Skipping rocks along a frozen surface will produce a sound that's sure to impress your friends!
Skipping rocks along a frozen surface will produce a sound that's sure to impress your friends!
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
THE LATEST: B.C. recorded 485 new cases of COVID-19 and four deaths on Wednesday. There are currently 4,299active cases in B.C., including 303 people in hospital, 74 in the ICU. 124,365 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in B.C., 4,160 of which were second doses. Premier John Horgan promised COVID-19 rule-breakers he will "come down on you like a ton of bricks." But B.C. won't follow Manitoba's lead in implementing mandatory quarantine for out-of-province visitors. B.C. has detected six cases of the variant from the U.K. and three cases from South Africa. The province will not be receiving new doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines next week. Second doses of the vaccine will now be administered 42 days after the first, instead of 35, in order to vaccinate as many vulnerable people as possible. On Wednesday, health officials announced 485 new cases of COVID-19 and four more deaths. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix issued a written statement saying there are now 4,299 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C. Of those, 303 people are in hospital, including 74 in intensive care. To date, B.C. has confirmed 65,719 cases of COVID-19, including 1,172 people who have died. Wednesday's update also included a new outbreak at Glenwood Seniors Community in Agassiz and another at the Fraser Regional Correctional Centre. Premier John Horgan held his weekly COVID-19 briefing earlier Wednesday, promising those who are flouting public health orders and advice that officials will "come down on you like a ton of bricks." He also spoke at length about two Vancouverites accused of chartering a plane to a remote Yukon community and posing as motel employees to get early access to the Moderna vaccine. The premier said that behaviour is "un-Canadian" and said British Columbians all feel "contempt" for them. But Horgan did not announce any new enforcement measures on Wednesday, and said B.C. will not follow Manitoba's lead and bring in mandatory 14-day quarantines for people visiting from out of province. Vaccine status So far, 124,365 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been given out in B.C., including 4,160 second doses. Henry has said that over the weekend the province received further updates on future shipments of vaccinations — and that B.C. will not be receiving new doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines over the next two weeks. As a result of the shortage, second doses of the vaccine will be delayed until 42 days after the first, rather than 35, in order to provide protection to a greater number of people. The last update from the B.C. Centre for Disease Control confirmed six cases of the variant first reported in the U.K. and three cases of the variant first seen in South Africa. Henry said all cases of the variant from the U.K. are travel-related, but none of the variants first detected in South Africa have been linked to travel. The province has ramped up screening for the faster-spreading coronavirus variants of concern. Interior clusters grow Meanwhile, more COVID-19 cases have been linked to community clusters related to social gatherings and Big White Ski Resort near Kelowna. Interior Health says 46 new cases linked to a cluster first identified Jan. 20 in the Williams Lake area have been identified. Thirteen staff at Cariboo Memorial Hospital have also tested positive, but Interior Health says the hospital is safe to visit for appointments or emergency care. An additional 11 cases have been linked to a community cluster at Big White Ski Resort, bringing the total number of cases there to 225. New travel measures coming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that new pandemic measures for travel are coming and Canadians should cancel any travel plans. Trudeau said that even though existing travel control measures have been effective in keeping the number of infections low, more effort will be needed going forward. "Obviously, extremely low is still not zero and one case is too many if we're importing, particularly considering the variants out there," Trudeau said. Trudeau also sought to reassure Canadians that vaccine shots will continue to arrive even as the European Union threatens protectionist measures to limit the export of doses abroad. He said he received assurances this morning from Stéphane Bancel, the CEO of Moderna, that that company will meet its promised delivery timelines — 230,400 doses are slated to arrive next week. READ MORE: What's happening elsewhere in Canada As of 10 p.m. PT on Monday, Canada had reported 757,448 cases of COVID-19, and 19,238 total deaths. Canada's COVID-19 situational awareness dashboard was not updated on Tuesday. A total of 62,447 cases are considered active. What are the symptoms of COVID-19? Common symptoms include: Fever. Cough. Tiredness. Shortness of breath. Loss of taste or smell. Headache. But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia. What should I do if I feel sick? Use the B.C. Centre for Disease Control's COVID-19 self-assessment tool. Testing is recommended for anyone with symptoms of cold or flu, even if they're mild. People with severe difficulty breathing, severe chest pain, difficulty waking up or other extreme symptoms should call 911. What can I do to protect myself? Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Keep them clean. Keep your distance from people who are sick. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Wear a mask in indoor public spaces. More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.
