French President Emmanuel Macron is the latest world leader to test positive for COVID-19. The presidential Elysee Palace said Macron would continue to work and would isolate himself for seven days.
French President Emmanuel Macron is the latest world leader to test positive for COVID-19. The presidential Elysee Palace said Macron would continue to work and would isolate himself for seven days.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump will leave Washington next Wednesday morning just before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration to begin his post-presidential life in Florida. Refusing to abide by tradition and participate in the ceremonial transfer of power, Trump will instead hold his own departure ceremony at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland before his final flight aboard Air Force One. Officials are considering an elaborate send-off event reminiscent of the receptions he's received during state visits abroad, complete with a red carpet, colour guard, military band and even a 21-gun salute, according to a person familiar with the planning who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of a formal announcement. Trump will become only the fourth president in history to boycott his successor's inauguration. And while he has said he is now committed to a peaceful transition of power — after months of trying to delegitimize Biden's victory with baseless allegations of mass voter fraud and spurring on his supporters who stormed the Capitol — he has made clear he has no interest in making a show of it. He has not invited the Bidens to the White House for the traditional bread-breaking, nor has he spoken with Biden by phone. Vice-President Mike Pence has spoken with his successor, Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, calling her on Thursday to congratulate her and offer assistance, according to two people familiar with the call. Pence will be attending Biden's inauguration, a move Biden has welcomed. While Trump spends the final days of his presidency ensconced in the White House, more isolated than ever as he confronts the fallout from the Capitol riot, staffers are already heading out the door. Many have already departed, including those who resigned after the attack, while others have been busy packing up their offices and moving out personal belongings — souvenirs and taxidermy included. On Thursday, chief of staff Mark Meadows’ wife was caught on camera leaving with a dead, stuffed bird. And trade adviser Peter Navarro, who defended the president's effort to overturn the election, was photographed carrying out a giant photo of a meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Staff are allowed to purchase the photographs, said White House spokesman Judd Deere.) Also spotted departing the West Wing: a bust of Abraham Lincoln. Stewart D. McLaurin, the president of the White House Historical Association, said he had reached out to the White House chief usher, who manages the building's artifacts with the White House curator, because of questions raised by the images. “Be reminded that staff have items of their own that they brought to the White House and can take those items home as they wish. Some items are on loan to staff and offices from other collections and will be returned to those collections,” he said in a statement. Earlier this week, reporters covering the president's departure from the South Lawn spotted staff taking boxes into the residence for packing up the first family's belongings. And on Friday the packing continued, with moving crates and boxes dotting the floor of the office suite where senior press aides work steps from the Oval Office in the West Wing. Walls in the hallways outside that once featured a rotating gallery of enlarged photographs of the president and first lady framed in gold suddenly were bare, with only the hooks that held the picture frames left hanging. Moving trucks pulled in and out of the driveway outside. While some people have been asked to stick around by the incoming administration, the White House has been reduced to a skeleton crew, with more scheduled to depart on Friday. That includes White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. Come Monday, the press staff will be down to two. Trump will leave Washington with his future deeply uncertain, two weeks after his supporters sent lawmakers and congressional staffers scrambling for safety as they tried to halt the peaceful transition of power. While Trump was once expected to leave office as the most powerful voice in the Republican Party and the leading contender for its 2024 nomination, he has been shunned by much of the party over his response to the violence, which left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer. Trump is expected to be joined in Florida by a handful of aides as he mulls his future. ___ Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report. Jill Colvin And Darlene Superville, The Associated Press
AMSTERDAM — The European Union's drug regulator said Friday that COVID-19 vaccine documents stolen from its servers in a cyberattack have been not only leaked to the web, but “manipulated" by hackers. The European Medicines Agency said that an ongoing investigation into the cyberattack showed that hackers obtained emails and documents from November related to the evaluation of experimental coronavirus vaccines. The agency, which regulates drugs and medicines across the 27-member EU, had troves of confidential COVID-19 data as part of its vaccine approval process. “Some of the correspondence has been manipulated by the perpetrators prior to publication in a way which could undermine trust in vaccines,” the agency said. It did not explain what information was altered — but cybersecurity experts say such practices are typical of disinformation campaigns launched by governments. Italian cybersecurity firm Yarix said it found the 33-megabyte leak on a well-known underground forum with the title “Astonishing fraud! Evil Pfffizer! Fake vaccines!” It was apparently first posted on Dec. 30 and later appeared on other sites, including on the dark web, the company said on its website. Yarix said “the intention behind the leak by cybercriminals is certain: to cause significant damage to the reputation and credibility of EMA and Pfizer.” The agency said that given the devastating toll of the pandemic, there was an “urgent public health need to make vaccines available to EU citizens as soon as possible.” The EMA insisted that despite that urgency, its decisions to recommend the green-lighting of vaccines were based “on the strength of the scientific evidence on a vaccine’s safety, quality and efficacy, and nothing else.” The agency, which is based in Amsterdam, came under heavy criticism from Germany and other EU member countries in December for not approving vaccines against the virus more quickly. The EMA issued its first recommendation for the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine weeks after the shot received approval in Britain, the United States, Canada and elsewhere. The European Medicines Agency recommended a second vaccine, made by Moderna, for use earlier this month. A third shot made by AstraZeneca and Oxford is currently under consideration by the agency. The EMA said law enforcement authorities are taking “necessary action” in response to the cyberattack. __ Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at: http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak The Associated Press
Belle Phillips is not your ordinary student. The young woman not only decided to make the most out of her education, but also to help other Onkwehón:we students achieve their full potential. She knew that being part of Concordia University’s Indigenous Directions Leadership Council (IDLC) would support her in doing just that. Last fall, the 21-year-old Kahnawa’kehró:non was chosen to fill the only undergraduate seat on the IDLC. When Phillips received the email sent to all Onkwehón:we students, most undergrads would have brushed it off, but the position sparked something in her. “And what’s the worst in trying?” she said. Phillips started her one-year contract in October with IDCL. The organization’s goal is to morph the university into being a more inclusive and respectful environment for all Onkwehón:we. With community member Donna Kahérakwas Goodleaf, Phillips is now part of a proud line of six other Kanien’kehá:ka that previously sat on the council. And it certainly will not end there. She explained that some of her mandate’s responsibilities are to increase community engagement, to bring more support and educate the Concordia community about Onkwehón:we culture, language and issues. It’s all about Indigenizing Concordia. “For me, it means that Indigenous people feel like they have a place in such a big community,” said the second-year student. “There are so many students and groups that sometimes Indigenous students tend to feel like they don’t know where they fit.” Not knowing where to fit is something that Phillips experienced firsthand after she graduated from Kahnawake Survival School as a recipient of the Tionores Muriel Deer scholarship. When she started CEGEP at Champlain College, in St. Lambert, Phillips noticed the lack of representation. “It was me, my brother and his girlfriend and only a few others that represented the Indigenous population,” said Phillips. She said that back then, it felt like Onkwehón:we students weren’t even on the college’s radar. The group wanted more, something that resembled what Onkwehón:we resource centres provided at John Abbott College or Dawson College. They formed the Indigenous Student Ambassadors, to offer support to First Nations students. “Our goal was to decolonize the campus at Champlain,” said Phillips, “and within the first year of forming the group, we even got an official location.” Phillips grew up in Kahnawake and remembers always wanting to be involved with the culture and representation - but didn’t find her footing right away. “After high school, I went into nursing, but turned out I hated it,” said Phillips, who’s now pursuing her BA in Human Relations with a concentration in Community Development and a minor in First People Studies. For the past two years, she’s been working part-time at Tewatohnhi’saktha in Kahnawake as the Youth Programs assistant. The job, in addition to school and being part of IDLC is quite a challenge, acknowledged Phillips. However, she said she’s deeply committed to IDLC and hopes to make a real difference at Concordia. “I want to create a safe space for Indigenous students to be,” said Phillips. “I feel like there’s a taboo around Indigenous students pursuing post-secondary education, and I really have an interest in developing courses and classes that incorporate Indigenous ways of learning.” Phillips still has a few semesters to go before graduating and sitting on the IDLC will surely allow her to reach her goals. email@example.comVirginie Ann, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Door
MONTREAL — The Crown says it won't appeal the acquittals in the cases of Quebec media stars Gilbert Rozon and Eric Salvail. A spokeswoman for the director of criminal and penal prosecutions made the announcements in a series of tweets and says the decision in the Rozon case is based on an assessment of the evidence and the fact that an appeal cannot be made on a question of fact. The 66-year-old Rozon, founder of the Just for Laughs festival, had been accused of rape and indecent assault in charges dating back 40 years, but was acquitted on Dec. 15 by Quebec court Judge Melanie Hebert. In her decision, Hebert wrote that acquittal didn't mean the alleged incidents didn't occur or that the victim was not credible but that the case was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt. In the Salvail case, spokeswoman Audrey Roy-Cloutier said the department carried out an exhaustive analysis of the decision and, given that the verdict hinged on witness credibility and prosecutors found no error of law, there would not be an appeal. The former television personality was acquitted on Dec. 18 on charges of sexual assault, forcible confinement and criminal harassment related to an alleged incident in 1993. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
Richmond’s Gateway Theatre has commissioned a piece in response to a question posed by the National Arts Centre in its Transformations Project: What would it take to transform our society for the betterment of all? In the piece, local Taiwanese-Canadian artist Johnny Wu dives into themes of family, belonging, and filial piety—a central value in traditional Chinese culture that means respect and duty for one’s parents and ancestors. A regular in the theatre scene, Wu has worked with Gateway several times before, including as the Surtitle translator for China Doll. To learn more or view the piece online, click here.Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Richmond Sentinel
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin says a coming production delay of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will affect Canada’s expected shipments of doses, reducing deliveries by an average of 50 per cent over the coming weeks. But he says shipments will then once again ramp up and the slowdown will have no impact on Canada’s plans to give the vaccine to every Canadian who wants it by the fall.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Dr. Samir Sinha dreamed of the day a safe vaccine would be available. “We’ve lost patients, and we’ve seen so many colleagues negatively impacted by this catastrophic virus,” said Sinha, a geriatrician at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. So when he received the COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 31, he was thrilled. While Sinha’s patients are primarily elderly and are at risk of developing serious illness, he wasn’t scheduled on the front line on COVID-positive units until late January. But through a lottery, he was eligible for the vaccine earlier so the dose wouldn’t go to waste. That Thursday, Sinha was only given 15 minutes’ notice. He made it in time, rolling up his sleeves next to three front-line workers in long-term care. It was emotional for Sinha, especially after gruelling months of wearing full personal protective equipment, watching patients die and colleagues suffer mentally and physically. But his euphoria quickly turned into guilt. Vaccine doses, per provincial directives, are still reserved for front-line workers and residents of long-term-care homes. But excess doses have been given to other hospital staff if they become available through a lottery system to avoid wastage, as the vaccine is still not being offered to the general public. Reports of hospital administrators and researchers receiving vaccines in Toronto before those living and working in long-term-care homes — where 81 per cent of Canada’s COVID-19 deaths in the first wave occurred — have since clouded Ontario’s vaccine rollout, generating complicated feelings among those inoculated. The vaccine, initially a symbol of triumph and hope, has become a reminder of inequality and political failure, leaving some to feel regret instead of joy. Others have contemplated whether it’s ethical to publicly share they’ve received the vaccine on social media while many in need await their dose. Since Dec. 14, when the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were injected into Canadians’ arms, more than 650 Ontario long-term-care residents have died. It’s a figure that has haunted Sinha since he received his dose of the Pfizer vaccine. “I was thrilled because, do I want to get the vaccine? More than ever before,” Sinha reflected. “But I also don’t want to jump the queue when I know that front-line workers in long-term-care homes and patients living in those homes were at greater risk.” The debate over the ethics behind vaccine rollout quickly spilled over to social media, where many health-care workers began sharing vaccination selfies or news of their inoculation. Dr. Gail Beck, a child psychiatrist at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre, was among those who were scrutinized when she shared publicly on her blog that she’s received the vaccine. “The main thing I felt when I got the call was a sense of duty,” Beck said, adding the hospital had done its due diligence to vaccinate those who are at a higher priority first and that she does see younger patients in-person, some with special needs. “I thought I was participating in a logical process.” But upon reflection on the scrutiny she’d received, Beck said she understands an emergency doctor or a front-line worker would have felt more relieved to have been vaccinated, compared to her situation of working at a largely controlled and COVID-free setting. While some have talked about “vaccine envy,” Dr. Alan Drummond, an emergency physician in Perth, Ont., who has yet to be vaccinated, said it’s more than just feelings of jealousy. It’s about ensuring that those who are most at risk are safe first. “The problem has been the lack of transparency or direct communication with respect to what the (vaccine) rollout plan would look like,” he said. Drummond added that as a front-line worker who deals directly with COVID-19 patients, watching administrators and non-acute clinical staff get vaccinated first in cities like Toronto and Ottawa through social media has been demoralizing. “Here we are, seeing COVID-19 patients or potential COVID-19 patients, and we’re not afforded the same level of protection,” Drummond said. “There’s something wrong with the rollout when it involves people who are frankly not at risk.” Drummond has yet to receive word on when he will be next in line for a vaccine. Since receiving his dose at Mount Sinai, Sinha said he has reflected deeply on his decision to enter the vaccine lottery, especially upon realizing that many at greater risk would have liked to get vaccinated earlier, but didn’t have the privilege of access. “I now look back with a little bit of regret saying, ‘Did I actually take a spot that should have been there for a front-line worker?’ ” Sinha said. One thing he doesn’t regret, however, is sharing a photo of his vaccination publicly through social media on New Year’s Day, captioning it: “a shot of hope.” For Sinha, it’s a way to spread the news of the vaccine among his social media followers, many of whom are in racialized populations who have grown distrustful of government policy as they continue to be disproportionately affected by COVID-19. “When they can see another physician that looks like them and telling them that it’s safe, I think that really sends a strong message to both my patients and members of the public,” said Sinha, who is of South Asian descent. Part of assuaging his guilt, he added, is being outspoken about the inequality in vaccine rollout. “I will do harm by remaining silent.” Dr. Amber Bocknek was also among many who shared an inoculation selfie on social media. As someone whose work entails doing house calls for seniors with complicated health problems in Newmarket, getting the vaccine Jan. 7 was a welcome relief. Bocknek proudly shared the photo on her Facebook and Instagram accounts, partly, she said, due to misinformation swirling among her circles on the safety of the vaccine. “It’s stimulating questions, which creates an opportunity for more education,” Bocknek said. She added the end goal for health-care workers across the board remains getting as many people vaccinated as possible. Nadine Yousif, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star
Sarah Kim began thinking differently about food after starting a zero-waste vegan food delivery service — one that she said made her starkly aware of the inequalities that exist in the Lower Mainland. “The more that I was involved in this business, the more I was seeing the injustices, so I started to question that and started learning more about food security and food systems,” she said. Now, she’s the food networks co-ordinator at the Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks (VFN), a web of community groups working on promoting and advocating for food security across the city. Canada’s National Observer checked in with Kim about the importance of food networks and how they’ve pivoted throughout the pandemic. Why is it important to break networks down into neighbourhoods rather than having a blanket resource? I think the advantage of having different networks across the city is that they are hyper-localized, and they have the ability to be adaptable. Our neighbourhoods are actually quite different from each other based on demographics, so being able to have a network that’s able to cater to their needs is really important. With any type of food program we run, neighbours come together and build relationships. All of a sudden, they’re building friendships in their neighbourhood, (and) people can reach out if they are in need. The food networks are all about community development and using food as a vehicle for communities to connect. A recent VFN update talks about how seniors’ food security has specifically been impacted by COVID-19. Can you speak on that? It’s really hard for a lot of seniors to get out due to mobility or health issues. Through my work with seniors, I heard some were having difficulties accessing food. It was one of the main problems they faced during the pandemic. First, it was waiting in long lines in grocery stores. Then, it was trying to adapt to food delivery services and apps, which often cost money. On the flip side, I’ve seen organizations respond to that need. United Way has a program called Safe Seniors, and Collingwood Neighbourhood House has free grocery delivery for seniors, as well as phone calls and check-ins. I think seniors are having a harder time dealing with the pandemic — period. What’s something VFN has achieved recently that you’d like to highlight? Food access was not something that any of the food networks had done prior to the pandemic. Our food programs were more about community development: community kitchens; community lunches; gardening workshops. What I find really astounding is that when the pandemic started, all of the networks did a 180 and started running emergency food relief. None of these networks have the capacity to operate like a food bank, but all of a sudden, they’re doing it. And they continue to do it all these months later. On the topic of food banks, can you tell us about a response you were involved in when the Greater Vancouver Food Bank announced it would implement income means testing? They announced they would implement income means testing, which means you have to prove your income in order to access food. This was something that they were going to implement at the very beginning of April last year before the pandemic. I was part of a coalition that came together to meet, we started a petition. It’s pretty terrible that this was something they were going to implement — they thought people were abusing their system, but they’d just be creating barriers to people who need food. The pandemic hit mid-March, and then they realized they couldn’t implement it, but they haven’t said that they thought it was a bad idea or that it won’t happen in the future. COVID-19 has obviously changed the way we think about food security. Do you think there have been any permanent changes or shifts in Vancouver’s food system resulting from the pandemic? I don't see any permanent or positive shifts from a government level, and that's disappointing. Where I do see a positive shift, particularly when it comes to food security in Vancouver, is the connections that have been formed over this period. You're seeing a lot of new partnerships, a lot of new relationships, a lot of people working together. For me, I know a lot of those relationships will stick around. Something else I’ve noticed is a lot of social service organizations that didn’t have food programs before the pandemic hit, now do. All of a sudden, there are new players in these conversations. Whether that’s a permanent shift, I don’t know, but it’s fantastic that we're all talking about food security. It’s so important that there are more people thinking about it and understanding what it is. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Cloe Logan / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada’s National ObserverCloe Logan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
The National Rifle Association on Friday filed for bankruptcy, a sudden development that could help the gun rights group escape a lawsuit by New York's attorney general seeking its dissolution. The NRA filed for Chapter 11 protection in federal bankruptcy court in Dallas, and said it plans to reincorporate in Texas to escape "a corrupt political and regulatory environment" in New York, where it is now incorporated. "Texas values the contributions of the NRA, celebrates our law-abiding members, and joins us as a partner in upholding constitutional freedom," Chief Executive Wayne LaPierre said in a letter to members.
The COVID-19 vaccine has not yet arrived in Six Nations of the Grand River territory. But four paramedics and 27 staff from Iroquois Lodge, a long-term-care home in Ohsweken, received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week at a Hamilton hospital. At least 10 more Six Nations paramedics expect to soon receive their first shots, and staff at Iroquois Lodge and the Jay Silverheels Complex — a supportive housing and health-care centre in Ohsweken — are preparing for the day the vaccine is available for residents at those facilities. “Staff are working through obtaining residents’ consent for COVID vaccinations, and they will be the first community resident group to receive doses,” said Candace Lickers, spokesperson for Six Nations Elected Council. Lickers said the reserve expects to receive the Moderna vaccine — which is delivered in two doses within 28 days — though when the shipment will arrive is unknown. Public health staff and paramedics will inoculate band members according to a priority list devised by the Six Nations COVID-19 Task Force that aligns with priority populations identified by the ministry of health. “It is expected the initial shipment quantities will not be sufficient to begin mass immunization, due to the high global demand, which is why we are having fulsome discussions to confirm the priority list,” said director of health services Lori Davis Hill. Lickers said residents should continue to follow public health directives and take precautions against COVID-19 even after the arrival of the vaccine, which residents can opt out of receiving if they wish. “COVID vaccination will not be mandatory and will be a personal choice when it becomes readily available,” she said. J.P. Antonacci, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hamilton Spectator
Government attorneys and municipalities fighting over the 2020 census asked a judge Friday to put their court case on hold, as Department of Justice attorneys said the Census Bureau for now will not release numbers that could be used to exclude people in the U.S. illegally from the process of divvying up congressional seats. Department of Justice attorneys and attorneys for a coalition of municipalities and advocacy groups that had sued the Trump administration over the 2020 census asked U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh to suspend their court case for 21 days so the administration of President-elect Joe Biden can take power and decide how to proceed. “Such a stay would permit the incoming Administration to evaluate the Census Bureau’s and the Department of Commerce’s operations and assess, among other things, the interests of the United States and its litigating positions in light of Plaintiffs’ claims in this case,” the attorneys said in a court filing Friday. The Trump administration attorneys said the Census Bureau would not be releasing figures related to two orders from Presidential Donald Trump before the change in administrations. Trump's first order, issued in 2019, directed the Census Bureau to use administrative records to figure out who is in the country illegally after the Supreme Court blocked his administration’s effort to put a citizenship question on the 2020 census questionnaire. In a separate order last year, Trump instructed the Census Bureau, as part of the 2020 count of every U.S. resident, to provide data that would allow his administration to exclude people in the U.S. illegally from the numbers used for divvying up congressional seats among the states. An influential GOP adviser had advocated excluding them from the apportionment process in order to favour Republicans and non-Hispanic whites, even though the Constitution spells out that every person in each state should be counted. Trump’s unprecedented order on apportionment was challenged in more than a half-dozen lawsuits around the U.S., but the Supreme Court ruled last month that any challenge was premature. The court filing also said the Trump administration would not be releasing the numbers used for apportioning congressional seats among the states, and determining the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal funding, before the change in administrations. A hearing in the case was scheduled for later Friday. Meanwhile, a group of Democratic lawmakers are joining civil right groups in calling for U.S. Census Bureau director Steven Dillingham's resignation after a watchdog agency said he had set a deadline for pressured statisticians to produce a report on the number of people in the U.S. illegally. Dillingham on Wednesday ordered an indefinite halt to the efforts to produce data showing the citizenship status of every U.S. resident through administrative records after facing blowback from civil rights groups and concerns raised by whistleblower statisticians about the accuracy of such figures. A report by the Office of Inspector General on Wednesday said bureau workers were under significant pressure from two Trump political appointees to figure out who is in the U.S. illegally using federal and state administrative records, and Dillingham had set a Friday deadline for bureau statisticians to provide him a technical report on the effort. After the release of the inspector general's report, leaders of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, Asian Americans Advancing Justice and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights called for Dillingham's resignation. Democratic lawmakers in Congress have followed suit in the past two days, saying Dillingham has allowed the Trump administration to politicize the 2020 census. “The Trump administration waged a damaging campaign against the census with the intent of manipulating the results to be politically advantageous for the President and the Republican Party,” said U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire in a statement. “Census Director Steven Dillingham’s failure to put country over loyalty to the President allowed these transgressions to occur and he therefore should resign." U.S. Rep. Judy Chu of California said in a statement that communities of colour have borne the brunt of attacks on the census. “Officials like Steven Dillingham who cannot put the needs of the nation over the demands of a twice impeached President should resign," said Chu, who chairs the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia said in a statement that Dillingham “has now demonstrated he was willing to carry out Mr. Trump’s xenophobic campaign to manipulate the Census despite clear congressional and plain constitutional mandate to count all persons." Dillingham's five-year term is finished at the end of the year. The Census Bureau did not immediately respond to a request for comment. ___ Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MikeSchneiderAP. Mike Schneider, The Associated Press
Ontario's police watchdog says three officers who fired their guns during a standoff that killed a baby still haven't made themselves available to be interviewed by investigators. "The three subject officers, who were designated as such on the basis of information that they each discharged their firearm in the course of the incident, have not as yet availed themselves of an opportunity to be interviewed," the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said in a news release on Friday. The unit noted that "subject officers" are not under any legal obligation to speak to the SIU but are allowed to do so. SIU investigators have interviewed 18 witness officers and 14 civilian witnesses so far about the incident on Nov. 26, in which a man, 33, and his one-year-old son suffered gunshot wounds in an interaction with Ontario Provincial Police in the City of Kawartha Lakes. The baby boy died at the scene. His young father died nearly a week later in hospital. Their names have not been released. "Understandably, there is a pressing public interest in this case, including how the child died and whether it was gunfire from the father or OPP officers that caused the death," the SIU said. "The SIU is working to make these determinations. In so doing, it is imperative that best investigative practices be strictly adhered to, including the sequencing of various forensic examinations in the proper order." The SIU said four firearms — two rifles and a pistol belonging to the police, as well as a handgun from inside a pickup truck at the scene — have been submitted to the Centre of Forensic Sciences (CFS), along with a number of spent cartridge cases. The guns are being examined, the SIU said. An expert has conducted blood pattern analysis of the inside of a truck driven by the father and the CFS has completed its analysis of the truck. The vehicle has been released to the SIU, which is searching it for further evidence. Meanwhile, the agency is also awaiting results of post-mortem examinations done on the baby and the father. A post-mortem of the child was done on Nov. 28 and on the father on Dec. 4. The SIU investigates incidents involving police in which death, serious injury, sexual assault or the discharge of a firearm at a person occurs.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — New NASCAR team Trackhouse Racing has brought entertainer Pitbull on as an ownership partner for an organization making its debut next month at the Daytona 500. Trackhouse made the Friday announcement with a video on Twitter in which the Grammy winner is featured dancing to an “I believe we will win” chant. He also holds signs that say: “Knuckle Up, Fight Hard. Buckle Up. Fight hard." The Cuban-American, known also as “Mr. Worldwide," joins NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan as celebrity owners entering NASCAR this year. Jordan is a part owner of 23XI Racing with Denny Hamlin. “I've been a fan of the NASCAR story since the movie ‘Days of Thunder,’" Pitbull said in a statement. “We are going to show the world NASCAR is not only a sport but a culture.” Pitbull noted the announcement coincided with his 40th birthday on Friday: “So get ready! Dale!” he ended with his signature tagline that translates to “Let's go!” Trackhouse was launched late last year by former driver Justin Marks, who struggled to find a charter that guarantees entry into every Cup Series race on the schedule. He ultimately leased one from Spire Motorsports to get his organization on the grid. The team has hired Daniel Suarez to drive the No. 99 Chevrolet but it will not be NASCAR's first pairing of a Latino driver and team owner. Juan Pablo Montoya, a Colombian, drove for Chip Ganassi Racing when it was part owned by Felix Sabates, a Cuban. Suarez is Mexican. Jenna Fryer, The Associated Press
An ongoing BC Hydro power outage has left nearly 4,000 customers without electricity in Kitimat. According to BC Hydro’s outage map, the outage started at 11:09 a.m. and the cause is under investigation. Crews are on their way and are expected to arrive around 11:45 a.m. The outage is affecting 3885 customers and stretches north of Dewberry St., west of Wakita Ave., and east of Dyke Blvd.Ben Bogstie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Interior News
Some Oakville residents have been told to seek shelter in their basements amid what police are calling an "active situation" with at least two people barricaded inside a home. According to tweets from Halton police issued Friday afternoon, Lakeshore Road West is closed from 4th Line to Birch Hill Lane for an ongoing investigation. Police say they first received a call just before 1:20 p.m. reporting possible gunfire in the area. On Twitter, investigators said the ongoing situation is contained to a residence on Lakeshore Road West, and originally involved "at least two" people barricaded inside. Police later said one person is now out of the home, but at least one person remains inside. Crisis negotiators have been in contact with the person inside the home and there are no reported injuries, police said. "Our crisis negotiators will be working to resolve this safely," police said on Twitter. Ryan Anderson, media relations officer with Halton Regional Police, says as of Friday evening, the situation is still ongoing. "It is our goal, our ultimate goal, to bring them out safely without anybody being injured," he said. Anderson could not say whether it was a hostage situation or if the person remaining in the home resided there or explain the relationship between the two people. Police are concerned for the safety of the individual inside, as well as those who live nearby. "We have reason to believe there may have been gas released in the home, so utilities have been cut off to the home," Anderson said. As a result, approximately nine residences have been notified and evacuated accordingly. Investigators say there is a "heavy police presence in the area," including officers, the tactical rescue unit, and police dogs. Appleby College was also in a hold and secure, but that has since been lifted. However, students boarding there will continue to remain indoors, according to the school's Twitter feed Police are asking people to avoid the area.
OTTAWA — Emergency spending to deal with the COVID-19 crisis must not outlast the pain it's meant to salve, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has instructed Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland in a newly released mandate letter. The letter has Trudeau tell Freeland, who also serves as his deputy prime minister, that she should use "whatever fiscal firepower" is needed over the coming weeks and months until the economy recovers from the pandemic and its related shutdowns. But in doing so, Trudeau writes, Freeland must "avoid creating new permanent spending." He adds that any plan to regrow the economy must be guided by a budgetary goal to make sure spending doesn't go adrift, known in official Ottawa as a "fiscal anchor" that the Liberals have jettisoned as the economy went into a downward spiral. The details are contained in updated mandate letters the Prime Minister's Office published Friday afternoon, months after it reset the parliamentary agenda with a late-September throne speech. In a December interview with The Canadian Press, Trudeau chalked up the delayed released of the ministerial marching orders to ongoing changes to federal programs and plans that meant the letters kept needing revisions. Trudeau said then that at some point, he was just going to have to make them public. In the letters, Trudeau noted the new marching orders come on top of those given to ministers shortly after the Liberals won a minority mandate in the 2019 federal election. The letters touch on a number of subjects, from ordering Justice Minister David Lametti to introduce legislation to address systemic issues in the justice system impacting Indigenous Peoples and Black Canadians, to having Seniors Minister Deb Schulte draft new Criminal Code penalties to elder abuse and neglect. The letter for Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau, who was sworn into the new role Tuesday, says Canada-U. S. relations is a top priority. The letters also make repeated references to greening the Canadian economy. The one for Freeland includes an order that she work on a border carbon adjustment that would essentially impose duties on goods from countries that don't have a price on pollution. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair is being asked to take action on online hate and extremism in Canada, Health Minister Patty Hajdu to work with provinces on setting national standards for long-term care, and Procurement Minister Anita Anand to get enough COVID-19 vaccines for the country. But it's the government's jump in spending that Trudeau notes in each letter before diving into specifics for each minister. Unprecedented spending on pandemic aid has rocketed the deficit to an expected $381.6 billion this fiscal year, but the Finance Department has warned it could close in on $400 billion due to the return of widespread lockdowns. TD Economics, in an end-of-week note, said the economy has entered 2021 on wobbly footing and could suffer a small contraction in the first quarter, even if the ramp up in vaccinations offers hope of a rebound in the second half of the year. When that happens, the Liberals have promised to spend up to $100 billion on a recovery package that is on Freeland's to-do list, along with preserving the country's "fiscal advantage." "The government has significantly increased spending during the pandemic in order to achieve our most pressing priority: to help protect Canadians' health and financial security," Trudeau wrote. "Going forward, we must preserve Canada’s fiscal advantage and continue to be guided by values of sustainability and prudence. Therefore, our actions must focus on creating new jobs and supporting the middle class to preserve the strength of our economy." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
ÉMILIE PELLETIER Initiative de journalisme local — Le Droit Au cours de la semaine, plus de 10 000 doses du vaccin contre la COVID-19 ont été administrées chaque jour en Ontario. Jeudi, 15 609 personnes ont roulé leur manche en Ontario pour recevoir le vaccin contre le coronavirus. En tout, 174 630 doses ont été distribuées. On compte actuellement 17 094 Ontariens pour qui la vaccination est maintenant complétée, ce qui signifie qu’ils ont reçu leurs deux doses nécessaires du vaccin. Près de 3000 nouveaux cas Au cours de la journée de jeudi, 2998 nouvelles infections à la COVID-19 ont été répertoriées en Ontario. Depuis le 25 janvier 2020, 231 308 cas du virus ont été enregistrés en province. La santé publique de l’Ontario déplore, dans son plus récent bilan, 100 décès liés au coronavirus. Toutefois, ce nombre anormalement élevé peut être en partie expliqué par une initiative de nettoyage de données au bureau de santé de Middlesex-London, qui a ajouté 46 décès survenus plus tôt durant la pandémie au rapport de la santé publique provinciale de vendredi. En tout, 5289 ont perdu la vie en raison de la COVID-19 en Ontario. Hospitalisations Actuellement, 1647 personnes atteintes de la COVID-19 sont hospitalisées en Ontario, dont 387 aux soins intensifs. Parmi ces patients, 280 nécessitent l’aide d’un respirateur pour rester en vie. Foyers de soins de longue durée En foyers de soins de longue durée (FSLD), 145 nouveaux cas du virus ont été dépistés jeudi chez les résidents, et 60 chez les membres du personnel. On déplore le décès de 22 résidents de ces établissements causés par la COVID-19, portant le bilan total des résidents de FSLD ayant perdu la vie à 3085 en Ontario. En tout, 10 employés de ces établissements sont décédés, dont deux ayant perdu la vie depuis le début de l’année 2021.Émilie Pelletier, journaliste, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Droit
WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets have claimed goaltender Anton Forsberg off waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes. Forsberg, 28, was 1-1-0 with a 3.35 goals-against average and .897 save percentage in three games with the Hurricanes last season. The native of Harnosand, Sweden also played 27 games with Charlotte of the American Hockey League. Forsberg has a career NHL record of 12-25-4 with a 3.22 GA and .901 save percentage over parts of five seasons with Carolina, Chicago and Columbus. Reigning Vezina Trophy winner Connor Hellebuyck and Laurent Brossoit are the other goalies on Winnipeg's roster. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
The U.S. Justice Department's top antitrust official said on Friday the administration will not scrap decades-old agreements with music licensing groups ASCAP and BMI that hold down costs for Spotify and others. The department's review of the matter had been closely watched since scrapping the 1941 consent agreements could upend the business of licensing music to online companies like Spotify and Pandora as well as movie companies, commercials, bars and restaurants. Without the decrees, companies of any size seeking to play music would have to negotiate rights in a chaotic transition while also facing the prospect of price hikes, said the MIC Coalition, whose members include the Brewers Association and National Restaurant Association.