This is the moment an estimated 200 people take part in a massive snowball fight in a blatant breach of the coronavirus lockdown
This is the moment an estimated 200 people take part in a massive snowball fight in a blatant breach of the coronavirus lockdown
WASHINGTON — Hours from inauguration, President-elect Joe Biden paused on what might have been his triumphal entrance to Washington Tuesday evening to mark instead the national tragedy of the coronavirus pandemic with a moment of collective grief for Americans lost. His arrival coincided with the awful news that the U.S. death toll had surpassed 400,000 in the worst public health crisis in more than a century — a crisis Biden will now be charged with controlling. “To heal we must remember," the incoming president told the nation at a sunset ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. Four hundred lights representing the pandemic's victims were illuminated behind him around the monument’s Reflecting Pool. “Between sundown and dusk, let us shine the lights into the darkness ... and remember all who we lost,” Biden said. The sober moment on the eve of Biden's inauguration — typically a celebratory time in Washington when the nation marks the democratic tradition of a peaceful transfer of power — was a measure of the enormity of loss for the nation. During his brief remarks, Biden faced the larger-than life statue of Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War president who served as more than 600,000 Americans died. As he turned to walk away at the conclusion of the vigil, he faced the black granite wall listing the 58,000-plus Americans who perished in Vietnam. Biden was joined by Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris, who spoke of the collective anguish of the nation, a not-so-subtle admonishment of outgoing President Donald Trump, who has spoken sparingly about the pandemic in recent months. “For many months we have grieved by ourselves,” said Harris, who will make history as the first woman to serve as vice-president when she's sworn in. “Tonight, we grieve and begin healing together.” Beyond the pandemic, Biden faces no shortage of problems when he takes the reins at the White House. The nation is also on its economic heels because of soaring unemployment, there is deep political division and immediate concern about more violence following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Biden, an avid fan of Amtrak who took the train thousands of times between his home in Delaware and Washington during his decades in the Senate, had planned to take a train into Washington ahead of Wednesday's Inauguration Day but scratched that plan in the aftermath of the Capitol riot. He instead flew into Joint Base Andrews just outside the capital and then motorcaded into fortress D.C. — a city that's been flooded by some 25,000 National Guard troops guarding a Capitol, White House and National Mall that are wrapped in a maze of barricades and tall fencing. “These are dark times," Biden told supporters in an emotional sendoff in Delaware. "But there’s always light.” Biden, who ran for the presidency as a cool head who could get things done, plans to issue a series of executive orders on Day One — including reversing Trump's effort to leave the Paris climate accord, cancelling Trump's travel ban on visitors from several predominantly Muslim countries, and extending pandemic-era limits on evictions and student loan payments. Trump won’t be on hand as Biden is sworn in, the first outgoing president to entirely skip inaugural festivities since Andrew Johnson more than a century and a half ago. The White House released a farewell video from Trump just as Biden landed at Joint Base Andrews. Trump, who has repeatedly and falsely claimed widespread fraud led to his election loss, extended “best wishes” to the incoming administration in his nearly 20-minute address but did not utter Biden's name. Trump also spent some of his last time in the White House huddled with advisers weighing final-hour pardons and grants of clemency. He planned to depart from Washington Wednesday morning in a grand airbase ceremony that he helped plan himself. Biden at his Delaware farewell, held at the National Guard/Reserve Center named after his late son Beau Biden, paid tribute to his home state. After his remarks, he stopped and chatted with friends and well-wishers in the crowd, much as he had at Iowa rope lines at the start of his long campaign journey. “I’ll always be a proud son of the state of Delaware,” said Biden, who struggled to hold back tears as he delivered brief remarks. Inaugural organizers this week finished installing some 200,000 U.S., state and territorial flags on the National Mall, a display representing the American people who couldn’t come to the inauguration, which is tightly limited under security and Covid restrictions. The display was also a reminder of all the president-elect faces as he looks to steer the nation through the pandemic with infections and deaths soaring. Out of the starting gate, Biden and his team are intent on moving quickly to speed distribution of vaccinations to anxious Americans and pass his $1.9 trillion virus relief package, which includes quick payments to many people and an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Biden also plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on the first day of his administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status. That would be a major reversal from the Trump administration’s tight immigration policies. Some leading Republican have already balked at Biden's immigration plan. "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., who is often a central player in Senate immigration battles. Many of Biden's legislative ambitions could be tempered by the hard numbers he faces on Capitol Hill, where Democrats hold narrow majorities in both the Senate and House. His hopes to press forward with an avalanche of legislation in his first 100 days could also be slowed by an impeachment trial of Trump. As Biden made his way to Washington, five of his Cabinet picks were appearing Tuesday before Senate committees to begin confirmation hearings. Treasury nominee Janet Yellen, Defence nominee Lloyd Austin, Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken and Director of National Intelligence nominee Avril Haines were being questioned. Yellen urged lawmakers to embrace Biden’s virus relief package, arguing that “the smartest thing we can do is act big.” Aides say Biden will use Wednesday's inaugural address — one that will be delivered in front of an unusually small in-person group because of virus protocols and security concerns and is expected to run 20 to 30 minutes — to call for American unity and offer an optimistic message that Americans can get past the dark moment by working together. To that end, he extended invitations to Congress' top four Republican and Democratic leaders to attend Mass with him at St. Matthew's Cathedral ahead of the inauguration ceremony. ___ Madhani reported from Chicago. Associated Press writers Darlene Superville, Alan Fram and Alexandra Jaffe contributed reporting. ___ This story has been corrected to show that flags on the National Mall represent people who couldn't come, not COVID deaths. Bill Barrow And Aamer Madhani, The Associated Press
