These people went to a junkyard in Allen, Michigan and this young guy greeted them upon arrival. It's so chill!
These people went to a junkyard in Allen, Michigan and this young guy greeted them upon arrival. It's so chill!
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
When at least five centimetres of snow falls in Mississauga, the City’s army of plows, salters and other winter maintenance vehicles are dispatched to clear the slippery stuff within 24 hours. An excess snowfall volume, or limited on-site space, forces clearers to haul the snow over to a City storage facility – and there aren’t enough of them. The essential work that makes Mississauga’s streets safer to navigate during the winter months, and allows for the smooth operation of parks and recreation features, is made harder as Works, Operations and Maintenance departments vie for places to store equipment, in the same limited spaces where snow sometimes has to be stored. Now, the City is gearing up for a temporary solution by transforming the West Credit Avenue storage site originally planned for MiWay transit vehicles – near Derry Road and West Credit Avenue – to accommodate more snow clearing vehicles and other related uses. The City’s new $141-million winter maintenance contract – which includes additional snow clearing vehicles – is leaving the Works department even more strapped for space. Council opted for a short-term solution in the 2021 budget to create a temporary site at the West Credit location, ahead of the 2022 Yard Master Plan and Modernization Study. This fall, the site was used to stockpile dry leaves after three of the City’s existing yards reached capacity. The “extraordinary high volumes of leaves” that fell this November slowed the Region of Peel’s ability to transfer them to composting sites, according to a staff report that month. In other words, were it not for the West Credit site’s use as a backup storage location, the leaf collection program would have ground to a halt. Mississauga’s One Million Trees program and commitment to urban forest development will affect leaf collection in the future, the report notes. And when the seasonal storage of nature’s elements is not a factor, the City is still left needing room to tuck away equipment. Mississauga has four operations yards: the Mavis yard, built in 1956; the Clarkson and Malton yards, built in 1977; and the Meadowvale yard, built in 1996. In 2005, staff said a fifth operations yard needed to be built urgently, by 2008, for the Engineering and Works Operations, and Recreation and Parks divisions. Thirteen years after that hard deadline, the yard still has not been built. The rapidly growing city faced criticism recently for chronically neglecting desperately needed expansion of its fire service, while through the Region of Peel, which all 12 Mississauga council members represent at the higher tier, affordable housing in the city has been ignored for decades and the recent report revealed crucial infrastructure to keep streets running and parks cleared are also being kicked down the road. “This is understandable, given that yards are costly to construct and yards are not public facing like community centres and libraries,” the November 30 staff report reads. “However, yard capacity is important to maintain Council-approved service levels.” In 2022, the City will release its Yard Master Plan, and Modernization Study completed by consultants, as part of budget discussions for that year. The Works department says its snow storage capacity right now is in deficit of about 26,000 cubic metres, not including the West Credit site. That floor space alone translates to at least six-and-a-half average sized football fields. The Hurontario LRT in 2024 will result in the need for another 51,000 cubic metres of space to store snow, the report states. Earlier this year, the City’s Enforcement staff had to relinquish some of their storage space at a Mavis North facility to the Works department for winter vehicles. The City has 31 tractor and loader plow units, and added another 24 single-and tandem-axle plows, which remove snow and distribute salt at the same time. Outdated winter maintenance practises in Mississauga result in the City using 60,000 tonnes per year of road salt, which will be reduced with the addition of more plowing and be better for the environment. These changes are part of an eight-year, $141 million winter maintenance contract Council approved this summer. The contract begins next year, and will cost about $17 million in its first full year, by 2022. According to 2021 budget documents, the City will be tapping into its winter maintenance reserve to the tune of about $1.9 million, which will go toward funding priority sidewalk and bus stop clearing services. Staff are expecting that the West Credit site can be used for a minimum of a decade. The report was drafted following a request from Ward 9 Councillor Pat Saito during budget discussions last month, after some of the $3.5 million project budget line was mistakenly qualified to Council as “throwaway” costs. Saito said she did not want Council to approve the project without having a closer look at the spending. Staff were able to reduce the West Credit site cost by $700,000, to $2.8 million, after changing the type of asphalt for the project, Saito said in an interview. “If we're going to put money into anything, we need to put it into our maintenance locations because if we don't have somewhere to store the snow, to put the leaves…the parks equipment, the forestry equipment and the snow plows, we can't provide service to the community,” Saito said. Email: email@example.com Twitter: @LaVjosa COVID-19 is impacting all Canadians. At a time when vital public information is needed by everyone, The Pointer has taken down our paywall on all stories relating to the pandemic and those of public interest to ensure every resident of Brampton and Mississauga has access to the facts. For those who are able, we encourage you to consider a subscription. This will help us report on important public interest issues the community needs to know about now more than ever. You can register for a 30-day free trial HERE. Thereafter, The Pointer will charge $10 a month and you can cancel any time right on the website. Thank you.Vjosa Isai, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Pointer
