A holiday tree made of festively decorated lobster traps is greeting patrons of the Key West Historic Seaport, celebrating the holiday season and Florida Keys commercial fishing heritage. (Dec. 18)
A holiday tree made of festively decorated lobster traps is greeting patrons of the Key West Historic Seaport, celebrating the holiday season and Florida Keys commercial fishing heritage. (Dec. 18)
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
The possibility of a fire in a special care home with dozens of residents shuffling toward the nearest exit while pushing a walker is something Lise Dubois worries about. Her elderly mother suffers from dementia, and she has seen what happens when a blaring fire alarm goes off, with three staff trying to evacuate 45 seniors in a hurry. "It's pretty scary," Dubois said of the scene she witnessed when her mother lived at Manoir Sugarloaf in Campbellton. A CBC News analysis of special care homes in New Brunswick, completed on Jan. 8, has found 24 per cent failed to meet fire prevention standards, with the most common infraction being a failure to do monthly fire drills. Dubois worries that lack of preparation, combined with the ongoing practice of reducing overnight staff at care homes, could lead to "disaster" for some of the province's most vulnerable. 'Variances' often granted Special care homes can be approved for a "variance" that allows the overnight staffing level to drop below the government standard of one caregiver per 10 residents. "In some circumstances, a staffing variance may be approved of up to 1:15," wrote government spokesperson Coreen Enos. The practice came to light in a recent CBC investigation into five special care homes owned by the Lokia Group. These homes took part in a government-approved pilot project that allowed staffing levels to be reduced, in some cases leaving workers alone overnight. As of Nov. 20, 2020, a spokesperson for the Department of Social Development said 55 of the 491 adult residential facilities in New Brunswick, which includes special care homes, memory care homes and community residences, had been granted a nighttime variance. Those variances are valid for one year and can be revoked at any time. Resident 'stuck' in her room Dubois remembers helping her mother, who uses a walker and moves slowly, to exit the home during that evening fire alarm. With one staff for every 15 residents, she said it was "chaos" with everyone "freaking out." "If it would have been a real fire, at least half to three-quarters of them wouldn't make it." There's a lot of them that has a hard time to walk. And a lot of them has oxygen tanks, so they need help. - Lise Dubois The Office of the Fire Marshal would not do an interview, but spokesperson Enos said in a written statement that staffing ratios always ensure "there is sufficient staff for evacuating residents in the event of a fire." She said variances are granted only after the operator has completed a timed fire drill, and if Social Development has no concerns about the home. Dubois said that during the evening fire alarm, as she was hurrying her mother down the hall toward the exit, another resident who was in a wheelchair opened the door of her room a crack to ask Dubois what was going on. "She was kind of stuck in there," she said. "She needed help. So I stopped and I helped her and I brought her and my mom toward the front. "There's a lot of them that has a hard time to walk. And a lot of them has oxygen tanks, so they need help." Dubois's mother, who has dementia, has now moved out of the special care home and into a nursing home, but Dubois is still bothered by what she saw during that fire alarm. "It really got me thinking a lot when I seen that — it's like Holy Lord — something like that had happened in an old people's home somewhere near Montreal." In January 2014, a fire that broke out just after midnight in the Résidence du Havre, about 450 kilometres northeast of Montreal, took the lives of 32 of the 50 residents. Many of the residents used walkers and wheelchairs, and a coroner's report blamed the high death toll in part on the lack of automatic sprinklers and insufficient overnight staff at the residence. Expert says fire drills critical In the most recent inspection reports for New Brunswick special care homes, as of Jan. 8, inspectors flagged 83 homes for not complying with fire prevention and safety standards. Fire prevention expert Derek Gruchy said it's critical that fire drills are completed regularly, especially when you are dealing with vulnerable populations who may have reduced mobility and diminished cognitive abilities. "The vast majority [of residents] are there because they need assistance. And so in the event of a fire, they can't just all get up and walk out, so they need help from the staff." Gruchy is the co-ordinator of the fire protection engineering technology program at Seneca College in Toronto, and his students include future fire inspectors. He said the number of residents, the number of exits, the distance to those exits and whether there are sprinklers all need to be considered when determining whether staffing levels are adequate and evacuation plans are safe. "If you have one staff or three staff — I don't really care — I just want to make sure that it's safe. So if you can do it with one person, show me. And so you do these evacuations to show that." Rules in New Brunswick 'very strict' Jan Seely, president of the New Brunswick Special Care Home Association, understands why family members like Dubois are concerned. She didn't know anything about the pilot project at the five Lokia homes and says the variance never should have been approved. "It's painted a very unfortunate picture of a sector that is undeserving of that picture," she said. "I hope that this type of thing doesn't happen again." Seely operates a 12-bed care home in Saint John and has applied for a variance herself in the past, which allows her to have one staff person working during the night. "The variance process is very strict," said