Charon the German Shepherd welcomes these adorable newborn quail chicks. So cute!
Charon the German Shepherd welcomes these adorable newborn quail chicks. So cute!
New Brunswick writer Richard Vaughan's life and legacy is now being celebrated through a virtual art exhibition. The acclaimed author, poet and playwright died in Fredericton in October. He was 55. Known as Cut. Paste. Resist. Redux, the multimedia exhibition consists of film strips created from collages. Those images are paired with voiceovers of friends and colleagues reading various excerpts from his poetry, chat books and novels. Marie Maltais, director of the UNB Arts Centre, helped organize the project and described Vaughan as "a shining star of New Brunswick's cultural scene." She said the exhibit is a way to "bring back the genius" of the writer. "He was an advocate, he was someone who was very down to earth, you could approach him," Maltais said. Vaughan was born in Saint John, but lived and worked in Montreal, Toronto and Berlin before returning to his home province last year to work as writer-in-residence at the University of New Brunswick. He wrote under the name R.M. Vaughan. He is remembered as a pioneer for LGBTQ artists and a talented writer who could address many subjects. The new exhibit was inspired by a collage project Vaughan organized with Ken Moffatt, the Jack Layton chair at Ryerson University, early last year. They put out a call for submissions from community members focused on the theme of resistance. More than 200 collages came in from around the world, and were displayed as part of the Cut, Paste, Resist art show at UNB. That initial show has evolved into the project presented online this month in Vaughan's memory. Maltais reached out to Moffatt shortly after Vaughan's death to collaborate on the project. It is being held virtually on the centre's website because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recorded readings from 17 different people will be released throughout the month. The response to the show has been positive, with people sharing fond memories. Maltais said she remembers Vaughan as someone who really cared about his students and the cultural community. "I have spoken to a few people that were mentored by him, and it is really a terrible loss," she said.
Collette Catto of Whitehorse loves to cook. She also likes to be creative. She's been making bannock since she was a young girl, but she recently hit on something that's proving to be a mouth-watering hit — stuffed bannock. "I make bannock with stuffed bacon and cheese. People like the bacon and cheese," she said. Catto started off with her basic bannock recipe and then she had the idea. "I started rolling it out and making it flat, so I added a bit more flour to make it pliable so that I could use it when I was making Indian tacos," Catto said. "So then I started messing around with it one day, and started testing things out on my family to see if they liked it." Bacon-and-cheese was one successful recipe, bannock-wrapped burgers was another. Cooking through a pandemic Catto is originally from Haines Junction, Yukon. Her family moved to Whitehorse in September. They noticed immediately the higher costs of living in the city and wanted to help those that were struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. She's been taking bannock orders online for people to pick up, and sometimes she delivers. Demand has been going up. "I usually sell to individuals, raise money and then just donate it to who needs it for some of their bills or to help pay their rent. You know, things like that," Catto said. "It's a small world and we're all going through a lot of stuff, so we're just trying to help out where we can." Catto says at peak times, she's been selling hundreds of pieces of bannock. The most important meal of the day Catto's most recent experiment was a breakfast-stuffed bannock. She says the feedback she has received already is encouraging. "The people that have picked them up, they love it. They're like, 'where has this been? It's incredible,'" Catto said. Catto says she plans to continue experimenting with what she can put in a piece of bannock "We were thinking chicken tacos. We were thinking maybe pizza. It's an endless supply of thoughts. We just enjoy cooking and it keeps me busy."
It's tough to control the spread of information online, but health officials in the Northwest Territories have been trying to tackle the gossip, mistruths and questionable sources around COVID-19 and the vaccine one comment at a time. Mike Westwick has been managing the N.W.T. government's communications response to COVID-19 through most of the pandemic and tries to "flood the zone" with good information. He says people have become better informed throughout, but his team still spends a fair bit of time combating misinformation. "Folks are understandably scared and a little bit frantic during a pandemic," Westwick said. "And our job as communicators is to help them feel a little bit more at ease and get them the information that they need to protect themselves and others." He says the sources of misinformation can vary, from discredited websites to word of mouth — people playing the "telephone game." In the N.W.T., he says the most common misinformation is generally related to the level of threat northerners are facing, "phantom cases" of COVID-19 that never actually existed, or that the territory isn't testing enough. In those cases, he says his team offers quantitative data to dispel the mistruths. "There have been many occasions where we've taken to social media directly to combat those rumours in order to give people, you know, an accurate idea of what the risk is and the current state of COVID-19," Westwick said. Northerners open to conversations Westwick says it's a risk communicator's job to "directly, rapidly and empathetically" combat misinformation. "Social media has opened up all kinds of opportunities for misinformation to spread," he said. "But it's also opened up unprecedented opportunities to actually join those conversations as communicators." Westwick says that, by and large, northerners are open to having those conversations and appreciate hearing from someone with helpful information. "I would just really applaud northerners for ... being receptive to that information and taking the right actions that have led us to the point that we're at today in a very successful pandemic response," he said. That response will be changing hands though. Westwick has taken on a new role in communications for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. He says it's been an "intense" year, but quite a ride, and he's looking forward to the new challenge. How to spot misinformation Nadya Bliss, the executive director of the Global Security Initiative at Arizona State University, says people spreading misinformation online are often doing it unintentionally and "tapping into a sense of belonging." Bliss says there are several red flags and things to consider as you scroll through social media feeds. Does the content create an overly emotional response, or make a broad claim? "We're living through a number of overlapping crises. And in crises, people tend to want to share information faster," Bliss said. "You're just nervous, you're worried and you want to share something." Broad claims from unofficial sources should be cross-checked with a trusted source, Bliss said. If you're seeing similar posts or stories, remember — it's the algorithm. Social media algorithms prioritize what they think you will be most interested in, and will amplify posts from your social circle, said Bliss. "If you are getting information from your group of peers or friends, a lot of the time the reason you see it is because you clicked on something similar," she said. "And that is not a way to get trusted scientific information." There is a financial motive behind sharing the information. The best information comes from groups without a profit incentive, like government sources or reliable journalistic sources, because they're focused on "integrity" rather than driving clicks, said Bliss. The post is out of date or has a false information flag. Facebook and Twitter now explicitly label false information, so look out for those. Also make sure the information is current by checking the date.
