Watch as this very smart pet raccoon unscrews a bottle cap in order to play with the marbles inside. How cool is that?!
Watch as this very smart pet raccoon unscrews a bottle cap in order to play with the marbles inside. How cool is that?!
WASHINGTON — Three new senators were sworn into office Wednesday after President Joe Biden's inauguration, securing the majority for Democrats in the Senate and across a unified government to tackle the new president's agenda at a time of unprecedented national challenges. In a first vote, the Senate confirmed Biden's nominee for Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines. Senators worked into the evening and overcame some Republican opposition to approve his first Cabinet member, in what's traditionally a show of good faith on Inauguration Day to confirm at least some nominees for a new president's administration. Haines, a former CIA deputy director, will become a core member of Biden’s security team, overseeing the agencies that make up the nation’s intelligence community. She was confirmed 84-10. The new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged colleagues to turn the spirit of the new president’s call for unity into action. “President Biden, we heard you loud and clear,” Schumer said in his first speech as majority leader. “We have a lengthy agenda. And we need to get it done together.” Vice-President Kamala Harris drew applause as she entered the chamber to deliver the oath of office to the new Democratic senators — Jon Ossoff, Raphael Warnock and Alex Padilla — just hours after taking her own oath at the Capitol alongside Biden. The three Democrats join a Senate narrowly split 50-50 between the parties, but giving Democrats the majority with Harris able to cast the tie-breaking vote. Ossoff, a former congressional aide and investigative journalist, and Warnock, a pastor from the late Martin Luther King Jr.'s church in Atlanta, won run-off elections in Georgia this month, defeating two Republicans. Padilla was tapped by California’s governor to finish the remainder of Harris’ term. “Today, America is turning over a new leaf. We are turning the page on the last four years, we’re going to reunite the country, defeat COVID-19, rush economic relief to the people,” Ossoff told reporters earlier at the Capitol. “That’s what they sent us here to do.” Taken together, their arrival gives Democrats for the first time in a decade control of the Senate, the House and the White House, as Biden faces the unparalleled challenges of the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout, and the nation's painful political divisions from the deadly Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol by a mob loyal to Donald Trump. Congress is being called on to consider Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion COVID recovery package, to distribute vaccines and shore up an economy as more than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus. At the same time, the Senate is about to launch an impeachment trial of Trump, charged by the House of inciting the insurrection at the Capitol as rioters tried to interrupt the Electoral College tally and overturn Biden’s election. The Senate will need to confirm other Biden Cabinet nominees. To “restore the soul” of the country, Biden said in his inaugural speech, requires “unity.” Yet as Washington looks to turn the page from Trump to the Biden administration, Republican leader Mitch McConnell is not relinquishing power without a fight. Haines' nomination was temporarily blocked by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Okla., as he sought information about the CIA's enhanced interrogation program. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is holding back the Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas over Biden's proposed immigration changes. And McConnell is refusing to enter a power-sharing agreement with Senate Democrats unless they meet his demands, chiefly to preserve the Senate filibuster — the procedural tool often used by the minority party to block bills under rules that require 60 votes to advance legislation. McConnell, in his first speech as the minority party leader, said the election results with narrow Democratic control of the House and Senate showed that Americans “intentionally entrusted both political parties with significant power.” The Republican leader said he looked forward working with the new president “wherever possible.” At her first White House briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s desire to have his Cabinet confirmed and in place is “front and centre for the president,” and she said he was hoping to have his national security nominees in place Thursday or Friday. Psaki said the president will be “quite involved” in negotiations over the COVID relief package, but left the details of the upcoming impeachment trial to Congress. The Senate can “multitask,” she said. That’s a tall order for a Senate under normal circumstances, but even more so now in the post-Trump era, with Republicans badly split between their loyalties to the defeated president and wealthy donors who are distancing themselves from Republicans who back Trump. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to soon transmit to the Senate the House-passed article of impeachment against Trump, charged with incitement of insurrection, a step that will launch the Senate impeachment trial. Meantime, the power-sharing talks between Schumer and McConnell have hit a stalemate. It’s an arcane fight McConnell has inserted into what has traditionally been a more routine organizing resolution over committee assignments and staffing resources, but a power play by the outgoing Republican leader grabbing at tools that can be used to block Biden’s agenda. Progressive and liberal Democrats are eager to do away with the filibuster to more quickly advance Biden’s priorities, but not all rank-and-file Senate Democrats are on board. Schumer has not agreed to any changes but McConnell is taking no chances. For now, it will take unanimous consent among senators to toggle between conducting votes on legislative business and serving as jurors in the impeachment trial. The House last week impeached Trump for having sent the mob to the Capitol to “fight like hell” during the tally of Electoral College votes to overturn Biden’s election. __ Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report. Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press
The arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine and stronger foreign demand is brightening the outlook for the Canadian economy in the medium term, the Bank of Canada said on Wednesday, as it held its key overnight interest rate at 0.25%. But the central bank warned the economy would contract in the first quarter of 2021 amid a resurgence of COVID-19 cases and lockdowns, with inflation not expected to return sustainably to target until 2023, keeping interest rates at record lows.
Representatives of the religious faiths recognized in Belgium have joined forces to urge federal authorities to increase the number of people admitted inside places of worship during the coronavirus pandemic. Under the current COVID-19 rules, such places can accommodate up to 15 people. In a letter to Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne, the religious representatives argued that the number of people allowed should instead be linked to the space available. They proposed a return to the “one person per 10 square meters" rule which applied in June last year when Belgium exited the spring lockdown. “The use of this standard proved to be less restrictive for religious practice and at the same time very protective for public health,” they said in a statement on Wednesday. The letter was signed by representatives from the Roman Catholic, Protestant-Evangelical, Jewish, Anglican, Muslim and Orthodox faiths. “In these difficult and uncertain times, the need for meaning and spirituality is felt more than ever," they said. “For months now, a maximum of 15 people at a time have been able to gather in churches, mosques and synagogues in our country. Even if the life of a believer does not take place exclusively in the place of worship, many feel this measure in the long run as a drastic restriction of the latter." The government introduced the 15-person limit in December after the country’s highest court said the ban of services — with the exception of weddings and funerals in restricted company — which was introduced in October was disproportionate and impeded constitutional conditions on freedom of religion. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak The Associated Press
Family doctors in Alberta want to help give COVID-19 vaccinations but say the province has yet to tap them for help. "Family doctors have largely been left out of the conversation about the distribution and administration of vaccines in the province," said Dr. James Makokis, a family physician with practices in Edmonton, Kehewin Cree Nation who also works with an addictions and mental health practice in Toronto. Makokis said family doctors are in a good position to help because they know which patients meet the criteria for vaccinations and could help identify them. He said family doctors have their patients' trust and can answer questions they might have about the vaccine. While there are challenges that would make it difficult to store the vaccines in most family clinics, he said, many of the other roughly 5,200 family doctors in the province would be willing to attend AHS vaccination sites to help with injections. "If there was opportunity for, you know, late night shifts or weekend shifts when people can be vaccinated, many physicians would make themselves available to meet the needs of that," he said. Makokis said the province needs to engage with doctors, and wonders if the series of recent clashes between the provincial government and physicians has become a barrier. "My sense is their ego has gotten in the way to reach out for help," he said. Alberta Health spokesperson Tom McMillan said family doctors have yet to be tapped simply because of limited supply of the vaccine, and the province recognizes the important role doctors and others could play when there is more vaccine to go around. On Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney said Alberta was on track to use up its current supply by the end of that day or early Wednesday. "Right now, we have a very limited amount of vaccine available," McMillan said in a statement. "This is why we are currently focusing on the priority groups in Phase 1, which can most effectively be immunized directly through AHS personnel. As the available supply of vaccines increases, we will expand our approach." He said the province will continue to work with pharmacists, physicians and other health professionals on options for rolling out vaccines on a broader scale, and an update will be provided to the public in the coming weeks — including information about how different providers will be compensated for giving vaccine. Dr. Craig Hodgson, the family medicine section president of the Alberta Medical Association, said discussions have been held over the course of the pandemic about different ways family doctors could be involved in the vaccine rollout, but so far there hasn't been much interest. "Largely, we … certainly haven't received much in the way of a response in terms of wanting us to be involved," Hodgson said. In his own practice in Whitecourt, he said, patients have asked questions about the vaccine, and the relationship people have with family practitioners can be a way to address hesitancy concerns. Dr. Vishal Bhela, president of the Alberta College of Family Physicians, said the college has also been involved in a number of conversations, and while they recognize the issues of limited supply and ensuring that specific high-risk groups get shots first, they still hope to see family doctors looped in as the program expands. "We're hopeful that there will be a recommendation about the important role that family physicians can play in a successful COVID-19 campaign," he said. "Patients trust us, they have long-standing relationships with us, they approach us with questions and already have been," he said.
ST. MARY’S – Riding a groundswell of support for a whale-friendly environment, and with just a hint of déjà vu, James Harpell became the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s newest council member Saturday night. This will be the fourth term representing district 8 for the popular Harpellville ferry-boat skipper, who handily defeated James Bingley of Fisherman’s Harbour by a vote of 158 to 46. Harpell had previously served in consecutive sessions between 2000 and 2012. The seat had been up for grabs since October when its former occupant – councillor Peggy Kaiser-Kirk (and Harpell’s successor eight years ago) – resigned shortly after her acclamation in the general election. In an interview following his victory, Harpell (63, and the captain in charge of the Country Harbour ferry operation) said he was keen to get started on a range of issues voters raised during his door-knocking campaign. “A lot of people were really excited about the beluga whales coming,” he said, referring to the California-based Whale Sanctuary Project slated to commence in Port Hilford sometime in the next two years. “The first thing they wanted to know was what I thought about it.” Atlantic Gold’s proposed mining operation at Cochrane Hill near Sherbrooke was also top of mind. “It was a hot topic,” he said. “People were on board with the idea of not being left in the wake of an open pit mine that might harm the environment even in the future.” At the same time, he added, “They definitely considered the job aspect of [the mine] as well. Some constituents were really concerned about that. What with Covid-19, there’s a lot of that stuff up in the air right now.” Harpell has endorsed a cautious approach to the mine’s development (which Atlantic Gold recently pushed back to 2026 due to other priorities at its nearby Beaver Dam and Fifteen Mile Stream mining projects). “What people here are really looking for is something that’s not going to harm the environment,” he told The Journal in December. “We have a pristine environment here on the Eastern Shore. And the citizens want to be very careful about what they put in here. There must be other ways to lessen the impact on the environment. [That goes for] any business that is even looking at coming over here.” Meanwhile, the condition of the area’s overland routes was a common thread among voters, Harpell said. “Roads are a big thing. We’ve got some that are pretty rugged on the west side of Port Bickerton, and on the west side as well. The 211 has places that could be fixed.” Overall, though, the prospect of the area becoming home to a handful of formerly captive cetaceans fired most people’s doorstep conversations, Harpell said. “I think it’s a really good idea. There’s the infrastructure that could happen. We’d have to be careful [with the whales], of course, and I can’t say for sure what’s really going to happen there. But there could be spin offs, like boat tours.” Bingley, who did not respond to a request for an interview following the special election, told The Journal in December that while he supported the gold mine, he had no opinion about the whales. “I don’t really know a whole lot about it,” he said at the time. “I’m not interested in that at the moment.” According to the municipality’s returning office, Saturday’s results – which were deemed official on Tuesday – showed an unusually high voter participation rate of 73.4 per cent, with 204 of 278 eligible voters casting ballots. Forty-three percent (121) voted by Web, while 30 per cent (83), by phone. Said Harpell: “I’ve received a few calls from the other councillors and I told them I am looking forward to working with them. It definitely feels a bit like coming home.” Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
After four years, U.S. President Donald Trump will be leaving office as President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into the position on Jan. 20, 2021. The weeks leading up to Trump’s departure have been tumultuous, with a siege on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, five federal executions, and 143 presidential pardons, just to name a few pivotal moments.Trump began the day by speaking to a crowd at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland before boarding Air Force One. He is traveling to his golf club, Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, and will not be attending Biden’s inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C.Supporters of the 45th U.S. President gathered in West Palm Beach, Fla. to greet Trump’s motorcade when it arrived in the city.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
WASHINGTON — Joe Biden and Kamala Harris took their oaths of office on Wednesday using Bibles that are laden with personal meaning, writing new chapters in a long-running American tradition — and one that appears nowhere in the law. The Constitution does not require the use of a specific text for swearing-in ceremonies and specifies only the wording of the president’s oath. That wording does not include the phrase “so help me God,” but every modern president has appended it to their oaths and most have chosen symbolically significant Bibles for their inaugurations. That includes Biden, who used the same family Bible he has used twice when swearing in as vice-president and seven times as senator from Delaware. The book, several inches thick, and which his late son Beau also used when swearing in as Delaware attorney general, has been a “family heirloom” since 1893 and “every important date is in there,” Biden told late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert last month. “Why is your Bible bigger than mine? Do you have more Jesus than I do?” quipped Colbert, who like Biden is a practicing Catholic. Biden’s use of his family Bible underscores the prominent role his faith has played in his personal and professional lives — and will continue to do so as he becomes the second Catholic president in U.S. history. He follows in a tradition of many other presidents who used family-owned scriptures to take their oaths, including Ronald Reagan and Franklin D. Roosevelt, according to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. Some have had their Bibles opened to personally relevant passages during their ceremonies. Bill Clinton, for example, chose Isaiah 58:12 — which urges the devout to be a “repairer of the breach” — for his second inauguration after a first term marked by political schisms with conservatives. Others took their oaths on closed Bibles, like John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president, who in 1961 used his family’s century-old tome with a large cross on the front, similar to Biden’s. The tradition of using a Bible dates as far back as the presidency itself, with the holy book used by George Washington later appearing on exhibit at the Smithsonian on loan from the Masonic lodge that provided it in 1789. Washington’s Bible was later used for the oaths by Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush. But not every president has used a Bible. Theodore Roosevelt took his 1901 oath without one after the death of William McKinley, while John Quincy Adams used a law book in 1825, according to his own account. Some have employed multiple Bibles during their ceremonies: Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump chose to use, along with others, the copy that Abraham Lincoln was sworn in on in 1861. Harris did the same for her vice-presidential oath, using a Bible owned by a close family friend and one that belonged to the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Harris has spoken of her admiration of Marshall, a fellow Howard University graduate and trailblazer in government as the high court’s first African American justice. “When I raise my right hand and take the oath of office tomorrow, I carry with me two heroes who’d speak up for the voiceless and help those in need,” Harris tweeted Tuesday, referring to Marshall and friend Regina Shelton, whose Bible she swore on when becoming attorney general of California and later senator. Harris, who attended both Baptist and Hindu services as a child, worships in the Baptist faith as an adult. While U.S. lawmakers have typically used Bibles for their oaths, some have chosen alternatives that reflect their religious diversity. Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim elected to Congress, in 2007 used a Qur’an that belonged to Thomas Jefferson, prompting objections from some Christian conservatives. Jefferson’s Qur’an made a return in 2019 at the oath for Michigan Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, one of the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., chose a Hebrew Bible in 2005 to reflect her Jewish faith. Newly elected Georgia Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff, who is also Jewish and who swears in Wednesday, used Hebrew scripture belonging to Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, an ally of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement. Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, opted for the Bhagavad Gita in 2013 after becoming the first Hindu elected to Congress. And Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., the only member of the current Congress who identifies as “religiously unaffiliated,” took her oath on the Constitution in 2018. ___ Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through The Conversation U.S. The AP is solely responsible for this content. Elana Schor, The Associated Press
ST. MARY’S – Rural decline may be taking the stuffing out of public finances across Nova Scotia, but the Municipality of the District of Saint Mary’s is the picture of health thanks to sound financial management, says Chief Administrative Officer Marvin MacDonald. “That’s our focus,” he told The Journal in an interview last week. “With the relatively low revenue we have to work with we need to concentrate on what is important to the residents.” MacDonald’s comments came following the release of the municipality’s 10-year budget record, which shows operating revenue and surplus in 2019-20 were 25 per cent higher and almost three times greater, respectively, than 2009-10 levels. “Over the past five years we have increased efforts to collect on outstanding tax accounts and have improved our financial indicators in that area,” he said. “We also watch our long-term debt and our debt servicing ratios to ensure that stays in a reasonable range for a municipality of our small size.” The budget report shows total operating expenditures of $3,363,913 on operating revenue of $3,455,095 for a surplus of $91,182 in 2019-20. That compared with spending of $2,735,559 on revenue of $2,771,679 for a surplus of $36,120 in 2009-10. “We’ve been picking up a little increase on residential property taxes,” MacDonald added. “Our biggest challenge on that score remains commercial.” Since the outbreak of the pandemic, St. Mary’s has experienced a modest home-buying boom as a growing number of urbanites from other parts of Canada snap up properties in the district. “We’ve seen a lot of movement since [last] March,” Marian Fraser, the municipality’s Director of Finance said in an interview last month. [There’ve been] increases in both the volume and value of deed transfer taxes to the area over the summer and fall. We don’t have exact numbers, but half-a-dozen properties or more [have been sold].” According to the budget report, residential property and resource tax rates rose by 16 per cent to 95 cents in 2019-20, from 81 cents in 2009-10 (per $100 of assessed value). The commercial tax rate increased to $2.26, from $2.12, over the same period. The costs of sewer and solid waste rose to $618,549 last year, from $363,266 a decade ago. Other budget bumps include: education ($561,724, from $522,545); policing and correction ($519,736, from $425,899); and recreation and library services ($380,742, from $142,035). The cost of general government services – which includes everything from council members’ remunerations and staff salaries and benefits to property valuation and legal services – actually declined to $730,229 in 2019-20, from $789,030 in 2009-10. Said MacDonald: “We have to focus on what the residents need and watch our spending accordingly.” Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
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By Jamie Mountain Local Journalism Initiative Reporter HILLIARD TOWNSHIP – The Ontario government has announced that it is providing financial support through the Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance (MDRA) program to help Hilliard Township recover from a landslide. Heavy snowfall back on October 29, 2019, coupled with sudden snowmelt, resulted in a landslide on Veley Road. The road is a major access route for the township’s residents, farmers, and emergency service providers. The government says the township may be eligible for as much as $500,000 in provincial disaster recovery assistance funding, which could be used to help rebuild and repair the road. “It’s very crucial,” said Hilliard Reeve Laurie Bolesworth of the funding. “We have quite a few residents back there that could potentially be shut off and we wouldn’t be able to supply access just due to that landslide,” she said in a telephone interview. “So this funding is coming in a crucial time to get the road fixed.” Bolesworth said that when the landslide happened, the damage continued to grow and spread to the edge of Veley Road, with the potential to take out the entire roadway. “We were worried it was going to take out the road, the potential is there for it to collapse into the river as well,” she noted. She said in the spring of 2020 “we used up the road allowance we could to widen up the road to ensure that access was available at all times. The funding gives us a means to repair that landslide and secure it so that the future access for those people back there on that dead-end road will be available at all times.” Bolesworth said in order for the township to forge ahead with the repairs it would have to get an engineer’s report first. She was hopeful the report would be secured and the work would be able to commence “as soon as possible.” Ontario's MDRA program helps municipalities address extraordinary emergency response costs and damage to essential property or infrastructure - like bridges, roads and public buildings - as a result of a natural disaster. Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, said that as partners with municipalities, the government “must ensure that everyone in the province has access to the necessary infrastructure and services they need to maintain their quality of life." "By accessing this funding, Hilliard will be able to make essential repairs to local infrastructure that was damaged by the landslide,” he said in a news release. Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker
Both Bayham fire departments responded to a report of a structure fire of a separated garage/hobby shop located at 53834 Vienna Line in Bayham on Friday, January 15. The owner was busy working in the shop when the fire began. A family member came outside, noticed smoke pouring out of the building, and immediately called emergency services at about 1:10 p.m. Upon fire department arrival, the metal-clad structure engulfed in flames said Bayham Fire Chief Harry Baranik. Firefighters worked to contain the blaze, as there were two buildings nearby and wind drove the fire around in the building. The garage and its contents were completely lost. The separate buildings received heat damage to their exterior. Damage to the structures is estimated at $50,000 with approximately $200,000 in contents. There were no injuries. Firefighters remained on the scene for about three hours. An excavator was brought in to pull the metal apart to ensure the fire was fully extinguished. Both Bayham fire stations responded with a total of 25 firefighters. The cause of the fire is not considered suspicious, and has been listed as “undetermined.” Veronica Reiner, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Aylmer Express
By Jamie Mountain Local Journalism Initiative Reporter TEMAGAMI – A Temagami family is seeking the public’s help in offsetting their medical expenses. Elliott Lacroix Belanger, seven, suffered a stroke at birth, causing Cerebral Palsy and a right Hemiplegia (limited use of his right side.) The family is currently waiting for a surgery date that would help Elliott loosen the muscles in his leg so that he can walk flat-footed and be able to do everyday activities. But due to COVID-19, the family says it’s taking much longer to get in to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario to have the procedure done. “He has been undergoing Botox injections for the last four years, but unfortunately they are no longer working,” said Elliott’s father, Dan Lacroix Belanger, in an email message. “His foot brace no longer fits because (it) is so tight, so they are at a complete standstill. The orthopaedic team, as well as pediatrics, believe he would benefit from serial casting to help stretch the muscles for the time being.” The problem for the Lacroix Belanger family is that they are looking at three casts at $275 apiece for Elliott, along with the cost of travelling back and forth to North Bay to get the casts put on and taken off, which is a total of four trips. “Unfortunately this procedure is not covered” by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan, said Lacroix Belanger. He said the family hopes the serial casting will take place at the Nipissing Orthopaedic Laboratory in North Bay, with the family looking to book the first cast appointment today (January 20). In order for all of the casting procedures to happen, a 50/50 draw fundraiser has been set up on the Jamie’s Army Facebook page. Tickets cost $5 each or five for $20. You can send an e-transfer to email@example.com get in on the cause. The fundraiser ends January 21 at 7 p.m. As of yesterday morning, the draw had already raised $700 for the family. “If you can help financially, (our) family would be forever grateful,” said Lacroix Belanger. Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker
WASHINGTON — Troops in riot gear lined the sidewalks, but there were no crowds. Armored vehicles and concrete barriers blocked empty streets. Miles of fencing cordoned off many of the nation's most familiar landmarks. Joe Biden was safely sworn in as president in a Washington on edge, two weeks after rioters loyal to former President Donald Trump besieged the Capitol. Law enforcement officials contended not only with the potential for outside threats but also with rising concerns about an insider attack. Officials monitored members of far-right extremist and militia groups, increasingly concerned about the risk they could stream into Washington and spark violent confrontations, a law enforcement official said. There were a few scattered arrests but no major protests or serious disruptions in the city during Biden's inauguration ceremony. As Biden put it in his address: “Here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever.” After the deadly attack that killed five on Jan. 6, the Secret Service stepped up security for the inauguration early, essentially locking down the nation's capital. More than 25,000 troops and police were called to duty. The National Mall was closed. Checkpoints were set up at intersections. In the hours before the event, federal agents monitored “concerning online chatter,” which included an array of threats against elected officials and discussions about ways to infiltrate the inauguration, the official said. In right-wing online chat groups, believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory expressed disappointment that top Democrats were not arrested for sex trafficking and that Trump did not seize a second term. Twelve National Guard members were removed from the security operation a day earlier after vetting by the FBI, including two who had made extremist statements in posts or texts about Wednesday's event. Pentagon officials would not give details on the statements. The FBI vetted all 25,000 members in an extraordinary security effort in part over the presence of some ex-military in the riot. Two other U.S. officials told The Associated Press that all 12 were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or to have posted extremist views online. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe groups the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials told the AP they had all been removed because of “security liabilities.” The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, confirmed that Guard members had been removed and sent home, but said only two cases were related to inappropriate comments or texts related to the inauguration. He said the other 10 cases were for issues that may involve previous criminal behaviour or activities but were not directly related to the inaugural event. The FBI also warned law enforcement officials about the possibility that members of right-wing fringe groups could pose as National Guard troops, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter. Investigators in Washington were particularly worried that members of right-wing extremist groups and militias, like the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, would descend on Washington to spark violence, the law enforcement officials said. Some of the groups are known to recruit former military personnel, to train extensively and to have frequented anti-government and political protests. In addition to the thousands of National Guard troops, hundreds of law enforcement officers from agencies around the country were also brought into Washington. The increased security is likely to remain in the nation's capital for at least a few more days. ___ Associated Press writers Lolita Baldor in Washington and James LaPorta in Delray Beach, Florida, contributed to this report. Ben Fox, Colleen Long And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
THUNDER BAY — The Thunder Police Services Board received a progress report on the 44 recommendations handed out by the Office of the Independent Police Review during Tuesday’s board meeting. Legal counsel for the Thunder Bay Police Service, Holly Walbourne, presented the second yearly report to the board on Tuesday, Jan. 19, and outlined the service’s progress on all 44 recommendations. In December 2018, a 300-plus page report by the OIPRD detailed failings on the part of the Thunder Bay Police Service to address the policing needs of Indigenous people in the community. One of the most significant recommendations in the report recommended the reinvestigation of nine sudden deaths involving indigenous people by a multi-discipline team. The OIPRD recommended the cases be reopened because the initial investigations lacked quality. On Tuesday, Walbourne informed the board the re-investigations are still ongoing and further updates will come from the executive governance committee. Other completed recommendations reported on Tuesday included the recommendation of the police force to make the wearing of name tags on the front of police uniforms mandatory for all officers. According to the report, as of August 2020, all name tags were ordered and are now considered a permanent part of an officer’s uniform. After the presentation by Walbourne, board member Michael Power stated he would advocate for updates on the report to be reviewed at every board meeting rather than an annual review. “We as a board own this report,” Power said, adding transferring the written report to a grid format where recommendations can be labelled as completed or not completed in terms of progress could also be beneficial to share with Indigenous leaders and communities to evaluate the police force's progress on the report. "We can get into more significant conversation about what has been done as a result of implementation, what needs to be done and improve the level of understanding," he said. Also on Tuesday, the board discussed the implementation of in-car and body-worn cameras. Police said in their report capital funding has been secured to actualize the project and the service will be announcing the rollout of the project by the end of the first quarter of 2021. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Superintendent Dan Taddeo said providing the board with a solid timeline for the implementation of the program is difficult. For the full progress report presented during Tuesday’s meeting go to the Thunder Bay Police Services Board website by clicking here. Karen Edwards, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Thunder Bay Source
PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron wants to take further steps to reckon with France’s colonial-era wrongs in Algeria but is not considering an official apology, his office said. A report commissioned by Macron, to be published later Wednesday, submits proposals to improve the complex relationship between the two countries, from opening up war archives to holding commemorations. Macron's office said there will be “no apologies” but that Macron intends instead to make “symbolic acts” aimed at emphasizing recognition of the harsh colonial reality and helping reconciliation between the two countries. Macron will take part in three commemoration days by next year, which will mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the eight-year war with France that resulted in the North African country gaining independence in 1962 — after 132 years of French rule. France will “pursue and broaden” the opening of its archives on the war as work is under way to allow the release of classified secret documents, Macron's office added. Amid other actions, Macron wants to honour Gisele Halimi, a French feminist who supported Algeria’s independence and denounced the use of torture by the French military during the war. He will launch the process aiming at burying her at the Pantheon monument in Paris, a resting place for some of France’s most distinguished citizens. The first French president to be born after Algerian independence, Macron promised to open a new chapter in France’s relationship with Algeria during his term, including facing the countries’ painful history. In 2018, Macron formally recognized the responsibility of the French state in the death of a dissident in Algeria in 1957, admitting for the first time the military's systematic use of torture during the war. He commissioned historian Benjamin Stora last year to assess France’s relation with the memory of Algeria’s colonization and the independence war. Algeria's President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said last year that his country was awaiting an official apology for France's colonial occupation. Sylvie Corbet, The Associated Press
The fire department in Summerside, P.E.I., has a new pumper truck, and they marked its arrival with a tradition that is new to the city, but is centuries old in fire departments across the continent. Firefighters gathered Sunday to push the truck back into its new home. "In the early 1800s when they used to pull the steam engines or the hand pumpers with horses, the horses can't back them into the building. That's where the tradition started," said Chief Ron Enman. "Right across North America it's been a tradition. I just thought it would be something we'd start here and we had a lot of fun with it." Identical setups The new pumper replaces a 25-year-old truck that had reached the end of its life span Apart from being new, Enman said the new truck also will make work a little easier for firefighters because it is the same model as the other two pumpers at the station. "They're identical and they're set up identical," he said. "So if you're looking for a hydrant wrench on engine one or engine two, engine three, it doesn't matter what truck you're on when you go to that truck." The new pumper truck cost $681,000. More from CBC P.E.I.
Ontario reported another 2,655 cases of COVID-19 and 89 more deaths of people with the illness on Wednesday, as the government said it is expanding its workplace enforcement effort to include farming operations and essential businesses in the service sector. The new cases include 925 in Toronto, 473 in Peel Region, 226 in York Region and 179 in Windsor-Essex County, which continues to see a huge strain on its intensive care units. Other public health units that saw double- or triple-digit increases were: Niagara Region: 129 Waterloo Region: 101 Ottawa: 86 Hamilton: 75 Simcoe Muskoka: 71 Durham Region: 70 Middlesex-London: 65 Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph: 56 Halton Region: 51 Southwestern: 20 Thunder Bay: 17 Eastern Ontario: 16 Haldimand-Norfolk: 16 Porcupine: 14 Chatham-Kent: 13 Lambton: 12 Huron-Perth: 11 (Note: All of the figures used in this story are found on the Ministry of Health's COVID-19 dashboard or in its Daily Epidemiologic Summary. The number of cases for any region may differ from what is reported by the local public health unit, because local units report figures at different times.) The infections come as Ontario's network of labs processed 54,307 test samples for the novel coronavirus — a third straight day well below the system's capacity of more than 70,000 — and logged a test positivity rate of 4.9 per cent. The seven-day average of new daily cases fell to 2,850, marking 10 consecutive days of decreases from a high of 3,555. Notably, another 3,714 cases were marked resolved in today's update. There were 26,467 confirmed, active cases of COVID-19 provincewide as of yesterday evening, a figure that has trended downward since the pandemic peak of 30,632 on Jan. 11. The 89 additional deaths match the previous single-day record, which came on Jan. 7. (Public health units recorded 100 deaths on Jan. 15, however 46 of those deaths occurred "earlier in the pandemic," the Ministry of Health said at the time, and were included in that day's total due to data clean-up in the Middlesex-London Health Unit.) There were 1,598 people with COVID-19 in hospitals. Of those, 395 were being treated in intensive care, while 296 required a ventilator to breathe. Enforcement campaign to ramp up, province says Meanwhile, the province said in a news release up to 300 inspectors will be involved in a new COVID-19 enforcement blitz, that will include inspections at farming operations that rely on temporary foreign workers. The first campaign is to be held in Hastings and Prince Edward Counties, with 10 others planned so far in Toronto, Durham, Niagara, Halton, Huron Perth, Peterborough and Leeds Grenville Lanark. The announcement comes after Ministry of Labour inspectors targeted 240 big-box stores in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area over the weekend and found about 69 per cent of locations were in compliance with public health guidelines to limit the spread of COVID-19. Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton said groups found 76 contraventions of the rules, the majority of which were dealt with by issuing orders to improve. Twenty-five tickets were issued, including to Walmart, Shoppers Drug Mart, Sobeys and Costco locations. Similar actions last December found about 67 per cent compliance. The most common infractions were not wearing masks, not having a safety plan and not screening people in the workplace, the province said. But the minister said after months of life in the pandemic, the compliance rates should be higher. "This is truly disappointing," he said. "These corporations must do better. Shareholders have the responsibility to keep their workers and customers safe. I want businesses to know if they won't operate safely in this emergency, you won't operate at all." Under the provincial rules, corporations can face $1,000 fines and workers can face fines of $750 for not following public health measures. Meanwhile, York Region shared a list of retailers fined over the last week for violations of Ontario's Reopening Ontario Act, among them major pharmacy and grocery locations. Ontario recently ordered people to only leave their homes for groceries, medical appointments, exercise and work that can't be completed remotely. Stores selling non-essential goods have been forced to temporarily close and operate solely through e-commerce and curbside pickups.
Donald Trump left the White House for the final time as the 45th United States president Wednesday morning, travelling to Florida instead of attending his successor Joe Biden's inauguration. Trump, along with his wife, Melania, walked to the White House lawn and boarded the Marine One helicopter that took off just after 8:15 a.m. ET for Joint Base Andrews in suburban Maryland. "It's been a great honour, the honour of a lifetime. The greatest people in the world, the greatest home in the world," Trump told reporters before heading to Marine One, rotors whirring, on the South Lawn. "We accomplished a lot." Members of Trump's family gathered for the send-off at Andrews along with the president's loyalists, who chanted "We love you!" "Thank you, Trump" and "U.S.A." Four Army cannons fired a 21-gun salute. The couple will land in Florida and make their way by motorcade to their Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach. His arrival at Mar-a-Lago is being timed to get him behind the wall of the resort before Trump's term as president expires at noon. Trump is the first outgoing president to skip the inauguration ceremony for his successor since Andrew Johnson more than a century and a half ago. Trump refused to participate in any of the symbolic passing-of-the-torch traditions surrounding the peaceful transition of power, including inviting the Joe and Jill Biden to the White House for a get-to-know-you visit. He did follow at least one tradition: The White House said Trump left behind a note for Biden. A Trump spokesman, Judd Deere, declined to say what Trump wrote or characterize the sentiment in the note, citing privacy for communication between presidents. Still popular within his party Trump will settle in Florida with a small group of former White House aides as he charts a political future that looks very different now than just two weeks ago. Before the Capitol riot on Jan.6, Trump had been expected to remain his party's de facto leader, wielding enormous power as he served as a kingmaker and mulled a 2024 presidential run. But now he appears more powerless than ever — shunned by so many in his party, impeached twice, denied the Twitter bullhorn he had intended to use as his weapon and even facing the prospect that, if he is convicted in his Senate trial, he could be barred from seeking a second term. WATCH | Presidential historian Thomas Balcerski on Trump's legacy: But although Trump has left the White House, he retains his grip on the Republican base, with the support of millions of loyal voters, along with allies still helming the Republican National Committee and many state party organizations. He also potentially faces a host of other legal troubles unrelated to the presidency. While in Washington, Trump rarely left the confines of the White House, except to visit his own hotel, where foreign dignitaries often stayed, hoping to gain access to administration aide. He and his wife never once ate dinner at any other local restaurant, and never ventured out to shop in its stores or see the sights. When he did leave, it was almost always to one of his properties. In addition to his Florida properties, that included golf courses in Virginia and New Jersey. White House cleaning crews worked overnight Wednesday and were still going as the sun rose to get the building cleaned and ready for its new occupants. In what will be the office of incoming press secretary Jen Psaki, a computer keyboard and mouse on her desk were encased in plastic. A black moving truck had backed up to the door of the West Wing entrance, where the presence of a lone Marine guard usually signals that the president is in the Oval Office. Most walls were stripped down to the hooks that once held photographs, and offices were devoid of the clutter and trinkets that gave them life. The face of at least one junior aide was streaked with tears as she left the building one last time.
Planning is important in this province’s tourism industry, and with only a short window to make things happen, operators must be ready and on schedule to welcome visitors at peak times during the tourism season. That was disrupted last summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the province was cut off to outside visitors. The importance of having a plan heading into the 2021 season is paramount as the tourism sector stares down the barrel of a second season limited by the pandemic. “It is important that the plan is being worked on,” said Hare Bay Adventures owner Duane Collins, who is also with the Shore Tourism Association. “I think it is important that it is relayed to the industry broadly … and then it lets us communicate that to our guests and to the companies we work with.” The pre-election announcement of a tourism action group was a welcome one for operators across the province and seen as a good start, Collins said. On Jan. 15, the government announced the 14-member Premier’s Advisory Council on Tourism. The government pledged to spend $1.12 million over three years to support Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador as it prepares the tourism and hospitality sector for a post-pandemic recovery. That money is coming through the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Labour Market Development Agreement. That means the industry wasn’t overlooked at the time, but there is still a question of how the group will look or operate in the wake of the election on Feb. 13. “I want to hear about a plan on how we open the province back up,” said Collins. “Not saying any particular date, because that is beyond our control, frankly.” For Collins, clarity and transparency will be important as that plan continues to evolve. There must also be an effort to work with the industry, he said. Janet Davis had conversations last summer with plenty of people who had never before been to her home of New-Wes-Valley. The owner of Norton’s Cove Studio and Café in the Brookfield part of the community, Davis found those conversations usually included a line about having little knowledge of her part of the province. “The staycation has been really good for my business,” Davis said of what brought those people to her door. As the election campaign begins to ramp up, how the next provincial government is going to help tourism operators in the future is at the top of a lot of operators' minds. For some, like Davis, want to continue to push people to explore their province as they did last summer through the Stay Home Year 2020 campaign. “Keep promoting our own,” said Davis. “It’s great to have your own people supporting you. “We have to keep promoting our own people.” Deborah Bourden says the number of people who will explore their own province next summer is just a fraction of what is needed to keep the tourism sector going. There also must be an effort to maintain the tourism department’s current pot for marketing initiatives, she says. That means having the next government maintain the current level of funding being put into marketing initiatives, both locally and abroad. “We don’t want to see any less in marketing,” said Bourden, who is the co-owner of the Anchor Inn Hotel & Suites in Twillingate. If things start to open back up to national and international travel next fall, then a part of the tourism plan will need to look at how best to get those people into the province, she says. “We have to be prepared so we can come out of the gate strong next year this time,” said Bourden. “We have to be thinking about what we need, and we need to be prepared for that.” Nicholas Mercer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Central Voice
Widespread compliance with the new stay-at-home order is being credited for the low number of tickets issued in Peel over the weekend, a shift in behaviour from the illegal parties that thrust the community into the spotlight in the summer. Peel’s police chief and politicians say the low number of tickets issued over the weekend speaks to the community now understanding the severity of the threat posed by COVID-19. “Hopefully, it’s an indication of compliance. We did not receive a lot of complaints from the public over the last few days,” Peel police Chief Nishan Duraiappah told the Star Tuesday. Peel Regional Police confirmed that it had issued five tickets and one warning since the stay-at-home order came into effect, but was unable to clarify the exact breach the fines were issued for. In the past week, Mississauga’s bylaw enforcement team issued fines for 14 violations, which included 11 to businesses and three for gatherings. Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said she’s pleased with how residents and businesses have been obeying the rules. She attributed the levels of compliance in Mississauga to the fact that Peel Region has been in varying degrees of lockdown for close to two months, and residents have adjusted their habits over time. “The message has been and continues to be the same: stay at home, only leave for essential activities and limit close in-person contacts to just your immediate household,” she said Monday. Brampton officials laid five charges related to COVID-19 rule violations over the weekend. Three of those tickets were due to a violation of the stay-at-home order after a small group was caught gathering in a parking lot. The other two charges, laid under the Reopening Ontario Act, were people visiting a resident that was not part of their own household, Brampton officials confirmed Monday. Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown said most residents now grasp the severity of the situation. “We have seen a high level of compliance in response to the stay-at-home order announced last week,” Brown said Monday. Each of the fines issued in Brampton over the weekend were $880, for a total of $4,400 in fines. Mississauga enforcement officers, inspectors from the labour ministry and local public health officials conducted inspections of six big-box store locations in Mississauga over the weekend and found that all were complying. Solicitor General Sylvia Jones told the Star the Mississauga enforcement of large outlets was part of a provincial blitz of big-box operations that started on the weekend. “They are going on site to both manufacturing and businesses that continue to operate to make sure they’re doing so in a safe manner,” said Jones. Brampton was thrust into the spotlight in the summer when it became the hotbed for large parties, one of which attracted an estimated 200 people in July and another where police ended up being called to a shooting. Brampton officials said that between March 31 and early November, officers laid 940 charges, including 66 summonses, for violation of the relevant provincial rules and city bylaws targeting large residential gatherings and other emergency measures violations. In Mississauga, 424 tickets and or fines were handed out over the same time. In both cities, people hosting residential gatherings accounted for most of the fines. Cases against people fined for hosting illegal parties in the summer are trickling through the courts." Jason Miller is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering crime and justice in the Peel Region. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him on email: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @millermotionpic Jason Miller, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star