Max Meighen admits to being one of the more fortunate small business owners around. The Avling Kitchen and Brewery he opened in Toronto's Leslieville neighbourhood back in July 2019 has spent more of its young life in COVID-19 lockdown than out of it, but is still making decent income from takeout beer sales and some limited food options. The “whole animal” kitchen already had a butcher on-site to prepare its typical weekly order of a side of beef and a pig, who was quickly put to work selling cuts of meat and sausages out of the same retail store its customers already frequented to buy bottles and cans of Avling's beer before the lockdowns came. A bookkeeper has made it easier to navigate various government relief packages, including the federal wage subsidy that meant they could hire for two specific roles in September, one for a retail manager and another in communications, to respond to the changed circumstances. Apart from a brief opening in the summer, the pub has effectively been closed since March, but with nine months of interruptions, it still made around 60 per cent of the sales he’d expected in 2020, Meighen said. That's not to say the pandemic and the response to it has not brought pain and frustration to the young business owner. The restaurant has had to lay off around 35 mostly full-time kitchen and service staff, while two kitchen workers from the original team provide takeout service and donations to two local community groups. But Meighen has the latitude to hunker down and plan for better days ahead. “We want to represent a post-pandemic possibility,” he told Canada's National Observer. “Not playing catch-up, but trying our best to be leading the way.” After using marigolds planted in the rooftop garden to control pests, make oil infusions for the kitchen and adding them to an upcoming all-Ontario grain beer, Meighen is hoping to find funding for a project to add wastewater treatment or aquaculture to build out an even more circular urban agricultural ecosystem. He has also worked out a deal with his pig farmer to use barley and wheat planted in his fallow fields for another experimental brew, and wonders about whether his own spent grain could go back to the farm. “For my own sanity, maintaining my own optimism, looking forward to these projects and continuing to develop them is important,” Meighen said. “I’m trying to focus more on the possibilities of the future rather than the grim reality of the present.” Meighen says that while nothing could have prepared a restaurant owner for the last year, he has learned that governments can, when they want to, provide much more support for individuals and businesses, and he's hoping the country's political leaders are also looking ahead. “The real question for me is to what degree they take advantage of the months and year following the pandemic to initiate a rebound or a rebuild in a way that I hope looks towards greater equity, a more complete integration of green policy,” he said of the federal Liberal government that has bankrolled most emergency pandemic relief efforts. That could mean heavy funding and policy efforts to help Alberta’s oil and gas workers thrive in a less carbon-intensive world, for example, as the pandemic accelerates problematic trends “people could ignore at their own peril up until February of 2020, but now are completely here to stay,” Meighen said. Unlike many small businesses along the strip of Queen Street East from the railway bridge and Jimmy Simpson Park to Greenwood Avenue, Avling pays a mortgage rather than rent. Meighen said the bank had expected business-as-usual terms after an initial six-month deferral of payment (but not interest). “They were not as understanding as I would have liked nor expected,” he said, noting major lenders talk about being there to support small business. Meighen says Avling's beer sales bumped higher in the early days of the pandemic as customers prepared for some extended time at home, “but as things dragged on and it became apparent that it wasn't just an enforced vacation, a short temporary hiatus, but something much more long term, all of our sales pulled back.” The brief respite of the summer's looser rules and the city's CafeTO program, which made more sidewalk space available for dining, did help get weekly sales to around 85 per cent of typical, with Avling's 40-seat pavement patio replacing an inside space that used to regularly serve 100 people. About a third of Leslieville storefronts are either restaurants, cafés or bars, and the head of the area's BIA (business improvement area) Dominic Cobran credits CafeTO with keeping many of those hospitality businesses afloat through the summer. “It really was a lifeline for the participating restaurants,” he said of the program, which made extra pavement space available for al fresco dining and “helped them out to the point where it could take them through when they closed indoor dining” in October. “It took them through a very difficult period into an even more difficult period,” Cobran said, referring to the tighter restrictions introduced this winter.Alastair Sharp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, National Observer
Les résidents de l’agglomération de Longueuil ont pu déguster, durant la période des fêtes, des fraises locales, cultivées ici même et bien au chaud, dans l’agglomération de Longueuil, grâce à une nouvelle façon de produire, complètement inédite. Et on dit qu’elles sont pas mal meilleures que les grosses fraises toute pâle américaine aussi sur le marché durant les mois d’hiver. L’entreprise « Ferme d’hiver » située en plein parc industriel de Brossard a en fait produit près de 2000 livres de fraises d’hiver qui ont été écoulés rapidement et essentiellement dans quelques marchés d’alimentation de la Rive-Sud. La production non seulement se poursuit mais l’entreprise s’apprête à prendre de l’expansion en Montérégie aussi, du côté de Vaudreuil. « Fraise d’hiver a été fondée par Yves Daoust en 2018. Il a consacré sa carrière à trouver des solutions technologiques pour des industries en plein bouleversement. La Fraise d’hiver pousse dans un terreau, comme elle le ferait naturellement à l’extérieur. Cependant, tous les éléments climatiques sont surveillés et contrôlés. Les rectifications se font continuellement, sans devoir attendre une première récolte pour observer les forces et faiblesses du fruit. Un éclairage spécial recrée les avantages de la lumière naturelle du soleil pour procurer une quantité optimale d’énergie à la plante. La chaleur émise est récupérée pour maximiser l’efficacité énergétique et chauffer les locaux adjacents, tels que des serres. Un système d’irrigation automatisé et intelligent assure aux plants de fraises un approvisionnement en eau selon leurs besoins. L’eau de drainage est réutilisée. Il n’y a donc aucun rejet nocif dans l’environnement. La ventilation filtre et purifie l’air constamment dans la salle de production. Des lampes UV conçues au Québec sont utilisées pour contrôler les spores des pathogènes. Grâce à ce système, l’usage de bio-protection est réduit puisque les risques de propagation de pathogènes sont fortement réduits. La pollinisation des plants est assurée comme une culture normale avec de vrais bourdons dans les salles! Chaque plant de fraises est étroitement surveillé pour s’assurer de sa bonne santé et de la qualité de sa production. À un tel point que les cueilleurs passent tous les jours pour récolter des fraises charnues et savoureuses! C’est ainsi que l’entreprise s’est donnée comme mission de bâtir avec ses partenaires un réseau de Fermes d’hiver réparties aux quatre coins du Québec ce qui veut dire qu’au cours des prochains mois, si vous portez attention dans votre supermarché, vous pourriez bien retrouver ces fameuses fraises d’hiver « made in agglomération de Longueuil » à côté de chez vous. François Laramée, Initiative de journalisme local, La Relève
The women's curling team skipped by Jill Brothers will represent Nova Scotia at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Alberta next month. The team was invited to attend by the Nova Scotia Curling Association after the provincial championships for men and women were cancelled due to the pandemic. The event, set for Feb. 19-28, will be played in a bubble in Calgary. It wasn't an easy decision under the current circumstances, Brothers said. "It's part of my nature to just want to win. I just really like to compete. If I could curl for a living I would." The team found out on Monday it had being given the nod to represent Nova Scotia. It was asked to make a decision by Wednesday. The team asked for an extra day before confirming it would be able to go. Family and work support helped with decision Brothers, a 37-year-old Halifax hair stylist who has two young children, said she wouldn't be going if her family and work didn't support her. But the entire team isn't going. Sarah Murphy has opted to stay home. Another player was undecided until Friday, but has chosen to make the trip. Emma Logan, the team's alternate, will move into the regular lineup. "Sarah, in her gut, just doesn't feel right about it and we totally respect her answer," said Brothers, who will be making her fifth appearance at the Scotties. "We're going to miss her a lot and I know she'll have a hard time watching it on TV and not being there, we have no hard feelings whatsoever." The decision to attend the Scotties is a commitment of nearly a month. The team will have to travel to the bubble. There will be testing prior to the event, the competition itself and the return trip to Nova Scotia. A two-week isolation period will be required upon return. A team skipped by Mary-Anne Arsenault won the Nova Scotia championship in 2020, but Arsenault has since moved to B.C. Nova Scotia men's lineup undetermined Jamie Murphy's team, the 2020 provincial men's champion, has been invited to attend the Tim Hortons Brier in March. It will also be played in the Calgary bubble. But Murphy has declined, citing travel risks and the isolation period required on return. His team is still looking for someone to replace him. MORE TOP STORIES
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
Signal said on Friday it was experiencing technical difficulties and working to restore the service, as it dealt with a flood of new users after rival messaging app WhatsApp announced a controversial change in privacy terms. Along with another encrypted app, Telegram, Signal has been the main beneficiary of online outrage around the policy changes announced by WhatsApp last week. Telegram said on Wednesday it had surpassed 500 million active users globally.
PARIS — A French computer programmer transferred more than $500,000 in Bitcoin to far-right activists just before his death last month, including some involved in last week’s riot in Washington, researchers said Friday. Chainalysis, a firm that investigates Bitcoin transactions, found that the majority of the 22 transactions on Dec. 8 went to Nick Fuentes, a far-right Internet influencer who was in the protest crowd but denies being part of the deadly mob at the Capitol building. The 35-year-old Frenchman who transferred the money posted a suicide note on his blog the day after the Dec. 8 transactions, saying he was chronically ill and wanted to leave his wealth to “certain causes and people.” Chainalysis did not release the man's identity but, retracing the researchers' steps, an Associated Press journalist found his blog, suicide note, and a cached version of his obituary confirmed his death the same day. Federal investigators in the U.S. are looking into possible “co-ordination or planning" ahead of the riot and are using a number of methods they deploy routinely in criminal investigations, including examining financial transactions and cellphone and travel records. Michael Sherwin, the U.S. attorney in Washington, said investigators were also examining whether there was any “command and control” and vowed to bring charges if prosecutors could prove a conspiracy. But so far, no such conspiracy charges have been brought. The Chainalysis investigation found that the Frenchman sent 28.15 Bitcoins, worth about $522,000 to 22 addresses, including many belonging to American far-right activists and organizations. Fuentes received about $250,000 worth. Other recipients included an anti-immigration organization, an alt-right streamer and a number of unidentified addresses. “The donation, as well as reports of the planning that went into the Capitol raid on alt-right communication channels, also suggests that domestic extremist groups may be better organized and funded than previously thought,” the researchers wrote. French financial investigators did not immediately respond to requests for comment. ___ Colleen Long contributed from Washington. Lori Hinnant, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The line stretched nearly a block long. Nobody was grumbling about the wait. Those gathered at a senior wellness centre in Washington, D.C., viewed it as a matter of life or death. The nation's capital had just opened up coronavirus vaccines to people 65 and older because of their increased risk. I was among those who had a shot within reach. In the nation's capital, along with the rest of the country, coronavirus cases have surged since the holidays. More than 32,800 positive cases have been recorded overall in the city. Nearly 850 people have died. And now add fears that the mob insurrection at the Capitol earlier this month could turn into a superspreader event, adding to the totals. People were on edge. As I waited for my shot, I wondered if I should be there. The district had offered the vaccine first to health care workers, but were there others who should have come before me, people like teachers and workers in grocery stores and other businesses providing essential services during the pandemic? What about the older old — people over 75? Yes, journalists are considered essential, and I also am a teacher at the college level. But equally important to me, I haven't seen my grandson and his parents in California for more than a year — half his life — and l long to get on a plane to visit. And I do fit the new criteria for vaccines, people 65 and older. So I was all in. The city started offering appointments to the over-65 crowd Monday. I called up the website, filled in the questionnaire and looked for a location. The site closest to my home had no times available so I widened my search, finally choosing a senior centre about 3 miles away. Later, I checked my neighbourhood listserv. It was filled with complaints from residents who found the whole process unwieldy and were furious that all the available appointments had been booked. A D.C. council member acknowledged that “the rollout came with a significant number of frustrations and challenges" but said there would be other opportunities for seniors to get the vaccine. It's an issue of supply and demand. There are just under 85,000 D.C. residents 65 and older who qualify for shots, but only 6,700 appointments were available the first week. I was one of the lucky ones. It was cold, but the length of the line at the wellness centre didn't bother me. I was grateful that we were outside for much of the wait, and that people were voluntarily self-distancing. That was enforced once we moved inside. Everyone wore a mask. Some people who were visibly frail were moved to front of the line. No one complained. And while I waited, I worked. In a bit of irony, that meant consulting with a colleague on a story about the Trump administration's push to expand vaccination to more people, including those over 65. The District of Columbia, it turns out, was ahead of the curve. Ninety minutes after I arrived, I was given the Moderna vaccine, administered by a Safeway pharmacy manager brought in from Rehoboth, Delaware. After we talked about her hometown — a favourite beach vacation spot for my family — and other vaccinations I might need, she told me how to sign up for the second dose. Then I was sent to wait in another room to make sure I didn't have a serious allergic reaction to the shot. I didn't. I get my second dose Feb. 10. I've already started thinking about booking that flight to California. There's only one negative — now everyone knows my age. ___ Virus Diary, an occasional feature, showcases the coronavirus pandemic through the eyes of Associated Press journalists around the world. Follow Washington-based AP news editor Carole Feldman on Twitter at http://twitter.com/CaroleFeldman Carole Feldman, The Associated Press
On Agenda Middle East we speak to political commentator and best-selling author, Fareed Zakaria about the takes from his new book: 'Ten Lessons for a Post-Pandemic World'. We also delve into what the future holds for the Middle East.View on euronews
Windsor Regional Hospital is dealing with a third active outbreak of COVID-19. The new outbreak was declared at the hospital's Met Campus on Thursday. Seven cases have been identified among staff members in the 4N unit, the hospital said in a press release. No patients have been affected. A previous outbreak on the same unit was declared in mid-December and later rescinded. There are currently 32 cases in total associated with three active outbreaks at the hospital this month. The outbreak declared on Jan. 6 on Unit 4M of the Ouellette Campus has eight patient cases and five staff cases. Another outbreak, declared two days later on Unit 6E, currently has affected eight patients and four staff. In a media release on Thursday, the hospital said further testing is being done on Friday and outbreak control measures are in place. The hospital started testing all patients for COVID-19 on admission last month. Admissions to the units in outbreak continue, with "proper cohorting" of COVID-19-positive patients, though patients from other areas of the hospital can't be sent there without approval from the infection prevention and control department, according to the hospital. Karen Riddell, the hospital's chief nursing executive and chief operating officer, said Windsor Regional expects to see these outbreaks as COVID-19 spreads in the community. "We continue to remain vigilant in ensuring that we have the correct infection prevention and control guidelines and precautions in place to reduce spread of the COVID-19 virus," she said in a media release Thursday. The hospital outbreaks are among 45 currently active across Windsor-Essex in various settings including workplaces and seniors' homes. Earlier this week, the region surpassed 10,000 COVID-19 cases.
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his entire Cabinet resigned Friday to take political responsibility for a scandal involving investigations into child welfare payments that wrongly labeled thousands of parents as fraudsters. In a nationally televised speech, Rutte said he had informed King Willem-Alexander of his decision and pledged that his government would continue work to compensate affected parents as quickly as possible and to battle the coronavirus. “We are of one mind that if the whole system has failed, we all must take responsibility, and that has led to the conclusion that I have just offered the king, the resignation of the entire Cabinet,” Rutte said. The move was seen as largely symbolic; Rutte’s government will remain in office in a caretaker mode until a new coalition is formed after a March 17 election in the Netherlands. The resignation brings to an end a decade in office for Rutte, although his party is expected to win the election, putting him first in line to begin talks to form the next government. If he succeeds in forming a new coalition, Rutte would most likely again become prime minister. The Netherlands is the third European country thrown into political uncertainty this week in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. In Estonia, the government resigned over a corruption scandal, while Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte’s governing coalition is at risk of collapse after a small partner party withdrew its support. Rutte said earlier this week that his government would be able to keep taking tough policy decisions in the battle against the coronavirus even if it were in caretaker mode. The Netherlands is in a tough lockdown until at least Feb. 9, and the government is considering imposing an overnight curfew amid fears about new, more contagious variants of the virus. “To the Netherlands I say: Our struggle against the coronavirus will continue,” Rutte said. On Thursday, the leader of the Dutch opposition Labor Party stepped down because he was minister of social affairs in a governing coalition led by Rutte when the country’s tax office implemented a tough policy of tracking down fraud with child welfare. Lodewijk Asscher’s decision put further pressure on Rutte ahead of Friday's Cabinet meeting. Ministers were to decide on their reaction to a scathing report issued last month, titled “Unprecedented Injustice,” that said the tax office policies violated “fundamental principles of the rule of law.” The report also criticized the government for the way it provided information to parliament about the scandal. Many wrongfully accused parents were plunged into debt when tax officials demanded repayment of payments. The government has in the past apologized for the tax office’s methods and in March earmarked 500 million euros ($607 million) to compensate more than 20,000 parents. One of those parents waited near parliament as the Cabinet met and said she wanted it to resign. “It's important for me because it is the government acknowledging, ‘We have made a mistake and we are taking responsibility,’ because it's quite something what happened to us,” Janet Ramesar told The Associated Press. Rutte plans to lead his conservative People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy into the March election, and polls suggest it will win the most seats. That would put Rutte, who has been in office for a decade at the head of three different coalitions, first in line to attempt to form the next ruling coalition. Deputy Prime Minister Kajsa Ollongren, who serves as interior minister, said as she entered Friday's meeting that “it is very important to be accountable and also to show responsibility in the political sense, and we are going to talk about that in the Council of Ministers today.” Mike Corder, The Associated Press
Kids are normally able to put their lost baby teeth under their pillow hoping for a payment from the tooth fairy. But what if the tooth falls out and goes missing at school? Gavin Jensen, a five-year-old kindergarten student in Prince George, B.C., was faced with this dilemma this week when one of his teeth fell out in class. Seeing how upset he was, the vice-principal of Hart Highlands Elementary School wrote a formal plea to the fabled fairy to make sure Gavin got his due reward. "Please accept this letter as official verification of a lost tooth and provide the standard monetary exchange rate you normally use for a real tooth," Shandee Whitehead wrote in a letter under the school's masthead. "As a trained vice-principal and hobby dentist, I can verify that there is definitely a gap in Gavin's teeth that was not there this morning when he came in." Whitehead says she learned Gavin had dropped one of the teeth after it came out of his mouth before lunch on Tuesday. "When I went into the classroom, he was actually quite upset," she told Sarah Penton, host of CBC's Radio West. "He lost it from his mouth and then he couldn't find it in the room." The vice-principal says she and other staff searched for it in every corner of the classroom. "Despite the heroic efforts of a fearless search team, we were unable to recover it," Whitehead told the fairy. Whitehead's amusing correspondence has become a sensation in her community after posting the letter on social media. "In addition to contributing to a long-term plan for students' success, cultivating leadership in others, managing people, data and processes, and improving school leadership … a vice-principal has the duty of helping to create a positive school culture … one that saves the day!" Whitehead tweeted Tuesday. She also took the opportunity to remind the tooth fairy about some outstanding payments she was owed. "PS — I am still waiting for the money for my wisdom teeth from 2000. Please pay as soon as possible," Whitehead wrote at the end of the letter. "I have bills to pay." While she is still waiting to get paid, Gavin received his reward on Thursday morning. "When I woke up in the morning, the tooth fairy actually did come," he told Penton. "I got the coin…It was a gold and silver one." Tap the link below to hear the interview with Shandee Whitehead and Gavin Jensen on Radio West:
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A partnership with the Trump administration has reduced disparities in Alaska Native access to COVID-19 testing, treatment and protective equipment, tribal health care leaders said. The administration’s coronavirus initiative has treated Indigenous tribes as sovereign governments and set aside special vaccine shipments, Alaska Public Media reported Thursday. Operation Warp Speed, as the initiative is known, designated vaccine doses for tribes in the same manner as for the Department of Defence, Veterans Health Administration and Bureau of Prisons. The federal government distributed more than 35,000 doses to Alaska tribes, in addition to 78,000 doses to Alaska’s state government. More than 250,000 doses were dedicated to tribes nationwide through the Indian Health Service. “It’s something to celebrate,” Alaska Native Health Board CEO Verné Boerner. “When you embrace tribes and tribal sovereignty, you can bring so much more to the state.” Tribal shipments have afforded broad vaccine access for rural and Indigenous Alaskans and expanded availability of doses beyond older people. Providers acknowledge part of their ability to offer expanded access is because about a third of health care workers and older residents have declined to immediately take vaccines. While tribal providers are vaccinating Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, state and Native leaders said there is a legal basis for separate shipments because of longstanding recognition of tribes as sovereign governments. Officials said the decision also is appropriate from a scientific and medical standpoint because of the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on Alaska Native people and the dynamics in many rural communities that make the virus difficult to control. Factors include crowded, multi-generational homes, lack of running water and sewer and distance from advanced medical care. “It’s never been about equal distribution of the vaccine. It’s about equitable distribution,” said Dr. Ellen Hodges, Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. chief of staff. “The congregate living settings that exist in most of our villages are a setup for the virus to just spread like wildfire, and there’s no defence against that.” For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The Associated Press
Amazon Inc's cloud computing division opened its first office in Greece on Friday to support what it said was a growing number of companies and public sector agencies using its cloud services. The move by Amazon Web Services (AWS) comes as Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis's conservative government has stepped up efforts to attract foreign investment and draw high tech companies to Greece. "We have seen increased customer adoption of AWS in the country and decided to open an office in Athens to better support new customers," Przemek Szuder, the head of AWS operations in central and eastern Europe said in a statement.
CALGARY — French oil and gas company Total says it will ditch its membership in the U.S.-based American Petroleum Institute because it disagrees on climate-related policies. The move announced Friday follows its decision last July to drop out of the Calgary-based Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers and write off $9.3-billion worth of oilsands assets in Alberta. Total said in a statement Friday it would not renew its membership for 2021 following an analysis of API's position on climate issues that has shown "certain divergences.” The company notably mentions API's "support during the recent elections to candidates who argued against the United States’ participation" in the 2015 Paris Agreement to curb climate change. Total says it is working to provide cleaner energy and its CEO, Patrick Pouyanne, said the group wants to ensure that “the industry associations of which we are a member adopt positions and messages that are aligned with those of the group in the fight against climate change.” Total said last summer it was leaving CAPP because of a "misalignment'' between the organization's public positions and those expressed in Total's climate ambition statement announced last May. At the time, CAPP CEO Tim McMillan called the decision "disappointing" and Alberta Energy Minister Sonya Savage called it "highly-hypocritical'' given Total's investments in other parts of the world. Total’s decision to leave the API is significant, said Peter Frumhoff, the director of science and policy at the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists. “It’s a very big deal for an oil major to take a position basically leaving the major trade association here in the United States,” he said. With more than 600 members, API represents all segments of the oil and natural gas industry in the U.S. Frumhoff said the move came just days after API’s president, Mike Summers, made a speech in which he said the group would fight regulation of methane emissions, restrictions on drilling on public lands and support for charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. He added that Total's decision put pressure on oil companies BP and Shell, which both said they aim at fighting greenhouse gas emissions, “to put their political power where their mouth is and do the same.” President-elect Joe Biden, who has said he wants to focus on fighting climate change, has pledged to have the U.S. rejoin the Paris accord on the first day of his presidency. With files from the Associated Press The Canadian Press
The United Nations is concerned that a U.S. plan to blacklist Yemen's Houthi movement on Tuesday will hinder its efforts to assess a decaying oil tanker that is threatening to spill 1.1 million barrels of crude oil off the war-torn country's coast. The tanker Safer has been stranded off Yemen's Red Sea oil terminal of Ras Issa for more than five years, and U.N. officials have warned it could spill four times as much oil as the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster off Alaska. A U.N. team, which includes a private company contracted by the world body to do the work, aims to travel to the tanker early next month.
Canadian international Mark-Anthony Kaye has been elected to the Major League Soccer Players Association executive board. The 26-year-old Los Angeles FC midfielder, along with Jalil Anibaba (Nashville SC) and Victor Ulloa (Inter Miami CF), was elected to a three-year term. The executive board serves as the decision- and policy-making body of the Players Association with its members serving as the MLSPA’s chief officers. “The leadership and hard work of our executive board members, both past and present, has made the MLSPA into what it is today,” MLSPA executive director Bob Foose said in a statement. “I want to congratulate our newest board members, and those who are returning, and thank them for their commitment to serving their fellow players and continuing to grow and improve the MLSPA." Foose thanked departing board members Jeff Larentowicz and Luis Robles. Other current members of the executive board are Scott Caldwell (New England Revolution), Ethan Finlay (Minnesota United), Clint Irwin (Colorado Rapids), Eric Miller (Nashville) and Patrick Mullins (Toronto FC). The MLS and MLSPA are currently at loggerheads over the league's decision to trigger a "force majeure" clause in the collective bargaining agreement to reopen negotiations on the CBA signed in January 2019. The league has said it lost nearly US$1 billion last season due to the global pandemic. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15. 2021 The Canadian Press
Newfoundland and Labrador reported one new case of COVID-19 on Friday, as the province's chief medical officer of health addressed expectations for the ongoing vaccine rollout. Dr. Janice Fitzgerald said at Friday's COVID-19 briefing that regional health authorities are working to make sure vaccines are being administered "as expediently and efficiently as possible." "It it unrealistic to expect that a shipment of vaccines is to be administered within a day or two of its arrival," she said. Fitzgerald noted the regional health authorities have been able to administer their allotments within one week of the vaccines arriving in the province, which she calls "phenomenal" considering the planning and work involved. She said she knows there is anxiety as people wait to receive an inoculation but she urged patience. "The vaccine will come, but, for now, continue to do your part in keeping COVID at bay as we do our part to vaccinate our population," Fitzgerald said. Health Minister John Haggie said vaccination figures provided by government and health officials are just a snapshot of how the rollout is going. For example, said Haggie, within an hour or two Thursday night the province went from delivering 91 per cent of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to having only delivered 51 per cent, simply because a delivery arrived. "Our aim is to try and reduce the amount of time vaccines spend in the supply chain between arrival in the province and getting into someone's arms." Watch the full Jan. 15 update: But a production change is expected to have an effect on delivery of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine over the next three or four weeks. The company is temporarily pausing some of its production lines at the plant in Belgium where the vaccine is manufactured — and from where Canada receives its shipments — in order to expand them, meaning a reduction in the expected doses delivered, Haggie said. "What that means for Canada next week is that it will receive 195 trays instead of the 214 that were scheduled. The last week in January will be the worst, with only 25 per cent of expected trays being delivered. That's 41 for the entire country," he said. The new case reported on Friday is a woman in the Eastern Health region, a resident of the province between 20 and 39 years old, is related to international travel and is the fifth case announced so far in 2021. The woman is self-isolating and contact tracing is finished, according to the Department of Health. Across the country people have already received their second and final dose of vaccination. When asked if there protocols in place in Newfoundland and Labrador for those who have received their second dose and want to travel to the province, Fitzgerald said evidence is still evolving surrounding disease transmission. "The public health measures that we have in place will remain in place until we have more information and we have evidence to support being able to lift those measures," she said. The province now has five active cases, and one person is in hospital. In total, 75,973 people have tested, including 196 since Thursday's update. Election during pandemic Residents of the province are expecting an election call imminently. That means candidates will hit the campaign trail, including Premier Andrew Furey and Haggie. When asked how the province will manage its response to the pandemic, while also juggling an election, Fitzgerald said clinical decisions based on evidence will still be made, vaccines will still be administered and public health will still respond to new COVID-19 cases as need be. "Our policies are in place, we feel comfortable with them, so I think at this point we'll be carrying on with the status quo," she said. Haggie said the daily media releases will continue to provide updates, and that Fitzgerald will be available on a weekly basis for live briefings. In the event of an emergency, he said, he still remains health minister, and Furey the premier. Notably absent from Friday's briefing was Furey, as election rumours continued to swirl into the afternoon. When asked why Furey was not present, Haggie said he didn't know. "I only found out by accident shortly before this started. I checked back through Twitter and noticed it was only myself and Dr. Fitzgerald," he said. "So I know as much as you do." "We will keep people informed, and we will plan to see you next week and who knows what the future holds," said Haggie. Less than an hour after the briefing concluded, Furey headed to Government House, presumably to ask Lt.-Gov. Judy Foote to dissolve the House of Assembly. Vaccines for the Northern Peninsula COVID-19 inoculations are set to reach another corner of Newfoundland and Labrador, with the first people on the Northern Peninsula to receive theirs Monday, according to Labrador-Grenfell Health. Priority groups, including front-line health-care workers, long-term care staff and residents and personal-care home staff and residents, will be getting their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the health authority said in a release. That's quicker than the previously announced schedule; the health authority's previous timeline had vaccinations set to begin in St. Anthony in the first week of February. Vaccinations continue elsewhere in the province, with members of the Canadian Rangers being tapped to help deliver Moderna doses in Nain by transporting residents to the vaccination site. The number of people vaccinated is updated weekly on Wednesdays. As of this past Wednesday, 5,291 doses of either type of vaccine had been given out. Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
MONTREAL — Quebec's labour minister is threatening to impose more restrictions on the province's construction and manufacturing sectors for allegedly flouting health orders. Jean Boulet said today in a statement he's received many reports of non-compliance connected to the two sectors since the government imposed new restrictions Jan. 9. The new measures — in effect until at least Feb. 8 — require the two industries to limit operations to essential activities and to reduce the number of workers in factories and on construction sites. Quebec's new health orders also include a provincewide curfew from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m., in an attempt to reduce COVID-19 transmission and reduce the strain on the health system from rising hospitalizations. Boulet does not enumerate the violations, but says it's zero tolerance for those who don't follow the rules and is warning the government could impose additional restrictions. The Canadian Press recently contacted three construction industry associations, who all said they hadn't reduced operations since the new health order was imposed. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2021. The Canadian Press