Vice President-elect Kamala and husband Doug Emhoff visit Washington DC fire station number one to drop off toys as the station serves as one of the Toys for Tots drop-off locations in the nation's capital. (Dec. 23)
Vice President-elect Kamala and husband Doug Emhoff visit Washington DC fire station number one to drop off toys as the station serves as one of the Toys for Tots drop-off locations in the nation's capital. (Dec. 23)
WASHINGTON — Republican lawmakers and conservative groups opposed President-elect Joe Biden's forthcoming immigration plan Tuesday as massive amnesty for people in the U.S. illegally, underscoring that the measure faces an uphill fight in a Congress that Democrats control just narrowly. In a further complication, several pro-immigration groups said they would press Biden to go even further and take steps such as immediate moratoriums on deportations, detentions and new arrests. Coupled with the discomfort an immigration push could cause for moderate Democrats, liberals' demands illustrated the pressures facing Biden as four years of President Donald Trump's restrictive and often harsh immigration policies come to an end. “It simply wouldn't have happened without us," Lorella Praeli, co-president of the liberal group Community Change, said of Biden's victory. “So we are now in a powerful position." Biden plans to introduce the legislation shortly after being inaugurated Wednesday, a move he hopes will spotlight his emphasis on an issue that's defied major congressional action since 1986. Its fate, as written, seemed in doubt. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who will become Senate majority leader this week, said Trump's impeachment trial, confirmation of Biden's Cabinet nominees and more COVID-19 relief will be the chamber's top initial priorities. “I look forward to working together with him" on the measure, Schumer said — a choice of words that might suggest changes could be needed for it to pass Congress. Biden's proposal would create an eight-year pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants, set up a processing program abroad for refugees seeking admission to the U.S. and push toward using technology to monitor the border. The measure was described by an official from Biden's transition team who described the plan on condition of anonymity. With an eye toward discouraging a surge of immigrants toward the U.S.-Mexico boundary, the package's route to citizenship would only apply to people already in the U.S. by this past Jan. 1. But it omits the traditional trade-off of dramatically enhanced border security that's helped attract some GOP support in the past, which drew criticism on Tuesday. “A mass amnesty with no safeguards and no strings attached is a nonstarter,” said Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "There are many issues I think we can work co-operatively with President-elect Biden, but a blanket amnesty for people who are here unlawfully isn’t going to be one of them,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., often a central player in Senate immigration battles. “Total amnesty, no regard for the health or security of Americans, and zero enforcement," Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, who like Rubio is a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a Monday tweet. That view was shared by Mark Krikorian, executive director of the conservative Center for Immigration Studies, which favours curbing immigration. “Past proposals at least accepted the concept of turning off the faucet and mopping up the overflow. This is nothing but mopping up and letting the faucet continue to run," Krikorian said. Rosemary Jenks, top lobbyist for NumbersUSA, which also wants to limit immigration, said the measure seems likely to fail in the Senate. It would need at least 10 Republicans to join all 50 Democrats to overcome a filibuster that would kill the measure. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said, “Moving an immigration reform bill won’t be easy, but I think it’s possible." He cited a 2013 massive overhaul that narrowly passed the Senate, only to die in the GOP-run House. Menendez and Rubio were part of a bipartisan “Gang of 8" senators that helped win Senate approval. Under Biden's legislation, those living in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, 2021, without legal status would have a five-year path to temporary legal status, or a green card, if they pass background checks, pay taxes and fulfil other requirements. From there, it’s a three-year path to naturalization if they pursue citizenship. For some immigrants, the process would be quicker. So-called Dreamers, the young people who arrived in the U.S. illegally as children, as well as agricultural workers and people under temporary protective status could qualify more immediately for green cards if they are working, are in school or meet other requirements. Biden is also expected to take swift executive actions, which require no congressional action, to reverse other Trump immigration actions. These include ending to the prohibition on arrivals from predominantly Muslim countries. The legislation represents Biden's bid to deliver on a major campaign promise important to Latino voters and other immigrant communities after four years of Trump's restrictive policies and mass deportations. It provides one of the fastest pathways to citizenship for those living without legal status of any measure in recent years. Biden allies and even some Republicans have identified immigration as a major issue where the new administration could find common ground with the GOP to avoid the stalemate that has vexed administrations of both parties for decades. That kind of major win, even if it involves compromise, could be critical for Biden. He'll be seeking legislative victories in a Congress where Republicans are certain to oppose other Biden priorities, like rolling back some of the GOP’s 2017 tax cuts and increasing federal spending. Democrats will control the 50-50 Senate with Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. Democrats currently control the House 222-211, with two vacancies. ___ Barrow reported from Wilmington, Delaware. AP writer Elliot Spagat in San Diego also contributed to this report. Alan Fram, Lisa Mascaro And Bill Barrow, The Associated Press