In the summer, with half of Memorial Drive in Calgary shut down to traffic, a group of protesters set up near the Peace Bridge to draw attention to a bewildering array of grievances. One sign attacked Justin Trudeau, another warned of 5G networks, some supported oil and gas, while others cautioned against "chemtrails." But the main thrust of the gathering was to oppose COVID-19 restrictions, masks and vaccines. As the pandemic dragged on, that group morphed and found new stomping grounds in front of Calgary City Hall. Coalescing around the banner of "freedom," they railed against government COVID-19 lockdowns, mask laws and public health measures. They marched through downtown Calgary with signs that proclaimed them lions, not sheep. Alternative medicine hippies strode alongside yellow vesters in what at first seemed an odd countercultural pairing but is a natural alliance based on a shared distrust of governments, health mandates, corporations and more. The reason for their unity lies deep in our evolutionary history and the brute force of societal shifts that are shaking civilizational foundations. Those forces have conspired to make Alberta a prime breeding ground for the kind of conspiratorial thinking on display, which pulls nuggets of truth from the flurry of science in real time and contorts it into a narrative of oppression. It is a near-perfect storm for the small minority caught up in it. The question is: how did they find themselves in its path? How we're wired Humans have evolved to be really good at fitting into groups. Our malleable brains can adapt beliefs in order to thrive within our given tribe. But that sort of cognitive wiring can lead us astray. Adrian Bardon, a philosophy professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina and the author of The Truth About Denial: Bias and Self-Deception in Science, Politics and Religion, has obviously spent some time thinking about how these sorts of movements come to be. Writing in The Conversation, he says although the phenomena of denialism is "many and varied," the story behind it is "quite simple." "Human cognition is inseparable from the unconscious emotional responses that go with it," he writes. "Under the right conditions, universal human traits like in-group favouritism, existential anxiety and a desire for stability and control combine into a toxic, system-justifying identity politics." It's why protesters against Trudeau and 5G and chemtrails and, and, and ... all came to march under the same banner, protesting public health measures supported by growing scientific consensus. Speaking to CBC News, Bardon specifically breaks down the current storm over pandemic responses and says the combination of economic threats, politicization by elites and the visual/visceral effect of masks is a fearsome combination for fuelling science denialism and ideological polarization. "It starts with the lack of trust, and then the reasons for the lack of trust comes next, and then you're already in an ideological community," he says. "And then that explains why your community is all of one voice on what the story is, but this story is made up. The reaction comes first, and then you rationalize the reaction." He says covering faces interferes with one of the most fundamental ways we interpret other people, but creates a new signal. "At this point, after the politicization of it, not wearing a mask is immediately understood by the mask-wearing people to be a statement, and wearing the mask is an accusation. And it creates this incredibly toxic environment," he says. There's also no better metaphor for a muzzle than something really darn close to a muzzle. With the science around COVID-19 evolving in real time and government's struggling to keep up and keep track, the stage is set for our minds to fill in the gaps. The psychology Another person who's spent some time thinking about the current moment is Steven Taylor, a professor of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia and the author of The Psychology of Pandemics. Taylor says one major issue is the lack of scientific literacy in the world and the belief by many that "science is really no different from opinion." Among those of a conspiratorial nature, there is also often an urge to feel special, he says, and possessing what you believe to be secret knowledge can be a big boost. "It's going to feed your self-esteem," says Taylor. It works in tandem with a phenomenon known as psychological reactance, which Taylor describes as a "kind of allergic reaction to being told what to do." "So if I came up to a person like that, and started to explain why I thought masks were effective, two things would happen," says Taylor. "First, they would get very angry, and second, they would start to automatically generate reasons for themselves as to why masks are ineffective. So my strategy would backfire if I tried to directly confront them." That, along with the fact that the vast majority of people support wearing masks, is why Taylor doesn't think governments should mandate their use. Adding to the mix are the sometimes confusing debates and changing recommendations about public health that have allowed a wide opening for doubters and reactionaries. All of those factors combine to make Alberta prime breeding ground for COVID denialism. The Alberta scene The first thing to note is that the protests against lockdowns and masks in Alberta are small. This does not represent the majority. But still, there is a vocal core group that isn't going to go away and that has at points drawn bigger crowds than many expected. Recent polling, too, has suggested Albertans are the least likely Canadians to consider getting the COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible, if at all. Bardon notes that denial of science rears its head pretty forcefully when the economy is threatened — something that has been fraying nerves in Alberta long before the pandemic brought government shutdowns. There is anxiety about income, about empty office towers in Calgary, about the continued existence of the oil and gas industry that once seemed a limitless well of wealth. The economic powerhouse of Canada is sputtering and many look at a sort of global network of elites and their war on global warming as a major factor in its demise. Some of the same protesters that were out in yellow vests calling Trudeau a traitor while sporting "I Love Alberta Oil and Gas" sweaters are now out calling for an end to lockdowns as another elite attack. Many in the province feel powerless in the face of global forces that have battered their world, and that leads them to reach for the comforts of a group and a belief system that nourishes them. When Trudeau was re-elected in 2019, Albertans had voted in droves for the Conservative opposition and the reaction to the minority government was angry. Separatists were emboldened and started drawing more attention and crowds, attempting to walk off with a province because they disagreed with the outcome of a democractic election. Sprinkle in some good old-fashioned Alberta myth-making, like the maverick spirit, egalitarianism and the belief that Albertans share a full-throttled libertarian-tinged conservatism, and the recipe is nearly complete. With the addition of a provincial government that has preached personal responsibility, provided mixed messages, resisted some health measures and recently saw MLAs and cabinet ministers ignore the government's own travel advice, the meal is cooked. It's not a stretch to see why many in the province feel left behind, without agency. That's something Bardon says is the very core of anxiety. "You feel anxious, and then you look for something to project that on.