Georgia's top elections official says a machine recount of votes cast in the presidential race in the state is on schedule to be completed this week (Nov. 30)
Georgia's top elections official says a machine recount of votes cast in the presidential race in the state is on schedule to be completed this week (Nov. 30)
The A-list is back. How A-list? Try Lady Gaga and J. Lo. Inauguration officials announced on Thursday that the glittery duo would appear in person on Jan. 20, with Gaga singing the national anthem as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and Jennifer Lopez giving a musical performance. Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen will offer remote performances, and Eva Longoria and and Kerry Washington will introduce segments of the event. Later that day, Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden’s inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons. Despite a raging pandemic that is forcing most inaugural events online, it was a sign that Hollywood was back and eager to embrace the new president-elect four years after many big names stayed away from the inauguration of President Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. The question: How would the star wattage play across the country as Biden seeks to unite a bruised nation? Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant and former Reagan administration official, predicted reaction would fall “along tribal lines.” “I think it all comes down to the reinforcement of pre-existing beliefs,” Dezenhall said. “If you’re a Biden supporter, it’s nice to see Lady Gaga perform.” But, he added, “what rallied Trump supporters was the notion of an uber-elite that had nothing to do at all with them and that they couldn’t relate to.” Presidential historian Tevi Troy quipped that the starry Gaga-J. Lo lineup was not A-list, but D-list — "for Democratic.” "When Democrats win you get the more standard celebrities,” said Troy, author of “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House.” “With Republicans you tend to get country music stars and race-car drivers." Referring to Lady Gaga’s outspoken support for the Biden-Harris ticket, he said he was nostalgic for the days when celebrities were not so political. “Call me a hopeless romantic, but I liked the old days when Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra would come to these events and they were not overtly political,” he said. Still, he said, Biden’s unity message won’t be derailed. “In the end, I don’t think having Lady Gaga or J. Lo is all that divisive,” he said. Attendance at the inauguration will be severely limited, due to both the pandemic and fears of continued violence, following last week’s storming of the Capitol. Outside the official events, one of the more prominent galas each inauguration is The Creative Coalition's quadrennial ball, a benefit for arts education. This year, the ball is entirely virtual. But it is star-studded nonetheless: The event, which will involve food being delivered simultaneously to attendees in multiple cities, will boast celebrity hosts including Jason Alexander, David Arquette, Matt Bomer, Christopher Jackson, Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Keegan Michael-Key, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Patinkin and many others. Robin Bronk, CEO of the non-partisan arts advocacy group, said she's been deluged with celebrities eager to participate in some way. The event typically brings in anywhere from $500,000 to $2.5 million, and this year the arts community is struggling like never before. Bronk noted that planning has been a challenge, given not only the recent political upheaval in the country but also the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic. Given all that, did a celebration make sense? “I was thinking about this when we were trying to phrase the invitation,” Bronk said. “Do we celebrate? This is the most serious time of our lives.” But, she said, especially at a time when the arts community is suffering, it’s crucial to shine a spotlight and recognize that “the right to bear arts is not a red or blue issue. One of the reasons we have this ball is that we have to ensure the arts are not forgotten." The Presidential Inaugural Committee also announced Thursday that the invocation will be given by the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware. On the same platform, Biden sat in 2013 behind pop star Beyoncé as she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama's second inauguration. James Taylor sang “America the Beautiful,” and Kelly Clarkson sang “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” At Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the anthem was performed by 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho. A number of top artists declined the opportunity to perform at the festivities, and one Broadway star, Jennifer Holliday, even said she’d received death threats before she pulled out of her planned appearance. There was indeed star power in 2017, but most of it was centred at the Women’s March on Washington, where attendees included Madonna, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Emma Watson and many others. This year, signs are that Obama-era celebrities are returning. Dezenhall said that in the end, it's logical for organizers to go with the biggest talent. “Lady Gaga is as big as you can get, and she is very talented,” he said. “If I were being inaugurated and I could have Lady Gaga, I would take it.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
MONTREAL — Quebec's labour minister is threatening to impose more restrictions on the province's construction and manufacturing sectors for allegedly flouting health orders. Jean Boulet said today in a statement he's received many reports of non-compliance connected to the two sectors since the government imposed new restrictions Jan. 9. The new measures — in effect until at least Feb. 8 — require the two industries to limit operations to essential activities and to reduce the number of workers in factories and on construction sites. Quebec's new health orders also include a provincewide curfew from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m., in an attempt to reduce COVID-19 transmission and reduce the strain on the health system from rising hospitalizations. Boulet does not enumerate the violations, but says it's zero tolerance for those who don't follow the rules and is warning the government could impose additional restrictions. The Canadian Press recently contacted three construction industry associations, who all said they hadn't reduced operations since the new health order was imposed. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — U.S. wholesale prices rose 0.3% in December led by a the biggest jump in energy costs since June. The Labor Department reported Friday that the gain in its producer price index, which measures inflation pressures before they reach consumers, followed a modest 0.1% gain in November and matched the 0.3% rise in October. The December increase reflected a 5.5% surge in energy costs, the biggest gain since a 9.6% jump in June. That offset a 0.1% drop in food costs, the first decline since August. Gasoline prices rose 16.1% in December and accounted for nearly half of the increase in goods prices last month. Over the past 12 months, inflation at the wholesale level has risen a modest 0.8%. The government reported Wednesday that consumer inflation was also well-behaved last year, rising just 1.4% over the past 12 months. These low inflation reading are giving the Federal Reserve room to keep interest rates at ultra-low levels in an effort to help lift the economy out of a pandemic-induced recession. Inflation has remained below the Fed’s 2% annual target for much of the past decade. “Inflation is still largely a no-show,” said Mahir Rasheed, an economist with Oxford Economics. “While some sectors have seen prices start to heat up, broader inflation measures continue to fall short of the Fed's 2% goalpost as the economy entered the new year in a slump.” Martin Crutsinger, The Associated Press
Pfizer's reduction of its COVID-19 vaccine shipments will not delay Canada's goal of getting most people inoculated by the end of September, the country's procurement minister said on Friday as the country battled a second surge in infections. "This is a temporary delay and we remain on track to have enough approved vaccines for everyone who wishes to get vaccinated by the end of September 2021," Procurement Minister Anita Anand said. Pfizer said it would slow production in late January and early February due to changes to manufacturing processes aimed at boosting production, but would provide a "significant increase" in doses in late February and March.
The Township of Seguin and the other six municipalities that make up west Parry Sound have signed off on a letter, dated Dec. 1, to Ontario’s minister of the environment, conservation and parks. The letter states that they would like the ministry to reconsider the transition of the blue box from 2025 to 2024. What exactly is the blue box transition program? The Blue Box Transition program is being legislated by the Province of Ontario and means the responsibility of collecting and processing recyclable products will be on the manufacturers who make the items. What that means is the duty of recycling is being shifted to the manufacturers who produce the material rather than society. Will this effect how I put out my recycling? The government says there shouldn’t be any change of service. You may have to go to a different location to drop off your recycling, if rural, or you may have a new company that picks up your curbside blue box materials. When is this supposed to come into effect? For the municipalities that make up west Parry Sound — Parry Sound, Archipelago, Seguin, McKellar, McDougall, Carling and Whitestone — the change is supposed to come into effect in 2025; however, all seven municipalities have signed a letter to Minister Jeff Yurek requesting the transition take place in 2024. Why? The District of Muskoka is transitioning in 2024 and, currently, the west Parry Sound municipalities process blue box materials in Bracebridge. They are concerned about issues that may happen if the transition happens at a different time than Muskoka. Another concern is the fact the Greater Toronto Area is transitioning in 2023 and the expanded list of recyclables there will differ from what is offered in west Parry Sound for a time. Residents who migrate north for the summer may expect to recycle the same list of items, which may cause contamination in waste systems. Will this transition raise my taxes? Once the producers and manufacturers take over the recycling process, it’s going to save the taxpayers; however, prices for products may go up to pay for the manufacturers’ cost of processing the recycling. The Township of Seguin said at its Jan. 11 council meeting that the mayors from the seven municipalities would follow up on the letter once a response was received. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.Sarah Cooke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
Rio Tinto, division Fer et Titane, de Sorel, commencera la production d’oxyde de scandium de haute qualité qui pourra entrer dans la production d’alliages d’aluminium à ses alumineries du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, et ce, à la suite de travaux de recherche et développement réalisés au Centre de recherche et développement d’Arvida. La société a fait l’annonce de la construction d’une nouvelle usine de démonstration au coût de 7,5 M$ ayant une capacité annuelle de 3 tonnes à Sorel. En conférence de presse virtuelle, M. Stéphane Leblanc, directeur exécutif de Rio Tinto Fer et Titane, a expliqué que l’oxyde de scandium sera tiré des résidus provenant de sa mine d’ilménite de Havre Saint-Pierre pour être transformé à Sorel dans le cadre du projet sous la marque commerciale Element North 21. L’oxyde de scandium est un minerai métallique entrant dans la production de batteries, d’équipements médicaux au laser, mais aussi dans la production d’alliages d’aluminium. L’utilisation de seulement 0.1 % à 0.2 % d’oxyde de scandium suffit pour modifier considérablement les propriétés mécaniques de l’aluminium. Présentement, les Chinois sont les principaux producteurs mondiaux d’oxyde de scandium avec un volume annuel de 15 tonnes. L’oxyde de scandium est aussi utilisé pour améliorer les performances des piles à combustible à oxyde solide, lesquelles sont utilisées comme source d’énergie pour les centres de données et les hôpitaux, ainsi que dans des produits de niche tels que les lasers et l’éclairage des stades ou des studios. Il est également utilisé pour produire des alliages mères aluminium-scandium à haute performance pour l’industrie aérospatiale, la défense et l’impression 3D. M. Leblanc a souligné le travail de collaboration qui a été réalisé entre les centres de recherche et développement de Sorel et d’Arvida, ayant conduit à la mise au point des procédés de transformation pour ce matériel hautement spécialisé. Selon les projections, la demande pour l’oxyde de scandium est appelée à croître de façon importante, d’ici 2028, pour atteindre plusieurs centaines de tonnes, en raison de l’expansion dans les secteurs des télécommunications, du transport et la production de batteries, ce qui permettrait l’ajout de modules de production supplémentaires. Le projet d’usine-pilote a reçu le soutien financier de 750 000 $ provenant pour une part de 500 000 $ du ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles et 350 000 $ du programme Essor. Pour le ministre de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles Jonatan Julien, le projet de valorisation de l’oxyde de scandium de Rio Tinto Fer et Titane est un exemple concret de valorisation de nos résidus miniers. « Il témoigne de notre capacité d’innover et de saisir des occasions d’affaires dans un marché en croissance et dans un contexte visant à renforcer la sécurité de nos approvisionnements. Cette entreprise a le potentiel de devenir un important fournisseur hors Chine dans le domaine du scandium », a-t-il déclaré. S elon le ministre de l’Économie et de l’Innovation du Québec, Pierre Fitzgibbon, l’étape qui vient d’être franchie aujourd’hui par Rio Tinto Fer et Titane a le potentiel de positionner le Québec comme leader mondial de l’extraction de scandium et de sa commercialisation. Il ouvre la porte aux applications scandium-aluminium pour d’autres organisations membres du Réseau de transformation métallique du Québec.Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
COPENHAGEN — The ex-partner of Norway’s former justice minister was convicted and sentenced to 20 months in jail Friday for setting a fire outside the politician’s home and other threatening behaviour. The Oslo District Court found Laila Bertheussen guilty of setting fire to a garbage container and scrawling graffiti that included the word “racist” and a swastika on the Oslo home of then-Justice Minister Tor Mikkel Wara in 2018 and 2019. She also was found guilty of writing Wara a threatening letter. Bertheussen, 55, also was found guilty of making threats against other peoples. Throughout her trial, she pleaded innocent and argued that Norway’s domestic security agency had conducted a one-sided investigation. Presiding Judge Yngvild Thue rejected the defence argument, saying the court found the investigation to have been exceptionally thorough. Bertheussen was arrested in March 2019. Wara stepped down at the same time because of the case, which made headlines in Norway. He has described the vandalism as “unpleasant and scary.” The Associated Press
Educators teaching students with special needs are raising concerns about returning to physical classrooms in southern Ontario while schools otherwise remain closed to in-person learning due to COVID-19. Students in southern Ontario are learning online until at least Jan. 25 and the government recently extended virtual classes for those in five hot spots until Feb. 10. Special education students who cannot participate in remote learning, however, were back in physical classrooms on Monday – a move the government said was recommended by experts. But as COVID-19 cases rise, some special education teachers say they are worried about their safety, as well as the safety of their students, some of whom are immunocompromised. "For my five- and six-year-old (children), it's not safe for them to go to school, but it's totally safe for my immunocompromised students to go to school?" asked Katie Swallowell, a teacher working for a Catholic school board in London, Ont. Swallowell, who teaches high school students with special needs, said some of her students may not wear masks or may have mask exemptions. "Some of them don't wear masks or they take them off because they hate them. Sneezing, coughing, hugging," she said. "Some of them you can't say no to. You try to say no, but they don't understand and you feel bad." Among 16 of her students, only five opted for remote learning, while the remaining 11 resumed in-person classes, said Swallowell. The teacher said she's worried about bringing the virus home to her three children, including a one-year-old. "It's either safe or it's not safe," she said, adding that there have been no added COVID-19 measures at her school since coming back from winter break. "It looks the same as it did in December." The education ministry said students with special needs can benefit from the routine and consistency of in-class learning and noted that their return to physical classrooms comes with "strong health and safety measures." "We have followed that advice, supported by the chief medical officer of health, to ensure a small number of the most exceptional children can receive the care they desperately need," said ministry spokeswoman Caitlin Clark. Laura Kirby-McIntosh, a parent of two children with autism and president of Ontario Autism Coalition, said the government's choice to resume in-person learning for special education students is the right one. Keeping schools open for those students helps them maintain normalcy and routine during the pandemic, she said. But more needs to be done to ensure consistency for students and a safe working environment for educators, she said. A good supply of personal protective equipment, regular asymptomatic testing, temperature checks and access to vaccinations are just some of the things that can help, she said. Jennifer Windsor, a physical education teacher at Huron Park Secondary School in Woodstock, Ont., said her school board only informed educators about coming back to teach in-person two days before classes resumed. "We're being told, it's not safe for students. Yet our most vulnerable sector, you're telling us it's safe to return and no changes since we left in December have been made," she said. Windsor, also a mother of three, said she had to ask her ageing parents for help with her own kids as she returned to teach at school. "For me, the potential of exposing my parents – that has a certain burden and stress. I have barely slept since Thursday, I can barely eat," she said. The resumption of special needs in-person learning means unrecognized increased risks for many education workers, students and families, the union representing Windsor and other teachers in her school board said. "(We are) concerned that the Ford government’s announcement is a half measure that does not go far enough in protecting student and staff safety during the COVID-19 pandemic," District 11 of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation said in a statement. Union district president John Bernans said he can't understand how the government believes it's safe for the group of students and staff to return to in-person learning when it is not safe for any other group. “This government has had 10 months to put social supports in place for parents of children with special needs that keep students, families and workers safe. They have failed to do that," said Bernans. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship Denise Paglinawan, The Canadian Press Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version incorrectly reported the government extended online learning for schools in five hot spots until Feb. 11. In fact, the extension is until Feb. 10.
With snowmobiles in high demand, there may be a lot of newcomers to the winter sport, which is why safety on the trails is always important. Out alone on the pristine waterfront in the McKellar area, Morely Haskim has volunteered with the Dun Ahmic Snowriders for over 30 years. He suggests that people educate themselves first by going online to mto.gov.on.ca where there is a snowmobile safety category or the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Club’s website where there are six courses someone can take online. “As far as anybody starting out, there’s the obvious things such as wearing proper gear: helmet, snowmobile suit and boots,” said Haskim. “And usually try to snowmobile with somebody else — don’t go alone.” Another important tool for snowmobiling safety is making sure to check the trails on the interactive trail map provided by the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Club’s website. “Do your own homework before you get out there,” said Haskin. “You’re in control of your own destination even though the clubs are doing the best they can to make sure all the trails are safe and open.” Safety on the trails is important because it can be life threatening and Haskim advised that snowmobilers shouldn’t be speeding. “We have a lot of families out there now with their young kids on the machine with them and if they meet a bunch of people racing it may not end up being the best situation,” he said. The speed limit on most trails is 50 km/hour. While there are risks that come with snowmobiling, Haskim says his favourite thing about it is volunteering on the trails. “I used to be a real snowmobiler,” he said with a laugh. “I would go out in big groups back years ago and have pretty much snowmobiled everywhere around our area but eventually I phased out of personally snowmobiling.” Now, he tries to get out two times a week to groom, stake or inspect trails. “I report our trail conditions to our district who then puts the condition of the trails on the interactive trail guide.” Out along the Hwy. 522 corridor, Matthew Wagenaar, who manages the popular snowmobiling Instagram page The Daily Doo with his friends, rides the Argyle Riders trails. “The place I stay is right off the C105D trail,” Wagenaar said. “A large portion of that trail is crown land. So, early in the winter season, myself and a few friends go up and try to clean up the trail by cutting up trees and getting them off the trail.” When it comes to snowmobile safety, Wagenaar said that the most important thing he would say to newcomers is to know your machine. “Snowmobiles don’t behave like most other off-road vehicles,” he said. “Get familiar with the sled by riding but riding with added caution.” However, the biggest risk, according to Wagenaar, who does a lot of backcountry riding as well, is riding over open water. “(You) could go through the ice but that can be easily taken care of by waiting until you have over eight inches of ice and also knowing where the open water is,” he said. But, echoing Haskim in McKellar, the good times are worth it. “The best part is the time spent in nature with friends — the awesome part about Port Loring is it truly is God’s country up there,” he said. “There’s nothing like waking up and seeing a fresh couple of inches of snow on the sled, heading out at dawn and watching the snow-covered trees get hit by the first sun rays.” “Though safety is important at work and at play,” he said. “We all have someone we want to go home to.” Story behind the story: With snowmobile sales through the roof and snowmobile clubs anticipating new riders on the trail, our reporter wanted to find out the best safety tips for new and seasoned sledders. So, she reached out to local club volunteers and trail enthusiasts to find out what the best practices for snowmobiling the Parry Sound and Almaguin trails were. Sarah Cooke’s reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative., Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
U.S. president-elect Joe Biden has unveiled a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan to turn the tide on the pandemic, speeding up the vaccine rollout and providing financial help to individuals, governments and businesses.
WASHINGTON — The line stretched nearly a block long. Nobody was grumbling about the wait. Those gathered at a senior wellness centre in Washington, D.C., viewed it as a matter of life or death. The nation's capital had just opened up coronavirus vaccines to people 65 and older because of their increased risk. I was among those who had a shot within reach. In the nation's capital, along with the rest of the country, coronavirus cases have surged since the holidays. More than 32,800 positive cases have been recorded overall in the city. Nearly 850 people have died. And now add fears that the mob insurrection at the Capitol earlier this month could turn into a superspreader event, adding to the totals. People were on edge. As I waited for my shot, I wondered if I should be there. The district had offered the vaccine first to health care workers, but were there others who should have come before me, people like teachers and workers in grocery stores and other businesses providing essential services during the pandemic? What about the older old — people over 75? Yes, journalists are considered essential, and I also am a teacher at the college level. But equally important to me, I haven't seen my grandson and his parents in California for more than a year — half his life — and l long to get on a plane to visit. And I do fit the new criteria for vaccines, people 65 and older. So I was all in. The city started offering appointments to the over-65 crowd Monday. I called up the website, filled in the questionnaire and looked for a location. The site closest to my home had no times available so I widened my search, finally choosing a senior centre about 3 miles away. Later, I checked my neighbourhood listserv. It was filled with complaints from residents who found the whole process unwieldy and were furious that all the available appointments had been booked. A D.C. council member acknowledged that “the rollout came with a significant number of frustrations and challenges" but said there would be other opportunities for seniors to get the vaccine. It's an issue of supply and demand. There are just under 85,000 D.C. residents 65 and older who qualify for shots, but only 6,700 appointments were available the first week. I was one of the lucky ones. It was cold, but the length of the line at the wellness centre didn't bother me. I was grateful that we were outside for much of the wait, and that people were voluntarily self-distancing. That was enforced once we moved inside. Everyone wore a mask. Some people who were visibly frail were moved to front of the line. No one complained. And while I waited, I worked. In a bit of irony, that meant consulting with a colleague on a story about the Trump administration's push to expand vaccination to more people, including those over 65. The District of Columbia, it turns out, was ahead of the curve. Ninety minutes after I arrived, I was given the Moderna vaccine, administered by a Safeway pharmacy manager brought in from Rehoboth, Delaware. After we talked about her hometown — a favourite beach vacation spot for my family — and other vaccinations I might need, she told me how to sign up for the second dose. Then I was sent to wait in another room to make sure I didn't have a serious allergic reaction to the shot. I didn't. I get my second dose Feb. 10. I've already started thinking about booking that flight to California. There's only one negative — now everyone knows my age. ___ Virus Diary, an occasional feature, showcases the coronavirus pandemic through the eyes of Associated Press journalists around the world. Follow Washington-based AP news editor Carole Feldman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CaroleFeldman Carole Feldman, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden is nominating New York emergency department commissioner Deanne Criswell to serve as the Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator and has tapped former CIA deputy director David Cohen to return to the agency in the same role he served during the Obama administration. The picks, along with a trio of other new nominations confirmed to The Associated Press by the Biden team, come as the president-elect is putting a premium on experience, and perhaps familiarity, as he looks to fill out top positions at federal agencies with less than a week to go before his inauguration. Biden also is tapping former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler to help lead the COVID-19 vaccine drive. Kessler has been advising Biden as a co-chair of his advisory board on the coronavirus pandemic. The pick of Kessler comes after Biden on Thursday called the Trump administration’s rollout of coronavirus vaccines a “dismal failure” and says he will unveil his own plans on Friday to speed up inoculations. Criswell, who also spent more than five years in top posts at FEMA during the Obama administration, is the first woman nominated to head the agency, whose primary responsibility is to co-ordinate responses to major disasters inside the United States that require federal attention. Nancy Ward served as the agency's acting administrator in the early months of the Obama administration before his pick, Craig Fugate, could be confirmed. Cohen, who was deputy CIA director from 2015 to 2017, has travelled the world for years tracking money flowing to terror groups, such as the Islamic State group, and other bad actors on the international stage. His work directing the Treasury Department’s intelligence unit earlier in his career earned him the nicknames of “financial batman” and “sanctions guru.” In 2019, Cohen, who has been leading the financial and business integrity group at the law firm WilmerHale, made a cameo appearance on the HBO series “Game of Thrones.” Nominees are required to disclose details of their finances and complete ethics agreements as part of the confirmation process. Once confirmed, federal ethics laws can require the officials to recuse themselves from working on issues that could impact their previous business interests. Biden throughout the 2020 campaign lashed at President Donald Trump, saying he eroded public trust in government. Biden pledged his team will abide by “the highest ethical standards.” Cohen is not a registered lobbyist, but his firm does millions of dollars in lobbying work each year on behalf of clients that include the Beer Institute, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Walgreens and American Financial Group. The president-elect is also nominating Shalanda Young, the top staff aide for the House Appropriations Committee, to serve as deputy director at the Office of Management and Budget and Jason Miller, who was deputy director of the White House National Economic Council in Obama's administration, to serve as deputy director for management at the agency. Young brings a wealth of Capitol Hill experience in budget policy — and politics — to the budget office, along with close relationships with powerful House Democrats like Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Miller was steeped in manufacturing policy in the Obama administration, including an update of automobile fuel efficiency standards. Biden is tapping Janet McCabe, an environmental law and policy expert who spent more than seven years as a top official at the Environmental Protection Agency during the Obama administration to return to the agency as deputy administrator. “Each of them brings a deep respect for the civil servants who keep our republic running, as well as a keen understanding of how the government can and should work for all Americans,” Biden said of his picks in a statement. “I am confident that they will hit the ground running on day one with determination and bold thinking to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.” Criswell has served as New York City’s emergency management commissioner since June 2019. In her earlier work at FEMA, Criswell served as the leader of one of the agency’s National Incident Management Assistance Teams and as a federal co-ordinating officer. In New York, part of her duties included leading the co-ordination of the city’s emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Between her stints at FEMA and in New York, Criswell was a principal at Cadmus Group, a firm that provides homeland security management consulting and training services for federal, state and local government agencies and private sector companies. The company made about $68 million between the time she joined the firm in 2017 and when she left in June 2019, according to a tabulation of contract spending data from the site USASpending.gov. She also served as the head of the Office of Emergency Management for the city of Aurora, Colorado. Criswell also served in the Colorado Air National Guard, including 21 years as a firefighter and deputy fire chief with deployments to Qatar, Afghanistan and Iraq. ___ Associated Press writers Deb Riechmann and Andrew Taylor contributed to this report. Aamer Madhani And Brian Slodysko, The Associated Press
SaskPower says the rural areas of the province still without power from this week's storm should see their lights back on by Friday afternoon. Wide swaths of the province have been without electricity in the wake of the blizzard and high winds this week. Areas still without power Friday morning include southwest of Elrose, including Beechy, Saskatchewan Landing, White Bear, Lucky Lake and areas south of Weyburn. SaskPower said power has been restored to areas near Glenavon and for customers east of that community with power lines down. Saskpower spokesperson Scott McGregor said the areas still without power suffered major damage to the power infrastructure. "That's really what's keeping the power off, is that some larger transmission lines have been damaged and we're just working on getting those fixed," McGregor said. That will be good news for Natalie Braun and other residents of Beechy, who have been without power since Wednesday afternoon. "I don't know what our wind got to, but our visibility was zero [Wednesday] late afternoon and went on into the evening," Braun said. "I mean, it was crazy." Braun said they have a generator that has helped them cook meals and stay warm, though even it wouldn't work at the height of the storm. The generator was plugged in at the back of the house and she said the night of the storm the snow and wind kept freezing up the generator. Braun said others in the community who don't have generators are still in the dark and cold. "We have gotten quite accustomed to having power outages," she said, adding that's many people have generators. "But there's definitely a lot without. And it's yeah, it's been a long go. Thankfully, it's not freezing freezing cold." She said community organizations have arranged to drop off hot meals to some elderly residents and that the community hall, which has a generator, is open to residents to come warm up. "It's amazing how a small community can really come together," Braun said. "Yesterday we witnessed a lot of people just going out of their way, checking in on the elderly people in our community. And it just is pretty amazing how everybody, especially in these circumstances and obviously going through this in a pandemic there, it takes it to a whole new level." McGregor said a transmission line went down in the Beechy area. "We're still working in that area and [power] should be up around noon, maybe two o'clock at the latest," he said. "I know that it's been it's been out for a long time over two nights ... and we appreciate everyone's patience while we all get through this." More than 100 communities have had power outages because of the storm and roughly 78,000 people were still without power as of Thursday afternoon. McGregor said high winds and blowing snow continued to hamper crews trying to restore power to some communities. Since the storm began, SaskPower recorded more than 780 outages affecting more than 100,000 customers. McGregor said there could be a few people that remain without power if more problems arise. "We're still taking inventory of a lot of the damage out there," he said. McGregor said it's like clearing a major highway after a snowstorm. "You have the highway reopened, but then you have to deal with the side streets. Same with a transmission line being damaged and then re-energise," he said. "They can repair the transmission lines, but then once that is energized, then other problems coming off of that at the distribution level become evident and then we can work on those.." Braun said while the power outage has been stress for the adults, her two children, aged six and three, have been having a blast. "Our street was impassable yesterday so they were loving seeing all the commotion around. And they love all the snow," she said. Coincidentally the kids got a pair of head lamps in the mail a few days ago and are putting them to good use. "We don't run our generators through the night so in the mornings, they're hiding under the blankets with the head lamps on."
Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case of COVID-19 on Friday, as the province's chief medical officer of health addressed expectations for the ongoing vaccine rollout. Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said at Friday's COVID-19 briefing that regional health authorities are working to make sure vaccines are being administered "as expediently and efficiently as possible." "It it unrealistic to expect that a shipment of vaccines is to be administered within a day or two of its arrival," she said. Fitzgerald noted the regional health authorities have been able to administer their allotments within one week of the vaccines arriving in the province, which she calls "phenomenal" considering the planning and work involved. She said she knows there is anxiety as people wait to receive an inoculation but she urged patience. "The vaccine will come, but, for now, continue to do your part in keeping COVID at bay as we do our part to vaccinate our population," Fitzgerald said. Health Minister John Haggie said vaccination figures provided by government and health officials are just a snapshot of how the rollout is going. For example, said Haggie, within an hour or two Thursday night the province went from delivering 91 per cent of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to having only delivered 51 per cent, simply because a delivery arrived. "Our aim is to try and reduce the amount of time vaccines spend in the supply chain between arrival in the province and getting into someone's arms." Watch the full Jan. 15 update: But a production change is expected to have an effect on delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine over the next three or four weeks. The company is temporarily pausing some of its production lines at the plant in Belgium where the vaccine is manufactured — and from where Canada receives its shipments — in order to expand them, meaning a reduction in the expected doses delivered, Haggie said. "What that means for Canada next week is that it will receive 195 trays instead of the 214 that were scheduled. The last week in January will be the worst, with only 25 per cent of expected trays being delivered. That's 41 for the entire country," he said. The new case reported on Friday is a woman in the Eastern Health region, a resident of the province between 20 and 39 years old, is related to international travel and is the fifth case announced so far in 2021. The woman is self-isolating and contact tracing is finished, according to the Department of Health. Across the country people have already received their second and final dose of vaccination. When asked if there protocols in place in Newfoundland and Labrador for those who have received their second dose and want to travel to the province, Fitzgerald said evidence is still evolving surrounding disease transmission. "The public health measures that we have in place will remain in place until we have more information and we have evidence to support being able to lift those measures," she said. The province now has five active cases, and one person is in hospital. In total, 75,973 people have tested, including 196 since Thursday's update. Election during pandemic Residents of the province are expecting an election call imminently. That means candidates will hit the campaign trail, including Premier Andrew Furey and Haggie. When asked how the province will manage its response to the pandemic, while also juggling an election, Fitzgerald said clinical decisions based on evidence will still be made, vaccines will still be administered and public health will still respond to new COVID-19 cases as need be. "Our policies are in place, we feel comfortable with them, so I think at this point we'll be carrying on with the status quo," she said. Haggie said the daily media releases will continue to provide updates, and that Fitzgerald will be available on a weekly basis for live briefings. In the event of an emergency, he said, he still remains health minister, and Furey the premier. Notably absent from Friday's briefing was Furey, as election rumours continued to swirl into the afternoon. When asked why Furey was not present, Haggie said he didn't know. "I only found out by accident shortly before this started. I checked back through Twitter and noticed it was only myself and Dr. Fitzgerald," he said. "So I know as much as you do." "We will keep people informed, and we will plan to see you next week and who knows what the future holds," said Haggie. Less than an hour after the briefing concluded, Furey headed to Government House, presumably to ask Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote to dissolve the House of Assembly. Vaccines for the Northern Peninsula COVID-19 inoculations are set to reach another corner of Newfoundland and Labrador, with the first people on the Northern Peninsula to receive theirs Monday, according to Labrador-Grenfell Health. Priority groups, including front-line health-care workers, long-term care staff and residents and personal-care home staff and residents, will be getting their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the health authority said in a release. That's quicker than the previously announced schedule; the health authority's previous timeline had vaccinations set to begin in St. Anthony in the first week of February. Vaccinations continue elsewhere in the province, with members of the Canadian Rangers being tapped to help deliver Moderna doses in Nain by transporting residents to the vaccination site. The number of people vaccinated is updated weekly on Wednesdays. As of this past Wednesday, 5,291 doses of either type of vaccine had been given out. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
Some of the first recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine in the southern N.W.T. are reminding residents that it will help them stay safe. The statements come as the government found an undetected COVID-19 result in Hay River's wastewater earlier this week. Vaccine clinics popped up in three of the smaller South Slave communities this week: K'atl'odeeche First Nation, Enterprise and Kakisa. 'I'm going to do it for my community' April Martel, chief of K'atl'odeeche First Nation, was one of the first people in line for the Moderna vaccine on Wednesday. For a few days before the clinic, Martel had gone door-to-door with a translator, sharing vaccination information with elders in her community. Still, she got nervous as soon as she walked through the doors of the Chief Lamalice Complex with a team of nurses. "I was so excited to get it, but at the same time I was scared," Martel told CBC. She said she was reluctant at first because she knew it was a new type of vaccine, and didn't know how her body would react to it. She was convinced after seeing a long lineup of elders behind her, waiting for their dose. "I felt a little bit better, knowing that [the elders] are getting the vaccine," she said. "They're doing it for their community, so I was like I'm going to do it for my community." Martel said more than 100 people got the first dose of the vaccine that day. There were more who wanted to take it, she continued, but had to be turned away because they were sick or recently got the flu vaccine. More people got vaccinated after positive COVID wastewater test A few hours after being vaccinated, Martel's phone rang. It was Dr. Kami Kandola, the N.W.T.'s chief public health officer, calling to let her know that there was a positive COVID-19 result in Hay River's wastewater system. "I was like 'are you … kidding me, oh my god!'" Martel said. After posting the news on the nation's Facebook page, Martel said more people decided to head to the community centre to get their vaccine. For those who didn't make it, they'll be able to go back again in 28 days to get their vaccine. If they decide not to at that time, Martel said, she will still respect their choice — but she wants people to be comfortable knowing that elders in the community are getting the vaccine. "People were happy [Wednesday], so I just want to share that with people," she said. 'It's the smart thing to do' Enterprise resident Jim Dives was flagged down Thursday morning by a team of nurses looking for the community centre. Dives took them to the right place and helped them carry some of their medical supplies through the door. In the small hamlet of 130 people, appointments for the Moderna vaccine are first-come-first-serve. "They said, 'I guess you're first,'" Dives laughed. "Right place, right time." Dives describes himself as over 70, a little overweight and diabetic — all factors increasing his risk of contracting COVID-19 so he had "no qualms" getting the vaccine. "I think it's the smart thing to do," Dives said. "I think the Northwest Territories is primed to have a large outbreak and ... getting the vaccine is the easiest way to protect everybody." On his way out, Dives said he saw about 15 to 20 people waiting for their turn to get it. Enterprise has a large population of seniors, Dives said. He believes most people in the hamlet will be open to getting the vaccine. "The more people that get the vaccine, the better off we're going to be down the road because that's the only way to stop this thing," Dives said. Dives said he will continue to wear his mask, wash his hands and limit his gatherings even after getting the vaccine to minimize his risk as much as possible.
Ontario crept toward 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, the latest line in the shifting sand. Before the weekend, Premier Doug Ford teased modelling projections he said were so shocking, “You’ll fall off your chair”. Despite the dire warning, no further information was shared with the Province. Instead, over the weekend, reporters from the Queen’s Park Press Gallery suggested a curfew was being considered, similar to the rules in Quebec. By Monday, it appeared to be off the table again. The first two days of the week dragged by with a sense of doom hanging over Ontario as the lack of clarity from the ruling PCs turned into a running provincial joke. On Tuesday, Ford’s 1 p.m. presser was delayed by half-an-hour, only adding to the tension. Finally, he walked up to the microphone and began to speak. Unusually, there was no preamble. Ford launched straight into the news: a second state of emergency and the introduction of a stay-at-home order, planned to come into play on Thursday. More confusion ensued. And the jokes kept rolling. Almost immediately, social media was flooded. Journalists, members of the public and local politicians struggled to grasp exactly what was being announced. Weren’t people meant to be staying home under the grey lockdown anyway? Weren’t non-essential businesses already closed? What was the difference between a stay-at-home-order and being told to stay at home? “There is no confusion,” the Premier insisted at his Wednesday press conference. “The message is simple: stay home.” It’s the same directive Peel residents have been under since November 23. The restrictions have failed to reduce the case counts in the region, and few understand how the latest order will change things. Reducing business operating times for non-essential shops by one hour seems like lip service at this point. Ford says he “hates” closing anything down, despite claiming for months that he will do anything it takes to keep Ontarians safe. The one obvious thing Ford could do to address the “fall-off-your-chair” reality staring at besieged hospitals, is another thing he’s unwilling to do. “"I've never been in favour of a curfew," he said Tuesday. "The last thing I've ever believed in ever is having a curfew." The one area of clarity came from Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. She did not lay out new rules or detail how exactly the measures would be enforced, but made it apparent that authorities are placing an increased emphasis on policing. “The Government of Ontario cannot determine what is essential for every person in this province, each with their own unique circumstances and regional considerations,” a list of answers to frequently asked questions issued by Ford’s office Wednesday admits. The document also says essential work, trips and items cannot be defined. Around 7 p.m. on Wednesday, five hours before it was due to come into force and after the interviews featured in this story were conducted, the Province released its official order, stating 29 acceptable reasons to be outside the home while the rules are in place. They include travelling to an airport, obtaining services from a financial institution or selling and buying a house. According to the Province, going for groceries or to the pharmacy, outdoor exercise and work that can’t be completed at home are all acceptable reasons to leave the home. Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said at her Wednesday press conference that things like walking the dog or playing basketball with fewer than five members of your household are also allowed. “A police officer or other provincial offences officer who has reasonable and probable grounds that an individual has committed an offence … may require the individual’s correct name,” the new rules state. Questions remain around how these rules will be communicated and enforced after they were sent to police and bylaw officers so late. With 29 different reasons to avoid any violation, and so much interpretation, it seems unlikely the public will be able to easily remember the list or necessarily know how to demonstrate they’re adhering to it. Despite this, police and bylaw are being empowered to crack down. Asked at a Wednesday press conference for details on how the rules would be applied, Solicitor General Jones referenced gatherings and their enforcement, but did not provide a fulsome response. "If you are not at your place of residence and you need to be fined or ticketed, [police] have an obligation to ask for your name, date of birth and address,” she said. In Mississauga and Brampton, the vagaries of the new rules and delay in releasing the specifics are causing concern for some. The Peel Regional Police has a well-documented history of discrimination and, toward the end of 2020, vowed to end its systemic problems with racism. Under former chief Jennifer Evans, the force spent considerable time aggressively defending its use of street checks, while the rest of the province, including the previous Liberal government, quickly moved away from the destructive practice. It involved the random stopping and documenting of residents, and was shown to disproportionately target Peel’s Black community at more than three times the rate compared to white residents. In a slip of the tongue during her comments on Tuesday, Jones articulated this fear. “They will be subject to fines and persecution,” she said of rule-breakers, presumably intending to say “prosecution” instead. “In the case of discretion … we know that discretion will turn to compulsion when it comes to Black bodies,” Kola Iluyomade, a leader of local equity group Advocacy Peel, told The Pointer. Iluyomade played a key role in forcing change at the Peel District School Board in 2020 after years of anti-Black racism and has also been vocal in his criticism of the Peel Regional Police. “Obviously, not being able to have a definition is very problematic because should you need to fight [a fine] in court or something like that, the word discretion itself is what the police will use against you. The data shows that that’s what’s going to happen.” Stephen Warner, press secretary to Jones, said the Solicitor General’s office has “confidence in our law enforcement personnel to take the necessary enforcement actions”. Concerns about systemic issues of racism within policing and how it may impact COVID-19 orders were not addressed. It’s also unclear how bylaw officers are going to apply the rules, with concerns that white residents will receive informal privileges, while others will be heavily surveilled. The behaviour of many politicians, such as former Ontario finance minister Rod Phillips, and Ford himself, are held up as examples of the entitlement some have. Despite knowing Phillips had left the country in mid-December for a vacation in the Caribbean, neither did anything about the blatant violation of their own government’s directives until after the trip was exposed. But now, residents are being threatened with police action for violating essentially the same rules. “Serious questions: I choose to work from school. What am I supposed to say/show to a police officer who stops me? Are teachers essential workers or not?” Jason Bradshaw, a high school science teacher in Peel, wrote on Twitter. “As a side note, I’m not trying to play ‘the race card’ here, but as a Black man, I do consider what steps I need to take to ensure that any potential interactions I have with police officers have positive outcomes,” he added in a second tweet. Sam Rogers, in charge of Mississauga’s bylaw officers, said the Peel Regional Police would take the lead on enforcement. “Still a lot of questions to be answered on our end,” he said, speaking at around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday with the orders due to come into place less than eight hours later. “We’ve got very, very good at short notice changes throughout this pandemic and I am very confident, regardless of the regulations that do come out, our staff will be ready to implement a reasonable and balanced enforcement approach.” Asked how it would ensure an equitable application of the rules, Peel police highlighted the need to stay at home and reduce the spread of COVID-19. Peel Police, Mississauga bylaw nor Brampton bylaw did not suggest any equity or bias training to ensure their officers apply vague rules without over-policing Black and other racialized residents. “Enforcement will be an option when responding to calls relating to the order, and/or public gatherings; however every call for service will be evaluated individually and the appropriate action will be taken for each,” Constable Sarah Patten, a member of the Peel Police communications team, told The Pointer in an email. Crombie placed emphasis on staying home, telling residents to avoid any trips or errands that could reasonably be put off or done online. “We don’t want to see any scenario that people are stopped unnecessarily as we had with the street check program whether that be by bylaw – what will their role be? Or by Peel Police – what will their role be?” she articulated at her Wednesday press conference, saying she hoped clarity would be coming from the Province within hours of her address. “That hopefully will all be explained in the regulations which we will receive later.” As they have throughout the pandemic, bylaw enforcement officers will play a key role in plans to enforce the new stay-at-home-order. Staff have the power to write tickets for individuals breaking the rules and disperse crowds. “We have a very diverse, multicultural community within the City of Brampton,” Paul Morrison, the City’s bylaw head, said at a Wednesday morning press conference. “We police ensuring that all the citizens’ rights are maintained and, when it comes to race, we’ll understand as best we can culture and race when it impacts on enforcement.” He did not address measures in place to ensure bias-free enforcement. “The laws are changing so quickly and so often in terms of emergency protocols, I know Brampton bylaw always attempts, on first brush, always to educate and to make sure that the communities know what the new provisions are,” Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown added. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @isaaccallan Tel: 647 561-4879 COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.Isaac Callan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
MOSCOW — Russia said on Friday that it will withdraw from an international treaty allowing surveillance flights over military facilities after the U.S. exit from the pact, compounding the challenges faced by the incoming administration of president-elect Joe Biden. Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the U.S. withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty last year “significantly upended the balance of interests of signatory states,” adding that Moscow’s proposals to keep the treaty alive after the U.S. exit have been cold-shouldered by Washington’s allies. The ministry said that Russia is now launching the relevant procedures to withdraw from the pact "due to the lack of progress in removing the obstacles for the treaty's functioning in the new conditions.” The Russian parliament, which ratified the treaty in 2001, will now have to vote to leave it. The treaty was intended to build trust between Russia and the West by allowing the accord’s more than three dozen signatories to conduct reconnaissance flights over each other’s territories to collect information about military forces and activities. More than 1,500 flights have been conducted under the treaty, aimed at fostering transparency about military activity and helping monitor arms control and other agreements. U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the Open Skies Treaty, arguing that Russian violations made it untenable for the United States to remain a party. The U.S. completed its withdrawal from the pact in November. Russia denied breaching the treaty, which came into force in 2002. The European Union has urged the U.S. to reconsider and called on Russia to stay in the pact and lift flight restrictions, notably over its westernmost Kaliningrad region, which lies between NATO allies Lithuania and Poland. Russia has argued that the limits on flights over Kaliningrad, which hosts sizable military forces, are permissible under the treaty’s terms, noting that the U.S. has imposed more sweeping restrictions on observation flights over Alaska. As a condition for staying in the pact after the U.S. pullout, Moscow unsuccessfully sought guarantees from NATO allies that they wouldn't transfer the data collected during their observation flights over Russia to the U.S. Leonid Slutsky, head of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of the Russian parliament, said in televised remarks Friday that Russia could review its decision to withdraw if the U.S. decides to return to the pact, but acknowledged that the prospect looks “utopian.” Moscow has warned that the U.S. withdrawal will erode global security by making it more difficult for governments to interpret the intentions of other nations, particularly amid Russia-West tensions after the Russian annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014. The demise of the Open Skies Treaty follows the U.S. and Russian withdrawal in 2019 from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The INF Treaty, which was signed in 1987 by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, banned land-based cruise and ballistic missiles with a range of 500 to 5,500 kilometres (310 to 3,410 miles), weapons seen as particularly destabilizing because of the shorter time they take to reach targets compared with intercontinental ballistic missiles. The only U.S.-Russian arms control pact still standing is the New START treaty that expires in three weeks. Moscow and Washington have discussed the possibility of its extension, but have so far failed to overcome their differences. Biden has spoken for the preservation of the New START treaty and Russia has said it's open for its quick and unconditional extension. But negotiating the deal before the pact expires on Feb. 5 appears extremely challenging. New START was signed in 2010 by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. It limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, and envisages sweeping on-site inspections to verify compliance. Arms control advocates have warned that its expiration would remove any checks on U.S. and Russian nuclear forces, striking a blow to global stability. Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press
A 21-year-old woman who went missing Thursday after she went snowshoeing in B.C.'s North Shore Mountains has been found dead. CBC has identified her as Nikki Donnelly of Ontario based on information provided by rescue officials and social media accounts. Donnelly posted a short video Thursday afternoon on Instagram from atop St. Mark's Summit, a popular hiking spot north of Vancouver, that documented the picturesque ocean view. Shortly after, the young woman, who was visiting B.C. from Ontario, made her way back down the Howe Sound Crest Trail, according to officials with North Shore Rescue. She soon called her boyfriend in Toronto to tell him she was lost and in distress before the call dropped. The woman's disappearance set off an 18-hour search that ended with rescue crews discovering her body Friday morning, at about 10:40 a.m. PT, in a steep drainage area below the summit. The crew flew the woman by helicopter back to their rescue base, where she was pronounced dead. "Our thoughts are with the woman's family and friends, as well with all the responders and search teams to the St. Mark's area last night and today," Sgt. Sascha Banks with Squamish RCMP said in a statement. The police did not identify the woman, but rescue officials referred to her by her first name, Nikki, and noted she had posted a video from the summit. WATCH | Hiker posts video atop St. Mark's Summit before going missing: Called boyfriend several times Crews were called to look for Donnelly round 5 p.m. PT Thursday, but despite an all-night search with two helicopters and night-vision equipment, she was not found overnight. North Shore Rescue team leader Mike Danks said fresh search teams returned to the area at first light on Friday to look for any signs of the woman or possible tracks off the trail. The St. Mark's Summit hike is part of the Howe Sound Crest Trail, a 28-kilometre trail that winds through the mountaintops north of Vancouver. The hike typically takes four to five hours round-trip and leads hikers to a peak with a view of the ocean and islands. Danks said the woman called her boyfriend when she reached St. Mark's Summit. She phoned him again on her way down, and shortly after made the final distress call that dropped. Snowshoer unlikely prepared to spend the night Rescue crews said Donnelly was likely out for a day trip and was probably unprepared to spend the night on the mountain. There was a "significant" amount of snow, and windy, rainy weather had wiped out searchers' tracks. Danks said the only indication that the woman was on the mountain was from the video she took and her registered rental car still parked in the Cypress Mountain parking lot. Her cellphone was most recently pinged at 3:30 p.m. PT Thursday. Based on the ping, Danks said, crews reasoned the woman was on the east side of the peak, where her body was later found. RCMP on Friday urged anyone who is in need of help while exploring remote areas to call 911. "As well, before you leave, please: research your area, take all the equipment you need, know your skill level, follow weather patterns, know snow conditions, and have a trip plan," Banks said. Squamish RCMP will work with the BC Coroners Service to investigate the woman's death.
BRACEBRIDGE, Ont. — A boil water advisory has been lifted for an Ontario cottage country town affected by a water main break. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit says lab tests have confirmed the water in Bracebridge, Ont., is now safe to drink. The order lifted Thursday had been issued Jan. 10. The health unit says residents should run cold water for five minutes to ensure it’s running clean.Larger users like restaurants, hospitals and schools may have to run water for longer to ensure it isn't cloudy. People are also advised to replace water filters, drain water heaters, dispose of ice made after Jan. 10 and clean any appliances connected to the water.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. The Canadian Press