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Alabama announced plans Tuesday to restore the world’s only full-sized mockup of a space shuttle coupled with an external fuel tank and twin rocket boosters. The shuttle test model, called Pathfinder, has been weathering outside the museum in Huntsville for more than three decades. The restoration work will be funded with a $500,000 federal grant and additional corporate donations, officials said. The shuttle mockup was mated with a huge fuel tank and two prototype solid-rocket boosters for display at the state-owned museum in 1988. The multimillion refurbishment will take several years and involve removing the display, repairing it and returning it to its giant concrete stand. Consisting of a shuttle-shaped metal frame covered with sheeting, Pathfinder was originally used to test ground handling, transportation and other procedures for the space shuttle. Once testing was completed and it wasn't further needed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Pathfinder was outfitted with fiberglass, plywood panels and engines to more closely resemble an actual shuttle. The Associated Press
DENPASAR, Indonesia — An American graphic designer is being deported from the Indonesian resort island of Bali over her viral tweets that celebrated it as a low-cost, queer-friendly place for foreigners to live. Kristen Antoinette Gray arrived in Bali in January 2020 and wound up staying through the coronavirus pandemic. Her posts on Twitter, including comparisons between Bali and Los Angeles and links to buy her e-book, began going viral in Indonesia on Sunday. “This island has been amazing because of our elevated lifestyle at much lower cost of living. I was paying $1,300 for my LA studio. Now I have a treehouse for $400,” one of Gray’s posts on Twitter said. Gray’s posts were considered to have “disseminated information disturbing to the public,” which was the basis for her deportation, said Jamaruli Manihuruk, chief of the Bali regional office for the Ministry of Law and Human Rights. A statement from the office cited her descriptions of Bali providing comfort for LGBT and being easily accessible during the pandemic. It also referenced tweets with links to her e-book, which had direct links to agents who could help foreigners move to the island. “She stated that she could provide easy access to Bali through the recommended agency and offered the low living costs in Bali, that it is comfortable and LGBTQ-friendly,” Manihuruk said at a news conference Tuesday. Her tweets also referenced her e-book costing $30 and a follow-up consultation about becoming an expatriate in Bali for $50. “She is suspected of carrying out business activities by selling e-books and put a rate for consulting (about) Bali tourism,” Manihuruk said. Many Indonesian social media users were furious that she was showing off living and working in Bali without a proper business visa. “I am not guilty. I have not overstayed my (tourist) visa. I am not making money in Indonesian rupiah. I put out a statement about LGBT and I am deported because of LGBT,” Gray told reporters after Immigration officials announced the deportation. Indonesia has temporarily restricted foreigners from coming to the country since Jan. 1 to control the spread of COVID-19, and public activities have been restricted on Java and Bali islands. “The Bali Regional Office of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights urges foreign nationals to comply with the current COVID-19 pandemic to comply with health protocols and to follow right procedures regarding visa processing and while in Indonesia,” Manihuruk said. Gray and her partner, Saundra Michelle Alexander, are currently in immigration detention while waiting for a flight to the United States. Firdia Lisnawati, The Associated Press
CAMEROON, Cameroon — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he intends to invite the rival leaders on Cyprus to an informal meeting “as soon as practicable,” but he warns that this meeting must be different and help clarify “the true extent" of their common vision “and outline steps necessary to chart a way forward.” The U.N. chief also warned in a report to the U.N. Security Council circulated Tuesday that “time is working against a mutually acceptable political settlement in Cyprus.” After decades of status quo, he said, “changes are happening on the ground that may become irreversible, should the two communities not recommit themselves to resolving their differences peacefully, proactively and with determination.” Guterres gave no date for the meeting of Cyprus’ rival Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders along with the three “guarantors” of the Mediterranean island nation's independence -- Greece, Turkey and Britain. U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Tuesday that “there’s no date I’m able to share with you.” The Security Council was briefed virtually behind closed doors Tuesday on the latest developments by U.N. special representative Elizabeth Spehar, who heads the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Cyprus. Council diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because the briefing and discussions were private, said there was broad support among the 15 members for Guterres’ intention to convene a U.N. meeting at the earliest opportunity. Members also welcomed the positive response of the rival leaders who signalled their agreement to take part with no preconditions, the diplomats said.. Cyprus was divided into a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north and an internationally recognized Greek Cypriot south in 1974 following a Turkish invasion that was triggered by a coup aimed at union with Greece. Numerous rounds of U.N. mediated talks have ended in failure, with the last push for a peace deal in July 2017 ending in acrimony. That meeting also led to an apparent shift by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots toward seeking a two-state deal rather than pursuing their stated aim of reunifying the country as a federation made up of Greek and Turkish speaking zones. Guterres stressed that “the primary responsibility for the future of the process remains with the parties.” Following consultations over the past months by U.N. envoy Jane Holl Lute, he said both sides and the guarantors have expressed a willingness to attend an informal meeting under his auspices. “The purpose of the meeting will be to determine whether common ground exists for the parties to negotiate a sustainable, lasting solution to the Cyprus problem within a foreseeable horizon,” the secretary-general said. Guterres said the COVID-19 pandemic has widened longstanding fractures within and between the island's two communities. He also pointed to rising tensions in the eastern Mediterranean region over exploration for oil and gas, and delineating maritime boundaries. Guterres called for serious efforts to defuse tensions and urged dialogue to resolve disputes. “I continue to stress that natural resources located in and around Cyprus should benefit both communities and constitute a strong incentive to reach a mutually acceptable settlement in Cyprus without any further delay,” he said. Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California sheriff’s deputy was killed and another deputy was wounded in a shootout with a suspect who gunned down a K-9 dog before he was fatally shot, authorities said. The gunbattle erupted in Sacramento near a racetrack at the Cal Expo event venue after a vehicle pursuit late Monday, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones said. The deputy who died was identified as Adam Gibson, a six-year veteran of the department, Jones said. “He leaves behind a wife and an infant child,” the sheriff said. The injured deputy was in stable condition, Jones said. Jones said the suspect was a man in his 40s but didn't release his name He was identified Tuesday as Robert Stephen Calderon by his mother, Jenny Calderon, who talked to the Sacramento Bee. He had a history of criminal activity, drug use and mental illness, according to his family and court records. Calderon said that her son had been on drugs in the past, and “I think he was bi-polar.” “He saw people coming out of the walls,” she said. “They would come, and they would abuse him. And he was mad at me because he thought I was letting them into his room." Calderon said that led him to get a gun and that she had no idea how he was able to obtain it. “I told him to get rid of it, I told him you have to go get some help, and you have to get rid of that gun,” she said. The pursuit and shooting followed an attempted traffic stop, Jones said, and the driver ended up crashing on the Cal Expo grounds. “One of the K-9 officers deployed a K-9 dog up to the vehicle to try and assist getting the suspect out of the vehicle. The suspect immediately shot and killed the K-9 unit, then immediately started firing at the officers,” Jones said. It wasn’t immediately known what prompted the attempted traffic stop. The Sacramento Police Department plans to handle the investigation, Jones said. Gov. Gavin Newsom offered condolences to the slain deputy's family. “Deputy Gibson will forever be remembered for his selfless sacrifice and his commitment to providing safety and security for the Sacramento community,” Newsom said in a statement. Calderon's family described him as a former truck driver and in-home health services worker who loved animals and had a small pug named Max. They said he was frequently homeless and living in a Chevrolet Suburban, often parking it outside the used clothing store where deputies contacted him Monday night. Calderon cycled in and out of custody for decades, according to court records. He had a combined nine felony and misdemeanour cases out of Sacramento County dating to 1993, Superior Court records show. The cases generally involve drugs and stolen vehicles. His most recent local case, a felony, came in 2012. He was sentenced to 16 months in state prison for vehicle theft. Jenny Calderon broke down several times speaking about her son and what he had done. Speaking in her apartment, Calderon said she was mourning not only her son, but especially the fallen deputy and his family. “I’m glad he’s dead because if he knew what he had done to that deputy’s family, he wouldn’t be able to live with himself,” she said. The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Troops in riot gear lined the sidewalks, but there were no crowds. Armored vehicles and concrete barriers blocked empty streets. Miles of fencing cordoned off many of the nation's most familiar landmarks. Joe Biden was safely sworn in as president in a Washington on edge, two weeks after rioters loyal to former President Donald Trump besieged the Capitol. Law enforcement officials contended not only with the potential for outside threats but also with rising concerns about an insider attack. Officials monitored members of far-right extremist and militia groups, increasingly concerned about the risk they could stream into Washington and spark violent confrontations, a law enforcement official said. There were a few scattered arrests but no major protests or serious disruptions in the city during Biden's inauguration ceremony. As Biden put it in his address: “Here we stand just days after a riotous mob thought they could use violence to silence the will of the people, to stop the work of our democracy, to drive us from this sacred ground. It did not happen. It will never happen, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Not ever.” After the deadly attack that killed five on Jan. 6, the Secret Service stepped up security for the inauguration early, essentially locking down the nation's capital. More than 25,000 troops and police were called to duty. The National Mall was closed. Checkpoints were set up at intersections. In the hours before the event, federal agents monitored “concerning online chatter,” which included an array of threats against elected officials and discussions about ways to infiltrate the inauguration, the official said. In right-wing online chat groups, believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory expressed disappointment that top Democrats were not arrested for sex trafficking and that Trump did not seize a second term. Twelve National Guard members were removed from the security operation a day earlier after vetting by the FBI, including two who had made extremist statements in posts or texts about Wednesday's event. Pentagon officials would not give details on the statements. The FBI vetted all 25,000 members in an extraordinary security effort in part over the presence of some ex-military in the riot. Two other U.S. officials told The Associated Press that all 12 were found to have ties with right-wing militia groups or to have posted extremist views online. The officials, a senior intelligence official and an Army official briefed on the matter, did not say which fringe groups the Guard members belonged to or what unit they served in. The officials told the AP they had all been removed because of “security liabilities.” The officials were not authorized to speak publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. Gen. Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, confirmed that Guard members had been removed and sent home, but said only two cases were related to inappropriate comments or texts related to the inauguration. He said the other 10 cases were for issues that may involve previous criminal behaviour or activities but were not directly related to the inaugural event. The FBI also warned law enforcement officials about the possibility that members of right-wing fringe groups could pose as National Guard troops, according to two law enforcement officials familiar with the matter. Investigators in Washington were particularly worried that members of right-wing extremist groups and militias, like the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, would descend on Washington to spark violence, the law enforcement officials said. Some of the groups are known to recruit former military personnel, to train extensively and to have frequented anti-government and political protests. In addition to the thousands of National Guard troops, hundreds of law enforcement officers from agencies around the country were also brought into Washington. The increased security is likely to remain in the nation's capital for at least a few more days. ___ Associated Press writers Lolita Baldor in Washington and James LaPorta in Delray Beach, Florida, contributed to this report. Ben Fox, Colleen Long And Michael Balsamo, The Associated Press
