Health-care workers have spent a year working through the pandemic and several ER doctors shared a united message while working during a difficult holiday season.
Health-care workers have spent a year working through the pandemic and several ER doctors shared a united message while working during a difficult holiday season.
WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden's forthcoming immigration plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscoring that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly. In a further complication, several pro-immigration groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratoriums on deportations, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigration push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals' demands illustrated the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump's restrictive and often harsh immigration policies come to an end. “It simply wouldn't have happened without us," Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden's victory. “So we are now in a powerful position." Biden plans to introduce the legislation shortly after being inaugurated Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that's defied major congressional action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump's impeachment trial, confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber's top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him" on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress. Biden's proposal would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden's transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity. With an eye toward discouraging a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package's route to citizenship would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditional trade-off of dramatically enhanced border security that's helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday. “A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., often a central player in Senate immigration battles. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a Monday tweet. That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favours curbing immigration. “Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run," Krikorian said. Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigration, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigration reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible." He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOP-run House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8" senators that helped win Senate approval. Under Biden's legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they pursue citizenship. For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. Biden is also expected to take swift executive actions, which require no congressional action, to reverse other Trump immigration actions. These include ending to the prohibition on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries. The legislation represents Biden's bid to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with the GOP to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades. That kind of major win, even if it involves compromise, could be critical for Biden. He'll be seeking legislative victories in a Congress where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities, like rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending. Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. Democrats currently control the House 222-211, with two vacancies. ___ Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego also contributed to this report. Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
TORONTO — The Canadian Premier League is targeting the Victoria Day long weekend in May as the kickoff for its third season. However, the league acknowledges that will ultimately depend on local government and health authorities. "Our plans call for the start of play this spring — while recognizing that a major factor will be our nation's progress against this pandemic," commissioner David Clanachan said in a letter to fans. "Based on where we are right now, if health authorities say it is safe to do so, we are focused on targeting a start date of the Victoria Day long weekend (May 22, 2021) — Canada’s 'unofficial start of summer.' To that end, we will remain flexible but also adaptable in our planning. To be clear, our ultimate goal is to see our supporters in the stands as we take to the field." The league acknowledges opening the doors to any number of spectators again is a decision that will be made by others. The hope is to have each of the eight teams play a normal 28-game season. The league is currently looking at a number of scheduling models. The 2020 season was originally slated to run from April 11 to Oct. 4. The pandemic shelved that plan with the league eventually playing the Island Games, a truncated tournament in Charlottetown, from Aug. 13 to Sept. 6. The 2019 inaugural regular season ran April 27 to Oct. 19, divided into spring and fall campaigns. Hamilton's Forge FC won the league title both years. The CPL has also announced that young Canadians will see more action in 2021 with clubs now required to give at least 1,500 minutes of combined playing time to domestic players under the age of 21. The requirement previously for U-21 players was 1,000 minutes (pro-rated to 250 minutes at the Island Games). As before, CPL clubs must have at least three U-21 Canadian players signed on their rosters. The rule covers player born Jan. 1, 2000 or later. The league says the U-21 minutes requirement was met or exceeded by all clubs. In 2020, Winnipeg's Valour FC led the way with a total of1,532 minutes. In 2019, Pacific FC recorded 13,532 minutes. The league says it provided 43,000 minutes of playing time to young Canadians across its first two seasons. “Part of the mission of the Canadian Premier League is to foster the growth of young Canadian soccer players," James Easton, the league's vice-president of football operations, said in a statement. "The success to date of our under-21 player minutes is a testament to the quality that exists across Canada, which is now being served in a meaningful way by the opportunities provided by the CPL and is why we have decided to increase the minutes for young Canadian players.” --- Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021 Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press
L’Académie de danse de Forestville s’est tournée vers le Web pour poursuivre ses activités malgré le reconfinement obligé par la pandémie de COVID-19. Au lieu de mettre un frein à ses cours, l’organisme offre ses services via la plateforme numérique Zoom. « Au printemps dernier, nous sommes vraiment tombés des nues quand on a appris que nous devions cesser nos activités. On ne voulait pas que cela se reproduise, alors on a demandé à notre professeure de danse de suivre une formation pour donner des cours en ligne », affirme la présidente de l’Académie de danse de Forestville, Ruth Villeneuve. À l’automne, quand les cours ont recommencé au local du Complexe Guy-Ouellet, l’organisme avait déjà un plan B s’il se voyait contraint d’arrêter ses services. « On se doutait bien que la pandémie ne se règlerait pas en quelques mois », soutient Mme Villeneuve, qui s’implique pour l’Académie depuis bientôt quatre ans. Stéphanie Lessard, professeure de danse de l’Académie, a toutefois dû adapter ses exercices afin qu’ils soient réalisables chacun chez soi. Le temps des cours a aussi été raccourci pour faciliter l’apprentissage. « Les plus jeunes se réunissent à raison de 30 minutes et les plus âgées s’exercent pendant 45 minutes, au lieu d’une heure », indique-t-elle. Le manque d’équipement électronique a aussi fait diminuer la participation des élèves à 75 %. « Certains désirent attendre à la reprise des cours au local », mentionne Mme Lessard. Quant au nombre de danseurs inscrits, il est aussi en baisse cette année en raison de la situation sanitaire. « Nous avons entre 70 et 80 élèves, ce qui est une petite diminution comparativement à l’an dernier, mais ce n’est pas si mal », de commenter la professeure. Toutefois, pour la présidente, il était important d’offrir l’opportunité aux jeunes de s’occuper et de garder un lien avec l’enseignante. « La plupart des élèves sont contents de se voir, même si ce n’est que par visioconférence, selon Stéphanie Lessard. Ceux du primaire ont recommencé l’école, mais le groupe de danse n’est pas composé des mêmes amis que dans leur classe. » Spectacle En ce qui concerne le traditionnel spectacle de fin d’année, qui se tient habituellement en avril, le conseil d’administration de l’organisme attend les consignes gouvernementales. « On se prépare en fonction qu’il y en aura un, mais on ne sait pas comment vont se traduire les règlements sanitaires à ce moment. On travaille donc sur des plans B et C pour ne pas l’annuler complètement comme l’an dernier », dévoile Ruth Villeneuve. Les réseaux sociaux pourraient faire partie des solutions. « On pense à une nouvelle formule comme faire des directs sur la page Facebook de l’Académie pour chaque groupe », explique la professeure de danse. Toutefois, rien n’est décidé pour l’instant. Rappelons que depuis la fermeture de l’auditorium de la polyvalente des Rivières, les spectacles de l’Académie de danse se déroulent au Complexe Guy-Ouellet. Les danseurs pourront peut-être utiliser la scène du tout nouveau Pavillon des arts, si la situation sanitaire le permet.Johannie Gaudreault, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Haute-Côte-Nord
Weeneebayko Area Health Authority (WAHA) is moving along with its COVID-19 vaccine roll-out plan. First Nation communities along the James Bay and Hudson Bay coast are receiving the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. According to a WAHA notice, the plan in the region is divided into three phases. Receiving the vaccine is voluntary. Those who can get vaccinated include adults over 18 years old; residents, staff and essential caregivers including family caregivers and other employees in congregate living settings for seniors, and healthcare workers including hospital employees, staff who work or study in hospitals and healthcare personnel. Tomorrow, Jan. 20, 50 people who meet the eligibility criteria will receive the vaccine at clinics in Fort Albany and Attawapiskat. Jan. 20-22, people meeting the criteria as well as elders and vulnerable patients in congregate living settings will be vaccinated in Moosonee. Phase three of the roll-out plan will begin next Tuesday, Jan. 26, with mass immunization vaccination clinics set up in all communities. Mass vaccination clinics are tentatively scheduled for Peawanuck on Jan. 26, Kashechewan on Feb. 1, Attawapiskat on Feb. 8, Fort Albany on Feb. 15, Moosonee on March 1 and Moose Factory on March 1. Clinics will be held over multiple days. According to WAHA, the goal is to have the first dose phase of the mass clinics completed in the region by March 12. Phase two will take place over next several weeks and will allow the rest of the community members in the James Bay and Hudson Bay region to get vaccinated. WAHA will be working with a team, assembled by the province, using ORNGE paramedics to visit each community. WAHA or local public healthcare providers will deliver the program after the team visits. No dates are yet available for the phase two plan. The first phase of the plan started on Jan. 6 when the first COVID-19 vaccines were delivered by ORNGE to Moosonee. Phase one priority groups included elders living in congregate setting in Moose Factory, Attawapiskat and Fort Albany; healthcare providers in patient care areas and elders in Complex Continuing Care and Alternate Level of Care (CCC/ALC) beds. Moose Cree elder Gertrude Johnstone was the first one to receive the vaccine at the Weeneebayko General Hospital (WGH) in Moose Factory. Since Jan. 8, a total of 81 people in the phase one group have been vaccinated in Moose Factory, according to WAHA. The vaccination clinics then moved to Attawapiskat, where three elderly inpatients and seven staff at the Attawapiskat Hospital were vaccinated, and to Fort Albany, where five elders and five staff received the vaccine. Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Federal authorities arrested a woman whose former romantic partner says she took a laptop from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office during the riot at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. Riley June Williams was arrested Monday, according to a Justice Department official. The federal prosecutors' office in Harrisburg, where she was jailed, said Williams was due in court Tuesday afternoon. The FBI said in an arrest warrant Sunday that Williams hasn't been charged with theft but only with illegally entering the Capitol and with disorderly conduct. FBI officials said a caller claiming to be an ex of Williams said friends of hers showed him a video of Williams taking a laptop computer or hard drive from Pelosi's office. The caller alleged that Williams intended to send the device to a friend in Russia who planned to sell it to that country's foreign intelligence service, but that plan fell through and she either has the device or destroyed it. The FBI says the matter remains under investigation. Pelosi's deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, confirmed Jan. 8 that a laptop was taken from a conference room but said “it was a laptop that was only used for presentations." Williams’ mother, who lives with her in Harrisburg, told ITV reporters that her daughter had taken a sudden interest in President Donald Trump’s politics and “far-right message boards.” Her father, who lives in the Harrisburg suburb of Camp Hill, told local law enforcement that he and his daughter went to Washington on the day of the protest but didn't stay together, meeting up later to return to Harrisburg, the FBI said. Williams' mother told local law enforcement that her daughter packed a bag and left before she was arrested, saying she would be gone for a couple of weeks. She also changed her phone number and deleted a number of social media accounts, the FBI said. Court documents don't list an attorney for her. The Associated Press
JUNEAU, Alaska — The Alaska Senate organized a Republican majority as the new legislative session got underway Tuesday, with Soldotna Republican Peter Micciche elected Senate president. Micciche told reporters plans for the majority were made official Tuesday, ahead of the session's start. He said the majority would include all 13 Republican members. Committee assignments were expected to be announced later in the day. His election as Senate president was held by voice vote, with no one dissenting. Senate Democratic Leader Tom Begich, in a statement, said Democrats had “many conversations with Republican members of the Senate, but unfortunately, some of those members will not put party politics aside in favour of working with Democrats in a bipartisan fashion for an Alaska agenda that seeks to help all of us recover from the difficulties of this past year.” He did not specify which members he was referring to. The House has not yet organized a majority. The first day of a new Legislature is typically one of pomp, but Tuesday's start was muted amid COVID-19 concerns. Becky Bohrer, The Associated Press
After four years, U.S. President Donald Trump will be leaving office as President-elect Joe Biden is sworn into the position on Jan. 20, 2021. The weeks leading up to Trump’s departure have been tumultuous, with a siege on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, five federal executions, and 143 presidential pardons, just to name a few pivotal moments.Trump began the day by speaking to a crowd at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland before boarding Air Force One. He is traveling to his golf club, Mar-a-Lago, in Florida, and will not be attending Biden’s inauguration ceremony in Washington, D.C.Supporters of the 45th U.S. President gathered in West Palm Beach, Fla. to greet Trump’s motorcade when it arrived in the city.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
ÉMILIE PELLETIER Initiative de journalisme local — Le Droit Malgré les problèmes d’approvisionnement du vaccin de Pfizer, l’Ontario est toujours en voie d’accomplir son objectif de vacciner tous les résidents, les employés et les proches aidants de chaque foyer de soins de longue durée de la province d’ici le 15 février. C’est du moins ce qu’ont affirmé les experts de la santé publique du ministère de la Santé, mardi, quelques minutes avant qu’Ottawa annonce que Pfizer ne livrera aucune dose du vaccin au Canada, la semaine prochaine. Une nouvelle «troublante», selon le premier ministre Doug Ford, qui a profité de sa conférence de presse pour demander l’aide du président élu des États-Unis, Joe Biden. «Donnez-nous un million de vaccins», a-t-il demandé à celui qui deviendra officiellement le 46e président américain mercredi, «c’est la moindre des choses». « Nous ne nous reposerons pas avant que chaque Ontarien souhaitant recevoir son vaccin ne l’ait reçu. » — Doug Ford Première ronde complétée En Ontario, la première ronde de vaccination, soit celle où les résidents et les employés des foyers de soins de longue durée situés dans les régions les plus touchées par la transmission du virus ont été choisis en priorité, est complétée. C’est-à-dire que tous les employés et les résidents des établissements pour aînés de Toronto, Peel, York et de Windsor qui le souhaitaient ont reçu leur première dose du vaccin contre la COVID-19. L’Ontario a pris de l’avance sur cet objectif, initialement prévu pour le 21 janvier. La première série de vaccinations a également été administrée dans tous les foyers de soins de longue durée d'Ottawa et dans 40% des établissements pour aînés de la province, selon la santé publique. Néanmoins, les semaines qui suivront le 15 février pourraient être semées d'incertitudes, a noté le général Rick Hillier, responsable de la distribution du vaccin en Ontario. La province verra son approvisionnement de vaccins Pfizer considérablement réduit au cours des quatre prochaines semaines (-5% cette semaine, -80% la semaine prochaine, -55% la semaine suivante et -45% la semaine du 8 février). Cela représente plus de 66 000 doses du vaccin de Pfizer au cours de cette période. Les foyers de soins de longue durée, les maisons de retraite à haut risque et les communautés autochtones accessibles uniquement par avion sont désormais la priorité. «Nous ne nous reposerons pas avant que chaque Ontarien souhaitant recevoir son vaccin ne l’ait reçu», a déclaré le premier ministre Doug Ford en conférence de presse, mardi à 13h.Émilie Pelletier, journaliste, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Droit
TORONTO — A Canadian neonatal intensive care nurse who spoke at an anti-lockdown rally in Washington, D.C., has been fired, her employer said on Tuesday.The London Health Sciences Centre in London, Ont., confirmed its termination of Kristen Nagle, who had been suspended since November after attending a similar rally in the city.Nagle was one of two Canadian nurses who drew attention for speaking in Washington on Jan. 6. before supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, leading to five deaths.In a statement, the London hospital said it suspended Nagle without pay in November for actions "not aligned" with its values and then began an internal investigation. That investigation was now complete, the hospital said."While we are not able to address the specifics of the investigation, we can confirm that the nurse has been terminated with cause," the statement said. "Safeguarding the health of our patients and their families, staff and physicians is of the utmost importance and remains our top priority."Nagle, a 14-year registered nurse, could not immediately be reached for comment.A petition calling for Nagle to be allowed to continue practising as a registered nurse garnered the 1,500 signatures it aimed to collect by noon on Thursday before now pushing to reach 2,500. "People are attacking this human who has an impeccable patient/nurse relationship," the petition states. "She has never brought any harm to them, nor would she ever put herself in a position to cause harm."Among other things, the petition states Nagle took no part in the Capitol protests and was only in D.C. because a summit organized by a group called Global Frontline Nurses had been moved from Florida to the American capital. It also says she has self-quarantined as required. "There are countless nurses who understand that something is not right with the system right now and are terrified from speaking out for fear of getting fired or have their licenses stripped," the petition states.Those signing the online petition called Nagle's fight one of free speech. "Freedom of speech is imperative in a democratic society," said one signatory, identified as Amanda Nafziger. The College of Nurses of Ontario has previously said it was investigating both Nagle and Sarah Choujounian, a registered practical nurse since 2004. The college said it could not provide details and had no further comment on Tuesday.Nagle and Choujounian both spoke at the Jan. 6 rally organized by Global Frontline Nurses, which maintains "fraud is rampant" regarding the COVID-19 crisis inside and outside hospitals.At the summit, Nagle said nurses were being threatened for speaking out or holding contrary views. She slammed policies she said isolate new mothers at a critical time."We are sharing truth with you whatever the cost may be,'' Nagle said. "Nurses, it is our time to rise."Choujounian had spent most of her career at a north Toronto nursing home until last year, has publicly decried COVID-19 vaccines as "experimental" and "unsafe." The founder of a group called Nurses Against Lockdowns, she has called the vaccine promotion and use a "crime against humanity."Global Frontline Nurses has called on nurses to come forward ahead of a news conference on Jan. 21.This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021. Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
January 19 is National Popcorn day! This snack food is ubiquitous to many forms of entertainment, like movies (of course!), sporting events, midways, and outdoor festivals, to name a few. Popcorn is one of those snack foods that seems to be a huge hit with just about everybody, although people might have some very different preferences in the types of popcorn flavours that they enjoy. Some love the sweeter side of things such as caramel or toffee-coated popcorn, some like to keep it simple with butter and salt, and some are much more adventurous. Give the Chicago mix a try, a mixture of caramel corn and cheddar cheese flavoured popcorn (it might sound strange, but try it. Seriously!). Or satisfy a more “refined” palette by tossing your popcorn with truffle oil and parmesan cheese. Contrary to what various cartoon characters have taught us over the years, not every type of corn will “pop” in the way that produces popcorn. There is only one variety of corn that “pops” this way, Zea Mays Everta. However, there are around 100 strains of this type with different characteristics. What makes the Zea Mays Everta variety so unique? The crucial aspects are an extremely rigid and almost nonporous outer shell on the kernel and a bit of water with soft granules of starch on the inside. As the popcorn kernel is heated to the right temperature, the water trapped inside turns to steam and the granules of starch gelatinize. As the kernel continues to get hotter, the pressure within it builds until it finally bursts and essentially turns inside out. The gelatinized starch rapidly expands when this happens, then cools and solidifies almost instantly to form the “popped” corn we know and love. Popcorn has been around for a long time; archeologists have found popcorn remnants that were about 3,600 years old. You can celebrate National popcorn by enjoying your favourite popcorn snacks. Make some popcorn balls, have a movie marathon complete with hot buttered popcorn, or even try making some popcorn crafts for something different. Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
LONDON — The Premier League is looking into why West Ham apparently struck an agreement with West Bromwich Albion for Robert Snodgrass not to play in Tuesday's game as part of the winger's transfer between the two clubs. West Brom manager Sam Allardyce disclosed details of the transfer to his relegation-threatened team two weeks ago to explain the absence of Snodgrass. “That was an agreement between the clubs that this game he would not be allowed to play," Allardyce told broadcaster BT Sport ahead of the match in east London. "We could only get the deal done with that agreement.” West Ham is portraying it as a “gentleman's agreement” rather than a formal part of the transfer. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
Division 1 and 2 students at the Swan Hills School will participate in an Earth Rangers virtual presentation on January 22, 2021. Crescent Point Energy has sponsored this presentation at no cost to the school. According to information shared by an Earth Rangers representative, the presentation will include: · Real-time broadcasting from the Earth Rangers Centre · Curriculum-linked education information appropriate for grades 1 - 6 · An integration of technology like green-screens, video segments, and multiple camera angles to create a unique and immersive virtual experience · Interactive elements like trivia and a choose-your-own-adventure format to keep students attentive and engaged · Demonstrations by our beloved Animal Ambassadors · Featured local content, including conservation work happening to restore habitat for the Western Bumblebee in Saskatchewan Earth Rangers is a conservation organization that focuses on “instilling environmental knowledge, positivity, and the confidence to take action in every child in Canada.” They offer free programming for children to participate in at school, home, and in the community. Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
Regina – By Tuesday, Jan. 19, SGI Canada had already received 1,885 property claims as a result of the Alberta clipper storm that whacked southern Saskatchewan Jan. 13-14. That’s according to Tyler McMurchy, manager, media relations, with SGI. He added that’s for just for one insurer, as SGI is one of many property insurers in the province. A further 386 auto claims were also received – not from people bumping fenders, but from things like trees landing on vehicles, or trailers being blown over. “Those were some pretty crazy winds,” McMurchy said by phone from Regina on Jan. 19. He said claims came from throughout the province, anywhere south of Prince Albert. Regina, Moose Jaw and Weyburn were particularly hit, but so were places like Saskatoon, Radville, Estevan and Milestone. In October, 2017, there had been a similar storm, but McMurchy said, “This past one had higher wind speeds and more trees knocked down.” Environment Canada had reported wind gusts as strong as an EF1 tornado north of Regina. Since it was winter, more outside items like lawn furniture and trampolines had been put away, while other items were frozen to the ground, he noted. There will be some “very large claims” he said, including building damage and farm claims. Adjusters worked throughout the weekend, and by Jan. 19, most of those who had filed claims had initial contact with an SGI adjuster, according to McMurchy. Shingles, roofs, soffits and siding are just some of the damage claims that have come in. “Some neighbourhoods, everyone’s got some shingles missing,” he said. He spoke of limiting further damage, but it may be necessary to get contractors to do that. Hold onto receipts, he noted, and take pictures, both wide angle and closeups. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
Adam Grant, who first began working for the Region of Queens Municipality (RQM) in 2007 as the assistant director of the engineering and public works department, now gets a turn at the helm. Grant was appointed as the department’s new director at the RQM council meeting on January 12. He has been in the role of acting director since the retirement of Brad Rowter in December 2020. Rowter worked for the municipality for 24 years. He began his career at RQM as an engineer and was appointed Director of Engineering and Public Works in September 2003, after being in the role of acting director for about a year. “We are pleased to have Adam take on this important role with Region of Queens Municipality. With 14 years’ experience as an engineer with the municipality, we are confident Adam can lead the Municipality in our continued growth and continue to advance important infrastructure projects,” Darlene Norman, RQM’s mayor, commented in a press release. As director, Grant will be responsible for overseeing the management, maintenance and development of municipal infrastructure of two sewer systems, its water system, Queens Solid Waste Management Facility and Materials Recovery Facility, streets in Liverpool, parks and green spaces throughout Queens County, as well as the operational components of Queens Place Emera Centre. Kevin McBain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, LighthouseNOW Progress Bulletin
Alexei Navalny, President Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic who was jailed at the weekend, on Tuesday released a video in which he and his allies alleged that an opulent palace belonged to the Russian leader, a claim the Kremlin denied. The allegations, which first surfaced in 2010 when a businessman wrote about them to then-President Dmitry Medvedev complaining of official graft, come as Navalny's supporters urge people to join nationwide protests on Saturday. Reuters reported in 2014 that the estate in southern Russia had been partly funded by taxpayer money from a $1 billion hospital project.
An ambitious project to map and monitor sea kelp forests along the entire B.C. coast is afoot, and scientists are using seemly disparate tools — both ancient and modern — to do it. Researchers are using centuries-old British sea charts and advanced technology, such as camera drones and satellite images, to trace shifts in the abundance and distribution of kelp beds over time, said geographer Maycira Costa. Like rainforests, B.C.’s canopy-forming kelp beds are critical and extensive ecosystems that shelter and feed a host of marine life, including juvenile salmon and marine mammals such as seals and otters, said Costa. “We're trying to combine efforts to understand how these areas have been changing,” she said, adding climate change in particular is a big concern, “and what we can do to minimize those changes because they're such an important habitat.” There is a lack of overall data around kelp beds along the coast, said Costa, who heads the Spectral lab at the University of Victoria, which specializes in using remotely sensed imagery to monitor change in marine environments. Some individual kelp beds in B.C. have been studied, but not consistently over time in a wider way, leaving a poor understanding of what’s going on with the giant algae populations so critical to the marine ecosystem, Costa said. “It’s one thing to look at kelp beds for just one year, but the important part is looking at several years of data,” said Costa, noting kelp bed growth or loss can be quite dynamic over short periods of time. Establishing a widespread picture of where and why kelp is diminishing or growing is critical to determining management or conservation policy and even the commercial harvest of these marine forests, she said. But, curiously, to establish a baseline measurement of kelp on the coast, Costa’s high-tech research team relied on antiquated marine maps for the job. Using information from British admiralty charts from 1858 to 1956, the team created the first historical digital map of B.C.’s coastal kelp beds. Considered navigational hazards, large kelp beds were carefully notated on British charts, which turned out to be an unusual but valuable source of information about coastal habitat in the 19th century, said Costa. A total of 137 charts were scanned, with the co-ordinates and kelp beds included on digital maps after ensuring the scale and quality of the data, according to the study. The chart data suggests most concentrated kelp beds are around the north and west coasts of Vancouver Island, in the Johnstone Strait and in northern waters and northwestern Haida Gwaii. The next step to map the distribution of kelp on the coast over time is compiling satellite data from 2005 to the present, along with available scientific and government data from kelp inventories from the 1970s to 1990s, Costa said. “You wouldn’t believe the amount of data we have (to analyze),” she said. “For the B.C. coast, we have almost 6,000 satellite images. The amount of time spent processing data, it’s almost surreal.” The project is looking at both Bull and giant kelp with help from the Hakai Institute and funding by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), the Canadian Hydrographic Service and the Pacific Salmon Foundation, Costa said. A complete kelp map for the Salish Sea, which stretches across the inside passage of Vancouver Island, is expected to be complete by mid-2021, she said, adding maps of B.C.’s central and north coasts will follow. “So, looking at this more recent history in comparison with the past (sea chart map), about 100 years ago, that’s when we're going to have the major findings,” Costa said. “When we understand present and the past and how things have changed.” Once complete, the spatial-temporal kelp maps will be valuable in honing in on what factors, such as climate change, human activity or environmental changes, might be impacting kelp resiliency, she added. Factors like warming waters, sea urchin populations and over-harvesting for commercial uses are all possible threats to kelp beds, Costa said. “What we need to understand is where the kelp is, and what’s changing to support and to preserve the ecological and economic importance of these marine forests.” Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National Observer Rochelle Baker, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Like many in Saskatchewan, Regina homeowners Loretta and Blair McClinton are still cleaning up after last week's big winter storm. Last Wednesday night, their decades-old backyard spruce tree snapped in the 100 km/h wind gusts. "All of a sudden I heard a loud cracking noise. My husband was still sleeping and I said, 'I think something's hit the house,'" Loretta remembered. "Then we looked [out the window] and we just went, 'Oh, my God!' We just couldn't believe what we saw." She said they first checked the attic to make sure the tree didn't go through the roof — and, luckily, it didn't. "It's just astonishment, really. It was unbelievable. The tree's 80 feet tall [about 24 metres]," Loretta said. "I've had thoughts in my mind that if it ever fell over, what would happen? So to see it actually blow over was just incredible." Loretta said it's "an immense relief" their home and fence weren't damaged at all by the tree; only a gas line, which was disrupted by its roots, had to be repaired. "We were so lucky that it basically landed on our elm tree, which held it up. If it had came down, it probably would have crashed on the side of our house and probably our neighbour's house," she said. "Who knows what could have happened? It was a pretty traumatic event." On Thursday, the McClintons brought in a crane to remove the spruce. "It's going to be a loss because it was such a beautiful tree. Now, it's so open," Loretta said, noting they have plans to landscape their backyard in the spring. "It's kind of a good thing that this happened before we accomplished that."
Specific details about workplace outbreaks of COVID-19 are not made public in most of Canada. Toronto is starting to make the information available, arguing that transparency increases accountability, but others wonder whether ‘naming and shaming’ does more harm than good.
Cybersecurity company Malwarebytes said on Tuesday that some of its emails were breached by the same hackers who used the software company SolarWinds to hack into a series of U.S. government agencies. In a statement, the Santa Clara, California-based company said that while it did not use software made by SolarWinds, the company at the center of the breach, it had been successfully targeted by the same hackers who were able to sneak into its Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Azure environments. Malwarebytes said the hack gave the spies access to "a limited subset of internal company emails."
Steve Fortin and his family survived a harrowing COVID-19 infection and he wants to share it with everyone “because it may save a life.” Fortin, a trucker and musician, said he and his wife started to notice mild symptoms Dec. 22, three days after exposure. “Sniffles, slight cough, and a dry, sore nose,” he wrote, but they weren’t sure if it was sinus problems or a cold. “Here is our mistake, we should have immediately been tested,” Fortin said, adding they were being careful in case they were infected that they wouldn’t spread it. “We are new to the area so we didn't really go anywhere to spread it but I did go to work and went to the store but wore a mask and sanitized regularly and kept a safe distance at all times,” he said. By New Year’s Eve, he and his wife “became terribly ill” with the full laundry list of symptoms. “We couldn’t get off the couch the pain was so bad, fevers and chills almost unbearable,” he wrote, with “stomach ache and diarrhea with no appetite at all. “My wife was vomiting and I was lucky enough not to vomit,” Fortin wrote. “Then we got the call, a friend of ours who works in the medical field tested posted for COVID-19. “Immediately we called the North Bay COVID centre for testing and our results came back positive as well. “My wife, kids, and myself all had COVID-19,” he said, explaining the children had no symptoms. “They didn’t even know they had it but my wife and I were very ill. “Public Health and I back-tracked all our steps to make sure we didn’t come into contact with anyone. They called my work and had employees that were around me tested and thank God they were all negative,” Fortin said. See: Some provinces see positive signs in COVID fight See: Two new COVID cases “My stupidity could have made a lot of people sick. I became so ill I should have been hospitalized but was afraid that I may never see my kids again,” he said. A Public Health nurse called to check and suggested they be hospitalized for treatment and to be more comfortable, he added. “I had every symptom possible and by the second week it started to affect my lungs, nose, and bronchial tube,” Fortin said. “It burned to breathe. One night, I woke up and asked my wife to talk to me because I was sure it may be our last conversation.” Things started to improve after being sick for three weeks and the Fortin family cases were considered resolved Sunday. “I feel much better but still a little weak,” he said, adding praise for the support they received. “As sick as we were, our neighbors were amazing with support and help. My closest neighbor Marcel did our grocery shopping and his wife made our family an amazing meat pie,” he said. “Neighbors were calling to check on us and to offer their help and I must say thank you so much to them” for being there in their time of need. “Sturgeon Falls is the most amazing community we have ever lived in and thank you for accepting us and making us feel so welcomed,” he wrote. He suggests people be diligent and follow Public Health advice: “If you show any cold or flu symptoms don't assume it is. Go get tested, it’s easy, painless, and fast. “Always keep your mask on and practice safe distancing in public. It’s so easy to spread this virus. When you go through a drive-thru or use a debit machine, sanitize immediately before they hand your stuff to you. “When grocery shopping, ask if your cart was sprayed before you use it and if not clean it yourself or request it to be and the most important thing when you’re around friends or family you don't live with, WEAR YOUR MASK. “I made one mistake and almost lost my life so I feel very lucky to be here and just want to help this amazing community in any way I can. Thank you,” he wrote. Dave Dale is a Local Journalism Reporter with BayToday.ca. LJI is funded by the Government of Canada. Dave Dale, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, BayToday.ca