Brock University is joining the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business as a member. The council will provide Brock with a conduit to more than 1,000 businesses operated by Indigenous peoples and access to diverse programming, tools and training. Acting vice-provost of Indigenous engagement Robyn Bourgeois said joining an organization meant to support Indigenous businesses illustrates how everyone plays a role in the university’s decolonization and Indigenization efforts. “It’s such a great example of how we can operationalize what we mean by that pillar of fostering a culture of inclusivity, accessibility, reconciliation and decolonization and showing our support for Indigenous peoples,” she said. Chuck Maclean first suggested that the university join the council. Maclean, who helps units across the university with purchasing, said he learned about it at a conference and realized the school could benefit from joining. “If Indigenous businesses can give us like services and a good value, why not be supportive of them when it’s appropriate?” he said. “It’s a great collaboration. We’ll start from a foundation and build up, introducing these businesses to the university and the value of their work.” While 2021 marks Brock’s first full year as a CCAB member, it has a connection going much further back. One of the CCAB’s founding members was Suzanne Rochon-Burnett, who died in 2006. She was an important figure in Brock’s history who served two terms on the board of trustees and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the university in 2002. The Suzanne Rochon-Burnett Scholarship at Brock has helped opened the doors to post-secondary education for more than two dozen Indigenous students. Michele-Elise Burnett, a trustee and co-chair of Brock’s Aboriginal education council, said her mother would be proud of Maclean’s vision. “My mother always believed Brock University would lead by example and become Canada’s Indigenous school of excellence, raising the bar for all universities to emulate.” Bourgeois hopes Maclean’s example will help lead to others thinking about what role they can play in Indigenizing the university. “Quite often, when we think about Indigenizing, we think in siloed terms,” she said. “In reality, that commitment to Indigenization and decolonization should be infused throughout the university, and that means all levels and areas could be involved.” Sean Vanderklis is a Niagara-based reporter for the Niagara Falls Review. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Sean Vanderklis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Niagara Falls Review
Brandon Sun readers request specific questions be asked about COVID-19. QUESTION: if a person from Rapid City, for example, were to test positive at the Brandon site, would they not be added to Brandon district numbers? PROVINCIAL SPOKESPERSON: Numbers are tracked by home address — i.e., the address on the Manitoba Health Card is where that case will be attributed to in our numbers, not the testing location. As to your example, if that person’s home address were to show as Rapid City on their health card, that’s where we would consider the case to be from, not the testing location (Brandon). QUESTION: I understand Moderna’s vaccine efficacy in participants 65 years of age and older appears to be lower than in younger adults 18 to 65 years — 86.4 per cent compared to 95.6 per cent. Considering First Nation elders are top of list for vaccination — is this on your radar at all as an issue? The question would apply, as well, regarding any personal care homes using Moderna. DR. JOSS REIMER: We are constantly looking at the data that’s provided by the companies, as well as by other jurisdictions. We will be sure to analyze it on an ongoing basis. What we have right now shows it as a very effective vaccine and we are confident that it will be beneficial to those who are receiving it. QUESTION: People who work at a COVID testing site are eligible to receive the vaccine. Why aren’t people who work directly with COVID-positive clients at alternative isolation accommodation sites included in the eligibility criteria? REIMER: We have looked at a number of different issues when it comes to determining the eligibility criteria. We looked at issues like whether or not the people would potentially be exposed to the virus in the workplace. We’re also looking at how vulnerable the patients or clients in that setting might be. So for example, for personal care homes, it’s essential that the staff be immunized so that they’re not a source of infection or the individual living in that setting because they’re more likely to experience severe harm. We’re also looking at where we’ve seen evidence of outbreaks and disease transmission, particularly between staff and residents or patients. We’re looking at where we have a specialized workforce with specialized skills or those where any work disruption would be quite critical to the system. All of those factors have to be considered at the same time. So one of the reasons that the COVID immunization clinics became a priority was around that workforce issue. It is critical that these clinics be up and running with as many people as we need in order to give every vaccine as fast as we can. So it was important that not only that we have the eligibility in there to help recruit some of the workers to that batch location, but also to prevent that from ever becoming a source of infection. The last thing we would want for Manitobans is to have one of our vaccine clinics become the site of an outbreak, and so we wanted to ensure that we were protecting everyone who was working there, as well as protecting everyone who is coming through to get their vaccine. Do you have a question? Send your questions to email@example.com with the subject line: Readers Ask. Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
The City of Summerside, P.E.I. has set the wheels in motion to expropriate four parcels of land in the north end of the city to construct a new roundabout. The roundabout will go at the corner of Central Street and Pope Road, part of a major realignment for that section of road which will also include new sidewalks and upgrades to exits to businesses in the area. Coun. Justin Doiron, chair of the technical services committee, said the city needed about a half dozen parcels of land and they were able to negotiate deals with some landowners,.but they were not able to strike a deal with the owners of four properties, so the city moved to expropriate them. "What those resolutions were tonight was serving notice of our intention to expropriate," Doiron said following a meeting of Summerside city council Monday night. Independent, third-party appraiser hired The vote on expropriation will be in February, Doiron said. In the meantime, the city will continue to negotiate with the landowners, which include one commercial and three residential lots, in an effort to come to a negotiated agreement. If no agreement is reached by next month's council meeting, the city will proceed with expropriation, he said. The city hired an independent, third-party appraiser to come up with a price for the land. Doiron said these are small parcels of land. "Nobody is going to have to relocate. It is minimal impact on homeowners, landowners and business owners," he said. 'We just want safety' Coun. Barb Ramsay said the intersection is dangerous. She is glad to see it's finally going to be fixed. "It's not lined up, there are no sidewalks, they've tried to adjust it a number of years ago. That didn't work," said Ramsay. "We just want safety for our residents." Construction is expected to begin on the new roundabout in the spring. The cost of the project is still not known. Doiron said the city has been trying to get this section of road upgraded for nearly three decades. "There has already been improvements to that intersection," said Doiron, adding that lanes at the intersection have been widened. "It's not like they haven't addressed the problem before; it's just population grows, traffic increases. It's time to really solve it for good." More from CBC P.E.I.
