Jeffrey Epstein's ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell is accused of facilitating Epstein's sex crimes by helping him "recruit, groom and ultimately abuse" three unnamed teens between 1994 and 1997.
Jeffrey Epstein's ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell is accused of facilitating Epstein's sex crimes by helping him "recruit, groom and ultimately abuse" three unnamed teens between 1994 and 1997.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is heading into the sitcom world with WandaVision, which will release on Disney Plus on Jan. 15, the weirdest but most creative way we’ve seen fan-favourite couple Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany).
WASHINGTON — The Constitution says the chief justice is to preside at the impeachment trial of a president. But what about an ex-president? Like so much else about the Constitution, the answer is subject to interpretation. If President Donald Trump’s trial begins after Jan. 20, it’s not clear whether Chief Justice John Roberts would make his way to the Senate chamber as he did last year for Trump’s first trial. Impeachment scholars, law professors and political scientists offer differing views. The choices appear to be Roberts, Kamala Harris, who by then will be vice-president, or Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who will be the Senate’s president pro tem once the Democrats gain control of the Senate. The issue is “unsettled, completely without precedent, and unspecific in existing Senate rules and precedents,” Princeton University political scientist Keith Whittington wrote in an email. One reason that the Constitution specifies the chief justice to run the president’s trial is that the person who otherwise presides over the Senate is the vice-president — the very person who would assume the presidency if the chief executive is convicted. That’s a bit unseemly. But if the stakes are changed and the sitting vice-president no longer stands to get the top job, why not have Harris, who by then will have taken over for Mike Pence, preside? Whittington said he thinks that could happen, “as with the impeachment of any officer other than the president.” But he said he “can imagine that the Senate might go the other way and treat a former president the same as a sitting president.” University of Texas law professor Steven Vladeck said the chief justice is the better choice. The House on Wednesday impeached the president, not the former president, Vladeck wrote on Twitter. “Indeed, if Trump resigned (or his term ended) mid-trial, it would be more than a little odd for the Chief Justice to give way to the Vice-President. The question should be whether the impeached officer was President at the time of impeachment. Here, he was, so Roberts presides,” Vladeck wrote. Another factor in favour of Roberts is that “a trial of a President (even a former President) is a momentous event and having the Chief Justice preside seems more congruent with, or more fitting of, the occasion,” Georgia State University law professor Neil Kinkopf wrote in an email. If it’s not Roberts or Harris, who may wish to avoid the appearance of a conflict that presiding over Trump’s trial might inflame, the next choice would be Leahy, the senior Democrat in the Senate, Norm Eisen said on CNN. Eisen was a legal adviser to Democrats during Trump’s first impeachment. Mark Sherman, The Associated Press
The Alberta Hospitality Association is demanding clear guidelines from the province regarding when and how businesses that are closed or restricted due to the pandemic can resume normal operations. In an open letter to the province, the industry group says the roughly 150,000 people who work in the sector have been struggling for too long and the current state of restrictions are unfair. "Without better communication, fact-based data, and a clear near-term reopening plan, we will continue to permanently lose businesses and jobs," the letter says. "This will have long term repercussions including mass unemployment and irreparable economic and cultural damage to our communities." Association president Ernie Tsu said the Alberta government has done an excellent job of keeping communications open and listening to the industry during the pandemic, but he said his members are now in a crisis. "Government officials and AHS must understand that our industry is now at a breaking point physically and more importantly mentally, and to be quite frank we are now having suicides come to light," he said. On Jan. 7, Premier Jason Kenney said the current provincial restrictions intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus would remain in place until at least Jan. 21 "given the fact that our case numbers, hospitalizations and positivity rate for testing remains high." 'No clear end in sight' The association says while it supported the temporary partial lockdown as it was enacted last month, "with no clear end in sight and a lack of supporting data, it is difficult justifying having some industries closed while others remain open," the open letter said. The group wants the government to allow restaurants to resume dine-in service with strong risk mitigation measures and to commit to no further shutdowns. "The restaurant industry cannot be unfairly targeted and villainized moving forward," the letter said. Association vice-president and Calgary restaurant owner Leslie Echino says hard numbers and clear targets are needed. "What's it going to take to enable us to reopen? Is it going to be the R-factor? Is it going to be hospitalizations? We need clear ways to understand when we're going to open," she said. "We all need targets. And I understand that it is scary out there for a lot of people, but we need to know what's going to happen and when. "We need to employ people. We pay taxes. We need to provide our staff. They're dealing with a lot of hardships. These are blue collar workers. I'm a blue collar worker. We don't have the ability or luxury to work from home." Echino also says hospitality businesses need one week's notice prior to re-opening to rehire staff and order inventory.
Medicine Hat was blasted with strong winds Wednesday, causing commotion and destruction around the city and its surrounding areas. Environment Canada issued a wind warning just after 10 a.m. that gave word of gusts up to 110 km/h, and as high as 140 km/h in wind-prone areas. A semi truck driving on the Trans-Canada Highway near Medicine Hat tipped over around 11 a.m., with emergency crews arriving shortly after. The driver of the semi was taken to Medicine Hat Regional Hospital with non-life threatening injuries, according to the Medicine Hat Fire Department. The fire department responded to a number of calls on top of the flipped semi, including a number of downed power lines in the city. Acting platoon chief Ryan Pinter says it is important to stay safe during intense wind. “It’s important to be cautious of winds,” he said. “Wind is flipping vehicles over, so it’s important to be aware of your situation and your surroundings.” With the downed power lines, the city was dealing with a couple thousand homes without power. The city reported outages for 2,890 customers in the city. Outages were mostly in or near Crescent Heights. By 2 p.m., the city was reporting that power had been restored to Hatters, but the wind was making it difficult to repair damaged infrastructure.Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
Ottawa Redblacks kicker Lewis Ward has signed a one-year contract extension with the CFL team. Ward, the league's rookie of the year in 2018, signed an extension for the 2021 season, the Redblacks said Thursday. He hit 43 of 50 field-goal attempts in 2019 and made nine of 11 converts. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021. The Canadian Press
Members of the community have gathered together to raise funds for one local resident in need to support. 16-year-old Sam Spiteri was born with Cerebral Palsy, epilepsy and scoliosis. He has recently undergone surgery at Sick Kids hospital to ease pain he endures in his lower limbs, hips and back. Fortunately, Sam was able to make it home for Christmas and the holidays, but now the Spiteri family are dealing with his long-term care at home, along with therapy costs. A Go Fund Me donation page has been organized by members of the Spiteri family in order get help from the community to help Sam. The fundraiser states, “funds raised will be used towards remodeling his bedroom and washroom to be fully accessible. Further funds will be used for at home OT, PT and massage not covered by OHIP.” Ward 5 Regional Councillor Annette Groves has been advocates for Sam and his family for the past decade and continues to support the family by encouraging the Caledon community to participate in fundraising. “I met Sam and his family about 10 years ago when I received a call from his mother regarding their concern with the Town of Caledon trying to take his pony away,” said Groves. “I received a call recently from his father regarding the surgery Sam had and they needed to raise funds for his therapy.” Sam had pony that was used to help strengthen his legs, but due to complaints from local neighbours, the Town attempted to take the pony away. With the help of Councillor Groves, the pony was able to continue helping Sam. Councillor Groves has once again dedicated herself to helping Sam, now with donations. “I reached out to some of corporate citizens and when I explained to them what Sam needed…they didn’t hesitate. We still [need] to raise money for him because we are about $10,000 short,” said Groves. “Sam’s parents also had to purchase a van with a lift to be able to transport him to and from therapy and other places.” Through the help of community members, Councillor Groves raised $11,000 to donate to help with Sam’s therapy and other needs he has. But due to the costly expenses of therapy, the family is in need of $25,000 in total. The Go Fund Me page has over $9,000 raised for the family but is still in need of more support. Councillor Groves is encouraging members of the community to help the Spiteri family by making donations, no matter what amount, to help with the therapy expenses as well as living at home care expenses. To help Sam and his family, visit gofundme.com and look up Sam’s Home for Christmas Fund to make a donation.Alyssa Parkhill, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Caledon Citizen
Global News Washington bureau chief Jackson Proskow provides an update on the Trump impeachment process as the U.S. awaits the Senate trial and Inauguration Day.
The updated Fire Response Billing Policy comes after a number of complaints were made to County Council about high bills received by residents after fires on their property. The policy is very similar to what was already being accomplished under the Fire Operations and cost recovery bylaw. The policy includes a section stating that landowners can request an adjustment to their balance by council, who can waive all or a portion of the bill if the fire was started due to a reason outside of the landowners control. This is basically what had happened previously, but is now written into the policy. The policy has been reviewed three times in this one term of council (four years). Reviewing policies is an important job of council, especially as concerns come up from citizens that the policy may not be working for the community. Council also discussed other topics at the January 11th county council meeting, including the provincial restrictions announced in December being extended longer than initially planned. There is a flavour around the council table for a more geographical approach to restrictions rather than province-wide mandates, and they asked administration to make sure this concern is voiced in the next meeting with Alberta Health Services. Administration presented a report to council that included good news that an Xplornet broadband project will be going forward after federal funding was approved recently. Councillors asked questions regarding the sequence of events that will now occur and the sites on which infrastructure will be built. Administration will bring forward answers to these questions as the process becomes more concrete over time. Also included in the report were further details on a development decision appeal that will be held on February 10th via zoom regarding the Payne Lake campground. Council voted in favour of a proposal to request Alberta Community Partnership grant funding to hire an individual by contract to investigate regional fire and emergency services. This is being done in cooperation with other municipalities in the area and is being spear-headed by the Town of Cardston and their administrative intern, JD Haitsma. Since December 14th Cardston County has been rotating Administrative staff Monday through Thursday, with the Administration Office being closed on Fridays. This will continue as the pandemic restrictions have been lengthened. Appointments can be scheduled for matters that cannot be resolved by phone or email. There was much discussion at the meeting about the definition of a fair weather road. Shawn Pitcher is laying a bridge across a fair weather road and county access road to better approach his property, and this has caused some concern to county residents. The County did not seem concerned about having any more liability on this road than on all other fair weather roads that are only used during a few months of the year and usually only by residents who own property around the area. Elizabeth Thompson-Christensen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temple City Star
For many years the name Dave Holinaty was almost synonymous with the Horizon School Board, most recently and the Wakaw Division and Unit Board prior to that. The elections held in November 2020 saw the end of an era that spanned 20 years. Dave Holinaty believed that it was crucial that the Board representatives be visible in the communities that they represented and did his best to do just that. If there was a season opener football game in Wakaw, he was there. If there was a fundraiser breakfast in Bruno, he was there. If there was a play or program in Cudworth, he was there. As long as he could make it, the schools knew that Mr. Holinaty would be there. He didn’t just put in an appearance at schools either. Dave regularly attended the School Community Council meetings and events in his district as well. Dave’s dedication to the community of Wakaw, the schools in Sub-Division 1, and indeed to all the children of the division is worthy of recognition. Dave was born and raised in the Wakaw area. His great-grandparents homesteaded in the Wakaw/Cudworth area and his grandparents continued to live in the area as well. Dave’s father Charles himself a teacher, initially farmed at Wakaw but when a teaching job presented itself at Sunlight School near Bruno, he took it and the family moved away from Wakaw. Charles brought the family back to Wakaw in 1953 when he was hired to teach here. Charles Holinaty retired in the early 1980’s after a 35 year teaching career. Dave took grade one and two at Sunlight and the remainder in Wakaw starting grade three in the two story brick school, to which the current museum was later attached to accommodate the growing number of students. After graduating high school, Dave attended the University of Saskatchewan and obtained his Bachelor of Education. What followed was a 32 year career as a teacher in both the public and separate school systems as well as in First Nations communities, usually teaching K-6 physical education among other things. Dave married Patricia Latos, his high school sweetheart, who had also become a teacher, and they had three children. Continuing the family tradition, one of their daughters is also a teacher. Once retired, Dave began his tenure as a school board member in 2000, at first elected to the Wakaw School Unit Board. In 2003, he served on the Wakaw School Division Board until the amalgamation of school divisions in 2005. With the formation of the Horizon School Division in 2005, Dave was once again elected to the Division Board and served as the elected representative of Sub-Division 1 until the election in November 2020 when he was defeated by Jenna Hale from Bruno. Besides being instrumental in the move to install AED’s in every school and having staff trained to use them, when asked what he is most grateful to have been able to accomplish as part of the Board he said it was being able to provide a variety of educational opportunities for the students and keeping class sizes small. Children benefit greatly from having smaller class sizes, he said, because there is more chance for individual attention and assistance from the teacher. Children are the future he said in his campaign for the School Board and those are not just words to Dave. During his years as a teacher and as an elected representative on the School Board, Dave never let go of his belief that all children deserve to have their unique qualities recognized and to have their needs met in a safe nurturing environment. His goal was always to “help make learning special, safe and accountable.” Retirement brought Dave and Pat back to Wakaw, but it didn’t end their teaching experiences. Starting in the summer of 2004 and continuing until the fall of 2006, Dave and Pat taught English for six different sessions of six weeks each in Hong Kong. Then in the summers of 2007 and 2008 they were off again to teach English in Japan. When Dave wasn’t teaching in another country or busy with the school board he has also been heavily involved in the community. Dave served one term on Town Council and sat on the Board of Lakeview Pioneer Lodge as well as delivering Meals on Wheels. He continues to be a member of the Knights of Columbus in Prince Albert, St Theresa’s Parish here in Wakaw, the Wakaw Legion, and Club 99. In his spare time Dave still enjoys golfing and fishing as well as watching the Wakaw Warriors football and volleyball and of course spending time with family. Family is very important to Dave and Pat. Dave’s mother Barbara Holinaty, and Pat’s father Louis Latos, both in their mid-nineties, still live in Wakaw and two of Dave and Pat’s three children live in Saskatoon (the third is in Alberta). One granddaughter is a musician with the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra and a grandson is a member of the Saskatoon Fireside Singers and Dave makes sure he and Pat take in as many performances as possible. COVID-19 may have brought activities to a screeching halt in 2020 and beyond, but it can’t curtail the appreciation Wakaw and community have for the years of service and dedication Dave has given. Enjoy this new retirement Dave and hopefully 2021 will once again see the Wakaw Warriors taking to the field and the courts and you’ll again be able to enjoy some fine high school sports.Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wakaw Recorder
Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education is staying digital for its February registration. New and returning students will be able to register for Catholic schools online, a process that went well last year, says communications co-ordinator Derrian Hallas. “Last year went pretty smooth,” she said. “We’re hoping for an even smoother year this year. “We have a lot more experience with the process now, so we hope it can be even better for families.” Traditionally students would be sent home with paper packages that would need to be filled out and brought back to school. Secretaries would then scan documents and save them digitally. The new digital method allows parents to create a profile for their children online and update it every year with any new changes. Users are able to upload any documents to the profile from their computer or mobile device. “It’s easier on both ends,” said Hallas. In previous years, MHCBE has held in-person open houses for parents and students to take part in. Due to COVID-19, those are not possible. “Most schools have virtual tours that parents and students can take, and they’re quite well done,” she said. “Schools that don’t have them are working on getting them. “New families are able to contact schools and book COVID-safe tours of buildings.” Calculator MHCBE has also created a tool to help parents figure out when their kids are ready to be signed up for kindergarten. Head to the Catholic school board website and click on the ‘Student Registration’ subhead. Under that is a ‘Kindergarten’ option, which will lead users to a calculator tool. Children are able to start Kindergarten if they are five years old on or before Dec. 31, 2021. Children must start Grade 1 if they are six or older on Sept. 1 of this year. “We get a lot of questions around when people should send their children to school,” said Hallas. “Our goal was to make this as user friendly as possible. “All parents have to do is put in their child’s birthday and it will calculate the September they can start school.”Mo Cranker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News
The latest COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times Eastern): 10:30 a.m. The province of Ontario says there are 3,326 new cases of COVID-19 in the province and 62 more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott says 968 of those new cases are in Toronto, 572 in Peel Region and 357 in York Region. Vaccinations continue across Ontario with 14,237 doses administered since Wednesday's update. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021. The Canadian Press
One Toronto boy got to make the long-distance call of a lifetime this week when he spoke to an astronaut aboard the International Space Station. Yaphe Yoseph, 8, was positively beaming Wednesday as he got to speak with astronaut Victor Glover, who is currently floating in orbit. The call was organized by and included members of Glover's alma mater, California Polytechnic State University, and the National Society of Black Engineers. When they found out about Yoseph's keen interest in space travel, they wanted him to be a part of it. "My dream is to go to outer space, and be the first African Canadian," Yoseph said. And he doesn't plan to go alone. "He always tells me, 'you're going to come with me to space,'" said his mom, Hezbawit Lijam. WATCH | Toronto boy asks astronaut for advice: She said his interest in space started when he was in senior kindergarten, and has only grown since then. His attention was really ignited when he learned about fellow Canadian Chris Hadfield. "I got one of his books, I started reading it, and it was so much fun, and that inspired me to be an astronaut," Yoseph said. His mom even got him his own NASA space suit. "Of course the space suit, they just come only with the American flag, like this one, but I added the Canadian flag for him, because he is representing Canada," she said. Hopes first space flight 'at least' goes to ISS And he was wearing that suit with a smile when he asked Glover a question Wednesday. "How does it feel to be on the first operational flight of the first spacecraft that uses a reusable liquid fuel abort system? And what advice would you give to children like me?" he asked. "Yaphe, thank you for that question, thank you for your voice. It is so inspiring to hear young people's voices up here," Glover responded. The astronaut then went on to tell Yoseph that the abort system is amazing and helps keep him safe, before passing on some wisdom to the young admirer — like never stopping in the face of challenges, and being a lifelong learner. "Be good to the people around you, and they'll pay that back to you," Glover said. It's clear that even though Yoseph is only a kid, he has big plans. "For my first space flight I'm hoping to at least go to the ISS," he said. "For my second I'm hoping to go to the moon, and for my third I'm hoping to go to Mars." For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.
WASHINGTON — His place in the history books rewritten, President Donald Trump endured his second impeachment largely alone and silent. For more than four years, Trump has dominated the national discourse like no one before him. Yet when his legacy was set in stone on Wednesday, he was stunningly left on the sidelines. Trump now stands with no equal, the only president to be charged twice with a high crime or misdemeanour, a new coda for a term defined by a deepening of the nation's divides, his failures during the worst pandemic in a century and his refusal to accept defeat at the ballot box. Trump kept out of sight in a nearly empty White House as impeachment proceedings played out at the heavily fortified U.S. Capitol. There, the damage from last week’s riots provided a visible reminder of the insurrection that the president was accused of inciting. Abandoned by some in his own party, Trump could do nothing but watch history unfold on television. The suspension of his Twitter account deprived Trump of his most potent means to keep Republicans in line, giving a sense that Trump had been defanged and, for the first time, his hold on his adopted party was in question. He was finally heard from hours after the vote, in a subdued video that condemned the insurrection at the Capitol and warned his supporters from engaging in any further violence. It was a message that was largely missing one week earlier, when rioters marching in Trump’s name descended on the Capitol to try to prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s victory. “I want to be very clear: I unequivocally condemn the violence that we saw last week," said Trump. He added that “no true supporter” of his “could ever endorse political violence.” But that message, partially motivated to warn off legal exposure for sparking the riot, ran contrary to what Trump has said throughout his term, including when he urged his supporters to “fight” for him last week. Trump said not a word about his impeachment in the video, though he complained about the ban on his social media. And later Wednesday, he asked allies if he had gone too far with the video, wondering if it might upset some of his supporters. Four White House officials and Republicans close to the West Wing discussed Trump’s private conversations on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to do so publicly. With only a week left in Trump's term, there were no bellicose messages from the White House fighting the proceedings on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue and no organized legal response. Some congressional Republicans did defend the president during House debate in impeachment, their words carrying across the same space violated by rioters one week earlier during a siege of the citadel of democracy that left five dead. In the end, 10 Republicans voted to impeach. It was a marked change from Trump’s first impeachment. That December 2019 vote in the House, which made Trump only the third president ever impeached, played out along partisan lines. The charges then were that he had used the powers of the office to pressure Ukraine to investigate a political foe, Joe Biden, now the president-elect. At that time, the White House was criticized for failing to create the kind of robust “war room” that President Bill Clinton mobilized during his own impeachment fight. Nonetheless, Trump allies did mount their own pushback campaign. There were lawyers, White House messaging meetings, and a media blitz run by allies on conservative television, radio and websites. Trump was acquitted in 2020 by the GOP-controlled Senate and his approval ratings were undamaged. But this time, as some members of his own party recoiled and accused him of committing impeachable offences, Trump was isolated and quiet. A presidency centred on the bombastic declaration “I alone can fix it” seemed to be ending with a whimper. The third-ranking Republican in the House, Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, said there had “never been a greater betrayal” by a president. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told colleagues in a letter that he had not decided how he would vote in an impeachment trial. For the first time, Trump’s future seemed in doubt, and what was once unthinkable — that enough Republican senators would defy him and vote to remove him from office — seemed at least possible, if unlikely. But there was no effort from the White House to line up votes in the president’s defence. The team around Trump is hollowed out, with the White House counsel’s office not drawing up a legal defence plan and the legislative affairs team largely abandoned. Trump leaned on Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to push Republican senators to oppose removal. Graham’s spokesman said the senator was making the calls of his own volition. Trump and his allies believed that the president’s sturdy popularity with the lawmakers’ GOP constituents would deter them from voting against him. The president was livid with perceived disloyalty from McConnell and Cheney and has been deeply frustrated that he could not hit back with his Twitter account, which has kept Republicans in line for years. He also has turned on his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, who touted election conspiracy theories and whom many in the president's orbit believe shoulders some of the blame for both impeachments. Trump had grown irritated at Giuliani's lavish spending, which included a request to be paid $20,000 a day, and told aides to stop paying him. Trump watched much of the day's proceedings on TV from the White House residence and his private dining area off the Oval Office. A short time before he was impeached, Trump was in the White House East Room presenting the National Medal of Arts to singers Toby Keith and Ricky Skaggs as well as former Associated Press photographer Nick Ut. His paramount concern, beyond his legacy, was what a second impeachment could do to his immediate political and financial future. The loss of his Twitter account and fundraising lists could complicate Trump's efforts to remain a GOP kingmaker and potentially run again in 2024. Moreover, Trump seethed at the blows being dealt to his business, including the withdrawal of a PGA tournament from one of his golf courses and the decision by New York City to cease dealings with his company. There's the possibility that if the Senate were to convict him, he also could be barred from seeking election again, dashing any hopes of another presidential campaign. A White House spokesman did not respond to questions about whether anyone in the building was trying to defend Trump, who was now the subject of half of the presidential impeachments in the nation's history. One campaign adviser, Jason Miller, argued Democrats’ efforts will serve to galvanize the Republican base behind Trump and end up harming Biden. He blamed the Democrats’ swift pace for the silence, saying there wasn’t “time for mounting a traditional response operation.” But he pledged that “the real battle will be the Senate where there’ll be a more traditional pushback effort.” The reminders of the Capitol siege were everywhere as the House moved toward the impeachment roll call. Some of the Capitol’s doors were broken and windows were shattered. A barricade had gone up around outside the building and there were new checkpoints. Hundreds of members of the National Guard patrolled the hallways, even sleeping on the marble floors of the same rotunda that once housed Abraham Lincoln’s casket. And now the Capitol is the site of more history, adding to the chapter that features Clinton, impeached 21 years ago for lying under oath about sex with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, and Andrew Johnson, impeached 151 years ago for defying Congress on Reconstruction. Another entry is for Richard Nixon, who avoided impeachment by resigning during the Watergate investigation. But Trump, the only one impeached twice, will once more be alone. ___ Lemire reported from New York. Jonathan Lemire, Jill Colvin And Zeke Miller, The Associated Press