Nous sommes vendredi, en début d’après-midi. La température se fait un peu plus clémente que dans les derniers jours. Tammy est assise en compagnie d’autres itinérants, tout juste à côté de la halte-chaleur du Book Humanitaire, qui ouvrira plus tard ce soir. Je m’assois près d’elle. Tammy a 52 ans. Ça ne fait que quatre mois qu’elle vit dans la rue. Pendant la pandémie, des membres de sa famille sont tombés malades et elle a perdu son emploi. « À chaque mois, je pleure de savoir que je suis encore ici. C’est difficile. » Heureusement, les services offerts lui sont bénéfiques. Elle partage son temps entre l’extérieur, l’église Sainte-Paule et la halte-chaleur. Tammy côtoie des dizaines d’itinérants et indique voir de plus en plus de nouveaux visages. Ce n’est pas un hasard : la demande a grandement augmenté dans les derniers mois. Le CISSS des Laurentides nous informe qu’avant la pandémie, le refuge d’urgence ne possédait que neuf lits. Aujourd’hui, ce nombre s’élève à 25. Selon les échos reçus sur le terrain, le refuge de l’église Sainte-Paule, dirigé par Fleur de Macadam, accueillerait même jusqu’à 30 personnes par nuit. « On fait la file d’attente. Les premiers en ligne sont les premiers à l’intérieur », m’explique Tammy. Devant l’impossibilité d’abriter tout le monde, la halte-chaleur offre une option complémentaire. « L’église, c’est un peu comme la maison et ici, on est le chalet », illustre Chantal Dumont, bénévole au Book Humanitaire. La veille du premier couvre-feu, Rachel Lapierre, présidente-fondatrice de l’organisme, me confiait qu’à chaque nuit, environ 20 à 28 personnes utilisaient en alternance la halte-chaleur. Le 20 janvier, ils étaient 38. Au matin, les itinérants peuvent normalement se diriger vers l’église Sainte-Paule où une nouvelle offre de jour, portée par l’organisme du Centre de jour de Saint-Jérôme, est proposée depuis le mois de novembre. Sophie, une intervenante, s’y implique sans relâche, jour après jour. On y sert des jus, du café, des pâtisseries et des diners. Lors de notre passage, une vingtaine de personnes s’y retrouvaient. Certains dormaient sur des chaises installées à leur disposition, alors que d’autres dessinaient sur les tables. Sophie me confie qu’il lui arrive de recevoir une quarantaine de personnes en même temps, l’espace étant aménagé pour faire respecter les consignes sanitaires du mieux possible. « On est pas mal occupés. C’est beaucoup à gérer », reconnait-elle. D’ailleurs un manque de personnel, mis de pair avec l’achalandage important, empêche le lieu d’ouvrir sept jours sur sept, com-me il serait souhaité. Le CISSS des Laurentides nous indique qu’un financement additionnel a récemment été octroyé pour l’embauche d’intervenants supplémentaires. Devant la demande significative, ces services sont-ils suffisants? Bien que les efforts soient significatifs, il ne serait pas réaliste de croire, de manière générale, qu’il y a suffisamment de places. « Moi je n’y crois pas, parce que je vois les gens avoir froid dehors, parce qu’on m’appelle pour me dire qu’il y a un itinérant couché sur le boulevard Labelle, ou un autre à Sainte-Agathe », affirme Rachel Lapierre. L’application du couvre-feu a d’ailleurs entraîné de nouveaux défis, en plus de mettre en lumière certaines problématiques d’accessibilité aux services en région. En effet, il peut s’avérer difficile de se connecter rapidement à des services dans les Laurentides, lesquels sont principalement centralisés à Saint-Jérôme. « Ce n’est pas facile pour tout le monde de trouver des refuges en ce moment. Si tu es à Sainte-Agathe et il est 20h, tu fais quoi? », questionne Rachel Lapierre. Pour sa part, Tammy m’indique que tant qu’elle reste sur le site de l’église Sainte-Paule, elle ne risque pas d’avoir de problèmes. « Le couvre-feu, si on ne sort pas de la cour, je ne suis pas inquiète. » À la toute fin de notre échange, elle me remercie gentiment de lui avoir donné la parole et me souhaite une excellente journée.Ève Ménard, Initiative de journalisme local, Journal Accès
Few things are more difficult than losing a loved one. For the community, a leader, friend and colleague are lost, and for the family, a mentor and loved one are gone, leaving only memories in their place. The pandemic has added an additional dimension to loss, making it difficult to participate in the traditional customs that help us share the burden of grief; to gather, offer comfort and recall favourite stories and memories. Ken Bridge is still mourned by the community in which he had such a profound and lasting impact. Born in Kincardine to Gordon and Evelyn Bridge, Bridge entered the world on Apr. 27, 1954. He attended Hillsdale SS#3 until it closed, then transferred to KTTPS. His high school years were spent at KDSS. In his youth, Bridge read all of James Herriot’s books, including All Creatures Great and Small, the semi-autobiographical story of a rural veterinarian practicing in Yorkshire, England. The story had a profound effect on Bridge, and when it was time to choose a career and move on to post-secondary education, he knew this life was for him. After high school, he attended the University of Guelph. It was while he attended U of G in 1977 that his father passed away, after a tragic farm accident. Bridge would eventually purchase a farm and land on the Southline, next to where he grew up. He went on to graduate in June of 1980 with his Bachelor of Science degree and Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine. After graduating, Bridge returned to the area, first practicing veterinary medicine in Port Elgin. It was his wish to return to his farm, so just two years after graduation, he became a partner, and later the owner of, the Ripley-Huron Veterinary Clinic and Lucknow Huron Veterinary Services. In 1997, he opened up another veterinary office in Port Elgin to complete his fleet – Huron Shores Veterinary Services. Bridge shared his passion for working with animals with his children, leading two of the four to follow in his footsteps. Both Robyn and Rebecca obtained their certifications as registered veterinary technicians and worked alongside their father for many years. “He absolutely loved his work and his dedication to the profession was always so important,” said his beloved partner, Bev Ponton. “He loved solving tough cases. One of his greatest joys as a veterinarian was getting a live calf after a difficult calving.” Bridge played an active role in the community in which he lived and worked. As a veterinarian, he continued his association with the 4-H club, having participated as a young man. He continued the work of his father, by serving as a leader of the Ripley 4-H Veterinary Club for 36 years, as well as volunteering with a number of others. His father had led the Ripley-Kincardine 4-H Dairy Club for 29 years. He was a member of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, as well as on the council of the College of Veterinarians of Ontario, serving as president on both boards – an accomplishment achieved by few people. Bridge served as a member of the CVMA-CFIA Canadian Veterinary Reserve, as a director on the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario, member of the Ontario Association of Bovine Practitioners, Grey-Bruce Veterinary Association and Ontario Federation of Agriculture. He enjoyed farming beef, sheep and cash crop on the Southline from 1977 to 2011. He was passionate about agriculture and proud of the farms he owned. Bridge also had a keen interest in off-grid power generation and had an off-grid home custom built in 2012. His home harvested power from solar panels and wind energy with a propane back up system. As a respected community member, Bridge was an active church member, volunteer and family man. He was an active member of the St. Andrew’s United Church in Ripley, serving as an elder from 1985 – 1990 and 2006 – 2012. He sat on the West Wawanosh Mutual Insurance Company board of directors and was a mason and member of the Northern Light Lodge, No. 93. Dave Leigh, a long-time friend, described “Bridgey” as a man on the go. He valued education, knowledge and a strong work ethic. While Bridge was a savvy businessman, he also had a compassionate, caring side that was reflected in how he treated his clients and their animals. “If they loved their animal and yet had no money, he treated the animal anyways,” said Leigh. “My heart swelled with that. Generosity would not be the right word – just extraordinary kindness. Very few in this world will work for free but he did, knowing full well he was not getting anything for the effort.” His pride and joy were his four children, Robyn, Gordon (Sandy), Brian and Rebecca and his partner, Bev. His six grandchildren were a constant source of pleasure, and a captive audience for his stories about days gone by. Bridge retired in 2014, but his daily schedule was no lighter; it simply gave him more time to pursue other interests. He could be found tinkering in his shop, touring around in his Ford T-Model, visiting friends, enjoying walks and observing the wildlife on his bush property. He became an avid gardener and fed his entire family with the fruits of his labour for several years in a row. Other pursuits included more time to play chess, studying history and planting trees. He continued to provide locum work, after his retirement, for the Ripley-Huron Veterinary Clinic right up until the time he was diagnosed with leukemia in Nov. 2019. His children and friends recall that he didn’t live his life by any single mantra or philosophy, instead, by several rules of thumb. “Family was so important to him – “family first” was a favourite saying of his, and whenever we would seek life advice from him, that was commonly the answer he would give,” said Rebecca. “He advised his children, ‘Never forget who you are or where you came from’.” Bridge was a role model for his beliefs and values, impressing on his children the value of hard work and the need to give back to the community, show compassion towards patients and their owners, be selfless and kind to those close to you and those in need of support. “He stood strong for what he believed in and had faith,” said Ponton. “He used humour to lighten and enlighten. He lived a life where he loved and cared for the people in his life and gave back to the community with his skills as a veterinarian/own personal life experiences.” Bridge was well-known for his signature ‘thumbs up’, a gesture that all was well and would be okay. On Nov. 12, 2020, Bridge lost his battle with the leukemia he had fought so valiantly against for the past year. In typical fashion, he requested that donations to Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Grey-Bruce Health Services in Owen Sound or the Farley Foundation be made in his memory, in lieu of flowers. The family, unable to gather because of COVID restrictions, set up an email account, firstname.lastname@example.org, and invited anyone with a story to share to reach out to them. They were overwhelmed by the number of people who contributed happy memories and tales, and were grateful for the support they provided. The family hopes that at some time in the not-to-distant future, all the people whose lives he touched will be able to gather and remember a man with many accomplishments, great humour and wisdom. “Sadly, cancer had caught up to this beautiful person at age 66 – way too young,” said Leigh. “He fought courageously but he knew when the time was up. He left a great legacy of family to carry on and sometimes, that is what counts.” Tammy Lindsay Schneider, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Kincardine Independent
The latest news on COVID-19 developments in Canada (all times eastern): 10:45 a.m. Ontario's new daily case count of COVID-19 is the lowest it's been in seven weeks. The province is reporting 1,670 new cases of the virus today and 49 more deaths related to the disease. Ontario's daily case count hasn't been this low since December 8. Health Minister Christine Elliott says that 450 of those new cases are in Toronto, 342 are in Peel Region, and 171 are in York Region. --- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
APELDOORN, Netherlands — Jos Bieleveldt had a spring in his step when the 91-year-old Dutchman got a coronavirus vaccine this week. But many think that was way too long in coming. Almost two months before, Britain's Margaret Keenan, who is also 91 now, received her shot to kick off the U.K.'s vaccination campaign that has, so far, outstripped the efforts in many nations in the European Union. “We are dependent on what the European Commission says we can, and cannot, do. As a result, we are at the bottom of the list, it takes far too long," Bieleveldt said of the executive arm of the EU, which, perhaps unfairly, has taken the brunt of criticism for a slow rollout in many of its member states. Onerous regulations and paperwork in some countries and poor planning in others have also contributed to the delay, as did a more deliberate authorization process for the shots. Overall, the 27-nation EU, a collection of many of the richest countries in the world — most with a universal health care system to boot — is not faring well in comparison to countries like Israel and the United Kingdom. Even the United States, whose response to the pandemic has otherwise been widely criticized and where tens of thousands of appointments for shots have been cancelled because of vaccine shortages, appears to be moving faster. While Israel has given at least one shot of a two-dose vaccine to over 40% of its population and that figure in Britain is 10%, the EU total stands at just over 2%. And it is not just EU citizens who are laying the blame at the bloc's door. Criticism is also coming from many nations that had hoped to see some live-saving liquid from the EU trickle through their borders. Amid concerns that the richer nations had snapped up far more doses than they needed and poorer nations would be left to do without, the EU was expected to share vaccines around. The rocky rollout is also testing the bloc's long commitment to so-called soft power — policies that advance its cause not through the barrel of a gun but through peaceful means, like through the needle of a syringe. “Today it’s harder to get the vaccines than nuclear weapons,” said Serb President Aleksandar Vucic, who had been counting on a lot more help from the EU. Serbia sits at the heart of the Balkan region where the EU, Russia and even China are seeking a stronger foothold. Helping the Balkan countries with their vaccine rollout seemed an area where Europe, with its medical prowess and a willingness to prioritize such co-operation, would have an edge. Not so far. Vucic said weeks ago when he welcomed 1 million doses of Chinese vaccines that Serbia had not received “a single dose” from the global COVAX system aimed at get affordable shots to poor and middle-income countries that the EU has championed and funded. Instead, Vucic said Serbia secured vaccines through deals with individual countries or producers. Rubbing salt in the wound, Vucic went for the EU's social conscience when he said this week that “the world today is like Titanic. The rich tried to get the lifeboats only for themselves ... and leave the rest.” Other nations on the EU's southeastern rim have also been critical. It is a big turnaround from only a month ago when the EU's future looked pretty bright. It had just inked a last-minute trade deal with the United Kingdom, clinched a massive 1.8 trillion-euro pandemic recovery and overall budget deal and started rolling out its first COVID-19 vaccines. “This is a very good way to end this difficult year, and to finally start turning the page on COVID-19,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said at the time. By this past weekend, though, her attitude soured as it became clear that the bloc would be getting vaccines at a slower rate than agreed upon for its 450 million people. AstraZeneca has told the EU that of its initial batch of 80 million, only 31 million would immediately materialize once its vaccine got approved, likely on Friday. That came on the heels of a smaller glitch in the deliveries of Pfizer-BioNTech shots. Both companies say they are facing operational issues at plants that are temporarily delaying the rollout. Italy is threatening to take legal action against both over the delay. Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte had been boasting that the country’s rollout was a huge success, especially when the millionth dose was given on Jan. 15. But after Pfizer announced the temporary supply reduction, Italy slowed from administering about 80,000 doses a day to fewer than 30,000. Bulgaria has also criticized the drug companies, and some there have called for the government to turn to Russia and China for vaccines. Hungary is already doing so. “If vaccines aren’t coming from Brussels, we must obtain them from elsewhere. One cannot allow Hungarians to die simply because Brussels is too slow in procuring vaccines,” Prime Minister Viktor Orban said. “It doesn’t matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.” But supply isn't the only thing holding up the EU's campaign. The problem is partially that the EU Commission bet on the wrong horse — and didn't get enough doses of the early success vaccines like Pfizer-BioNTech. The commission notes there was no way of knowing which vaccines would succeed — and which would be first — and so it had to spread its orders out over several companies. The EU rollout was also slowed because the European Medicines Agency took more time than the U.S. or U.K. regulators to authorize its first vaccine. That was by design as it made sure that the member nations could not be held liable in case of problems and in order to give people more confidence that the shot was safe. But individual countries also share in the blame. Germany, Europe's cliche of an organized and orderly nation, was found sorely wanting, with its rollout marred by chaotic bureaucracy and technological failures, such as those seen Monday when thousands of people over 80 in the country’s biggest state were told they would have to wait until Feb. 8 to get their first shots, even as vast vaccine centres set up before Christmas languished empty. “The speed of our action leaves a lot to be desired,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said. “Processes have often become very bureaucratic and take a long time, so we have to work on that.” It is no different in France, where there is a Kafkaesque maze of rules to get consent for vaccinating the elderly. In the Netherlands, which banked on the easy-to-handle AstraZeneca vaccine being the first available, authorities had to scramble to make new plans for the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, whose ultracold storage requirements make it more complicated. “We were proven to be insufficiently flexible to make the change," said Health Minister Hugo de Jonge. The Dutch have been particularly criticized since they were the last in the EU to begin vaccinations, more than a week after the first shots were given in the bloc, and they have been especially slow to roll doses out to elderly people living at home, like Bieleveldt, a retiree. “I’m already playing in injury time in terms of my age," he said. "But I still want to play for a few more years.” ___ Casert reported from Brussels. AP journalists across the European Union contributed. ___ Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at: https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine. Raf Casert And Mike Corder, The Associated Press
Saskatchewan’s top doctor spoke for the first time following a rally outside of his family home over the weekend.
Brandon Sun readers request specific questions be asked about COVID-19. QUESTION: Will Manitoba will be lowering the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test cycles, which is currently 40 cycles? The World Health Organization has said to reduce the cycles to under 30 to help prevent any false positives. DR. JAZZ ATWAL: Great question. We work closely with our lab and we have been from the beginning. We have a standard in place in relation to PCR testing and how we utilize that result. We’re going to continue to work with her lab to ensure that the results that we get are accurate. We do look at specific numbers all the way through, so if there are question marks in relation to is this a true positive or a remnant, etc., we are looking at those CT (cycle threshold) values in relation to that. But there’s no plan on changing that, at this point. Again, we look at what’s happening provincially here, we also talk to our national partners in public health right across the country, as well. QUESTION: Regarding the testing pilot project at care homes — at least one worker at Donwood Manor was confirmed to be COVID-19 positive after an asymptomatic test, and Donwood subsequently declared an outbreak. Dr. Roussin and Premier Pallister like to compare their handling of the pandemic to that of other provinces, and they like talk about all the "what-ifs" — like the 1,700 lives their restrictions saved. So how many lives did this one, that we know of, asymptomatic test save? How many lives has NOT testing asymptomatically cost? ATWAL: The information on the pilot program, it’s being analyzed right now. We have to review it on the public health side to look at the impact of that, as well. I mean, care homes are, you could argue, some of the most protected places. We have staff, we have procedures and processes in place, including full use of PPE. Obviously, there still are issues in those environments, including hospitals. So we’re gonna have to review that information, review the data, review what that test result meant, as well. I believe there’s some information on that coming out soon. I don’t have the exact date for that. But, once we have that information, we’ll be able to better look at the risk and the impact of that program, as well. Do you have a question about something in your community? Send your questions to email@example.com with the subject line: Readers Ask. Michèle LeTourneau, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun
The Lakeland District for Sports, Culture, and Recreation are encouraging people to get their vote on for their Wonderful Winter Spot Contest taking place on Facebook. Sixteen local winter hot spots have been chosen by Lakeland District staff as well through local municipal governments nominating their favourites, said Julia Frigault, youth consultant with Lakeland District for Sport, Culture, and Recreation. Frigault got the idea from a fellow Lakeland youth consultant when they planned out a Sweet Summer Swimming Contest for their area. Frigault got a bracket together to promote the winter fun taking place across the Lakeland district. Voting has been taking place over Facebook, which has allowed Lakeland to successfully engage with both voters and communities to promote these fun winter spots, Frigault said. “It's really helpful that we are able to tag a community’s recreation pages, or just their town, village, or city page. It automatically notifies them that they are in fact being mentioned.” Four brackets have been developed to choose the best hills, ice fishing spots, trails, and outdoor ice services across the district. While rounds of voting have already taken place, here is the full list of Saskatchewan hot spots that graced the Lakeland bracket. Those with a (W) are moving on to the next round of voting taking place the last week in January: Visit the Lakeland District’s Facebook page to cast your vote and see how your favourite winter fun spots are doing. Quarter-finals to be posted for the last week of January with semi-finals and finals coming the week after. Including winning bragging rights as Lakeland’s Wonderful Winter Spot of 2021, the bracket winner will also be given a reason to celebrate with a surprise grand prize, Frigault said. With 2020 being difficult on northeastern communities, Frigault said they are happy to give communities reach to celebrate something positive. Becky Zimmer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Battlefords Regional News-Optimist
OTTAWA — The Canadian Armed Forces is dealing with a dramatic increase in the number of troops who have been infected with COVID-19 over the past month. New Department of National Defence figures provided to The Canadian Press show nearly 250 Canadian military members tested positive for the illness since the end of December. That number compares to fewer than 700 cases reported during the first nine months of the pandemic. While the increase coincides with a recent surge in cases across Canada and many other parts of the world, it also comes amid an outbreak among the 540 Canadian troops deployed in Latvia. Defence Department spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier says Armed Forces members on four other missions have also tested positive for COVID-19 since March, along with an unspecified number here at home. Meanwhile, the federal government says more than 1,000 military personnel have received vaccines, with the priority being given to troops working in health-care settings or who have health conditions that could put them at greater risk from COVID-19. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
When Alan Sallows thinks about hunting, these words come to mind: bonding, memories and tradition. “[I like] getting out in the outdoors, spending time with my grandfather, enjoying the harvest we can take at that time,” he said. Sallows has been a hunter for over 25 years. It’s a pastime his grandfather passed down to him while he was growing up in Waubaushene. Now, a resident of Georgian Bay, Sallows has shared the practice with his teenage daughter, Annie. “She’s been coming with me since she was five years old,” he said. Sallows and his daughter hunt ducks and deer starting in the fall, using either shotguns or rifles. He takes a week off from work to hunt — if he’s able to — or he hunts on Saturdays. However, being able to hunt on Sundays would be ideal, he said. “[It’s] just to give the working force an opportunity for a day out to spend with their family and keep the tradition of hunting going.” He said the hunters he knows would be in favour of it too, in spite of the opinion of some local seasonal cottagers, who, according to Sallows, look down on hunting. “I’m not saying all seasonal people, but a few seasonal people can make it not-so-welcoming for Sunday hunting,” he said. The township is reigniting discussions about Sunday hunting rules. At council’s next meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 9, the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters will deliver a presentation arguing in favour of opening up the township’s rules. Councillor Cynthia Douglas said she and other councillors received emails in mid-December from people asking if the township would discuss introducing a bylaw to permit Sunday hunting with a firearm. Douglas said she’s not sure how accurate the information provided in the emails is and wants to hear more feedback from people on all sides of the issue, including from the federation. “I think this is an important issue,” she said. Provincial regulations prohibit Sunday gun hunting unless a municipality chooses to allow it. As of Sept. 1, according to the Government of Ontario website, Georgian Bay, made up primarily of Crown land, is the only township in the District of Muskoka prohibiting Sunday gun hunting. In 2014, Georgian Bay council held a discussion about permitting Sunday gun hunting. Douglas was on that council for the last term. “I think we heard from a lot of people in public that were for and against,” she said. Council, in the end, voted against endorsing the activity in a “very close” vote, Douglas said. The topic came up at council’s first meeting of 2021 on Monday, Jan. 11. Councillors, like Douglas, shared their perspectives on Sunday hunting and the next steps the township could take, including consulting with the Georgian Bay Hunters and Anglers Inc. “It’s not a simple black-and-white question,” said Mayor Peter Koetsier. The Georgian Bay Hunters and Anglers Inc. did not return a request for an interview in time for publication. The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters did not respond to a request for comment. Zahraa Hmood is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter covering the municipalities of Muskoka Lakes, Lake of Bays and Georgian Bay. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Zahraa, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Parry Sound North Star
Alphabet unit Google on Wednesday opened a centre to tackle harmful online content, in a move also designed to ease regulatory concerns about how the company and other tech giants police a growing problem on the internet. The world's most popular search engine, along with other U.S. tech giants, has drawn criticism because of the spread of illegal and harmful content via their platforms, triggering calls for more regulatory action. The 27-country European Union has taken the lead in proposing tough new rules to curb their powers, protect smaller rivals and make them take more responsibility for removing harmful content from their platforms.
LOS ANGELES — Kevin Hart will debut his new SiriusXM original podcast with Jerry Seinfeld as the series’ inaugural guest. The satellite radio company announced on Wednesday the launch of Hart’s “Inside Jokes with Kevin Hart” along with two other original programs. He will host the series premiere with Seinfeld’s guest appearance on the Laugh Out Loud Radio channel on Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST. On “Inside Jokes,” Hart will interview top comedians and rising stars. The superstar comedian-actor will chronicle their comedy club experiences and touch on “never-before-heard” stories. Along with Seinfeld, the show’s upcoming lineup includes Steve Harvey, Bill Burr, Cedric the Entertainer, Desus & Mero, Nick Kroll, Hasan Minhaj and Zainab Johnson. “I’m sitting down with some of the best voices in comedy to give my listeners the stories behind the jokes they hear on stage,” Hart said in a statement. “Comedians have been through it all, and I’m excited that I’ll be digging deep into the lives of my peers for my first podcast.” In addition to “Inside Jokes,” Hart’s Laugh Out Loud will air two new shows, “Date Night with Chris and Vanessa” on Fridays and “The Ladies Room with Jazzy” on Mondays and Wednesdays. Both shows launched Tuesday. Last year, SiriusXM announced a new multi-platform deal with Hart and his comedy network Laugh Out Loud. Along with his channel, Laugh Out Loud Radio, he’s expected to expand additional comedic programming that includes radio shows, podcasts and on-demand video. Hart said the deal with SiriusXM will give him more creative control. He launched LOL three years ago. His radio show “Straight from the Hart” premiered on his channel in 2018. Scott Greenstein, SiriusXM’s president and CCO, said he is excited about Hart’s “Inside Jokes” podcast and new shows as “we continue to collaborate with Laugh Out Loud to shape Kevin’s channel into the pinnacle of diverse comedy programming in audio entertainment." Jonathan Landrum Jr., The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — When marine biologist Stuart Sandin talks about sharks, it sounds like he’s describing Jedis of the ocean. “They are terrific predators, fast swimmers and they have amazing senses — they can detect any disturbance in the ocean from great distance,” such as smells or tiny changes in water currents. Their ability to quickly sense anything outside the norm in their environment helps them find prey in the vastness of the open ocean. But it also makes them especially vulnerable in the face of increased international fishing pressure, as global fishing fleets have doubled since 1950. “You drop a fishing line in the open ocean, and often it’s sharks that are there first — whether or not they’re the primary target,” said Sandin, who works at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Scientists have known for decades that individual shark species are declining, but a new study drawing on 57 global datasets underscores just how dramatically worldwide populations have collapsed in the past half century. Globally, the abundance of oceanic sharks and rays dropped more than 70% between 1970 and 2018, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature. And 24 of the 31 species of sharks and rays are threatened with extinction, while three species — oceanic whitetip sharks, scalloped hammerhead sharks and great hammerhead sharks — are considered critically endangered. “The last 50 years have been pretty devastating for global shark populations,” said Nathan Pacoureau, a biologist at Simon Fraser University in Canada and a co-author of the study. Sometimes sharks are intentionally caught by fishing fleets, but more often they are reeled in incidentally as “ bycatch," in the course of fishing for other species such as tuna and swordfish. Sharks and rays are both fish with skeletons made of cartilage, not bone. In contrast to most other kinds of fish, they generally take several years to reach sexual maturity, and they produce fewer offspring. “In terms of timing, they reproduce more like mammals – and that makes them especially vulnerable,” said Pacoureau. “Their populations cannot replenish as quickly as many other kinds of fish.” The number of fishing vessels trolling the open ocean has risen steeply since the 1950s, as engine power expanded ships' range. And while climate change and pollution also imperil shark survival, increased fishing pressure is the greatest threat for every oceanic shark species. “When you remove top predators of the ocean, it impacts every part of the marine food web,” said Stuart Pimm, an ecologist at Duke University, who was not involved in the study. “Sharks are like the lions, tigers and bears of the ocean world, and they help keep the rest of the ecosystem in balance.” ___ Follow Christina Larson on twitter: @larsonchristina ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Christina Larson, The Associated Press
NEW YORK — One of the first book-length inside accounts of the coronavirus pandemic will be coming out in June. Lawrence Wright's “The Plague Year," which builds on a New Yorker story that ran earlier this month, will be published by Alfred A. Knopf on June 8. Wright told The Associated Press that he interviewed more than 100 people for the story, including such top government health officials as Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx. “The Plague Year” will document what he calls “the shocking failure” of the U.S. to contain the virus, which has killed more than 400,000 people across the country. “America was supposed to be the best positioned country in the world to handle the pandemic,” he said. Knopf, which announced the book Wednesday, is calling it an “an all-encompassing account” covering everything from the virus' origins to the development of vaccines and nature of the disease itself. Wright won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 for “The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and The Road to 9-11” and wrote a novel, “The End of October,” that was completed before the pandemic and in many ways anticipated it. He is still working on his new book, which he expects will end with the incoming administration of President Joe Biden. He noted that Biden's inauguration on Jan. 20 was one year since the first COVID-19 case was reported in the U.S. Hillel Italie, The Associated Press
Prime Minister Boris Johnson indicated on Wednesday the COVID-19 lockdown in England would last until March 8 when schools could start to reopen as the government announced new measures to clamp down on travel to and from Britain. A highly contagious new variant of the virus, which emerged in southeast England at the end of last year, has led to a soaring number of infections across Britain with cases and deaths reaching record levels. On Tuesday, Britain's COVID-19 death toll surpassed 100,000, the first European state to reach that figure, leading to questions about Johnson's handling of a crisis that has also battered the economy.
Regional Librarian for Kings County Grace Dawson, , has noticed shifts in trends, looking back on 2020. “The big trend which is reflected in the numbers is this year’s rise in digital and electronic resource use,” Ms Dawson said. She added this is likely because of COVID-19 and the related shutdowns. Islanders used 49,200 more electronic resources in 2020 compared to 2019. That’s a jump from 179,527 uses to 228,759. On the flip side, new memberships to Island libraries and physical book loans were down this year. Libraries offered 4,163 new library cards in 2019 but only 2,033 in 2020. They also loaned 300,652 physical books in 2020 compared to 471,380 in 2019. Physical items could not be borrowed from libraries between mid-March and early June 2020 when the facilities closed their doors to the public. In June, library services started to gradually reopen with some locations offering curb-side pickup. Eventually all 26 locations reopened and welcomed browsing. But libraries reverted back to curb-side pickup during the December COVID-19 circuit breaker when restrictions were heightened again for Islanders. Despite these interruptions, overall, borrowed library materials increased this year from 819,987 in 2019 to 980,800 iitems borrowed in 2020. Ms Dawson said the growing use of non-traditional library materials such as musical instruments, telescopes, snowshoes, etc increased. These types of items have been available through the province’s libraries since 2018. “I think their popularity reflects the evolution of libraries as a provider of a broad range of materials and items to the entire community,” Ms Dawson said. “Libraries have always been inclusive spaces that provide information and access to all individuals but now we are seeing the public wants information and resources in a wide variety of formats.” The following is a breakdown of non-traditional items loaned this year: • Musical instruments: 2,781 • TCAP Fitness passes (available at Montague Library): 995 • Radon detectors: 165 • Telescopes: 403 • Snowshoes: 731 • Museum passes checked out (July & August 2020): 143 • Books delivered through Library’s Early Learning and Child Care Centre Book Delivery Service (which was started in July 2020): 3,799 • Books delivered through Library’s Community Care Book Delivery Service : 2,671 Ms Dawson said it’s worth noting that it has been difficult to draw conclusive trends from this year’s data given the restrictions libraries have faced due to the pandemic. Krystal Dionne, a branch technician with the Montague Rotary Library, says it has been fun to see the joy kids and adults get out of borrowing less traditional items from the library such as musical instruments. Rachel Collier, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eastern Graphic
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Wednesday that the world risks sliding deeper into instability as the coronavirus pandemic combines with global rivalries and other international tensions. Speaking by video link during a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum, Putin pointed at growing inequality and unemployment and a rise of populism as potential triggers for new conflicts that he said could plunge the world into a “dark anti-Utopia.” “The pandemic has exacerbated the problems and disbalances that have been accumulating,” the Russian leader said. “International institutions are weakening, regional conflicts are multiplying and the global security is degrading.” Putin hailed the decision by Russia and the United States to extend their last nuclear arms control pact as a positive move, but he added that spiraling tensions have come to resemble the situation before World War II. “I strongly hope that such ‘hot’ global conflict is impossible now. It would mean the end of civilization," he said. “But the situation may become unpredictable and spin out of control. There is a real danger that we will face a downturn in global development fraught with an all-out fight, attempts to solve contradictions by searching for internal and foreign enemies, and the destruction of basic traditional values.” Putin attributed the worsening economic situation to a Western liberal economic model that he said “foments social, racial and ethnic intolerance with tensions erupting even in countries with seemingly long-established civil and democratic institutions.” The Russian leader pointed to what he described as the negative role of technology companies that run top social networks, charging that they have abused their position and tried to “control the society, replace legitimate democratic institutions and usurp an individual's right to decide how to live and what views to express.” “We have seen it all in the United States,” Putin said without elaborating. Putin also claimed that there has been " increasingly aggressive pressure on those countries that disagree with a role of obedient satellites, the use of trade barriers, illegitimate sanctions, restrictions in the financial, technological and information spheres.” Relations between Russia and the West have sunk to post-Cold War lows after Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea in 2014, Russia's meddling in the U.S. elections and recently, the poisoning and the subsequent arrest of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. “The era marked by attempts to create a centralized unipolar global order is over now,” Putin said in an apparent reference to the perceived global domination of the U.S. Vladimir Isachenkov, The Associated Press
Saint John city council plans to have a ride-sharing regulation bylaw ready by the end of this year to implement next year. The province passed an amendment to the Motor Vehicle Act in December to allow ride-sharing companies to operate, but each municipality must have bylaws regulating the service before it can be offered. Ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft allow customers to hail rides using a mobile app, and the drivers are employed as independent contractors who use their own cars and get a cut of the total fare, plus tips. Coun. Greg Norton asked council to vote to "immediately" have a bylaw in place to pave the way for ride-sharing to come to Saint John. After 30 minutes of discussion, the motion passed but only after the word "immediately" was removed. Two councillors voted against the motion even with the amendment. Not about the big apps Norton said his motion "is not about Uber and Lyft." "The chances of Uber and Lyft coming into the city of Saint John, I would say, are limited, if any at all," he told council Monday night. "But what we do have is, when we create this type of bylaw is, we have the opportunity for home-grown types of ride-sharing industries and businesses to pop up." Norton said this proposal isn't to intentionally create competition for the taxi industry, but "competition is good." A few councillors voiced their objections for exactly this reason. Deputy Mayor Shirey McAlary said the timing is not right, considering the world is in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. "Our taxi drivers, our taxi owners in our city are having a desperate time," she said. "I just feel to put more competition on our local taxi businesses is not something that I really think we should do at this time." Coun. Blake Armstrong, who owns several bars in the city's uptown, was also opposed. "People have no idea how decimated the industry has been in Saint John, including bars and restaurants," he said. Norton said people he spoke to from the restaurant sector are onside. Coun. David Hickey suggested the removal of the word immediate, because he said sooner or later ride-sharing would be beneficial for the city. Timing matters City manager John Collin told council that staff have not looked at ride-sharing in detail. He said public consultation and a review of the impact on the city's businesses will be done before any bylaw is passed. "From a staff point of view, I don't believe that there's any resistance to the notion of exploring ride-share and trying to put it into our community," Collin said. "It is a best practice within communities," he said. "This is something where we should do public consultation, and this is something that has significant liabilities, and therefore we simply cannot copy and paste someone else's bylaw." He said the bylaw could be passed by early 2022.
By Jamie Mountain Local Journalism Initiative Reporter TEMAGAMI – The owners of the Our Daily Bread grocery store in Temagami recently gave the municipality a boost - literally. Dirk and Joanne Van Manen have installed Temagami’s first electric vehicle charging station, eCAMION Inc’s Jule Energy charging station, beside their business and it has been up and running since December 11. “About three years ago, a company called eCAMION was looking to install charging stations all along the Trans-Canada Highway. They checked out our area and contacted a few possibilities, us being one of them, about having the station set-up here,” explained Joanne Van Manen in a telephone interview. “The two other people that they contacted, it wasn’t feasible for them for whatever reason. So they started working with us.” eCAMION Inc is a Toronto-based company that is a technology provider for flexible battery storage, electric vehicle charging, and energy management solutions. The charging stations the company provides are free to use and can support both CHAdeMO and CCS ports (the two types of plugs an electric vehicle can have) and can charge up to three vehicles simultaneously. “We decided to install charging at Temagami as part of our effort to provide fast-charging infrastructure to underserved parts of Ontario,” said Alice Wang, product marketing manger for eCAMION Inc, in an email interview. “This deployment will make it easier for EV drivers to travel along the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 11, whether for work or leisure.” Wang noted that the Jules Energy stations charge at a Level 3 speed level (50 kilowatts), meaning it can fully charge a typical EV battery in under 45 minutes. “How long a vehicle runs on a charge depends on weather conditions, driving speed and most of all battery size,” she explained. “As an average, 350 kilometres is about how far a vehicle can travel on a full battery.” While she felt that there could be a need within Temagami for an EV charging station, Van Manen said having the Jule Energy station installed was aimed more at those travelling through the area. “My sister has an electric car, too, so she would use it,” she said. “There’s no one in this area that I’m aware of that has an electric car, so it’s more for travellers.” Dirk Van Manen noted that they knew of a man who travelled from Toronto to Kapuskasing on a monthly basis and does so with an electric car. “So he was asking questions about our charging station, just a week or so ago. He’s probably going to stop in and try to use it,” he said. “We’re probably ahead of schedule, you might say, for the electric cars but I think that the economy is speeding up quite quickly, that there will be more around soon, in a few years.” Joanne Van Manen said that she and Dirk, who also own Docks Plus Temagami, aren’t able to keep track of how often the station has been used. But she said the reception so far from the community has been positive. “All we do is keep it clear (of snow) around there,” she said of the charging station. “I put the news of installing the charging station on our Facebook page, for Our Daily Bread, and I’ve reached 5,194 people with it. The comments have been very, very positive.” Dirk Van Manen conceded that the charging station likely wouldn’t be in high demand over the winter, but he was optimistic it would be used more in the warmer months. “I’m sure in the summer we’ll see vehicles parked there,” he said. Wang added that there are great benefits with Temagami having the charging station, one being that it is able to include the promotion of electric vehicles being accessible and viable choices in such a relatively remote neighbourhood. “Also, we hope that the availability of charging in Temagami will mean that Temagami receives more visitors who stop by while they’re on the highway,” she said. Jamie Mountain, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Temiskaming Speaker