In the cat's defense, it looks like it was trying to escape the husky! Priceless!
In the cat's defense, it looks like it was trying to escape the husky! Priceless!
Any members of the U.S. Congress who helped a crowd of President Donald Trump's supporters storm the Capitol should face criminal prosecution, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Friday. The unprecedented Jan. 6 attack on the seat of Congress left five dead and led the House to impeach Trump a second time, for a fiery speech that day in which he urged thousands of his followers to fight Democratic President-elect Joe Biden's victory. Democratic Representative Mikie Sherrill, a former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot, has accused some Republican lawmakers of helping Trump supporters, saying she saw colleagues leading groups on "reconnaissance" tours on Jan. 5.
TORONTO — Pooria Behrouzy was honoured to be offered a full-time job as a COVID-19 vaccine support worker at Trillium Health Partners last month. The international student in health informatics at George Brown College was already on staff at the Mississauga, Ont., hospital network after working on an IT project, and he was eager to contribute to the rollout of the vaccine that’s brought hope during the pandemic’s increasingly grim second wave. But a roadblock stopped Behrouzy from accepting the full-time shifts offered: as an international student, he can only work a maximum of 20 hours per week while classes are in session or he risks losing his study permit and legal status in Canada. Behrouzy, who is now working part time at the hospital, said it’s disappointing that he can’t contribute fully. “I can work and I can help against this COVID ... why (am I) not able to do that?” said the 42-year-old, who is from Iran. “It's very sad that I'm not fully available.” His colleague Passang Yugyel Tenzin had a similar experience. Tenzin, a 26-year-old graduate of health informatics currently studying in another IT program, was working on the same project at the hospital as Behrouzy before he received an offer to work on the vaccine support team as well. The non-medical role involves providing scheduling support to ensure all available doses are administered and other administrative tasks that keep the process running smoothly. Tenzin, who is from Bhutan, signed on for the job in a part-time capacity but noted that the 20-hour limit would make scheduling 12-hour shifts a challenge. Working full time would be beneficial for his own education and for the health-care system that's struggling to keep up with skyrocketing COVID-19 infections, vaccinations and other important services, he said. “We can learn more and on top of that, we can contribute more to this situation currently, because they actually need a lot of people,” Tenzin said in a phone interview. “We can contribute a lot if we were given the opportunity to work full time.” Ottawa temporarily lifted the restriction on international students’ work hours last April, saying the change was aimed at easing the staffing crunch in health care and other essential workplaces. The measure expired on Aug. 31, 2020, and has not been reinstated. The press secretary for the office of the federal immigration minister said the government is grateful for the role newcomers have played in Canada's pandemic response. "As more students returned to regular studies in the fall of 2020, the work hour restriction was reinstated at the request of provinces, territories and educational institutions, due to concerns about students working full time while also completing a full course load," Alexander Cohen said in a statement. Behrouzy said he doesn't understand why the limit on work hours was reinstated while the pandemic is still ongoing and hospitals need more support than ever. “I'm available to work and all the schools, the universities and colleges are remote now, so why not extend this exception again?” he said. “It’s really disappointing.” Trillium Health Partners said in a statement that it's continually assessing staffing needs at its COVID-19 vaccine clinics, and international students currently work on its vaccine team in administrative functions. "THP supports and accommodates international students within the federal government requirements," it said. Sarom Rho, who leads the Migrant Students United campaign with the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, said the pandemic is an opportunity to ditch the restriction on work hours that advocates have long fought to remove. Rho said she’s spoken with students in other health-care fields like nursing who are also eager to work more but are hindered by the limit on their hours. "This kind of unfairness is totally based on status," Rho said. "The fact that they are migrants is what is causing the limitation and the restrictions of how they can work, where they can work and when they can work, and how that work will be valued." Migrant Students United also wants Ottawa to make work hours done in essential jobs count towards permanent residency applications. Rho said it's time to consider how work done by people on study permits is valued in Canada. "Respecting the labour is fundamental," she said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. Holly McKenzie-Sutter, The Canadian Press
Ontario residents received an emergency alert on their phone shortly after 10 a.m. on Thursday reminding them that the province’s stay-at-home order has officially come into effect. The directive to stay at home and leave only when absolutely necessary is clear – but the fine details about rules, enforcement and penalties are still being ironed out. Public Health Sudbury and Districts will be working in collaboration with the Greater Sudbury Police and City of Greater Sudbury bylaw officers in a joint initiative to enforce COVID-19 legislation. Under the new rules, indoor gatherings with people from different households and outdoor gatherings of over five people are prohibited. Non-essential businesses will operate under limited store hours, and all employees who can work from home must do so. “The new COVID-19 modelling released by the province this week is alarming, and it shows we could be in for a very difficult few months before mass vaccinations are available,” said Greater Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger. “This virus is on track to overwhelm our health-care system if we don’t get it in check. It’s imperative that we take this seriously. Please follow the orders. Stay home as much as you can. Be smart about the decisions you make. Let’s continue to set a positive example for the rest of Ontario.” On Thursday, three new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Sudbury. Overall, Ontario reported 3,326 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and 62 more deaths linked to the virus. Health Minister Christine Elliott said there are 968 new cases in Toronto, 572 in Peel Region and 357 in York Region. Both law enforcement and public health agencies will operate under the assumption that most people want to follow the rules, and discretion will be used by all parties to determine if an individual or business is violating the law. The health unit said that an emphasis will be placed on education, and complaints will be judged on a case-by-case basis. “For the most part, Public Health will be working with police and bylaw on complaints. When a complaint comes in, we will continue to work with our partners to enforce the legislation as needed,” said Burgess Hawkins, Manager in the Health Protection Division at Public Health. “The normal system, which we’ve been using quite successfully up to this point, is that we go in, talk to people, and educate them. We typically find that if you explain what needs to be done, most people and businesses are willing to comply.” Burgess offered a simple explanation as to why some of the rules seem so vague – it’s just impossible for the province to determine what is essential for every individual and business in Ontario. For example, it’s not easy to determine whether employees need to go into an office or whether they can work from home. “Maybe an employee can technically work from home, but if you talk to them, you find out that their spouse and their child are both on the computer all day for work or school. Their internet access is not great, and a third person on there crashes their internet,” he said. “We really have to find out what the situation is. If we got a complaint like that, we would go in and ask questions and look at the relevant legislation on what needs to happen.” Complaints can be registered with the City of Greater Sudbury by calling 311. They can be about the unauthorized use of closed city facilities, people not self-isolating after international travel, continued operation of non-essential businesses, indoor organized events or social gatherings, or outdoor gatherings of over five people. Once a complaint is filed, it will be logged and directed to the appropriate party depending on the time of day, the severity, and the type of issue, according to the City. “We continue to work with Public Health and Greater Sudbury Police to focus on educating and engaging with residents and businesses to ensure compliance,” said spokesperson Kelly Brooks. “Just like we've been doing up to this point, we do ask people to contact (us) if they have concerns about individuals or businesses not following the provincial orders. Fines could be laid for those who blatantly or repeatedly break the rules.” As part of the state of emergency, Brooks added, the province announced that it has enhanced the authority of law enforcement officers. “We’re working with our partners to evaluate what this means locally and finalize the details of any changes to enforcement efforts. We’ll provide any updates in the coming days,” she said. A spokesperson for Greater Sudbury issued a similar statement, saying police will “continue to engage with, encourage and educate community members and business owners in order to ensure compliance.” “Officers will conduct the enforcement required for all municipal, provincial and federal legislation using the legal framework provided by the Provincial and Federal governments,” said Kaitlyn Dunn. “Those who choose to blatantly disregard the new orders including individuals, businesses or corporations will be fined under Ontario Regulation 11/21.” Set fines vary from $750 for failure to comply with an order to $1,000 for preventing others from following an order. Maximum fines are up to $100,000 for individuals and $10 million for a corporation. Police officers will be able to use their discretion in terms of whether an individual or a business needs to be ticketed. They also have the authority to temporarily close premises or disperse crowds. However, Dunn said that police were not directed to stop vehicles or question people in the streets to check for compliance with the stay-at-home order. Work, school, and childcare are all considered essential purposes under the new order, as well as leaving the house to obtain food, healthcare services or medications, or other necessary items. All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. The restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery. People are also allowed to access government services, social services, and mental health and addictions support services. “Doing anything that is necessary to respond to or avoid an imminent risk to the health or safety of an individual, including protecting oneself or others from domestic violence, leaving or assisting someone in unsafe living conditions and seeking emergency assistance” is considered an exception. Exercise is permitted “using an outdoor recreational amenity that is permitted to be open under the Stage 1 Order.” “The Province mentioned exercise as one of its examples of essential outings. So, outdoor rinks are open for those looking to stay active and get some fresh air, but users should stay two metres away from those who are not part of their household,” said Brooks. “Hockey, shinny, ringette and any other sports or games where people are within two metres of each other are not permitted. Everyone just needs to try and do their part.” Burgess also suggested using discretion when it comes to outdoor activities. If a skating rink, a trail, or a toboggan hill is too crowded to allow for appropriate social distancing, then families are asked to opt out. It’s important to note that if an individual lives alone, they can gather with one other household, and the order “does not apply to individuals who are homeless.” The order also states that “taking a child to the child’s parent or guardian or to the parent or guardian’s residence” and “travelling between the homes of parents, guardians, caregivers, if the individual is under their care” is allowed. A full list of exceptions to the stay-at-home rule is available online at files.ontario.ca/solgen-stay-at-home-order-2021-01-13.pdf. “We realize that the restrictions that have been put in are hard. Staying at home is hard, but the disease is spreading. If we can slow it down, get it to a point where we’re not looking at overcrowding of the ICUs, that’s a benefit for everybody,” said Burgess. “Please stay home. If you are out, you must wear a face covering, wash your hands, and keep that physical distance.” For information about local COVID-19 data, visit www.phsd.ca/covid-19. For information on the provincial public health measures during the State of Emergency, visit www.ontario.ca/page/enhancing-public-health-and-workplace-safety-measures-provincewide-shutdown. Residents with questions about provincial rules and regulations or effects on City programs and services are encouraged to call 311 or live webchat with the City at 311.greatersudbury.ca. The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government. firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @SudburyStar Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Sudbury Star
PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Pakistani authorities sacked a local police chief and 11 other policemen for failing to protect a Hindu temple that was set on fire and demolished last month by a mob led by hundreds of supporters of a radical Islamist party, police said Friday. The 12 policemen were fired over “acts of cowardice" and “negligence" for not trying to stop the mob when it attacked the temple, with some having fled the scene. Another 48 policemen were given various punishments following a probe into the attack, the police statement said. The punishments come amid government assurances to the Hindu community that the temple in Karak, a town in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, would be rebuilt. Hours after the Dec. 30 attack, authorities arrested about 100 people on charges of participating or provoking the mob to demolish the temple. The detainees included supporters of the radical Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party, who are currently facing trials on various charges. The attack took place after members of the Hindu community received permission from local authorities to renovate the temple. Although Muslims and Hindus generally live peacefully together in Pakistan, there have been other attacks on Hindu temples in recent years. Most of Pakistan’s minority Hindus migrated to India in 1947 when India was divided by Britain’s government. The Associated Press
It all started with a class trip for the grade 7/8 class at Immanuel Christian School to learn more about dune ecology and the sensitive habitat along the shore with staff from Island Nature Trust. It was an eye-opening experience for the young students who learned to see the beach area in a whole new light. "I learned that the sand dunes are really delicate and if you step on them, then that clump of grass where you step on will die and that affects the whole entire beach," said Grade 7 student Emika Jorritsma. The lessons — modified to follow local public health guidelines at the time — fit in with what the students were learning in the classroom. "Our first unit in science focuses a lot on how we can make a positive or negative influence on ecosystems around us," said teacher Becky Rogers. "I think anytime that you can get the kids outside of the classroom and just see first-hand how they can make an impact on their environment, it just enriches the learning experience so much more." Nature as the classroom The Island Nature Trust curriculum for Grade 7 P.E.I. students was developed in 2016. The idea began with four watershed groups — Roseville/Miminegash Watersheds Inc., West Point and Area Watersheds Inc., Cascumpec Bay Watershed Association Inc. and Tignish Watershed Management Group — which partnered with Island Nature Trust to help develop the lessons. They wanted to raise awareness on how human activities were damaging the dune ecosystems. Some weathering and erosion is normal for the beach shoreline, said Lyndsay MacWilliams, a land stewardship technician with Island Nature Trust. "With climate change, the erosion and weathering rates have definitely increased and we have seen that around the Island," said MacWilliams. "But we're also getting the damage coming from humans, so it's kind of like cutting down this system from both ways." She was one of the instructors during the field trip — teaching lessons around the different ecosystems of the dune's life cycle, exploring the shore's high-tide line and invertebrate sampling. The lesson made an impression on the students, who began work on art posters to share some of what they learned. They were split into seven groups, creating posters with messages about not disturbing the wildlife, staying off the dunes and not littering. "My poster was about sensitive habitat, like, make sure that you're being careful whenever you are on the beach — watch where you're stepping," said Grade 8 student Graham Armstrong. "Because there are some birds, they lay eggs in the sand and they're small so you can't really see them that well." Rogers reached back out to Island Nature Trust and wondered if it would be possible to get the posters put up somehow, to share what the students had learned. MacWilliams said they brainstormed for a bit, and decided the students work could be displayed on Barachois Beach near Rustico, P.E.I. The designs were then put on proper sign material to be able to handle the beach weather. A plan was put together to go back out with the students in the spring to put the signs up. This thrilled the students, eager to share the message they learned with others out enjoying the beach. "I hope that they learn that there's sensitive habitat on the beach and that there are shorebirds that they need to look out for," said Grade 7 student Brayden Bootsma. "Because they deserve a habitat too so that is why we should stay off the dunes." Rogers said it was a wonderful partnership with Island Nature Trust to help make it happen and get the kids so engaged in the project. "I know that they've worked so hard on these posters and they're just really excited to be able to help other people go to the beach," Rogers said. "I know they're really excited to be able to see what they made when they go to the beaches with their families." MacWilliams said they were able to get out to deliver the presentation with five different Island schools in the fall and hope to reach more during the new year — while following all current public health guidance. For MacWilliams, she hopes the excitement and engagement around dune ecology with the students continues. "If they feel a certain way, like that they want to conserve the dunes, then if they voiced that, then maybe it will influence other youth that are the same age," MacWilliams said. "It's also kind of good because you can kind of instill an interest in conservation at that age too if there is an interest in a future career or something like that." More from CBC P.E.I.
The Dutch government is resigning over its response to a child welfare benefits scandal, Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Friday. View on euronews
The A-list is back. How A-list? Try Lady Gaga and J. Lo. Inauguration officials announced on Thursday that the glittery duo would appear in person on Jan. 20, with Gaga singing the national anthem as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol, and Jennifer Lopez giving a musical performance. Foo Fighters, John Legend and Bruce Springsteen will offer remote performances, and Eva Longoria and and Kerry Washington will introduce segments of the event. Later that day, Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating Biden’s inauguration. Other performers include Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato and Ant Clemons. Despite a raging pandemic that is forcing most inaugural events online, it was a sign that Hollywood was back and eager to embrace the new president-elect four years after many big names stayed away from the inauguration of President Donald Trump, hugely unpopular in Hollywood. The question: How would the star wattage play across the country as Biden seeks to unite a bruised nation? Eric Dezenhall, a Washington crisis management consultant and former Reagan administration official, predicted reaction would fall “along tribal lines.” “I think it all comes down to the reinforcement of pre-existing beliefs,” Dezenhall said. “If you’re a Biden supporter, it’s nice to see Lady Gaga perform.” But, he added, “what rallied Trump supporters was the notion of an uber-elite that had nothing to do at all with them and that they couldn’t relate to.” Presidential historian Tevi Troy quipped that the starry Gaga-J. Lo lineup was not A-list, but D-list — "for Democratic.” "When Democrats win you get the more standard celebrities,” said Troy, author of “What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched and Obama Tweeted: 200 Years of Popular Culture in the White House.” “With Republicans you tend to get country music stars and race-car drivers." Referring to Lady Gaga’s outspoken support for the Biden-Harris ticket, he said he was nostalgic for the days when celebrities were not so political. “Call me a hopeless romantic, but I liked the old days when Bob Hope or Frank Sinatra would come to these events and they were not overtly political,” he said. Still, he said, Biden’s unity message won’t be derailed. “In the end, I don’t think having Lady Gaga or J. Lo is all that divisive,” he said. Attendance at the inauguration will be severely limited, due to both the pandemic and fears of continued violence, following last week’s storming of the Capitol. Outside the official events, one of the more prominent galas each inauguration is The Creative Coalition's quadrennial ball, a benefit for arts education. This year, the ball is entirely virtual. But it is star-studded nonetheless: The event, which will involve food being delivered simultaneously to attendees in multiple cities, will boast celebrity hosts including Jason Alexander, David Arquette, Matt Bomer, Christopher Jackson, Ted Danson, Lea DeLaria, Keegan Michael-Key, Chrissy Metz, Mandy Patinkin and many others. Robin Bronk, CEO of the non-partisan arts advocacy group, said she's been deluged with celebrities eager to participate in some way. The event typically brings in anywhere from $500,000 to $2.5 million, and this year the arts community is struggling like never before. Bronk noted that planning has been a challenge, given not only the recent political upheaval in the country but also the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic. Given all that, did a celebration make sense? “I was thinking about this when we were trying to phrase the invitation,” Bronk said. “Do we celebrate? This is the most serious time of our lives.” But, she said, especially at a time when the arts community is suffering, it’s crucial to shine a spotlight and recognize that “the right to bear arts is not a red or blue issue. One of the reasons we have this ball is that we have to ensure the arts are not forgotten." The Presidential Inaugural Committee also announced Thursday that the invocation will be given by the Rev. Leo O’Donovan, a former Georgetown University president, and the Pledge of Allegiance will be led by Andrea Hall, a firefighter from Georgia. There will be a poetry reading from Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, and the benediction will be given by Rev. Silvester Beaman of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Delaware. On the same platform, Biden sat in 2013 behind pop star Beyoncé as she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at President Barack Obama's second inauguration. James Taylor sang “America the Beautiful,” and Kelly Clarkson sang “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” At Trump’s inauguration in 2017, the anthem was performed by 16-year-old singer Jackie Evancho. A number of top artists declined the opportunity to perform at the festivities, and one Broadway star, Jennifer Holliday, even said she’d received death threats before she pulled out of her planned appearance. There was indeed star power in 2017, but most of it was centred at the Women’s March on Washington, where attendees included Madonna, Julia Roberts, Scarlett Johansson, Cher, Alicia Keys, Katy Perry, Emma Watson and many others. This year, signs are that Obama-era celebrities are returning. Dezenhall said that in the end, it's logical for organizers to go with the biggest talent. “Lady Gaga is as big as you can get, and she is very talented,” he said. “If I were being inaugurated and I could have Lady Gaga, I would take it.” Jocelyn Noveck, The Associated Press
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Flying rocks. Burning tires. Acrid smoke. Deadly gunfire. Haiti braced for a fresh round of widespread protests starting Friday, with opposition leaders demanding that President Jovenel Moïse step down next month, worried he is amassing too much power as he enters his second year of rule by decree. “The priority right now is to put in place another economic, social and political system,” André Michel, of the opposition coalition Democratic and Popular Sector, said by phone. “It is clear that Moïse is hanging on to power.” Opposition leaders are demanding Moïse’s resignation and legislative elections to restart a Parliament dissolved a year ago. They claim that Moïse’s five-year term is legally ending — that it began when former President Michel Martelly's term expired in February 2016. But Moïse maintains his term began when he actually took office in early 2017, an inauguration delayed by a chaotic election process that forced the appointment of a provisional president to serve during a year-long gap. Haiti's international backers have echoed some of the opposition’s concerns, calling for parliamentary elections as soon as possible. They were originally scheduled for October 2019 but were delayed by political gridlock and protests that paralyzed much of the country, forcing schools, businesses and several government offices to close for weeks at a time. Some in the international community also condemned several of Moïse's decrees. One of those limited the powers of a court that audits government contracts and had accused Moïse and other officials of embezzlement and fraud involving a Venezuelan program which provided cheap oil. Moïse and others have rejected those accusations. Moïse also decreed that acts such as robbery, arson and blocking public roads — a common ploy during protests — would be classed as terrorism and subject to heavy penalties. He also created an intelligence agency that answers only to the president. The Core Group, which includes officials from the United Nations, U.S., Canada and France, questioned those moves. “The decree creating the National Intelligence Agency gives the agents of this institution quasi-immunity, thus opening up the possibility of abuse," the group said in a recent statement. “These two presidential decrees, issued in areas that fall within the competence of a Parliament, do not seem to conform to certain fundamental principles of democracy, the rule of law, and the civil and political rights of citizens.” Moïse has dismissed such concerns and vowed to move forward at his own pace. In a New Year’s tweet, he called 2021 “a very important year for the future of the country.” He has called for a constitutional referendum in April followed by parliamentary and presidential elections in September, with runoffs scheduled for November. “There is no doubt elections will happen,” Foreign Minister Claude Joseph told The Associated Press, rejecting calls that Moïse step down in February. “Haiti cannot afford another transition. We need to let democracy work the way it should.” Joseph said Moïse remains open to dialogue and is ready to meet anytime with opposition leaders to solve the political stalemate. He also said the constitutional referendum won't give Moïse more power but said changes are needed to the 1987 document. “It is a source of instability. It does not have checks and balances. It gives extraordinary power to the Parliament that abuses this power over and over,” Joseph said. “It’s not the president’s own personal project. It’s a national project.” While officials haven't released details of the referendum, one of the members of the consulting committee, Louis Naud Pierre, told radio station Magik9 last week that proposals include creating a unicameral Parliament to replace the current Senate and Chamber of Deputies, extending parliamentary terms and giving Haitians who live abroad more power. The referendum and flurry of decrees are frustrating many Haitians, including Rose-Ducast Dupont, a mother of three who sells perfumes on the sidewalks of Delmas, a neighbourhood in the capital. “The political problems in my country have been dragging on for too long,” she said. “They are never able to find a solution for the nation. ... We are the ones suffering.” The nation of more than 11 million people has grown increasingly unstable under Moïse, who received more than 50% of the vote but with only 21% voter turnout. Haiti is still trying to recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew that struck in 2016. Its economic, political and social woes have deepened, with gang violence resurging, inflation spiraling and food and fuel becoming more scarce at times in a country where 60% of the population makes less than $2 a day. “I don’t have a life,” said Jean-Marc François, who wants Moïse gone. “I don’t have any savings. I have three kids. I have to survive day by day with no guarantee that I’ll come home with bread to put on the table.” Some days he works in construction; others he does yardwork or disposes of garbage or moves boxes at warehouses, which sometimes pays 500 gourdes ($7) a day. François said he won't take part in the “circus act” of voting in the referendum or elections. “We’re talking about voting for a new president? A new constitution? Deputies and senators? They’re all going to be the same,” he said. “This is a country of corruption.” Moïse has faced numerous calls for resignation since taking office, with protests roiling Haiti since late 2017. The demonstrations have been fueled largely by demands for better living conditions and anger over crime, corruption allegations and price increases after the government ended fuel subsidies. The most violent protests occurred in 2019, with dozens killed, and some worry about even more violence as the opposition steps up its demands that Moïse resign amid fears that elections will be delayed once more. “Can the current status quo continue for another year?” said Jake Johnston, senior research associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington. “Moïse can announce an electoral calendar ... but what signs are there that that’s going to actually happen?” ___ Associated Press writer Evens Sanon reported this story in Port-au-Prince and AP writer Danica Coto reported from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Evens Sanon And DáNica Coto, The Associated Press
West Vancouver billionaire Frank Giustra has been given the go-ahead to sue Twitter in a B.C. courtroom over the social media giant's publication of a series of tweets tying him to baseless conspiracy theories involving pedophile rings and Bill and Hillary Clinton. In a ruling released Thursday, Justice Elliott Myers found that Giustra's history and presence in British Columbia, combined with the possibility the tweets may have been seen by as many as 500,000 B.C. Twitter users, meant a B.C. court should have jurisdiction over the case. It's a victory not only for Giustra — whose philanthropic activities have earned him membership in both the Orders of Canada and B.C. — but for Canadian plaintiffs trying to hold U.S.-based internet platforms responsible for content border-crossing content. 'I believe that words do matter' In a statement, Giustra said he was looking forward to pursuing the case in the province where he built his reputation as the founder of Lionsgate Enterntainment. "I hope this lawsuit will help raise public awareness of the real harm to society if social media platforms are not held responsible for the content posted and publiished on their sites," Giustra said. "I believe that words do matter, and recent events have demonstrated that hate speech can incite violence with deadly consequences." Giustra filed the defamation lawsuit in April 2019, seeking an order to force Twitter to remove tweets he claimed painted him as "corrupt" and "criminal." He claimed he was targeted by a group who vilified him "for political purposes" in relation to the 2016 U.S. election and his work in support of the Clinton Foundation. The online attacks allegedly included death threats and links to "pizzagate" — a "false, discredited and malicious conspiracy theory in which [Giustra] was labelled as a 'pedophile,'" the claim stated. Thorny questions Twitter has not filed a response to Giustra's claim itself — applying instead to have the case tossed because of jurisdiction. The California-based company said it does not do business in B.C. and that Giustra was only relying on his B.C. roots to file the case in Canada because it would be a non-starter in the U.S., where the First Amendment protects free speech. The company claimed he would have been mostly affected in the U.S. where he spends much of his time, owns extensive property and has substantial interests in the entertainment industry — meaning B.C. is only tangentially connected to the matter. In essence, Myers said, Twitter claimed it was only a platform for others to post comment, and couldn't be expected to face defamation cases every place people felt aggrieved. The judge said the case presented some difficult — if timely — questions. "This case illustrates the jurisdictional difficulties with internet defamation where the publication of the defamatory comments takes place in multiple countries where the plaintiff has a reputation to protect," Myers wrote. "The presumption is that a defendant should be sued in only one jurisdiction for an alleged wrong, but that is not a simple goal to achieve fairly for internet defamation." 'Strong ties to the province' Myers found Giustra's connection to B.C. undeniable. "There can be no dispute that Mr. Giustra has a significant reputation in British Columbia. He also has strong ties to the province," he wrote. "The fact that he has a reputation in or connections to other jurisdictions does not detract from that." The judge said Giustra had also done what he needed to do to show his reputation in B.C. might have been affected. "I do not agree with Twitter who argues that of all places in the world, the Plaintiff's reputation has not been harmed in B.C.," Myers wrote. In its application, Twitter drew on a 2018 Supreme Court of Canada judgment in which a Canadian billionaire with substantial interests in Israel was denied his bid to sue an Israeli newspaper in Ontario over an article that appeared online. In that case, the court ruled that Israel would be the more appropriate place to hold a trial because the billionaire was better known there, he hadn't limited his suit to damages suffered in Canada and most of the witnesses would also be in Israel. But Myers found that many of the tweets referred to B.C. and went beyond the kind of business articles that were at the heart of the Supreme Court of Canada case. "Here the tweets refer to Mr. Giustra's personal characteristics alleging, for example, pedophilia," Myers wrote. Despite the lawsuit, Giustra maintains a Twitter account. The court filings include a letter he wrote to Twitter chief executive officer Jack Dorsey in April 2018, asking him to make his case a priority. "As Twitter's CEO, I ask that you now investigate the source of these past and ongoing attacks against me — whether they are the result of individuals, a group, bots, or a combination of all three," Giustra wrote. "I do not want to cancel my Twitter account — that would be a victory of those who are turning this incredible communication tool into a conduit for slander and hate."
In the week since a mob laid siege to the U.S. Capitol, the House has impeached President Donald Trump. Dozens of people have been arrested nationwide over participation in the riots. Politicians and business leaders are loudly condemning the violence. Twitter and other social media sites have banned Trump and thousands of other accounts. Yet amid all the noise, a Capitol Police officer hailed as a hero for confronting the insurrectionists and leading them away from Senate chambers has remained silent. Officer Eugene Goodman isn't saying whether he thinks he saved the Senate, as many of the millions who've viewed the video believe. In fact, Goodman isn't saying anything at all publicly — not to reporters, not on social media. And he's asked the force's union, bosses, family and friends to help him maintain his privacy and not publicly discuss the events of Jan. 6. But the video speaks volumes. Goodman, a Black man facing an overwhelmingly white mob, is the only officer seen for a full minute of the footage, shot by reporter Igor Bobic of HuffPost. Goodman stands in front of the rioters, walks backward until he reaches a collapsible baton lying on the floor, and picks it up. “Back up ... back it up!” he yells, keeping his eyes on the mob. He turns and runs upstairs, waving the baton, as the group follows. Goodman calls “second floor” into his radio, then takes a brief glance and half a step to his left at the top of the stairs. Two chairs sit on either side of an entrance to the U.S. Senate chamber, just a few steps away. Dozens of rioters are right in front of him, no other officers to be seen. Goodman shoves one of the rioters and walks to the right, away from the chamber. The mob follows, and Goodman leads them to a room where other officers wait. The time on the video is 2:14 p.m. The Senate stopped its proceedings to begin clearing the chamber at 2:15 p.m. Five died in the riots, including one of Goodman's fellow officers. Legislative offices were trashed, gallows were built outside, and a video showed a woman shot dead while journalists, Congress members and staff hid. The images of Goodman spread via social media and news sites, a foil to the bloody and messy scenes elsewhere at the Capitol. People called him brave, impressive, effective. They dissected the video, guessing about his strategy and decision-making. But not all the commentary has been kind. Backing up and running away is weak, some said. It was a staged photo op, others alleged. Goodman has been silent. He didn't respond to text messages and phone calls The Associated Press left at potential numbers for him. The head of the Capitol Police union said only that Goodman didn't want to talk to reporters. Spokeswoman Eva Malecki said the Capitol Police isn't giving interviews or discussing Goodman’s actions. Public records shed a little light on Goodman. He served in the Army as an infantryman for more than four years, leaving with the rank of sergeant in December 2006 after a year in Iraq. He has worked for the Capitol Police since at least mid-2009. But that's about it. Goodman's friends, family, buddies he would have known from the military, members of Congress and force colleagues all begged off interviews about him. They say he wants to maintain his privacy. Online and in much of the public eye, Goodman is a hero. Plenty of people, famous and not, suggested he has earned the Medal of Honor. A Republican and two Democrats in the U.S. House introduced a bill Thursday to give him the Congressional Gold Medal. “If not for the quick, decisive, and heroic actions from Officer Goodman, the tragedy of last week’s insurrection could have multiplied in magnitude to levels never before seen in American history," said Democratic U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri. But the representatives didn't respond to messages asking if they met with Goodman. In a tweet promoting the bill, they show not a formal photo of Goodman in uniform, but an image of him facing the mob — his eyes wide open, mask down below his nose, baton behind him. ___ AP news researcher Randy Herschaft contributed. ___ Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP. Jeffrey Collins, The Associated Press
SAO PAULO — Hospital staff and relatives of COVID-19 patients rushed to provide facilities with oxygen tanks just flown into the Amazon rainforest's biggest city as doctors chose which patients would breathe amid dwindling stocks and an effort to airlift some of them to other states. As heavy rain poured down Thursday in Manaus, Rafael Pereira carried a small tank containing five cubic meters of oxygen for his mother-in-law at the 28 de Agosto hospital. He didn’t want to be interviewed because of his stress, but he looked relieved when the tank — which he said would aid her breathing for an additional two hours — was taken inside. Health workers at the Hospital Universitario Getulio Vargas took empty cylinders to its oxygen provider in the hopes there would be some to retrieve. Usually, the provider picks up the cylinders and brings newly refilled ones. Despairing patients in overloaded hospitals waited as oxygen arrived to save some, but came too late for others. At least one of the cemeteries of Manaus, a city of 2.2 million people, had mourners lining up to enter and bury their dead. Brazilian artists, soccer clubs and politicians used their platforms to cry for help. Brazil's health minister, Eduardo Pazuello, said Thursday that a second plane with medical supplies — including oxygen — would arrive Friday, and four others later. The local government’s oxygen provider, multinational White Martins, said in a statement that it was considering diverting some of its supply from neighbouring Venezuela. It wasn't immediately clear whether this would be sufficient to address the spiraling crisis. “Yes, there is a collapse in the health care system in Manaus. The line for beds is growing by a lot — we have 480 people waiting now,” Pazuello said in a broadcast on social media. “We are starting to remove patients with less serious (conditions) to reduce the impact.” Hospitals in Manaus admitted few new COVID-19 patients Thursday, suggesting many will suffer from the disease at home, and some may die. The strain prompted Amazonas state's government to say it would transport 235 patients who depend on oxygen but aren't in intensive care units to five other states and the federal capital, Brasilia. “I want to thank those governors who are giving us their hand in a human gesture,” Amazonas Gov. Wilson Lima said at a news conference Thursday. "All of the world looks at us when there is a problem as the Earth’s lungs," he said, alluding to a common description of the Amazon. "Now we are asking for help. Our people need this oxygen.” Governors and mayors throughout the country offered help amid a flood of social media videos in which distraught relatives of COVID-19 patients in Manaus begged for people to buy them oxygen. Federal prosecutors in the city, however, asked a local judge to pressure President Jair Bolsonaro's administration to step up its support. The prosecutors said later in the day that the main air force plane in the region for oxygen supply transportation “needs repair, which brought a halt to the emergency influx.” The air force said in an emailed statement to The Associated Press that it was deploying two planes to transport patients, starting Friday. The health ministry didn't respond to a request for comment about transportation plans. The U.S Embassy in Brasilia confirmed it had received a request from the federal government to support the initiative, without providing details. Local authorities recently called on the federal government to reinforce Manaus' stock of oxygen. The city’s 14-day death toll is approaching the peak of last year’s first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, according to official data. In that first peak, Manaus consumed a maximum 30,000 cubic meters (about 1 million cubic feet) of oxygen per day, and now the need has more than doubled to nearly 70,000 cubic meters, according to White Martins. “Due to the strong impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the consumption of oxygen in the city increased exponentially over the last few days in comparison with a volume that was already extremely high," White Martins said in an emailed statement to AP. "Demand is much higher than anything predictable and ... continues to grow significantly.” The company added that Manaus’ remote location presents challenging logistics, requiring additional stocks to be transported by boat and by plane.. The governor also decreed more health restrictions, including the suspension of public transportation and establishing a curfew between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. The new measures challenged protesters who on Thursday carried Brazilian flags through the streets. Lima, once seen as an ally of Bolsonaro, has faced criticism from supporters of the conservative president for imposing new restrictions aimed at stemming the virus' recent surge. Bolsonaro has downplayed risks of the disease, saying the economic fallout of the pandemic will kill more than the virus. His son Eduardo, a lawmaker who chairs the international relations committee in Brazil's lower house, was one of the many conservatives who egged on their supporters in December to challenge social distancing and disobey stay at home orders. Park of the Tribes, a community of more than 2,500 Indigenous people on the outskirts of Manaus, went more than two months without any resident showing COVID-19 symptoms. In the past week, 29 people have tested positive for the coronavirus, said Vanda Ortega, a volunteer nurse in the community. Two went to urgent care units, but no one yet has required hospitalization. “We’re really very worried,” said Ortega, who belongs to the Witoto ethnicity. “It’s chaos here in Manaus. There isn’t oxygen for anyone.” ___ Associated Press writer Mauricio Savarese reported this story in Sao Paulo and AP writer David Biller reported from Rio de Janeiro. AP photographer Edmar Barros contributed to this report from Manaus. Mauricio Savarese And David Biller, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has tapped nine of her most trusted allies in the House to argue the case for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. The Democrats, all of whom are lawyers and many of whom have deep experience investigating the president, face the arduous task of convincing skeptical Senate Republicans to convict Trump. A single article of impeachment — for “incitement of insurrection” — was approved by the House on Wednesday, one week after a violent mob of Trump supporters invaded the Capitol. At the time, lawmakers were counting the votes that cemented Trump’s election defeat. As members of the House who were in the Capitol when it was attacked — several hiding under seats as rioters beat on the doors of the chamber — the Democrats are also witnesses to what they charge is a crime. So are the Senate jurors. “This is a case where the jurors were also victims, and so whether it was those who voted in the House last night or those in the Senate who will have to weigh in on this, you don’t have to tell anyone who was in the building twice what it was like to be terrorized,” said California Rep. Eric Swalwell, one of the managers. It is unclear when the trial will start. Pelosi hasn’t yet said when she will send the article of impeachment to the Senate. It could be as soon as next week, on President-elect Joe Biden’s first day in office. The managers plan to argue at trial that Trump incited the riot, delaying the congressional certification of the electoral vote count by inciting an angry mob to harm members of Congress. Some of the rioters were recorded saying they wanted to find Pelosi and Vice-President Mike Pence, who presided over the count. Others had zip ties that could be used as handcuffs hanging on their clothes. “The American people witnessed that,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., one of the managers. “That amounts to high crimes and misdemeanours.” None of the impeachment managers argued the case in Trump’s first impeachment trial last year, when the Senate acquitted the president on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House impeached Trump in 2019 after he pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Biden’s family while withholding military aid to the country. Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, another manager, says the nine prosecutors plan to present a serious case and “finish the job” that the House started. A look at Pelosi’s prosecution team in Trump’s historic second impeachment: REP. JAMIE RASKIN, MARYLAND Pelosi appointed Raskin, a former constitutional law professor and prominent member of the House Judiciary Committee, as lead manager. In a week of dramatic events and stories, Raskin’s stands out: The day before the Capitol riots, Raskin buried his 25-year-old son, Tommy, after he killed himself on New Year’s Eve. “You would be hard pressed to find a more beloved figure in the Congress” than Raskin, says House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who was the lead manager during Trump’s first trial. He worked closely with Raskin on that impeachment investigation. “I know that part of what gives him strength to take on this burden that he now carries is knowing that this is something that would be enormously meaningful to his son.” REP. DIANA DEGETTE, COLORADO DeGette, who is serving her 13th term representing Denver, is a former civil rights attorney and one of Pelosi’s go-to allies. The speaker picked her to preside over the House during the first impeachment vote in 2019. DeGette said Pelosi trusted her to do it because she is “able to to control the passions on the floor.” She says she was surprised when Pelosi called to offer her the prosecutorial position but quickly accepted. “The monstrosity of this offence is not lost on anybody,” she says. REP. DAVID CICILLINE, RHODE ISLAND Cicilline, the former mayor of Providence and public defender, is in his sixth term in Congress and is a senior member of the Judiciary panel. He was heavily involved in Trump’s first impeachment and was one of three original authors of the article that the House approved on Wednesday. He and California Rep. Ted Lieu began writing the article together, in hiding, as the rioters were still ransacking the Capitol. He tweeted out a draft the next morning, writing that “I have prepared to remove the President from office following yesterday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol.” REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO, TEXAS Castro is a member of the House Intelligence and Foreign Affairs panels, where he has been an outspoken critic of Trump's handling of Russia. He was a litigator in private practice before he was elected to the Texas legislature and came to Congress, where he is in his fifth term. Castro’s twin brother, Julian Castro, is the former mayor of San Antonio and served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development. Julian Castro ran in the Democratic primary for president last year. REP. ERIC SWALWELL, CALIFORNIA Swalwell also serves on the Intelligence and Judiciary panels and was deeply involved in congressional probes of Trump’s Russian ties. A former prosecutor, he briefly ran for president in 2019. “The case that I think resonates the most with the American people and hopefully the Senate is that our American president incited our fellow citizens to attack our Capitol on a day where we were counting electoral votes, and that this was not a spontaneous call to action by the president at the rally,” Swalwell said. REP. TED LIEU, CALIFORNIA Lieu, who authored the article of impeachment with Cicilline and Raskin, is on the Judiciary and Foreign Affairs panels. The Los Angeles-area lawmaker is a former active-duty officer in the U.S. Air Force and military prosecutor. “We cannot begin to heal the soul of this country without first delivering swift justice to all its enemies — foreign and domestic,” he said. DEL. STACEY PLASKETT, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS Because she represents a U.S. territory, not a state, Plaskett does not have voting rights and was not able to cast a vote for impeachment. But she will bring her legal experience as a former district attorney in New York and senior counsel at the Justice Department — and as one of Raskin's former law students. “As an African American, as a woman, seeing individuals storming our most sacred place of democracy, wearing anti-Semitic, racist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy logos on their bodies and wreaking the most vile and hateful things left not just those people of colour who were in the room traumatized, but so many people of colour around this country," she said Friday. REP. JOE NEGUSE, COLORADO Neguse, in his second term, is a rising star in the Democratic caucus who was elected to Pelosi’s leadership team his freshman year in Congress. A former litigator, he sits on the House Judiciary Committee and consulted with Raskin, Cicilline and Lieu as they drafted the article the day of the attack. At 36, he will be the youngest impeachment manager in history, according to his office. “This armed mob did not storm the Capitol on any given day, they did so during the most solemn of proceedings that the United States Congress is engaged in,” Neguse said Thursday. “Clearly the attack was done to stop us from finishing our work.” REP. MADELEINE DEAN, PENNSYLVANIA Like Neguse, Dean was first elected when Democrats recaptured the House in 2018. She is also a member of the House Judiciary Committee, and is a former lawyer and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. She says she hopes the prosecutors can convince the Senate and the American people “to mark this moment" with a conviction. “I think I bring to it just the simple fact that I’m a citizen, that I’m a mom and I’m a grandma," Dean said. "And I want my children, my grandchildren, to remember what we did here.” Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
The chief of Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg says it's good news that 30 vaccine doses are on their way to the western Quebec reserve this weekend, but it's not nearly enough to safeguard the community's elders. The community near Maniwaki, Que., has 18 known active cases. Chief Dylan Whiteduck said he's concerned that number could be higher since they only have data for people who were tested on the reserve. "It's just a matter of time until it hits us hard," Whiteduck told Radio-Canada on Wednesday. "And then we see an elder [test positive], someone who's a knowledge keeper, someone who speaks the language, Anishinaabemowin, Algonquin, and then we're going to really feel it." "That's my biggest concern and my biggest fear." Kitigan Zibi recorded its first cases of COVID-19 in mid-December. According to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, more than 1,600 people live there. Whiteduck said Kitigan Zibi's leadership informed Quebec health officials there were 340 vulnerable people who needed and wanted the vaccine, but they haven't received a commitment on when additional shots will arrive. While Whiteduck expects the first doses to arrive over the next few days, CISSSO did not confirm to CBC when community members can expect to be vaccinated. "Public health is actively planning vaccination in collaboration with the community," a spokesperson for the health network said in an email. "[We are] confident that the vaccination can be carried out soon." First Nations 'at mercy' of governments, chief says On Wednesday, Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller announced that the federal government will spend $1.2 billion to fight the spread of COVID-19 in Indigenous communities, from supporting elders to providing personal protective equipment and adapting facilities. Whiteduck said the federal government needs to be proactive and ensure provinces have a clear plan for First Nations. "We're at the mercy of other governments," Whiteduck said. "And we have to depend on the government of Canada — we always have and we've always will." "We don't even know which health authorities we fall under anymore," he added. Whiteduck said a meeting between Quebec officials, CISSSO and Kitigan Zibi is scheduled for Monday. With the reserve so close to Ottawa, Whiteduck said politicians should remember whose unceded land they live on. "I keep asking myself, 'You know, when are we going to get it?'" he said. "We don't know."
A collection of children's drawings made during the pandemic illustrates the mental toll the pandemic is taking on Canadian youth, says the researcher behind a project analyzing their artwork. Many of the submissions by kids and teenagers on childart.ca depict people alone, haunted by shadowy spectres, or worse, their own thoughts. Collectively, the images paint a stark picture of how the trials of young life under lockdown could shape the next generation, says Nikki Martyn, program head of early childhood studies at University of Guelph-Humber. While the study is still underway, Martyn said initial observations suggest that coming of age during the COVID-19 crisis can create an emotional maelstrom during a critical period of adolescent development. Being a teenager is tough enough at the best of times, she said, but finding your place in the world while stuck at home has left many young people feeling like they have no future to look forward to. "The saddest part for me ... is that kind of loss of not being able to see through to the other side," she said. "There's so much pain and so much struggle right now that I think needs to be shared and seen, so that we can support our youth and make sure they become healthy adults." Since September, Martyn's team has received more than 120 pieces from Canadians aged two to 18, submitted anonymously with parental permission, along with some background information and written responses. Martyn marvelled at the breadth of creative talent the project has attracted, with submissions ranging from doodles, sketches, digital drawings, paintings, pastels, photos and even one musical composition. Researchers circulated the call for young artists at schools and on social media. While the collection includes a few tot-scribbled masterpieces, Martyn said the majority of contributors are between the ages of 14 and 17. As the submissions trickled in, she was struck by the potent and sometimes graphic depictions of adolescent anxiety, despair and isolation. Recurring themes include confined figures, screaming faces, phantasmic presences, gory imagery and infringing darkness. Some images contain allusions to self-harm, which Martyn sees as a physical representation of the pain afflicting so many of the study's participants. Just as unsettling are the words that accompany the images. Some artists transcribed the relentless patter of pandemic-related concerns that pervade daily life, while others expressed sentiments like "I'm broken," "this is too much" and "what's the point?" Martyn said many participants wrote of struggling to keep up in school, while some were dealing with family problems such as job loss, illness and even death. Many of these feelings and challenges are common across age groups, Martyn noted. However, while adults are more accustomed to the ups and downs that life can bring, young people are less likely to have fostered the coping skills to help them weather a global crisis. A coalition of Canadian children's hospitals has warned that the pandemic is fomenting a youth mental-health crisis with potentially "catastrophic" short- and long-term consequences for children's wellbeing and growth. This would be consistent with research from previous outbreaks suggesting that young people are more vulnerable to the negative psychological impacts of quarantine, including increased risk of post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety and behavioural problems, according to an August report by Children's Mental Health Ontario. An online survey of 1,300 Ontario children and young adults last spring found that nearly two-thirds of respondents felt that their mental health had deteriorated since COVID-19 hit, with many citing the abrupt end of school, disconnection from friends and uncertainty about the future as significant stressors. Lydia Muyingo, a PhD student in clinical psychology at Dalhousie University, said when she looks through the images in the childart.ca gallery, she can see how these concerns are confounding the typical turmoil of being a teenager. Adolescence is a time for young people to figure out who they are through new experiences, interests and social interactions, said Muyingo. This transition tends to bring about intense emotions, she said, and the pandemic has exacerbated this upheaval by replacing familiar anxieties about fitting in with fears about mortality. Muyingo said she's encouraged to see that the childart.ca project is giving young people an outlet for these difficult feelings they may not even be able to put words to. She encouraged adults to keep an eye out for children's silent struggles, perhaps setting an example by sharing their own vulnerabilities. "I think parents are sometimes scared of talking about dark themes, but the reality is that kids know a lot more than we think," she said. "I think art like this can be used as a tool to communicate that it's OK to feel this way." Martyn said the study has given her hope for what a future led by the quarantined generation could look like, because while pain pervades many of the illustrations, there are also symbols of resilience, connection and compassion. "One of my visions from the very beginning of this was to have this as an art exhibit in a gallery, and to be able to go and be enveloped by it, have it around us and fully experience that lived idea of what children in Canada experienced." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021. Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4 a.m. ET on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. There are 688,891 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 688,891 confirmed cases (77,956 active, 593,397 resolved, 17,538 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 7,565 new cases Thursday from 89,350 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 8.5 per cent. The rate of active cases is 207.39 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 53,312 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 7,616. There were 156 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 960 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 137. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.36 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 46.66 per 100,000 people. There have been 14,870,942 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 394 confirmed cases (seven active, 383 resolved, four deaths). There was one new case Thursday from 364 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.27 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.34 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been two new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 75,828 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 104 confirmed cases (nine active, 95 resolved, zero deaths). There was one new case Thursday from 405 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.25 per cent. The rate of active cases is 5.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there has been two new case. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 84,976 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,548 confirmed cases (32 active, 1,451 resolved, 65 deaths). There were six new cases Thursday from 1,419 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.42 per cent. The rate of active cases is 3.29 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 25 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is four. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 6.69 per 100,000 people. There have been 192,565 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 859 confirmed cases (247 active, 600 resolved, 12 deaths). There were 23 new cases Thursday from 1,188 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 1.9 per cent. The rate of active cases is 31.8 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 142 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 20. There were zero new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of three new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is zero. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.06 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 1.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 125,083 tests completed. _ Quebec: 236,827 confirmed cases (23,208 active, 204,741 resolved, 8,878 deaths). There were 2,132 new cases Thursday from 8,955 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 24 per cent. The rate of active cases is 273.52 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 16,309 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,330. There were 64 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 317 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 45. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.53 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 104.63 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,629,203 tests completed. _ Ontario: 228,310 confirmed cases (29,307 active, 193,814 resolved, 5,189 deaths). There were 3,326 new cases Thursday from 68,842 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.8 per cent. The rate of active cases is 201.19 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 23,715 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 3,388. There were 62 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 333 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 48. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.33 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 35.62 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,429,938 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 26,954 confirmed cases (2,886 active, 23,313 resolved, 755 deaths). There were 261 new cases Thursday from 2,146 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 12 per cent. The rate of active cases is 210.74 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,213 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 173. There were two new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 38 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is five. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.4 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 55.13 per 100,000 people. There have been 434,323 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 19,329 confirmed cases (3,859 active, 15,264 resolved, 206 deaths). There were 312 new cases Thursday from 1,426 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 22 per cent. The rate of active cases is 328.58 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,194 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 313. There were zero new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 29 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.35 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 17.54 per 100,000 people. There have been 317,720 tests completed. _ Alberta: 114,585 confirmed cases (12,434 active, 100,762 resolved, 1,389 deaths). There were 967 new cases Thursday. The rate of active cases is 284.45 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 6,116 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 874. There were 21 new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 172 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 25. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.56 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 31.78 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,547,298 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 59,608 confirmed cases (5,965 active, 52,605 resolved, 1,038 deaths). There were 536 new cases Thursday from 4,462 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 12 per cent. The rate of active cases is 117.62 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 3,593 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 513. There were seven new reported deaths Thursday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 68 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 10. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.19 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 20.47 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,013,053 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (two active, 67 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Thursday from 11 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 4.9 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of one new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,141 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 24 confirmed cases (zero active, 24 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Thursday from 54 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is zero per 100,000 people. There have been 8,261 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 266 confirmed cases (zero active, 265 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Thursday from 78 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of zero new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is zero. There have been no deaths reported over the past week. The overall death rate is 2.58 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,477 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 15, 2021. The Canadian Press
Paul Allen, the executive director of Nova Scotia's Utility and Review Board, says most people don't understand the role the regulator can play in helping solve problems with Nova Scotia Power. This week, CBC Nova Scotia revealed there was an unplanned power outage somewhere in the province every day in 2020. People have told CBC since then they don't know where to turn for help if they are in an area with repeated outages. Allen said a customer must take a complaint to Nova Scotia Power first. But, if the problem continues, they can turn to the board for help. "If a customer feels that they're being discriminated against in terms of not being provided service or maybe they feel they've been charged incorrect power rates, the board has the ability to give some direction to the utility to fix those sorts of things," he said. The UARB will also accept complaints about chronic outages. But some things are out of the regulator's control. "The board is not able to deal with billing disputes where it's just a matter of the customer doesn't have the ability to pay." In 2016, changes to the Public Utilities Act gave the UARB the ability to set performance standards with the utility. The performance standards examine three key areas: reliability, which covers routine outages. responses to adverse weather, which includes the length of outages after a major weather event. customer service, which includes general communications. When Nova Scotia Power failed to meet performance standards in 2019, the UARB made it pay a $250,000 penalty. It has the power to issue penalties up to $1 million. The results of the 2020 performance standards are expected next month. Nova Scotia Power told CBC in late December that it was on track to meet them. The standards also examine the bottom five feeder lines. "If a feeder is on that list for two consecutive years, it's labelled as a problem circuit," Allen said. "Any problem circuits that is among the worst five for the third consecutive year is labelled a chronic circuit. It can attract some of those administrative penalties." Wide mandate There are limits to the board's powers. "The board does have some other powers to direct the company to do things or stop doing things depending on the nature of what the complaint is," said Allen. "The board can only do what is allowed under the Public Utilities Act. We can't go beyond that." Allen urged anyone with questions to call the UARB, and not be intimidated by the process. The UARB has mandates covering everything from payday loans to the bridge commission. But, out of everything, the most calls it gets isn't electricity, but another issue that affects nearly all Nova Scotians. "Our No. 1 area for calls is gasoline and diesel oil prices," said Allen. MORE TOP STORIES MORE TOP STORIES
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — The trial of a Cambodian labour union leader charged with inciting social unrest opened in Phnom Penh on Friday, part of a large-scale legal offensive by the government against its critics. Rong Chhun, president of the Cambodian Confederation of Unions, is standing trial for “incitement to commit felony” for comments concerning territory in border areas, a politically sensitive issue. If found guilty, he could face from six months to two years in prison. Rong Chhun was arrested in July after the government claimed he spread false information about Cambodia’s border with Vietnam. He has been held in detention ever since. A week before his arrest, Rong Chhun gave an interview to U.S. government-supported Radio Free Asia in which he spoke about meeting farmers in eastern Cambodia who complained about their land being infringed upon by neighbouring Vietnam. His trial is part of a crackdown on opposition politicians and supporters carried out in the courts by Prime Minister Hun Sen's government. According to the human rights group Amnesty International, about 150 individuals affiliated with the banned Cambodia National Rescue Party are facing treason charges in mass trials, the first of which was held Thursday. Labour leaders such as Rong Chhun hold significant political influence in Cambodia because they represent the vast number of industrial workers in the textile industry, which is the country’s major export earner. The major unions have historically aligned themselves with the political opposition to Hun Sen. The issue of Vietnam encroaching on Cambodian land is a highly sensitive one with domestic political significance in Cambodia because of widespread historical antagonism toward the country’s larger neighbour to the east. Hun Sen’s government maintains close relations with Vietnam, leading his political foes to accuse him of failing to protect Cambodian land. Several prominent opposition figures have been prosecuted on various charges in recent years for making such allegations. Sam Sokong, a lawyer for Rong Chhun, said his client has done nothing illegal in his interview with Radio Free Asia, and that he only had relayed the complaints of villagers along the border to the public at large. The Joint Boundary Commission of Cambodia and Vietnam rejected the allegations about any violation of Cambodian territory. Rong Chhun served on the national election committee of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party before it was dissolved by court order in November 2017, ahead of the 2018 general election. The party dissolution was generally seen as intended to ensure victory for Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party. Hun Sen has been in power for 36 years, and has often been accused of heading an authoritarian regime. Sopheng Cheang, The Associated Press
GAZA, Palestinian Territory — With a chainsaw in his car, Ahmed Abdelal tours the Gaza Strip, asking around for people wanting to cut down trees, regrow orchards or make way for construction. One of the few remaining woodcutters in the Palestinian territory, Abdelal, who learned woodcutting from his father, is struggling to scratch out a living in a traditional job that is less and less in demand. Job opportunities are rare in this Palestinian enclave wedged between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea, and so are green spaces. Rapid population growth — more than 2 million people are crammed in a 360-square-kilometre (140 square mile) strip — comes at the expense of arable land. Israel maintains a 300-meter (330-yard) wide buffer zone along its frontier with Gaza. At the the height of the second Palestinian uprising in the early 2000s, its military bulldozers levelled large swaths of citrus groves in the border areas. In more recent years, Gaza has suffered under a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt after the Islamic militant Hamas group seized control of the territory from the Palestinian Authority in 2007. Israel says the restrictions are needed to prevent Hamas from upgrading its weapons. The Palestinian Authority, or PA, holds sway in the West Bank. The blockade and the rift between Hamas and the PA have weakened Gaza's energy sector. As a result, residents are put on a rotating electricity schedule of eight-hours on, followed by an eight-hour blackout. Here, woodcutters like Abdelal find an opportunity. The unreliability of the power supply drives up the demand for wood in winter. So Abdelal and other Gaza woodcutters look to expand their clientele from the traditional buyers of logs, residents of rural areas who bake bread on woodfire ovens and tribal councils who keep the Arabic coffee pots warm near a woodfire. Among Abdelal’s favourite clients are small kitchens that cook food in ovens dug under the ground. In these pits, the wood is burnt to coal before chicken, lamb shoulders and shanks are tossed in and left to cook for hours. The cooking technique is getting popular. The olive and citrus wood logs also go to a burning site in east Gaza City where they are turned into charcoal. Abu Ashraf al-Hattab, who has been a charcoal burner for decades, says the business has declined in recent years because the local supplies of wood have shrunk and people have turned to cheaper, imported charcoal. In his gift shop, Muhanad Ahmed wanted to offer environmentally friendly items and drop the excessive amount of plastic that's seen on the shelves of other shops, he says. So, he buys the logs and shapes them into wood sculptures. Abdelal says that as long as he can find customers, he will continue. “Cutting the wood is an old profession for us, and despite development and modernity, it still exists,” he said. Wafa Shurafa And Fares Akram, The Associated Press
ATLANTA — The coronavirus vaccines have been rolled out unevenly across the U.S., but four states in the Deep South have had particularly dismal inoculation rates that have alarmed health experts and frustrated residents. In Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina, less than 2% of the population had received its first dose of a vaccine at the start of the week, according to data from the states and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As in other parts of the country, states in the South face a number of challenges: limited vaccine supplies, health care workers who refuse to get inoculated and bureaucratic systems that are not equipped to schedule the huge number of appointments being sought. But other states have still managed — at their best — to get the vaccines into the arms of more than 5% of their populations. Though it’s not clear why the Deep South is falling behind, public health researchers note that it has typically lagged in funding public health and addressing disparities in care for its big rural population. "When you combine a large percentage of rural residents who tend to be the hard-to-reach populations and have lower numbers of providers with trying to build a vaccine infrastructure on the fly, that’s just a recipe for a not-so-great response,” said Sarah McCool, a professor in public health at Georgia State University. In Georgia, the state’s rural health system has been decimated in recent years, with nine hospital closures since 2008, including two last year. Local health departments have become the primary vaccine providers in some locations, as officials work to add sites where doses can be administered. “If we’re the only game in town, this process is going to take a long time,” Lawton Davis, director of a large public health district that includes Savannah, said at a news conference on Monday. Alabama and Mississippi have also been hit hard by rural hospital closures. Seven hospitals have shut down in Alabama since 2009 and six in Mississippi since 2005, according to researchers at the University of North Carolina’s Sheps Center. Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi ranked in the bottom five of U.S. states in their access to health care, according to a 2020 report from a not-for-profit foundation connected to insurance giant UnitedHealth. But overall, experts say it's too early in the vaccine rollout to draw conclusions about the region's shortcomings, and they can't easily be attributed to a particular factor or trend. “We’re sort of building this plane as we’re flying, and there are going to be missteps along the way,” said Amber Schmidtke, a microbiologist who has been following vaccine dissemination in the South. Officials in the individual states have cited a number of challenges, but also acknowledged shortcomings. “We have too many vaccines distributed that are not in arms yet,” said Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, who noted that some hospitals in the state are not using their vaccine doses. He said that practice “has to stop.” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp cited a similar challenge and warned providers holding on to vaccines that the state would take their unused doses even if that required “firing up” his pickup truck and doing it himself. But in South Carolina, hospital officials say it is the state that has moved too slowly to expand access to the vaccinations, leaving them with unused doses. The state recently did offer the vaccine to those 70 and older. Mississippi's Reeves said one of the biggest weaknesses in the state’s vaccination system is the federal partnership with CVS and Walgreens to administer vaccinations in long-term care facilities. The pharmacy chains have been slow in hiring enough people to do the work in Mississippi, the governor said. CVS Health said in a statement that it has “the appropriate resources to finish the job" at long-term care facilities. Walgreens did not respond to an email. During an online forum hosted by Jackson State University in Mississippi on Thursday, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who is Black, noted the reluctance of many African Americans to be vaccinated. He cited a general mistrust of medical systems stemming back to a now-defunct government study that started in the 1930s and left Black men untreated for syphilis for decades. So far, only 15% of COVID-19 vaccinations in Mississippi have gone to Black people, who make up about 38% of the population, state health officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said during the forum. Officials in all four states also said some health care workers — among the first groups eligible for a vaccine — are choosing not to get inoculated. And some stressed that states were dealing with limited supplies and high demand and implored people to be patient. “Yes, the phone lines will be busy. Yes, the websites will certainly crash,” Kemp said Tuesday. “There are simply vastly more Georgians that want the vaccine than can get it today.” Mississippi officials said the state's website and telephone hotline were overwhelmed after the governor announced Tuesday that vaccinations were available to people 65 or older or people who have underlying medical conditions. Liz Cleveland, a 67-year-old retired state employee who lives in Jackson, waited hours on the website using her cellphone, computer and tablet only to encounter unknown errors. “It’s like gambling. You may hit or you may bust,” Cleveland said. About 2 a.m. Wednesday, she was finally able to book appointments for herself and her husband next week in Hattiesburg, which is 90 miles (145 kilometres) away. Mississippi officials said Thursday that they will open an additional drive-thru site for vaccinations soon in the state's largest county. Alabama officials also have been inundated with requests for appointments since announcing the state will begin vaccinations for people over 75 next week. A state hotline received more than a million calls the first day it was open. Celia O’Kelley of Tuscaloosa said she couldn’t get through to anyone to get an appointment for her 95-year-old mother. “I am scared because Tuscaloosa is a hot spot,” she said. ___ Associated Press writers Kim Chandler in Montgomery, Alabama; Emily Wagster Pettus in Jackson, Mississippi; and Michelle Liu in Columbia, South Carolina, contributed to this report. Sudhin Thanawala, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — At age 22, poet Amanda Gorman, chosen to read at the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, already has a history of writing for official occasions. "I have kind of stumbled upon this genre. It's been something I find a lot of emotional reward in, writing something I can make people feel touched by, even if it's just for a night," says Gorman. The Los Angeles resident has written for everything from a July 4 celebration featuring the Boston Pops Orchestra to the inauguration at Harvard University, her alma mater, of school president Larry Bacow. When she reads next Wednesday, she will be continuing a tradition — for Democratic presidents — that includes such celebrated poets as Robert Frost and Maya Angelou. The latter's “On the Pulse of Morning," written for the 1993 inauguration of President Bill Clinton, went on to sell more than 1 million copies when published in book form. Recent readers include poets Elizabeth Alexander and Richard Blanco, both of whom Gorman has been in touch with. “The three of us are together in mind, body and spirit,” she says. Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in memory, and she has made news before. In 2014, she was named the first Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles, and three years later she became the country's first National Youth Poet Laureate. She has appeared on MTV; written a tribute to Black athletes for Nike; published her first book, “The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough,” as a teenager, and has a two-book deal with Viking Children's Books. The first work, the picture book “Change Sings," comes out later this year. Gorman says she was contacted late last month by the Biden inaugural committee. She has known numerous public figures, including former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and former first lady Michelle Obama, but says she will be meeting the Bidens for the first time. The Bidens, apparently, have been aware of her: Gorman says the inaugural officials told her she had been recommended by the incoming first lady, Jill Biden. She is calling her inaugural poem “The Hill We Climb” while otherwise declining to preview any lines. Gorman says she was not given specific instructions on what to write, but was encouraged to emphasize unity and hope over “denigrating anyone” or declaring “ding, dong, the witch is dead" over the departure of President Donald Trump. The siege last week of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters seeking to overturn the election was a challenge for keeping a positive tone, but also an inspiration. Gorman says that she has been given 5 minutes to read, and before what she described during an interview as “the Confederate insurrection” of Jan. 6 she had only written about 3 1-2 minutes worth. The final length runs to about 6 minutes. “That day gave me a second wave of energy to finish the poem,” says Gorman, adding that she will not refer directly to Jan. 6, but will “touch" upon it. She said last week's events did not upend the poem she had been working on because they didn't surprise her. “The poem isn't blind,” she says. "It isn't turning your back to the evidence of discord and division." In other writings, Gorman has honoured her ancestors, acknowledged and reveled in her own vulnerability ("Glorious in my fragmentation," she has written) and confronted social issues. Her poem “In This Place (An American Lyric),” written for the 2017 inaugural reading of U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, condemns the racist march in Charlottesville, Virginia ( “tiki torches string a ring of flame”) and holds up her art form as a force for democracy: ____ Tyrants fear the poet. Now that we know it we can’t blow it. We owe it to show it not slow it _____ Gorman has rare status as a poet, and has dreams of other ceremonies. She would love to read at the 2028 Olympics, scheduled to be held in Los Angeles, and in 2037 wouldn't mind finding herself in an even more special position at the presidential inauguration — as the new chief executive. “I'm going to tell Biden that I'll be back,” she said with a laugh. Hillel Italie, The Associated Press