Ontario has set records for new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions, as the consequences of Christmas gatherings start to set in and the province still has a few weeks before numbers start coming down.
Ontario has set records for new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions, as the consequences of Christmas gatherings start to set in and the province still has a few weeks before numbers start coming down.
In announcing a planned phone call on Friday between U.S. President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the White House's intended message was clear: Traditional allies are back in favour while despots, dictators and the killers of dissenters are on the outs. The way press secretary Jen Psaki announced the scheduled call with Trudeau was revealing, as it came in response to a question that had nothing at all to do with Canada's prime minister. She was asked about Vladimir Putin. Specifically, she was asked when Biden would speak with the Russian leader. Psaki replied that it wasn't an immediate priority. "[Biden's] first foreign leader call will be on Friday with Prime Minister Trudeau," she said. "I would expect his early calls will be with partners and allies. He feels it's important to rebuild those relationships." U.S. plans to investigate Russia Psaki elaborated on Putin in a separate news conference where she described Russia as "reckless" and "adversarial." She said Biden has tasked the intelligence community with reporting on a variety of alleged Russian transgressions: cyberattacks on U.S. companies, interference in U.S. politics, the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and Russian-paid bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Yet the goal of rebalancing relationships away from rivals toward like-minded countries has been tested already. Some Canadians, notably Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, want trade retaliation against the U.S. following the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline on Day 1 of the new administration. The decision undermines Canada's No. 1 export to the United States: oil. WATCH | The National's report on Keystone XL: Biden's foreign policy ambitions will keep being tested as international relationships undergo unwieldy twists on any given issue due to practical and political considerations. Here is what we already know about the Biden administration's approach to other countries after its first couple of days in office. The moves so far The administration will release a report on suspected Saudi government involvement in the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, an issue the last administration showed little interest in pursuing. It is also threatening to cancel support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. It is willing to consider new NATO expansion on Russia's doorstep, into Georgia, and in fact is staunchly supportive of the international military alliance. And Biden has rejoined previous alliances the U.S. was either scheduled to exit (the World Health Organization) or had already left (the Paris climate accord). These activities are intended to signal a dramatic change in foreign policy from Biden's predecessor, Donald Trump, who frequently bashed the leaders of democracies and international institutions while simultaneously cultivating friendly relationships with non-democratic leaders in the Middle East, Russia and North Korea. There will be contradictions in Biden's approach — as there were in Trump's. For example, while Trump often had kind words for dictators, he also sanctioned their countries on occasion, including Russia and China. Also, don't count on an ambitious foreign policy from Biden. Early on, the new administration will be busy juggling domestic crises, said Edward Alden, an expert on Canada-U.S. relations. "I think we are going to see an approach to alliances that looks a lot like [Barack] Obama's — engaged, respectful, but not overly ambitious," said Alden, a senior fellow at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. "The United States has enormous problems at home, and those are going to take priority for some time." Alden said he does expect some new international initiatives, such as more active co-operation on global vaccine distribution. Biden wants changes on Canada-U.S. pandemic travel On COVID-19, Biden also wants to immediately connect with Canada and Mexico to establish new rules within 14 days for pandemic-related travel safety measures. Alden also expects an attempt to rework and revive the international nuclear deal with Iran, and establish greater co-ordination with other countries in confronting China. For example, Biden has proposed a summit of democracies where countries can share ideas for countering autocracies. Biden's nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, told his confirmation hearing this week that the last administration had a point in reorienting policy toward Beijing. "President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China," Blinken said. "The basic principle was the right one, and I think that's actually helpful to our foreign policy." He got into a testy exchange at that hearing with Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-minded Republican who favours a hands-off approach on foreign affairs. When Blinken said he was open to expanding NATO membership to Russia's neighbour Georgia, Paul called that a recipe for war with Russia. Blinken argued the opposite is true. After years of Russian incursions in non-NATO Georgia and Ukraine, recent evidence suggests Russia is most belligerent with countries outside NATO's shield, he said. Keystone XL: The early irritant Biden and Trudeau are expected to discuss new travel measures to control the spread of COVID-19, as well as Biden's decision to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion that would run south from Alberta to Nebraska. So far, Trudeau has shown little desire to escalate the pipeline issue. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, on the other hand, has demanded retaliatory action, and some trade experts say potential legal avenues do exist. WATCH | Kenny on the fate of Keystone XL: But they're skeptical they will achieve much. Eric Miller of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group, a cross-border consulting firm specializing in trade and government affairs, said the best that pipeline-backers can hope for is to sue the U.S. government for financial compensation for the cancelled project. He said the Alberta government and the project's developer, TC Energy, can try suing under the investor-state dispute chapter in the old NAFTA, which will remain in effect for two more years for existing investments. "[But] nothing is going to force the Biden administration to deliver the permit," Miller said. "One has to be clear that there is no world in which Joe Biden [retreats on this]." Canada-U.S. trade lawyer Dan Ujczo said he doubts complaints from Canada will make a difference. He said the most politically effective argument for the pipeline would come from Americans — from the companies and unions that would have serviced the project. The Ohio-based lawyer said challenges under U.S. laws, such as the Administrative Procedures Act, could potentially work, but he cautioned: "They're high hurdles."
TORONTO — Television personality Sid Seixeiro is leaving Sportsnet's "Tim & Sid" sports talk show to become the new co-host of "Breakfast Television" on Citytv. Seixeiro will make his final appearance as co-host on the show alongside longtime partner Tim Micallef on Feb. 26. Micallef will continue to host the show, which airs weekdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, with a rotating roster of co-hosts. The "Tim & Sid" show made its debut on Toronto radio station CJCL Sportsnet 590 The Fan on Dec. 12, 2011. He will make his Breakfast Television debut alongside co-host Dina Pugliese on March 10. The program was simulcast on television on The Score (now Sportsnet 360) starting in 2013, then was relaunched on Sportsnet as an afternoon television show in 2015. The show has been simulcast on The Fan since 2019 as its late afternoon drive program. “It’s been a dream to work 20 years in the sports industry, especially alongside Tim Micallef, and express my passion and love for sports on a daily basis,” Seixeiro said in a release. “I’ve always been curious to explore other areas of the business and this was a unique opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.” This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Julie Payette has resigned as Governor General, saying Canadians deserve stability in uncertain times. Payette says she is sorry for the tensions that have arisen at Rideau Hall in the past months. She is leaving amid reports that the results of an investigation into allegations of a toxic workplace at Rideau Hall are expected to be released. Payette says everyone has the right to a healthy and safe work environment and it appears this was not always the case. She says out of respect for the integrity of her office, and for the good of the country and its democratic institutions, a new Governor General should be appointed. In her statement, she says the decision also comes as her father's health has deteriorated and her family needs her help. More Coming … The Canadian Press
Multiple COVID-19 variants are circulating around the world and becoming more common. These mutations can alter the ability of the virus to take hold and replicate within our cells.
WINNIPEG — Manitoba's auditor general says the provincial government is not retrieving the vast majority of overpayments it makes to doctors. Tyson Shtykalo examined fees that physicians across the province were paid for patient examinations, surgeries and other services over a five-year period. In a report released Thursday, Shtykalo said the Health Department's own auditing branch found $1 million in overbillings submitted by doctors, but only about $11,000 was collected — just over one per cent. The government seems to focus more on educating doctors to avoid future overbillings than retrieving the money, he said. The report says the fee-for-service system is complicated and some mistakes are to be expected when there are billions of dollars in payments over a five-year period. But the Health Department has the authority to withhold future payments as a way to collect money it is owed by physicians. "The (Health Services Insurance Act) provides the department with the authority to offset overpayments against future claims from the physician." Even when the province goes after an overpayment, reimbursements are negotiated, the report says. "We were told that the department starts by asking for 80 per cent of the amount owing and the physician suggests a much smaller amount. Eventually, an agreement is reached, resulting in a repayment lower than the original overbilled amount." The group that represents the province's doctors said it is committed to accurate billing. "The auditor general's report confirms the vast majority of physician billings — over 99.9 per cent — have not been found to be inaccurate or overbilled. Only an average of about $200,000 per year out of almost $1 billion in annual physician services has been flagged as potentially overbilled," Doctors Manitoba said in a written statement. The group also questioned one part of Shtykalo's findings. It said the $1-million figure for overbillings would include suspected cases that were later followed up and deemed correct. "While it's totally legitimate for provincial auditors to flag billing submissions as a potential overpayment, it's important to note that in many cases physicians provide additional documentation that backs up their billing submission and the matter is resolved." Shtykalo confirmed his figures refer to cases as they are initially flagged by Health Department auditors. His report makes six recommendations, including retrieving all overpayments, improving training for health department auditors, and doing more reviews of payments to physicians. The Health Department said it agrees with the recommendations. Many of the issues are addressed in a bill currently before the legislature, it said. "Legislative amendments contemplated in Bill 10 are fundamentally aligned with the recommendations made by the (auditor general's office) in its report," the department said in a written response that accompanies Shtykalo's report. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021 The Canadian Press
“If I ever got a chance to speak to the Biden administration, I would plead my case,” said Nekaneet First Nation Chief Alvin Francis, president of Natural Law Energy (NLE). That “case” would be the value in continuing the United States’ portion of the 1,897-kilometre Keystone XL pipeline which travels from Hardisty, Alberta, through Saskatchewan, Montana and South Dakota, ending in Steele City, Nebraska. Yesterday, in his first day in office, new U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order rescinding his predecessor Donald Trump’s Presidential permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline border crossing. NLE, a group of three Alberta and two Saskatchewan First Nations, has been working towards a $1 billion investment in the TC Energy-owned Keystone XL pipeline. “It's a disappointment, right? It really is because it's going to affect many First Nations, even the tribes in the United States. It's going to affect them because TC Energy was almost close to actually signing up joint venture partnerships with those in the United States side,” said Francis. He says chairmen of the Nebraska tribes have told him that Biden wants to create jobs and this pipeline meets that goal. First Nations involvement was recognized by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney in a scathing address late Wednesday afternoon that condemned the new U.S. administration for rescinding the permit and not respecting its closest ally and trading partner. “Let me also point out that TC Energy has made tremendous progress in bringing on board First Nations on both sides of the border as potential equity partners,” said Kenney. However, not all U.S. tribes support the pipeline. The Native Organizers Alliance applauded Biden for his decision. “Farmers, tribal councils, ranchers, and Native non-profit organizations have been instrumental in raising awareness around the significant threats to the health and resources of Native peoples living in the path of the pipeline. And sovereign tribes have taken the issue to court to protect their territories and the Missouri River bioregion for all,” said NOA executive director Judith Le Blanc. Earlier Wednesday, in anticipation of President Biden’s decision, Calgary-based TC Energy shutdown its operation. Kenney said that shutdown had cost 2,000 people their jobs. Francis admits Biden’s actions were not unexpected. In fact, the too-close-to-call November U.S. election had dampened some of the activity undertaken by NLE. Late last year, NLE hired consultants Price Waterhouse Canada to round up investors for the $1 billion investment. Investors were found but nothing was finalized. “(Price Waterhouse has) done their job on that. But really it was, of course, the election. That's what they were waiting for also,” said Francis. Also of note were preliminary talks with the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation. The Crown corporation created by the Alberta United Conservative Party government offers loan guarantees from $25 million to $250 million for Indigenous-led natural resource projects. “Say the project and partnership was at the point they were ready to paper the deal, we would not be in a position to offer a guarantee at this time, because there is a huge risk in respect to the way the American election may go. We don’t want to put Alberta taxpayer dollars at risk,” AIOC CEO Alicia Dubois told Windspeaker.com last October. Trump’s approval of Keystone XL came after outgoing President Barack Obama nixed the project. Biden had promised to cancel the project should he win. The Kenney government has invested $1.5 billion of taxpayer money in the Keystone XL pipeline. The Biden administration is saying no to the project now, says Francis, but he is a “glass is half-full” person. He believes Biden’s decision is political as the new president is “getting away from everything Trump has put his stamp on.” “I'm not going to give up on it because, really, Keystone XL is going to be the safest, most environmentally-friendly pipeline that is. We just have to go back to the drawing table and really re-evaluate what have we got to do to make it even more environmentally friendly?” said Francis. He believes that part of that discussion with the Biden administration has to include the science around the pipeline that makes it environmentally safe and the ongoing need for oil. Francis is hopeful there is a future for Keystone because “it really is such a big project that it could mean, in every community that we have signed up, it'll make an economic difference.” In the meantime, Francis says NLE remains involved with TC Energy. “Whenever there is something, a project that is available, if they are going to approach us to see if we have interest and, of course, we're going to show interest, because any economic development or project that we can actually put our hand on to make it more green, more environmentally friendly, we want to be there to back it up,” he said. While Keystone XL pipeline is a set back for Nekaneet First Nation, it is not the only project driving the economics for that Treaty 4 Nation. “I’m always involved with the province (of Saskatchewan). I’m always talking to them in every which way,” he said. Francis said he has received band member approval to develop a section of land along a 1.5 km-stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway. He says investors are committed to a gas station in that area and there are talks about a possible Tim Hortons franchise. However, since COVID-19 hit, development has stalled. NLE members also include Little Pine First Nation in Saskatchewan and three Alberta First Nations: Ermineskin Cree, Montana, and Louis Bull Tribe. Each member was to share equally in the benefits from the Keystone XL pipeline project. Windspeaker.com By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com
The role of Canada's vice-regal has been held by a wide variety of people, from British nobles to military leaders to humanitarian advocates. Here is a list of all those who have served as Canada's governor general since Confederation: — Viscount Monck: 1861-1868 Lord Lisgar: 1868-1872 Earl of Dufferin: 1872-1878 Duke of Argyll: 1878-1883 Marquess of Lansdowne: 1883-1888 Earl of Derby: 1888-1893 Earl of Aberdeen: 1893-1898 Earl of Minto: 1898-1904 Earl Grey: 1904-1911 Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught: 1911-1916 Duke of Devonshire: 1916-1921 Lord Byng: 1921-1926 Viscount Willingdon: 1926-1931 Earl of Bessborough: 1931-1935 Lord Tweedsmuir: 1935-1940 Earl of Athlone: 1940-1946 Viscount Alexander: 1946-1952 Vincent Massey: 1952-1959 Georges Vanier: 1959-1967 Roland Michener: 1967-1974 Jules Léger: 1974-1979 Edward Schreyer: 1979-1984 Jeanne Sauvé: 1984-1990 Ramon Hnatyshyn: 1990-1995 Roméo LeBlanc: 1995-1999 Adrienne Clarkson: 1999-2005 Michaëlle Jean: 2005-2010 David Johnston: 2010-2017 Julie Payette: 2017-2021 This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
Alice Hoagland, a beloved figure of the gay rugby movement that her own son, Mark Bingham, helped set in motion shortly before he perished in the 2001 terrorist attacks as one of the heroes of Flight 93, has died. She was 71. Hoagland, a former flight attendant who became a safety activist while carrying on her son’s athletic legacy, died Dec. 22 in her sleep at her home in Los Gallos, California, after battling Addison's disease, according to longtime family friend Amanda Mark. International Gay Rugby — an organization that traces its roots to one team in London in 1995 and now consists of about 90 clubs in more than 20 countries on five continents — held Hoagland in such esteem that one of the prizes at its biennial Mark Kendall Bingham Memorial Tournament, or the Bingham Cup, is called the Hoagland Cup. Scott Glaessgen, of Norwalk, Connecticut, a friend of Bingham’s who helped organize New York’s Gotham Knights rugby club, described meeting Hoagland at the first Bingham Cup in 2002 in San Francisco. “Nine months after Mark was killed, and there she is with a never-ending smile on her face, just charming and engaging and happy and proud,” Glaessgen said. “And that resilience and that strength that she just exuded was really inspirational.” Amanda Mark, of Sydney, Australia, praised Hoagland for always fighting for people — and continuing to do so after losing her son by standing up for aviation safety and LGBT rights. “Through the Bingham Cup,” Mark said, “she became the inspiration and the acceptance that a lot of LGBT folks needed when they may have been challenged with their families or friends to be true to themselves.” Bingham, 31 when he died, had played on a champion rugby team at the University of California, Berkeley. He helped organize the gay San Francisco Fog team in 2000 and quickly became its main forward. He was on United Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001, when hijackers commandeered it. He called his mother and told her he loved her. “I only got 3 minutes with him and when I tried to call back, I couldn’t get through,” Hoagland told the Iowa City Press-Citizen in 2019. “As a flight attendant for 20 years, I wanted to tell him to sit down and don’t draw attention to yourself.” But the 6-foot-5, 220-pound Bingham fought back, posthumously winning praise as an openly gay patriot who joined other passengers in foiling the hijackers and causing the plane to crash in rural Pennsylvania instead of its intended target, believed to be the U.S. Capitol. “He grew from a shy, chubby kid into a tall rugby competitor with the ability to amass his energy to face a real enemy in the cockpit of an airplane," Hoagland told the Press-Citizen. Bingham and Hoagland's stories went on to be chronicled in film and screen, including the TV movie “Flight 93," HBO’s "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” and the documentary “The Rugby Player.” Hoagland became an advocate for airline security and for allowing relatives of 9-11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia over claims it played a role in the attacks. “We’re less interested in any kind of financial gain than we are in bringing the truly guilty into court and making our case known,” Hoagland told The Associated Press in 2016. The first Bingham Cup consisted of eight teams and was hosted by its namesake's home team. Today, it is billed as the world’s largest amateur rugby event, and cities bid to host it. It was last held in Amsterdam in 2018 with 74 teams competing. Hoagland was a celebrity at every tournament she attended. Players flocked to meet her and have a photo taken. She always obliged. Jeff Wilson, of International Gay Rugby, recalled in a post on the organization's Facebook page a conversation with Hoagland at the 2012 Bingham Cup in Manchester, England. His mother had recently died. “I asked how she kept on during grief — she said it was a purpose, and a calling and that I would keep going because it drove me,” he wrote. “Her compassion, heart and focus on others touched me in ways that I cannot express.” No memorial service is yet planned. Jeff McMillan, The Associated Press
TORONTO — One of Ontario's top doctors says the province's COVID-19 numbers are showing improvement but it's too soon to say if it's the start of a trend. Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Barbara Yaffe says that the provincial case rate has started to decline for the first time since November. She says the current rate sits at 145.4 cases per 100,000 people, which still remains high. Yaffe says the average per cent positivity on COVID-19 tests has also dropped to 5.3 per cent, down from 6.3 per cent last week. The province is also reporting that 26 public health units have experienced decreasing virus case rates. Yaffe says an additional week or two of data will be required to fully assess the trajectory of the virus in the province. Ontario reported 2,632 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday and 46 more deaths linked to the virus. The total number includes 102 cases from Toronto that were not reported earlier this week due to a technical issue that has now been resolved. Health Minister Christine Elliott said there are 897 new cases in Toronto, 412 in Peel Region, 245 in York Region, 162 in Ottawa and 118 in Waterloo Region. Meanwhile, Ontario is opening a pair of new COVID-19 isolation centres this week to help people recover from the virus. The centres will open in Brampton and Oshawa, while two similar facilities that opened in Toronto in the fall will receive additional beds. The province said similar centres are also operating in Ottawa and Peel and Waterloo regions. The centres are intended to help people who have contracted the novel coronavirus self-isolate and keep their families safe. People staying in those centres are provided meals, security, transportation, and have access to health and social services. The province said it will create up to 1,525 additional beds for safe isolation in the coming weeks. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
Council in Pitt Meadows, B.C., wants Canadian Pacific Railway to pay more local taxes to better reflect the impact its operations have on the city's residents. On Tuesday night, council voted to direct staff to kick off a push to have the tax classification changed for the railway, which cuts right through the middle of the city and creates noise and pollution, according to the mayor. It's the start of a long lobbying effort that will have to go through the Lower Mainland Local Government Association before it's taken to the Union of B.C. Municipalities and finally the B.C. government. City officials say it would increase the taxes CP Railway pays Pitt Meadows from the 2020 total of about $1.7 million to more than $2.1 million. If council is ultimately successful, the impact would not be limited to Pitt Meadows — the change would take effect across the province, meaning any municipality with railroads and railway operations would receive more tax revenue from rail companies. Railways are currently given a tax classification of Class 6, which is described as "business and other" and mostly covers properties like offices and retail space. Pitt Meadows council wants to have that changed to Class 5, which is light industrial. The impacts of the railway in Pitt Meadows, according to Mayor Bill Dingwall, include diesel particulate, noise and vibrations affecting residential neighbourhoods, and loud bangs from train cars coupling along the tracks — all of which he considers inconsistent with the current classification. He said the company runs about 45 trains through Pitt Meadows each day, and about 1,000 trucks access the large intermodal facility near the Pitt River, where goods are loaded and unloaded. He said the operation continues 24 hours a day and seven days a week. "If you look at the impacts of rail going through your community — it's not the same as a dentist," Dingwall said. Proposed railway expansion The railway's tax rate recently caught council's attention when the company proposed a major expansion in Pitt Meadows on about 100 acres of agricultural land it had purchased to the south of its intermodal facility. Dingwall said the entire council and many members of the community are opposed to the expansion, which would include grain silos and fuel storage — both considered a high hazard, especially for a city without a full time fire department. If the railway's tax rate is changed to Class 5, the annual taxes on the proposed facility would increase by about $660,000. Dingwall said the council is unanimously behind a separate plan involving the railway — a $141 million project to build road crossings that wouldn't be interrupted by regular trains. CBC News has contacted CP Railway for a reaction to the council's vote. Do you have more to add to this story? Email email@example.com Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker
BATON ROUGE, La. — Julia Letlow, the widow of Republican U.S. Rep.-elect Luke Letlow, described herself as “both full of grief while also having hope for the future" as she registered Thursday to compete for the congressional seat her husband was unable to fill because of his death from COVID-19 complications. After filing her paperwork for the March 20 election, Julia Letlow faced reporters at the same podium where she stood with her husband six months earlier when he signed up for his bid to represent northeast and central Louisiana. This time, she stood alone. She pledged to continue Luke Letlow's vision for the 5th District, defended her own accomplishments and talked of the respect for public service she shared with her husband and wanted to pass along to their two young children. “We don’t always get to choose what happens to us. But we do get to choose how to respond. Today, I choose to continue to move forward. Today, I choose hope,” said Julia Letlow, 39, a Republican who lives in the small town of Start in Richland Parish. Her husband died Dec. 29 at the age of 41, only weeks after winning a runoff election for the congressional seat and days before he was scheduled to be sworn into office. Julia Letlow said she knows the issues of the poverty-plagued district from travelling with her husband during the campaign and because of Luke Letlow's tenure as chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, a Republican who stepped down after three terms and endorsed Luke Letlow for the job. Abraham now is supporting Julia Letlow for the seat in the special election. “I wouldn’t have done this without his blessing,” Julia Letlow said of Abraham. Julia Letlow has never run for office “besides sixth-grade president" but said she often had conversations with her husband about the possibility. She dismissed suggestions she was riding her husband's political coattails or trying to capitalize off sympathy to get the congressional job, saying she has her own experience to qualify her for the position. “While Luke and I were a dynamo team and I miss him every day, still you’re your own individual person with your own qualifications and accomplishments in life, and I feel like I am very well qualified to run for this 5th Congressional District seat,” Julia Letlow told The Associated Press in an interview Thursday. “Look at my qualifications. Take a look at my bio. Make your decision there.” She has a career in higher education, with a Ph.D. in communication. She's on leave from her job with the University of Louisiana at Monroe, where she works as top assistant to the president for external affairs and community outreach. Six other contenders so far are vying for the congressional seat on the March ballot, including two who ran last fall. One of them, Allen Guillory, an Opelousas Republican, said Wednesday he’s worried about Julia Letlow’s two young children. Guillory said if Julia Letlow wins the congressional seat, “those kids could lose two parents.” Julia Letlow responded that she's