Main Street Grant, which can provide up to $2,500 to help businesses adapt to new technologies and embrace digital marketing. "Our government recognizes that small businesses impacted by necessary public health measures will require support and additional resources to adapt to new ways of doing business, such as greater e-commerce capability," said Rebecca Bozzato, spokesperson for Vic Fedeli, Ontario's minister of economic development, job creation and trade. The province is also assisting small businesses with other programs, including one that provides one-on-one tech support, as well as a grant to purchase personal protective equipment. In a statement, Fedeli's spokesperson also added that the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant will provide up to $20,000 to eligible small business owners to help them through the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic and government restrictions.
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s military kicked off a ground forces drill on Tuesday along the coast of the Gulf of Oman, state TV reported, the latest in a series of snap exercises that the country is holding amid escalating tensions over its nuclear program and Washington’s pressure campaign against Tehran. According to the report, commando units and airborne infantry were participating in the annual exercise, along with fighter jets, helicopters and military transport aircraft. Iran's National Army chief Abdolrahim Mousavi was overseeing the drill. Iran has recently stepped up military drills as part of an effort to pressure President-elect Joe Biden over the nuclear deal that President Donald Trump pulled out of. Biden has said the U.S. could rejoin the multinational accord meant to contain Iran’s nuclear program. On Saturday, Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard conducted a drill, launching anti-warship ballistic missiles at a simulated target at a distance of some 1,800 kilometres (1,120 miles) in the Indian Ocean, a day after the Guard’s aerospace division launched surface-to-surface ballistic missiles and drones against “hypothetical enemy bases” in the country’s vast central desert. Last Thursday, Iran’s navy fired cruise missiles as part of a naval drill in the Gulf of Oman, under surveillance of what appeared to be a U.S. nuclear submarine. Earlier last week, the Guard’s affiliated forces carried out a limited manoeuvr in the Persian Gulf after a massive, drones-only drill across half of the country earlier in January. Tensions between Washington and Tehran have increased amid a series of incidents stemming from Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers. In the final days of the Trump administration, Tehran seized a South Korean oil tanker and begun enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade levels, while the U.S. sent B-52 bombers, the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier and a nuclear submarine into the region. Trump in 2018 unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from Iran’s nuclear deal, in which Tehran had agreed to limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Trump cited Iran’s ballistic missile program among other issues in withdrawing from the accord. When the U.S. then stepped up economic sanctions, Iran gradually abandoned the limits that the deal had imposed on its nuclear development. Nasser Karimi, The Associated Press
Beijing-based ByteDance recently launched its own third-party payment service for Douyin, the Chinese version of its hit short video app TikTok, as it presses to expand into the e-commerce business in China. "The set-up of Douyin Pay is to supplement the existing major payment options, and to ultimately enhance user experience on Douyin," Douyin said in a statement to Reuters on Tuesday. Users of Douyin, which accumulated 600 million daily active users, previously could use Ant Group's Alipay and Tencent Holdings' WeChat Pay, the country's two ubiquitous third-party mobile payment channels, to buy virtual gifts for livestreamers or items from shops on the platform.
After 60 years of nurturing and selling countless plants and blooms, as well as dispensing gardening tips to thousands of local green thumbs, J.A. Laporte Flowers and Nursery in Orléans has closed. Founded in 1960 by Thérèse and Roger Laporte, the mom and pop organization grew from one to 17 greenhouses, cultivating thousands of plant varieties. "It's not a decision we made lightly," said Jean Laporte, who along with his wife Estelle Laporte, took over the family business from his parents almost 40 years ago. The pandemic and the restrictions it brought to businesses created a number of challenges, including forcing the garden centre to reduce staff from 27 to six people and moving to curbside service. "We worked seven days a week, 16, 18 hours a day to maintain those greenhouses," said Jean. And although curbside business was brisk, with an estimated 500 customer orders served daily, it was exhausting. "I've said to myself that I would never go through a curbside year again," said Jean. "I mean, we'd be open till 4 p.m. and we'd go home full dead, like never before. " Customers thank the owners Long-time customers have flooded the company's Facebook page with good wishes, but also notes of sadness. "I have cried just hearing the overwhelming response that we're getting that is so heartfelt," said Estelle, who said before the pandemic, she'd greet returning clients as friends with smiles and even hugs. But the joy she felt helping customers make choices about what to plant disappeared with physical distancing rules. "It broke my heart when I would have to stand outside and run to the cars with orders," said Estelle. "I'd see customers in the distance waving at me and I couldn't get close to them." Jean said the most difficult aspect of the decision was telling his 95-year-old father, who started the family business so long ago, about the closure. Jean said when he visited his father and told him the decision was made for the good of the family, he understood. "He took it quite well. I was quite surprised and very happy of course."
Russia has opened a criminal case against a police officer accused of leaking data that could have helped identify the alleged poisoners of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, the RBC business daily reported on Tuesday, citing sources. The information leaked, according to RBC, is thought to relate to flights taken by agents from the FSB security service with specialised knowledge on chemical weapons identified in an investigation as having secretly followed Navalny for several years. "Investigators are not looking for or imprisoning Navalny's poisoners, but those who disclosed their data," Georgy Alburov, an ally of Navalny, wrote on Twitter.