These honey bees gathered outside of their hive on a humid day in Cayuga, Ontario.
These honey bees gathered outside of their hive on a humid day in Cayuga, Ontario.
Law enforcement officers far outnumbered protesters at state capitol grounds on Sunday, as few Trump supporters who believe the president's false claim that he won the 2020 election turned out for what authorities feared could be violent demonstrations. More than a dozen states activated National Guard troops to help secure their capitol buildings following an FBI warning of armed demonstrations, with right-wing extremists emboldened by the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6.
TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $5 million jackpot in Saturday night's Lotto 649 draw. However, the draw's guaranteed $1 million prize went to a ticket holder in Ontario. The jackpot for the next Lotto 649 draw on Jan. 20 will be approximately $6 million. The Canadian Press
Britain's government hopes to ease some lockdown restrictions in March as it presses ahead with Europe's fastest rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Sunday. "What we want to do is get out of this national lockdown as soon as possible," Raab told Sky News television. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set a target of vaccinating the oldest age groups, the clinically vulnerable and frontline workers - roughly 14 million people - by the middle of February.
An apparent family of sabre-toothed cats with an unusual genetic quirk is providing new hints about how the predators lived tens of thousands of years ago. The ancient big cats, also known as sabre-toothed tigers and by their scientific name Smilodon fatalis, ranged through much of North and South America — including Canada — during the last ice age, but died out around 10,000 years ago. The new study by researchers at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto looked at fossils from nearly full-grown individuals that were about 132 and 141 kilograms respectively — roughly the size of a full-grown modern lion or tiger. But despite their huge size, it appeared they weren't quite ready for adult independence. "What we're seeing here is the first evidence to back up this idea that they were probably with their mother at two years old," said Ashley Reynolds, lead author of the research published this week in the journal iScience. That's unlike modern tigers that set out and establish their own territories at a similar stage of growth. Fossils excavated in the 1960s The fossils were among 4,000 from various animals excavated by Royal Ontario Museum researchers in Coralito, Ecuador in the 1960s from a site that was once a grassy, open forest area inhabited by giant ground sloths, camels, alpacas and the occasional fox. Because they were dug up so long ago, the researchers weren't sure how old they were, but it was between 150,000 and 11,000 years ago and probably in the range of 50,000 to 75,000 years ago, said Ashley Reynolds, lead author of the study. There were 58 Smilodon fossils in total, but it wasn't clear how many individuals they came from. Reynolds, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto and the Royal Ontario Museum, took a closer look, and found among them two lower left jaws that obviously belonged to two different individuals. They contained a full set of adult teeth that showed little signs of wear, suggesting the animals, while nearly fully grown, were adolescents about two years old — roughly equivalent to human teenagers. Tooth feature suggests fossils were related And both those individuals had an unusual feature — an extra premolar that is found in only five per cent of sabre-toothed cat jaws. Because it's so rare and the presence of an extra tooth is known to be genetic in other animals such as humans, and because the animals were of similar size and found together, the researchers proposed that the two individuals were from the same litter of cubs. "The coolest thing is that we have evidence that we have siblings," Reynolds said. "It's very, very, very rare that you find evidence of two fossils being related." And most of those cases, she said, involve eggs or newborns. Animals were likely social, not solitary Most of the other Smilodon bones found with the two cubs looked the right size to come from the same animals, except for one ulna — a forearm bone — that was larger and came from a mature adult. The researchers suggested that this was probably the cubs' mother, as modern cats are generally cared for by their mothers. She noted that when modern tigers are this close to being fully grown, they've already gone out and established their own territories. If these cubs were still with their mother, that would imply that sabre-toothed cats were more like lions — social animals that stay with their parents for longer than solitary tigers. Though commonly referred to as the sabre-toothed tiger, Smilodon is not actually closely related to modern-day big cats like tigers and lions. Reynolds noted that other studies suggest that Smilodon's huge, iconic sabre-like canines, used for hunting, took about two years to grow in. The juveniles may have relied on their family group until those had fully developed, she said. "We will never be able to go out and see a sabre-toothed cat in the wild," she said. But, based on interpretation of fossil evidence, she said, "it's pretty remarkable to think what we can tell about animals that have been gone for thousands of years." More study needed to verify assumptions Larisa DeSantis, a paleontologist who has studied sabretooth cats but was not involved in the study, said the paper is "thought provoking and raises several interesting hypotheses regarding the sociality of [sabre-toothed] cats." But DeSantis, an associate professor of biological sciences and earth and environmental sciences at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., said the paper's conclusions rely on a lot of assumptions about the relatedness of the individuals that haven't been verified with techniques like DNA analysis or even radiocarbon dating to confirm they all died at the same time. "It would seem logical that saber-tooth cats would also [like lions] have an extended period of parental care; however, this is difficult to test with fossils," she said in an email. "Further study of these specimens may help bring additional clarity to the social behaviour of sabertooth cats." Reynolds said radiocarbon dating is tricky for fossils found at sites like Coralito, which is saturated in tar, and the likelihood of getting DNA out of fossils from this kind of environment is also low. But she said both techniques would be interesting to try. Margaret Lewis, a paleontologist who studies the evolution of meat-eating mammals and was also not involved in the research, said researchers' hypothesis that the cats were related and the conclusions drawn from that are all possible. "How probable it is, it's hard to say because it's one thing built on another," said Lewis, a professor at Stockton University in Galloway County, N.J. However, she said the ideas about how sabre-toothed cats grew will be interesting to test in future studies.
For many, it's a rite of passage: getting your driver's licence the minute you turn 16. But for Ontario drivers looking to make it to the next step in the province's tiered licensing system, the current COVID-19 lockdown could mean they'll face quite a wait. Since the lockdown went into effect in late December, approximately 39,000 road tests in the province have been cancelled. What's more, the emergency orders introduced by the Ontario government on Jan. 12 mean that "all in-vehicle passenger road tests will be cancelled across the province until further notice," according to a statement from the ministry. In eastern Ontario, about 9,000 drivers have received cancellation notices — including Ottawa teen Karina Gruson. "I was kind of discouraged," said the 17-year-old, who'd been booked for a road test to get her G2 licence on Dec. 30 before receiving an email informing her it wouldn't take place. Under Ontario's graduated licensing system, Gruson needs to pass a road test to move from a G1 to a G2 licence. A G1 is typically held for a year — although that period can be shortened — and comes with restrictions like needing a fully-licensed driver in the passenger seat and not driving on 400-series highways. In order to graduate to a less-stringent G2, drivers must pass a road test — and then another one, after a year, to get their full licence. No available tests for years Both Gruson and her friend, Violet De Caria, got their G1s shortly after turning 16. "I do a lot of sports and I was going to get a job, so I wanted to be able to, like, drive to those things to make it easier for my parents," Gruson said. De Caria turned 16 in July, and said she and a friend got up at 6 a.m. for their written G1 test in order to beat the long lines that formed at Service Ontario locations earlier in the pandemic. "[It] wasn't really worth it, because I'm not going to get [a G2] for a while," she said. "So I could have slept in." When she tried to book her G2 test recently, De Caria said she couldn't find an available spot for the next two years. "Which was crazy, like, absolutely crazy to me," she said. Since the lockdown, De Caria said booking a test isn't even an option with the website saying it isn't taking bookings "until further notice." "It just makes me really upset. I was super excited to start driving," she said, adding her parents had hoped she'd be able help out by eventually driving her brother to soccer practice. More instructors could be hired A Ministry of Transportation spokesperson said the ministry was working through the backlog and — when road tests resume — would work with its service provider to hire more examiners to increase the number of tests. The ministry said road tests for commercial drivers will continue during the lockdown, and all DriveTest locations remain open for services like knowledge tests, with full COVID-19 precautions in place. As for Gruson, she was able to rebook her road test for March 2 after someone else cancelled, and she's hoping she'll be able to complete her test on that date. "I'm pretty excited, because I've been practising for a long time now," she said.
The debate about the U.S. Electoral College pits those who think the president should be chosen via popular vote versus those who believe the interests of small and large states must be balanced.
The latest numbers on COVID-19 vaccinations in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Sunday Jan. 17, 2021. In Canada, the provinces are reporting 35,604 new vaccinations administered for a total of 543,291 doses given. The provinces have administered doses at a rate of 1,433.513 per 100,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the provinces and territories for a total of 761,500 doses delivered so far. The provinces and territories have used 71.34 per cent of their available vaccine supply. Please note that Newfoundland, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the territories typically do not report on a daily basis. Newfoundland is reporting 3,506 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,291 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 10.104 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Newfoundland for a total of 11,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 47.35 per cent of its available vaccine supply. P.E.I. is reporting 1,502 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 5,102 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 32.163 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to P.E.I. for a total of 8,250 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 5.2 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 61.84 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nova Scotia is reporting 3,769 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,600 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 7.788 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nova Scotia for a total of 23,000 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 33.04 per cent of its available vaccine supply. New Brunswick is reporting 2,713 new vaccinations administered over the past seven days for a total of 7,732 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.912 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to New Brunswick for a total of 17,775 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.3 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 43.5 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Quebec is reporting 10,783 new vaccinations administered for a total of 137,856 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 16.111 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Quebec for a total of 162,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 85 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Ontario is reporting 14,460 new vaccinations administered for a total of 189,090 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 12.873 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Ontario for a total of 277,050 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 68.25 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Manitoba is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 13,539 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 9.832 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Manitoba for a total of 33,625 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.4 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 40.26 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Saskatchewan is reporting 2,910 new vaccinations administered for a total of 16,927 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 14.355 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Saskatchewan for a total of 24,400 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 2.1 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 69.37 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Alberta is reporting 7,451 new vaccinations administered for a total of 81,561 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 18.528 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Alberta for a total of 84,175 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 96.89 per cent of its available vaccine supply. British Columbia is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 75,914 doses given. The province has administered doses at a rate of 14.794 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to British Columbia for a total of 99,475 doses delivered so far. The province has received enough of the vaccine to give 1.9 per cent of its population a single dose. The province has used 76.31 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Yukon is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 1,184 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 28.372 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Yukon for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 17 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 16.44 per cent of its available vaccine supply. The Northwest Territories are reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 512 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 11.348 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to the Northwest Territories for a total of 7,200 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 16 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 7.111 per cent of its available vaccine supply. Nunavut is reporting zero new vaccinations administered for a total of 983 doses given. The territory has administered doses at a rate of 25.383 per 1,000. There were zero new vaccines delivered to Nunavut for a total of 6,000 doses delivered so far. The territory has received enough of the vaccine to give 15 per cent of its population a single dose. The territory has used 16.38 per cent of its available vaccine supply. *Notes on data: The figures are compiled by the COVID-19 Open Data Working Group based on the latest publicly available data and are subject to change. Note that some provinces report weekly, while others report same-day or figures from the previous day. Vaccine doses administered is not equivalent to the number of people inoculated as the approved vaccines require two doses per person. The vaccines are currently not being administered to children under 18 and those with certain health conditions. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 17, 2021. The Canadian Press
A high school class in Kings County, N.S., is using its entrepreneurship course to help a local charitable organization that has been overwhelmed by families in need due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "We wanted to do what we could to help them out, so we're raising money here and will donate what we can," said Tyler Croteau, a Grade 11 student at Northeast Kings Education Centre in Canning. The entrepreneurship class is selling clothing with customized COVID designs. The funds raised through sales will go to the Open Arms Outreach Centre in Kentville, a non-profit organization that helps people struggling to make ends meet. It assists with emergency shelter, housing and food supports. "To find out that this year a group of students are working on an initiative to support us, it's very humbling," said Open Arms executive director John Andrew. "For me, it signals hope and I know there are a lot of youth out there who have a strong commitment to helping people in their own community." The school had a COVID scare of its own almost two months with two COVID-19 cases. The school was closed for three days for cleaning before students returned. But that didn't slow down planning for the fundraising effort. "We're helping people out who really need it," said Ahrun Havercroft, a Grade 12 student from Sheffield Mills. "We thought that would be a great thing to do and it would also be a great learning experience for everybody in our class." It isn't the first fundraising effort by the class this school year. Before Christmas, it held an event at the local drive-in theatre in Cambridge to benefit Chrysalis House, an organization that provides shelter and outreach services for women and children in the area. So far, the clothing fundraiser has raised just over $1,100 in only a few weeks. "Everybody has sort of taken on different roles," said NKEC teacher Dale Sanford, who teaches the entrepreneurship course. "The students have been awesome around the whole social piece with this and entrepreneurship is such an important skill for them to have." MORE TOP STORIES
When people think of addiction and drug use in Canada, their minds might turn to cities like Vancouver, Toronto, or even Halifax. But small towns in Nova Scotia have their own struggles when it comes to addressing addiction and overdoses. In 2020, 96 people in Nova Scotia died due to drug toxicity — 10 more than in 2019 — according to monthly reports from the Nova Scotia Health Authority that have not been made available to the public. While the central health zone, which covers Halifax and the surrounding areas, had the highest rates of opioid mortality since December 2019 — 3.9 per 100,000 people — the other health zones weren't far behind. The western zone had a rate of 3.5, and the northern and eastern zones had rates of 3.3 and 3, respectively. The report doesn't break down the number of drug deaths not related to opiods by health zone. Since July, at least two people in the northern health zone have died because of drugs. One of the deaths was due to an overdose. Another was as a result of sores related to levamisole, a livestock dewormer that has been reportedly combined with cocaine in the Pictou County area. Albert McNutt, founder of the Northern Healthy Connections Society, said his biggest concern isn't the numbers, but the people behind them. "When we're looking at stats, we're looking at a bigger picture, but we're forgetting the small picture, which is that individual, that one person that is making headway in their life and moving forward even though they're living with an addiction," he said. "They're forgetting that individual who took their own life because they no longer had a purpose to go to, a program." The society, based in Truro, N.S., started in 1996 as a program for people with HIV and AIDS. It later expanded to work in drug harm reduction and is one of three organizations in the province that runs a free needle exchange program. It also runs mobile outreach services around the province's northern health zone and distributes "emergency bags" containing syringes, tourniquets and other safe use items to pharmacies in small communities for people who may have missed their outreach services in Truro. When the society began to focus on people who use drugs, McNutt said it had difficulty bringing people in. While drug use is pretty much stigmatized everywhere, it can be especially amplified in small communities. "We started out with very few people accessing services because a lot of stigma's attached to it, discrimination's attached to it, fear of being known in a small rural community," he said. "That's one of the biggest things that we deal with in the northern zone because it's primarily rural and everybody knows everybody, and so you keep it very much secret." Addiction 'not easy to hide' in rural N.S. Many factors play into why people may use drugs, such as socioeconomic situations, lack of affordable housing, and access to mental health and addictions programs. "It's not like these folks woke up one morning and said, 'Hey, I want to be addicted to drugs,'" said McNutt. "They turn to drugs to feel good. They turn to drugs to deaden the pain they're feeling ... and it's so easy to hide that in a big city, but it's not easy to hide that in a small community." McNutt said his program has seen people "from all walks of life," and making assumptions about who uses drugs can be harmful. "They could be someone who has been an honour student in school. They could be somebody who didn't go very far in school. They can be business people who get hooked on the medication," he said. "It is something that people just don't realize. There's so much of it going on." The Nova Scotia drug report identified Pictou and Antigonish as having among the highest rates of rates of pharmacy distribution for naloxone, the drug that can be used to reverse an opioid overdose. McNutt said that's actually a good thing. "They know that the drugs are being tainted with other substances, and so by arming themselves with naloxone kits and getting the training, I think that that's really showing a positive response and a proactive response," he said. "I think once somebody loses someone to an overdose death due to drugs, they want to be prepared to prevent the next one. And naloxone is a pretty effective way to do that." In recent weeks, there have been multiple reports of contaminated drugs in Nova Scotia. The northern zone and the eastern zone, where Antigonish is located, also have the highest rates of substance-related emergency calls. More programs needed While the Ally Centre in Cape Breton — another organization that runs a free needle exchange program — is run out of Sydney, N.S., it offers services throughout the eastern health zone, including Antigonish. In an email, Ally Centre executive director Christine Porter said there are four pharmacies in the small town that take part in its brown bag program, each taking approximately 20 bags each month. The centre also provides safe supplies to the opioid recovery program. "I don't believe our Naloxone trainer traveled to Antigonish to train and give kits, so most likely, that distribution is coming from the pharmacies and [the opioid recovery program]," she said. Aside from the three needle exchange programs — run by the NHCS in the northern zone, the Ally Centre in the eastern zone and Mainline in the central and western health zones — there are a number of smaller groups around the province dedicated to doing outreach and educating people about harm reduction. But they don't exist everywhere. "There's not enough harm reduction programs," said Kimm Kent, the founder of the Peer Outreach Support Services and Education Project, or POSSE, in an email. POSSE works out of Windsor, Sipekne'katik and Lower Sackville and trains people between the ages of 15 and 30 to be peer support outreach workers. They then work with members of their communities to teach harm-reduction strategies for safe drug use. "POSSE has had requests to expand to many places … but first we require sustainable funding for what we have," Kent wrote. "So many needs for so many people. I sure wish there was more equity in the world." McNutt agreed. He said the province needs not only harm-reduction programs, but more programs in general where people who use drugs can learn skills, connect with others and find purpose and compassion. He said the Northern Healthy Connections Society used to have a program where women would make reusable cloth bags. After that program was cut due to funding, he said one of the group's members died from an overdose. 'A little bit of funding would go a long way' That was "very, very hard on us," he said. "It seemed like while the program was running, she had a place to go, she had a purpose. She felt like she was actually going to work again," he said. "People feel lost sometimes when they don't have something to go to or be involved with." McNutt said he submitted an application to Truro town council asking for funding to recreate the program. "I am hoping that they will really consider the fact that engaging the population and talking about in a positive way, in a proactive way, is far more important than turning your back on them," he said. "A little bit of funding would go a long way to change someone's life." MORE TOP STORIES
NAIROBI, Kenya — From “emaciated” refugees to crops burned on the brink of harvest, starvation threatens the survivors of more than two months of fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray region. The first humanitarian workers to arrive after pleading with the Ethiopian government for access describe weakened children dying from diarrhea after drinking from rivers. Shops were looted or depleted weeks ago. A local official told a Jan. 1 crisis meeting of government and aid workers that hungry people had asked for “a single biscuit.” More than 4.5 million people, nearly the region's entire population, need emergency food, participants say. At their next meeting on Jan. 8, a Tigray administrator warned that without aid, “hundreds of thousands might starve to death” and some already had, according to minutes obtained by The Associated Press. “There is an extreme urgent need — I don’t know what more words in English to use — to rapidly scale up the humanitarian response because the population is dying every day as we speak,” Mari Carmen Vinoles, head of the emergency unit for Doctors Without Borders, told the AP. But pockets of fighting, resistance from some officials and sheer destruction stand in the way of a massive food delivery effort. To send 15-kilogram (33-pound) rations to 4.5 million people would require more than 2,000 trucks, the meeting's minutes said, while some local responders are reduced to getting around on foot. The spectre of hunger is sensitive in Ethiopia, which transformed into one of the world's fastest-growing economies in the decades since images of starvation there in the 1980s led to a global outcry. Drought, conflict and government denial contributed to the famine, which swept through Tigray and killed an estimated 1 million people. The largely agricultural Tigray region of about 5 million people already had a food security problem amid a locust outbreak when Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Nov. 4 announced fighting between his forces and those of the defiant regional government. Tigray leaders dominated Ethiopia for almost three decades but were sidelined after Abiy introduced reforms that won him the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019. Thousands of people have been killed in the conflict. More than 50,000 have fled into Sudan, where one doctor has said newer arrivals show signs of starvation. Others shelter in rugged terrain. A woman who recently left Tigray described sleeping in caves with people who brought cattle, goats and the grain they had managed to harvest. “It is a daily reality to hear people dying with the fighting consequences, lack of food,” a letter by the Catholic bishop of Adigrat said this month. Hospitals and other health centres, crucial in treating malnutrition, have been destroyed. In markets, food is “not available or extremely limited,” the United Nations says. Though Ethiopia's prime minister declared victory in late November, its military and allied fighters remain active amid the presence of troops from neighbouring Eritrea, a bitter enemy of the now-fugitive officials who once led the region. Fear keeps many people from venturing out. Others flee. Tigray’s new officials say more than 2 million people have been displaced, a number the U.S. government’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance calls “staggering.” The U.N. says the number of people reached with aid is “extremely low.” A senior Ethiopian government official, Redwan Hussein, did not respond to a request for comment on Tigray colleagues warning of starvation. In the northern Shire area near Eritrea, which has seen some of the worst fighting, up to 10% of the children whose arms were measured met the diagnostic criteria for severe acute malnutrition, with scores of children affected, a U.N. source said. Sharing the concern of many humanitarian workers about jeopardizing access, the source spoke on condition of anonymity. Near Shire town are camps housing nearly 100,000 refugees who have fled over the years from Eritrea. Some who have walked into town "are emaciated, begging for aid that is not available,” U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said Thursday. Food has been a target. Analyzing satellite imagery of the Shire area, a U.K.-based research group found two warehouse-style structures in the U.N. World Food Program compound at one refugee camp had been “very specifically destroyed.” The DX Open Network could not tell by whom. It reported a new attack Saturday. It's challenging to verify events in Tigray as communications links remain poor and almost no journalists are allowed. In the towns of Adigrat, Adwa and Axum, “the level of civilian casualties is extremely high in the places we have been able to access,” the Doctors Without Borders emergency official Vinoles said. She cited the fighting and lack of health care. Hunger is “very concerning," she said, and even water is scarce: Just two of 21 wells still work in Adigrat, a city of more than 140,000, forcing many people to drink from the river. With sanitation suffering, disease follows. “You go 10 kilometres (6 miles) from the city and it’s a complete disaster,” with no food, Vinoles said. Humanitarian workers struggle to gauge the extent of need. “Not being able to travel off main highways, it always poses the question of what’s happening with people still off-limits,” said Panos Navrozidis, Action Against Hunger’s director in Ethiopia. Before the conflict, Ethiopia’s national disaster management body classified some Tigray woredas, or administrative areas, as priority one hotspots for food insecurity. If some already had high malnutrition numbers, “two-and-a-half months into the crisis, it’s a safe assumption that thousands of children and mothers are in immediate need," Navrozidis said. The Famine Early Warning Systems Network, funded and managed by the U.S., says parts of central and eastern Tigray are likely in Emergency Phase 4, a step below famine. The next few months are critical, John Shumlansky, the Catholic Relief Services representative in Ethiopia, said. His group so far has given up to 70,000 people in Tigray a three-month food supply, he said. Asked whether combatants use hunger as a weapon, one concern among aid workers, Shumlansky dismissed it by Ethiopian defence forces and police. With others, he didn’t know. “I don’t think they have food either, though,” he said. Cara Anna, The Associated Press
Small groups of right-wing protesters — some of them carrying rifles — gathered outside heavily fortified statehouses around the country Sunday, outnumbered by National Guard troops and police brought in to prevent a repeat of the violence that erupted at the U.S. Capitol. As darkness fell, there were no reports of any clashes. Security was stepped up in recent days after the FBI warned of the potential for armed protests in Washington and at all 50 state capitol buildings ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday. Crowds of only a dozen or two demonstrated at some boarded-up, cordoned-off statehouses, while the streets in many other capital cities remained empty. Some protesters said they were there to back President Donald Trump. Others said they had instead come to voice their support for gun rights or decry government overreach. “I don’t trust the results of the election,” said Michigan protester Martin Szelag, a 67-year-old semi-retired window salesman from Dearborn Heights. He wore a sign around his neck that read, in part, “We will support Joe Biden as our President if you can convince us he won legally. Show us the proof! Then the healing can begin.” As the day wore on with no bloodshed around the U.S., a sense of relief spread among officials, though they were not ready to let their guard down. The heavy law enforcement presence may have kept turnout down. In the past few days, some extremists had warned others against falling into what they called a law enforcement trap. Washington State Patrol spokesman Chris Loftis said he hoped the apparently peaceful day reflected some soul-searching among Americans. “I would love to say that it’s because we’ve all taken a sober look in the mirror and have decided that we are a more unified people than certain moments in time would indicate,” he said. The security measures were intended to safeguard seats of government from the type of violence that broke out at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, when far-right Trump supporters galvanized by his false claims that the election had been stolen from him overran the police and bashed their way into the building while Congress was certifying the Electoral College vote. The attack left a Capitol police officer and four others dead. More than 125 people have been arrested over the insurrection. Dozens of courts, election officials and Trump’s own attorney general have all said there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the presidential race. On Sunday, some statehouses were surrounded by new security fences, their windows were boarded up, and extra officers were on patrol. Legislatures generally were not in session over the weekend. Tall fences also surrounded the U.S. Capitol. The National Mall was closed to the public, and the mayor of Washington asked people not to visit. Some 25,000 National Guard troops from around the country are expected to arrive in the city in the coming days. The roughly 20 protesters who showed up at Michigan’s Capitol, including some who were armed, were significantly outnumbered by law enforcement officers and members of the media. Tensions have been running high in the state since authorities foiled a plot to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer last year. At the Ohio Statehouse, about two dozen people, including several carrying long guns, protested outside under the watchful eyes of state troopers before dispersing as it began to snow. Kathy Sherman, who was wearing a visor with “Trump” printed on it, said she supports the president but distanced herself from the mob that breached the U.S. Capitol. "I’m here to support the right to voice a political view or opinion without fear of censorship, harassment or the threat of losing my job or being physically assaulted,” she said. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, said he was pleased with the outcome but stressed that authorities "continue to have concerns for potential violence in the coming days, which is why I intend to maintain security levels at the Statehouse as we approach the presidential inauguration.” Utah's new governor, Republican Spencer Cox, shared photos on his Twitter account showing him with what appeared to be hundreds of National Guard troops and law enforcement officers standing behind him, all wearing masks. Cox called the quiet protests a best-case scenario and said many ”agitating groups" had cancelled their plans for the day. At Oregon's Capitol, fewer than a dozen men wearing military-style outfits, black ski masks and helmets stood nearby with semiautomatic weapons slung across their bodies. Some had upside-down American flags and signs reading such things as “Disarm the government.” At the Texas Capitol, Ben Hawk walked with about a dozen demonstrators up to the locked gates carrying a bullhorn and an AR-15 rifle hanging at the side of his camouflage pants. He condemned the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and said he did not support Trump. “All we came down here to do today was to discuss, gather, network and hang out. And it got blown and twisted completely out of proportion,” Hawk said. At Nevada's Capitol, where demonstrators supporting Trump have flocked most weekends in recent months, all was quiet except for a lone protester with a sign. “Trump Lost. Be Adults. Go Home,” it read. More than a third of governors had called out the National Guard to help protect their capitols and assist local law enforcement. Several governors declared states of emergency, and others closed their capitols to the public until after Biden's inauguration. Some legislatures also cancelled sessions or pared back their work for the coming week. Even before the violence at the Capitol, some statehouses had been the target of vandals and angry protesters during the past year. Last spring, armed protesters entered the Michigan Capitol to object to coronavirus lockdowns. People angry over the death of George Floyd under a Minneapolis police officer's knee vandalized capitols in several states, including Colorado, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin. Last last month, crowds in Oregon forced their way into the Capitol in Salem to protest its closure to the public during a special legislative session on coronavirus measures. Amid the potential for violence in the coming days, the building's first-floor windows were boarded up and the National Guard was brought in. "The state capitol has become a fortress,” said Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney, a Democrat. “I never thought I’d see that. It breaks my heart.” ___ Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri in Columbus, Ohio; Gillian Flaccus in Salem, Oregon; Mike Householder and David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan; Meg Kinnard in Columbia, South Carolina; Rachel La Corte in Olympia, Washington; Sam Metz in Carson City, Nevada; Marc Scolforo in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; and Paul Weber in Austin, Texas, contributed to this report. David A. Lieb And Adam Geller, The Associated Press
Kids and teens stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic are picking up life skills from older siblings and parents — the kind that result in messy kitchens and less-than-bright whites. But as CBC discovered, parents and experts alike welcome this development. Kitchen wizards Chef Cory Haskins is the academic chair in the culinary arts and baking programs at Algonquin College. He's also got four teenagers at home, and since COVID-19, they've found their culinary groove. "The kids are all at home. They don't have the same activities that we previously had. And [their] mom and I are here to be able to provide some guidance," said Haskins. They started with eggs, pancakes and waffles. Now one daughter has learned to bake bread. Another is making cakes and cookies, and a son has mastered pasta carbonara. For a life-long foodie, Haskins said it feels good to see his kids find their culinary footing. "Everybody needs to learn how to cook," he said. "This is a perfect time for kids to get in the kitchen and do some experimenting." Food educator Carley Schelck heads up The Urban Element, and believes heartily in building kids' culinary literacy. It's cultivated independence in an age where there's a lot of dependency on the parent. - Carley Schelck With kids at home during the pandemic and parents stuck on Zoom calls, Schelck's nine-year-old son is learning to forage. "It has forced my son to go fend for himself a little bit more. It's cultivated independence in an age where there's a lot of dependency on the parent," she said. Schelck's advice to parents is to show kids how to use knives and appliances safely, and then step back and stand by. Dollars and sense For some families, COVID-19 has meant a change in income and spending habits — and that's led some kids to learn about the importance of budgeting and the value of a dollar. "Honestly, this is the best time," said Tecla Kalinda, the founder of Zalasmart, an Ottawa-based organization that helps teach kids and teens about financial literacy. "Especially as parents are losing jobs [and] things are getting tighter." Kalinda says there's a fine line between sharing financial realities with kids and protecting them from worry. "It can be tricky. Parents should be open about talking about money, and talking about in a positive way. [But] you don't want to stress the kids out," said Kalinda. "The best time to teach someone is doing their core development phase. And that's when they're a child. That's when they start building their habits. And a lot of the stuff you learn during that time frame tends to stick with you for life." Fixer uppers Think kids can't wield a hammer or screwdriver? Think again, says Bettina Vollmerhausen, co-founder at the Ottawa Tool Library. The pandemic has created conditions for handy parents to show the way. "There's so much organic learning that goes on when the kids are at home," said Vollmerhausen. Even minor drywall repairs or switching out spent washers can be conquered by kids and teens, although Vollmerhausen's caveat is that potentially dangerous tools only be used "under guidance" from someone with experience. And if no one has that experience? Fire up a YouTube video, Vollmerhausen suggests, and watch it together. "There is so much happening right around us that we can do together to build cohesion in the family. We're in this together. We're learning together." Keys to success Extra time at home could also be spent in the driveway or garage with the family wheels. Teens can learn to check things like tire pressure, wiper blades, and oil and windshield washer fluid levels, said Martin Restoule, the co-ordinator of transportation trades at Algonquin College. Even changing a tire isn't out of the realm of possibilities, he said — albeit with parental supervision. "All this stuff would be good for them to know before they go out and get their licenses," said Restoule. "Lift the hood and have a look around. It's a valuable lesson." Technical literacy Tech-savvy students are rapidly outpacing their parents and, in some cases, their teachers. "Kids are troubleshooting issues together. They're learning about how to present on video, how to connect, how to be aware of their background," said Mark Nunnikhoven, vice president of Cloud Research at Trend Micro, a cybersecurity software company. "All of these skills are going to follow these kids throughout life." Kids who are already "very comfortable in a digital world" are going even further, said Nunnikhoven. "To take that already high level of digital fluency to truly understanding how to make things bend to their own will, that's going to stay with them throughout their educational career as well as their professional career."
At least 56 people have died in the 6.2 magnitude earthquake which hit Sulawesi island on Friday nightView on euronews
The latest numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada as of 4:00 a.m. ET on Sunday Jan. 17, 2021. There are 702,183 confirmed cases in Canada. _ Canada: 702,183 confirmed cases (76,234 active, 608,084 resolved, 17,865 deaths).*The total case count includes 13 confirmed cases among repatriated travellers. There were 6,479 new cases Saturday from 89,622 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 7.2 per cent. The rate of active cases is 202.81 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 49,169 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 7,024. There were 137 new reported deaths Saturday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 975 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 139. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.37 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 47.53 per 100,000 people. There have been 16,486,584 tests completed. _ Newfoundland and Labrador: 395 confirmed cases (eight active, 383 resolved, four deaths). There were zero new cases Saturday from 143 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 1.53 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of three 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 0.77 per 100,000 people. There have been 76,165 tests completed. _ Prince Edward Island: 104 confirmed cases (nine active, 95 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Saturday from 477 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 5.73 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of two 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 85,889 tests completed. _ Nova Scotia: 1,554 confirmed cases (30 active, 1,459 resolved, 65 deaths). There were four new cases Saturday from 1,334 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.30 per cent. The rate of active cases is 3.09 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 26 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 195,067 tests completed. _ New Brunswick: 911 confirmed cases (268 active, 631 resolved, 12 deaths). There were 27 new cases Saturday from 1,312 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 2.1 per cent. The rate of active cases is 34.5 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 146 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 21. There were zero new reported deaths Saturday. 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 127,403 tests completed. _ Quebec: 240,970 confirmed cases (21,601 active, 210,364 resolved, 9,005 deaths). There were 2,225 new cases Saturday from 9,590 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 23 per cent. The rate of active cases is 254.58 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 14,737 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 2,105. There were 67 new reported deaths Saturday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 358 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 51. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.6 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 106.13 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,647,264 tests completed. _ Ontario: 234,364 confirmed cases (28,618 active, 200,406 resolved, 5,340 deaths). There were 3,056 new cases Saturday from 71,183 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 4.3 per cent. The rate of active cases is 196.46 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 22,527 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 3,218. There were 51 new reported deaths Saturday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 372 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 53. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.36 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 36.66 per 100,000 people. There have been 8,575,369 tests completed. _ Manitoba: 27,322 confirmed cases (2,986 active, 23,575 resolved, 761 deaths). There were 180 new cases Saturday. The rate of active cases is 218.04 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 1,156 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 165. There were two new reported deaths Saturday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 28 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is four. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.29 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 55.57 per 100,000 people. There have been 436,236 tests completed. _ Saskatchewan: 19,985 confirmed cases (4,043 active, 15,730 resolved, 212 deaths). There were 270 new cases Saturday from 1,218 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 22 per cent. The rate of active cases is 344.24 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,178 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 311. There were two new reported deaths Saturday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 21 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is three. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.26 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 18.05 per 100,000 people. There have been 320,404 tests completed. _ Alberta: 116,087 confirmed cases (12,713 active, 101,957 resolved, 1,417 deaths). There were 717 new cases Saturday. The rate of active cases is 290.83 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 5,446 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 778. There were 15 new reported deaths Saturday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 145 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is 21. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.47 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 32.42 per 100,000 people. There have been 2,979,663 tests completed. _ British Columbia: 60,117 confirmed cases (5,955 active, 53,115 resolved, 1,047 deaths). There were zero new cases Saturday from 4,365 completed tests, for a positivity rate of 0.0 per cent. The rate of active cases is 117.42 per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, there have been a total of 2,947 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new cases is 421. There were zero new reported deaths Saturday. Over the past seven days there have been a total of 48 new reported deaths. The seven-day rolling average of new reported deaths is seven. The seven-day rolling average of the death rate is 0.14 per 100,000 people. The overall death rate is 20.65 per 100,000 people. There have been 1,021,911 tests completed. _ Yukon: 70 confirmed cases (two active, 67 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Saturday. The rate of active cases is 4.9 per 100,000 people. 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 2.45 per 100,000 people. There have been 6,256 tests completed. _ Northwest Territories: 25 confirmed cases (one active, 24 resolved, zero deaths). There were zero new cases Saturday. The rate of active cases is 2.23 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 zero per 100,000 people. There have been 8,323 tests completed. _ Nunavut: 266 confirmed cases (zero active, 265 resolved, one deaths). There were zero new cases Saturday. 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 6,558 tests completed. This report was automatically generated by The Canadian Press Digital Data Desk and was first published Jan. 17, 2021. The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — Staff in long-term care homes across Canada are struggling to isolate elderly residents with dementia during COVID-19 outbreaks, accelerating the deadly spread of the virus, experts say. These vulnerable residents have a tendency to wander as well as a need for social connection and physical touch, leading them to enter other patients' rooms or common areas where they could contract or transmit the virus, say doctors and advocates. "It's a significant problem in the time of COVID-19 and long-term care," said Laura Tamblyn Watts, CEO of CanAge, a national seniors advocacy group. "It's also quite inhumane to be locking people up in their rooms. Older people with dementia in long-term care are not prisoners," she added. "The good news is there are some things we can do to help support infection prevention and control while at the same time not isolating seniors exclusively in their rooms." The novel coronavirus has taken a lethal toll on Canadians living in long-term care homes. More than 3,000 of Ontario's over 5,000 deaths have been in these facilities, as have more than 600 of British Columbia's roughly 1,000 fatalities. Overall in Canada, residents of these homes account for 10 per cent of total cases and 72 per cent of deaths. A woman whose grandmother died of COVID-19 in a Vancouver care home has raised the alarm about residents wandering during outbreaks. Parbs Bains said she was on a Zoom call with her sick grandmother when another resident entered the room and began hugging her and kissing her on the forehead, remaining for several minutes before a nurse arrived to usher her out. The care home, Little Mountain Place, is the site of B.C.’s deadliest outbreak in such a facility, with 41 dead. But in all long-term care homes with outbreaks in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, keeping residents with cognitive impairments isolated has been a challenge, said chief medical health officer Dr. Patricia Daly. The health authority advises staff to monitor residents who wander but not to lock them in rooms or restrain them, Daly said. Tamblyn Watts said 80 per cent of residents of long-term care homes in the country have some form of cognitive impairment such as dementia. Keeping them in one room without social engagement, exercise or daily routines has a negative effect, she said. She said more staff, not necessarily with medical training but with dementia training, are needed to compassionately intervene when they see a resident wandering and redirect them to a safe area. Ideally, there would be a separate room where residents could walk to other than their own, Tamblyn Watts added. "It does, however, mean that you need to have people on deck to be able to help with that," she said. Quebec announced last year it would hire 10,000 patient attendants to work in care homes and train them over last summer. B.C. and Ontario have also created new jobs in care homes for people without prior experience, but much more hiring needs to be done, Tamblyn Watts said. She also said more infection control, cleaning, testing and now vaccines are needed, in order to prevent COVID-19 from getting inside care homes to begin with. Dr. Roger Wong, clinical professor and vice dean in the University of British Columbia faculty of medicine, said people with dementia need a lot of hands-on care. "Clearly, we always need more staffing," he said. But he said there are some ways to help residents with cognitive impairments stay in their rooms, including placing a stop sign by the door or hanging a curtain over the doorway. In some secure units, seniors wear wristbands that ring an alarm when they leave, Wong said. It's also technologically possible, though not common practice, to place GPS trackers in residents' footwear, he said. Playing a familiar piece of music in their rooms can be comforting and help them remain in that space, Wong added. He said families could plan to speak to their loved ones virtually at times when they are more likely to get confused and wander, often in the late afternoon or evening for Alzheimer's patients. However, it can be a challenge to ensure that residents understand the people on their screen are their loved ones, he said. Jennifer Stewart, manager of advocacy and education for the Alzheimer Society of B.C., acknowledged that virtual visits can be helpful for some and confusing for others. Patients may not be able to understand or retain the information about why they need to be separated from others or be able to follow protocols, such as frequent hand washing, she added. "I think we're in a really tough spot," she said. "I don't think anyone's found a perfect solution here." However, Stewart said person-centred care is key: looking at each patient as a unique individual and speaking with their families about how to provide them with safety, comfort and meaning. B.C. seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie said the primary way that the virus is spreading in care homes is from staff to residents, rather than from resident to resident. Staff are in close physical contact with many different patients, she noted, and many residents are not mobile. She said, though, that immediately after a single positive case, all residents and employees should be tested and residents should be isolated. Every patient positive for COVID-19 should be kept not only in their room, but as much as possible in a certain section of the home, she said. Daly of Vancouver Coastal Health said care homes in the region do not automatically do mass testing after a single staff member tests positive. She said testing depends on the likelihood the employee transmitted the virus to others in the home as well as the timing of transmission. Mackenzie has also called for frequent, routine testing of staff, which B.C. does not do. Ontario tests staff at least every two weeks and has also deployed some pilot projects for rapid testing. Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said B.C. considered whether to periodically send staff to a testing site, as is done in Ontario, but that is very "low yield" and challenging to do. As for rapid testing at care homes on a daily basis, that is "not feasible" with the tests that the province has, she said. "Our focus has been instead on making sure we have the resources to ensure staffing, particularly if an outbreak has been identified. When an outbreak is identified, testing is done," Henry said. The seniors advocate said understaffing is "absolutely" still an issue. "I think there have been additional strains on an already strained staffing system," Mackenzie said. She said family members can be designated essential visitors to be the eyes and ears of a loved one within the care home and flag problems for staff. Some residents don't have family members who are able to play this role but many do, she said. Mackenzie added that even when dementia patients are isolated, they should be receiving physical touch from staff. Care providers should also use gentle persuasion and de-escalation techniques to assuage any anxieties residents are experiencing, she said. "If they're mobile enough that they're individually ambulating out of their room in the common areas, they've got some capacity. That is not a person in end-stage Alzheimer's with no capacity to understand anything," she pointed out. "It's easy to throw up our hands and say we couldn't do anything, we can't isolate these people because they wander. That is not true of every resident or even of most residents. It might be true of some and we know how to manage that." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 17, 2021. Laura Dhillon Kane, The Canadian Press
As they prepare for the return of the Boeing 737 Max to Canadian skies for the first time in almost two years, Canada's two largest airlines are grappling with how to ease passenger wariness about the jet's reputation during a time of heightened anxiety around flying. "The pandemic compounded people's concern about the Max," said WestJet's vice-president of communications and chief of staff, Richard Bartrem. "The angst around the pandemic drove their reticence to flying even higher." Countries worldwide grounded the Max in March 2019 after two crashes just months apart, in Indonesia and Ethiopia, that killed 346 people including 18 Canadians and family that were permanent residents. Transport Canada hasn't specified the date when Canadian airlines can resume using the 737 Max for passenger flights, but said it's imminent. Airlines expect an announcement could come as soon as this week. A year ago, restoring confidence after two fatal crashes would have been a big challenge by itself. Now, Air Canada and WestJet are doing that during a pandemic, when WestJet's internal research shows travellers are more apprehensive about flying in general — and even more uncomfortable with flying on a Max than before. The majority surveyed — 64 per cent — said they would avoid flying on the Max altogether, according to the latest data the airline shared with CBC News from the fall. The two crashes exposed serious flaws with the plane's design and certification process. Boeing agreed to pay $2.5 billion US after admitting to defrauding and obstructing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in connection with evaluating the plane's flight-control system, called MCAS, which was found to have pushed the plane's nose down as pilots struggled to right it in the two crashes. Canada's regulator said it has spent 15,000 hours independently verifying changes to the aircraft and ensuring Boeing and the FAA addressed all of its safety concerns. Last month, the U.S. became the first country to approve the plane to return to the skies, followed by Brazil. 75 per cent not comfortable with Max, WestJet finds As WestJet aims to return its fleet to service on Jan. 21, the carrier has been tracking public opinion. The airline conducted a series of surveys with more than 800 Canadian flyers online over an 18-month period. The results show that pre-pandemic in September 2019, 59 per cent of flyers surveyed said they would not be comfortable flying on a Max when it returns to passenger service. As the pandemic wore on, that number of wary travellers grew to 75 per cent in October. Canadian travellers in Western and Atlantic Canada, along with business travellers, said they were more likely to get back on a 737 Max. Ruth Adonya flew from Ottawa to Nigeria this week, but said she wouldn't have done it on a Max. "I'm already anxious about flying," said Adonya when CBC News spoke to her at the Ottawa International Airport. "I know someone who died from one of the crashes. I'm very nervous about it, so I wouldn't get on." New opt-out policies To try and ease that apprehension, WestJet has released a new webpage with a safety video and a new policy it says is centred around transparency. If you're booking on a Max, WestJet says it will make it clear that you can opt out at any time and change your flight to another plane free of charge. Notifications will also be sent to customers ahead of their flight reminding them. "We never want to put anybody in a position where they feel they're being forced to be on that aircraft," said Bartrem, who added that WestJet hasn't decided how long the policy will be in effect. "If you are at the gate and haven't read any of the emails or didn't notice at the time of booking, and you now look out the window and want to talk to a customer service agent [because you] realize it's the Max — if you don't want to get on, then we'll certainly book you onto another flight." WATCH | Transparent communication around return of 737 Max: 'We understand the apprehension': Air Canada VP Air Canada is aiming to start flying the Max on Feb.1, and said it plans to roll out a similar policy and dedicated webpage to educate the public about the safety of the aircraft. "The strategy will be very similar," said Murray Strom, vice-president of flight operations. "We understand the apprehension, we have policies in place through our commercial division to alleviate passengers' concerns. We're not going to put a passenger on the airplane who doesn't want to be." Strom said he has total confidence in the safety of the Max, because Transport Canada has asked the manufacturer and U.S. regulator thousands of questions over the past two years. "You have to trust the experts that have certified this aircraft," he said. "People are skeptical of Boeing. They're not happy with the [Federal Aviation Administration]. But in Canada, we have a very strong certification group." Sunwing declined CBC's request for an interview about its fleet of the aircraft and has not yet announced its plans to return the Max to service. Max more fuel-efficient, cuts operating costs Airlines around the world have a lot riding on the successful return of the Max, especially during a time of historic financial losses. In Canada, the jet is a top performer in WestJet and Air Canada's fleets. Air Canada said the Max is a greener aircraft and 20 per cent more fuel efficient compared to other models. It can cut operating costs by 11 per cent, "which is significant," the airline said in a statement to CBC News. The Max has a longer range than previous 737 models, and is smaller than wide-body aircraft that are more expensive to operate. This allows the carrier to resume non-stop flights to destinations which haven't been profitable during the pandemic because too many seats were empty on larger aircraft to make the trip viable. Air Canada said it offered flights to Hawaii on bigger jets over the holidays when air traffic was up, but it will end them on Jan. 23. It plans to resume flights on the route once the Max is back in service. Everything that's been necessary to be done has been done, double checked, triple checked. - Richard Steer, Air Canada senior vice-president of operations The airline said it's ready to start Max flights when Transport Canada gives its approval. "Everything that's been necessary to be done has been done, double checked, triple checked," said Richard Steer, the senior vice-president of operations at Air Canada, who is responsible for the safe dispatch of the Max fleet. "We are ready. The aircraft is ready, and we are just reintroducing the type that has performed well for us." WATCH | Richard Steer on the airworthiness of the 737 Max: 'You need to disclose, disclose, disclose' But the planned PR campaigns don't go far enough for Paul Njoroge. His three children, wife and mother-in-law died when a 737 Max went down in Ethiopia, just months after the first Max disaster. He wants airlines' websites to mention the crashes. "If you're going to disclose, you need to disclose, disclose, disclose," said Njoroge. "Say 'we're giving you an option to opt out this plane because it killed 346 people." Njoroge said he didn't know about the Max crash in Indonesia when he booked his family's plane tickets. If he knew, he said, he wouldn't have put them on the flight. "I'm sure some potential passengers will not know why you are telling them it's a 737 Max and they can opt out. You have to remind them ... that way they can make an informed decision." Chris and Clariss Moore's daughter also died in the Ethiopian Airlines crash on her way to a UN assembly in Nairobi. They say Danielle was an activist, and that if she were alive today, she too would be demanding more answers from Transport Canada, Boeing and the FAA about the recertification process. "I don't trust this plane and I never will," said Clariss Moore. "We just want to make sure that they've done everything within the rules and the guidelines of the regulations, and to satisfy ourselves that it's safe," said Chris Moore. WATCH | Chris and Clariss Moore still wary of the 737 Max: Can't brand away issues Chris Clearfield, a pilot of small planes and co-author of Meltdown: Why Our Systems Fail and What We Can Do, said he believes airlines "have a real uphill battle" ahead to change the public's perception. He said ValuJet was able to rebrand its airline business after a deadly crash in 1996 in Florida, for example, but rebranding a widely used jet like the 737 Max is a completely different kind of challenge. "This is an industry-wide problem," said Clearfield. "You can't sort of brand away the issue." He said even though the airline industry is certain about the Max's safety now, it needs to be honest with passengers, and emphasize that there were problems and the industry learned from them. He expects that with time and a clean safety record, travellers' uneasiness about this jet will fade. American Airlines has been flying the plane for about two weeks and has completed more than 100 flights. The airline said so far, "bookings on the Max are comparable to other aircraft, and we aren't seeing data to suggest customers don't want to fly on the aircraft." WestJet plans to fly the Max commercially on Thursday pending Transport Canada approval. The airline announced it plans to operate three weekly round-trip flights between Calgary and Toronto for the next month as it evaluates adding more routes.
KABUL — Gunmen fired on a car in northern Kabul on Sunday, killing two women judges who worked for Afghanistan's high court and wounding the driver, a court official said. It was the latest attack in the Afghan capital during peace talks between Taliban and Afghan government officials in Qatar. Supreme Court of Afghanistan spokesman Ahmad Fahim Qawim, said the women were judges who worked for the high court but he did not identify them by name. No one claimed responsibility for the attack and Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the insurgent group wasn't responsible. The Afghan government has repeatedly blamed the Taliban for targeted killings in recent months and the insurgent group accuses the government of staging the killings to spoil the peace process. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for multiple attacks in the capital in recent months, including on educational institutions that killed 50 people, most of them students. IS has also claimed responsibility for rocket attacks in December targeting the major U.S. base in Afghanistan. There were no casualties. The Taliban and the Afghan government earlier this month resumed peace talks in Qatar. Negotiations were off to a slow start as the insurgent group continues attacks on Afghan government forces while keeping their promise not to attack U.S. and NATO troops. Tameem Akhgar, The Associated Press
Why is the National Capital Commission going ahead with plans to open the Rideau Canal Skateway? What clinic for Ottawa's homeless people has had to temporarily close? And what aspect of the COVID-19 response is frustrating the chief of Kitigan Zibi? These are just a few of the questions designed to vex and perplex you in this week's CBC Ottawa news quiz. On a desktop computer? For the best quiz-taking experience, click on the arrows in the bottom right-hand corner of the quiz widget to expand it.
Austria on Sunday extend its third COVID-19 lockdown into February, hoping to drive down infection rates despite an influx of variants that spread the coronavirus more easily. "We have two to three hard months ahead of us," Chancellor Sebastian Kurz told a news conference, flanked by regional leaders and health officials in a show of unity a day after thousands marched in Vienna to protest against restrictions. Austria, a country of 8.9 million people, is in its third lockdown, with only essential shops open.
Parisians built snowmen and threw snowballs before the nighttime curfew kicked in, whilst Belgians enjoyed up to 10 cm of snowfall.View on euronews