Seely who does regular fire drills, has a sprinkler system and is confident all of her residents and staff can get out in two minutes. "When I go home at night, I know that can be done … it's one of my most important peace-of-mind issues." Seely is calling for a peer-review committee to be set up that would include officials from the Department of Social Development, the Office of the Fire Marshal, the Special Care Home Association and care home operators. The committee would discuss requests for future pilot projects and staffing variances. "Nobody knew this project was happening. So, you know, shame on government for doing that." For Gruchy, the bottom line is that all special care home staff and residents have to be prepared should there be a fire — day or night. "It's really important for the drills to just keep repeating the same thing over and over, so that when it is a real fire, everybody just knows what to do, and it's not a situation where people are looking around [wondering] 'Are you helping me? Where am I supposed to go?'"
A new poll suggests Ontario Premier Doug Ford's popularity has dropped in the last three months, along with his government's approval rating, and a market research firm attributes the decline to the province's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ford, however, continues to be Ontario's most popular party leader and his popularity is still higher than it was before the pandemic knocked the province off course, according to the survey released Tuesday. In an online poll entitled "A New Year Brings Old Politics to Ontario," Abacus Data has found that only 39 per cent of respondents have a positive view of the premier, while 35 per cent have a negative view. Ford's personal popularity has plummeted seven per cent over the past three months, according to the survey. When it comes to the Ontario government, 10 per cent strongly approve of it and 34 per cent mostly approve, while 21 per cent mostly disapprove and 10 per cent strongly disapprove. Twenty four per cent feel neither way. There has been a decline of eight percentage points in the government's approval rating over the past three months, the poll suggests. Pollster David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data, told CBC Toronto this week that he believes the decline in numbers can be attributed to the government's handling of the pandemic's second wave. He said the numbers are clearly trending in the wrong direction for Ford and his Progressive Conservative government. "The overall picture that we're seeing in this poll suggests that over the last few months, both the government's approval rating and views of the premier have taken a hit, I think largely because of some mistakes or decisions that the government has made, specifically around COVID-19," Coletto said. Coletto noted that Ford is still viewed more positively than negatively and continues to have more people approving than disapproving of him. "But I think the longer this pandemic has gone on and the more challenging it actually has become to manage this crisis and deal with the second wave, the more toll it has taken to how people feel about this government and the premier specifically," he said. Ford's approval still higher than before pandemic The PC party, however, can take some solace in the finding that Ford is still getting higher approval numbers than he did before the pandemic, he said. In late 2019 and early 2020, more than 60 per cent of Ontarians had a negative view of the premier. Coletto added that Ford's rivals are not reaping benefits from the decline in his popularity. Feelings about NDP Leader Andrea Horwath are mixed, with 27 per cent having a positive view, 27 per cent having a neutral view and 28 per cent having a negative view. Thirty-eight per cent don't know enough about Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca to have an opinion of him. According to the poll, if a provincial election were called today, 34 per cent of Ontario residents would vote for Ford and the PC party, 29 per cent would vote Liberal, while 25 per cent would vote for the NDP. Colletto said he thinks the downward trend in numbers for Ford and his government are tied directly to what the public thinks of the government's pandemic approach. 37% think government in control of situation Only 37 per cent believe the Ontario government is in control of the situation right now, a drop of 25 percentage points since October. "The belief that the province has a clear plan, is providing consistent advice and guidance and is generally making the right decisions have all dropped significantly in the last few months," the poll suggests.. Sixty-one per cent of Ontario residents, for example, continue to believe the government is making public health "the priority." Twenty-seven per cent believe the premier has done a bad job and made crucial mistakes, an increase of 10 percentage points since October. "I think the reason that, despite the numbers softening, the premier remains more popular today than he was prior, is because at the core, far more people believe that the premier's intentions remain sound, that despite some mistakes that have been made, most people believe that he's either doing a really good job or there's some mistakes, but at the end of the day, he's doing the best that he can," Coletto said. "And that is what gives him, I think, some latitude with the public to make mistakes, to change course here and there, but at the end of the day, people have a good sense that he's doing what he can in a very challenging situation." As for the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, Ontario residents give the premier a little more slack. Twenty-two per cent believe Ford has done a good job, while 53 per cent believe he has made mistakes but has done as well as can be expected, while 25 per cent believe he has done a bad job and made crucial mistakes that could have been avoided. According to the survey, 43 per cent say vaccine distribution is going either well enough or very well, while 57 per cent say it is going poorly or very poorly. 75% say holiday trips 'completely unacceptable' Not surprisingly, the poll suggests 75 per cent of residents believe that holiday trips taken outside of the Canada by politicians and health-care leaders are "completely unacceptable." Nine in 10 residents have heard about the Caribbean vacation taken by Rod Phillips, former finance minister. Of those aware, only 37 per cent believe the premier handled the situation well, while 49 per cent believe he handled it poorly, with 14 per cent suggesting it was largely out of his hands. Coletto said he was not surprised by the "overwhelming anger and disappointment" over the trip and the general reaction that it was unacceptable. But he said it has had less of an impact on the government than pundits might expect, although it might have weakened trust in elected officials. "It hasn't cratered support for the government or approval rating for the premier," Coletto said. "And that, I think, continues to remind me and us that the people are looking at government today and all the actors in government through the lens of COVID and how they are trying to make people's lives better and protect people from from this virus." Nearly 900 residents surveyed in January The poll concludes that "a lot of the fundamentals" are declining for the Ford government. "His personal reputation, assessments of his government's leadership, and assessments of his handling of COVID-19 have all been in a steady decline over the past few months. However, vote dynamics are largely unchanged," the poll says. Abacus conducted the poll 793 Ontario residents recuruited online from Jan. 8 to 12, 2021. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 3.48 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
Some students at McGill University say they're anxious for an update into an investigation that began before the holidays, looking into sexual misconduct allegations against a student. The investigation was launched Dec.16, after an online petition signed by more than 50,000 people alleged that a first-year student had sexually assaulted several young women on campus last fall. Some of those students filed formal complaints with the university. The petition called on the university to take action in order to re-establish trust and safety for young women. "It's making people antsy, it's making people feel paranoid, it's making people feel on edge," - McGill student on lack of update from university on sexual misconduct investigation McGill sent an email to students in December explaining that the university was looking into the case and urging students who needed support to contact the university's office for sexual violence response. Since then, the university hasn't updated students. "The lack of communication and transparency between the school and the student body just makes it seem like McGill is trying to cover things up," student Anna Ni told CBC, in an interview Monday. In addition to Ni, CBC spoke to two other McGill students who signed the petition. They are not among the alleged victims of the young man in question, but they asked not to be named so as not to face online harassment. "People are asking, people want to know, and it's radio silence from the university," one of them told CBC. "It's making people antsy, it's making people feel paranoid, it's making people feel on edge," the other said. Student under investigation still attending online classes All three students CBC spoke to said they had expected an update from McGill before classes resumed earlier this month. Almost all classes at McGill are currently online only due to COVID-19. Both Ni and another student said they were taken aback when they recognized the name of the student under investigation as being present in some of their online classes on Zoom. "I was shocked. I didn't realize that he didn't get any consequences and that he was still in our class," Ni said. She said the student under investigation responded to a question from the professor during the online class, which was attended by about 300 students. She said seeing him made her stressed, and that she was unable to finish the class. "For sure they should've informed us that he was still in school," she said. "Because they didn't tell us anything it was like a slap in the face." "Seeing his name pop up on that Zoom list was a blow," said another student, who was present in a Zoom class with the student under investigation. "I was fearful. I was extremely uncomfortable," she continued. She said for that class, the professor used "breakout rooms" on Zoom to create small group discussions, and she realized that meant some students would be forced to interact with the student who was under investigation. "Luckily I was not in his breakout room, but I couldn't help but picture how uncomfortable that environment would be," she said. McGill says investigation ongoing Cynthia Lee, associate director of media relations for McGill, told CBC in an email that the investigation is ongoing. McGill's sexual violence policy stipulates such investigations must be conducted and completed within 90 days of receiving a formal complaint. "Until such process is complete, nothing can be assumed about its outcome, and disciplinary actions cannot be pre-emptively taken," Lee said. "However, interim measures are put in place to ensure the safety and well-being of those directly affected," she added, without specifying what those measures were. "The entirety of this process is covered by confidentiality regulations imposed on us by law, and as such, details or updates concerning particular cases cannot be provided to anyone outside those immediately involved," Lee said. CBC hasn't spoken to any of the women who filed formal complaints about the alleged misconduct. A friend of the complainants told CBC in December the women had consulted a lawyer and wouldn't be speaking publicly. CBC reached out to the student who's under investigation. He said he was unable to comment for now.
