The holiday season wouldn’t be the same without the ringing of bells big and small. And nowhere in the world is that sound heard more often than in one Italian town where people have been making church bells for more than 1,000 years.
The holiday season wouldn’t be the same without the ringing of bells big and small. And nowhere in the world is that sound heard more often than in one Italian town where people have been making church bells for more than 1,000 years.
The federal government is eyeing a comprehensive North American energy strategy as workers reel from cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. The project's presidential permit was rescinded by U.S. President Joe Biden on his first day in office, prompting outrage from Alberta's provincial government. TC Energy, the proponent, had pre-emptively ceased construction of the project. "I was the minister of natural resources when the Obama administration cancelled Keystone XL. So for me, it's Round 2 of deep disappointment," Minister Jim Carr, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's representative for the Prairies, said Monday. "We have to look forward, however, to a continental energy strategy." That North American energy strategy is enticing to Alberta's premier as well, with Jason Kenney suggesting to the prime minister that they approach Washington together to pitch a collaborative approach to North American energy and climate policy. "Canada and the U.S. share a highly integrated energy system, including criss-crossing infrastructure such as pipelines and electricity transmission systems. Our energy and climate goals must be viewed in the context of that integrated system," Kenney wrote. The premier has called the Keystone cancellation an "insult" and a "gut-punch," repeatedly pressing for retaliation against the U.S. and suggesting economic and trade sanctions if the administration is unwilling to engage in conversations about the future of the pipeline. Last year, Kenney invested $1.5 billion in Keystone XL, arguing it would never be completed without the infusion. The pipeline, first announced in 2005, would have carried 830,000 barrels of crude a day from the oilsands in Alberta to Nebraska. The Biden administration has made no indication it intends to consider reinstating the permit. TC Energy has already laid off 1,000 workers in Alberta. A continental energy partnership has been an elusive goal for more than 15 years, with multiple trilateral meetings ending with consensus but often without measurable outcomes. It's been five years since Carr, then the minister of natural resources, hosted his American and Mexican counterparts to discuss the potential of such a partnership. They agreed to collaborate on things like energy technologies, energy efficiency, carbon capture and emissions reduction. While they signed a document stating these shared goals, synergy between the three countries has been slow to develop. In December 2014, a similar meeting ended with a to-do list to move forward on a continental energy strategy, including mapping energy infrastructure and sharing data. That data website hasn't been updated since 2017. In that meeting, then-natural resources minister Greg Rickford was making the pitch to the Obama administration for why Keystone XL should be permitted to live. It was cancelled — for the first time — less than a year later. "We've gone through a period over the last number of years where relations around energy have kind of died a slow death and become more and more narrowly focused around individual projects," said Monica Gattinger, director of the Institute for Science, Society and Policy at the University of Ottawa. "There's tremendous potential between Canada and the United States to collaborate around energy and environmental objectives in the long term." Gattinger said changes in the United States around hydrocarbon and shale have diminished the country's motivation for a broader energy approach. With the national governments in Canada and the U.S. now more closely aligned on climate priorities, she added there's the potential for a breakthrough. "Both countries have vast potential across a whole host of energy resources," she said. "Those are the conversations that we have not been having in North America for a number of years now. And there is a real opportunity to do so at this time." Carr is optimistic, too. "We're hardly starting from scratch, and there will be alignment," he said, alluding to his hope for co-operation between the U.S. and Canada, but also with the Prairie provinces. "There is an awful lot of work to be done and an awful lot of potential."
The Charlottetown Islanders say they will play by the COVID-19 rules when their season resumes in Cape Breton on Friday. The Charlottetown Driving Park is the only open harness racing track in Canada right now, and it was first to open in the spring, and that created a surge in revenues in 2020. The final numbers are in, and they show what many observers already suspected — 2020 was the worst year on record for the Charlottetown Airport in the last 45 years. The pandemic has slowed down the process of turning Hog Island, along P.E.I.'s North Shore, into a national park reserve. Provincial qualifiers for the Scotties and the Brier are short on competitors, and Curl P.E.I. says it is because of the self-isolation requirements. A trauma and orthopedic surgeon has been splitting his time between work in three New Brunswick hospitals and his home and family in P.E.I. And he's got dozens of COVID-19 test results to show for it. UPEI's writer-in-residence will not actually be in residence this year. A 24-year-old P.E.I. woman from the Summerside area has been fined for not following the province's COVID-19 self-isolation rules. The total number of positive COVID-19 cases reported on P.E.I. remains 110, with six still active. There have been no deaths or hospitalizations. New Brunswick reported 14 new cases Wednesday. Nova Scotia had four new cases, with 12 active. Also in the news Further resources Reminder about symptoms The symptoms of COVID-19 can include: Fever. Cough or worsening of a previous cough. Possible loss of taste and/or smell. Sore throat. New or worsening fatigue. Headache. Shortness of breath. Runny nose. More from CBC P.E.I.
A 20-year-old man is in hospital with life-threatening injuries after a shooting in North Preston, N.S., on Wednesday morning. RCMP officers were called to the area at 12:55 a.m. after reports of gunfire. While they were on their way, they spotted a vehicle that was making its way to the hospital with the victim inside. Paramedics then drove the man the rest of the way in an ambulance. Investigators learned the man was shot near Clarence Street. Police received a second report about shots being fired from Alex Lane. The RCMP said they don't know whether the two incidents are related. Officers searched the community and told residents to stay in their homes. They also told the public to avoid the area. But at 5:20 a.m. the RCMP sent out a news release saying that people in North Preston could once again leave their homes and that people could come into and out of the community freely. The police are still investigating. Anyone with information is asked to call the Halifax RCMP or Crime Stoppers. MORE TOP STORIES
BERLIN — A German state governor has apologized for referring to Chancellor Angela Merkel as “little Merkel” during a recent online event, saying he had unintentionally displayed macho behaviour. Bodo Ramelow, who governs the state of Thuringia, told German weekly Die Zeit that he greatly regretted using the term “Merkelchen” while talking chatting with other politicians and the public on the social networking app Clubhouse. Die Zeit on Wednesday quoted Ramelow saying that he should have used the diminutive form in reference to male politicians. “Instead, I spoke about a woman. That was dumb and appeared disrespectful,” he said. Ramelow, a member of the Left Party, said he had since apologized personally to Merkel. The 64-year-old has also faced criticism for playing the game “Candy Crush” during lengthy video meetings with Merkel and other governors to discuss the coronavirus pandemic. He defended playing games on his smartphone, saying he only did so during lulls in the meeting when others were replying to emails or going outside to smoke. The Associated Press
ST. MARY’S – On the subject of feelings, elected officials of the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s got down to business last week. After less than five minutes of deliberation, the Jan. 20 committee of the whole meeting voted to send “whoever is available” on council to a think tank on social wellbeing tentatively scheduled to take place in Guysborough next month. The summit is the brainchild of Engage Nova Scotia, a Halifax-based non-governmental organization responsible for “An Exploration of Wellbeing in Nova Scotia: A summary of Results from the Nova Scotia Quality of Life Survey” released a year ago. “The question to this council [from Engage NS] is whether [you’d] like to participate in this event next month,” Chief Administrative Officer Marvin MacDonald told councillors, adding that the meeting is intended to be a “joint session” also involving council representatives from the Town of Mulgrave, Municipality of the District of Guysborough and the Municipality of the County of Antigonish. “It seems to me a good opportunity to hear what the other councils are talking about,” he said. “It seems to me [it is] a good thing to participate in.” Based on the responses of 861 residents from Antigonish and Guysborough counties, the survey appears to show that people here are among the happiest and well-adjusted in the province. Of the 10 regions designated, Antigonish-Guysborough ranked number one on the ‘satisfaction with life in general’ scale, with 45.7 per cent of respondents declaring that they were ‘very satisfied’. Area residents scored second place (behind Southwest Nova) on satisfaction with government responsiveness; second (behind Lunenburg-Queens) on satisfaction with their financial situations; and second (behind Annapolis Valley-Hants) on the environmental quality of their neighborhoods. In the report’s introduction, Engage Nova Scotia says “this set of results deepens our understanding of how Nova Scotia is doing. It is the result of 12,000 [people] participating in a 23-question survey in May and June 2019. It represents the largest data set of its kind in Canada.” Following the meeting, MacDonald said, “There may be some opportunities of joint interest [with other municipalities] going forward. The joint session among the councils is to just talk about what the survey results were for our districts and talk about possibilities for moving forward with that. That’s a good starting point if people are already happy.” Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security issued a national terrorism bulletin Wednesday warning of the lingering potential for violence from people motivated by antigovernment sentiment after President Joe Biden's election, suggesting the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol may embolden extremists and set the stage for additional attacks. The department did not cite any specific plots, but pointed to “a heightened threat environment across the United States” that it believes “will persist” for weeks after Biden's Jan. 20 inauguration. It is not uncommon for the federal government to warn local law enforcement through bulletins about the prospect for violence tied to a particular event or date, such as July 4. But this particular bulletin, issued through the department’s National Terrorism Advisory System, is notable because it effectively places the Biden administration into the politically charged debate over how to describe or characterize acts motivated by political ideology, and suggests it regards violence like the kind that overwhelmed the Capitol as akin to terrorism. The bulletin is an indication that national security officials see a connective thread between different episodes of violence in the last year motivated by anti-government grievances, including over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results and police use of force. The document singles out crimes motivated by racial or ethnic hatred, such as the 2019 rampage targeting Hispanics in El Paso, Texas, as well as the threat posed by extremists motivated by foreign terror groups. A DHS statement that accompanied the bulletin noted the potential for violence from “a broad range of ideologically-motivated actors.” “Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence,” the bulletin said. The alert comes at a tense time following the riot at the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump seeking to overturn the presidential election. Authorities are concerned that extremists may attack other symbols of government or people whose political views they oppose. “The domestic terrorism attack on our Capitol earlier this month shined a light on a threat that has been right in front of our faces for years,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “I am glad to see that DHS fully recognizes the threat posed by violent, right-wing extremists and is taking efforts to communicate that threat to the American people.” The alert was issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske. Biden’s nominee for the Cabinet post, Alejandro Mayorkas, has not been confirmed by the Senate. Two former homeland security secretaries, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano, called on the Senate to confirm Mayorkas so he can start working with the FBI and other agencies and deal with the threat posed by domestic extremists, among other issues. Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, said attacks by far-right, domestic extremists are not new but that deaths attributed to them in recent years in the U.S. have exceeded those linked to jihadists such as al-Qaida. “We have to be candid and face what the real risk is,” he said in a conference call with reporters. Federal authorities have charged more than 150 people in the Capitol siege, including some with links to right-wing extremist groups such as the Three Percenters and the Oath Keepers. The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against 43-year Ian Rogers, a California man found with five pipe bombs during a search of his business this month who had a sticker associated with the Three Percenters on his vehicle. His lawyer told his hometown newspaper, The Napa Valley Register, that he is a “very well-respected small business owner, father, and family man” who does not belong to any violent organizations. Ben Fox And Eric Tucker, The Associated Press
European football teams face losing up to $10 billion due to disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the latest forecast of the umbrella organization for clubs on the continent. Supporters have been kept out of stadiums in Europe's main leagues longer than anticipated as the second wave of COVID-19 cases has devastated the continent. Andrea Agnelli, the Juventus chairman who leads the European Club Association, said it would be “extremely difficult" to see spectators being allowed back in this season. There have also been rebates to broadcasters and sponsors due to the pandemic after some leagues, including France, were abandoned last season and others paused for up to three months. “When I look at the best information I’ve had so far, we’re looking at a bottom-line loss for the industry in the region of €6.5 billion ($7.9 billion) to €8.5 billion ($10.3 billion) for the combined two years," Agnelli said on a News Tank Football virtual event on Wednesday. Italy — like England — had brought a small number of fans back into some stadiums but had to prohibit access again as part of a national effort to contain the resurgence of coronavirus cases. There are concerns about the financial impact on the value of broadcast rights to games. “About 360 clubs (in Europe) will need cash injections, whether it’s debt or equity within those two years, for an amount of €6 billion ($7.2 billion)," Agnelli said. Just as the ECA is in talks with UEFA about the distribution of Champions League revenue, Agnelli is painting a gloomier picture of the state of club finances than Deloitte. The accountancy firm reported this week that the top 20 revenue-generating clubs lost around €1.1 billion ($1.3 billion) last season and their turnover could drop by €2 billion ($2.4 billion) in this campaign. “The revenue that’s been missed out on is driven by the lack of fans in the stadium, the lack of interaction on a match day — fans spending in the club shop and buying food and drink — and there is an element that relates to revenue that broadcasters have either clawed back (or deferred) to next year," said Tim Bridge of Deloitte. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Rob Harris, The Associated Press
76 years ago, the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in occupied Poland was liberated. The day is commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This year, pandemic restrictions in Germany mean the anniversary is being mostly marked virtually. View on euronews
Les glaces encore trop minces dans le fjord du Saguenay face à L’Anse-Saint-Jean empêchent l’Association de pêche blanche de donner son autorisation à l’embarquement des quelque 150 cabanes qui formeront le village de pêche. Mardi matin, les bénévoles de la zec, Jean Gagnon et Gervais Lavoie, accompagnés du conseiller municipal responsable du dossier Yvan Côté et du journaliste du Quotidien, ont procédé au sondage de l’anse. Selon M. Gagnon, un bénévole expérimenté, la situation se présente ainsi: jusqu’à jeudi dernier, une grande partie de l’anse était à l’eau claire du côté nord tandis que la glace du côté sud est demeurée en place. Il résulte que dans la partie sud, jusqu’à environ un demi-kilomètre au large, la glace atteint environ 12 pouces. Du côté nord, où la glace s’est formée avec le froid qui a régné de jeudi à lundi, la glace atteint six pouces. Le problème est qu’entre les deux plaques, on retrouve un secteur très dangereux où une faille non apparente ne permet pas de supporter un être humain. Il suffit de frapper un ou deux coups de tranche pour constater la présence d’eau claire. Malgré le danger, des motoneiges ont circulé, ce qui a alerté les agents de Pêche et Océans Canada qui se sont rendus sur place dimanche, selon les informations recueillies. Les bénévoles présents ont effectué une quinzaine de trous afin de mesurer l’épaisseur de la glace, ce qui a permis à M. Côté de conclure qu’il fallait attendre encore que dame Nature fasse son oeuvre avant de permettre l’embarquement. D’autres sondages pourraient avoir lieu en fin de semaine ou en début de semaine en fonction de la température qu’il fera. Aucun grand froid n’est prévu au cours des prochains jours. « En tant que responsable de la pêche blanche, il n’est pas question de prendre de chance avec la sécurité du public. Si on décidait de baliser le long de la fissure, on deviendrait automatiquement responsables », affirme Yvan Côté. Il reconnaît que plus les jours passent, plus l’association se rapproche d’un point de bascule alors que certains propriétaires de cabanes ont commencé à appeler afin d’annuler leur inscription et réclamer un remboursement. Ceux-ci estiment qu’une période de pêche blanche qui débuterait en février seulement pour se terminer le 8 mars, avec le passage du brise-glace, serait trop courte. Entre l’atteinte de l’épaisseur magique de 12 pouces de glace et l’embarquement des cabanes, les bénévoles doivent encore procéder à l’aménagement du pont d’embarquement et du grattage des rues. M. Côté mentionne que l’annulation de la saison de pêche blanche pour une deuxième année consécutive aurait des conséquences sur les finances de l’association qui fonctionne de façon autonome.Denis Villeneuve, Initiative de journalisme local, Le Quotidien
Pope Francis on Wednesday marked the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp by urging people to keep a close watch on ideological extremism, because "these things can happen again". He spoke three weeks after displays of anti-Semitism surfaced at the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6 and two weeks after one of Montreal's largest synagogues was vandalised and almost set on fire. Speaking at his general audience, held inside the papal library because of coronavirus restrictions, Francis said it was imperative that the world did not forget.