… Conspiracy theorists latch on to the conspiracy they just ran across, and if your community already has some preconceived notions as to what the threat is out there, you latch on to that," he says. If you give yourself a story, it gives back. That's not the way some in the protests see it, though. Freedom walker Jake Eskesen is an organizer with Freedom Walk Calgary, which recently branched off from Walk for Freedom over an internal dispute. Speaking just before Christmas, he says the weekly protests are about, well, freedom. "We're standing, basically for our constitutional rights, which are currently being infringed upon by the government," says Eskesen, who previously organized events for what he calls the Alberta independence movement. Personally, he doesn't think the COVID-19 statistics — including death rates and hospitalizations — justify the measures being taken by governments to restrict freedoms and the ability of people to earn a living. He gets his information from places like Post Millennial and The Rebel and also directly from Alberta Health Services statistics, while largely shunning mainstream news which he feels is trying to sell one narrow narrative. The government, he says, is the enemy. Eskesen possesses a complete certainty that his views are correct, while questioning every study, every public health recommendation, the way COVID tests are conducted and more. He, like 20 per cent of Alberta respondents to a recent poll, says he would not get the vaccine until he's convinced it's safe — and that would take a lot, he says. In short, Eskesen has a high threshold for science to convince him that the virus is serious and the measures in place help fight it are worthwhile. Everywhere he looks he sees a lack of the kind of evidence he would need to change his mind even if his own convictions are based on less — and often on misinformation or misinterpretation. Yet he acknowledges that everyone pre-forms opinions and that they're "looking for information to support it." He says it's important to step back and honestly ask yourself whether bias is getting in the way of clearly understanding an issue. So does he ever worry that maybe he's wrong and his actions are putting other people in harm's way? "No. No, not at all." The world of narratives We live now, for better or for worse, in a world of narratives. Storylines that carry us in their wake in a way that has never existed before, at least not to this extent. Information overload, anxiety, rapidly changing technologies and societies have left people clambering for support and anchors. For answers to those empty pits in their stomachs and relief from constricted chests. The more complex the world becomes, the more our prehistoric cerebral architecture kicks in, forcing our flexible thought processes into groupthink of one kind or another and further erecting barriers to thinking that threatens it. We see the results in some dramatic ways, like the storming of the U.S. Capitol building last week. But also in smaller ways like the weekly marches through downtown Calgary. But that's not to say it's all based on a lie, even if much of it is. The official narrative is something that should never be considered sacrosanct, but neither should some of its conspiracy-laden counterparts. So although COVID tests do, indeed, test for COVID, and there is a scientific consensus around masks and restrictions, there are still questions to be asked and answered. There's no doubt small businesses and the people who own them and depend on them for incomes are suffering. Shutdowns have been painful. And then there's the question of government making inroads into our daily lives. "Honestly, with the governments' track record, I have a very hard time believing that once the vaccines are rolled out that they will then relinquish a lot of these powers," says Eskesen.
For much of 2020, the COVID-19 story in British Columbia was a tale of two pandemics: the vast majority of cases, hospitalizations and deaths were in the Lower Mainland, with the rest of the province only seeing intermittent outbreaks. Not anymore. For the last month, active cases have plunged in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley and risen everywhere else. Adjusted for population, the biggest hot spots in the province are now places like Fort St. John, Terrace, Burns Lake and Revelstoke. There's 10 months of data to show what happens if outbreaks aren't dealt with quickly, if people don't self-isolate, if firm measures aren't taken. Which is why some of the conversation by local leaders in the Interior is how to — or whether to — ignore the small minority advocating for the opposite approach. "It's been rough. It's not been good," said 100 Mile House Mayor Mitch Campsall, who says his community and the surrounding area now have more than 60 cases. Campsall estimates only one or two per cent of the community are attending anti-mask rallies or blatantly ignoring provincial health guidelines. But says it does have an impact. "I'll be blunt. We live in a me, me, me world. It's all about me, it's not about the community … people have got to get the right information." 'We know what has to be done' While the term "COVID fatigue" is often used in the Lower Mainland, beyond Hope there's a concern of COVID complacency — communities that haven't seen the same level of transmission or hospitalizations, who may be slow to respond to the moment. "We know what has to be done. You just have to be very careful, you've got to keep your bubble very small," said Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming. At the same time, his own council passed a motion pushing the province to reopen places of worship, over Cumming's opposition. "There's clearly people within the community finding this not something they truly back or believe in … but the science is clear." Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran has seen his community become the centre of large rallies against health orders in recent months and struggles with whether criticizing those folks only amplifies their message. "I don't think it's going to stop people from doing this behaviour," he said. "All I would say is I'd rather speak to the vast majority of people who believe in science, who believe this is real, and who have done their best to stop the spread." And with thousands of people being vaccinated every day, Basran hopes people can see light at the end of the tunnel. "Everyone is really frustrated. Unfortunately, we're going to have to keep the fight up," he said. "We are so close to the end here." Deaths still happening in care homes That end, however, will come too late to people like Chris Ashburn in Vernon. His father John died Jan. 5 in the Heritage Square long-term care home, where seven people have passed away since an outbreak was declared in late December. "His only symptoms they had noticed at [first] were a runny nose," said Ashburn, who was grateful for the efforts of health-care workers and said his dad had "led a very robust, great life." As more and more communities across British Columbia deal with large outbreaks, Ashburn is optimistic the vaccine will bring stability. But he also has a message for people downplaying the effects of the virus. "It's unfathomable to me that we're basically a year into this, and they still find a platform for an opinion that this isn't real," he said. "I hope for the sake of them, they don't have to go through what we went through." With files from Brady Strachan and Daybreak South
Hopes are high for Woodmere Stealdeal, as he heads into the 2021 racing season on the heels of a perfect 13-0 record. The P.E.I.-bred and Nova Scotia-trained gelding not only went undefeated on the Maritime harness racing circuit in 2020, he also set records at every track where he raced. "He's a real smart horse. He gets lots of speed. That's why I like him," said trainer Danny Romo, who has spent a lifetime teaching horses how to race. He was impressed by Woodmere Stealdeal's positive attitude and good manners. "Any time we train him, he goes as fast as we wanted him to go," he said. "You felt like he wanted to do it." They call him Steal for short, and Romo said from the start the horse was a natural that stood out from the rest. Steal reminds him of another impressive horse he trained in the early 2000s, Firms Phantom, who wracked up an impressive 28 straight wins as a two- and three-year old. Good genes The son of Steelhead Hanover and Very Ideal Hanover, Stealdeal was bred at Woodmere Standardbreds in Marshfield, P.E.I. Operator Bruce Wood attributes Steal's success to good training, but also good rearing and good genes. Steal's mother was an impressive horse too, he said, often pacing in the 1:53 range. She was "a real kind-hearted mare," said Wood, adding that Steal had a similar disposition, along with being "a really smart yearling and very athletic looking." Even when the race is over, he'll never let anyone pass him. — Bruce Wood, Woodmere Standardbreds After acquiring Steal in 2019, it didn't take long for owners Bob Sumarah and Kevin Dorey to realize they had something special on their hands. "After the first race, he looked fantastic," said Sumarah. Romo trains Steal at Romo Stables in Truro, N.S., and said this horse didn't require much pushing and seems to have a drive to win. His career debut was July 9 in Summerside, P.E.I., finishing in 1:57.1 and taking the Atlantic Sires Stakes A event. After winning that first race, he continued to lead the pack, and continued to shave time off his finishes, ending the season with 1:54.1 times at both Red Shores Charlottetown and the Truro Raceway. Woodmere Stealdeal was driven by Marc Campbell and Clare MacDonald in 2020. "He's had an incredible season," said Dorey. "He went 13 for 13. He raced at five tracks and he set five track records. And I can't recall any two-year-old in Atlantic Canada ever accomplishing that feat." "He's a fast, fast horse. And he loves to pass horses," said Dorey. "He loves attention. He loves people." Wood is pleased and proud of Steal's success and hopes it continues. "We follow them like they're our kids once they start their racing career," said Wood. He's not always able to catch the races in person, but when he can't he always watches them later online. "It's pretty neat to see him break record after record." The impressive season drew $68,646 in earnings, according to Standardbred Canada, including the Atlantic Breeds Crown, Joe O'Brien Memorial and the Maritime Breeders Championship. When the racing season starts in May, Steal will be competing as a three-year-old. And hopes are high that he'll continue to set records in 2021. Wood said Woodmere Stealdeal's desire to win is clear. Even when he wins a race by lengths, instead of slowing down and cooling off right away, he continues to run. "Even when the race is over, he'll never let anyone pass him." More from CBC P.E.I.
As he prepares to end a tumultuous four years as U.S. president facing potential legal jeopardy, Donald Trump has discussed the possibility of pardoning himself, according to a source familiar with the matter. The Justice Department has previously taken the view that the Constitution does not allow a sitting president to be indicted, but a former president enjoys no such protections. Here is an explanation of the potential constitutional problems with a self-pardon and why such action would not end Trump's legal jeopardy after his term ends on Wednesday.
Suicide rates in Japan have jumped in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly among women and children, even though they fell in the first wave when the government offered generous handouts to people, a survey found. The July-October suicide rate rose 16% from the same period a year earlier, a stark reversal of the February-June decline of 14%, according to the study by researchers at Hong Kong University and Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology. The early decline in suicides was affected by such factors as government subsidies, reduced working hours and school closure, the study found.
One person is dead following a small house fire in Scarborough Friday morning, a spokesperson for Toronto Fire says. Fire crews were called to an apartment building on Carabob Court, near Birchmount Road and Sheppard Avenue shortly after 8 a.m. Toronto Fire District Chief Stephan Powell told CBC News on Saturday that "itwas a very small fire" and "it was contained to one room." Powell said the person was deceased when fire crews arrived and the fire was already out. The cause of the fire is under investigation, Powell said.
A plane carrying one million doses of Sinopharm's COVID-19 vaccine arrived on Saturday in Serbia, making it the first European country to receive the Chinese vaccine for mass inoculation programmes. President Aleksandar Vucic was accompanied by Beijing's ambassador to the Balkan country at Belgrade's airport as containers carrying the vaccines were unloaded from an Air Serbia plane. "I would like to thank President Xi Jinping and Chinese leadership for sending us one million doses of the vaccine," Vucic, who has helped forge close ties with China in recent years, told reporters.
Dougie just can't contain his excitement as he runs and plays in the first snowfall of 2021. Hilarious!
At least five people have died at a nursing home in Italy from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning, local media and officials said on Saturday. Seven people, including two health workers, are being treated in hospital for symptoms related to carbon monoxide poisoning, the ANSA news agency said. "It's a tragedy," Interior Ministry Undersecretary Carlo Sibilia wrote in a Facebook post.
Turkey will renew its offer to form a joint working group with the United States to look into the technical aspects of its acquisition of the Russian S-400 defence systems it acquired, once President-elect Joe Biden takes office, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was cited as saying on Friday. Cavusoglu made the comments to reporters on a flight home from Pakistan on Friday. Biden takes over from President Donald Trump on Wednesday.
KAMPALA, Uganda — Uganda’s electoral commission says longtime President Yoweri Museveni has won a sixth term while top opposition challenger Bobi Wine alleges rigging and officials struggle to explain how polling results were compiled amid an internet blackout. In a generational clash widely watched across the African continent, with a booming young population and a host of aging leaders, the 38-year-old singer-turned-lawmaker Wine posed arguably the greatest challenge yet to Museveni. He had strong support in urban centres where frustration with unemployment and corruption is high. The electoral commission said Museveni received 58% of ballots and Wine 34%, and voter turnout was 52%. The top United States diplomat to Africa has called the electoral process “fundamentally flawed.” Thursday’s vote followed the East African country’s worst pre-election violence since the 76-year-old Museveni took office in 1986. Wine and other opposition candidates were often harassed, and more than 50 people were killed when security forces put down riots in November over Wine’s arrest. Wine petitioned the International Criminal Court this month over alleged torture and other abuses by security forces. While the president holds on to power, at least 15 of his Cabinet ministers, including the vice-president, were voted out, with many losing to candidates from Wine’s party, local media reported. Wine claimed victory Friday, asserting that he had video evidence of vote-rigging and saying “every legal option is on the table” to challenge the official election results, including peaceful protests. Candidates can challenge election results at the Supreme Court. Hours later, he tweeted that the military had entered his home compound and “we are in serious trouble,” which a military spokeswoman denied. Wine, whose real name is Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, was roughed up and arrested several times while campaigning but was never convicted, and eventually he campaigned wearing a flak jacket and said he feared for his life. A heavy presence of security forces remained around his home, where he has said he was alone with his wife and a single security guard. Uganda’s electoral commission has said Wine should prove his allegations of rigging, and it has deflected questions about how countrywide voting results were transmitted during the internet blackout by saying “we designed our own system.” It could not explain how it worked. Monitoring of the vote was further complicated by the arrests of independent monitors and the denial of accreditation to so many members of the U.S. observer mission that the U.S. called it off. Another major observer, the European Union, said its offer to deploy electoral experts “was not taken up.” “Uganda’s electoral process has been fundamentally flawed,” the top U.S. diplomat for Africa, Tibor Nagy, tweeted Saturday, calling for the immediate and full restoration of internet access and warning that “the U.S. response hinges on what the Ugandan government does now.” Museveni, once praised as part of a new generation of African leaders, still has support among some in Uganda for bringing stability. A longtime U.S. security ally, he once criticized African leaders who refused to step aside but has since overseen the removal of term limits and an age limit on the presidency. The head of the African Union observer team, Samuel Azuu Fonkam, told reporters he could not say whether the election had been free and fair, noting the “limited” AU mission which largely focused on the capital, Kampala. Asked about Wine’s allegations of rigging, he said he could not “speak about things we did not see or observe.” The East African Community observer team in its preliminary statement noted issues including “disproportionate use of force in some instances” by security forces, the internet shutdown, some late-opening polling stations and isolated cases of failure in biometric kits to verify voters. But it called the vote largely peaceful and said it “demonstrated the level of maturity expected of a democracy.” Uganda’s elections are often marred by allegations of fraud and abuses by security forces. The previous election saw sporadic post-election riots. The Associated Press
EL TERRERO, Mexico — In the birthplace of Mexico’s vigilante “self-defence” movement, a new group has emerged entirely made up of women, who carry assault rifles and post roadblocks to fend off what they say is a bloody incursion into the state of Michoacán by the violent Jalisco cartel. Some of the four dozen women warriors are pregnant; some carry their small children to the barricades with them. The rural area is traversed by dirt roads, through which they fear Jalisco gunmen could penetrate at a time when the homicide rate in Michoacán has spiked to levels not seen since 2013. Many of the women vigilantes in the hamlet of El Terrero have lost sons, brothers or fathers in the fighting. Eufresina Blanco Nava said her son Freddy Barrios, a 29-year old lime picker, was kidnapped by presumed Jalisco cartel gunmen in pickup trucks; she has never heard from him since. “They have disappeared a lot of people, a lot, and young girls, too,” said Blanco Nava. One woman, who asked her name not be used because she has relatives in areas dominated by the Jalisco cartel, said that cartel kidnapped and disappeared her 14-year-old daughter, adding, “We are going to defend those we have left, the children we have left, with our lives.” “We women are tired of seeing our children, our families disappear,” the vigilante said. “They take our sons, they take our daughters, our relatives, our husbands.” That is, in part, why the women are taking up arms; men are growing scarce in Michoacan’s lime-growing hotlands. “As soon as they see a man who can carry a gun, they take him away,” said the woman. “They disappear. We don't know if they have them (as recruits) or if they already killed them.” Beside the barricades and roadblocks, the female vigilantes have a homemade tank, a heavy-duty pickup truck with steel plate armour welded on it. In other towns nearby, residents have dug trenches across roadways leading into neighbouring Jalisco state, to keep the attackers out. Alberto García, a male vigilante, has seen the medieval side of the war: He is from Naranjo de Chila, a town just across the river from El Terrero and the birthplace of the Jalisco cartel leader Nemesio Oseguera. Garcia said he was run out of the town by Jalisco cartel gunmen because he refused to join the group. “They killed one of my brothers, too,” said Garcia. “They hacked him to pieces, and my sister-in-law, who was eight months pregnant.” El Terrero has long been dominated by the New Michoacán Family and Viagras gangs, while the Jalisco cartel controls the south bank of the Rio Grande river. In 2019, the Viagras hijacked and burned a half-dozen trucks and buses to block the bridge over the river to prevent Jalisco convoys from entering in a surprise assault. And that same year, in the next town over, San Jose de Chila, the rival gangs used a church as an armed redoubt to fight off an offensive by Jalisco gunmen. Holed up in the church tower and along its roof, they tried to defend the town against the incursion, leaving the church filled with bullet holes. It is that stark divide where everyone is forced to chose sides — either Jalisco, or the New Michoacán Family and the Viagras — that has many convinced that the El Terrero vigilantes are just foot soldiers for one of those latter two gangs. The vigilantes bitterly deny allegations they're part of a criminal gang, though they clearly see the Jalisco cartel as their foe. They say they would be more than happy for police and soldiers to come in and do their jobs. El Terrero is not far from the town of La Ruana, where the real self-defence movement was launched in 2013 by lime grower Hipolito Mora. After successfully chasing out the Knights Templar cartel, Mora, like most of the original leaders, has distanced himself from the so-called self-defence groups that remain, and is now a candidate for governor. “I can almost assure you that they are not legitimate self-defence activists,” said Mora. “They are organized crime. ... The few self-defence groups that exist have allowed themselves to be infiltrated; they are criminals disguised as self-defence.” Michoacán's current governor, Silvano Aureoles, is more emphatic. “They are criminals, period. Now, to cloak themselves and protect their illegal activities, they call themselves self-defence groups, as if that were some passport for impunity.” But in some ways, Mora says, the same conditions that gave rise to the original 2013 movement remain: Authorities and police fail to enforce the law and don't guarantee residents peace. Sergio Garcia, a male member of El Terrero vigilante group, says his 15-year-old brother was kidnapped and killed by Jalisco. Now, he wants justice that police have never given him. “We are here for a reason, to get justice by hook or by crook, because if we don't do it, nobody else will,” Garcia said. ___ Associated Press writer Mark Stevenson contributed from Mexico City. Armando Solis, The Associated Press
New Brunswick's largest long-term care home is working on a proposal that could see family members help take care of their loved ones as well as other residents in the event of a staffing shortage during a COVID-19 outbreak. Under the province's current COVID-19 rules, family members are not allowed into a long-term care facility when there is even one confirmed case, which constitutes an outbreak. But the York Care Centre in Fredericton contends family members who are part of its designated caregiver program and have been trained in COVID-preventive measures could "bring a lot of value to the response rather than being locked out," said president and CEO Tony Weeks. "We obviously don't have any approvals to actually implement something like that because we're committed to following Public Health directions like everybody else," he said. "And so what we want to do is be able to influence government thinking to allow that to happen." York Care Centre and its research company, the Centre for Innovation and Research in Aging, are preparing a report for the provincial government on a low-staff simulation exercise conducted at the home in December to demonstrate the role designated caregivers could play. Weeks expects to submit the report within the next month. He thinks the centre's program could serve as a model for long-term care homes across the province and across the country, not just during a COVID staffing shortage but in any emergency or evacuation. The Department of Social Development did not respond Friday to a request for comment. Started in the summer The designated caregiver program at York Care Centre started last summer. It links residents with a family member who can assist with care on a set schedule, said Lori McDonald, vice-president of care and research services. Unlike regular visitors, who are accountable only for "being safe when they're here and having that needed togetherness with their loved one," designated caregivers commit to interaction that improves their loved one's health, she said. The type of interaction is different for everyone, said McDonald. "One person might be helping to feed their mother. Another person might be helping walk their father, or someone else might be in just for social engagement because they're at risk for depression." The designated caregivers also receive training in infection control, proper hand washing, the use of personal protective equipment, and safe practices to reduce the risk of bringing any virus into the facility, said McDonald. "So it's quite a robust education program," she said, but a voluntary one. 100 trained so far "We're not approaching them and asking them if they want to be part of this program. They're approaching us, saying, 'We want to be in your facility to care for our loved one, just like we always did [before the pandemic], but in a safe way.'" Of the centre's 218 residents, 100 now have a trained designated caregiver. General visitors are barred from the centre when the Fredericton region is at the more restrictive orange or red levels of COVID-19 recovery, as it is now, but designated caregivers are allowed in no matter the level — as long as there's no outbreak. To date, York Care Centre has not had any positive cases of COVID-19. In the event of an outbreak, "it's a very real possibility that we'll have staff who are sick or maybe scared to come to work," said McDonald. They've told us they want to be here. - Lori McDonald, York Care Centre During earlier outbreaks at other long-term care homes, some staff left or didn't show up for work, and the government had to seek volunteers from other parts of the province. McDonald said family members "bring quite a bit to the residents' lives … And they've told us they want to be here." Residents, meanwhile, have said they "feel lonely and they feel isolated when their families are not here," she said. "So we're looking to bridge that gap … by using our [designated] caregivers." Some of the designated caregivers might also be willing to assist with the social support or quality-of-life issues of residents they're not related to, said McDonald, noting many develop friendships after years of visiting. "There's absolutely no pressure," she added, and the consent of all parties would be required. This was not the program's original "initial target," but is now a "byproduct," said McDonald. "It's something we're looking at." Simulation 'held back' staff In December, the centre ran a simulation to see how it could respond to an emergency that resulted in a significant reduction of its 350 full-time equivalent staff, and determine what role the designated caregivers could play now that they're familiar with the organization and trained, said Weeks. "We couldn't actually run with short staff [and risk compromising care], so all we could do is hold back," he said, adding residents and families were advised in advance of the two-day simulation being conducted by two teams of staff on a couple of different units. "Team A was basically doing all of the functions in a short-staffed scenario, and then they let out some of the B team folks to support it when things got in a pinch. "So similar to if it was a real scenario, resources would become available as we're able to get them. And so that was the examination, to see what impact would that have on the care that we provide. "What impact would it have on the stress on the employees? How would it impact the residents? And again, as a byproduct, what role could designated caregivers play?" One of the scenarios being assessed was, if multiple residents were pressing their call bell at the same time, what was the centre's ability to respond to those call bells in a safe manner, said Weeks. Another example was if a resident required some extra attention that tied up a nurse while something else happened, what impact would it have if the nurse couldn't respond. In addition, the simulation looked at how many of the functions taking place might be considered non-urgent but still quality-of-life issues, such as social interaction or getting people to activities, which designated caregivers might be able to help with, said Weeks. He acknowledged there may be some people who would argue they pay for the care their loved ones are supposed to receive, and they shouldn't have to volunteer. But he said none of the York Care Centre families have made any such comments. "When we told them about this initiative, they were all quite excited to know that it's going on because they understand it provides another level of safety," he said. "Remember, we're talking about people that even before the pandemic, they were coming in here on their own because they have strong connections with their loved ones, and they want to be part of their lives."
A study in Janvier, Alta., is trying to find out what happened to the local population of Arctic grayling, a once prominent freshwater fish. Arctic grayling, a member of the salmon family, is classified as a species of special concern with the Alberta Endangered Species Conservation Committee, meaning without human intervention, the species may be under the threat of extinction. Chief Vern Janvier of Chipewyan Prairie First Nation, 400 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, said when he was a growing up in the 1970s, he would fish in a local creek for Arctic grayling, considered a delicacy. A few years later those fishing trips stopped, because the fish were no longer around, Janvier said. "We really wanted to know if there was any fish left," Janvier said. "It's a fish that we used to eat that we haven't had for a long time. We haven't been able to catch them." He'd like to see the population bounce back, as "it'd be a good thing for my grandchildren to experience the fish." Water samples show evidence of fish Now the First Nation has teamed up with a consultant to study the over-winter habitat of the Arctic grayling, to see where they live, and what could be behind the population's decline. The study uses eDNA, which is DNA collected from environmental samples like water. It's a process that can tell researchers where the fish is found, without having to use potentially harmful practices like electrofishing. The researchers take water samples and get them tested to see if Arctic grayling are present in the water body. Last winter, samples of eDNA were collected from locations identified by elders. The fish were found in three out of four of the areas. Janvier said he was excited by the discovery and the research. "For me, as a chief, it shows ... you can put some basis on scientific knowledge. But the ability to mix the Indigenous knowledge and scientific knowledge is probably the biggest success and we need to do more of that," he said. Study in 3rd year Lead researcher Sarah Hechtenthal, owner of Owl Feather Consulting, said she used western science and traditional knowledge to craft the study. The project is in its third year of funding, having received a total of $228,600 since 2018 from Environment and Climate Change Canada. Researchers will be back out this winter to sample other potential habitat locations, depending on COVID-19 restrictions. The study is now using data loggers in the water, to help Hechtenthal understand what made the rivers and creeks in the area ideal habitat for Arctic grayling in the first place. Stuart Janvier, industry relations coordinator for the First Nation, said this information will be helpful for future industrial development in the area such as oilsands projects. "We want to make sure our traditional lands and the wildlife and the environment it's going to remain intact," he said. "We are the protectors of the environment."
Greece kicked off COVID-19 vaccinations among the elderly on Saturday, after first inoculating tens of thousands of frontline workers to fight the spread of the coronavirus. More than 75,000 healthcare workers and nursing home residents and carers have received the shot of the vaccine produced by Pfizer/BioNTech since Greece rolled out the plan along with other EU countries last month. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Friday that Greece aims to have 2 million people inoculated by March.
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's impeachment trial is likely to start after Joe Biden's inauguration, and the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, is telling senators their decision on whether to convict the outgoing president over the Capitol riot will be a “vote of conscience.” The timing for the trial, the first of a president no longer in office, has not yet been set. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clear Friday that Democrats intend to move swiftly on President-elect Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID aid and economic recovery package to speed up vaccinations and send Americans relief. Biden is set to take the oath of office Wednesday. Pelosi called the recovery package a “matter of complete urgency." The uncertainty of the scheduling, despite the House’s swift impeachment of Trump just a week after the deadly Jan. 6 siege, reflects the fact that Democrats do not want the Senate trial proceedings to dominate the opening days of the Biden administration. With security on alert over the threat of more potential violence heading into the inauguration, the Senate is also moving quickly to prepare for confirming Biden's nominee for National Intelligence Director, Avril Haines. A committee hearing is set for the day before the inauguration, signalling a confirmation vote to install her in the position could come swiftly once the new president is in office. Many Democrats have pushed for an immediate impeachment trial to hold Trump accountable and prevent him from holding future office, and the proceedings could still begin by Inauguration Day. But others have urged a slower pace as the Senate considers Biden’s Cabinet nominees and the newly Democratic-led Congress considers priorities like the coronavirus plan. Biden's incoming White House press secretary, Jen Psaki said Friday the Senate can do both. “The Senate can do its constitutional duty while continuing to conduct the business of the people," she said. Psaki noted that during Trump's first impeachment trial last year, the Senate continued to hold hearings each day. “There is some precedent,” she said. Trump is the only president to be twice impeached, and the first to be prosecuted as he leaves the White House, an ever-more-extraordinary end to the defeated president’s tenure. He was first impeached by the House in 2019 over his dealings with Ukraine, but the Senate voted in 2020 to acquit. When his second trial does begin, House impeachment managers say they will be making the case that Trump’s incendiary rhetoric hours before the bloody attack on the Capitol was not isolated, but rather part of an escalating campaign to overturn the November election. It culminated, they will argue, in the Republican president’s rally cry to “fight like hell” as Congress was tallying the Electoral College votes to confirm he’d lost to Biden. For Republican senators, the trial will be a perhaps final test of their loyalty to the defeated president and his legions of supporters in their states back home, and their own experiences sheltering at the Capitol as a pro-Trump mob ransacked the building and attempted to overturn Biden's election. It will force a further re-evaluation of their relationship with the defeated president, who lost not only the White House but majority control of the Senate. “These men weren’t drunks who got rowdy — they were terrorists attacking this country’s constitutionally-mandated transfer of power,” said Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., in a statement Friday. “They failed, but they came dangerously close to starting a bloody constitutional crisis. They must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” McConnell, who has spent the past days talking to senators and donors, is telling them the decision on whether or not to convict Trump is theirs alone — meaning the leadership team will not work to hold senators in line one way or the other. Last week's assault angered lawmakers, stunned the nation and flashed unsettling imagery around the globe, the most serious breach of the Capitol since the War of 1812, and the worst by home-grown intruders. Pelosi told reporters on Friday that the nine House impeachment managers, who act as the prosecutors for the House, are working on taking the case to trial. “The only path to any reunification of this broken and divided country is by shining a light on the truth,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., who will serve as an impeachment manager. Trump was impeached Wednesday by the House on the single charge, incitement of insurrection, in lightning-quick proceedings just a week after after the siege. Ten Republicans joined all Democrats in the 232-197 vote to impeach, the most bipartisan modern presidential impeachment. McConnell is open to considering impeachment, having told associates he is done with Trump, but he has not signalled how he would vote. McConnell continues to hold great sway in his party, even though convening the trial next week could be among his last acts as majority leader as Democrats prepare to take control of the Senate with the seating of two new Democratic senators from Georgia. No president has ever been convicted in the Senate, and it would take a two-thirds vote against Trump, an extremely high hurdle. But conviction of Trump is not out of the realm of possibility, especially as corporations and wealthy political donors distance themselves from his brand of politics and the Republicans who stood by his attempt to overturn the election. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said Thursday, “Such unlawful actions cannot go without consequence.” She said in a statement that the House responded “appropriately” with impeachment and she will consider the trial arguments. At least four Republican senators have publicly expressed concerns about Trump’s actions, but others have signalled their preference to move on. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., issued a statement saying he opposes impeachment against a president who has left office. Trump ally Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is building support for launching a commission to investigate the siege as an alternative to conviction. The riot delayed the tally of Electoral College votes that was the last step in finalizing Biden’s victory as lawmakers fled for shelter and police, guns drawn, barricaded the doors to the House chamber. A Capitol Police officer died from injuries suffered in the attack, and police shot and killed a woman. Three other people died in what authorities said were medical emergencies. ___ Associated Press writers Will Weissert, Kevin Freking, Andrew Taylor, Alan Fram, Zeke Miller and Jonathan Lemire contributed to this report. Lisa Mascaro And Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
January is typically when the holiday lights and Christmas trees begin to come down, as the festive season ends. However, Michael Fabijan, an Inuvik, N.W.T., resident of 33 years, is keeping his unique Christmas tree up to continue to spread some cheer. What was once a blank white wall that separated his living room and kitchen is now donned with a hand-painted tree decked in ornaments crafted by family friends. Fabijan came up with the idea to paint the tree there, and enlisted friends to help spruce it up. "Going away all the time, you never have to decorate for Christmas because you are going to someone else's house. But now I'm here, so I have to decorate," said Fabijan. "And that's where this came from." I'm surrounded by a great crowd of people. - Michael Fabijan Like many, Fabijan spent his Christmas away from family, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 66-year-old said that although this is one of the first holidays he's stayed in Inuvik, the tree ended up bringing a lot of joy and a smile to his face. Every night for about three weeks, four close families in Inuvik would come on different nights to Fabijan's home and spend time decorating the tree with him. "I asked everyone to paint their names somewhere on the board," said Fabijan. Cecile Bleakney, a family friend of Fabijan's, said he is like family, and decorating the tree was like a little celebration every night. "I was amazed about the talent that went in there," she said. "[Almost] everything is handmade… very heartfelt." Sometimes just his friends' kids would come over and paint or add something unique to the tree. A couple of the ornaments feature photos of Fabijan with the children when they were younger. The only two ornaments that aren't handmade are one Fabijan has from childhood, and another he has from his mom. Tree wall may be preserved for future holidays Bleakney and Fabijan have been friends for about 27 years. Bleakney said she felt like the Christmas tree was a great way to bring Fabijan's Inuvik family together. "Because of COVID, the group of us can't all get together," she said. "So that was our way and his way of getting together and spending time with Michael." Fabijan said it helped make the holidays special. "I'm lucky to have friends that will do this. I can't believe it. Everyone I know here that are close friends put something on this tree," said Fabijan. "I'm surrounded by a great crowd of people and the tree is hilarious…. It's just a good family tree," he added. "This made my Christmas and it motivated me." He said he also documented the progress of the tree for family members down south. Fabijan said he always intended to renovate and tear down the wall where the Christmas tree is now painted. But instead, he's decided to try to find a way to keep the wall and bring it out during the holidays. "It's gonna be hard to take down," he said. "To me, it's bringing my local family together at Christmas."