running because of 3-year-old Jeremiah and 1-year-old Jacqueline. “I hope to illustrate for them the power of fortitude, resilience and perseverance," she said. Her campaign platform remains similar to her husband's priorities, with a focus on job development, expanded access to broadband internet and support for agriculture industries. She said she intends a bipartisan approach, “while staying true to my conservative ideals and values that I hold dear.” Asked if she thought President Joe Biden was properly elected to the office, Julia Letlow paused. Then, she said she believes Biden “is the legitimate U.S. president." When pressed, she said she does not have the continuing concerns that some Republicans have cited about fraud. She noted those allegations were litigated in many court cases, where no widespread voter fraud was found. “I have faith in our election cycle, I do,” she said. “I have faith in our democracy.” The sprawling 5th District covers all or part of 24 parishes, including the cities of Alexandria and Monroe. It's one of two congressional seats on the March ballot. Voters also will fill the New Orleans-based 2nd District seat, which is open after Democrat Cedric Richmond left the position to work for President Joe Biden’s administration. The signup period for both races wraps up Friday. ___ Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at http://twitter.com/melindadeslatte. Melinda Deslatte, The Associated Press
Rod Brind'Amour lamented Carolina's season coming to a screeching halt despite doing “a great job” adhering to pandemic protocols. For Peter Laviolette, his Washington Capitals will keep playing for the next week without four prominent players who broke the rules. Each team is getting punished in a different way after being affected by the virus. The Hurricanes had games postponed through at least Saturday and won't get to practice in person with a handful of players on the COVID-19 list. There's no indication the Capitals are being shut down, though they will have to play the next four games without captain Alex Ovechkin, No. 1 centre Evgeny Kuznetsov, top-four defenceman Dmitry Orlov and starting goaltender Ilya Samsonov. “We totally understand why the rules are in place, and there’s no arguing with that,” said Laviolette, who's in his first season as Washington's coach. “We knew the rules. We’re not sitting here saying that we were uninformed or we weren’t aware. We need to do a better job.” The NHL fined the Capitals $100,000 for breaking protocol by having those four players in a hotel room together with none of them wearing a mask. Laviolette said there was a positive test result, which led to contact tracing, and Washington will be forced to ice a patchwork lineup for its home opener Friday night against Buffalo. There's no hard and fast timeframe for how long a player who tests positive or has potential exposure must be out. The NHL defers to local authorities, and the minimum four games for the Capitals players relates to the District of Columbia's quarantine regulations. After Ovechkin expressed regret for the mistake that will cost him and his fellow Russians two games against the Sabres and two against the New York Islanders, teammates said Thursday the protocols were spelled out for them before the season. “It’s not a situation we want to be in, but here we are,” centre Nicklas Backstrom said. “We’re a tight group. Every time we’re on the road, we see a chance to really connect as a group, but obviously it’s a violation.” Carolina has been off since Tuesday, when Teuvo Teraivanen, Jaccob Slavin, Jordan Martinook and Warren Foegele joined captain Jordan Staal on the COVID-19 unavailable list. The Hurricanes have so far had three games postponed because of their outbreak and won't play for at least a week. “We'vw done all the protocols — we’ve tried,” Brind’Amour said. “Obviously it didn’t matter, it got into our room.” Carolina, Dallas, Florida, Nashville and defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay have all had at least one game postponed because of COVID-19 concerns. The NHL said 17 Stars players tested positive, and their first four games were rescheduled. “We’re in a position that we have catch-up to do: catch up in the standings, catch up in games played,” said Dallas coach Rick Bowness, whose team finally plays its first game Friday at Nashville. “The other teams are playing 56 games in 118 days, I think we’re playing them in 108, so our schedule just got a lot more condensed and there’s going to be times with this schedule because of the cancellation of those games it’s going to really hurt us.” Each team is required to carry a “taxi squad” of four to six players who travel with the team and can be called up if necessary as a way to prevent postponements. The Capitals had to dig three deep into theirs to make up for some big losses. Because of the taxi squads, the NHL doesn't have an official number of players unavailable that would postpone a game. Commissioner Gary Bettman said before the season those decisions would be made on a case-by-case basis. Brind'Amour and Carolina general manager Don Waddell didn't seem to question any player's judgement amid the team's pause. Some players are stuck in Nashville while the rest of the Hurricanes are home because of NHL protocols spelling out what to do when positive test results happen on the road; everyone's limited to virtual practices and meetings with the practice facility closed. “I think we all understood there was a chance that something like this was going to happen," Brind'Amour said. “It’s not really about was it going to happen, it’s how do you deal with it. I think that’s really what we’re going to find out.” ___ AP Sports Writers Aaron Beard and Stephen Hawkins contributed. ___ More AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press
Work on the Oyster Bed Bridge replacement will take longer than expected due to COVID-19-related supply chain issues. The contractor for the project is based on the mainland — and it's been difficult to get materials to the Island since P.E.I. left the Atlantic bubble, says Neil Lawless, bridge engineer working on the project. "It just takes longer, you know, also sanitation and just takes longer to do the work, and so that's part and parcel to this life that we're in now. We're working as best we can to balance it all out," Lawless said. Route 6 where the road crosses over to Wheatley River has been closed since mid-October. Now the province is pushing the reopening of the bridge to the end of March, about a month later than initially expected. All construction is taking longer due to workers having to follow COVID-19 restrictions, said Lawless. "They, you know, have to maintain their separation and it just takes longer," he said. The new bridge will be longer, wider and provide more clearance for water traffic such as boats, he said. "The new bridge is designed by the current highway and bridge design code and it can take heavier loads and so it'll certainly be safer," he said. The project was started in October to minimize impacts on local industries such as farming and fishing, Lawless said. "It's never nice to have a detour and with bridge construction, but it's the nature of the game I guess. We have to replace it for public safety." The hope is after the bridge is replaced it will last about 75 years, he said. However, the detour currently in place is affecting residents who live near the area. "It's affecting me quite a bit at times. When I go to North Rustico to grab groceries and things like that it takes a lot longer," said Adam James, who lives in Brackley. "It takes at least another 10 to 15 minutes depending on the weather. Besides that it is a bit of an inconvenience and I thought it'd be done by now." The bridge replacement is a $3.2 million project. The province says the slow down due to COVID-19 won't add to the costs. More from CBC P.E.I.
Can COVID-19 vaccines be mixed and matched? Health officials say both doses should be of the same vaccine. The COVID-19 vaccines rolling out in the United States, the United Kingdom and other parts of the world so far require two shots given a few weeks apart. In the U.S. where Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being distributed, health officials say the vaccines are not interchangeable. In England where shots by Pfizer and AstraZeneca are available, officials also say the doses should be consistent. But in the rare event that the same kind isn’t available or if it's not known what was given for the first shot, English officials say it’s OK to give whichever vaccine is available for the second shot. Since the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines focus on the spike protein that coats the coronavirus, they say a mismatched dose is better than partial protection. But without any studies, vaccine doses should not be mixed, said Naor Bar-Zeev, a vaccine expert at Johns Hopkins University. If people do happen to get a different vaccine for their second shot by accident, Bar-Zeev said it is likely “to work fine and likely to be well tolerated," but evidence is needed to be sure. ___ The AP is answering your questions about the coronavirus in this series. Submit them at: FactCheck@AP.org. Read previous Viral Questions: Should I get a COVID-19 vaccine if I’ve had the virus? If I’ve already had the coronavirus, can I get it again? How quickly do I need a second vaccine shot? The Associated Press
TORONTO — Canada's main stock index dropped for the first time in four trading sessions on a broad-based decline led by the energy sector. The S&P/TSX composite index closed down 98.71 points to 17,916.20. In New York, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 12.37 points at 31,176.01. The S&P 500 index was up 1.22 points at 3,853.07, while the Nasdaq composite was up 73.67 points at 13,530.92. The Canadian dollar traded for 79.20 cents US compared with 79.01 cents US on Wednesday. The March crude oil contract was down 18 cents at US$53.13 per barrel and the March natural gas contract was down 3.6 cents at US$2.50 per mmBTU. The February gold contract was down 60 cents US at US$1,865.90 an ounce and the March copper contract was up less than a penny at nearly US$3.65 a pound. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. Companies in this story: (TSX:GSPTSE, TSX:CADUSD=X) The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden has proposed to Russia a five-year extension of a nuclear arms treaty that is otherwise set to expire in February, the White House said Thursday. Biden proposed the extension even as he asked the intelligence community to look closely into Russia's cyberattacks, its alleged interference in the 2020 election and other actions, press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters. Russia has said for some time that it would welcome an extension of the New START treaty, which limits the number of U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear weapons. The Trump administration made a late bid to extend the treaty, but its conditions were rejected by Russia. U.S. allies, particularly in Europe, are sure to applaud Biden’s proposal, which also provides an early signal of his intent to pursue arms control, Psaki noted that a five-year extension is permitted by the treaty and it “makes even more sense when the relationship with Russia is adversarial as it is at this time.” She called the treaty, which is the last remaining arms control pact between Washington and Moscow since the Trump administration withdrew from two others, “an anchor of strategic stability between our two countries.” Despite the extension proposal, Psaki said Biden was committed to holding Russia “to account for its reckless and adversarial actions,” such as its alleged involvement in the Solar Winds hacking event, 2020 election interference, the chemical poisoning of opposition figure Alexei Navalny and the widely reported allegations that Russia may have offered bounties to the Taliban to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan was to convey the extension proposal to Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Anatoly Antonov, on Thursday afternoon, according to one official familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private diplomatic conversations. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg earlier Thursday called on the United States and Russia to extend the treaty and to later broaden it. “We should not end up in a situation with no limitation on nuclear warheads, and New START will expire within days,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels. The treaty expires on Feb. 5. Stoltenberg underlined that “an extension of the New START is not the end, it’s the beginning of our efforts to further strengthen arms control.” The treaty, signed in 2010 by President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads. Obama won Senate ratification of the treaty with a commitment to move ahead with a vast and enormously expensive recapitalization of the U.S. nuclear force. That program, which some Democrats in Congress call excessive, is likely to be further scrutinized by the Biden administration. At a projected cost exceeding $1 trillion over the next several decades, the plan is to replace each of the three “legs” of the U.S. nuclear triad — ballistic missile submarines, nuclear-capable bomber aircraft and land-based nuclear missiles. President Donald Trump had been highly critical of New START, asserting that it put the United States at a disadvantage. His administration waited until last year to engage Russia in substantive talks on the treaty's future. Trump insisted that China be added to the treaty, but Beijing rejected the idea out of hand. Trump's lead negotiator on New START discussions with the Russians, Marshall S. Billingslea, wrote on Twitter on Thursday that Biden would be making a mistake by quickly agreeing to a five-year extension. “Hope this is not true,” he wrote, referring to news reports of Thursday's proposal. “If so, shows stunning lack of negotiating skill. Took just 24 hours for Biden team to squander most significant leverage we have over Russia.” Robert Soofer, who was the Trump administration's top nuclear policy official at the Pentagon, said in an interview that he sees the Biden decision to accept a five-year extension as a lost opportunity. “The Russians are likely to pocket this extension and walk away from the table,” Soofer said, rather than accede to a longstanding U.S. request that they negotiate limits on other categories of nuclear weapons, such as tactical weapons. Some U.S. officials have been leery of renewing New START without getting a Russian commitment to negotiate limits on new types of strategic weapons, including Moscow's nuclear-capable Avangard hypersonic long-range missile. Biden, who indicated during the campaign that he favoured extending New START, is not proposing any alterations, the U.S. official said. Thus it appeared likely that Moscow would be amenable to an extension. The proposal was reported first by The Washington Post. Matthew Lee And Robert Burns, The Associated Press
TORONTO — The Toronto Blue Jays have signed right-handed pitcher Tyler Chatwood to a one-year, US$3-million contract. The move, which had been reported earlier this week, adds another arm to the Blue Jays' pitching staff along with 2019 MLB saves leader Kirby Yates, who signed a one-year deal with Toronto on Wednesday. The moves are part of a busy off-season for Toronto that includes an agreement with star outfielder George Springer on a six-year contract worth a reported $150 million, pending a physical. The 31-year-old Chatwood started five games for the Chicago Cubs in 2020, going 2-2 with a 5.30 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings before getting derailed with various injuries, including a right forearm strain that shut him down for the second half of the season. Chatwood, from Redlands, Calif., is 51-57 with a 4.40 ERA over nine seasons split between Los Angeles Angels, Colorado Rockies and Cubs. He made his debut with the Angels as a 21-year-old in 2011 before getting traded to the Rockies at the end of his only season with the club that drafted him. Chatwood spent the next five seasons in Colorado, before signing a three-year, $38-million deal with Chicago in 2017. Chatwood, who has been a starter for the majority of his career but has served as a reliever when needed, missed most of 2014 and all of 2015 following Tommy John surgery. This report by The Canadian Press was first published January 21, 2021. The Canadian Press
Researchers at Ruhr University use designer protein brain injections to regenerate spinal nerves which allow paralyzed mice to walk again.
The incoming chief executive of Intel Corp said on Thursday that most of the company's 2023 products will be made in Intel factories but he sketched a dual-track future in which it will lean more heavily on outside factories. The lack of a strong embrace of outsourcing from new CEO Pat Gelsinger drove shares down 4.7% after hours. Intel also forecast first-quarter revenue and profit above Wall Street expectations, continuing to benefit from pandemic demand for laptops and PCs that have powered the shift to working and playing from home.
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. — A Newfoundland and Labrador ferry company has confirmed a second case of COVID-19 among the crew of one of its vessels that travels to Nova Scotia. The company and provincial health officials reported the second infection today and said the affected person is isolating. Authorities in Newfoundland and Labrador say the employee is a man in his 60s. Marine Atlantic reported the first infection among the crew of the MV Blue Puttees on Wednesday. The Newfoundland and Labrador company suspended service along the vessel's route between North Sydney, N.S., and Port au Basques, N.L. The company said today the Blue Puttees is still out commission and the MV Atlantic Vision will pick up its route. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 21, 2021. The Canadian Press