MILAN — AC Milan signed 34-year-old Mario Mandžukic on Tuesday, giving 39-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic support in attack for the Italian league leader’s title challenge. Milan said the Croatia veteran “agreed on a deal until the end of the current season with an option to extend the contract for the next one." Mandžukic returns to Serie A — where he won four straight titles with Juventus from 2015-19 — after a spell in Qatar with league winner Al-Duhail. Milan is seeking a first Serie A title for 10 years and leads by three points from city rival Inter. Milan is also in the Europa League round of 32 and faces Red Star Belgrade next month. Mandžukic will wear the No. 9 shirt, the club said. He won a Champions League title with Bayern Munich in 2013 and scored for Juventus in a 4-1 loss in the 2017 final against Real Madrid. Mandžukic is also the only player to score for both teams in a World Cup final, in Croatia’s 4-2 loss to France in 2018. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press
In a moment of nation-splintering turmoil, an incoming American president, Abraham Lincoln, travelled by train to his inauguration in Washington, D.C., in a nerve-racking ride cloaked in disguise as he faced threats to his life. Now, 160 years later, an incoming president has cancelled plans for a train ride to Washington. It was supposed to be a symbolic journey highlighting Joe Biden's decades-long habit of riding the rails to D.C. each day from his family home in Delaware. Instead, it has taken on a sad new symbolism, of an American capital clenched shut in fear of political violence at Wednesday's inauguration. The question nagging at residents here, and at security analysts, is whether the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was the worst of a passing storm, a one-off, or the start of a dark era of political violence. What's already clear is this will be no normal inauguration. The American capital has transformed into a heavily armed and tightly barricaded fortress. "Clearly, we are in uncharted waters," Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser told a news conference last week, urging tourists to stay away from her city during the inauguration. Fences are now up around Washington's downtown. Thousands of soldiers are patrolling the streets, bridges are blocked, parking garages are shut, bicycle-sharing services are suspended, Airbnb reservations are cancelled, and residents are being urged on neighbourhood chat groups against renting rooms to tourists. Suspicion strikes Capitol Hill neighbourhood Security concerns are most acute in the neighbourhood near the Capitol. Lawyer Matt Scarlato already has an overnight bag packed in case unrest spills into his neighbourhood and he's forced to flee the city with his family. He lives near one of the new security barriers near Capitol Hill, where police are forcing residents on some streets to show ID if they want to access their home. Scarlato was working from home the day of the riot in the Capitol building, when unexploded bombs were found near political party offices. He received a message from his son's daycare urging parents to immediately come pick up their children. Scarlato grabbed a baseball bat and tossed it in the car for the ride to the daycare. "It was a minute-by-minute escalation," Scarlato said. "We were all just sitting in the house saying, 'What the hell is going on?'" A longtime resident of the area, he compared the recent panic to a smaller-scale version of what he witnessed during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. On the day of the Capitol riot, he was concerned by the sight of an unfamiliar RV on his street given the reports of bombs in Washington and the recent explosion in Nashville. For her part, Monica Ingram, a retired health-care administrator, was rattled yesterday morning by the sound of helicopters hovering over the same Capitol Hill neighbourhood. Around that same time, the congressional precinct was ordered evacuated. The panic was the result of an explosion and fire nearby, caused by a propane tank in a homeless encampment. Ingram said people now look at each other differently, warily. Ingram saw a man taking pictures of streets near the Capitol the other day and she worried whether he was up to something nefarious. "We're suspicious of each other now. It's sad," she said. "It's very disheartening, upsetting. It's like I don't even know this country anymore." WATCH | Staff and media scramble as a blast goes off during inauguration rehearsal: Some call for indoor inauguration She's among the many people with mixed feelings about whether this inauguration should even be happening in public. Ultimately, she prefers it going forward, as opposed to moving to a makeshift indoor location, in order to deliver a message: that this country won't buckle in fear. There is, however, a part of her that hopes Biden might throw another inaugural party, a year from now, a real festive party, after this pandemic, and this panic. Biden should have a "redo" inauguration, she said. "It's so sad that president-elect Biden has to be sworn in like this. It should be a day of joy for this country." There's no guarantee this place will feel safer in a year. Mark Hertling, a retired lieutenant-general who led U.S. soldiers in Europe, said he worries about whether the United States is now entering an era of political insurgency. And he's not alone. One-time riot or preview of insurgency? Some analysts who study domestic political violence have warned for years (in thesis papers and books and government reports) that the conditions existed for an American insurgency on the right. Those conditions include a proliferation of guns, a surge in ex-military joining militia groups, two increasingly hostile political parties, and a split along racial and cultural lines in a rapidly diversifying country. A 2018 book, Alt-America, charts how membership in armed militia groups skyrocketed after the election of a first Black president, Barack Obama, in 2008, and these fringe groups began showing up at political protests. Alleged members of such militias are now accused of participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, where numerous people were dressed in paramilitary-themed clothing and several could be heard in the crowd warning they'd be back with weapons. "Welcome to the reality of other countries," said Greg Ehrie, who led FBI domestic terrorism units and is now vice-president of law enforcement and analysis at the Anti-Defamation League. "There is sort of an underlying belief that if we can get through Wednesday, this stops and then it moves on. And that's just not true.… This is going to be something we're going to be living with for several years — this heightened sense of security." Details released since the siege of the Capitol suggest things could have been worse. Jan. 6 could have been worse One man arrested that day allegedly had two guns and enough materials to make 11 Molotov cocktails, and another allegedly had a loaded gun, spare bullets and a gas mask. A federal prosecutor said one air force veteran who carried plastic handcuffs intended to take hostages. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City said in a YouTube video she believed she was going to die during the riot in the Capitol and that she experienced a traumatic event she declined to discuss: "Many, many, many members of Congress were almost murdered," she said in the video. "We were very lucky [to escape]." One police officer died as a result of injuries sustained during the riot. Another said he narrowly survived the angry mob and described how he was Tasered while some wanted to take his gun and kill him with it. Joseph Young, a professor at American University in D.C. who studies the factors that drive political violence, usually in other countries, said he is bothered by the trends he sees. "More and more, my work has been applicable to the United States," he said in an interview. "[And that's] troubling." A word of historical caution He said it's wrong, however, to conclude this is a more violent political era than the 1960s and 1970s. The U.S. experienced hundreds of terrorist attacks back then, from white-supremacist church bombings to political assassinations to the activities of the left-wing group Weather Underground, which bombed the Capitol, the State Department and other government buildings. But he's still worried about the current U.S. situation. As are the authorities preparing for inauguration day. The Pentagon has authorized the Washington, D.C., National Guard to carry weapons on domestic soil amid ongoing worries about the possible use of explosives. About 25,000 National Guard troops from D.C. and several states were expected to be part of the security operation. National Guard members are being screened themselves for any extremist affiliations. On Tuesday, Pentagon officials said 12 National Guard members were removed from securing Biden's inauguration after vetting by the FBI, including two who posted and texted extremist views about Wednesday's event. A Secret Service member was reportedly under investigation over political comments related to the Capitol riot posted on Facebook. Jared Holt, an expert who monitors extremist chatter online, said it has gotten quieter lately. He said he was extremely worried before Jan. 6 about the heated and violent rhetoric he saw in online platforms. People were posting tips for smuggling guns into Washington and maps of the underground tunnels connecting the Capitol to lawmakers' offices. Those same forums erupted in joy after the attack. "It was initially jubilation," said Holt, of the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Washington-based Atlantic Council think-tank. "They were thrilled. They felt incredibly accomplished. [Now], the cohesion between groups has eroded." It became clear within hours of the riot that it might backfire — against those involved and against Donald Trump. It failed to stop the vote to certify Biden's election win. Then it led to Trump's swift impeachment in the House. WATCH | Preparations underway to fortify U.S. capital ahead of inauguration day: Has the threat already receded? Some rioters in the Capitol who posted triumphant images of themselves on social media have been arrested or fired from their jobs, with their posts used as evidence against them. Social media platforms are either limiting extremist rhetoric and shutting out Trump, are offline altogether (Parler), or are unusually slow (Gab). Holt now worries that violent rhetoric is moving to tighter channels that are harder to monitor publicly, such as Telegram and other private messaging apps. So residents of Washington, D.C., and the country as a whole, enter this historic transition week in a fog of uncertainty, about whether they've just witnessed a dark passing moment in the life of the American republic or a sombre omen. "It looks like a police state down here. We've never seen it like this," Emilie Frank, a communications professional, said in an interview a few days ago, referring to the imposing concrete-and-metal labyrinth being erected downtown. "It would normally be bustling, everybody's excited [for the inauguration]. But it's silent, blocked off, police cars everywhere." She doesn't know if any of this will be necessary. But she'd rather have this than the under-preparation by authorities that the city witnessed on Jan. 6, she said. "So, even if it's just [for] show, it's better than nothing, I guess," she said. "If some people will be convinced they should stay away after seeing all this stuff in place, then that's good." WATCH | Ex-FBI agent on the new domestic terrorism:
ATHENS, Greece — Greece's coast guard says three men reported missing after a group of migrants were rescued in a remote part of the Aegean island of Lesbos have been found alive and well. A search and rescue operation was launched Tuesday morning after 24 people were found on the southern part of the island, while the body of one person was recovered. The three missing men were found in a coastal area later and were in good health. The group was believed to have arrived by boat from the nearby Turkish coast. The short but often perilous journey from the Turkish coast to nearby Greek islands has been one of the most popular routes into the European Union for people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Mideast, Africa and Asia. Many make the journey in unseaworthy and grossly overcrowded inflatable dinghies or other boats. A 2016 deal between the EU and Turkey stipulates that new arrivals be held on the islands pending deportation back to Turkey unless they successfully apply for asylum in Greece. The deal has led to massively overcrowded refugee camps on the Greek islands. The Associated Press
The company that operates the Eurostar rail service between the UK and mainland Europe has called for a UK government bailout following a collapse in travel. The train operator runs daily services through the Channel Tunnel between London, Paris and Brussels.View on euronews
Health officials in northern Quebec Cree communities are pleased with the early rollout of a region-wide vaccination campaign launched in a snowstorm over the weekend. Shipments of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine were delivered safely Saturday across the nine inland and coastal communities of Eeyou Istchee, the traditional name of the Cree territory in northern Quebec. "[Teams] were fully prepared ... as the vaccines arrived, everybody was set to go," said Bertie Wapachee, the chairperson of the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay. As the vaccines arrived, everybody was set to go. - Bertie Wapachee, Chairperson of CBHSSJB "We were very proud of our team. And I'm very grateful to have all of them on the ground," said Wapachee. Cases up in two Cree communities More than 3,000 vaccinations have already been administered across Eeyou Istchee, according to officials. That includes 1,200 advance doses sent to Mistissini and Oujé-Bougoumou, two communities currently dealing with outbreaks of the virus. On Monday, local officials confirmed there are 26 cases of COVID-19 in Oujé-Bougoumou and 25 in Mistissini, up from last week. "Vaccination is an important first step toward being able to finally put this pandemic behind us as a nation," said Grand Chief Abel Bosum, who was vaccinated last week in Oujé-Bougoumou. In Chisasibi, the largest of the Cree communities, more than 700 people had been vaccinated by 3 p.m. Monday, according to Jeannie Pelletier, who is the local director of the community's health