The president of a YMCA in northern New Jersey who organizes a weekly food giveaway says food insecurity is growing, and people are getting desperate. (Dec. 16)
The president of a YMCA in northern New Jersey who organizes a weekly food giveaway says food insecurity is growing, and people are getting desperate. (Dec. 16)
WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden's forthcoming immigration plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscoring that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly. In a further complication, several pro-immigration groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratoriums on deportations, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigration push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals' demands illustrated the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump's restrictive and often harsh immigration policies come to an end. “It simply wouldn't have happened without us," Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden's victory. “So we are now in a powerful position." Biden plans to introduce the legislation shortly after being inaugurated Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that's defied major congressional action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump's impeachment trial, confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber's top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him" on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress. Biden's proposal would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden's transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity. With an eye toward discouraging a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package's route to citizenship would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditional trade-off of dramatically enhanced border security that's helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday. “A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "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., often a central player in Senate immigration battles. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a Monday tweet. That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favours curbing immigration. “Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run," Krikorian said. Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigration, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigration reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible." He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOP-run House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8" senators that helped win Senate approval. Under Biden's legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they pursue citizenship. For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. Biden is also expected to take swift executive actions, which require no congressional action, to reverse other Trump immigration actions. These include ending to the prohibition on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries. The legislation represents Biden's bid to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with the GOP to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades. That kind of major win, even if it involves compromise, could be critical for Biden. He'll be seeking legislative victories in a Congress where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities, like rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending. Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. Democrats currently control the House 222-211, with two vacancies. ___ Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego also contributed to this report. Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
CALGARY — What Marie-Philip Poulin looks forward to the most at the Canadian women's hockey team camp is simply lining up for drills and seeing her teammates' faces. It's been 10 months since the national women's hockey team was on the ice together. Hockey Canada obtained the necessary exemptions from Alberta Health to hold a 14-day camp in Calgary amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Poulin, Canada's captain, has missed the competition and camaraderie desperately. "It means a lot. It's been a long time coming," said the 29-year-old forward from Beauceville Que. "Just being back here as a group in Calgary, it's going to be awesome just to get back on the ice and really connect." All players and staff were told to quarantine for seven days and get tested for the virus before heading to Calgary. Of the 47 players invited, 35 arrived Sunday to quarantine in their hotel rooms and be tested four times over five days. Barring positive tests, the players were scheduled to start skating in groups of three Tuesday before larger groups hit the ice Thursday. Three intrasquad games are planned. "These women want the opportunity to just compete a little bit against each other," head coach Troy Ryan said. "That's one of the biggest things we're going to be able to provide them at this camp. "It brings a little bit of normal life back to them. Although it looks totally different, I think it kind of gives them a little bit of hope." The dozen invitees not in Calgary were classified as "unable to attend", which ranges from injury, college commitments and COVID exposure, but they'll participate in virtual meetings and activities, said Hockey Canada director of women’s national teams Gina Kingsbury. "We're seeing everyone on the screen. We just won't see everyone on the ice," Kingsbury said. Canada's last international game was Feb. 8, 2020, to cap a five-game Rivalry Series against the United States. At a short camp in Toronto later that month, Hockey Canada finalized the roster for the women's world championship, but the tournament in Nova Scotia was cancelled and rescheduled to April 7-17, 2021. Canada's international games in the 23 months since finishing third in the 2019 world championship in Finland has been limited to seven games against the U.S. The 2019 Four Nations Cup in Sweden was cancelled because of a dispute between the host women's team and its own federation. Women's professional hockey was in transition when the pandemic hit. The majority of the Canadian women's team belongs to the Professional Women's Hockey Players' Association (PWHPA) which has yet to announce any showcase tournaments this winter. So a perfect storm of circumstances has Canada's top female hockey players sorely lacking in meaningful games. Women in the national team pool train in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary hubs under varying restrictions and have skills coaches employed by Hockey Canada. Poulin's on-ice environment in Montreal has ranged from a limit of three players on the ice to larger groups with everyone wearing masks while they skate. "It's been a little difficult," Poulin acknowledged. "It's been challenging, but any time we had a chance to jump on the ice as a group, we took advantage and really pushed each other. Beyond camp is continued uncertainty over if and when the women's world championship will happen. Hockey Canada's operation of the national junior men's team and world under-20 tournament that concluded Jan. 5 in Edmonton paved a path for this women's camp and potentially the world championship to go ahead in a pandemic. "I hear from Hockey Canada the commitment is there," Kingsbury said. "If one country can do it's definitely us and we've shown that with world juniors. "It's just a matter of when in the year that looks like. I'm confident it will happen in the spring. It might be a few weeks later or a month later." The Calgary' camp, which concludes Jan. 30, is normally held in September. Ryan wants the players to focus on what they have and not what they're missing. "There's no way we would have been able to do this camp a few months ago, so it's a step in the right direction for sure," he said. "All the things that had to be done to make this camp possible, if you're not someone that steps back from that and actually appreciates it, I'm not sure that's the type of person we're going to have success with." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
VICTORIA — British Columbia's representative for children and youth says she has heard harrowing stories from those who were involuntarily hospitalized for a mental illness without access to legal advice. Jennifer Charlesworth has released a report with input from youth who say they were restrained, medicated and secluded against their will. Charlesworth is calling on the B.C. government to amend the Mental Health Act to allow youth to have access to a legal advocate while they're in care. She says that while the Health Ministry believes Indigenous youth are overrepresented when it comes to being detained in hospital, it lacks data on how many youth are being affected. Charlesworth says that's troubling because young people are being retraumatized when what they need is care that is culturally appropriate. She says over a decade, the number of children held under the Mental Health Act has increased an alarming 162 per cent, bringing into question the voluntary system of care and treatment. The province paused legislation last July to amend the act after Charlesworth and some First Nations groups said youth worried about being detained would fear asking for help. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
MONTREAL — The COVID-19 vaccine rollout is highlighting the disconnect between the way Canadians see their role in the world and reality, according to international affairs experts. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau boasts that the country has secured more vaccine per capita than any other country. Canada's pre-purchase agreements for nearly 400 million doses would give it enough to cover the entire population five times over. But as Ottawa faces pressure to help poorer countries access COVID-19 vaccines, it is also being pulled internally by provinces demanding their citizens be vaccinated as quickly as possible. The federal government says it will donate hundreds of millions of dollars to help developing countries vaccinate their citizens. But federal Procurement Minister Anita Anand has said Canada will do "whatever it takes'' to get more vaccine delivered to the country sooner — including, she said, by upping the price it is willing to pay. David Hornsby, professor of international affairs at Carleton University, said the pandemic has shed light on an inward-looking trend that has been developing in the country for decades. Over the past 25 to 30 years, Hornsby said in a recent interview, Canada has gone from having a “very broad and inclusive definition of national interest” to one that is “very narrow and very much focused and located on what is immediately relevant to Canadians.” Canada’s role in international organizations also declined over that period, he added. Canada is certainly not alone in wanting to help itself before it helps others. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, this week warned that the world is “on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure” as rich countries make deals to secure vaccine and drive up prices. While more than 39 million doses of vaccine have been administered in 49 higher-income countries, said Tedros, who goes by his first name, only one country that the WHO considers lowest income has given out any vaccine — a total of 25 doses. But on Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada had made the right move by signing bilateral deals with drug makers — the exact sort of deals criticized by Tedros. "We took extra care to sign more contracts with more potential vaccine makers than most of our allies and indeed have secured more doses per person than any other country," Trudeau told reporters. Jason Nickerson, humanitarian affairs adviser for Doctors Without Borders, says he's worried wealthy countries such as Canada will vaccinate people who are at lower risk of developing serious cases of COVID-19 before people at high risk in poorer countries get their shots. "I think there's just a straight moral obligation to vaccinate people who are at a higher risk of developing the disease, developing severe complications and dying from it when we have a vaccine that could potentially prevent all of those things from happening," Nickerson said in a recent interview. Maxwell Smith, a medical ethicist at Western University and a member of Ontario’s Vaccine Distribution Task Force, said it makes sense that Canadian governments want to get vaccines as fast as they can, but Canadians, he said, also need to recognize that vaccines are a scarce global public good. "Everyone really needs it and would benefit from it,” he said in a recent interview. “That's not to say that Canada doesn't have a particular obligation to its citizens and shouldn't be trying to do what we're doing in getting as many vaccines as quickly as possible into this country. But I hope that it's being balanced against our obligations, also, to those in other countries and our obligations based in our humanity.” Federal International Development Minister Katerina Gould said she doesn't think the idea of inoculating Canadians quickly while helping other countries access vaccines is mutually exclusive. “We're going to ensure that we vaccinate our own population, but at the same time, support global multilateral efforts to vaccinate those who otherwise would not have access to a COVID-19 vaccine,” she said in an interview Monday. But Canada is facing criticism from groups that say it needs to act faster to support global efforts, especially because it has pre-purchase agreements for more doses of vaccine than any other country in the world. Anne-Catherine Bajard, a policy manager with Oxfam Canada, said Canada has made a strong commitment to COVAX, an international organization that aims to help lower-income countries access vaccines. But she'd like to see Canada start contributing to the COVAX vaccine pool immediately, rather than waiting to vaccinate all Canadians first. It's not just the right thing to do from a humanitarian perspective, she said in an interview Friday. There’s also an element of self-interest. “We're not going to stop the pandemic if we do it one country at a time," she said. While the federal government has “secured access” to nearly 400 million doses, Gould said most of those doses remain hypothetical. Only two of the seven vaccines that Ottawa has the right to buy have been approved by Health Canada. “We don't actually have a closet full of hidden vaccines," she said. "These doses don't yet exist." Gould, who co-chairs a COVAX governance body, said Canada is one of the top five donors to the ACT-Accelerator, the international organization that runs COVAX. In total, the federal government said it has committed $865 million in funding to the organization in addition to any donations of surplus vaccine. While the federal government did not provide a timeline for that commitment, according to data from Gavi, the ACT-Accelerator's parent organization, Canada has committed to provide $600 million in direct funding between 2021 and 2025 and to provide $246 million to COVAX this year. And while Canada might be more inward-looking today than in generations past, Hornsby noted the country remains deeply integrated into the global economy and that many Canadians have family overseas. That means Canada can’t isolate itself from the rest of the world and only focus on vaccinating people here, he said. Finding a "happy medium" is difficult, he added. "There's going to be clear winners and clear losers." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. ——— This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship. Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Federal authorities arrested a woman whose former romantic partner says she took a laptop from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the riot at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. Riley June Williams was arrested Monday, according to a Justice Department official. The federal prosecutors' office in Harrisburg, where she was jailed, said Williams was due in court Tuesday afternoon. The FBI said in an arrest warrant Sunday that Williams hasn't been charged with theft but only with illegally entering the Capitol and with disorderly conduct. FBI officials said a caller claiming to be an ex of Williams said friends of hers showed him a video of Williams taking a laptop computer or hard drive from Pelosi's office. The caller alleged that Williams intended to send the device to a friend in Russia who planned to sell it to that country's foreign intelligence service, but that plan fell through and she either has the device or destroyed it. The FBI says the matter remains under investigation. Pelosi's deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, confirmed Jan. 8 that a laptop was taken from a conference room but said “it was a laptop that was only used for presentations." Williams’ mother, who lives with her in Harrisburg, told ITV reporters that her daughter had taken a sudden interest in President Donald Trump’s politics and “far-right message boards.” Her father, who lives in the Harrisburg suburb of Camp Hill, told local law enforcement that he and his daughter went to Washington on the day of the protest but didn't stay together, meeting up later to return to Harrisburg, the FBI said. Williams' mother told local law enforcement that her daughter packed a bag and left before she was arrested, saying she would be gone for a couple of weeks. She also changed her phone number and deleted a number of social media accounts, the FBI said. Court documents don't list an attorney for her. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Troops in riot gear lined the streets of the nation's capitol, but there were no crowds. Armored vehicles and concrete barriers blocked the empty streets around the U.S. Capitol. From behind miles of fencing, Joe Biden was safely sworn in as president in a Washington on edge, two weeks after pro-Trump rioters besieged the U.S. Capitol. Law enforcement officials contended not only with the potential for outside threats but also with rising concerns about an insider attack. Officials were monitoring members of far-right extremist and militia groups, increasingly concerned about the possibility such groups could stream into Washington and spark violent confrontations, a law enforcement official said. There were a few scattered arrests, but no serious disruptions in the city during Biden's inauguration ceremony. As Biden put it in his address: "Just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground, it did not happen. It will never happen. Not today. Not tomorrow, not ever, not ever.” After the deadly attack that killed five on Jan. 6, the U.S. Secret Service stepped up security for the inauguration early, essentially locking down the nation's capital. More than 25,000 troops and police were called to duty. The National Mall was closed. Checkpoints were set up at intersections. In the hours before the event, federal agents were monitoring “concerning online chatter,” which included an array of threats against elected officials and discussions about ways to infiltrate the inauguration, the official said. In right-wing online chat groups, members who believe in the QAnon conspiracy theory expressed disappointment that their long belief in the unfounded conspiracy that top Democrats would be arrested for a sex trafficking ring and that Trump could seize a second term did not materialize. And 12 National Guard members were removed from the security operation a day earlier after vetting by the FBI, including two who had made extremist statements in posts or texts about Wednesday's event. Pentagon officials wouldn't give details on the statements. The FBI vetted all 25,000 members in an extraordinary security effort in part over the presence of some ex-military in the riot. Two other U.S. officials told The Associated Press that all 12 were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or to have posted extremist views online. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe groups the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials told the AP they had all been removed because of “security liabilities.” The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, confirmed that Guard members had been removed and sent home, but said only two cases were related to inappropriate comments or texts related to the inauguration. He said the other 10 cases were for potential issues that may involve previous criminal behaviour or activities but were not directly related to the inaugural event. The FBI has also warned law enforcement officials about the possibility that members of right-wing fringe groups could pose as National Guard troops, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter. Investigators in Washington were particularly worried that members of right-wing extremist groups and militias, like the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, would descend on Washington to spark violence, the law enforcement officials said. Some of the extremist groups are known to recruit former military personnel and train extensively and have frequented anti-government and political protests. In addition to the thousands of National Guard troops, hundreds of law enforcement officers from agencies around the country were also brought into Washington. The increased security is likely to remain in the nation's capital for at least a few more days. Ben Fox, Colleen Long And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Specific details about workplace outbreaks of COVID-19 are not made public in most of Canada. Toronto is starting to make the information available, arguing that transparency increases accountability, but others wonder whether ‘naming and shaming’ does more harm than good.
Richmond councillors are considering a program that would make free menstrual products available in most city facilities. At last night’s general purposes committee meeting, Coun. Carol Day brought the proposal before councillors. While the program was initially envisioned as a pilot project with a review to come at the one-year mark, councillors were in support of expanding the proposed program to a permanent one. “We know many women are specifically marginalized now more than ever due to COVID,” said Richmondite Karina Reid, who spoke as a delegation at the committee meeting. “Access is important, because if you’re in a public facility, you should be able to access (products) and your needs should be able to be met.” In addition to coming up with an implementation plan, staff were also directed to report back with a budget and come up with an education plan. There will be a one-year review of the program. All councillors were in support of the project. It will come before council for final approval in the coming weeks. Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
Adam Grant, who first began working for the Region of Queens Municipality (RQM) in 2007 as the assistant director of the engineering and public works department, now gets a turn at the helm. Grant was appointed as the department’s new director at the RQM council meeting on January 12. He has been in the role of acting director since the retirement of Brad Rowter in December 2020. Rowter worked for the municipality for 24 years. He began his career at RQM as an engineer and was appointed Director of Engineering and Public Works in September 2003, after being in the role of acting director for about a year. “We are pleased to have Adam take on this important role with Region of Queens Municipality. With 14 years’ experience as an engineer with the municipality, we are confident Adam can lead the Municipality in our continued growth and continue to advance important infrastructure projects,” Darlene Norman, RQM’s mayor, commented in a press release. As director, Grant will be responsible for overseeing the management, maintenance and development of municipal infrastructure of two sewer systems, its water system, Queens Solid Waste Management Facility and Materials Recovery Facility, streets in Liverpool, parks and green spaces throughout Queens County, as well as the operational components of Queens Place Emera Centre. Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
Katie Green has been interested in art since she could hold a pencil. Originally from Maryland, she describes herself as having lived “kind of all over the place.” For the last seven years she’s called Richmond home, and is perhaps best known as a caricature artist who goes by the name “Cartoon Katie.” Green’s parents were very supportive of her desire to have a career as an artist. “They were always getting me the little ‘how to draw Mickey Mouse’ books,” she says. As an art student, she studied visual effects and animation, but was doing caricature art on the side. The style appeals to her partially because of its similarities to animation. “I really like being a little sillier with the drawing,” she says. “I can take a picture of stuff, or I can spend a lot of time rendering perfect details. Mimicking life is impressive, but for me it’s not as fun, not as creative—I want (my art) to express something a little different than what you can normally see.” After graduating with a bachelor of fine arts degree, Green worked at a Los Angeles studio as a visual effects artist. And when that studio opened a branch in Vancouver, she was moved up north, still taking caricature gigs occasionally on the side. Eventually she decided to leave the film industry and pursue caricature art full-time. First looking up what kind of city permits she would need to be a caricature artist, Green says the City of Richmond suggested she contact the Harbour Authority. When she did, she was given a patch of grass outside the Gulf of Georgia Cannery to sell art from. “I do a bunch of markets and things, and what I primarily do are events—like Songs in the Snow, or people’s birthday parties, or charity things,” says Green. “(At events) I’ll go and perform, and rather than have people pay to get each drawing like at a market, I’m just drawing as many of the guests as I can in a set amount of time, like an entertainer.” Now an independent business owner, Green covers events from birthday parties to dry grads to business holiday parties. Sometimes she works with other artists at larger events, and she also teaches some classes at local community centres. Many of her gigs come through networking, where someone sees her at an event or market and asks her to work their event or activity as well. “At any kind of celebration party, caricature can fit right in because it’s a customized souvenir,” she says. Green has a process with each drawing: she begins by imagining a person’s head shape, trying to decide how much space it will take up. But usually, while the face shape is the first thing she thinks of, it’s the last part she draws. “People always say I start with the nose, but in my brain I’m starting with a lot of other shapes and things first,” she says. “The nose is in the middle, so if I get it down first I don’t have to draw on top of something to get it the right shape.” Sometimes when she sees people in public, Green imagines how she would draw them. “It’s a thought process that I can’t turn off,” she says. For instance, she might see someone on a bus with an interesting face, or have a conversation with someone who makes a noticeable facial expression. But because she knows she can’t whip out a sketchbook and start drawing without permission, she tries to remember shapes to recreate later. “Inspiration strikes when I see certain faces or certain features, (even) when I’m not drawing,” says Green. Her own personal style has changed over time, depending on what she’s interested in and what she feels like making. The COVID-19 pandemic has totally changed her style, for instance, as well as the way she’s been drawing. “I don’t really feel like I have one specific style, I’m just always trying to be funny, I want it to look good, and I want people to like it,” she says. Because of the humorous nature of caricature, Green says sometimes people don’t respond positively. She describes her art as an illustration rather than a recreation of a photograph, and always tries to have samples available so people know what to expect. “Even though I’m doing art every day, every day seems to be different, I have different challenges to problem-solve, I’m coming up with a new way to deal with something,” she says. One of the challenges this year was the pandemic, of course, which created a distinct lack of work opportunities for many artists. “Everyone was out of work—we had our livelihoods cancelled for some unknown amount of time,” says Green. Some artists created virtual set-ups, including Green. She began with free virtual caricature parties, then began networking with other artists on big virtual events. “There’s been a lot of trying to keep the art community lifted up, while also trying to figure out how to keep my business going.” Virtual events have become more successful and consistent, although not without some technical challenges. Green says as well as doing art, she also provides some technical support to people who may not necessarily know how to turn on their camera, for example. After the events, she emails out drawings so people can access them. During online drawing events, Green uses a tablet and stylus to create her art. She usually shares her screen so people can see what she’s drawing as it’s being created, while also seeing her face as she draws. Normally, she balances drawing on paper and drawing digitally, as she recognizes the complementary skill sets. But despite the challenges, Green is still optimistic. She says inspiration comes from everywhere, especially laughter and “anything fun.” “I don’t feel that it’s making fun of somebody. I know people get that mentality with caricature, with the editorial side of it where you’re usually making fun of politicians, but from a retail and event standpoint it’s more a celebration of what makes people unique rather than making fun of them,” she says. “When I see a unique face, it’s definitely fun—but it’s fun in a positive way, not in a negative way.” Over the years she’s worked on some interesting projects, including children’s storybooks, logos for businesses, and orders for board game or card game art design. But one project that stood out to her was an ongoing collaboration with a Danish man who wanted to create a book of idioms. “They were all in Danish, so he was using Google Translate to help communicate with me,” says Green. “But I had to be illustrating the imagery that would be associated with it, not the meaning.” The language barrier created some communication challenges, but also yielded some fun drawings. “That project was super fun, the guy was really nice and I work with him all the time—but it was one of those cases where every day was a different joke we were coming up with because it made no sense to the project,” she says. When she’s not drawing, Green likes to play video games to hang out virtually with friends, or watch movies with her husband. As a freelance artist, she appreciates being able to work on whatever she’s interested in. Recently, she’s been making a lot of tutorials to help other artists. “The cool part about being freelance and working independently is that I don’t have to dream about a project—I get to work on it when I want to, as long as I don’t have too much other work at the same time.” Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
Hamilton police is looking for a man they say is wanted in three provinces for fraud. Police say the 50-year-old man is wanted in Montreal, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Quebec City and "has a long history of presenting himself using other names, living an assumed life, and committing frauds against unsuspecting victims in the GTA and throughout the country." Police say the man is 5'6" and 174 pounds with grey hair, glasses and a medium build. Mark Dupuis faces three fraud charges and a charge for breaching probation. Police say he may also refer to himself as Richard Sestak, Mark Richards, Peter Adamcova and Anthony Simms. They add the suspect was last seen in Toronto and if he's spotted, police should be called immediately.
The United States swore in its 46th President on Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attended their inauguration in Washington, D.C. with a slew of distinguished guests, but few onlookers as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a need for social distancing.Several past presidents were in attendance, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., however the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, did not attend. Trump flew to his golf club in Florida earlier in the day. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence did attend the ceremony with his wife.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
OTTAWA — Canada’s veterans ombudsman is calling on the federal government to reverse recent restrictions on the provision of mental-health support to members of veterans' families who need treatment because of their loved one’s service in uniform. The demand from ombudsman Nishika Jardine is in a scathing report released Tuesday, one year after Ottawa imposed the restrictions following outrage over Veterans Affairs Canada having paid for Christopher Garnier’s counselling sessions. The son of a veteran, Garnier was convicted in 2017 of having murdered an off-duty police officer in Halifax and was in prison at the time his treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder was being covered by the government. The Liberal government responded to the controversy by ordering Veterans Affairs staff to take a second look before approving funds and services for veterans' families, particularly those convicted of serious crimes. Family members can now only get federal support if their own treatment aids the recovery of a relative who served in uniform, and if the treatment is set up by the veteran's doctor. They are also only allowed 25 sessions per year, and can’t see more than one professional at a time. Jardine’s report suggests the new restrictions have harmed many veterans' families, who the ombudsman says face unique challenges such as constant moves and long separations. There is also the stress that comes from knowing a loved one is deployed on a potentially dangerous mission, and the many difficulties that come from living with someone who has returned and is now suffering from physical and mental injuries. "To be really crystal clear, we're talking about when their mental-health issues can be clearly linked to their being part of a military family," Jardine said in an interview. "We've come to agree to acknowledge that when a military member serves or a veteran has served, that their family serves right alongside them." The report quotes a disabled veteran whose young child had started having panic attacks after Ottawa cut their support and the wife of a veteran suffering from PTSD and whose children have similarly been able to access support only with federal help. “They did not ask for this, they did not ask for a broken father, all they often want is a dad who is not sick, a normal dad,” the report quotes the wife, who is not named. “How do you give this to them? They seek counselling to help them understand via age-appropriate methods and skills that are beyond my scope as a mother.” Some of those quoted also questioned how the government could justify the restrictions when Canadian Armed Forces commanders have repeatedly stressed how supporting military families at home contributes to successful missions abroad. The ombudsman’s report criticizes how the government rolled out the new restrictions without notifying or consulting with families, many of whom found out about the changes from their doctors and psychologists. "It was to those family members to find out that partway through their treatment, that the treatment isn't going to be able to be continued," Jardine told The Canadian Press. The ombudsman notes that one of her predecessors first called on the government in 2016 to provide more mental-health support to veterans' families and describes the issue as a matter of fairness. “The provision of mental-health care to family members is an issue of fair outcomes in that service-related needs are not being met by current programs,” the report says. In a letter to Jardine on Tuesday, Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay suggested the department did not have the authority to "offer funding for treatment benefits for a veteran's family member in their own right." While MacAulay left the door open to expanding the department's authority, he emphasized that Veterans Affairs would look at "alternative resources … and be as flexible as possible where it can" while considering what new measures might be needed. The letter was provided to The Canadian Press by MacAulay's office. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press
New Brunswick's Liberal opposition says it supports the decision to let schools stay open during the red phase of COVID-19 restrictions. Liberal Leader Roger Melanson is backing up Education Minister Dominic Cardy's assertion that Public Health officials recommended the change to the red-phase guidelines. "That's what Public Health recommended," said Melanson, who sits with other political party leaders on an all-party COVID-19 committee with Premier Blaine Higgs and key cabinet ministers. The province announced the abrupt change to the red-zone rules for schools on Sunday, the same day it put Zone 4 into the red phase. Melanson said he agrees with Cardy's rationale that schools, where rigid COVID policies are in place, are safer places for children than potentially uncontrolled gatherings outside school. Most of transmission "happen in an environment where it's in private sessions, in social gatherings, where people are unfortunately not respecting the guidelines," Melanson said. "The data that I received from Public Health is that it's a safer environment. It's in a controlled environment for the kids to be able to be in school in a safe way." 'Making up plans as they go' On Monday Liberal MLA Guy Arseneault, a former president of the New Brunswick Teachers' Association, accused the Higgs government in a tweet of "making up plans as they go." Arseneault questioned the decision to allow schools to open in the red phase, a decision also criticized by the teachers' association. "People are asking who's calling the shots?" he said in another tweet. Cardy said Tuesday morning in a series of interviews that changes to red-phase rules, based on Public Health data, had been in the works for some time and should have been ready before Sunday's Zone 4 decision. "My apologies for this coming at the last minute," he said. "I did not want it to be this way." Melanson said he had not heard about possible changes to red guidelines until the last few days. "That's the issue here," he said, arguing Arseneault's tweets did not risk confusing the public on the credibility of Public Health decisions. "I think what MLA Arseneault questioned was the process of how the stakeholders were informed or not informed." Minister should've contacted teacher organizations sooner Melanson said Cardy should have done better at contacting people affected by the changes, including teacher organizations, as soon as he could. "The dialogue is important here," he said. "People want to be part of the solution." Arseneault refused an interview request Tuesday. "Mr. Arseneault is comfortable leaving the leader [to] speak on behalf of caucus on this issue, so he will not be doing an interview today," said Liberal spokesperson Ashley Beaudin. Last November, before a spike in COVID-19 cases, Liberal education critic Benoit Bourque said New Brunswick high school students, who attend classes in two groups on alternating days, should be in school full-time to help them avoid mental-health issues. At the time, Cardy said the alternate-days system for high school had been endorsed by the all-party COVID committee before the start of the school year.
TORONTO — A Canadian neonatal intensive care nurse who spoke at an anti-lockdown rally in Washington, D.C., has been fired, her employer said on Tuesday.The London Health Sciences Centre in London, Ont., confirmed its termination of Kristen Nagle, who had been suspended since November after attending a similar rally in the city.Nagle was one of two Canadian nurses who drew attention for speaking in Washington on Jan. 6. before supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, leading to five deaths.In a statement, the London hospital said it suspended Nagle without pay in November for actions "not aligned" with its values and then began an internal investigation. That investigation was now complete, the hospital said."While we are not able to address the specifics of the investigation, we can confirm that the nurse has been terminated with cause," the statement said. "Safeguarding the health of our patients and their families, staff and physicians is of the utmost importance and remains our top priority."Nagle, a 14-year registered nurse, could not immediately be reached for comment.A petition calling for Nagle to be allowed to continue practising as a registered nurse garnered the 1,500 signatures it aimed to collect by noon on Thursday before now pushing to reach 2,500. "People are attacking this human who has an impeccable patient/nurse relationship," the petition states. "She has never brought any harm to them, nor would she ever put herself in a position to cause harm."Among other things, the petition states Nagle took no part in the Capitol protests and was only in D.C. because a summit organized by a group called Global Frontline Nurses had been moved from Florida to the American capital. It also says she has self-quarantined as required. "There are countless nurses who understand that something is not right with the system right now and are terrified from speaking out for fear of getting fired or have their licenses stripped," the petition states.Those signing the online petition called Nagle's fight one of free speech. "Freedom of speech is imperative in a democratic society," said one signatory, identified as Amanda Nafziger. The College of Nurses of Ontario has previously said it was investigating both Nagle and Sarah Choujounian, a registered practical nurse since 2004. The college said it could not provide details and had no further comment on Tuesday.Nagle and Choujounian both spoke at the Jan. 6 rally organized by Global Frontline Nurses, which maintains "fraud is rampant" regarding the COVID-19 crisis inside and outside hospitals.At the summit, Nagle said nurses were being threatened for speaking out or holding contrary views. She slammed policies she said isolate new mothers at a critical time."We are sharing truth with you whatever the cost may be,'' Nagle said. "Nurses, it is our time to rise."Choujounian had spent most of her career at a north Toronto nursing home until last year, has publicly decried COVID-19 vaccines as "experimental" and "unsafe." The founder of a group called Nurses Against Lockdowns, she has called the vaccine promotion and use a "crime against humanity."Global Frontline Nurses has called on nurses to come forward ahead of a news conference on Jan. 21.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
THREE RIVERS – The relationship between community tax rates and levels of municipal service was a common thread during Three Rivers' preliminary budget discussions. "I think if you have a service you have to be expected to pay for it," deputy mayor Debbie Johnston said. Councillors started assessing their priorities for the municipality's 2021-22 operating budget during a special meeting in Georgetown on Jan. 18. Jill Walsh, Three Rivers' chief administrative officer, hopes that it'll be finalized and approved during council's regular meeting in March. Among the items discussed were hiring and a planning technician. The planning department currently has two planners on staff because one is on indefinite sick leave. With the development season incoming and Three Rivers' official plan tentatively being completed later this year, a more hands-on technician would help relieve the workload and put the municipality on par with municipalities of similar populations, the department's Danielle Herring said. "For us to provide the planning services properly and efficiently, I think we need this position." As well, Three Rivers' staff suggested hiring an economic development officer. This position has been budgeted for in the past but was never filled, Walsh said in a followup interview with The Guardian. Also discussed was the desire to provide the same level of snow maintenance on Georgetown's sidewalks as is provided in Montague. Currently, Georgetown's sidewalks are not salted, partly because the one along Main Street is in poor condition. "We eventually want to get toward a standardization of services," Walsh said. The topic was brought up during last year's budget discussions – the decision would likely result in a roughly four-cent tax increase for Georgetown because Three Rivers would need to purchase a new salting machine, buy more salt for it and hire someone to operate it. Under community beautification, Coun. Cindy MacLean suggested increasing this budget line so more seasonal decorations can be installed across communities like Georgetown and Cardigan, not just for Montague. In terms of RCMP policing, the staff is suggesting that Three Rivers retain its current contract by paying for just one officer to be on hand in the region, alongside the Montague detachment's staff sergeant. Council had further discussions during a closed council session, namely to go over the staff salaries budget line. Twitter.com/dnlbrown95 Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian
OTTAWA — Twenty-one senators from the Maritimes are urging the federal government to provide financial assistance to an inter-city bus service that they say is in financial peril because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The senators have sent a letter to federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, saying Maritime Bus provides an essential service to the health-care sector by transporting blood products and patients across the region. As well, they say the service is particularly important for smaller rural towns and the francophone communities in northern New Brunswick. The company has already requested support from the governments of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. However, the senators say Maritime Bus is not eligible for various federal support programs, mainly because it is a for-profit enterprise. The senators also note that Ottawa provided direct funding for Greyhound when it abandoned bus routes in Western Canada. "Because of the inter-provincial nature of (Maritime Bus), and as a matter of regional fairness, we believe that federal support, tailored to the unique circumstances of the Maritimes, is warranted," the letter says. "As Via Rail service remains suspended and airlines continue to cut routes to the region, it is imperative that we preserve Maritime Bus service. A tailor-made, federal-provincial agreement is the best path forward." Earlier this month, the president of the company, Mike Cassidy, said he has cut routes because the number of Maritime Bus passengers fell from 191,000 in 2019 to just 69,000 in 2020. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — In a last-minute slap at President Donald Trump, a federal appeals court struck down one of his administration’s most momentous climate rollbacks on Tuesday, saying officials acted illegally in issuing a new rule that eased federal regulation of air pollution from power plants. The Trump administration rule was based on a “mistaken reading of the Clean Air Act,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled, adding that the Environmental Protection Agency "fundamentally has misconceived the law.” The decision is likely to give the incoming Biden administration a freer hand to regulate emissions from power plants, one of the major sources of climate-damaging fossil fuel emissions. EPA spokeswoman Molly Block called the agency’s handling of the rule change “well-supported." The court decision "risks injecting more uncertainty at a time when the nation needs regulatory stability,” she said. Environmental groups celebrated the ruling by a three-member panel of the Court of Appeals. “Today’s decision is the perfect Inauguration Day present for America,'' said Ben Levitan, a lawyer for the Environmental Defence Fund, one of the groups that had challenged the Trump rule in court. The ruling “confirms that the Trump administration’s dubious attempt to get rid of common-sense limits on climate pollution from power plants was illegal,'' Levitan said. "Now we can turn to the critically important work of protecting Americans from climate change and creating new clean energy jobs.” A coalition of environmental groups, some state governments and others had challenged the Trump administration’s so-called Affordable Clean Energy, or ACE, rule for the power sector. The rule, which was made final in 2019, replaced the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration's signature program to address climate change. The court decision came on the last full day in office for the Trump administration. Under Trump, the EPA rolled back dozens of public health and environmental protections as the administration sought to cut regulation overall, calling much of it unnecessary and a burden to business. Trump, who campaigned in 2016 on a pledge to bring back the struggling coal industry, repealed the Obama administration’s plan to reduce emissions from coal-fired plants that power the nation's electric grid. The Clean Power Plan was one of President Barack Obama’s legacy efforts to slow climate change. The Trump administration substituted the Affordable Clean Energy plan, which left most of the decision-making on regulating power plant emissions to states. Opponents said the rule imposed no meaningful limits on carbon pollution and would have increased pollution at nearly 20% of the nation’s coal-fired power plants. Market forces have continued the U.S. coal industry’s yearslong decline, however, despite those and other moves by Trump on the industry’s behalf. Andrea McGimsey, senior director for Environment America’s “global warming solutions” campaign, said Trump's “Dirty Power Plan” was "clearly a disastrous and misconceived regulation from the start. As the Trump administration leaves office, we hope this ruling will be reflective of a much brighter future'' for renewable energy such as solar and wind power. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., chairwoman of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, called the ruling a timely rejection of Trump's effort to roll back the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. “It looks like we’re kicking off a new era of clean energy progress a day early,” Castor said. "It’s almost poetic to see our courts vacate this short-sighted and harmful policy on Trump’s last full day in office.'' —- Knickmeyer reported from Oklahoma City. Matthew Daly And Ellen Knickmeyer, The Associated Press
LONDON — The Premier League is looking into why West Ham apparently struck an agreement with West Bromwich Albion for Robert Snodgrass not to play in Tuesday's game as part of the winger's transfer between the two clubs. West Brom manager Sam Allardyce disclosed details of the transfer to his relegation-threatened team two weeks ago to explain the absence of Snodgrass. “That was an agreement between the clubs that this game he would not be allowed to play," Allardyce told broadcaster BT Sport ahead of the match in east London. "We could only get the deal done with that agreement.” West Ham is portraying it as a “gentleman's agreement” rather than a formal part of the transfer. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
GEORGETOWN – Holland College needs to have more of a presence in Kings County, a member of the Eastern P.E.I. Chamber of Commerce said. "I think it is important, particularly for the development of the rural communities," Alan MacPhee said. MacPhee is on the chamber's board, which invited Holland College to offer a presentation at Kings Playhouse in Georgetown on Jan. 12. College president Sandy MacDonald presented mostly on the college's new strategic plan, but discussion afterward focused on its role in Kings County. While the college's Georgetown centre is operational, its adult education centres in Montague and Souris were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "(So) you can't get adult education in Kings County now," MacPhee said. "It's all virtual." He notes that people in rural communities can have a harder time accessing virtual classes due to internet issues or technology limitations. He believes it would be mutually beneficial for the centres to be reopened and for each to have a staff member for locals to go to if they need guidance and support. "To have that connection, you have to have some sort of presence," he said. MacDonald is all for working more closely with rural communities and for taking suggestions on how to do it. The services Holland College offers ultimately come down to the population's demand, he said. "(Which) depends very much on where the industry goes." For example, discussion was raised toward some programs the college has cut or suspended in recent years due to low attendance rates, such as photography, theatre and dance performance, and commercial diving. While some are available in different forms, others simply can't be provided if they aren't sustainable, MacDonald said. Much of his presentation was framed around how Holland College is working to counter labour shortages on P.E.I., which both he and MacPhee see as prevalent in rural communities. Rural Islanders who can't find work often move away or off P.E.I. altogether. Doug Currie, the college's vice-president, also attended the presentation and said population retention is one of the first steps, as well as focusing more on P.E.I.'s international communities. "We need to think about what we're doing and how we're doing it," he said. "And we can't rely solely on the domestic (population)." The chamber recently secured funding to conduct a two-year study on what P.E.I.'s population and labour market needs to become more sustainable, which may prove a helpful resource for it and the college, MacPhee said. "We both have a problem, but we don't have the solution yet," he said. "The fact they came out here and engaged is really what we were looking for." Twitter.com/dnlbrown95 Daniel Brown, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian