A jaw-dropping moment caught on camera at Serengeti National Park.
A jaw-dropping moment caught on camera at Serengeti National Park.
From a global perspective, there was nothing unique about the recent raid on the U.S. Capitol. Both Republican and Democratic administrations have backed military coups around the world for decades.
More than a week into the work stoppage at the Burleigh Falls dam project, Parks Canada has issued a statement regarding the land defenders and their rights to the land within their treaty territory. “The Government of Canada is working to advance reconciliation and renew the relationships with Indigenous Peoples based on the recognition of rights, respect, collaboration, and partnership,” says David Britton, director of Ontario waterways. Kawartha Nishnawbe land defenders in Burleigh Falls blocked work on the dam project on Jan. 13 after they say they were not consulted about the project. Parks Canada did consult with Curve Lake First Nation in previous meetings, and recently at a Jan 6, 2021 online virtual meeting stated the organization did consult with Kawartha Nishnawbe in 2016. “Parks Canada has offered to meet with Kawartha Nishnawbe,” adds Britton. “Not to my knowledge has there been any consultation with Kawartha Nishnawbe in 2016 regarding the replacement of the dam,” said Nodin Webb, spokesperson for Kawartha Nishnawbe. He went on to say Parks Canada is falsely claiming they consulted with the community as a whole in 2016. “I also do not believe Parks Canada is respecting us, if anything, they’ve ignored us,” adds Webb. Parks Canada says they remain available and hope to connect in a meaningful way through this process. “Parks Canada continues to meet with Curve Lake First Nation and other Williams Treaty First Nations on the upcoming phases of work for the Burleigh Falls dam replacement project and are working together to develop fisheries monitoring and mitigation plans,” says Britton. “We are fully aware of the litigation in court and we will not comment on the issue at this time. The part of the court litigation lies with Crown Indigenous Relations Services Canada,” added Britton. Curve Lake Chief Emily Whetung issued an official statement on the blockade. “Many of our members harvest in or near Burleigh Falls Dam area, and our goal through our consultation process with Parks Canada has been to protect the impacts on the species that our members harvest,” says Chief Whetung. The statement also says while Curve Lake First Nation recognizes the complicated history of the Kawartha Nishnawbe, their relationship to the land at Burleigh Falls, and their assertion with the Federal Government and Curve Lake respect that they have an independent perspective. “The Burleigh Falls Dam is located within the recognized pre-confederation and Williams Treaties Territory and we feel a responsibility to protect the environment and species in the area as the reconstruction project moves forward.” Parks Canada says there are do not know the full cost of the stoppage, but did say there is no impact on the spawning season. Natalie Hamilton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Peterborough This Week
A Kelowna man who lied about his qualifications as a social worker is facing a new proposed class-action lawsuit for allegedly failing to inform a former client about the existence of a program designed to help young adults age out of the foster care system. In a lawsuit filed in B.C. Supreme Court earlier this week, Zachary Alphonse claims Robert Riley Saunders and a colleague at the Ministry of Children and Family Development were required to tell him about the Young Adults Program when he turned 19. Instead, Alphonse, who is now 29, claims he only learned about the program's existence when the ministry contacted him last summer. But by then, he was too old to collect benefits that could have provided him with up to 48 months of financial support a decade earlier. "If [Alphonse] had been informed of the existence of and his eligibility for the Young Adults Program and had been provided with assistance in applying for the program, [he] would have started his adult education and advanced his work goals at a better pace," the lawsuit reads. 'Kind of languished aimlessly' Saunders has already been the subject of one successful class action, filed on behalf of dozens of former foster children who accused him of isolating them in order to siphon funds meant for their care into his own pocket. Last summer, the ministry agreed to a multimillion dollar settlement that will see at least 102 former foster children, the majority of them Indigenous, collect thousands of dollars intended to cover both their financial loss and trauma they suffered as a result of Saunders' actions. According to court documents filed in relation to the settled claim, Saunders faked a social work degree. The Kelowna man is also facing multiple criminal charges of fraud and breach of trust for the same alleged behaviour. Jason Gratl, the lawyer who represented the first group of claimants, also represents Alphonse. He says the target of the latest lawsuit is primarily the government. "It turns out the Ministry of Children and Family Development hasn't been telling children about the existence of this adult education program at or near the time they age out, so lots of foster children are falling between the cracks," Gratl told the CBC. "Not knowing about the program, they kind of languished aimlessly." 'Thousands of former children' Alphonse claims he became homeless after turning 19 in August 2010. At that point, he says he had only completed Grade 9 and lacked the resources to work on a graduate equivalency degree. "For a period of approximately one year, [he] could see no future for himself, felt hopeless and unable to advance his interests," the lawsuit reads. Alphonse claims he began working part-time jobs but was held back by his lack of education. He says he got a technical certification in computer repair at age 27, while working full time. He now needs only three courses to complete his Grade 12 equivalency in order to graduate from high school. "We do know there are thousands of former children in care who did not enter the adult education program to which they were entitled, but we don't know exactly the proportion of those who weren't notified of the existence of the program," Gratl says. "But the general idea of the class action is to encourage the Province of British Columbia by means of a court order to restart the clock on those benefits." Alphonse is seeking damages which include the cost of future education as well as aggravated and punitive damages. The ministry has not filed a response to the lawsuit and neither has Saunders.
Canadian pension funds are seeking to boost their real estate investments, betting the slumping property market will recover as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes and office workers and city dwellers return to downtown properties. In a world of slower economic growth, very low interest rates, volatility in equity markets, real estate offers an attractive opportunity for pension funds, which take a long-term investment horizon, say market participants.
Birdtail Sioux First Nation and the Ojibway First Nation have both seen COVID-19 vaccine roll out in their communities this week. Elders in both communities are at the top of the list. But Birdtail Chief Ken Chalmers did say vaccine fear is real. He said at least one person is waiting to see how it works out for others. "But we’re campaigning to get that done," he said, but that vaccine wasn’t wasted as someone further down the list, according to age, took it. Social media, Chalmers said, is the main root of vaccine fear. Chalmers said the community has had a few scares. "We had one case that we isolated. We’re back down to zero," he said, adding the person had travelled to a hospital and that’s likely where the virus was contracted. Everyone in contact with that person was isolated. All tests came back negative and that person is now doing well. Keeseekoowenin Chief Norman Bone said, so far, his community hasn’t seen a case. "We’ve been fortunate to not have any cases, here," Bone said. "We’ve done fairly well since last spring." Bone said the community is observing the fundamentals, as dictated by provincial public health officials — and leadership has communicated those to community members. "We’ve tried to make all the people aware to take all the precautions, in terms of self-isolation, wearing masks, shopping for essentials only," he said. "Whatever it is we’ve done, is working for us." While Birdtail has barriers blocking visitors from entering the community, such is not the case at Keeseekoowenin, due to the community having multiple entry points. Bone has previously said it is simply not possible to blockade the community. At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Indigenous Services Canada associate deputy minister Valerie Gideon said the highest funding requests her department received are for perimeter security. "For communities to be able to try and control that to-and-from traffic into community. We’re close to 350 communities that have closed their borders to non-essential travel, and are really maintaining their resolve in order to protect their community members," she said. However, Chalmers wonders which communities received those funds because he does not have certainty that his community will see reimbursement for roadblocks. While Gideon said those measures are critical, Chalmers said he’s getting mixed messages on that matter, and so far the First Nation is using its own dollars. "We got zero," Chalmers said. "Security costs $90,000 a month. And they won’t tell us who got that money." Chalmers references Shamattawa First Nation, which required an emergency response, which likely cost the federal government millions of dollars. He acknowledges Northern reserves are getting hit hard, but he’s also very concerned about protecting his own reserve. The feds, said Chalmers, told Birdtail is in a low-risk area. But due to the same reasons any reserve is vulnerable, so is Birdtail. "That was a surprise to me. The whole province is in code red," he said. Food security is an issue, and both Chalmers and Bone said that’s being handled. Birdtail has its own store, and is providing vouchers for those who need them. At Keeseekoowenin, fishing and hunting continues to provide additional support. "Last year, we started fishing, doing our own process of getting food to the people that would need. We’re still doing that," Bone said. The community also benefitted from the Fisher River Cree Nation receiving $11 million from the Surplus Food Rescue Program to rescue up to 2.9 million pounds of freshwater fish, which was distributed to more than 75 Indigenous communities throughout Manitoba, Saskatchewan and the North. "We took part in that and we’re still distributing some of that fish," Bone said. The area sees mostly deer, and hunting parties have been out to add that to the community’s food source. "The guys have been going out and providing some of that as a food source for some of the people that require it here in the community," Bone said. "Some of the stuff we’d been doing before. We also making sure potatoes and some basic stuff … We’ve been doing some of this stuff over the years, already. We just carried on with that." But Bone added distribution was increased over previous years. School children are also being protected, as both communities have been going the remote learning route. Bone said that has been working well for Keeseekoowenin. What’s hardest for on-reserve members? Funerals. Gathering to grieve and celebrate the life of a loved one is impossible in these times. Public health orders have limited these gatherings. A funeral may have been the site of some viral spread at Sioux Valley Dakota Nation — the community put out a notice that anyone who attended a particular funeral, and showed signs of symptoms, should get tested. Chief Jennifer Bone did not return a call from The Brandon Sun. Chalmers plans to organize a memorial for all those the community has lost during these many long pandemic months. For now, he just wants to keep all children and elders safe to the fall of 2021. As for Bone, he’s just grateful things have worked out the way they have for his community so far. Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
Ana Gameiro, her husband and son all tested positive for the coronavirus last week amid a surge of infections across Portugal, forcing them to self-quarantine before a presidential election this Sunday that they do not want to miss. To the family's relief, volunteers from their local council in Cascais near Lisbon stepped in to help, collecting their ballots straight from their doorstep. "Even at home voting is a right we all have," Gameiro told Reuters after handing in her vote to two volunteers wearing full-body protective suits.
Bitcoin slumped 10% to a 10-day low before paring some of its losses Thursday as traders feared tighter U.S. regulations. The world's most popular cryptocurrency Bitcoin was last down 10.6% at $31,724. The pullback comes amid growing concerns that bitcoin is one of a number of financial market price bubbles.
Mongolia's Prime Minister Khurelsukh Ukhnaa submitted his resignation to parliament on Thursday after protests in the capital Ulaanbaatar over the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state news agency Montsame reported. Khurelsukh said in his resignation statement that he should "assume the responsibility upon himself and accept the demand of the public." The protests erupted on Wednesday over what some Mongolians saw as the inhumane treatment of a COVID-19 patient and her newborn baby, Montsame said.
A Manitoba family is heartbroken after being asked to exhume their loved one's body because he was mistakenly buried in a previously sold cemetery plot earlier this month. "It's just reopening the wounds that were just starting close," said Angela Griffith, whose 62-year-old father, Dan Griffith, died in his home in Deloraine — about 250 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg — on Christmas Day. The family held a small graveside burial on Jan. 4, Griffith said. They couldn't have a full funeral because of pandemic restrictions. Ten days later, the Griffiths were notified by the Municipality of Deloraine-Winchester that the plot their dad was buried in was sold to them by mistake, and that it, along with two adjacent plots, had previously been sold. Griffith said she was told the family that had originally bought the plots was asked to pick another area, but they refused and wanted Dan's body dug up and relocated instead. The municipality asked the Griffith family to exhume Dan's body. Murray Combs's mother bought four plots, including the one where Dan Griffith is now buried, in 2006. Combs's parents are buried in one, and the three remaining plots are for him and his two brothers. "The burial that took place recently is in the very first plot beside my mom and dad, and there's really no more room to put the other three," said Combs. "It was my mother's wishes, so either we go against my mother's wishes or we don't, I guess." Combs described the mix-up as unfortunate and something that never should have happened. He said his family's arrangements were made 14 years ago. "I certainly don't blame the other family a bit. It's not their fault either. Apparently they have a legal document to the same piece of ground," he said. There are no easy solutions for either family, he acknowledges. "What do we do? Do we dig up my mom and dad's plot, too? Is that what they expect?" he said. "It's a terrible mistake, but mistakes get made and somebody has to be responsible." He said he hasn't heard anything more from the municipality on possible solutions. While Griffith's arrangements were made through a local funeral home, the Municipality of Deloraine-Winchester is responsible for running the cemetery and selling the plots. CBC reached out to various municipal officials for comment but did not receive a response. Told mapping error to blame Griffith said she was only told that a mapping error led to the mistake. "I'm still trying to wrap my head around how such a big mistake happens," said Griffith. Cemetery staff offered to pay for a new plot and cover the costs of moving Dan's body, but the family is uncomfortable with the idea of disturbing his grave, she said. "We just laid him to rest, and now we have to deal with the stress of trying to figure out do we have to exhume our father?" Griffith said while her father was not Indigenous, she and her siblings are Métis, and she has cultural concerns about moving him. "Even from a cultural standpoint, [we're] wondering what's going to happen to his spirit, you know, when we dig him up, if we have to," said Griffith. Seeking legal advice Griffith said her dad was a carpenter who worked hard his whole life and was well-known in the area. While his grave does not yet have a tombstone, she said her son has marked it with a carpenter's measuring tape — something Dan Griffith always had hanging from his belt. "My dad never took a day off his whole life. He worked every single day and literally, I know it's cliché, but my dad would do anything for anybody, and if anyone deserves to be resting in peace it's him," said Griffith. The family is seeking legal advice on how to proceed. "We're not going to willingly exhume him," she said. She said she understands the Combs family is also upset, but hopes they can find a solution. "Just try to understand the pain and how much it just stresses us out, and rips our hearts open to have to think about even exhuming our father."
Toronto police are warning the public as they investigate a report of a man trying to enter a woman’s apartment while threatening her. Toronto Police Service issued an alert Thursday morning about the incident reported Wednesday in the city’s west end. The male suspect allegedly entered an apartment building and tried to open an apartment door. When a woman started to open her door, police say the man tried to force his way inside and threatened to sexually assault her. The woman shut the door and phoned 911, while the man ran away. Police describe suspect as in his 30s with a medium build and black moustache, wearing a navy blue toque, a black and white checkered scarf and a brown leather jacket. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
A global pandemic and a winter that hasn't seen much snow are causing headaches for an industry that relies on travel and 'white gold' in northern New Brunswick. The Nepisiquit Snowmobile Club in Bathurst has approximately 1,500 members, with 600 of those from Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. And many of the 900 or so other members come from all around New Brunswick, according to the club's vice president, David Brewster . "These are people coming to northern New Brunswick to take advantage of the tremendous snow amounts that we get here with a beautiful trail system," Brewster said. The club has three groomers — used to maintain a 300 kilometre trail system — which log about 2,500 hours a year. Brewster said the trail system is a huge tourism draw to the area. "Our winter tourism is our main tourism for the whole year," Brewster said, adding that the spinoff effect from the industry is important to the region. "We depend on that, that's our main source of jobs right now for our area," he said. But it's been a rough start for the industry so far in 2021, according to Brewster. Up until last weekend, the region didn't have much snow, preventing the club from grooming an important trail that connects Bathurst to the larger trail system. Brewster admits that's frustrating, but not completely unheard of for January, as winter gets off to a slow start once every ten years or so. But, it's the issues surrounding travel because of COVID-19 restrictions that are worrisome to the club. The now defunct Atlantic Bubble means more than a third of the club's members haven't been able to travel to the region so far this season. "A lot of them have bought their pass — which is a couple hundred dollars," Brewster said of the club's members outside of the province. He said members aren't happy with not being able to travel to the area, but understand the situation. "It's like buying a membership into a golf club and you can't use it because the club is closed." Members from other parts of the province, in particular from southern New Brunswick, also can't visit the region right now because of COVID-19 restrictions. Earlier this month, the province reverted back to the orange phase of recovery limiting travel between regions — and this week the majority of New Brunswick is in the red phase. That's not trending in the right direction for the winter economy in the north of the province. Keith DeGrace, owner of the Atlantic Host Hotel in Bathurst, said the hospitality industry is feeling the pinch of not having the snowmobilers in town this year. "We do see a definite drop almost immediately," he said of the change to tighter restrictions. "We're already more like 35 to 45 per cent off what our market originally was last year at this time — it's quite a blow," he said. Normally DeGrace would have more than 50 people on staff right now, but at the moment he said they're down to 38 people. "We have had our excellent years, and I guess we can expect a tough one once in a while," he said. Both DeGrace and Brewster are optimistic that the season can still be salvaged. The recent snowfall has laid the foundation for better snow conditions, which Brewster believes will only get better over the coming weeks. Both men hope COVID-19 restrictions will revert back to the yellow phase of recovery within a month, and allow for people to travel between zones for the latter half of February and March.
Like 8,000 flying trapeze artists passing in midair, the Biden and Trump administrations swapped out senior leadership of the federal government on the fly as Joe Biden was inaugurated as the nation's 46th president. Biden announced the dozens of career civil servants who would be leading federal agencies, pending Senate approval of his permanent nominees. Acting heads of Cabinet agencies raised their right hands Wednesday afternoon for oaths of office. Emails went out briefing federal employees on just which career employee would be serving as their acting boss. It’s a painstakingly executed exchange of Cabinet agency senior staffing with inherent risk of bad goof-ups in the best of years, former agency officials and scholars of the federal bureaucracy say. And this year, when Biden’s administration was starting work amid fears that President Donald Trump’s followers would launch more attacks like the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, had added challenges. “Day One is always going to be the riskiest” when it comes to uncertainty about who's in charge, or the new people missing news of some critical event during an agency transition, said Paul C. Light, a professor of public service at New York University. One example, he said, would be scientists in the ranks learning of some vital development in the spread of the coronavirus pandemic or development of vaccines. “As sure as we’re talking here, these things happen,” Light said. “It’s a very dense hierarchy and there are no alarm bells." There was no immediate word of any trouble Wednesday in the first hours of the change in leadership. Biden supporters earlier had accused Trump security agencies of failing to share vital information in the weeks leading up to the handoff. Trump’s false insistence that he, not Biden, won the presidential election raised the level of worries over Wednesday’s transition. U.S. officials this month made a point of specifying in advance who would be the acting head of the Defence Department at 12:01 p.m. Wednesday, the minute after Biden became president. Deputy Defence Secretary David Norquist became acting head of the Defence Department between the resignation of Trump appointee Christopher C. Miller and Senate confirmation of Biden’s nominee to replace him, retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin. Across Cabinet-level agencies, most political appointees of the old administration turned in resignations by Inauguration Day, following tradition. Before leaving office, Trump had tweaked the orders of succession at some agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, in ways that changed which career staffer was in charge when all the political appointees go away. Environmental advocates and other opponents of the Trump administration, and scholars of government, expressed suspicion of some of Trump’s succession changes in his last weeks, fearing he might plant loyalists as acting heads to make trouble for Biden. But Barack Obama’s White House and others before him in their finals weeks also made adjustments to who’s left in charge in agencies, said Anne Joseph O’Connell, a Stanford Law School professor and expert in government process. That's usually “not because of party preferences but to help with good governance,” O’Connell said. “To the extent you care about government, you care about transition.” However, with Trump’s reluctance after Election Day to yield power, “you could see why many would question the need for changes to succession now,” she added. In any case, federal law on vacancies gives incoming presidents wide choice in picking their own acting agency heads from among employees, regardless of succession plans. Biden by Wednesday afternoon announced his own selections of acting agency heads, from the State Department to the Social Security Administration to the National Endowment for the Arts. “My expectation is that the incoming Biden administration will be relying very heavily on the vacancies act to staff their administration until their nominations are confirmed,” O’Connell said. Another Trump-era complication for this election cycle's power swap: Trump added more layers and senior staffers to federal government, Light said. Researchers have crunched the federal government’s annual directory of executive-level Cabinet staffers — the associates to the chiefs of staff, the deputies to the deputies — each year since the Kennedy administration. There were 451 of them, then. There were 3,265 of those senior Cabinet employees when Obama left town — and 4,886 at last count under Trump, Light said, in research that Brookings published in October. The thicker bureaucracy adds to the risk of vital communications not making it up to new leaders, Light said. The rule for any acting heads remaining from past administrations is simple, Light said: Do no harm. The understanding over the years is “acting appointees are not going to do anything significant” without warning, he said. “We just cross our fingers and hope that people will behave.” Ellen Knickmeyer, The Associated Press
If there was proof that the snowstorm slamming into eastern Newfoundland was serious, it came Thursday afternoon when the Avalon Mall announced it was shutting down. As the first flurries fell in the St. John's area just after noon Thursday, schools and other facilities in the St. John's area began closing ahead of the incoming storm that would blast the Avalon and Bonavista peninsulas. Both regions remain under a winter storm warning, with 20 to 35 centimetres expected by Friday morning. As of 6:30 p.m., Environment Canada meteorologist Rodney Barney reported 15 centimetres at St. John's International Airport. Some backyard observations from residents — and CBC's Ashley Brauweiler — marked higher totals. The Department of Transportation said on Twitter after 6 p.m. that it took plows off the Witless Bay Line and Route 100, among other Avalon highways, due to whiteout conditions and over concerns about the safety of plow operators. A number of travel warnings are in effect for highways throughout the region as of Thursday evening. The Department of Public Safety has asked all residents to remain indoors where possible and avoid unnecessary travel. Rash of closures The storm prompted all St. John's area schools in the English school district to dismiss their students at least three hours before regular dismissal Thursday, with a decision on Friday's classes to be made at 6 a.m. the following morning. In the French school district, Ecole Rocher-du-Nord closed at noon. The City of St. John's closed its facilities at 2 p.m. ahead of the snow storm. Memorial University closed its St. John's campus buildings at noon. The College of the North Atlantic also closed its St. John's campuses and its Placentia campus. Metrobus halted service as of 5 p.m. Thursday due to the forecast. The Avalon Mall closed its doors at 3:30 p.m., adding it will provide an update Friday morning on whether or not the building will be open. Liquor stores in St. John's, Mount Pearl, Paradise, Conception Bay South, Bay Roberts, Carbonear and Placentia shut their doors at 5 p.m. Plows will be clearing major arteries throughout the night, said City of St. John's Coun. Sandy Hickman. Other streets will be cleared tomorrow as the snow tapers off, he said, adding crews and equipment were well prepared. "We are ready to roll with the full complement," he said. The city is also bringing in a 24-hour parking restriction as of 6 p.m. Thursday evening, outside of downtown and the business district. Hickman said the restriction will continue through Friday, and the city added it won't know when the restriction will be lifted until public works makes the decision. The reasoning is to allow easy and effective snow removal for equipment operators. Vehicles parked on roads during this time may be ticketed or towed, the city said, and an update will be issued when restriction is over. As for sidewalks, Hickman said new equipment with "drop spreaders" for sand and salt will continue to make way for pedestrians. "I think people will see an improvement," he said. "It won't be, likely, a small snowfall, so it will take a little longer of course." Winds are expected to gust up around 80 km/h, and in some places, like Cape Race, top 100 km/h, creating poor visibility. "It will be blizzard-like visibilities this evening and into the overnight periods, but the storm's moving through fairly quickly, so it's not going to be a long-lasting event," said Environment Canada Meteorologist Dale Foote. The storm marks the first major winter weather event for the St. John's area, with Foote calling the storm was a proper nor'easter, "a typical January storm that we'd expect in a normal year." A special weather statement is in effect for a swath of the northeast coast, central Newfoundland and Northern Peninsula, which could see between 10 to 15 centimetres of snow. On the Avalon, Boudreau said, the storm's winds and snow will ease slightly but continue overnight, but the snow should taper off by Friday morning, with gusts continuing until noon. A second weather system anticipated for Saturday probably won't materialize, as it's tracking east of Newfoundland at the moment, the meteorologists said. "If that works out, Saturday should be a nice day for the entire island," said Foote. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Summerside's sewage treatment plant is back in compliance following what city officials describe as a "glitch," which pumped higher than normal levels of effluent into the city's harbour for more than three weeks. Bruce MacDougall, the councillor responsible for the water and sewer utilities, says staff noticed the higher than acceptable levels last month. He said federal and provincial officials were immediately notified and the shellfish fishery in the harbour was shut down. "Late December, we had a little glitch in the system and whenever staff noticed it they notified the provincial and federal officials," MacDougall said in an interview with CBC News. "We do testing every day and that's how we noticed it. So once we noticed the higher readings, we had to put an action together to bring those readings down." 'It wasn't raw discharge' The problem was noticed Dec. 13. The levels did not return to normal until Jan. 6. City officials say these events are rare ever since it invested more than $19 million into upgrades at the plant in 2008. The last time something like this happened was more than 10 years ago, the city said. Morley Foy, an engineer with the Department of Environment, said operational issues created the higher than normal levels. He said the sewage was still being treated but the amount of solids being released into the harbour was higher than normal. "It wasn't raw discharge by any means, but it was above the limits," said Foy. "The UV system that's in place, the ultraviolet light that does the portion of the treatment for the disinfection was able to manage those high levels, and throughout the whole period when the facility was not working the way it should have been working, it was still performing very well for bacteria reduction." 'Changes to processing plants' Foy said there was "very little impact" to the harbour. "The time of year was very fortunate for this event in the sense that there was no recreational activity taking place within the harbour nor was there any fishing activities taking place within the harbour," said Foy. Despite that, a shellfish closure was ordered Dec. 14. A spokesperson with the federal Department of Fisheries said, "Signs were installed and the fishing industry was notified. No fishing activity was taking place in the area at that time. "The area will remain closed until the beginning of the spring fishing season." Greg Gaudet, Summerside's director of municipal services, said the city began work immediately to correct the problem. But he said the fix took some time. 'Back into the safe zone' "It usually takes about a 10- to 12-day time period, you got to realize all that liquid … has to work its way through the whole process of the plant," said Gaudet. "What we believe may have happened, there may have been some changes to processing plants in Summerside in December, they may have had some shutdowns, in which case they weren't putting out any biological oxygen demand into the sewer system, which gave our system that we had fine-tuned a little burp. "Basically, it upset the process." Gaudet said they plan to improve communications between the city and its biggest sewage customers. "When they change their operations, we have to change ours." The Summerside sewage treatment plant not only treats sewage from the city, it also treats waste from people's homes throughout Prince County. When somebody has their private sewage tank cleaned, that waste ends up at the Summerside plant. MacDougall said these events are rare and the city works hard to ensure they don't happen. "Everything has been brought back into the safe zone," MacDougall told city councillors during a meeting on Monday night. "We've got the all clear now." More from CBC P.E.I.
PARIS — Just like the leaves of its gilded fans, France’s storied fan-making museum could fold and vanish. The splendid Musee de l’Eventail in Paris, classed as a historical monument, is the cultural world’s latest coronavirus victim. It has until Jan. 23 to pay up over 117,000 euros ($142,000) in rent arrears — stemming mainly from losses during lockdowns, otherwise it will close. And with it will go the savoir-faire of its workshop. The studio that teaches design and restoration to a new generation of fan-makers was placed on France’s intangible heritage list last year. “It is a tragedy. I can’t believe Parisians will let a part of their heritage die. I have a problem, because I always believed there would be a miracle,” the museum's 74-year-old director, Anne Hoguet, told the AP. There may be some surprise that France, a country that famously prizes its culture, has not done more to save the museum, especially given that the French public was so eager to help other cultural sites in danger, such as its burned-out Notre Dame cathedral. It might be a question of size. Hoguet said she was “exhausted” by the fight for survival that has hit smaller institutions but spared larger ones, such as Florence’s Uffizi which re-opens this week. “Like all small museums, we had troubles before, but the health crisis has been a catastrophe," she said. Bailiffs are even threatening to seize the museum's artefacts from next Monday, numbering 2,500 original pieces — including historic fans made from turtle shell, lace and silk and adorned with diamonds and rubies. Like many of Paris' 130 museums, Hoguet said her institution — which charges just 7 euros entry and is located in the French capital’s popular 10th district — was forced to close for most of 2020 because of government virus restrictions. On top of that, money coming from the workshop’s fan restorations also evaporated because of the tightening of spending during the pandemic. “The aristocratic families who send me their fans to restore all fled to their country homes in lockdown, so I had no more commissions. They wanted to save their money.” She said she would previously have charged between 500 and 600 euros per fan to restore them to their original state using traditional materials, and she used the income from that to pay the rent. Even when the museum briefly re-opened last September, Hoguet had trouble getting the same levels of footfall as before. “Because people were preoccupied with the virus, culture and heritage got forgotten — and dangerously,” she said. Hoguet is the fourth generation in charge of what is Paris’ last original fan-making workshop. She has trained directly or indirectly five young fan-makers, whom she hopes will carry the torch of the storied craft. The making of fans, traditionally with wooden sticks and painted paper leaves, has been considered sacred in many ancient cultures. But in France, its golden age was in the French court of 18th-century Versailles, where women used fan as forms of communication to flirt expertly or to hide modestly behind. The images painted on them would often chronicle the current affairs of the world around them. To this day, they remain part of France's fashion heritage DNA, featuring elaborately in couture collections by Chanel, Dior and Jean Paul Gaultier. Hoguet's father bought the museum’s impressive collection of fans in 1960. It spans the period from the Renaissance to the 20th century, including “advertising” or “illustrated” pieces, as well as vellum, kidskin and feathered fans. She is very much an eccentric of the old school. A staff of one, she has no cohesive fundraising tool set up other than email, but her efforts to rally support since 2019 have been valiant. She says that she has been so failed by French authorities that she now has trouble sleeping. She had rallied the French Culture Ministry and been in talks with Paris City Hall, but it has, she said, made no difference. “What is the point of marking us out as intangible heritage if they will not protect us?” she asked. Paris City Hall did not immediately respond when contacted by AP. “The problem with savoir-faire, is that it can very quickly die," Hoguet said. ___ Adamson reported from Leeds, England Thomas Adamson And Michel Euler, The Associated Press
Union heads ensured Liberal Leader Andrew Furey and his team received a friendly reception in Arnold's Cove Wednesday, following a taxpayer-funded lifeline last week for the idled Come By Chance refinery. "He'll get a warm welcome," Glenn Nolan, president of Local 9316 of the United Steelworkers, said just before the Liberal bus pulled up to the union office late Wednesday afternoon. "Due to the fact that we just received money from the government, we're pretty optimistic about it," he added. The drab union boardroom was quickly filled with a crimson glow just after 4 p.m., as Furey and a squad of red-jacketed Liberals piled into the room — remaining mindful of the pandemic protocols for physical distancing. There were offers of hot coffee and cold pizza, then bantering about favourite hockey teams. Despite the cloud of economic uncertainty that has been darkening Placentia Bay for months, no one was expecting any tension. Nolan is confident that the nearly $17 million in public money announced on Friday — the same day Andrew Furey pulled the chain on a provincial general election — saved the refinery from total shutdown, and avoided a devastating blow to the provincial economy. "It would be very damaging," said Nolan. North Atlantic Refining Limited has not refined any fuels at Come By Chance since last April, when the owners, New York-based investment management firm Silverpeak, decided it was no longer viable to operate amid a pandemic and collapsing oil markets. The refinery has been in idle mode ever since, with at least two potential sales collapsing, dashing hopes that a new owner would swoop in with big plans to re-start the 130,000-barrel-per-day complex. Silverpeak had lobbied the government for months for financial help to keep the lights on at Come By Chance, rather than trying to market a mothballed refinery to potential buyers or investors, or expose sensitive processing equipment to a Newfoundland winter. Finally, amid a flurry of highly charged political announcements late last week, the Liberals declared it had reached a deal to keep the refinery in what's called warm idle mode. It came in the form of a $16.6 million grant to North Atlantic, on the condition that the company increase the workforce to 200 people — a third of the normal complement — and keep up with critical maintenance. Prior to Wednesday's meeting with Nolan, Furey defended the cash payment at a time when the province is facing a financial crisis that existed long prior to the arrival of the pandemic last winter. "We thought the best way to support the women and men who work in this industry right now is to keep this in a warm idle position, so it's perfectly positioned as oil rebounds to either restart or be sold for a high value," Furey explained. Furey skirted the question when repeatedly asked whether Silverpeak had threatened to turn out the lights unless the government opened its wallet. "We've been working with companies endlessly, and we arrived at a deal before the election," he said. Not everyone back to work: union The union says there are 153 people — a mixture of union and non-union positions — working at the site. Another 56 people will start receiving calls as early as Thursday, telling them to report for work as early as next week. Nolan said his phone has been ringing steadily, with sidelined refinery workers — many struggling to pay the bills and worried about the loss of health benefits — asking whether they'll gain from the injection of government cash. "Two hundred jobs is a great thing. Unfortunately, not everybody is going to get back," said Nolan. The government cash is expected to last until the end of June, and Furey hopes for a positive outcome by then. "We got six months now, and the pressure is on the company and other companies to come together to make a commercial deal that is ... the best value of the people of the province," he said. Meanwhile, an analyst who keeps a close watch on the North American refining industry has serious concerns about the future of Come By Chance. Marc Amons is with Wood Mackenzie, a natural resources research and consulting firm. Speaking from his office in Houston, Texas, on Wednesday, Amons said the pandemic has pinched refiners around the world. He said demand for fuels such as gasoline, jet fuel and diesel is still "well below" pre-pandemic levels, and refiners are adapting by decreasing throughput and coping with shrinking profits. What's more, he said, Silverpeak is not the only refinery owner marketing their assets to prospective buyers. "There's other refining companies looking to sell or reposition their assets. So it's likely that any buyer looking to enter the space would have a choice of assets to purchase," he said. As for the decision by the Liberals to throw cash at the refinery, Amons said that might not be such a bad idea. He said there's a strong chance that the markets will rebound later in the year as COVID-19 vaccinations increase, and demand for fuels rebound. But, he added, "as we stand here today, there is still a fair amount of reason for pessimism for the outlook." Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
GENEVA — The United States will resume funding for the World Health Organization and join its consortium aimed at sharing coronavirus vaccines fairly around the globe, President Joe Biden’s top adviser on the pandemic said Thursday, renewing support for an agency that the Trump administration had pulled back from. Dr. Anthony Fauci’s quick commitment to the WHO — whose response to the pandemic has been criticized by many, but most vociferously by the Trump administration — marks a dramatic and vocal shift toward a more co-operative approach to fighting the pandemic. “I am honoured to announce that the United States will remain a member of the World Health Organization,” Fauci told a virtual meeting of the WHO from the United States, where it was 4:10 a.m. in Washington. It was the first public statement by a member of Biden’s administration to an international audience — and a sign of the priority that the new president has made of fighting COVID-19 both at home and with world partners. Just hours after Biden’s inauguration Wednesday, he wrote a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres saying the U.S. had reversed the planned pullout from the WHO that was expected to take effect in July. The withdrawal from the WHO was rich with symbolism — another instance of America's go-it-alone strategy under Trump. But it also had practical ramifications: The U.S. halted funding for the U.N. health agency — stripping it of cash from the country that has long been its biggest donor just as the agency was battling the health crisis that has killed more than 2 million people worldwide. The U.S. had also pulled back staff from the organization. Fauci said the Biden administration will resume “regular engagement” with WHO and will “fulfil its financial obligations to the organization.” The WHO chief and others jumped in to welcome the U.S. announcements. “This is a good day for WHO and a good day for global health,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “The role of the United States, its role, global role is very, very crucial.” The two men hinted at a warm relationship between them, with Fauci calling Tedros his “dear friend” and Tedros referring to Fauci as “my brother Tony.” John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called it “great news” in an email. “The world has always been a better place when the U.S. plays a leadership role in solving global health problems including the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria, polio and other diseases,” he said. Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke wrote on Facebook: “This is going to have a huge impact on the world’s ability to fight the pandemic. It is decisive that the United States is involved as a driving force and not a country that is looking for the exit when a global catastrophe rages.” Fauci also said Biden will issue a directive Thursday that shows the United States’ intent to join the COVAX Facility, a project to deploy COVID-19 vaccines to people in need around the world — whether in rich or poor countries. Under Trump, the U.S. had been the highest-profile — and most deep-pocketed — holdout from the COVAX Facility, which has struggled to meet its goals of distributing millions of vaccines both because of financial and logistic difficulties. WHO and leaders in many developing countries have repeatedly expressed concerns that poorer places could be the last to get COVID-19 vaccines, while noting that leaving vast swaths of the global population unvaccinated puts everyone at risk. While vowing U.S. support, Fauci also pointed to some key challenges facing WHO. He said the U.S. was committed to “transparency, including those events surrounding the early days of the pandemic.” One of the Trump administration’s biggest criticisms was that the WHO reacted too slowly to the outbreak in Wuhan, China, and was too accepting of and too effusive about the Chinese government’s response to it. Others have also shared those criticisms — but public health experts and many countries have argued that, while the organization needs reform, it remains vital. Referring to a WHO-led probe looking for the origins of the coronavirus by a team that is currently in China, Fauci said: “The international investigation should be robust and clear, and we look forward to evaluating it.” He said the U.S. would work with WHO and partner countries to “strengthen and reform” the agency, without providing specifics. ___ Associated Press writers Cara Anna in Nairobi, Kenya, and Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report. Jamey Keaten, The Associated Press
Portugal will head to the polls on Sunday to choose a new President, despite pandemic lockdown measures still in place. We take a look at Chega!, a right-wing party pushing to get through to the second round.
B.C. is seeing a rise in radicalization and extremist views spurred by COVID-19 and an increasingly tense political atmosphere, experts say. White nationalism and extreme-right and incel ideologies are of particular concern, says Garth Davies, an associate professor of criminology at Simon Fraser University. He says B.C. is not immune to the kind of radicalization that has led to violence like the riot at the U.S. Capitol. "I worry about exactly what they worry about down in the States," Davies said. "For us to believe we don't have the same problems, we are incorrect. We have right-wing extremists up here, we have incel extremists up here. And we've seen upticks in that during the COVID pandemic." Davies is an executive board member with Shift, a B.C. risk-reduction and violence prevention program that seeks to provide support to those at risk of radicalization. He says the pandemic has created a perfect storm for radicalization: people are spending more time online while facing mental, physical and financial difficulties. They're searching for ways to cope and feel connected to others and finding a barrage of misinformation online, like QAnon, anti-mask and anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. "People are afraid, they're scared, they're nervous," he said. "Originally, they were out there looking for information. Now they're looking for explanations." New research from Canada's Department of National Defence suggests the longer the pandemic continues, the stronger right-wing extremism and other threats are likely to become. The federal Liberal government has identified the rise of right-wing extremism and hate as a major threat to Canada. There are at least 130 active far-right extremist groups in Canada, a 30 per cent increase since 2015, according to Barbara Perry, director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism at Ontario Tech University. Social media playing on people's vulnerabilities Former white supremacist Tony McAleer says an alienated sense of self made him susceptible to radicalization. The B.C. man and his racist former allies at one point fought for the West Coast to be a whites-only enclave. He is now an author and co-founder of Life After Hate, an organization focused on helping people abandon far-right extremist views. He says a person's vulnerabilities can lead them to intertwine ideology with identity. "When I came across the skinheads and later these neo-Nazi groups, I got acceptance when I felt unlovable, I got power when I felt powerless, and I got attention when I felt invisible. And with these things lacking in my life, it sure felt fantastic," he said. McAleer left the white supremacist movement in the late 1990s, but says social media in the 21st century is being used in the same ways that drew him toward hatred: playing on people's fears and insecurities to weave a false narrative, and whipping up feelings of loss and aggrievement in the face of a changing, more inclusive society. "Things like ... diversity and inclusion get spun into, 'you're being excluded, you're losing a place at university to someone who's more diverse than you ... somebody is taking your jobs," he said. Increase in hate crimes during pandemic Cpl. Anthony Statham, who works with the B.C. RCMP's hate crimes unit, says there has been a "significant" increase in such crimes since the pandemic began. When it comes to online radicalization, he says police cannot act unless the material meets the threshold for a criminal investigation, otherwise they could be violating a person's right to free speech. Asked whether this means police have to wait for violence to happen before acting on hate speech, he was not specific on what exactly would compel police to act. He said it's a "legally complex" area, with radicalization being legally "impossible to define," but they can act if someone's words show a clear threat to public safety. "We can't go scanning the Internet and looking for things that we think are offensive ... we're potentially inhibiting people's charter rights," he said. "If something is very obviously violent, we can conduct an investigation into that simultaneous with [a social media] platform taking some kind of action." Kasari Govendor, B.C.'s human rights commissioner, says there are no laws in B.C. or Canada that deal with hate speech in a human rights context, and there is no "easy fix" when it comes to extremism. She says British Columbians can play a personal role in reducing violence by acknowledging Canada is not immune to racism and by looking inward. "When we see the impacts of these stereotypes, we have an obligation to ask ourselves what biases do we hold and how can we become actively anti-racist," she said. Censorship not the answer Both Davies and McAleer say social media censorship is not necessarily the solution to getting a handle on extremism in Canada. McAleer says pushing misinformation off Facebook or Twitter doesn't make radicalized ideas go away — instead, they'll find their way to smaller platforms with less moderation. They also say telling people their views are wrong can make them lean further into extremist beliefs. Davies believes the problem of extremism will get worse before it gets better, and it will take "years of conversation" to re-establish basic ideas of what constitutes truth, fact, and validity. "As long as the really harsh political divides are going on … this conversation isn't going to get any better. Because right now, we're not talking to each other. We're talking past each other," he said.
BAGHDAD — Twin suicide bombings ripped through a busy market in the Iraqi capital Thursday, killing at least 32 people and wounding dozens, officials said. The rare suicide bombing hit the Bab al-Sharqi commercial area in central Baghdad amid heightened political tensions over planned early elections and a severe economic crisis. Blood was splattered on the pavement of the busy market amid piles of clothes and shoes as survivors took stock of the disarray in the aftermath. No one immediately took responsibility for the attack, but Iraqi military officials said it was the work of the Islamic State group. Iraq's health minister Hassan Mohammed al-Tamimi said at least 32 people were killed and 110 were wounded in the attack. He said some of the wounded were in serious condition. Iraq's military previously put the number of dead at 28. The Health Ministry announced that all of its hospitals in the capital were mobilized to treat the wounded. Maj. Gen. Tahsin al-Khafaji, spokesman for the Joint Operations Command, which includes an array of Iraqi forces, said the first suicide bomber cried out loudly that he was ill in the middle of the bustling market, prompting a crowd to gather around him — and that's when he detonated his explosive belt. The second detonated his belt shortly after, he said. “This is a terrorist act perpetrated by a sleeper cell of the Islamic State,” al-Khafaji said. He said IS “wanted to prove its existence" after suffering many blows in military operations to root out the militants. At the Vatican, Pope Francis denounced the attack in Baghdad as a “senseless act of brutality” and urged Iraqis to keep working to replace violence with fraternity and peace. The telegram of condolences sent to the Iraqi president was particularly heartfelt, given Francis is due to visit Iraq in early March to try to encourage the country’s Christian communities that have been devastated by IS persecution. Thursday's twin suicide bombings marked the first in three years to target Baghdad's bustling commercial area. A suicide bomb attack took place in the same area in 2018 shortly after then-Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi declared victory over the Islamic State group, a Sunni militant group. Iraq has seen assaults perpetrated by both the Islamic State group and mostly Shiite militia groups in recent months. Militias have routinely targeted the American presence in Iraq with rocket and mortar attacks, especially the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone. The pace of those attacks, however, has decreased since an informal truce was declared by Iran-backed armed groups in October. The style of Thursday's assault was similar to those IS has conducted in the past. But the group has rarely been able to penetrate the capital since being dislodged by Iraqi forces and the U.S.-led coalition in 2017. IS has shown an ability to stage increasingly sophisticated attacks across northern Iraq, where it still maintains a presence, three years after Iraq declared victory over the group. Iraqi security forces are frequently ambushed and targeted with IEDs in rural areas of Kirkuk and Diyala. An increase in attacks was seen last summer as militants took advantage of the government's focus on tackling the coronavirus pandemic. The twin bombings Thursday came days after Iraq's government unanimously agreed to hold early elections in October. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi had announced in July that early polls would be held to meet the demands of anti-government protesters. Demonstrators took to the streets in the tens of thousands last year to demand political change, and an end to rampant corruption and poor services. More than 500 people were killed in mass demonstrations as security forces used live rounds and tear gas to disperse crowds. Iraq is also grappling with a severe economic crisis brought on by low oil prices that has led the government to borrow internally and risk depleting its foreign currency reserves. The Central Bank of Iraq devalued Iraq's dinar by nearly 20% last year to meet spending obligations. ___ Associated Press writer Murtada Faraj in Baghdad contributed to this report. Samya Kullab And Qassim Abdul-Zahra, The Associated Press