Russia has opened a criminal case against a police officer accused of leaking data that could have helped identify the alleged poisoners of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, the RBC business daily reported on Tuesday, citing sources. The information leaked, according to RBC, is thought to relate to flights taken by agents from the FSB security service with specialised knowledge on chemical weapons identified in an investigation as having secretly followed Navalny for several years. "Investigators are not looking for or imprisoning Navalny's poisoners, but those who disclosed their data," Georgy Alburov, an ally of Navalny, wrote on Twitter.
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:
GENEVA — A panel of experts commissioned by the World Health Organization has criticized China and other countries for not moving to stem the initial outbreak of the coronavirus earlier and questioned whether the U.N. health agency should have labeled it a pandemic sooner. In a report issued Monday, the panel led by former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said there were “lost opportunities to apply basic public health measures at the earliest opportunity” and that Chinese authorities could have applied their efforts “more forcefully” in January shortly after the coronavirus began sickening clusters of people. “The reality is that only a minority of countries took full advantage of the information available to them to respond to the evidence of an emerging pandemic,” the panel said. The experts also wondered why WHO did not declare a global public health emergency sooner. The U.N. health agency convened its emergency committee on Jan. 22, but did not characterize the emerging pandemic as an international emergency until a week later. At the time, WHO said its expert committee was divided on whether a global emergency should be declared. “One more question is whether it would have helped if WHO used the word pandemic earlier than it did,” the panel said. WHO did not describe the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic until March 11, weeks after the virus had begun causing explosive outbreaks in numerous continents, meeting WHO’s own definition for a flu pandemic. As the coronavirus began spreading across the globe, WHO's top experts disputed how infectious the virus was, saying it was not as contagious as flu and that people without symptoms only rarely spread the virus. Scientists have since concluded that COVID-19 transmits even quicker than the flu and that a significant proportion of spread is from people who don't appear to be sick. Over the past year, WHO has come under heavy criticism for its handling of the response to COVID-19. U.S. President Trump slammed the U.N. health agency for “colluding” with China to cover up the extent of the initial outbreak before halting U.S. funding for WHO and pulling the country out of the organization. An Associated Press investigation in June found WHO repeatedly lauded China in public while officials privately complained that Chinese officials stalled on sharing critical epidemic information with them. Although the panel concluded that “many countries took minimal action to prevent the spread (of COVID-19) internally and internationally,” it did not name specific countries. It also declined to call out WHO for its failure to more sharply criticize countries for their missteps instead of lauding countries for their response efforts. Last month, the author of a withdrawn WHO report into Italy’s pandemic response warned his bosses in May that people could die and the agency could suffer “catastrophic” reputational damage if it allowed political concerns to suppress the document, according to emails obtained by the AP. ___ Follow all of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic, https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak The Associated Press
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
LANSING, Mich. — Attorneys for former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder are striking back, telling prosecutors Tuesday that the Flint water case should be dismissed because he was charged in the wrong county. Snyder was charged last week with two misdemeanour counts of wilful neglect of duty. He was indicted by a Genesee County judge who sat as a grand juror and considered evidence presented by prosecutors. “Neither of these allegations of non-feasance, or failure to act, occurred while the former Governor was in the City of Flint. At all times set forth in the Indictment, our client was the presiding governor of the State of Michigan with the Executive Office of the Governor located at the Romney Building in downtown Lansing,” attorney Brian Lennon said in a letter to prosecutors. The letter was attached to a request for documents and other evidence possessed by prosecutors, a typical step by the defence in a criminal case. Lennon indicated in the letter that he soon would formally ask Judge William Crawford to dismiss the case against the former Republican governor. Snyder was one of nine people charged in a new investigation of the Flint water crisis. The catastrophe in the impoverished, majority-Black city has been described as an example of environmental injustice and racism. The city, under Snyder-appointed emergency managers, used the Flint River for drinking water in 2014-15 without properly treating it to reduce corrosion. Lead from old pipes contaminated the system. Separately, the water was blamed by some experts for an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, which killed at least 12 people in the area and sickened dozens more. ___ White reported from Detroit. Ed White And David Eggert, The Associated Press
After months out of the spotlight, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has returned centre stage with diplomatic and economic moves which diplomats say are aimed at showing the new U.S. president he is a valuable partner who can get things done. Within the span of a few weeks, the kingdom announced an Arab deal to reconcile with Qatar, voluntary cuts to Saudi crude output to help stabilise markets and new momentum on an economic diversification plan that stumbled due to political controversy, low oil prices and COVID-19. Whether behind the scenes or front and centre chairing a Gulf summit for the first time, the young prince, known as MbS, is moving to present an image as a reliable statesman and set a pragmatic tone with a less accommodating Biden administration, especially on foe Iran, three foreign diplomats said.