clinic. "I believe the vaccine will help us, and I am happy that many [people] came," said Pelletier in Cree. She also reminded people of the importance of continuing with the measures in place, such as physical distancing and wearing a mask, even after they have been vaccinated. "I wish to tell people that this won't end soon, and we still need to be vigilant in keeping with the safety protocols that are in place to keep us all safe," she said. The launch of the territory-wide vaccination campaign has been months in the planning, according to Jason Coonishish, coordinator of the pre-hospital and emergency measures for the CBHSSJB. In recent weeks, the coordinating team has been meeting weekly to go over the logistics of the arrival of the doses and the transportation by air charter and car to the different communities across the vast territory. The vaccination campaign is expected to last eight weeks. "We've been doing this for many years since H1N1, and every year after that we've been having influenza vaccines," said Coonishish. "We know how to handle it and we're ready." Coonishish is confident as the campaign gathers momentum and more people share photos and stories of being vaccinated, more and more Cree will choose to receive the vaccine and protect their families.
The decision of Mayor Drew Dilkens to insert his voice into the sentencing hearing of a man convicted second degree murder for brutally beating of a senior on the Ganatchio Trail in October of 2017 is being questioned by some within the legal community. "I offer these remarks on behalf of the entire city for whom I am elected to lead," the statement written by Dilkens read. In October of 2017, Sara Anne Widholm was brutally attacked and beaten on the Ganatchio Trail -- she died over a year later. In December, after a two-week trial, 24-year-old Habibullah Ahmadi, who admitted to using cannabis and magic mushrooms the day of the crime, was convicted of second degree murder in her death. At last week's sentencing hearing, Dilkens provided a community impact statement — an unusual step for a mayor to take. "I actually asked if I could submit a community impact statement on behalf of the community as a whole and I don't think I'm alone when I say that when I heard the details of what had happened to Ms. Widholm on the Ganatchio Trail a couple of years ago, it really had a profound impact on me," Dilkens told the CBC. "I wanted to make sure the court understood what that impact was when reflecting on the sentence for the defendant." The community impact statement was given to Justice Bruce Thomas to help him decide how to sentence Ahmadi. It stands in contrast to more typical victim impact statements, as it is meant to show how the crime has affected the community as a whole, as opposed to a family member or someone close to the victim. Dilkens's statement is printed on city letter head and he exclaims it is made on behalf of the entire city he was elected to lead. Something needs to be done in our community to address the upsurge of drug use and homelessness and things that really affect these kinds of criminal activities occurring in the first place. - Linda McCurdy In the case of Ahmadi, the sentence for second degree murder is predetermined to be a life sentence with a minimum of 10 years before he can be considered for parole. So what Justice Thomas can determine is when he can be eligible for parole after that ten years. "Things like this -- the savage beating beating of Sara Anne -- 'just don't happen in Windsor'," one section of the statement reads. Ahmadi's defense lawyer Patricia Brown who was asking for the entire statement to be thrown out, took exception to that line in particular. "That particular statement is misleading. It could lead a person or an Ontario parole board that's reviewing Mr Ahmadi's case to potentially perceive that this is so heinous and so egregious that this doesn't happen here," Brown said. "All I did was a quick google search "Windsor- senior attack violence" and yes, Ahmadi's case comes up, but also so does other cases in our jurisdiction where senior citizens or other individuals who were vulnerable were attacked in our jurisdiction. And the question I had was: 'Where was the mayor then?'" As examples, Brown points toward an incident in 2016 where a man randomly attacked an 83 year old woman from behind on Ottawa street, stabbing her multiple times in the face, as well as a 2012 road rage incident where an 82 year old man was one of two people beaten. It seemed to fly in the face of all the protection of charter of rights that protect people who are charged with a crime from having to face more than already they're up against. - Melinda Munro Crown attorney Renee Puskas refused to speak for this story but in court she argued she saw nothing wrong with the '"just don't happen in Windsor" comment, the fact the phrase was written in parentheses showed it was meant to be rhetorical and the entire statement showed the emotional impact the crime had on the community. Justice Thomas agreed and allowed the statement in its entirety but added that he doesn't intend to give the mayor's statement more value that its worth or be distracted by it. Unconventional statement Dilkens recognizes the uniqueness of a mayor interjecting in a case in this manner. "I think its fair to say that it's somewhat unconventional for a mayor to wade into criminal matters, you just don't see that happen that often," he said. It is very rare, according to legal professionals CBC spoke with for this story. And they also question why the mayor would take this step. Melinda Munro, who is an advisor today but formerly practiced constitutional law, said she was stunned by the mayor's statement and called it inappropriate, pointing out Dilkens also sits as chair of the police services board. "For the mayor to speak in an official role as the government.... about the nature of that crime and about how that crime should affect the sentence that young man should serve, it seemed to fly in the face of all the protection of charter of rights that protect people who are charged with a crime. "They're up against the police and the Crown and now they're up against the mayor too?" Criminal lawyer Linda McCurdy agreed with Brown that she would not want for a letter like this to be filed against one of her clients. She said there were more constructive ways for the mayor to make statements about the crime. "This... convicted person at this point was on drugs and what effect does drugs have on the community, where is that in the impact statement, McCurdy said. "Something needs to be done in our community to address the upsurge of drug use and homelessness and things that really affect these kinds of criminal activities occurring in the first place." Why this case? Dilkens' perspective did not change when confronted with the criticism. He said the large community walk that was held after the attack moved him greatly. There he also heard from people in the community about how the crime had affected them. "Let's not gloss over the fact that a murder was committed and that murder impacts people in different ways," Dilkens said. "If I felt a profound impact about other criminal action that took place in the city, I would feel the same about writing a community impact statement for that as well."
AL-QAIM, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraq is tightening security along its 600 km (400 mile) border with Syria to curb the movement of Islamic State militants, drug smuggling and other illegal activities. Iraqi commanders on Monday toured the remote desert frontier controlled by various different forces, including the Iraqi military, Iran-aligned militias, the Syrian army, anti-Damascus rebels, and U.S.-backed Kurdish forces. The border is a flashpont for tension between Iran-backed groups and the United States, and is also tense because of Islamic State incursions and Turkish pressure on Kurdish rebel groups.
KABUL — Some 10 million children in war-ravaged Afghanistan are at risk of not having enough food to eat in 2021, a humanitarian organization said Tuesday and called for $1.3 billion in new funds for aid. Just over 18 million Afghans, including 9.7 million children, are badly in need of lifesaving support, including food, Save the Children said in a statement. The group called for $1.3 billion in donations to pay for assistance in 2021. Chris Nyamandi, the organization's Afghanistan country director, said Afghans are suffering under a combination of violent conflict, poverty and the virus pandemic. “It’s a desperately bad situation that needs urgent attention from the international community,” he said. The latest round of peace talks between the Taliban and Afghan government negotiators that began earlier this month in Qatar has been slow to produce results as concerns grow over a recent spike in violence across Afghanistan. The pandemic has also had a disastrous impact on millions of Afghan families. In 2020, the World Bank estimated that the pandemic had hugely disrupted imports, including vital household items, which in turn led to rapid inflation. The added health and economic strains of the pandemic have deepened the humanitarian impact across the country. Many Afghans also blame runaway government corruption and lawlessness for the country’s poor economy. The U.N. and its humanitarian partners will seek $1.3 billion in aid for 16 million Afghans in need this year, U.N. secretary-general spokesman Stephane Dujarric, said this month. That’s up from an estimated 2.3 million people last year who needed life-saving assistance. “It’s a huge increase in people who need aid,” he said. Nyamandi said that with no immediate end in sight to the decades-long conflict, millions of people will continue to suffer. “It’s especially hard on children, many of whom have known nothing but violence," he said. According to the U.N., nearly 6,000 people — a third of them children — were killed or wounded in fighting in Afghanistan between January and September last year, Nyamandi said. The violence continues to force hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes every year and limit people's access to resources including hospitals and clinics. In a Save the Children report in December, the group said more than 300,000 Afghan children faced freezing winter conditions that could lead to illness and death without proper winter clothing and heating. The organization provided winter kits to more than 100,000 families in 12 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces. The kits included fuel and a heater, blankets and winter clothes, including coats, socks, shoes and hats. Nyamandi said the plight of the Afghan people is threatened by inadequate humanitarian funding pledged by wealthy nations at a conference in Geneva in November. “Aid to Afghanistan has dropped alarmingly at a time when humanitarian need is rising. We’re now in the unsustainable position where aid falls far short of what’s needed to meet the needs of the people” he said. The London-based Save the Children report cites 10-year-old Brishna from eastern Nangarhar province as saying her family was forced to leave their home and move to another district because of the fighting. “Life is difficult," she said. “My father, who is responsible for bringing us food, is sick.” Brishna said she and her brother collect garbage for cooking fires and it has been a long time since they had proper food and clothes. “My siblings and I always wish to have three meals in a day with some fruits, and a better life. But sometimes, we sleep with empty stomachs. During the winter we don’t have blankets and heating stuff to warm our house,” she said. ___ This story has been corrected to show that the aid group is calling for $1.3 billion, not $3 billion in aid money. Rahim Faiez, The Associated Press
Ninety per cent of physicians would feel comfortable getting immunized against COVID-19 today, if they could. That’s according to Doctors Manitoba vaccination survey, which saw 507 physicians respond — 75 per cent of whom are in the Winnipeg region. Some physicians indicated they would wait to allow those "more at risk" to get immunized first, according to the survey. "I would say no to the vaccine today, because I think there’s others who need it first. But I do want it when there’s enough to go around," stated one physician. Overall, physicians are supportive of the vaccine and are eager to participate in its delivery, said Dr. Cory Baillie, president of Doctors Manitoba and a rheumatologist who works at the Manitoba Clinic. Conversations with the province have begun, he said. Included in the survey results shared with media is a public poll which found that 90 per cent of people would be willing to go to their physician’s office to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Baillie said that’s because doctors know their patients’ histories and patients trust them. Baillie also said vaccine hesitancy does exist, and the main concerns relate to how quickly vaccines have been developed, as well as there not being a lot of resources and educational material related to them. Social media hasn’t helped in that regard. "There’s no end to different theories that are available on different social media sites. Talk to your physician. Talk to a health-care provider who you can trust to get appropriate information," he said. "These vaccines were studied and are safe and our future out of the pandemic is going to be essential on getting enough Manitobans immunized." According to the survey, doctors want more information about vaccines regarding safety and effectiveness. "In the survey, and one of the things I found particularly helpful about it, was that they outlined what types of tools physicians would find most useful when it comes to vaccine information," Dr. Joss Reimer said at Monday’s provincial news conference. Reimer is a member of Manitoba’s vaccination task force. "We’re going to take the information that they provided and take that back to the task force, to start looking at how we might be able to develop, in partnership, some of those tools, because we absolutely want our physicians, our nurses, our pharmacists, and all of our other immunizers to have every tool that they need to provide accurate information to their patients, to their clients, and to help inform Manitobans about this vaccine to demonstrate how safe and effective it is," she said. Tools include fact sheets and brochures, frequently asked questions, posters, webinars, videos and podcasts. Reimer also noted that for those few patients where there might be some risks that need to be considered, it’s important physicians have the tools to be able to have that conversation with them. The Doctors Manitoba survey results can be read at bit.ly/3sDHXSU Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
JOHANNESBURG — South Africa's trailblazing Black food writer Dorah Sitole's latest cookbook was widely hailed in December as a moving chronicle of her journey from humble township cook to famous, well-travelled author. The country's new Black celebrity chefs lined up to praise her as a mentor who encouraged them to succeed by highlighting what they knew best: tasty African food. Now they are mourning Sitole's death this month from COVID-19. She was 65. In “40 Years of Iconic Food,” Sitole engagingly described how she quietly battled South Africa's racist apartheid system to find appreciation, and a market, for African cuisine. Her book became a holiday bestseller, purchased by Blacks and whites alike. Sitole's career started in 1980 at the height of apartheid when she was hired by a canned foods company to promote sales of their products by giving cooking classes in Black townships. She found that she loved the work. In 1987, Sitole became the country's first Black food writer when she was appointed food editor for True Love, one of the few publications for the country's Black majority. The magazine, and its competitor Drum, were known for giving Black writers, photographers and editors the freedom to write about the Black condition and experience. With stories that were about much more than food, Sitole described how traditional African dishes brought pleasure to families and communities in troubled times. She was known for her distinctive takes on well-known recipes and tips on how to make them on a budget. She won an avid readership and became a household name, even as South Africa's townships were roiled by anti-apartheid violence. When apartheid ended and Nelson Mandela became president in 1994, Sitole found new opportunities. She trained as a Cordon Bleu chef and got a diploma in marketing. She travelled across Africa to learn about the continent's cuisine, producing the book “Cooking from Cape to Cairo.” In interviews, she pointed out her East African fish dish with basmati rice that she developed while travelling through that region, and the seafood samp recipe, which is basically a paella using chopped corn kernels instead of the traditional rice. In 2008, Sitole's success was acknowledged when she was appointed True Love's editor-in-chief. Sitole's warmth and generosity is credited with opening doors for many Black chefs, food writers and influencers who are thriving in South Africa today. “Mam (mother) Dorah’s approach to food was a mixture of things. First, it was something that was driven by her background, she was very true to who she was," said Siba Mtongana, one of South Africa's brightest new chefs, who started out as food editor for Drum magazine and now has a television series and cookbooks. “She would take what we grew up eating and add a twist to them, and add flavours that we would not ordinarily have thought of putting together,” said Mtongana who has opened a restaurant in Cape Town, featuring food from all over Africa. She said Sitole imbued her with a passion for exposing the world to Africa's many cuisines saying she loved describing to her readers what others enjoy eating across Africa, and around the world. Another chef who credits Sitole for assisting her is Khanya Mzongwana, a contributing editor for food retailer Woolworths’ Taste magazine. “Mam Dorah wore so many hats — she was a writer, a creator, a mother, a friend, a real artist. I remember just how awesome it was to see a Black woman blazing trails in food media. Nobody was doing that," said Mzongwana. “What made Mam Dorah the best was definitely how she could fill a space with pleasantness," said Mzongwana. “She was so generous with her resources and wanted to see all of us — her daughters — win. Paying it forward in meaningful ways is something I saw Mam Dorah do first," she said. “She loved and respected everybody and made what seemed like such a wild dream appear so reachable and normal. She was one of the most impactful Black women in the food world.” Sitole received numerous awards for her contribution to South African culture. In one of her last interviews, Sitole said the highlight of her four-decade career was her trip across the continent. “I had always wanted to travel through Africa and I had no clue what to expect," she said on Radio 702. "It was almost like you don’t know what you are going into, and then you find it. I loved every moment and every country that I went to, I loved the food and the experience." Sitole is survived by her children Nonhlanhla, Phumzile and Ayanda. Mogomotsi Magome, The Associated Press
India is considering revising its foreign investment rules for e-commerce, three sources and a government spokesman told Reuters, a move that could compel players, including Amazon.com Inc, to restructure their ties with some major sellers. The government discussions coincide with a growing number of complaints from India's bricks-and-mortar retailers, which have for years accused Amazon and Walmart Inc-controlled Flipkart of creating complex structures to bypass federal rules, allegations the U.S. companies deny. India only allows foreign e-commerce players to operate as a marketplace to connect buyers and sellers.
PRISTINA, Kosovo — A court in Kosovo on Tuesday acquitted a dozen former government officials of misusing public money in benefits payments to people who hadn't fought during the 1998-1999 war. The Pristina court said that the 12 defendants, who included former ministers and lawmakers, couldn't be blamed for the illegal payments to around 19,000 fake war veterans, as the prosecutor’s office had charged them in 2018. The prosecutor's office said the state budget suffered 68 million euros ($79 million at the time) in losses claimed improperly from people falsely presenting themselves to be war veterans. Kosovo offers benefits to former fighters of the 1998-1999 war for independence from Serbia. A NATO-led air campaign in 1999 forced Serb troops out of Kosovo where an armed uprising by the ethnic Albanian majority population fought for independence. At the time, Kosovo was run by the United Nations until 2008 when it declared independence that Serbia refuses to recognize. The Associated Press
The Vancouver School Board is getting a failing grade from some parents who say their children aren't getting enough class time in high school. This perceived instructional deficit has them worried about their kids' academic prospects in the future and their mental health today. "Once we realized how short school hours would be, we really struggled," said Corinne Hohl, an emergency room physician whose son Mathias is a Grade 8 student at Kitsilano Secondary. "My child has gone from an outgoing, joyous, happy 13-year-old to a sullen, depressed, anxious, socially isolated, vulnerable teen … He's not doing very well." The same is true for Nathan Hume's Grade 8 daughter Isla who attends Churchill Secondary. Hume said Isla is getting 105 minutes of instructional time each day — eight hours and 45 minutes each week — plus unsupervised homework and twice-weekly hour-long music classes until February. Hume, a lawyer, says Isla only gets one-third of the instruction time required by B.C.'s School Act and much less than what students get in North Vancouver, Burnaby and Surrey. The school boards of those cities said they offer at least 23 hours of instructional time each week, sometimes split between in-class and online learning. "This was not identified in the VSB restart plan," Hume said. "Kids need to learn and they can learn safely." The parents want Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside to order the VSB to provide more educational time. Minister, VSB respond Whiteside, in a statement, said she shares the concerns of the Vancouver parents. She said a review of Vancouver's instructional model, involving parents, students, Indigenous voices and unions, is underway . "It is my expectation that VSB and all school districts adhere to the amount of instructional hours specified in the School Act," Whiteside said. "I'm hopeful that the VSB can provide solutions to its instruction model to ensure appropriate delivery of an education program that meets the needs of their communities." The focus during the second phase of B.C.'s restart, she added, should be on delivering classes in person, but online classes are acceptable for meeting the requirements. The Vancouver School Board confirmed an evaluation is underway. "As the District's Ministry of Education-approved Phase 2 plan was developed, it included input from students, families, school administrators, teachers and support staff," the board said. "The plan prioritizes the health and safety of students and staff, keeps students connected to their home school and preserves students' choice of courses." 'Decision making by fear' Hohl and Hume believe fear of COVID-19 transmission in schools is what has driven the VSB's approach. They both noted there have been few outbreaks in schools so far, and health officials have repeatedly said schools are not driving transmission. "This has been decision making by fear and not by public health," Hohl said. "Whether or not kids can go to school should not be up to a public opinion survey." Hume said he is most concerned about the social and emotional impacts felt by his daughter. She barely sees her friends, he said. Academically, he said, she is missing out on writing and physics instruction, core aspects of the curriculum. One solution, he said, would be to further develop online instruction, so students can learn from a teacher, even if being in the same room is impossible. He and Hohl say they worry about older kids preparing to go to university and how they will stack up against kids who have received a fuller education. Hohl added that disconnection from a school environment is a poor sign when it comes to mental health and addiction issues. "There is no vaccine for mental health outcomes. There is no vaccine for addiction outcomes," she said. "We can't do this another year. We really can't." CBC Vancouver's Impact Team investigates and reports on stories that impact people in their local community and strives to hold individuals, institutions and organizations to account. If you have a story for us, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Albertans logged hundreds of rat reports in 2020, double a typical year, but it's not necessarily because more pests are scurrying around the province. Norway rats are considered to be extremely destructive — they can carry disease and eat through valuable crops. For more than 70 years the province has been determined to stop these pests from calling Alberta home, concentrating efforts along the Saskatchewan border, banning the animals as pets, and investigating any hint of a rat inside the province's borders. Out of 481 rat reports, just 17 turned out to be the real deal last year. Karen Wickerson, specialist with Alberta's Rat Control Program, said the province set up an email in 2020 which helps turn around a case faster than the 310-RATS number. The new reporting method could have helped bolster reporting numbers last year. "When they're out in the environment outside, they have their phones with them and so they can easily take out their phone and email us in a photo, and then we can respond very quickly and tell them which species it is," Wickerson said. "If it is a confirmed rat then we can contact the appropriate people and have them go out and investigate." Wickerson said while Albertans are diligent about reporting rats they usually get it wrong. "What I've noticed about Albertans is they feel a really strong responsibility to report a rat sighting because they know that we are rat-free, which is great," Wickerson said. "Because we don't have a resident population of rats in Alberta, they don't know what a rat looks like." Muskrats more common About half of the sightings in 2020 turned out to be muskrats. But Wickerson doesn't mind. "I'd rather have 100 muskrat emails and, you know, not miss out on a rat sighting or a confirmed rat than people think, 'oh, it might be a muskrat, I'm not going to send an email,'" she said. She added there may be an educational campaign coming in the spring to help Albertans better identify what rats look like. For her, the difference between a waddling muskrat, and a scurrying rat is night and day — but she has daily practice identifying the critters that land in her inbox. It's unclear if the pandemic played a role in last year's rat sightings. Dr. Kaylee Byers is the Regional Deputy Director with the B.C. Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative. She's also a researcher with the Vancouver rat program. Byers said throughout the pandemic rats made headlines. The pests were seen in the daylight, reportedly on the move scouring the streets for scraps of food as more humans retreated indoors. "We would certainly expect to see some changes in rat behaviours in relation to major changes in the environment," Byers said. "What exactly those have looked like? All of those reports have been largely anecdotal." Rat research still in its infancy Byers said in many areas there aren't baseline studies or statistics to help better understand what kinds of effects the pandemic has had on rat populations. Rats are notoriously hard to research, as studying wild ones means catching them, sometimes more than once to monitor behaviour. "Wouldn't it have been nice if we were set up to study this in advance?" Byers said. "The way we answer these kinds of questions is through having systems of reporting so we can say whether or not rat sightings have gone up or down." Alberta's Saskatchewan border is patrolled several times a year to check rats aren't crossing over into the province. Rats can't live in mountainous areas, which is good as it keeps British Columbia rats at bay. But, Wickerson said the rodents are crafty hitchhikers. Out of the 26 rats found in 2020, many rode into Alberta on transport trucks or even personal vehicles, which is something Wickerson hopes to work on. There's also been a trend of rats ending up at recycling centres across the province. Wickerson said in Calgary, a family drove from Vancouver Island back to Calgary, making a stop in Kelowna before parking their SUV inside their garage at home. The next morning the homeowner found a rat dead in the garage, floating in a pail of water. Rats like to hitchhike "Check your vehicle when you come back from B.C. so that it doesn't increase our risk of rats entering into the province," Wickerson said, adding many Albertans own property in the neighbouring province. Wickerson hopes to collect more data on rats found in Alberta, mapping out where they are found, recording their specific species, all to see if she can tease out a pattern. "Location, urban-rural, the type of rat and then where it was reported, I'll put in the GPS location, alive or dead, how many, that sort of thing," Wickerson said. "I would like someone to come along, like a grad student, to do a study."
Despite a glitch in text messaging for the Brandon vaccination site, COVID -19 vaccinations took place as planned Monday morning. Joanna Robb, who works at Shared Health’s Westman Regional Laboratory, was the first to be vaccinated yesterday morning. Kirsten Boyce, Robb’s co-worker, was the second. They booked their appointments without issue early last week. Both say no one in their workplace had any issues with booking their appointments. The two, along with others in their workplace, work with body-fluid samples, primarily screening for cancer and pre-cancerous changes. “We’ve already started to see body fluids coming through where it says COVID-positive,” Robb said. As to how they felt about being vaccinated, they both said they were happy to receive the vaccine. Robb said she’s the one in the lab following all the daily numbers. She has a co-worker with family in Saskatchewan who hasn’t seen her parents since the summer. Robb has three children, including a daughter in Grade 12, who is experiencing a tumultuous final year in school. “Everything is just upside-down and to just have this hope that the vaccine is actually happening here in Brandon, now, it’s hopeful. It’s definitely moving the right way. If we could just give everyone a vaccine, like the Amazon dropoff, that would be great,” Robb said. “If there was just a way for everyone that wanted a vaccine, if they could get one … But, we have to be patient and wait.” However, Robb acknowledges how amazing it is that one year after COVID-19 began its spread, vaccines are being deployed. “It’s happening,” she said. “We’ve discussed it amongst ourselves, co-workers, and we talked to our clinical microbiologist — I always say he’s my panic button. If he panics, I panic. So, as long as he’s keeping his calm demeanour, I’m always good. Everyone was working for the same goal. I have confidence in it.” Boyce said her experience was also “easy peasy.” “Seeing how we just heard that they’re paring things back for now, I’m just so, so grateful to have the opportunity to be one of the people that actually gets it so soon. I’m super excited to get this done. I was talking with my family last night … My brother is like, ‘I have major vaccine envy,’” Boyce said. The province is not taking new appointment bookings, due to Pfizer announcing a slowdown in vaccine production, but all appointments currently booked will be honoured. Dr. Joss Reimer said Monday afternoon at the province’s daily COVID-19 update they are recalibrating the coming weeks as a result of that announcement. Robb said the flow through the various stations at the Keystone vaccination site went smoothly. Neither Robb nor Boyce felt the effects of the text issue, which sent the address of the Winnipeg vaccination site for their Brandon appointments. They both knew where they were booked. PetalMD, the company being paid $436,400 to manage COVID-19 screening services for the province, made that text mistake, and were lambasted in emails between provincial employees. “Per Adam’s note — we are now creating a process where we are checking PedalMD’s work. This is the same organization used by over 37,000 doctors across Canada. They are the largest, most reputable player in the space. They have now done this to us — twice. We are going to put them on training heels,” wrote Paul Beauregard to a list of several government employees. In the email thread, contractual penalties are discussed. NDP leadership has an issue with the government and PedalMD. They say this is one more glaring example of mistakes being made during the pandemic. “I think that this is another mistake in the vaccine rollout from the government. I think the average Manitoban probably understands that everyone makes mistakes sometimes, but it does seem pretty odd that the government seems to be making so many mistakes so many times when it comes to the vaccine rollout, whether it was wasting doses or long waits on the phone, trouble booking appointments, and then, now, messing up the messaging of the addresses a few times,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. “In the emails, you see the government admitting themselves that they’ve made some mistakes, more than once. They’ve done it again. It causes concern, because at the end of the day it was health-care workers and other people at the front of the vaccine line in Brandon, who are caused unnecessary stress and confusion.” The province, via a spokesperson, admitted appointment reminder texts were sent with an incorrect address to 558 people with vaccination Monday appointments at the Keystone Centre. “The human error was quickly addressed by a followup text. Government is conducting a review to ensure the service provider is held accountable and that the mistake does not occur again. People with appointments are asked to keep them as scheduled,” the spokesperson stated. The Brandon site is set to deliver its vaccines as planned, two trays with 1,170 vaccines per tray. Both Robb and Boyce have appointments for their second mandated dose. As for possible reopening plans after current critical code red public health orders expire Friday night, Dr. Brent Roussin said more information would be forthcoming later in the week. MONDAY’S COVID-19 UPDATE The COVID-19 update from the province on Monday saw four additional deaths listed, none from the Prairie Mountain Health region. The province reported 118 new cases, as follows: • 11 cases in the Interlake–Eastern health region; • 46 cases in the Northern health region; • seven in the Prairie Mountain Health region; • nine cases in the Southern Health–Santé Sud health region; and • 45 cases in the Winnipeg health region. The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate was 10.6 per cent in the province, and 7.3 per cent in Winnipeg. Lab-confirmed cases in Manitoba total 27,629, with 773 deaths or 2.8 per cent. The province reports 3,108 active cases, with 23,748 individuals who have recovered from COVID-19. The province has advised the active case count is less, and that number will better reflect the correct number soon. The province also reported 135 people are in hospital with active COVID-19, as well as 154 people in hospital with COVID-19 who are no longer infectious but continue to require care, for a total of 289 hospitalizations. Twenty-three people are in intensive care units with active COVID-19, as well as 12 people with COVID-19 who are no longer infectious but continue to require critical care, for a total of 35 ICU patients. In the Prairie Mountain Health region, there are 203 active cases, with 1,567 recovered. There are 13 people hospitalized, with one patient in ICU, and a total of 43 deaths. Brandon’s active case count is 66, with 821 recovered and 19 deaths. On Thursday, 1,322 tests were completed, for a total of 453, 481 since February, 2020. » Source: Province of Manitoba PRAIRIE MOUNTAIN HEALTH OUTBREAK NUMBERS As of Jan. 18, the status of COVID-19 outbreaks in Prairie Mountain Health were as follows: • Brandon Correctional Centre: 108 total cases, 18 staff infected, 90 non-staff infected, one active case, 107 recovered, zero death. • McCreary/Alonsa Health Centre: 43 total cases, 14 staff infected, 29 non-staff infected, 30 active cases, nine recovered, four deaths. • Fairview Personal Care Home: 109 total cases, 41 staff infected, 68 non-staff infected, 0 active cases, 92 recovered, 17 deaths. • Grandview Personal Care Home: 37 total cases, 12 staff infected, 25 residents infected, 0 active cases, 32 recovered, five deaths. • St. Paul’s Personal Care Home: one total cases, one staff infected, 0 residents infected, one active case, 0 recovered, 0 deaths. • Dauphin Regional Health Centre medicine unit: No information Note: An outbreak is considered over one incubation period (14 days) after the final active case. » Source: Province of Manitoba VACCINATION UPDATE To date, 17,751 doses of vaccine have been administered, including 15,607 first doses and 2,144 second doses. Manitoba’s focused immunization teams continue to immunize residents at personal care homes across the province. First doses of the vaccine will now be given to all eligible residents by the end of January, more than a week ahead of initial projections. Last week, teams visited 10 personal care homes, and all consenting and eligible personal care home residents were immunized with their first dose. This week, residents at 51 personal care homes will be immunized throughout the province. All new appointments were paused on Jan. 15 due to the uncertainty caused by the Pfizer vaccine supply disruption. However, Manitoba has revised its updated projections based on new forecasts received from the federal government detailing the revised vaccine delivery schedules. Manitoba will release additional details on the next steps of its immunization campaign later this week. » Source: Province of Manitoba Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun