Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
Stéphane Lévesque, Initiative de journalisme local, L'Hebdo Journal
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's impeachment trial is likely to start after Joe Biden's inauguration, and the Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, is telling senators their decision on whether to convict the outgoing president over the Capitol riot will be a “vote of conscience.” The timing for the trial, the first of a president no longer in office, has not yet been set. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clear Friday that Democrats intend to move swiftly on President-elect Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID aid and economic recovery package to speed up vaccinations and send Americans relief. Biden is set to take the oath of office Wednesday. Pelosi called the recovery package a “matter of complete urgency." The uncertainty of the scheduling, despite the House’s swift impeachment of Trump just a week after the deadly Jan. 6 siege, reflects the fact that Democrats do not want the Senate trial proceedings to dominate the opening days of the Biden administration. With security on alert over the threat of more potential violence heading into the inauguration, the Senate is also moving quickly to prepare for confirming Biden's nominee for National Intelligence Director, Avril Haines. A committee hearing is set for the day before the inauguration, signalling a confirmation vote to install her in the position could come swiftly once the new president is in office. Many Democrats have pushed for an immediate impeachment trial to hold Trump accountable and prevent him from holding future office, and the proceedings could still begin by Inauguration Day. But others have urged a slower pace as the Senate considers Biden’s Cabinet nominees and the newly Democratic-led Congress considers priorities like the coronavirus plan. Biden's incoming White House press secretary, Jen Psaki said Friday the Senate can do both. “The Senate can do its constitutional duty while continuing to conduct the business of the people," she said. Psaki noted that during Trump's first impeachment trial last year, the Senate continued to hold hearings each day. “There is some precedent,” she said. Trump is the only president to be twice impeached, and the first to be prosecuted as he leaves the White House, an ever-more-extraordinary end to the defeated president’s tenure. He was first impeached by the House in 2019 over his dealings with Ukraine, but the Senate voted in 2020 to acquit. When his second trial does begin, House impeachment managers say they will be making the case that Trump’s incendiary rhetoric hours before the bloody attack on the Capitol was not isolated, but rather part of an escalating campaign to overturn the November election. It culminated, they will argue, in the Republican president’s rally cry to “fight like hell” as Congress was tallying the Electoral College votes to confirm he’d lost to Biden. For Republican senators, the trial will be a perhaps final test of their loyalty to the defeated president and his legions of supporters in their states back home, and their own experiences sheltering at the Capitol as a pro-Trump mob ransacked the building and attempted to overturn Biden's election. It will force a further re-evaluation of their relationship with the defeated president, who lost not only the White House but majority control of the Senate. “These men weren’t drunks who got rowdy — they were terrorists attacking this country’s constitutionally-mandated transfer of power,” said Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., in a statement Friday. “They failed, but they came dangerously close to starting a bloody constitutional crisis. They must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” McConnell, who has spent the past days talking to senators and donors, is telling them the decision on whether or not to convict Trump is theirs alone — meaning the leadership team will not work to hold senators in line one way or the other. Last week's assault angered lawmakers, stunned the nation and flashed unsettling imagery around the globe, the most serious breach of the Capitol since the War of 1812, and the worst by home-grown intruders. Pelosi told reporters on Friday that the nine House impeachment managers, who act as the prosecutors for the House, are working on taking the case to trial. “The only path to any reunification of this broken and divided country is by shining a light on the truth,” said Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., who will serve as an impeachment manager. Trump was impeached Wednesday by the House on the single charge, incitement of insurrection, in lightning-quick proceedings just a week after after the siege. Ten Republicans joined all Democrats in the 232-197 vote to impeach, the most bipartisan modern presidential impeachment. McConnell is open to considering impeachment, having told associates he is done with Trump, but he has not signalled how he would vote. McConnell continues to hold great sway in his party, even though convening the trial next week could be among his last acts as majority leader as Democrats prepare to take control of the Senate with the seating of two new Democratic senators from Georgia. No president has ever been convicted in the Senate, and it would take a two-thirds vote against Trump, an extremely high hurdle. But conviction of Trump is not out of the realm of possibility, especially as corporations and wealthy political donors distance themselves from his brand of politics and the Republicans who stood by his attempt to overturn the election. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said Thursday, “Such unlawful actions cannot go without consequence.” She said in a statement that the House responded “appropriately” with impeachment and she will consider the trial arguments. At least four Republican senators have publicly expressed concerns about Trump’s actions, but others have signalled their preference to move on. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., issued a statement saying he opposes impeachment against a president who has left office. Trump ally Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is building support for launching a commission to investigate the siege as an alternative to conviction. The riot delayed the tally of Electoral College votes that was the last step in finalizing Biden’s victory as lawmakers fled for shelter and police, guns drawn, barricaded the doors to the House chamber. A Capitol Police officer died from injuries suffered in the attack, and police shot and killed a woman. Three other people died in what authorities said were medical emergencies. ___ Associated Press writers Will Weissert, Kevin Freking, Andrew Taylor, Alan Fram, Zeke Miller and Jonathan Lemire contributed to this report. Lisa Mascaro And Mary Clare Jalonick, The Associated Press
For the first time since the pandemic began, a Windsor lab will start locally processing tests for the region on Monday. That means a quicker turnaround for test results, which in turn means a faster response on positive cases: the health unit can contact trace sooner and an infected person will be able to isolate sooner. Since March, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has been sending the region's tests to a lab in London to be processed, but by next week the tests will be subjected to a much shorter drive and quicker processing time. Medical Laboratories of Windsor says it applied for a testing license in March but didn't get approved until September. Since then, it's been waiting for the equipment to arrive. Starting Monday, it will start processing about 100 tests per day. By the end of February, the lab hopes to process up to 1,000 tests a day as it will have an additional testing device up and running. That means that by March, the lab said 1,100 tests will go through its machines, with the majority of results getting out same-day. This will improve the result turnaround time as the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit said Friday that currently only 11 per cent of test results come back within 24 hours. And, according to provincial data, Windsor-Essex has some of the slowest test return rates in the province. "I'm feeling very lucky to finally be able to perhaps join this battle," said Shannon Bondy, a microbiology molecular supervisor for Medical Laboratories of Windsor. "We have our most vulnerable in the community that we could possibly get results quicker to or just curb the spread." Bondy has helped to set up the lab with the new devices and will be processing tests as they come in on Monday. The lab's VP of operations Jennifer Yee said it feels like "we're contributing to the end of the pandemic." "To me it really feels like it's a war and it kind of feels like we've been called up to defend our country or our community in this case," Yee said. The lab has also already started rapid testing certain long-term care homes and groups and says it will continue to do that to curb any potential outbreaks. As of Friday, Windsor-Essex has more than 2,700 active cases of the disease and 248 deaths. There are 45 COVID-19 outbreaks across the region, with 21 at workplaces and 20 at long-term care and retirement homes.
A plane carrying one million doses of Sinopharm's COVID-19 vaccine arrived on Saturday in Serbia, making it the first European country to receive the Chinese vaccine for mass inoculation programmes. President Aleksandar Vucic was accompanied by Beijing's ambassador to the Balkan country at Belgrade's airport as containers carrying the vaccines were unloaded from an Air Serbia plane. "I would like to thank President Xi Jinping and Chinese leadership for sending us one million doses of the vaccine," Vucic, who has helped forge close ties with China in recent years, told reporters.
In the summer, with half of Memorial Drive in Calgary shut down to traffic, a group of protesters set up near the Peace Bridge to draw attention to a bewildering array of grievances. One sign attacked Justin Trudeau, another warned of 5G networks, some supported oil and gas, while others cautioned against "chemtrails." But the main thrust of the gathering was to oppose COVID-19 restrictions, masks and vaccines. As the pandemic dragged on, that group morphed and found new stomping grounds in front of Calgary City Hall. Coalescing around the banner of "freedom," they railed against government COVID-19 lockdowns, mask laws and public health measures. They marched through downtown Calgary with signs that proclaimed them lions, not sheep. Alternative medicine hippies strode alongside yellow vesters in what at first seemed an odd countercultural pairing but is a natural alliance based on a shared distrust of governments, health mandates, corporations and more. The reason for their unity lies deep in our evolutionary history and the brute force of societal shifts that are shaking civilizational foundations. Those forces have conspired to make Alberta a prime breeding ground for the kind of conspiratorial thinking on display, which pulls nuggets of truth from the flurry of science in real time and contorts it into a narrative of oppression. It is a near-perfect storm for the small minority caught up in it. The question is: how did they find themselves in its path? How we're wired Humans have evolved to be really good at fitting into groups. Our malleable brains can adapt beliefs in order to thrive within our given tribe. But that sort of cognitive wiring can lead us astray. Adrian Bardon, a philosophy professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina and the author of The Truth About Denial: Bias and Self-Deception in Science, Politics and Religion, has obviously spent some time thinking about how these sorts of movements come to be. Writing in The Conversation, he says although the phenomena of denialism is "many and varied," the story behind it is "quite simple." "Human cognition is inseparable from the unconscious emotional responses that go with it," he writes. "Under the right conditions, universal human traits like in-group favouritism, existential anxiety and a desire for stability and control combine into a toxic, system-justifying identity politics." It's why protesters against Trudeau and 5G and chemtrails and, and, and ... all came to march under the same banner, protesting public health measures supported by growing scientific consensus. Speaking to CBC News, Bardon specifically breaks down the current storm over pandemic responses and says the combination of economic threats, politicization by elites and the visual/visceral effect of masks is a fearsome combination for fuelling science denialism and ideological polarization. "It starts with the lack of trust, and then the reasons for the lack of trust comes next, and then you're already in an ideological community," he says. "And then that explains why your community is all of one voice on what the story is, but this story is made up. The reaction comes first, and then you rationalize the reaction." He says covering faces interferes with one of the most fundamental ways we interpret other people, but creates a new signal. "At this point, after the politicization of it, not wearing a mask is immediately understood by the mask-wearing people to be a statement, and wearing the mask is an accusation. And it creates this incredibly toxic environment," he says. There's also no better metaphor for a muzzle than something really darn close to a muzzle. With the science around COVID-19 evolving in real time and government's struggling to keep up and keep track, the stage is set for our minds to fill in the gaps. The psychology Another person who's spent some time thinking about the current moment is Steven Taylor, a professor of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia and the author of The Psychology of Pandemics. Taylor says one major issue is the lack of scientific literacy in the world and the belief by many that "science is really no different from opinion." Among those of a conspiratorial nature, there is also often an urge to feel special, he says, and possessing what you believe to be secret knowledge can be a big boost. "It's going to feed your self-esteem," says Taylor. It works in tandem with a phenomenon known as psychological reactance, which Taylor describes as a "kind of allergic reaction to being told what to do." "So if I came up to a person like that, and started to explain why I thought masks were effective, two things would happen," says Taylor. "First, they would get very angry, and second, they would start to automatically generate reasons for themselves as to why masks are ineffective. So my strategy would backfire if I tried to directly confront them." That, along with the fact that the vast majority of people support wearing masks, is why Taylor doesn't think governments should mandate their use. Adding to the mix are the sometimes confusing debates and changing recommendations about public health that have allowed a wide opening for doubters and reactionaries. All of those factors combine to make Alberta prime breeding ground for COVID denialism. The Alberta scene The first thing to note is that the protests against lockdowns and masks in Alberta are small. This does not represent the majority. But still, there is a vocal core group that isn't going to go away and that has at points drawn bigger crowds than many expected. Recent polling, too, has suggested Albertans are the least likely Canadians to consider getting the COVID-19 vaccine as quickly as possible, if at all. Bardon notes that denial of science rears its head pretty forcefully when the economy is threatened — something that has been fraying nerves in Alberta long before the pandemic brought government shutdowns. There is anxiety about income, about empty office towers in Calgary, about the continued existence of the oil and gas industry that once seemed a limitless well of wealth. The economic powerhouse of Canada is sputtering and many look at a sort of global network of elites and their war on global warming as a major factor in its demise. Some of the same protesters that were out in yellow vests calling Trudeau a traitor while sporting "I Love Alberta Oil and Gas" sweaters are now out calling for an end to lockdowns as another elite attack. Many in the province feel powerless in the face of global forces that have battered their world, and that leads them to reach for the comforts of a group and a belief system that nourishes them. When Trudeau was re-elected in 2019, Albertans had voted in droves for the Conservative opposition and the reaction to the minority government was angry. Separatists were emboldened and started drawing more attention and crowds, attempting to walk off with a province because they disagreed with the outcome of a democractic election. Sprinkle in some good old-fashioned Alberta myth-making, like the maverick spirit, egalitarianism and the belief that Albertans share a full-throttled libertarian-tinged conservatism, and the recipe is nearly complete. With the addition of a provincial government that has preached personal responsibility, provided mixed messages, resisted some health measures and recently saw MLAs and cabinet ministers ignore the government's own travel advice, the meal is cooked. It's not a stretch to see why many in the province feel left behind, without agency. That's something Bardon says is the very core of anxiety. "You feel anxious, and then you look for something to project that on.… Conspiracy theorists latch on to the conspiracy they just ran across, and if your community already has some preconceived notions as to what the threat is out there, you latch on to that," he says. If you give yourself a story, it gives back. That's not the way some in the protests see it, though. Freedom walker Jake Eskesen is an organizer with Freedom Walk Calgary, which recently branched off from Walk for Freedom over an internal dispute. Speaking just before Christmas, he says the weekly protests are about, well, freedom. "We're standing, basically for our constitutional rights, which are currently being infringed upon by the government," says Eskesen, who previously organized events for what he calls the Alberta independence movement. Personally, he doesn't think the COVID-19 statistics — including death rates and hospitalizations — justify the measures being taken by governments to restrict freedoms and the ability of people to earn a living. He gets his information from places like Post Millennial and The Rebel and also directly from Alberta Health Services statistics, while largely shunning mainstream news which he feels is trying to sell one narrow narrative. The government, he says, is the enemy. Eskesen possesses a complete certainty that his views are correct, while questioning every study, every public health recommendation, the way COVID tests are conducted and more. He, like 20 per cent of Alberta respondents to a recent poll, says he would not get the vaccine until he's convinced it's safe — and that would take a lot, he says. In short, Eskesen has a high threshold for science to convince him that the virus is serious and the measures in place help fight it are worthwhile. Everywhere he looks he sees a lack of the kind of evidence he would need to change his mind even if his own convictions are based on less — and often on misinformation or misinterpretation. Yet he acknowledges that everyone pre-forms opinions and that they're "looking for information to support it." He says it's important to step back and honestly ask yourself whether bias is getting in the way of clearly understanding an issue. So does he ever worry that maybe he's wrong and his actions are putting other people in harm's way? "No. No, not at all." The world of narratives We live now, for better or for worse, in a world of narratives. Storylines that carry us in their wake in a way that has never existed before, at least not to this extent. Information overload, anxiety, rapidly changing technologies and societies have left people clambering for support and anchors. For answers to those empty pits in their stomachs and relief from constricted chests. The more complex the world becomes, the more our prehistoric cerebral architecture kicks in, forcing our flexible thought processes into groupthink of one kind or another and further erecting barriers to thinking that threatens it. We see the results in some dramatic ways, like the storming of the U.S. Capitol building last week. But also in smaller ways like the weekly marches through downtown Calgary. But that's not to say it's all based on a lie, even if much of it is. The official narrative is something that should never be considered sacrosanct, but neither should some of its conspiracy-laden counterparts. So although COVID tests do, indeed, test for COVID, and there is a scientific consensus around masks and restrictions, there are still questions to be asked and answered. There's no doubt small businesses and the people who own them and depend on them for incomes are suffering. Shutdowns have been painful. And then there's the question of government making inroads into our daily lives. "Honestly, with the governments' track record, I have a very hard time believing that once the vaccines are rolled out that they will then relinquish a lot of these powers," says Eskesen.
DES MOINES, Iowa — One of the largest jackpots in U.S. history will grow even larger since there was no winner for Friday's drawing of the Mega Millions' $750 million top prize. The numbers were 3, 11, 12, 38, 43, with a Mega Ball of 15 and would have marked the fifth-largest jackpot ever drawn. Mega Millions estimated its next top prize would be $850 million, which would be the third-largest of all time. The drawing is on Tuesday. Lottery players still have a chance to win big with Saturday's drawing for a $640 million Powerball top prize, the eighth-largest jackpot. The odds of winning are one in 292.2 million. It’s been nearly two years since a lottery jackpot has grown so large. No one has won either game’s top prize in months. The listed jackpot amounts refer to winners who opt for an annuity, paid over 30 years. Winners nearly always choose cash prizes, which for Powerball would be $478.7 million. The estimated cash prize for the next Mega Millions jackpot is $628.2 million. Mega Millions and Powerball are both played in 45 states as well as Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Powerball also is offered in Puerto Rico. The Associated Press
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard conducted a drill Saturday launching anti-warship ballistic missiles at a simulated target in the Indian Ocean, state television reported, amid heightened tensions over Tehran’s nuclear program and a U.S. pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic. Footage showed two missiles smash into a target that Iranian state television described as “hypothetical hostile enemy ships” at a distance of 1,800 kilometres (1,120 miles). The report did not specify the type of missiles used. In the first phase of the drill Friday, the Guard’s aerospace division launched surface-to-surface ballistic missiles and drones against “hypothetical enemy bases." Iranian state television described the drill as taking place in the country’s vast central desert, the latest in a series of snap exercises called amid the escalating tensions over its nuclear program. Footage also showed four unmanned, triangle-shaped drones flying in a tight formation, smashing into targets and exploding. Tensions between Washington and Tehran have increased amid a series of incidents stemming from President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers. Amid Trump’s final days as president, Tehran has recently seized a South Korean oil tanker and begun enriching uranium closer to weapons-grade levels, while the U.S. has sent B-52 bombers, the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier and a nuclear submarine into the region. In recent weeks, Iran has increased its military drills as the country tries to pressure President-elect Joe Biden over the nuclear accord, which he has said America could reenter. Iran fired cruise missiles Thursday as part of a naval drill in the Gulf of Oman, state media reported, under surveillance of what appeared to be a U.S. nuclear submarine. Iran’s navy did not identify the submarine at the time, but on Saturday, a news website affiliated with state television said the vessel was American. Helicopter footage of the exercise released Thursday by Iran’s navy showed what resembled an Ohio-class guided-missile submarine, the USS Georgia, which the U.S. Navy last month said had been sent to the Persian Gulf. Iran has missile capability of up to 2,000 kilometres (1,250 miles), far enough to reach archenemy Israel and U.S. military bases in the region. Last January, after the U.S. killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad, Tehran retaliated by firing a barrage of ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops, resulting in brain concussion injuries to dozens of them. Trump in 2018 unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from Iran’s nuclear deal, in which Tehran had agreed to limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. Trump cited Iran’s ballistic missile program among other issues in withdrawing from the accord. When the U.S. then increased sanctions, Iran gradually and publicly abandoned the deal’s limits on its nuclear development. The Associated Press
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — The Trump administration early Saturday carried out its 13th federal execution since July, an unprecedented run that concluded just five days before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden — an opponent of the federal death penalty. Dustin Higgs, convicted of ordering the killings of three women in a Maryland wildlife refuge in 1996, was the third to receive a lethal injection this week at the federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana. President Donald Trump’s Justice Department resumed federal executions last year following a 17-year hiatus. No president in more than 120 years had overseen as many federal executions. Higgs, 48, was pronounced dead at 1:23 a.m. Asked if he had any last words, Higgs was calm but defiant, naming each of the women prosecutors said he ordered killed. “I’d like to say I am an innocent man. ... I am not responsible for the deaths,” he said softly. “I did not order the murders.” He did not apologize for anything he did on the night 25 years ago when the women were shot by another man, who received a life sentence. As the lethal injection of pentobarbital began to flow into his veins, Higgs looked toward a room reserved for his relatives and lawyers. He waved with his fingers and said, “I love you.” Louds sobs of a woman crying inconsolably began to echo from the witness room reserved for Higgs’ family as his eyes rolled back in his head, showing the whites of his eyes. He quickly became still, his pupils visible with his eyelids left partially open. A sister of Tanji Jackson — one of the murdered women who was 21 when she died — addressed a written statement to Higgs after his execution and mentioning his family. “They are now going to go through the pain we experienced,” she said. “When the day is over, your death will not bring my sister and the other victims back. This is not closure.” The statement didn't include the sister's name. The number of federal death sentences carried out under Trump since 2020 is more than in the previous 56 years combined, reducing the number of prisoners on federal death row by nearly a quarter. It’s likely none of the around 50 remaining men will be executed anytime soon, if ever, with Biden signalling he’ll end federal executions. The only woman on death row, Lisa Montgomery, was executed Wednesday for killing a pregnant woman, then cutting the baby out of her womb. She was the first woman executed in nearly 70 years. Federal executions began as the coronavirus pandemic raged through prisons nationwide. Among those prisoners who got COVID-19 last month were Higgs and former drug trafficker Corey Johnson, who was executed Thursday. In the early Saturday execution of Higgs, officials inside the execution chamber were more diligent about their keeping masks on after a federal judge expressed concern that officials at Johnson's execution were lax about coronavirus precautions. When a marshal called from a death-chamber phone to ask if there were any impediments to proceeding with Higgs' execution, he kept his mask on and shoved the receiver under it. Not since the waning days of Grover Cleveland’s presidency in the late 1800s has the U.S. government executed federal inmates during a presidential transition, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. Cleveland’s was also the last presidency during which the number of civilians executed federally was in the double digits in one year, 1896. In an opinion piece in The Washington Post earlier this week, Martin Luther King III, the eldest son of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, noted that Higgs, a Black man, was scheduled to die Friday — his father’s birthday. With last-minute appeals, it was delayed into early Saturday. “The federal government should not be needlessly taking more Black lives, and to do so on my father’s birthday would be shameful,” he wrote. Pressure is already building on Biden to follow through on pledges to end the federal death penalty. The ACLU released a statement after Higgs' execution urging Biden to invoke his presidential powers after he is sworn in. “He must commute the sentences of people on the federal death row to life without parole, and he must drop death from all pending trials," the ACLU said. In 2000, a federal jury in Maryland convicted Higgs of murder and kidnapping in the killings of Tamika Black, 19; Mishann Chinn, 23; and Tanji Jackson. Higgs’ lawyers argued it was “arbitrary and inequitable” to execute Higgs while Willis Haynes, the man who fired the shots that killed the women, was spared a death sentence. In a statement after the execution, Higgs’ attorney, Shawn Nolan, said his client had spent decades on death row helping other inmates. “There was no reason to kill him, particularly during the pandemic and when he, himself, was sick with Covid that he contracted because of these irresponsible, super-spreader executions,” Nolan said. Higgs had a traumatic childhood and lost his mother to cancer when he was 10, Higgs’ Dec. 19 petition for clemency petition said. Higgs was 23 on the evening of Jan. 26, 1996, when he, Haynes and a third man, Victor Gloria, picked up the three women in Washington, D.C., and drove them to Higgs’ apartment in Laurel, Maryland, to drink alcohol and listen to music. Before dawn, an argument between Higgs and Jackson prompted her to grab a knife in the kitchen before Haynes persuaded her to drop it. Gloria said Jackson made threats as she left the apartment with the other women and appeared to write down the license plate number of Higgs’ van, angering him. The three men chased after the women in Higgs’ van. Haynes persuaded them to get into the vehicle. Instead of taking them home, Higgs drove them to a secluded spot in the Patuxent National Wildlife Refuge, federal land in Laurel. “Aware at that point that something was amiss, one of the women asked if they were going to have to ‘walk from here’ and Higgs responded ‘something like that,’” according to court documents. Higgs handed his pistol to Haynes, who shot all three women outside the van, Gloria testified. “Gloria turned to ask Higgs what he was doing, but saw Higgs holding the steering wheel and watching the shootings from the rearview mirror,” said the 2013 ruling by a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Chinn worked with the children’s choir at a church, Jackson worked in the office at a high school and Black was a teacher’s aide at National Presbyterian School in Washington, according to The Washington Post. ___ This story has been corrected to reflect the execution taking place early Saturday. ____ Kunzelman reported from College Park, Maryland. Michael Tarm And Michael Kunzelman, The Associated Press
This column is an opinion by Edward Riche, a St. John's novelist, playwright and commentator. For more information about CBC's Opinion section, please see the FAQ. The comparative success of Atlantic Canada in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic has gone little remarked in the national media. I put this down to willful ignorance. How to square our "culture of defeat" with our occasional success has always stumped the mainland. It's hard for a hack in Toronto to see political leaders in Newfoundland and Labrador defer to science and medical expertise while Ontario's leadership defers to spin studios. Stephen McNeil or Blaine Higgs may not come off as towering intellects but in comparison to Kenney's and Ford's witless and dangerous response to the pandemic they are the East Coast's own Feynman and Schrödinger. Until the second wave of the pandemic made its appearance in Halifax and prudence dictated we burst the Atlantic bubble, I believe most people judged it a success. Friends of my sister-in-law in Nova Scotia replaced a planned vacation abroad with their first trip to Newfoundland and had a blast. They were surprised by how different the place is from Nova Scotia. I got to work face-to-face with a chap from Prince Edward Island for a week and it proved the limitations of Zoom. Because of the Atlantic bubble, things got done. The diversity within a region with many shared interests was a small engine. Now, between bubbles, there is great enthusiasm for an admittedly fuzzy, "Atlantic Loop." We don't really know the poop on the loop but do know that Hydro-Quebec will never be part of any arrangement over which it doesn't have a stranglehold. No matter. If a federal bailout of Muskrat Falls sees less burning of dinosaur jam to produce electricity in the Maritimes, it's a capital concept. COVID-19 won't be the last global crisis curtailing movement so perhaps we should consider other Atlantic arrangements. Air Atlantic We on the eastern extreme have been terribly served by the Calgary- and Montreal-based air carriers. Before the pandemic, service and schedules were poor, and predatory pricing was deployed to drive out competition when it appeared. Our proximity to Europe and the big urban centres of the eastern seaboard was insulted with logically (and environmentally) unsound routing that sends us west to fly east or south. Then, when COVID-19 made most travel impossible, those Calgary and Montreal companies proved their essential bad faith by failing to refund tickets for cancelled trips. Shag 'em. We need to build or attract alternative carriers (grow PAL Airlines?) for travel within the region and to a few limited destinations beyond, to Gatwick or Keflavík, Dublin or Charles de Gaulle or Newark, from where we could purchase tickets forward to other destinations in a truly competitive market. Reasonable access to the region by air is critical to all business. We can cease palavering about the potential for increased tourism without it. We are never going to attract or retain enterprising young people without reasonable ways to the wider world. It's never going to make a lot of money, but is an essential service. Canada's small population, spread thinly over its vast terrain cries out for a truly national carrier but that would require the kind of state enterprise for which there has been little appetite in Ottawa since the 1970s. Eatlantic Among the many fruits grown in the Annapolis Valley, the Gravenstein Apple cultivated there is the best apple in Canada. (We have to give the peach to Ontario, they grow the best anywhere.) P.E.I. beef is now world-beating, and their oysters the greatest in North America with New Brunswick a close second. There are bountiful fisheries in all four provinces, and wild foods available nowhere else. Newfoundland lamb is nonpareil. Once upon a time, the region used to do much more to feed itself. There is no reason it cannot embrace a more nose-to-tail, hundreds-of-miles diet. There are compelling economic and ecological reasons to cease driving industrial agricultural products from California, Mexico and beyond. But the winning argument is always taste. The stuff they raise in the Chia Pet that is the American southwest has little flavour. We'd have to return to eating more seasonally but the same reasons of politics, economics and palatability again apply. The Atlantic restaurant scene, not so long ago dismal, is now one of the most exciting on the continent. The Merchant Tavern, Bar Kismet, Mallard Cottage, The Inn at Bay Fortune, Port City Royal and countless other joints are all vaut le détour. Start by meeting your friends at the bar for a glass of the original Atlantic bubbles from Nova Scotia's Benjamin Bridge and a big bowl of plain chips from Covered Bridge. Food security was an issue before the pandemic. There will be other disruptions of the supply chain in the future from natural disaster, political instability, the next virus. Let's begin stocking that local larder sooner than later. Bloc Atlantique We are, all four Atlantic provinces, a meaningless entity in the Canadian parliamentary system. Confederation was a forced marriage of Upper and Lower Canada. Lower Canada has never been happy in the union. Upper Canada addresses threats of divorce by meeting Lower Canada's ever more outlandish demands. No matter how many gifts bestowed on Lower Canada, it will never have conjugal relations with Upper Canada as Lower Canada fulfils its own needs. The tension and the balancing act, the horse trading of Confederation, will go on forever. Could not the members of Parliament from the Atlantic region commit to vote as a bloc during the not-uncommon minority parliaments of our system so that we might see some greater fairness? Wait! What am I thinking? MPs are so gutless, so whipped, this is in the category of faint hope. But the status quo is unsustainable. There are many other reasons to consider increased co-operation between the Atlantic provinces, such as transportation networks beyond air, or unique demands for immigration. The fisheries should probably be co-ordinated. The Atlantic bubble worked well enough the first time, we would be foolish not to consider continuing and fostering its best features, imagining where else we could take it. If it could be expanded to somehow include a portion of the E.U., a little piece of France, say … Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador
China promised on Saturday to donate 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to the Philippines as the two countries signed infrastructure deals aimed at boosting post-pandemic recovery efforts, officials said. Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte imposed one of the world's longest and strictest lockdowns to contain the virus in March last year - bringing one of Asia's fastest-growing economies to a standstill. "As a friend of the Philippines and your closest neighbour, we will firmly stand with the people of the Philippines until the defeat of this virus," senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said during a meeting with the Philippines' foreign minister.
During Alex Azar's time serving as US health secretary, more than 390,000 people in the US have died from COVID-19.View on euronews
MAMUJU, Indonesia — Damaged roads and bridges, power blackouts and lack of heavy equipment on Saturday hampered rescuers after a strong earthquake left at least 46 people dead and hundreds injured on Indonesia's Sulawesi island. Operations were focused on about eight locations in the hardest-hit city of Mamuju, where people were still believed trapped following early Friday's magnitude 6.2 quake, said Saidar Rahmanjaya, who heads the local search and rescue agency. Cargo planes carrying food, tents, blankets and other supplies from Jakarta landed late Friday for distribution in temporary shelters. Still, thousands of people spent the night in the open fearing aftershocks and a possible tsunami. National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesperson Raditya Jati said rescuers had so far recovered the bodies of 37 victims in Mamuju and nine in neighbouring Majene district. At least 415 houses in Majene were damaged and about 15,000 people were moved to shelters, Jati said. Bodies retrieved by rescuers were sent to a police hospital for identification by relatives, said West Sulawesi police spokesperson Syamsu Ridwan. He said more than 200 people were receiving treatment in the Bhayangkara police hospital and several others in Mamuju alone. Another 630 were injured in Majene. Among those pulled alive was a young girl who was stuck in the wreckage of a house with her sister. The girl was seen in video released by the disaster agency Friday crying for help. She was being treated in a hospital. She identified herself as Angel and said that her sister, Catherine, who did not appear in the video, was beside her under the rubble and was still breathing. The fate of Catherine and other family members was unclear. The quake set off landslides in three locations and blocked a main road connecting Mamuju to Majene. Power and phone lines were down in many areas. Mamuju, the capital of West Sulawesi province with nearly 75,000 people, was strewn with debris from collapsed buildings. A governor office building was almost flattened by the quake and a shopping mall was reduced to a crumpled hulk. A large bridge collapsed and patients with drips laid on folding beds under tarpaulin tents outside one of the damaged hospitals. Two hospitals in the city were damaged and others were overwhelmed. Many survivors said that aid had not reached them yet due to damaged roads and disrupted communications. Video from a TV station showed villagers in Majene, some carrying machetes, forcibly stopping vehicles carrying aid. They climbed onto a truck and threw boxes of instant noodles and other supplies at dozens of people who were scrambling to get them. Two ships headed to the devastated areas from the nearby cities of Makassar and Balikpapan with rescuers and equipment, including excavators. State-owned firm AirNav Indonesia, which oversees aircraft navigation, said the quake did not cause significant damage to the Mamuju airport runway or control tower. Indonesian President Joko Widodo said Friday that he instructed his Cabinet ministers and disaster and military officials to co-ordinate the response. In a telegram sent by the Vatican on behalf of Pope Francis, the pontiff expressed “heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this natural disaster.” The pope was praying for “the repose of the deceased, the healing of the injured and the consolation of all who grieve.” Francis also offered encouragement to those continuing search and rescue effects, and he invoked “the divine blessings of strength and hope.” International humanitarian missions including the Water Mission, Save the Children and the International Federation of Red Cross said in statements that they have joined in efforts to provide relief for people in need. Indonesia, home to more than 260 million people, is frequently hit by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunamis because of its location on the “Ring of Fire,” an arc of volcanoes and fault lines in the Pacific Basin. In 2018, a magnitude 7.5 earthquake in Palu on Sulawesi island set off a tsunami and caused soil to collapse in a phenomenon called liquefaction. More than 4,000 people were killed, including many who were buried when whole neighbourhoods were swallowed in the falling ground. A massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake off Sumatra island in western Indonesia in December 2004 triggered a tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries. ___ Karmini reported from Jakarta, Indonesia. Niniek Karmini And Yusuf Wahil, The Associated Press
KABUL — At least two members of an Afghan militia opened fire on their fellow militiamen in the western Herat province, killing 12, in what provincial police on Saturday described as an insider attack. Herat police spokesman Abdul Ahad Walizada said the attackers fled with the slain militiamen's weapons and ammunition, adding that Afghan government forces had regained control of the area. A Taliban spokesman Yousaf Ahmadi in a tweet claimed responsibility for the insider attack, which took place late Friday. Meanwhile, a sticky bomb attached to an armoured police Land Cruiser SUV exploded Saturday in the western part of the capital, Kabul, killing two policemen and wounding another, Kabul police spokesman Ferdaws Faramarz said. Faramarz did not specify the identities of the casualties. However, two members of the Afghan police force, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media, said Kabul's deputy police chief Mawlana Bayan was wounded in the attack. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing in Kabul. In the southern Helmand province, a suicide car bomber targeted a police compound late Friday, killing one policeman and wounding two others, provincial police spokesman Zaman Hamdard said. The attack took place in Lashkar Gah district on the highway between Helmand and Kandahar provinces. Also in Kandahar province, a suicide car bomber and multiple gunmen attacked an auto workshop belonging to the Afghan intelligence agency on Saturday but inflicted no casualties, provincial governor Rohullah Khanzada said. He said at least four attackers were killed and that an operation to clear the workshop compound was ongoing. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks in Helmand and Kandahar. 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 claimed responsibility for rocket attacks in December targeting the major U.S. base in Afghanistan. There were no casualties. The violence comes as the representatives of the Taliban and the Afghan government earlier this month resumed peace talks in Qatar. However, the negotiations were off to a slow start as the insurgents continue their attacks on Afghan government forces while keeping their promise not to attack U.S. and NATO troops. The stop-and-go talks are aimed at ending decades of relentless conflict. Frustration and fear have grown over the recent spike in violence, and both sides blame one another. There has also been growing doubt lately over a U.S.-Taliban deal brokered by outgoing President Donald Trump’s administration. That accord was signed last February. Under the deal, an accelerated withdrawal of U.S. troops ordered by Trump means that just 2,500 American soldiers will still be in Afghanistan when President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20. Tameem Akhgar, The Associated Press
Turkey will renew its offer to form a joint working group with the United States to look into the technical aspects of its acquisition of the Russian S-400 defence systems it acquired, once President-elect Joe Biden takes office, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was cited as saying on Friday. Cavusoglu made the comments to reporters on a flight home from Pakistan on Friday. Biden takes over from President Donald Trump on Wednesday.
Mount Allison University lent New Brunswick two -80 C freezers required to store the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, to help the province beat the second wave of the pandemic. The Sackville university's dean of science said a group of technicians, researchers and faculty members worked through Christmas break to clear space in the freezers so they could be lent to the province for a while. Amanda Cockshutt said they were able to empty two of the university's seven super-cold freezers. Cockshutt said it took a lot of effort to get the freezers emptied and operations will be more of a challenge without them, but the university felt supporting New Brunswick through this pandemic was more important than its research projects. "It will be nice to have them back … but that's a sacrifice we felt we could make," Cockshutt told CBC's Shift. "Now that the space is freed up we feel that we can operate, we can continue with our research." She said the donated freezers, which are just over two metres tall, one metre wide and one metre deep and weigh over 200 pounds each, were moved by New Brunswick using an 18-wheel truck earlier this month. Cockshutt said she doesn't know where they were taken. She said each freezer would likely fit enough vaccine to inoculate the entire province. "The vaccines are actually pretty small, they're in vials, and you could fit a lot of doses into one freezer," she said. "But the problem is that the vaccines can't be out of the freezer for very long, so we need a number of them across the province to keep them at the appropriate temperature until they're ready to go into people's arms." These heavy-duty freezers are used for storing delicate materials, including samples of proteins and DNA for the university's lab research. "When you're in the middle of a project, you often need to save samples along the way and you may go back to them, but you also may not," "When we've completed a project and completed the results, we'll often go back and throw out any of the materials that we no longer need.. Sometimes you need a little reminder to go back and do that." Cockshutt said the province can keep the freezers until they're no longer needed, but she's hoping to have them back by September. She said the freezers were funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation along with some endowments to the university.
Saskatchewan health officials called the province's battle against COVID-19 "critical" and the situation in hospitals "fragile" this week, but the provincial government has not implemented further restrictions as seen in other provinces. Saskatchewan surpassed Alberta this week to become the leader in active cases per capita. Saskatchewan has also seen 65 deaths in the first two weeks of 2021 — amounting to 30 per cent of all COVID-19 deaths over the past 10 months. The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) said Thursday it has reached 95 per cent capacity in ICUs around the province. As of Thursday, 82 people were in ICU in the province — 34 were COVID-19 patients. "Our health-care system is at its most fragile point during the pandemic," SHA CEO Scott Livingstone said Thursday. He said to keep the health system operating and to ensure a "smart, fast immunization program" the public needs to "double down on their efforts." Saskatchewan reached other milestones this week: an all-time high for hospitalizations at 210 and a seven-day daily new case average of 321. The seven-day average increased by 21 per cent week-to-week. On Friday, Saskatchewan reported 386 more cases. Health Minister Paul Merriman said Wednesday that the government is hopeful the spike in new cases is temporary and caused by the Christmas holidays. "We've been able to find that balance between restrictions and allowing people to live out their lives and be able to go to work and do what they would do back in December." The rising numbers have not inspired Premier Scott Moe to implement further restrictions. On Tuesday, the government extended existing measures for two weeks until January 29. He called the current measures "not insignificant." In recent months, Moe has resisted even a partial or short-term "lockdown." "If we're not able to start to bend this trajectory down by the end of January, Dr. Shahab may have some more difficult decisions to make," Moe said Tuesday. But it is not Shahab's decision what will ultimately be implemented. That decision is up to Moe and his government. It has been established that Shahab and his team presents options to the government, which then makes the final call. Shahab told CBC in November, "I issue recommendations and suggest regulatory changes, but the government has to implement them." Status quo, for now On Thursday, the province released modelling for the first time since mid-November. It showed that by Jan. 25, the number of new cases could rise sharply to around 900 — or even as high as approximately 1,600 if there is a "low uptake of public health measures." The predictions were based on trends from Dec. 25 to Jan. 12. Shahab said this week that "universal compliance" with health orders is necessary, otherwise more restrictions will have to be put in place. He said he would speak with Health Minister Paul Merriman about options next week if cases continue on their current trajectory. Shahab has said in the past that 250 cases or more per day would risk the health-care system. Saskatchewan average daily cases were below that threshold between Dec. 16 and Jan. 6. On two occasions this week, when asked about implementing new measures, Shahab said it is not as simple as picking one and knowing it will drive down transmission. Shahab said he consults with his counterparts in other provinces to see how their measures are working. He said his office maintains a database of how COVID-19 is being transmitted. "The bulk of the cases right now seem to be social connections among individuals." He said one option, which the government is choosing to follow for now, is asking people to follow the guidelines and "slow things down" by restricting their outings and interactions. "The other option is the hammer approach where you close everything down. Obviously, you see a reduction but there is a significant impact. Social, economic, mental health," Shahab said. Provincial strategies differ That hammer approach has been implemented in Ontario, where the province introduced a stay-at-home-order this week. As of Thursday, Ontario residents have to stay home except for essential purposes such as grocery shopping, accessing health care and exercising. "Our province is in crisis," Premier Doug Ford said this week, responding to new modelling numbers. "The system is on the brink of collapse. It's on the brink of being overwhelmed." Quebec has instituted a month-long curfew which requires residents to be in their homes between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. "The police will also be very visible," the province's Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault said in a tweet last week. "Let's stay at home, save lives." Those without a valid reason to be out between those hours could face fines of $1,000 to $6,000. Manitoba had led the country in cases per-capita in November. This week it extended restrictions including a ban on most gatherings at homes — including in private yards — and public gatherings of more than five people. Maintoba's restrictions also include: A ban on in-person dining. A ban on in-person religious services. Retail businesses can only sell essential items. Personal services like salons must close. On Dec. 8, Alberta ordered the closure of all casinos and gyms, banned dine-in service at restaurants and bars, banned all outdoor and indoor social gatherings and imposed mandatory work-from-home measures. At the time, Alberta led the country in active cases and active cases per capita.
Suicide rates in Japan have jumped in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly among women and children, even though they fell in the first wave when the government offered generous handouts to people, a survey found. The July-October suicide rate rose 16% from the same period a year earlier, a stark reversal of the February-June decline of 14%, according to the study by researchers at Hong Kong University and Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Gerontology. The early decline in suicides was affected by such factors as government subsidies, reduced working hours and school closure, the study found.
Hopes are high for Woodmere Stealdeal, as he heads into the 2021 racing season on the heels of a perfect 13-0 record. The P.E.I.-bred and Nova Scotia-trained gelding not only went undefeated on the Maritime harness racing circuit in 2020, he also set records at every track where he raced. "He's a real smart horse. He gets lots of speed. That's why I like him," said trainer Danny Romo, who has spent a lifetime teaching horses how to race. He was impressed by Woodmere Stealdeal's positive attitude and good manners. "Any time we train him, he goes as fast as we wanted him to go," he said. "You felt like he wanted to do it." They call him Steal for short, and Romo said from the start the horse was a natural that stood out from the rest. Steal reminds him of another impressive horse he trained in the early 2000s, Firms Phantom, who wracked up an impressive 28 straight wins as a two- and three-year old. Good genes The son of Steelhead Hanover and Very Ideal Hanover, Stealdeal was bred at Woodmere Standardbreds in Marshfield, P.E.I. Operator Bruce Wood attributes Steal's success to good training, but also good rearing and good genes. Steal's mother was an impressive horse too, he said, often pacing in the 1:53 range. She was "a real kind-hearted mare," said Wood, adding that Steal had a similar disposition, along with being "a really smart yearling and very athletic looking." Even when the race is over, he'll never let anyone pass him. — Bruce Wood, Woodmere Standardbreds After acquiring Steal in 2019, it didn't take long for owners Bob Sumarah and Kevin Dorey to realize they had something special on their hands. "After the first race, he looked fantastic," said Sumarah. Romo trains Steal at Romo Stables in Truro, N.S., and said this horse didn't require much pushing and seems to have a drive to win. His career debut was July 9 in Summerside, P.E.I., finishing in 1:57.1 and taking the Atlantic Sires Stakes A event. After winning that first race, he continued to lead the pack, and continued to shave time off his finishes, ending the season with 1:54.1 times at both Red Shores Charlottetown and the Truro Raceway. Woodmere Stealdeal was driven by Marc Campbell and Clare MacDonald in 2020. "He's had an incredible season," said Dorey. "He went 13 for 13. He raced at five tracks and he set five track records. And I can't recall any two-year-old in Atlantic Canada ever accomplishing that feat." "He's a fast, fast horse. And he loves to pass horses," said Dorey. "He loves attention. He loves people." Wood is pleased and proud of Steal's success and hopes it continues. "We follow them like they're our kids once they start their racing career," said Wood. He's not always able to catch the races in person, but when he can't he always watches them later online. "It's pretty neat to see him break record after record." The impressive season drew $68,646 in earnings, according to Standardbred Canada, including the Atlantic Breeds Crown, Joe O'Brien Memorial and the Maritime Breeders Championship. When the racing season starts in May, Steal will be competing as a three-year-old. And hopes are high that he'll continue to set records in 2021. Wood said Woodmere Stealdeal's desire to win is clear. Even when he wins a race by lengths, instead of slowing down and cooling off right away, he continues to run. "Even when the race is over, he'll never let anyone pass him." More from CBC P.E.I.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Saturday fired long-range ballistic missiles into the Indian Ocean on the second day of a military exercise, state media reported. The drill, which comes in the waning days of high tensions with U.S. President Donald Trump's administration, was conducted in the country's central desert region. "One of our most important defence policy goals is to use long-range ballistic missiles against enemy warships, including aircraft carriers and warships," state media quoted Guards commander Major General Hossein Salami as saying.
EL TERRERO, Mexico — In the birthplace of Mexico’s vigilante “self-defence” movement, a new group has emerged entirely made up of women, who carry assault rifles and post roadblocks to fend off what they say is a bloody incursion into the state of Michoacán by the violent Jalisco cartel. Some of the four dozen women warriors are pregnant; some carry their small children to the barricades with them. The rural area is traversed by dirt roads, through which they fear Jalisco gunmen could penetrate at a time when the homicide rate in Michoacán has spiked to levels not seen since 2013. Many of the women vigilantes in the hamlet of El Terrero have lost sons, brothers or fathers in the fighting. Eufresina Blanco Nava said her son Freddy Barrios, a 29-year old lime picker, was kidnapped by presumed Jalisco cartel gunmen in pickup trucks; she has never heard from him since. “They have disappeared a lot of people, a lot, and young girls, too,” said Blanco Nava. One woman, who asked her name not be used because she has relatives in areas dominated by the Jalisco cartel, said that cartel kidnapped and disappeared her 14-year-old daughter, adding, “We are going to defend those we have left, the children we have left, with our lives.” “We women are tired of seeing our children, our families disappear,” the vigilante said. “They take our sons, they take our daughters, our relatives, our husbands.” That is, in part, why the women are taking up arms; men are growing scarce in Michoacan’s lime-growing hotlands. “As soon as they see a man who can carry a gun, they take him away,” said the woman. “They disappear. We don't know if they have them (as recruits) or if they already killed them.” Beside the barricades and roadblocks, the female vigilantes have a homemade tank, a heavy-duty pickup truck with steel plate armour welded on it. In other towns nearby, residents have dug trenches across roadways leading into neighbouring Jalisco state, to keep the attackers out. Alberto García, a male vigilante, has seen the medieval side of the war: He is from Naranjo de Chila, a town just across the river from El Terrero and the birthplace of the Jalisco cartel leader Nemesio Oseguera. Garcia said he was run out of the town by Jalisco cartel gunmen because he refused to join the group. “They killed one of my brothers, too,” said Garcia. “They hacked him to pieces, and my sister-in-law, who was eight months pregnant.” El Terrero has long been dominated by the New Michoacán Family and Viagras gangs, while the Jalisco cartel controls the south bank of the Rio Grande river. In 2019, the Viagras hijacked and burned a half-dozen trucks and buses to block the bridge over the river to prevent Jalisco convoys from entering in a surprise assault. And that same year, in the next town over, San Jose de Chila, the rival gangs used a church as an armed redoubt to fight off an offensive by Jalisco gunmen. Holed up in the church tower and along its roof, they tried to defend the town against the incursion, leaving the church filled with bullet holes. It is that stark divide where everyone is forced to chose sides — either Jalisco, or the New Michoacán Family and the Viagras — that has many convinced that the El Terrero vigilantes are just foot soldiers for one of those latter two gangs. The vigilantes bitterly deny allegations they're part of a criminal gang, though they clearly see the Jalisco cartel as their foe. They say they would be more than happy for police and soldiers to come in and do their jobs. El Terrero is not far from the town of La Ruana, where the real self-defence movement was launched in 2013 by lime grower Hipolito Mora. After successfully chasing out the Knights Templar cartel, Mora, like most of the original leaders, has distanced himself from the so-called self-defence groups that remain, and is now a candidate for governor. “I can almost assure you that they are not legitimate self-defence activists,” said Mora. “They are organized crime. ... The few self-defence groups that exist have allowed themselves to be infiltrated; they are criminals disguised as self-defence.” Michoacán's current governor, Silvano Aureoles, is more emphatic. “They are criminals, period. Now, to cloak themselves and protect their illegal activities, they call themselves self-defence groups, as if that were some passport for impunity.” But in some ways, Mora says, the same conditions that gave rise to the original 2013 movement remain: Authorities and police fail to enforce the law and don't guarantee residents peace. Sergio Garcia, a male member of El Terrero vigilante group, says his 15-year-old brother was kidnapped and killed by Jalisco. Now, he wants justice that police have never given him. “We are here for a reason, to get justice by hook or by crook, because if we don't do it, nobody else will,” Garcia said. ___ Associated Press writer Mark Stevenson contributed from Mexico City. Armando Solis, The Associated Press
Hot chocolate bombs are the latest food trend to explode onto the scene from social media, especially TikTok. Slightly larger than a tennis ball, a bomb can be placed in the bottom of a mug and when hot milk is poured over them, the hard chocolate shell melts, gently exploding with hot cocoa powders and marshmallows. Stir and enjoy! "It's really delicious," said Kimberly Davey with At Your Service Creations, one of two bakers who joined CBC Radio: Island Morning host Mitch Cormier to talk about the trend. The trend began last year and came on strong during the Christmas season. Davey began making them last Valentine's Day and makes them in different sizes and flavours. She said most people hadn't heard of them earlier this year, so at her pop-up markets she'd show them videos on her phone of how the bombs work. When the trend exploded on social media, she said people began lining up to get them. "I would be showing up for a market, I'd get there 15 minutes early, but there'd already be a lineup for the hot chocolate bombs," Davey said. Charisa Lykow from DaBomb Custom Baking in Summerside, P.E.I., saw them on social media and began making them for Christmas to expand her selection. "It's been insane, my inbox was constantly filled," she said. Lykow's decided to take a break after Christmas to spend time with her family because she was so busy making bombs before the holiday. "I don't think it's the product itself, to be completely honest — I think it's the process of using the product, It's exciting," she said. "It makes hot chocolate exciting." "I'm not even a kid and I get excited very time I test one." They predict the bombs will be hot sellers this Valentine's and St. Patrick's days. With people spending more time at home and investing in self-care, the bakers hope this trend remains hot — at least, till the next big trend comes along. More from CBC P.E.I.