Robbie Fowler is doing his best to keep his name and the sport of soccer in the news in cricket-mad India. The legendary striker for Liverpool and former England international has made more headlines and waves since his arrival as a coach in the Indian Super League (ISL) than his more experienced counterparts on the subcontinent. The 45 year-old Fowler, who scored over 180 goals for Liverpool, took over East Bengal in October and has taken fans of one of India’s biggest and oldest clubs for a roller-coaster ride so far. On the field, after collecting just a single point from the opening five games, the Kolkata team is now unbeaten in seven matches to raise hopes of a top-four finish and a place in the playoff finals series. Off it, Fowler has not missed an opportunity to make controversial points. The latest came after Monday’s 0-0 draw against Chennaiyin in which Fowler was less than happy about a first-half red card for Ajay Chhetri. It was, Fowler said, just the latest in a long line of bad decisions. “It is bordering on the disgraceful, some of the decisions by the referee,” Fowler said on Indian television after the game. “I am mentally exhausted because I am fighting battles with the referees every single game. It’s an absolute joke. We can’t keep doing this, having arguments with the referees as they are spoiling the game.” Fowler declared that the next fixture, against Mumbai City, leader of the 11-team league that came into existence in 2014 and, in 2020, became India’s top tier, will be more of the same. “We know what to expect as we won’t be getting any decisions again because that’s what it’s like. Some of the decisions are awful. I’m not calling them cheats or anything like that but it is bordering on the cheating for us and it’s not right.” It is not the first time that Fowler, who had mixed results in his previous coaching spells in Thailand with Muangthong United and Brisbane Roar in Australia's A-League, has made headlines for controversial comments. After a 3-0 loss in the second game of the season to Mumbai, Fowler caused controversy in post-match comments about local players. “We will coach the players because in all fairness few of them have probably never been coached before and that is what we are doing,” Fowler said. “We will try and make our Indian players better and that takes good coaching and I don’t think they had that in the years gone by,. He later said his remarks had been taken out of context. There is a long history of British influence in Indian football but coaches and players from another European country can be found in much greater numbers in the Indian Super League. Just four of the 11 teams at the start of the 2020-21 season did not have Spanish coaches and there are over 20 Spanish players in the league. At the moment, the top four are all under Iberian influence with the three British-coached teams in the bottom half of the table. If Fowler can get a win against Mumbai then he may start to change that and make headlines for other reasons — his results on the field. ___ More AP soccer https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports John Duerden, The Associated Press
The long-awaited Willow Square Continuing Care Centre in Fort McMurray has finally been built and residents should be able to move in within months. The Department of Infrastructure announced Monday that construction on the facility has finished and the building has been handed over to Alberta Health Services to finish outfitting the building with medical equipment, supplies and furniture. The $102-million building was completed under budget, said Minister of Infrastructure Prasad Panda. The project faced many delays, including the 2016 Horse River wildfire, 2020 April flood, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. "I was quite pleased and relieved when we were able to finish the work," said Prasad in a Tuesday interview. The building will have 108 beds, with space for 36 more if required. "McMurray is also experiencing a growing and aging population, so this is the time they needed this type of facility. And they got one, although it's slightly delayed." Prasad said Willow Square is the most modern facility in Alberta. "They got the best." Joan Furber, president of the Golden Years Society, has been advocating for the facility for years. She got involved when the province was planning on building the facility in Parsons, a neighbourhood on the northernmost edge of Fort McMurray. She said that plan was concerning, because seniors wanted to be located downtown, with better access to the hospital, shopping and churches. "We didn't want them to give us something we didn't want." The Willow Square facility is located just steps away from the local hospital. "The seniors are going to love it. It's a beautiful facility," said Furber. "We have so many long-time citizens of Fort McMurray, they don't want to go somewhere else." She said the community keeps losing seniors, because they move away to Edmonton to access long-term care facilities, but now, with Willow Square, "they'll have a home," said Furber. "This is just a great thing. Way too late for our community, should've been here 20 years ago." Former MLA and MP Brian Jean was a strong advocate for the centre and started working on the project in 2005. He says the facility has been needed in the community for years. "It's filling a huge gap for seniors that have been staying in our hospital or going outside of town," said Jean. Jean worked with Rachel Notley to move the location of Willow Square back to downtown, which was important for the quality of life the facility would provide. Jean said this is also important for the Indigenous communities in Wood Buffalo, because some seniors have had to leave their hometowns and move to Edmonton. "Who would possibly do that to a senior? Well they've been doing it for years," said Jean. He said it seems wrong that seniors have to move 500 kilometres away from home to get proper care. Jean's mother was looking to spend her last days at Willow Square, he said, but she died in 2018. He said his mother was a strong advocate for the centre, and would call him every day to talk about it. "It's a game-changer," he said. "I just wish my mom would've seen it." The facility is expected to open in late Spring.
Some Yukon snowmobilers are stuck in the White Pass area south of Whitehorse, after heavy snowfall and avalanches closed the South Klondike Highway — their only road home. They're not complaining much, though. Darren Domkosky of Whitehorse says they're safe, and making the best of it. "Just sledding, burning some gas. And it's nice weather," he said over the phone from a highway maintenance camp at Fraser, near the Canada-U.S. border, on Tuesday morning. Domkowsky and some friends drove to the area on Monday after a fresh snowfall. "So we were like, 'oh, we'll go hit up that new snow before everyone hits it.' So we came up, started sledding, and it was a wicked day," he recalled. When they came back to their vehicles, they found a note from a highways crew telling them the road was closed, and they should head to the nearby highway camp. Domkowsky said the local workers gave them beds for the night and fed them. "They're the best people around ... it's amazing," Domkowsky said. He's not sure when the road might open again, but he hopes it will be soon. On Tuesday afternoon, he said he was told it might happen on Wednesday, or possibly Thursday. Yukon highways officials confirmed that there had been avalanches in the area, and the government's website 511Yukon refers to drifting, blowing snow and low visibility. Officials said about 60 centimetres of snow fell on the area between Carcross, Yukon, and the border camp at Fraser, B.C. Domkowsky said he's doing his best to enjoy himself while waiting. By Tuesday afternoon, he was out of gas for his snowmobile. "My family's at home waiting for me to get home, but what can you do, right? Just make the best of what you have." WATCH — Acting Skagway Police Chief Jerry Reddick shared this video of avalanches on the South Klondike Highway:
Municipal leaders in Cap-Pelé are concerned about a misconception that COVID-19 cases have been occurring only in Moncton, and are working to dispel that notion. “We know that there have been cases in our community,” said Justin LeBlanc, director of events and communications for the village of Cap-Pelé. But because the term 'Moncton zone', 'Moncton region' or similar is used to describe Zone 1, there are people who genuinely do not believe that cases occurred in the surrounding communities, LeBlanc said. Village staff have heard residents calling into radio shows indicating these views and are concerned they may be more widely held, LeBlanc said, especially by those who are upset they have to abide restrictions they don't believe are warranted for the area in which they live. “Definitely with the airport being located in [Metro] Moncton and a lot of cases related to travel, people may think the cases stay in Moncton, but we are very connected to Moncton also,” LeBlanc said. While residents of Cap-Pelé and surrounding areas may use the same airport occasionally, hundreds of people who live in Cap-Pelé also work and shop every day in Metro Moncton, he said. Referring to the zone as the “Southeast zone” would be more inclusive for those in the communities outside Moncton, he said, and could help alleviate the problem. For now, the town is doing everything it can to make this information clear by word of mouth, social media and news releases, LeBlanc said. The town was made aware of community residents who tested positive by the residents themselves, LeBlanc said. Public Health does not release this information, citing confidentiality. While the town has seen compliance with pandemic measures, there are concerns the wording of the zones may be giving some a false sense of security, he said. Zone 1 encompasses a large area, LeBlanc said. In addition to Moncton, it also includes Dieppe, Riverview, Salisbury, Petitcodiac, the Harcourt area, Port Elgin area, Rockport, Sackville, Dorchester, Shediac, Beaubassin-Est, Cap-Pelé, Saint-Antoine, Grande-Digue, Cocagne, Bouchtouche, Richibucto, Saint-Louis-de-Kent area, Coverdale, Hillsborough, Riverside-Albert, Alma and every community in between. On Thursday, Dr. Jennifer Russell, the province's Chief Medical Officer of Health, referred to the zone as “Moncton and southeast New Brunswick” during the COVID-19 briefing. When asked by Times & Transcript if the use of “Moncton and southeast New Brunswick” was going to be used from now on to dispel the misconception that cases are not occurring outside the largest city, Russell pointed to the department’s website which lists communities in each health zone. Russell also reiterated Public Health has no plans to name smaller communities where there are positive cases. The decision not to go further than the health region in naming where cases occur is largely to protect people’s confidentiality, she said. But she said it is also because they believe it may be too late to serve a purpose. “By the time we announce a case in a particular area, the virus has probably been circulating for seven days prior to that,” she said, repeating that she wants people to behave as if they and those they are with have COVID-19 all the time. Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal
NEW YORK — Two of Fox News Channel's top news executives involved in the controversial — but correct — election night call of Arizona for Democrat Joe Biden are out at the network. Bill Sammon, senior vice-president and managing editor at Fox's Washington bureau, announced his retirement to staff members on Monday. On Tuesday, as part of a restructuring of Fox's digital operations, politics editor Chris Stirewalt was let go. Fox's decision to call Arizona for Biden took the network's anchors by surprise and infuriated the White House, which believed the determination was premature. Stirewalt and Fox's decision desk chief, Arnon Mishkin, were the two most visible people defending the decision on the air amidst heat from President Donald Trump and his supporters. Mishkin, who worked the election on a contractual basis, is not a Fox employee. Two days after the call, Stirewalt said on the air that “Arizona is doing just what we expected it to do and we remain serene and pristine.” He hasn't been on the air at Fox since the post-election period. Reached on Tuesday, both Stirewalt and Sammon declined comment. Fox, in a statement on Tuesday, said that “as we conclude the 2020 election cycle, Fox News Digital has realigned its business and reporting structure to meet the demands of this new era." Nearly 20 people lost their jobs as part of the restructuring, according to someone familiar with the changes who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not allowed to speak on personnel issues. No one at Fox would comment specifically on Stirewalt, citing the confidentiality of individual personnel matters. He's been with Fox since 2010. Fox and The Associated Press, which called Arizona for Biden later on election night, remained alone until ABC, CBS and NBC all called it for Biden on Nov. 12, eight days after the election and after all the networks had declared Biden the winner overall. Biden won Arizona by 10,475 votes out of nearly 3.4 million cast. The call angered many Fox News Channel fans. In its wake, conservative broadcaster Newsmax, which has featured many of the personalities who backed Trump’s questioning of the election results, saw a sharp viewership increase. Fox's ratings have dipped as a result, and the network recently announced lineup changes that most prominently added a new opinion show in the early evening. David Bauder, The Associated Press
An Alberta man who stayed at the Wolf Creek campground near Whitehorse instead of transiting through the territory like he'd told border officers has been fined more than $1,000 for breaking Yukon COVID-19 rules. Gerard Redinger pleaded guilty, over the phone, to two charges under the Civil Emergency Measures Act (CEMA) in territorial court Tuesday afternoon — one count of remaining in Yukon for more than 24 hours, and one count of failing to self-isolate. According to the facts of the case read to the court by territorial Crown Kelly McGill, Redinger entered Yukon by road on Aug. 29, 2020, telling CEMA officers at the Watson Lake check-stop that he was transiting through and was going to re-enter B.C. via Junction 37. People travelling through the territory have 24 hours to complete their transits and are asked to self-isolate as much as possible on their journey. However, CEMA officers received an anonymous complaint on Sept. 11, 2020, about a vehicle that had been abandoned on the side of the road near Teslin. A note in the vehicle had Redinger's name and phone number on it; officers followed up and found out that he had been staying at the Wolf Creek campground, and had remained in Yukon since entering in August. 'Quite deliberate' McGill described Redinger's choices as "quite deliberate," saying that he knew the rules around entering and transiting through Yukon but chose to not abide by them. If Redinger decided to change his plans as he was driving, McGill continued, he could have notified CEMA officers and then completed a mandatory self-isolation period but instead "flagrantly proceed to do what he wanted to do." She also noted that public campgrounds had clear signage at their entrances prohibiting anyone except Yukon residents from staying at them, and that self-isolation rules explicitly forbid staying at campgrounds. McGill asked for the maximum fine allowable under CEMA — $500, plus a $75 victim surcharge, per count. Redinger did not object. Justice of the Peace Sharman Morrison granted the Crown's request, fining Redinger a total of $1,150. He has six months to pay.
The United States swore in its 46th President on Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris attended their inauguration in Washington, D.C. with a slew of distinguished guests, but few onlookers as the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a need for social distancing.Several past presidents were in attendance, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George Bush Jr., however the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, did not attend. Trump flew to his golf club in Florida earlier in the day. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence did attend the ceremony with his wife.For all the latest on the U.S. inauguration, click this link for live updates.
Deng Pravatoudom played the Lotto Max numbers her husband dreamt of 20 years ago and won a $60M jackpot. Video by Shibani Gokhale
TORONTO — Another Ontario COVID-19 official has resigned over foreign travel. Premier Doug Ford's office says he has accepted the resignation of Linda Hasenfratz as a member of Ontario’s COVID-19 Vaccination Distribution Task Force.Ford's office says she stepped down after it was brought to his attention that she travelled outside the country in December.No other details were released other than that she has apologized.Earlier this month, Dr. Tom Stewart resigned from a group of experts that help guide the provincial government's response to COVID-19 after travelling to the Dominican Republic over the holidays.At the time, Stewart said he regretted the non-essential travel and recognized that everyone should be avoiding non-essential trips.Stewart later stepped down as chief executive officer of the Niagara Health System and the St. Joseph's Health System.Ford's office gave a brief statement Tuesday about Hasenfratz's resignation."Thanks to the efforts of all Ontarians, we are starting to see early signs of progress in bending the curve," reads the statement. "Now is not the time to let up. We continue to urge everyone to stay home." Last week, Dr. Paul Woods, the CEO of a hospital network in London, Ont., was ousted from his post after concerns were raised about his international travel during the pandemic.Woods travelled to the U.S. five times since March, including during the December holidays, the London Health Sciences Centre said.Last month, Rod Phillips, Ontario's former finance minister, resigned from his post after it was revealed he travelled to St. Barts for a December vacation. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2021 The Canadian Press
At the Limerick Township planning meeting on Dec. 21, an update was provided by Councillor Jan MacKillican on the letters sent out to the residents occupying the boathouses located on public lands at the St. Ola boat launch. In addition to the new Licence to Occupy bylaw and a current map of the area showing the location of the boathouses, a second letter was sent out with a correction on the application to state that the application cost is $2,500 over 25 years versus $1,500 as was originally stated within the application. This whole process with the boathouses on the public lands at the St. Ola boat launch began when the township had wanted, under the authority of the Municipal Act 2001 S.O. Ministry of Natural Resources Policy Number PL 4.11.07, to implement a licencing structure for the boathouses in question. Back in April, the council had sent out a public notice to identify the occupants of these boathouses to register with the municipality to make sure they are represented in the licencing process. Ultimately, the cost to licence these boathouses is $2,500 for 25 years. The exception to this process is boathouse #3, as it is included within the owner’s roll number and taxes are paid on it. MacKillican stated during the Dec. 21 meeting that the letters to the boathouse occupants were sent out on Nov. 30 with the bylaw via email and was also posted on the township’s website. This had been brought forth as a motion and passed at the last planning meeting on Nov. 16. “Basically, the letters have gone out to the owners that we identified with the map and the bylaw. We did get an email within the last couple of days saying that there were issues with what we sent out and I’ll work with Victoria [Tisdale, clerk and treasurer of Limerick Township] on that. I think we need to just reissue the bylaw one more time, get rid of the section that refers to insurance from the township. We just need to check to make sure we have the right bylaw and the right map. There are two maps. An original one and then there’s two boathouses that aren’t on shore, number 15 and 16, so there was a second map done so we should make sure that final map gets out and we can send it out and say we’re still on track here. There’s been some revisions, and perhaps you didn’t get the right version but here it is once and for all.” According to Mayor Carl Stefanski, no replies to the boathouse letters had been received as of Jan. 15, and the issue should be the first on the agenda at their next planning meeting, date and time to be decided soon. Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times
MILLBROOK -- Millbrook’s 4th Line Theatre will launch its Digital Festival of Light and Dark next week. Micro-grants have been provided to 13 regional artists by the festival so they can create 12 five-minute digital showcases of their work, the theatre announced Tuesday. The digital festival is free-of-charge to watch online and will allow people to engage with the artists’ creations in the safety of their own homes during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown through the theatre’s digital video gallery. Managing artistic director Kim Blackwell said the theatre — which had to cancel last summer’s performances and then staged the Open Spaces Theatre Festival in downtown Peterborough in September followed by a limited run of “Bedtime Stories and Other Horrifying Tales” prior to Halloween at the theatre in October — wants to support local artists. “That was the genesis for the idea which ultimately became the Digital Festival of Light and Dark. I am excited to showcase the work of so many talented local artists from almost every conceivable discipline,” Blackwell said. “These short, digital works will be a chance for 4th Line audiences to see the depth and breadth of regional artists and their creative worlds.” A variety of artistic styles such as poetry, photography and puppetry are manifested in the artists’ projects. Topics and issues explored include the new silent nightlife in downtown Peterborough in lockdown, an exploration of physical vulnerability in the pandemic and the story of a girl trapped alone in a Welsh mine, to name only three, according to the theatre. The 12 artists include Madison Constello, Naomi Duvall, Jennifer Elchuk, Josh Fewings, Madison Sheward, Frank Flynn, Steafan Hannigan, Mike Moring, Tristan Peirce, Kelsey Powell, Benj Rowland, P.J. Thomas and Laura Thompson. In Hannigan’s multimedia project titled “the many shades between light and dark: art v COVID-19 in 2020,” artists, performers, musicians and directors reflect upon their life-changing experiences during the past year amid the global pandemic. Hannigan is a multidisciplinary artist working in a variety of mediums including photography, video and music. Born and raised in Ireland, he currently lives in Baltimore in Northumberland County. Peirce’s project, “Night Shift,” gives viewers a glimpse into Peterborough’s night life during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pierce is a photographer and videographer, based in Peterborough, who is also taking part in the Art Gallery of Peterborough’s group exhibition Presently. “It’s Political,” a project created by Thompson — a designer based in Peterborough whose video work draws on found footage to create moving collages that are surreal and dynamic — explores the women’s movement and its evolution, history and future. The 12 projects will be posted at www.4thlinetheatre.on.ca/festival-of-light-and-dark and at www.youtube.com/user/4thlinetheatreVIDEO starting at noon on Monday. Marissa Lentz is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.com Marissa Lentz, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner
PORTLAND, Ore. — Plans for a major West Coast liquified natural gas pipeline and export terminal hit a snag Tuesday with federal regulators after a years-long legal battle that has united tribes, environmentalists and a coalition of residents on Oregon's rural southern coast against the proposal. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled that energy company Pembina could not move forward with the proposal without a key clean water permit from the state of Oregon. The U.S. regulatory agency gave its tentative approval to the pipeline last March as long as it secured the necessary state permits, but the Canadian pipeline company has been unable to do so. It had appealed to the commission over the state's clean water permit, arguing that Oregon had waived its authority to issue a clean water certification for the project and therefore its denial of the permit was irrelevant. But the commission found instead that Pembina had never requested the certification and that the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality "could not have waived its authority to issue certification for a request it never received.” The ruling was hailed as a major victory by opponents of Jordan Cove, which would be the first such LNG overseas export terminal in the lower 48 states. The proposed 230-mile (370-kilometre) feeder pipeline would begin in Malin, in southwest Oregon, and end at the city of Coos Bay on the rural Oregon coast. Jordan Cove did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment and it was unclear what next steps the project would take. Opposition to the pipeline has brought together southern Oregon tribes, environmentalists, anglers and coastal residents since 2006. "Thousands of southern Oregonians have raised their voices to stop this project for years and will continue to until the threat of Jordan Cove LNG is gone for good,” said Hannah Sohl, executive director of Rogue Climate. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who has opposed the project, said in a statement on Twitter that she was pleased with the ruling. “At every stage of the regulatory process, I have insisted that the Jordan Cove LNG project must meet Oregon’s rigorous standards for protecting the environment, or it cannot move forward,” she wrote. The outgoing Trump administration has supported energy export projects and in particular Jordan Cove. It had proposed streamlining approval of gas pipelines and other energy projects by limiting states’ certification authorities under the U.S. Clean Water Act. Gillian Flaccus, The Associated Press
Calgary teen Max Ganakovsky performed a history-making stunt at the Airdrie Airpark in August when he did the longest manual — similar to a "wheelie" — ever recorded. Now, he's had the feat recognized by Guinness World Records. "It feels surreal. Being a Guinness World Record holder has always been one of my dreams," Ganakovsky told the Calgary Homestretch. "And it feels great to have this dream come true." A manual is the correct term for the trick. It's pretty similar to a wheelie, but with no extra pedalling allowed. In a wheelie, the rider can continue to pedal for that extra propulsion. Ganakovsky managed to pull this off for 648 metres — that's nearly double the previous record of 339 metres. He says it's all in the technique. WATCH | Ganakovsky nearly doubled the record in his attempt to get in the Guinness World Records book. Watch his epic 'manual' in the video above. "Before you take off, it's very crucial to get a lot of speed," Ganakovsky said. "During my attempt, I think I accelerated for about 100 metres prior to lifting my front wheel off the ground. So firstly, the acceleration phase was very crucial. And it's also very important to take off, like pick up your front wheel on the right note so you're not crooked. So everything is centred. And yes, from there it's kind of autopilot. Just make sure to keep balance and, yeah, just not much to it, really." Actually, based on the description, it sounds like there is a bit of skill and practice involved. "It's obviously hard work. It's not something you do on the first try, and it took many years to master, but when you master, it's actually very enjoyable." The BMX racer, who trains with Calgary BMX, says doing manuals is part of his sport. "This manual skill is kind of very important for my sport, and I always do it every day when it's nice weather," he said. "I go outside on my bike and do manuals every day. It has been a skill that I had for a long time and I just wanted to really showcase it to the world and prove that I'm actually good at it." The plan was derailed in June, when Ganakovsky had a training accident that took him out of commission for two months. "I originally was planning to do this in April, and that's when I applied for the record, and the plan was to train with as much knowledge as I had before I got the instructions from Guinness, to attempt it in June. But in June, I had an accident in training and I broke my collarbone in three pieces," Ganakovsky said. After surgery and recovery time, Ganakovsky started training again in August. He made his record attempt on Aug. 27, on the runway at the Airdrie Airpark. Global Raymac Surveys measured the distance, and both Calgary BMX and B-Line Indoor Bike Park were on hand to help out and witness the event. "Obviously, when you have a skill like this, it doesn't fully go away, but it was certainly a struggle to get back to it after taking so much time off," he said. "And I'm happy that I was able to bounce back from this injury and, yeah, and do my world record." After the successful attempt, slow motion video analysis showed the following details: Pedalling cadence prior to crossing the starting line: 158 r.p.m. Take-off speed prior to crossing starting line while performing manual: 55.4 km/h Time from start to finish: 1 min. 53.2 sec. Long term, Ganakovsky would like to compete at the Olympics as a BMX racer. "My whole reasoning behind this world record attempt was to firstly prove myself to the world, what I'm capable of, but also it's a mini milestone in a big journey that I want to have in BMX racing in the long term," he said. "I want to go to the Olympics and represent Canada at the highest stage. And, you know, this record was also very important to me because I really wanted to help my club out and give them the support they need in order to become a world class club. And yeah, I think this record did just that." With files from The Homestretch.
TRENTON, N.J. — The New Jersey Supreme court has overturned a man's bank robbery conviction because of a prosecutor's reference to a classic horror movie. During closing arguments in the case against Damon Williams, the prosecutor showed jurors a photo from the movie “The Shining” depicting a character played by Jack Nicholson telling his terrified wife and son, “Here’s Johnny!” moments after breaking through a door with an axe. The reference was meant to illustrate that actions can speak louder than words, and to support the prosecutor's contention that Williams should be convicted of a more serious offence even though no threatening words were spoken to the bank teller in Camden County in 2014. The jury convicted Williams of second-degree robbery, which requires the use of force or the threat of force, rather than the less serious crime of third-degree theft. Prosecutors argued that Williams' conduct before and after passing a note to the teller supported the more serious charge. Williams is currently serving a 14-year term. A unanimous Supreme Court disagreed Tuesday, writing that prosecutors “must walk a fine line” when comparing a defendant with “an individual whom the jury associates with violence or guilt.” “The use of a sensational and provocative image in service of such a comparison, even when purportedly metaphorical, heightens the risk of an improper prejudicial effect on the jury,” Justice Lee Solomon wrote. “Such a risk was borne out here." The Camden County prosecutor's office, which tried the case, declined to comment on the ruling Tuesday. The Associated Press