A Haida filmmaker is pushing for new legislation in Canada to penalize people who pretend to be Indigenous in order to access grants, awards and jobs intended for Indigenous people. Tamara Bell said she wants those who misrepresent their identity to face fines and even prison time. Bell's move comes on the heels of Indigenous elders exposing filmmaker Michelle Latimer's unfounded claims that she was Indigenous. Latimer, who recently directed the CBC television series Trickster and the documentary Inconvenient Indian, is in fact primarily French Canadian, Irish and Scottish. "It is reprehensible in all measures, so I think as Indigenous people, we have to draw a line in the sand," Bell said Monday at a news conference in Vancouver. Right now, most Canadian institutions — even those that administer funds allocated specifically for Indigenous people — use self-identification as the gold standard for identifying who is Indigenous. That means anyone can simply say "I am Indigenous" to authenticate their Indigeneity. Some, like Latimer and author Joseph Boyden, have used the ease of self-identity to access grant money and opportunities that could have gone to Indigenous people. "People can't just come in and squeeze out dollars. We've gone a long time being starved and we have to stand up," said Métis Elder Corie Thunderchild, who is supporting Bell's bid for an Indigenous authentication law in Canada. 'Canada often turns a blind eye' Bell is proposing an Indigenous Identity Act, which she hopes will deter what she and others call "pretendians" from assuming Indigenous identity. She pointed to legislation in the United States known as the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, a truth-in-advertising law that makes it illegal "to offer or display for sale, or sell any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced." A first-time violation of the act could land a person a five-year prison term or a $250,000 fine, or both. "Unfortunately, Canada often turns a blind eye to the wholesale theft and exploitation of Indigenous identity, which has become a widespread problem all too frequently," Bell said. Bell is calling on the Indigenous Screen Office, the Canada Media Fund, Telefilm Canada, CBC and the National Film Board to support the call for Indigenous authentication legislation. In a statement, the executive director of the Indigenous Screen Office, Jesse Wente, said the ISO "will undertake a community engagement process in 2021 regarding Indigenous identity that will inform future policy directions." He said the process will start "over the next two months beginning with elders and Indigenous organizations with knowledge and expertise in this area, and will extend into the summer with broader consultations." The statement also explained "this is a nuanced issue that requires time to listen to the many different community perspectives ... we accept our responsibility in taking a leadership role for the sector on this important issue through this process." Bell said she understands the sensitivity of the issue of Indigenous identity, with colonial apparatuses like residential school and the Sixties Scoop removing children from their communities and families. But she said there are still ways to verify Indigenous identities — one can get a letter from an elder, their community, a relative or their band to verify which community they are from. "Right now it's a free for all," she said. "There is no way to ensure every single individual is authentically Indigenous, but [this proposed act] could prevent misrepresentation, because there's a risk that you will be found out and there will be consequences." Bell is supported by several Indigenous elders, including Elizabeth Sinclair from the Peguis First Nation, Gail Sparrow from the Musqueam Nation, and Corie Thunderchild from the Métis people. She said she is also in conversation with two Canadian senators. The CBC asked for comment from Indigenous Services Canada about its consideration of such an act. It said it is working on a response.