BERLIN — A German woman has been charged with preparing a far-right attack and other crimes on allegations she was in the process of building a bomb to target Muslims and local politicians in Bavaria, Munich prosecutors said Wednesday. Susanne G., whose last name wasn't given in line with privacy laws, also faces charges of making threats and violations of weapons laws, among other things. She has been in custody since her arrest. Prosecutors allege that the woman started planning a firebombing attack no later than May 2020, motivated by her xenophobic and extreme-right views. She is alleged to have downloaded information on bomb building online and have gathered materials for the construction, including gasoline, fireworks and fuses, by the time of her arrest in September. Between December 2019 and March 2020 the suspect is alleged to have sent six anonymous letters, five including a live bullet, with death threats to a local politician in the Nuremberg area, a Muslim community association, and an asylum seeker aid organization. During the summer of 2020, she started focusing on local police officers and a different local politician than the one threatened by letter as other possible targets, and began scouting their homes and cars. The Associated Press
MOSCOW — The lower house of Russian parliament on Wednesday approved the extension of the last remaining nuclear arms control pact days before it’s due to expire. The State Duma voted unanimously to extend the New START treaty for five years. The vote came a day after a phone call between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, in which they voiced satisfaction with the exchange of diplomatic notes about extending the New START treaty. They agreed to complete the necessary procedures in the next few days, according to the Kremlin. The pact’s extension doesn’t require congressional approval in the U.S., but Russian lawmakers must ratify the move. Top members of the Kremlin-controlled parliament said they would fast-track the issue and complete the necessary steps to extend the treaty this week. The Associated Press
ST. MARY’S – Voters let their fingers do the walking at a special election earlier this month, pushing participation rates to the highest level ever recorded in the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s, according to Chief Administrative Officer Marvin MacDonald. “It is an exceptionally high turnout rate; one that I don’t think we have ever seen before here,” he said of 73.4 per cent voter participation during the race for the District 8 council seat (Port Bickerton, Harpellville and area), which culminated on Jan. 16. He added that of 278 eligible voters, 121 cast their ballots online, while another 83 used their telephones. Seventy-four did not participate. Noting that council had limited the special election to voting by telephone and Internet only, he said: “The use of online technology is increasing. But no matter where you go in the province, this is a high participation rate.” Indeed, Elections Nova Scotia’s official results of the 2017 provincial election (the most recent available) show that the average turnout at St. Mary’s four polling stations during that ballot was 46.25 per cent (Greenfield Oyster Club in Melrose, 46 per cent; St. Luke’s Parish Hall in Liscomb, 46.9 per cent; Sherbrooke municipal office, 44.9 per cent; and the Port Bickerton Community Centre, 47.2 per per cent). The mobile polls arranged for residents of High-Crest Sherbrooke Home for Special Care and Sherbrooke/Harbour View Lodge in that election registered substantially higher turnouts of 65.5 per cent, suggesting that easy access to ballot boxes played a role in those results. MacDonald, who has administered several provincial and local elections in St. Mary’s over the years, cited several possible factors for this month’s robust public interest. “For one thing, it [District 8 special election] came so soon after the general municipal election in October. To have that particular district go back to the polls so soon probably drew more attention to issues. People were already ready to participate.” Specifically, he said, the near-term prospect of an international whale sanctuary in Port Hilford, and the long-term uncertainty over Atlantic Gold’s plans for an open pit mine upriver from Sherbrooke, seemed to resonate with voters. Last week, James Harpell – who won by a margin of 158 to 46 against his rival James Bingley in District 8 – told The Journal that whales and gold were the top two topics of doorstep conversation as he canvassed the constituency for votes. “A lot of people were really excited about the beluga whales coming. The first thing they wanted to know was what I thought about it,” he said. “The second thing they wanted to talk about was the gold mine. It was a hot topic. People were on board with the idea of not being left in the wake of an open pit mine that might harm the environment in the future.” Beyond this, MacDonald thinks online platforms are facilitating the act of voting. “In some places, like HRM, the argument has been that turnout hasn’t been affected by the electronic voting option. Maybe that’s because it has been really new,” he said. “But now people are more inclined to use the computer for more things. They do more online banking and shopping. If you are used to using computers already, the platforms to vote are a lot easier.” The Nova Scotia Internet Funding Trust and other levels of government and the private sector are part way through a $263 million program to bring high-speed internet to 97 per cent of the province’s rural areas, such as St. Mary’s, by 2022. Said MacDonald: “I do think that election turnouts in the future will be higher because of electronic voting.” Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