Additional cases of a more transmissible version of the COVID-19 virus have been popping up around Canada recently, and experts are concerned about what that could mean for an already unruly spread of the disease.Studies suggest the variant, which first appeared in the U.K. before proliferating across several countries, is 50 to 70 per cent more transmissible than earlier strains. Earlier this week, Ontario reported eight new cases of the variant, labelled B.1.1.7. No travel link was found for three of them, suggesting the more contagious form may already be spreading in the community."The fact that this is coming at a time where, in many parts of the country, cases are already increasing, that certainly compounds things," said Dr. Ilan Schwartz, an associate professor of infectious diseases at the University of Alberta. "We need to take this seriously — not just the new variants, but the virus in general — and suppress transmission as much as possible so we can do away with nasty surprises like this."While there's no evidence B.1.1.7 produces more severe disease, its increased rate of transmissibility makes it more threatening, experts say. A virus spreading around the community more easily leads to an increase in hospitalization and deaths once it gets into more vulnerable populations.Cynthia Carr, an epidemiologist in Winnipeg, says the variant "doesn't have to be more severe to be serious.""We don't want to scare people out of their minds, but we also don't want people to think, 'OK, it's just another strain,'" Carr said. "There's no evidence that the variant itself is more dangerous, but there's also no evidence that it's less impactful."Carr says scientists have seen more viral load in people infected with the variant, which makes them more contagious.Mutations in the virus's genetic material have also made the variant more transmissible by allowing it to attach better to our cells."Think of that spike protein as a magnet sticking even faster and stronger," Carr said. "It gets in and replicates and progresses within our body, and then spreads it to somebody else."Studies from the U.K. showed that even with restrictive measures, the variant was spreading with an R-value of 1.45 — each positive case was infecting 1.45 others — instead of the 0.95 rate of the older version's spread amid the same public health restrictions.That's how a variant can "quickly become a dominant strain," Carr says. "It just needs a few chances to be around groups of people, and it will spread fast."Experts say there's no evidence right now that B.1.1.7 remains viable on surfaces longer, or spreads better outdoors than the other version of virus. So public health measures we're currently practising — hand-washing, keeping two metres distance, and mask-wearing — should work against it.Carr says to be cautious in cold weather, however, where dry air may allow viral droplets — from the new variant or not — to float around longer before hitting the ground.B.1.1.7 isn't the only variant that could be troublesome, and Dr. Ross Upshur of the University of Toronto's School of Public Health says scientists are keeping an eye on one recently originating in South Africa and another emerging out of Brazil."And there's likely more, because the more you look, the more you will find," Upshur said.Variants are discovered using genomic sequencing, a process where the virus's genetic material is analyzed piece by piece to detect differences between strains. A variant can become a new strain when enough mutations have changed it considerably.Upshur says it's not surprising to see cases being detected in Canada, but it is concerning."The projections of the new variant's impact means the already exceptionally high transmission rates across Canada would become even higher in the short term," he said. "But independent of the new variant, we have to be more careful ... We are in a drastically worse situation now than we were in the spring by orders of magnitude. So we better pull up our socks."Experts don't think the new variant will impact the effectiveness of our current vaccines.But Schwartz warns that more mutations will keep arising as we give the virus opportunities to replicate and change."We could see mutations to the point that (the virus) could possibly escape a response to vaccination," he said, adding that regular booster shots may be required in that case. "The longer we allow for uncontrolled spread, the more likely we'll see variants of mutations."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
Maritime Bus will keep two northern routes going as it explores financial assistance options from municipalities. In early January, the company said it can no longer afford to keep service between Moncton and Campbellton and between Fredericton and Edmundston. Owner Mike Cassidy said the last run would be on Jan. 15. On Thursday, Cassidy confirmed the last run will now be Jan. 31 in hopes that the municipalities' Safe Restart federal COVID-19 relief fund can be used to subsidize the routes. "I felt comfortable today to say I think we need a little bit more time to discuss how important busing is," he said. "We've been talking now in the last week, it's essential, it's important, but let's take all that talk and let's come up with an agreement." Cassidy there has no been commitment or agreement for financial assistance, only "good bus talk." Michel Soucy, mayor of the village of Atholville and president of the Francophone Association of New Brunswick Municipalities, said multiple municipalities in rural New Brunswick affected by the possible end to bus service have started meeting and discussing how they can keep the service going. He said at this point, having municipalities spend their own money to subsidize the bus service is not on the table. But they are trying to find out if they can use relief funds meant for public transit to keep the inter-city service afloat. "We're looking at the federal government, the provincial government and all other municipalities that are involved in the province to find a solution," he said. "Because we feel that this service is really an essential service for the people of northern New Brunswick." The federal government has given New Brunswick $41.1 million in relief funding for municipalities. Premier Blaine Higgs previously turned his back on possible millions in transit-specific federal relief cash because of a misunderstanding. At a COVID-19 media briefing Thursday, Higgs said it's possible the province will send some funding to Maritime Bus before the end of the pandemic. "The restart money that the federal government had moved to municipalities, that is for COVID related expenses. And this is confirmed as a COVID related expense," he said. Higgs said he doesn't have details on exactly how funding will happen but he hopes to see things resolved in the next week. Soucy said the two weeks will be valuable time while rural municipalities try to figure out how to keep the buses going, especially considering how isolated rural areas have been during the pandemic. "There's people that needs that type of service, to get health services, for example," he said "And it's good for the economy also because we have companies that are using this bus system to transport goods from one municipality or one region to another." COVID-related losses Cassidy previously said company has been coping with plummeting ridership because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cassidy said Maritime Bus moved 111,000 passengers in 2019. In 2020, he said the company had 69,000 passengers. He said the parent company, Coach Atlantic, which also provides tours and caters to cruise ship passengers, lost about $4.9 million in net income in 2020, and revenue dropped by $33 million.
TORONTO — Early in Episode 1 of "Anyone's Game," Tony McIntyre talks about the growth he'd seen in Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe, an explosive six-foot-seven wing who arrived at Orangeville Prep as a raw 13-year-old. "M.A. came in here, and in terms of maturity level, on a scale of zero to 10? Below zero," McIntyre says. The comment said everything about McIntyre's philosophy. It's about more than developing great basketball players, but helping them become solid young men as well. "I think I'm in a unique situation where ... I'm not trying to be an NBA coach, I'm not trying to be a college coach, I'm trying to teach life lessons, and use basketball as that means and prepare them for what they're about to go into in college." Directed by Michael Hamilton, "Anyone's Game" is a six-part CBC docuseries that follows Canada's most successful high school basketball prep program through one high-stakes season. Orangeville Prep plays out of the Athlete Institute, an hour's drive north of Toronto and founded in 2010 by Jesse Tipping as a way of keeping Canada's top players home for high school rather than moving to the U.S. Once considered a hidden gem, seven Orangeville grads have been drafted into the NBA. The most famous: Denver Nuggets star Jamal Murray. McIntyre is Orangeville's burly head coach, and a program Day 1er. After seeing his own sons Tyler, Dylan and Brandon Ennis leave home to play basketball, he was an easy sell. "My kids did very well going to U.S. prep schools, but I also felt like I didn't play an important enough role as a father. I missed out on that," McIntyre said. "If we were able to still give them the schedule and the exposure, but let them go home on weekends, we felt that was the best formula for Canadian kids." Hamilton and his crew spent countless days over the better part of a year with Orangeville Prep, whose goal was to win The Grind Session, an elite high school circuit, plus secure as many college scholarships as possible. The program sees about seven grads a season go on to play NCAA Div. 1 basketball. Moncrieffe is in his rookie season at Oklahoma State. "I (still) talk to him literally every single day," McIntyre said. "We watch video after every game." Shemar Rathan-Mayes, a freshman guard at Youngstown State in Ohio, said far more than his game grew in his four years at the Athlete Institute. "Anybody that's been there can tell you that as a person, you mature, and they teach us life lessons and how to be good people in society," said the 19-year-old from Toronto, who led Orangeville to an 86-4 record. "Coach Tony, coach Brandon (Ennis), coach Manny (Dosanjh), they're basketball coaches, but they're also like big brothers to us. "When we're travelling on the road, if we lose a game, it's never just about basketball, they teach us how to grow outside of that, and I think that's what makes Athlete Institute so different from other places. It's not just basketball. They care about us as people." The series is an intimate look at the daily grind of a young player. In the opening episode, the team works out in the darkness of an early morning. You can see the players' breath in the cold. They're illuminated by a car's headlights. "It's a good representation of what these kids go through chasing that dream," McIntyre said. "We did over 27,000 kilometres on the season in a car to tournaments. We played over 55 games. We went undefeated in Canada, we lost in the quarter-finals in the US National Championship. "So, we had a great, great season. I only wish (the film crew) could have been there for every second of every minute." In addition to The Grind Session, Orangeville Prep plays in the OSBA, a league of Ontario prep programs. Hamilton - who produced and directed "Nash," about former NBA all-star and Brooklyn coach Steve Nash - said the buy-in and the mutual respect among players and coaches was impressive. "A million per cent," he said. "It's respect for others, and vice-versa respect for your coaches but then also the coaches' respect for the players, right? There is a reciprocal feeling on that team and everything was: 'Yes, sir. No, sir.' That was so cool to see that these guys all bought in and that's what Tony wanted. He instilled that." They're lessons that transcend sports. "Basketball is incidental, man," Hamilton said. "I played my whole life, and without basketball, I wouldn't be the person I am today. The confidence and the ability to go on to do what I do now. They'll take so many cool lessons from the sport." McIntyre said he'll know he's been successful if an Orangeville Prep grad comes back to take his job one day. "It's not how much money they make in the NBA or anything, it's how much are they willing to give back to the next generation of kids and allow them to experience and hopefully have even a better experience than what they got with me," he said. The six-part series, which debuts Friday on CBC and CBC Gem, was produced by Kyle McCutcheon and Jack Sussman. McIntyre has watched it three times already. "I watched it the other night and I turned to my wife (Suzette Ennis), and told her the one thing I walked away with is knowing these guys are going to be able to show this to their children, like, 'Hey, look, I was in a TV show, look at what I went through, look at how great this team was, and look at what a bond you can build with a group of guys and utilizing basketball to do that.'" This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021. Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press
Toronto-Dominion Bank has signed a deal to buy Wells Fargo's Canadian direct equipment finance business. Financial terms of the deal were not immediately available. TD says the acquisition will grow its existing Canadian equipment financing business and expand its presence in core markets. Wells Fargo's Canadian direct equipment finance business is based in Mississauga, Ont., with regional offices across the country, including Montreal and Calgary. It provides loans and leases for commercial equipment and has $1.5 billion in assets and over 120 employees. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2021, subject to regulatory and Competition Act approvals and clearance as well as other customary closing conditions. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:TD) The Canadian Press
Chatham-Kent taxpayers may be looking at a 3.96 per cent tax increase this year as municipal staff and council begin to discuss the 2021 budget. The impact on the average house will amount to $117 per year. On Wednesday, at 6 p.m. the 2021 budget was officially presented to the public. In August, council voted on a motion to achieve a 2021 budget target of a zero per cent increase, however, according to a report brought back in December, that was not possible without scaling back services provided to residents. “Since the August meeting, there have been several decisions counter to a zero per cent target with no decreases in service levels desired by council,” the report stated. The theme of this year’s budget is “investing in our future” which largely focuses on infrastructure. “Chatham-Kent has an infrastructure deficit and we've committed to narrowing that gap year over year. That's part of where you see some of that increase in investment is around; increasing infrastructure spending, looking at shoreline mitigation and keep working towards some of those goals,” said Chatham Coun. Brock McGregor, who is serving as chair of the budget committee. While those have been longtime goals of the municipality, Chatham-Kent is also focusing on newer investments such as affordable housing, he added. Similar municipalities in Ontario are raising taxes in between three to eight per cent with few exceptions, according to municipal reports. The new projects/services asked for by council, increased levels for storm sewers, and general inflation on capital areas all amounted to a 2.53 per cent increase in the budget. A 0.30 per cent increase was also added to the 2021 budget to maintain the level of existing services after council voted not to change service levels. The municipality had to add on an additional 0.7 per cent to take on extra costs following cuts by the provincial government to housing, child care, and conservation authority funding. An extra 0.43 per cent tax increase was added to mitigate COVID-19 impacts, although it is anticipated that the provincial government will step in to aid municipalities again this year. Chatham-Kent’s chief administrative officer, Don Shropshire said there is no telling how COVID will affect municipal finances in 2021. Even though two vaccines have already been approved by Health Canada, it can take months to immunize the majority of the population. “We believe that the municipality’s in good financial shape, we've got a fair bit of resiliency on the budget,” he said. “We're going to have to be continuing to mitigate some of the costs and trying to find … different ways to treat the lost revenue.” The COVID-19 pandemic caused the municipality to project approximately a $5 million deficit with lost revenue from the Cascades Casino, reduced property taxes for suffering businesses, and increased costs for personal protective equipment (PPE). Reduced service levels saved $2 million, and in the fall the provincial government stepped in to bail municipalities out because legally they cannot run deficits. The provincial aid was only to assist municipalities with COVID-19-related costs and as a result Chatham-Kent found itself with a $1 million surplus from the funding which will be rolled over to this year’s budget. “But if we expect the same sort of level of impact, our expenses and reductions in revenue might exceed $1 million in which case we'd expect, like other local municipalities, to go back to the province to see if additional support was available,” Shropshire said. The budget is only a first draft and it's now in the hands of council to deliberate where to make cuts. Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Thursday imposed new sanctions on Chinese officials over Beijing's increasing assertiveness in the South China Sea. The penalties are yet another Trump administration move that may make President-elect Joe Biden's diplomacy with China more difficult when he takes office next week. In its waning days, the Trump administration put in place travel bans on an unspecified number of Chinese officials and their families for what it said were violations of international standards regarding the freedom of navigation in those waters. The administration also said it was adding China's state oil company, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, to a list of companies with which U.S. citizens are banned from doing business. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the sanctions less than a week Inauguration Day, next Wednesday, in what is the latest in a series of last-minute U.S. moves against China. “The United States stands with Southeast Asian claimant states seeking to defend their sovereign rights and interests, consistent with international law,” Pompeo said. “We will continue to act until we see Beijing cease its coercive behaviour in the South China Sea.” Since the fall of 2019, the administration has steadily pressured China over human rights issues in Tibet, Hong Kong and the western region of Xinjiang, as well as over trade, Taiwan and the Chinese response to the coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday, the administration banned the import to the U.S. of some agricultural goods, provoking an angry response from Beijing. Thursday's move affects Chinese officials and others involved in South China Sea activities. The announcement did not specific which officials would be targeted but many may be covered under previous actions, In July, Pompeo announced that the U.S. would reject virtually all of China's maritime claims in the South China Sea, which are disputed by most of China's smaller neighbours. Matthew Lee, The Associated Press
MILAN — Former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi has been hospitalized in the principality of Monaco to undergo medical tests for heart problems, his press office confirmed on Thursday. The 84-year-old three-time premier is expected to return home in a few days. Berlusconi was hospitalized for COVID-19 for about 10 days last September and underwent heart surgery to replace an aortic valve in 2016. He also has overcome prostate cancer and a series of other ailments. He has had a pacemaker for years. Berlusconi described his bout with COVID-19 as “insidious,” calling it the most dangerous challenge he had ever faced. The media mogul no longer holds public office, but remains the head of his Forza Italia party and is vocal in national politics. In an interview this week, he urged political leaders to work out their differences after another former premier, Matteo Renzi, pulled support for the coalition government, threatening its survival. He called such “political games” an embarrassment during the pandemic. The Associated Press