A medical health officer serving Saskatchewan's north says the region needs help — and better co-operation from some residents — as it grapples with a spike in COVID-19 cases. "If we don't have any changes in behaviour at the individual level, I think we are bound to continue to see cases," said Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka, a medical health officer for the Northern Inter-Tribal Health Authority (NITHA) based in Prince Albert. Across the province, there were 4,265 active cases of COVID-19 identified by health officials on Monday. Just over half of those cases, 2,167, were in the six broad Far North and North zones tracked by officials — even though those zones only have a combined population of 272,937 people (compared to the 938,196 people who live in the rest of the province). Some of those northern zones have seen their active caseloads increase dramatically in the new year. In the North West zone, for example, there were 276 cases on Jan. 7. Only ten days later, on Jan. 17, the number had nearly doubled, to 535. "Definitely the current situation in the northern part of Saskatchewan is of great concern to us," Ndubuka said. Ndubuka said northern Saskatchewan faces innate challenges when combating COVID-19, such as poorer access to health care compared to the south. Overcrowded households can make it difficult for infected people to self-isolate, he said. But Ndubuka said several recent mass gatherings, including wakes and funerals, as well as mixing of households, are causing the recent spike in cases. On Sunday, NITHA declared an outbreak in Black Lake, located in the Far North Central sub-zone, and warned residents that COVID-positive people had attended a wake and funeral in the community from Dec. 31 to Jan. 2 while likely infectious. Thirteen cases were linked to the event as of Monday and more cases were expected to emerge, Ndubuka said. Saskatchewan's current public health rules allow for up to 30 people to attend a funeral indoors. "What we're seeing is that that number, most times, is not being respected," Ndubuka said, adding that not everybody has been complying with physical distancing measures either. Only immediate family members should attend such ceremonies, he said. Lower outdoor gathering needed: doctor Ndubuka said that while COVID fatigue may be setting in in the North, people need to rally for the greater good. "We do see hope with the arrival of the vaccine and also for people to be a little bit more patient, as all this comes together to overcome this common enemy." Ndubuka said the province should further restrict attendance at outdoor events. Up to 10 people can currently attend events together outside. "It should be a provincewide approach, recognizing that Saskatchewan has the highest rate [of active cases] per capita in the country," he said. More self-isolation units are needed in the North, he added. More vaccines needed now "The other measures that we think would also help would be the need to increase vaccine allocation to the northern region, recognizing that there's a higher proportion of [Indigenous people], including those living in remote areas, in the north, but only accessible by air," Ndubuka said. Saskatchewan has cited northern communities as one of four priority vaccination groups within the first phase of its vaccine rollout plan. As of Monday, 7,948 first doses were administered in northern Saskatchewan, compared to 12,918 first doses in the rest of the province.
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
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
A busy thief smashed out the glass doors to two businesses in downtown Halifax early Tuesday morning making off with two cash registers, according to Halifax Regional Police. The first break in happened around 2:55 a.m., an alarm went off at Boston Pizza on Granville Street drawing police to the scene. When police arrived they found part of the restaurants' glass door had been smashed. A cash register and other items had been stolen from inside, according to a news release from the Halifax police. Then around 3:05 a.m. another business' alarm went off this time at Creamy Rainbow, a bakery and cafe on Dresden Row. Once again the thief had smashed the business' glass door to get inside, and taken the cash register. So far no one has been arrested. The suspect in both break ins is a white man about 30 years old, with short brown hair and glasses. The man was wearing a black jacket with a white hoodie underneath, black pants and black sneakers with white soles. Police say anyone with information about the incident or suspect should contact them or send an anonymous tip through Crime Stoppers. MORE TOP STORIES
WASHINGTON — Joe Biden has given himself an imposing to-do list for his earliest days as president and many promises to keep over the longer haul. Overshadowing everything at the very start is Biden's effort to win congressional approval of a $1.9 trillion plan to combat the coronavirus and the economic misery it has caused. But climate change, immigration, health care and more will be competing for attention — and dollars. Altogether Biden has laid out an ambitious if not always detailed set of plans and promises across the range of public policy. Drawn from a review of his campaign statements and a recent memo from Ron Klain, who'll be his chief of staff, here's a sampling of measures to expect right away, around the corner and beyond: WEDNESDAY, after the inauguration, mostly by executive action: — Declaration that the U.S. is rejoining Paris climate accord. — Declaration that the U.S. is rejoining World Health Organization. — Ethical standards for his administration and an order prohibiting interference in the operations of the Justice Department from other parts of government. — Start of a process to restore 100 public health and environmental rules that the Obama administration created and President Donald Trump eliminated or weakened. — Start of a process to rejoin the deal restraining Iran's nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. — Executive action to end travel restrictions on people from a variety of Muslim-majority countries. — Executive action to protect from deportation people who came to the country illegally as children. — Executive action to make masks mandatory on federal property and when travelling out of state. Others will be asked to wear masks for 100 days. — Steps to extend pandemic-era restrictions on evictions and foreclosures. — Legislation to go to Congress proposing to repeal liability protections for gun manufacturers and tightening some other aspects of gun control. — Immigration legislation to go to Congress as part of an effort to offer a path to citizenship for 11 million people in the U.S. illegally and to codify protections for people who came illegally as children. — Education Department to be asked to extend the existing pause on student loan payments and interest for millions with student debt. ___ THURSDAY — Executive action laying out new steps to expand virus testing, protect workers and set new public health standards. ___ FRIDAY — Directive to agencies to take unspecified immediate action to deliver economic relief from the pandemic. ___ BY FEB. 1 — Executive actions to strengthen “buy American” provisions. — Executive actions to address climate change. — First steps to expand access to health care, for low-income women, women of colour and other segments of the population. — First steps to reunite families still separated at the Mexican border. ___ BEYOND (some may be tried sooner) — Ensure 100 million vaccines have been given before the end of his first 100 days. — Ensure 100 federally supported vaccination centres are up and running in his first month. — Expand use of the Defence Production Act to direct the manufacture of critical pandemic supplies. — Win passage of a $2 trillion climate package to get the U.S. to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. — Seek passage of a “Medicare-like public option” to compete alongside private insurance markets for working-age Americans; increase existing premium subsidies. — Eliminate certain corporate tax cuts where possible, by executive action, while doubling the levies U.S. firms pay on foreign profits. — Make a plan within 100 days to end homelessness. — Expand legal immigration slots. — Freeze deportations for 100 days, then restore the Obama-era principle of deporting foreigners who are seen as posing a national security threat or who have committed crimes in addition to the crime of illegal entry, thereby pulling back the broad deportation policy of the Trump years. — Halt financing of further construction of the wall along the Mexican border. — Within 100 days, establish a police oversight commission to combat institutional racism by then. — Reinstate federal guidance, issued by Obama and revoked by Trump, to protect transgender students’ access to sports, bathrooms and locker rooms in accordance with their gender identity. — Ensure taxes are not raised on anyone making under $400,000. — Restore Obama-era rules on campus sexual misconduct and a policy that aimed to cut federal money to for-profit colleges that left students with heavy debt they can't pay back. — Support legislation to make two years of community college free and to make public colleges free for families with incomes below $125,000, with no repayment of student loans required for people who make less than $25,000 a year and, for others, no repayment rate above 5% of discretionary income. — Support increasing the national minimum wage to $15. — Try to win passage of a plan to spend $700 billion boosting manufacturing and research and development. — Establish a commission to study expanding the Supreme Court. Darlene Superville And Will Weissert, The Associated Press
BEIJING — Profit at state-owned companies that dominate China’s banking, oil and most other industries rose by as much as 25% last year as the country recovered from the coronavirus pandemic, the government said Tuesday. Total revenue for national-level companies rose 2.2% over 2019 to 30.3 trillion yuan ($4.7 trillion), according to Peng Huagang, secretary general of the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission. Speaking at a news conference, Peng said profit rose 2.1% to 1.4 trillion yuan ($215 billion). The ruling Communist Party has built up such “national champions” over the past two decades, but their monopolies and multibillion-dollar subsidies prompt complaints by the public that they are a waste of money and gouge consumers with high prices. Peng’s agency oversees 97 companies directly under the Cabinet including PetroChina Ltd., Asia’s biggest oil producer; China Mobile Ltd., the world’s biggest phone carrier by number of subscribers, and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd., the world’s biggest bank by assets. SASAC companies also dominate air travel, insurance, securities, shipping, internet access, power generation, construction, nuclear power technology and coal and steel production. Chinese industries benefited from the economy’s relatively early reopening starting in March after the ruling party declared victory over the virus that emerged in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019. Total economic activity rose 2.3% in 2020, possibly making China the only major economy to grow while the United States, Europe and Japan struggled with rising infections. Growth accelerated to a two-year high of 6.5% over a year earlier in the three months ending in December. Profit at 24 national-level state companies rose by more than 25% over 2019 and two had profit of more than 100 billion yuan ($15.4 billion), Peng said, without identifying them or giving other details. Total profit at top state-owned companies grew by at least double digits over a year earlier in each month after June, according to Peng. Revenue growth accelerated to 11.7% over a year earlier in December as China’s economy rebounded, reaching a record 3.7 trillion yuan ($570 billion), Peng said. State-owned companies stepped up investment as part of the ruling party’s effort to support flagging economic activity. Telecom carriers spent 373.1 billion yuan ($57.5 billion) on next-generation networks and other investments, according to Peng. He said spending by power suppliers on hydro, wind and solar technology rose 27.4% over 2019 to 481.5 billion yuan ($74 billion). ___ State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission: http://en.sasac.gov.cn/ Joe McDonald, 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
La proposition du conseiller de l’opposition David De Cotis de rebaptiser l’aréna Saint-François du nom de Jacques St-Jean a rallié les élus du parti au pouvoir, des deux oppositions et des élus indépendants lors de la séance du conseil municipal de janvier. Ainsi, il a été décidé à l’unanimité d’en saisir le comité chargé d’analyser les demandes de dénomination toponymique. «C’est un honneur en tant que représentant des citoyens de Saint-François d’appuyer cette proposition», a déclaré le conseiller et membre du Mouvement lavallois – Équipe Marc Demers, Éric Morasse. Son collègue Yannick Langlois, qui préside aux destinées du Comité de toponymie, a pour sa part qualifié Jacques St-Jean de «bâtisseur» et de «personnalité très importante dans l’histoire du hockey et du sport de Laval», précisant que «le comité analysera le dossier» à la lumière de la Politique de dénomination toponymique. Celle-ci, adoptée au printemps 2018, vise à mettre en valeur le patrimoine et la culture locale par l’attribution de noms évocateurs à des lieux et espaces publics. Aux yeux de M. De Cotis, le proposeur, il s’agirait d’un «honneur bien mérité» pour celui qui s’est dévoué pendant plus d’un demi-siècle auprès de la population lavalloise. Conseiller municipal de Saint-François pendant 24 ans, soit jusqu’à ce qu’il quitte la vie politique en 2017, Jacques St-Jean avait été régisseur des sports pour l’ancienne ville de Chomedey avant la grande fusion de 1965. Son nom est indissociable du hockey, lui qui a notamment dirigé dans les années 1970 le National de Laval à la belle époque de Mike Bossy. En 1975, il fonda sa propre école de hockey qui, pendant plus de 40 ans, a accueilli des milliers de jeunes Lavallois. Aujourd’hui âgé de 85 ans, M. St-Jean, qui fut intronisé au Temple de la renommée du hockey québécois en 1996, a fait carrière dans l’enseignement, plus précisément au sein de la défunte Commission scolaire de Chomedey où il a œuvré à titre de conseiller pédagogique en éducation physique. Si cette proposition devait être entérinée par le Comité de toponymie, l’aréna Saint-François deviendrait le 4e amphithéâtre à être rebaptisé sous l’administration Demers. En 2014, l’aréna Laval-Ouest est devenu l’aréna Hartland-Monahan en l’honneur de celui qui fut le premier Lavallois repêché par la Ligue nationale de hockey. Les défunts Golden Seals de la Californie en avait fait leur choix en 1971. Deux ans plus tard, ce fut au tour de l’aréna Samson de changer de nom pour celui de l’ex-grande vedette du Lightning de Tampa Bay, le Lavallois Martin Saint-Louis. Enfin, en 2019, l’aréna Chomedey était renommé l’aréna Pierre-Creamer en l’honneur de cet entraîneur lavallois qui a notamment eu le privilège de diriger Mario Lemieux à la barre des Penguins de Pittsburgh à la fin des années 1980. À lire également: Jacques St-Jean reçoit le Prix Artisan 2020 Stéphane St-Amour, Initiative de journalisme local, Courrier Laval