RCMP in Alberta are investigating Yellowknife RCMP officers and their role in an alleged incident that took place in cells in October 2020. The incident in question revolves around the arrest of a 25-year-old Whatı̀ woman, Tracella Romie. According to court documents, employees of a Yellowknife liquor store called RCMP on the evening of Oct. 14, 2020, after Romie reportedly assaulted workers there. Romie was arrested a short while later and charged with two counts of assault and one count of mischief. In an interview with CBC, Romie says she was put in the back of an RCMP vehicle by two officers and brought to the Yellowknife detachment, where two other officers also detained her. Romie says she was intoxicated and remembers very little of that night. She says she does remember spitting up blood and officers pulling her handcuffed hands high in the air in a painful manner. "I don't really remember much. I remember being in the cells for like 14 hours, maybe 16," Romie says. She says after she was released from cells she went to a friend's house and found bruises on her back, shoulders and wrists. "I knew I had been mistreated that night." Use of force investigation Romie says she thought about making a complaint against the RCMP, but ultimately changed her mind. More than a month after the arrest, Romie says she received a call from two RCMP officers in Alberta who said they were investigating what happened that night. Romie says the investigators told her that a Yellowknife officer who had witnessed her detainment in cells had made a complaint about their colleagues' excessive use of force. Emails Romie provided to CBC show that two investigators from the RCMP's Maskwacis detachment in central Alberta flew to Yellowknife the first week of December to interview her. I'm trying to stand up for those people that never really had a voice when they were mistreated. - Tracella Romie Maskwacis RCMP deferred CBC's questions to the Yellowknife detachment. Yellowknife RCMP refused to say how the alleged incident came to their attention. They also refused to provide CBC News with an arrest report or video footage from the night in question. "As this is an ongoing investigation, we will not be able to provide either of the items you requested, nor comment on how the incident that is part of the investigation was reported," N.W.T. RCMP spokesperson Marie York-Condon wrote in an email. If indeed it was an RCMP officer who came forward, Romie says she's grateful to them. "If it wasn't [for that officer] all of this investigation would not have been brought to attention," she said. "I'm trying to stand up for those people that never really had a voice when they were mistreated." Neither the Yellowknife or Maskwacis RCMP would comment on when the investigation is expected to be finished. Romie is being represented by a lawyer with legal aid services in relation to the charges, which are still working their way through the courts.
ST. MARY’S – A tiny dirt road near Sonora – a mere afterthought for any mapmaker – has suddenly become an important topic for local decision-makers. In December, the Municipality of the District of St. Mary’s issued a formal expression of interest in acquiring a tiny strip of surplus land – once an access road to the St. Mary’s River – after receiving a memo from the Real Property Services Acquisition and Disposal division of the provincial Department of Transportation and Renewal. Last week, elected officials heard that the province had withdrawn its offer pending examination of an expression of interest by another government department. What’s more, a local developer has also come forward, inquiring about the land’s availability. At council’s Jan. 20 committee of the whole meeting, Warden Greg Wier wondered whether council should step back. “I think if a land developer would like it and it would help build a couple of homes and give us some tax revenues, I think it would be a good idea to let them have it,” he told his fellow councillors.” Deputy Warden James Fuller added, “It may be good for the tax base, [but] I think we should just wait and see. We may be out of the running anyway. And, if we are, let’s just see what the developer is developing.” Councillor Everett Baker agreed: “There’s not much we can do right now anyway.” The Nov. 18 letter from the province stated: “We are informing you that the land … identified as PID 35231786 on Property Online, Old Ferry Road/Gegogan Ferry Road, at St. Mary’s River, Guysborough County… is surplus to the needs of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. Please advise if you have any interest in acquiring the property.” Last month, the municipality’s Director of Finance Marian Fraser explained: “Any time the province has land it no longer has a need for, it always sends out a notice to the adjoining municipalities and any other levels of government to see if there is interest. In this case, council did express their interest and put in a formal notice to acquire it.” The most recent Surplus Crown Property Disposal Report shows that the province earned nearly $161,000 on the disposal of 31 pieces of real property to private and public sector interests during the fiscal year ending March 20, 2020. Of these, the Crown conveyed surplus land only once to a municipality – the County of Shelburne – for $1. Chief Administrative Officer Marvin MacDonald told The Journal: “It’s always good for the municipality to have land, especially if there’s water access. It could be used in conjunction with development. So, if there is a piece of development that would increase our tax base, we might eye it for development.” Council has directed municipal staff to inform the private interest that the decision is still with the provincial government. Alec Bruce, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
Quantum Genetix, a laboratory licensed to perform COVID-19 testing in Saskatchewan for profit, has expanded its licence to include anyone in the province who is asymptomatic and wishes to be tested. The Saskatoon lab started processing samples at the beginning of December. At that time the company was only doing travel- and business-related testing in Saskatchewan. Testing kits are $150 and results are emailed to clients within 48 hours. For same-day rush service, testing kits are $250. Quantum Genetix has been very busy since December, according to Heather Deobald, the lab's general manager. The lab has served more than 100 businesses and more than 1,000 travelers so far. "We requested to have our licence expanded because from the start we've been getting requests from Saskatchewan residents who didn't fall under the business or travel related scope that we were given our licence through." Individuals and businesses can order testing kits by mail from Quantum Genetix. Kits contain self-administered nasal and oral swabs, and detailed instructions on how to use them. "Before we were able to do the testing, people were struggling sometimes with having turnaround times that they could utilize and still be able to go out and do their work or whatever they needed the test for," said Deobald. "So I think people are just relieved that they had another option." Deobold says there are many reasons Sask. residents are willing to pay for a quick test. "People waiting for surgery, people who have compassion permission to go into a care facility, families with immunocompromised family members. Single family members who are having another family member come into their home. Or two single people wanting to get together," said Deobald. After receiving the kit, clients can either courier their specimen to the Saskatoon laboratory or drop it off on-location at a kiosk there. Deobald said Quantum Genetix is working on making the process easier for anyone in the province, including those in the north. "We're actually right now working with another private business in Saskatchewan who will help us to expand into all areas of the province," she said. "We should have the news on that and more information on that hopefully next week."
GUYSBOROUGH – Three times wasn’t the charm, so the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) invited representatives from ambulance provider Emergency Health Services (EHS) – Derek LeBlanc and Phil Stewart – to council, once again, to answer questions about the provision of service in the area. And, once again, council was disappointed. The EHS representatives joined council by video link at its regular meeting on Jan. 20. They answered questions from Warden Vernon Pitts, CAO Barry Carroll and councillors for almost an hour, but they failed to satisfy the concerns council has about lack of service and long wait times for ambulance transfers between hospital facilities. These issues are, in part, due to staffing shortages. The EHS representatives noted that the company, like any health care service in the province, has had difficulty attracting employees. A full-time job was posted for Canso three times and couldn’t be filled, said Stewart. Councillor Desmond asked if there was a minimum or maximum response time for EHS service. Warden Pitts reiterated that question and was told by Stewart that the complexities pertaining to the question didn’t allow him to provide the answers they were looking for. After council adjourned, Pitts told media present, “In regard to medical first response by EHS what really blew me away, as the warden, was there are no expected minimum or maximum response times within our municipally and to me, that is totally unacceptable … We should be given a minimum time – if your live in a city or whatever, I expect a minimum time in regard to response; same as the fire department or police. If you don’t have a minimum response time what are you measuring it by – this is totally unacceptable. “What it comes right down to is we’re playing Russian roulette and the gun is going to go off one of these times, if it hasn’t already gone off, and it has lately. We want a minimum level of service within MODG and surrounding areas – that’s not too much to ask for,” said Pitts. ‘Unacceptable’ continued to be the theme of the council meeting, with MODG receiving a response from the Department of Environment stating that a freedom of information request would need to be filed in order for the municipality to gain access to information regarding Irving Oil’s plans for a contaminated lot on Main Street in Guysborough. “That’s the only way they will release that information to us,” said Pitts, “And that is also totally unacceptable. “My understanding is that Irving has submitted a plan; now I haven’t got this from a legal source, but my understanding is that Irving has submitted a plan. It’s waiting approval from the province. Apparently, there are two avenues that this can go down. I don’t know exactly what those avenues are, but we just want to be made aware of what the plan is now; that we can have some input into it as a municipal unit as well as the residents. This is not acceptable. This is Main Street in Guysborough and this is impacting people’s lives and property values,” said Pitts. Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal
NAIROBI, Kenya — The United States says all soldiers from Eritrea should leave Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region “immediately.” A State Department spokesperson in an email to The Associated Press late Tuesday cited “credible reports of looting, sexual violence, assaults in refugee camps and other human rights abuses." "There is also evidence of Eritrean soldiers forcibly returning Eritrean refugees from Tigray to Eritrea,” the spokesperson said. The statement reflects new pressure by the Biden administration on the government of Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous country with 114 million people and the anchor of the Horn of Africa, and other combatants as the deadly fighting in Tigray nears the three-month mark. The AP this week cited witnesses who fled the Tigray region as saying Eritrean soldiers were looting, going house-to-house killing young men and even acting as local authorities. The Eritreans have been fighting on the side of Ethiopian forces as they pursue the fugitive leaders of the Tigray region, though Ethiopia’s government has denied their presence. The U.S. stance has shifted dramatically from the early days of the conflict when the Trump administration praised Eritrea for its “restraint.” The new U.S. statement calls for an independent and transparent investigation into alleged abuses. “It remains unclear how many Eritrean soldiers are in Tigray, or precisely where,” it says. It was not immediately clear whether the U.S. has addressed its demand directly to Eritrean officials. And the office of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed did not immediately respond to questions. Witnesses have estimated that the Eritrean soldiers number in the thousands. Eritrean officials have not responded to questions. The information minister for Eritrea, one of the world’s most secretive countries, this week tweeted that “the rabid defamation campaign against Eritrea is on the rise again.“ The U.S. also seeks an immediate stop to the fighting in Tigray and “full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access” to the region, which remains largely cut off from the outside world, with Ethiopian forces often accompanying aid. “We are gravely concerned by credible reports that hundreds of thousands of people may starve to death if urgent humanitarian assistance is not mobilized immediately,” the statement says. The United Nations in its latest humanitarian update said it is receiving reports of “rising hunger” in Tigray and cited a “dire lack of access to food” since many farmers in the largely agricultural region missed the harvest because of the fighting, and as “critical staff” to scale up the humanitarian response can't access the region. Transport, electricity, banking and other links “have yet to be restored in much of the region,” the U.N. said, and 78% of hospitals remain nonfunctional. “Our concern is that what we don’t know could be even more disturbing," U.N. children's agency chief Henrietta Fore said in a statement Wednesday. "For 12 weeks, the international humanitarian community has had very limited access to conflict-affected populations across most of Tigray.” Vaccinations have stopped across the region, Fore added. The U.S. statement added that “dialogue is essential between the government and Tigrayans.” Ethiopia's government has rejected dialogue with the former Tigray leaders, seeing them as illegitimate, and has appointed an interim administration. The former Tigray leaders, in turn, objected to Ethiopia delaying a national election last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and considered Abiy's mandate over. Cara Anna, The Associated Press
It's a sight familiar to anyone who's driven into or out of Windsor across the Ambassador Bridge — a woman in a bright red bikini, next to a massive number 4. For decades, Studio 4 has greeted millions of drivers entering Canada or heading to the United States; its risqué sign a distinctive —and for some an unwelcome — landmark. But the sign you can't miss won't be there for much longer. The strip club has been sold. "It hasn't really sunk in yet. I think if they demolish it or something I want to be there," said Peter Barth, who had owned the bar since 1984. Negotiations for the lot at the corner of Huron Church and Tecumseh roads began last year, according to Iyman Meddoui, president of Westdell Development Corporation, which bought the property. Both Brath and Meddoui declined to say how much the site sold for, but land registry documents show it was transferred on Jan 21 for $1,250,000. Plans for something 'completely different' The new owners won't say just yet what's coming to the site — but it won't be a strip club. "Our plans are going to be something completely different," said Meddoui. "We do have an exciting development that's under the planning." The company has applied to demolish the red building covered in signs currently advertising the XXXTASY LOUNGE, he added. "Saying that it was rough is putting it lightly. It looked like there wasn't much investment made there for many years now." Knocking down Studio 4 means the loss of a landmark — for better or worse. It was part of Windsor's exotic dancer heyday in the 1980s, when roughly a dozen strip clubs were operating and the city was dubbed "Tijuana North" by American visitors, said local historian Marty Gervais. "When you drive off the bridge and you see Studio 4 it's part of our Sin City image and people have always talked about it." The history of catering to partiers who streamed across the river dates back to Confederation when the city boasted the "best bawdy houses in North America," he explained. During prohibition, Windsor offered dance halls and a place to get a drink. More recently, it's attracted visitors with fully-nude dancing, Cuban cigars and a legal drinking age of 19. "We were constantly feeding thirsty Americans with what they wanted, which they couldn't get on the Detroit side of the border," said Gervais. Studio 4, and its salacious sign is part of that history. "It's very much a part of Windsor life. It just seems to have always been there," he said. Sign survived councillors and controversy But the sign, much like the club it stands outside, has had to weather controversy. Alan Halberstadt is a former newspaper columnist and city councillor. He remembers his council colleague, Caroline Postma, leading a crusade to "get that half-naked sign down because she felt it was against the city's sensibilities." Halberstadt said he wasn't happy about the sign either, but over time he got used to it. "After a while it becomes … kind of a Windsor insignia or landmark," he said, adding he believes any concerns about damage it may have done to the city's image is "overblown." "There's a lot of politicians and people that would have liked to see that sign come down, but she's stood the test of time," he said with a wry smile. Tussles with councillors and police officers enforcing the no-touching rule are among memories that were top of mind for Brath on Tuesday. He doesn't have any worries about his sign being a bad first impression of Windsor, or Canada for that matter. "We were right in their face, right on the corner," he said. The sign that's so recognizable today was also once a little more risque. "We had to draw on panties and a bra," said the former owner. "Originally, it was showing a little bit more." Strip clubs have been shut down by COVID-19, but even before the pandemic, Brath, who's 80 now, said business wasn't what it once was. Gone are the days of limousines pulling up out front, seven servers working non-stop and a lineup that extended beyond the canopy snaking out the back door. "The first week we were full, full, full," he said. "Lately? Nothing. Adult entertainment in Windsor is dead." Studio 4's new owners are planning to turn the site into a shopping development, he added. A 'fresh new look' coming to sign Meddoui was tight-lipped about his company's plans, saying they're still being developed. Westdell has also purchased an empty lot next to the club, along with the University and Ambassador shopping centres across the street. They're planning to "transform" the intersection over the next couple of years, said Meddoui. As for the sign? He's promising a very different look in the meantime. "You'll see a fresh new look on that sign on an interim basis," he said. "As the building will be removed, the sign will also be rebranded."
WARSAW, Poland — Tova Friedman hid among corpses at Auschwitz amid the chaos of the extermination camp's final days. Just 6 years old at the time, the Poland-born Friedman was instructed by her mother to lie absolutely still in a bed at a camp hospital, next to the body of a young woman who had just died. As German forces preparing to flee the scene of their genocide went from bed to bed shooting anyone still alive, Friedman barely breathed under a blanket and went unnoticed. Days later, on Jan. 27, 1945, she was among the thousands of prisoners who survived to greet the Soviet troops who liberated the camp in Nazi-occupied Poland. Now 82, Friedman had hoped to mark Wednesday's anniversary by taking her eight grandchildren to the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial site, which is under the custodianship of the Polish state. The coronavirus pandemic prevented the trip. So instead, Friedman will be alone at home in Highland Park, New Jersey, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Yet a message of warning from her about the rise of hatred will be part of a virtual observance organized by the World Jewish Congress. Other institutions around the world, including the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial museum in Poland, Yad Vashem in Israel and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. also have online events planned. The presidents of Israel, Germany and Poland will be among those delivering remarks of remembrance and warning. The online nature of this year's commemorations is a sharp contrast to how Friedman spent the 75th anniversary of Auschwitz's liberation last year, when she gathered under a huge tent with other survivors and dozens of European leaders at the site of the former camp. It was one of the last large international gatherings before the pandemic forced the cancellation of most large gatherings. Many Holocaust survivors in the United States, Israel and elsewhere find themselves in a state of previously unimaginable isolation due to the pandemic. Friedman lost her husband last March and said she feels acutely alone now. But survivors like her also have found new connections over Zoom: World Jewish Congress leader Ronald Lauder has organized video meetings for survivors and their children and grandchildren during the pandemic. More than 1.1 million people were murdered by the German Nazis and their henchmen at Auschwitz, the most notorious site in a network of camps and ghettos aimed at the destruction of Europe's Jews. The vast majority of those killed at Auschwitz were Jews, but others, including Poles, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war, were also killed in large numbers. In all, about 6 million European Jews and millions of other people were killed by the Germans and their collaborators. In 2005, the United Nations designated Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, an acknowledgement of Auschwitz's iconic status. Israel, which today counts 197,000 Holocaust survivors, officially marks its Holocaust remembrance day in the spring. But events will also be held Wednesday by survivors’ organizations and remembrance groups across the country, many of them held virtually or without members of the public in attendance. While commemorations have moved online for the first time, one constant is the drive of survivors to tell their stories as words of caution. Rose Schindler, a 91-year-old survivor of Auschwitz who was originally from Czechoslovakia but now lives in San Diego, California, has been speaking to school groups about her experience for 50 years. Her story, and that of her late husband, Max, also a survivor, is also told in a book, “Two Who Survived: Keeping Hope Alive While Surviving the Holocaust.” After Schindler was transported to Auschwitz in 1944, she was selected more than once for immediate death in the gas chambers. She survived by escaping each time and joining work details. The horrors she experienced of Auschwitz — the mass murder of her parents and four of her seven siblings, the hunger, being shaven, lice infestations — are difficult to convey, but she keeps speaking to groups, over past months only by Zoom. “We have to tell our stories so it doesn't happen again,” Schindler told The Associated Press on Monday in a Zoom call from her home. “It is unbelievable what we went through, and the whole world was silent as this was going on." Friedman says she believes it is her role to “sound the alarm” about rising anti-Semitism and other hatred in the world, otherwise “another tragedy may happen.” That hatred, she said, was on clear view when a mob inspired by former President Donald Trump attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Some insurrectionists wore clothes with anti-Semitic messages like “Camp Auschwitz” and ““6MWE,” which stands for “6 million wasn't enough.” “It was utterly shocking and I couldn’t believe it. And I don’t know what part of America feels like that. I hope it’s a very small and isolated group and not a pervasive feeling,” Friedman said Monday. Still, the mob violence could not shake her belief in the essential goodness of America and most Americans. “It’s a country of freedom. It’s a country that took me in,” Friedman said. In her recorded message that will be broadcast Wednesday, Friedman said she compares the virus of hatred in the world to COVID-19. She said the world today is witnessing “a virus of anti-Semitism, of racism, and if you don’t stop the virus, it’s going to kill humanity.” Vanessa Gera, The Associated Press