Libyan intelligence officer Abdel Basset al-Megrahi was jailed for life in 2001 for the 1988 murder of the 270 passengers and crew of Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockervie. He died in 2012.
Libyan intelligence officer Abdel Basset al-Megrahi was jailed for life in 2001 for the 1988 murder of the 270 passengers and crew of Pan Am flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockervie. He died in 2012.
PALM BEACH, Fla. — Donald Trump has lost his social media megaphone, the power of government and the unequivocal support of his party's elected leaders. But a week after leaving the White House in disgrace, a large-scale Republican defection that would ultimately purge him from the party appears unlikely. Many Republicans refuse to publicly defend Trump's role in sparking the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. But as the Senate prepares for an impeachment trial for Trump's incitement of the riot, few seem willing to hold the former president accountable. After House Republicans who backed his impeachment found themselves facing intense backlash — and Trump’s lieutenants signalled the same fate would meet others who joined them — Senate Republicans voted overwhelmingly Tuesday for an attempt to dismiss his second impeachment trial. Only five Republican senators rejected the challenge to the trial. Trump's conviction was considered a real possibility just days ago after lawmakers whose lives were threatened by the mob weighed the appropriate consequences — and the future of their party. But the Senate vote on Tuesday is a sign that while Trump may be held in low regard in Washington following the riots, a large swath of Republicans is leery of crossing his supporters, who remain the majority of the party’s voters. “The political winds within the Republican Party have blown in the opposite direction,” said Ralph Reed, chair of the Faith and Freedom Coalition and a Trump ally. “Republicans have decided that even if one believes he made mistakes after the November election and on Jan. 6, the policies Trump championed and victories he won from judges to regulatory rollback to life to tax cuts were too great to allow the party to leave him on the battlefield.” The vote came after Trump, who decamped last week to his private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, began wading back into politics between rounds of golf. He took an early step into the Arkansas governor’s race by endorsing former White House aide Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and backed Kelli Ward, an ally who won reelection as chair of Arizona’s Republican Party after his endorsement. At the same time, Trump’s team has given allies an informal blessing to campaign against the 10 House Republicans who voted in favour of impeachment. After Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer backed impeachment, Republican Tom Norton announced a primary challenge. Norton appeared on longtime Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast in a bid to raise campaign contributions. On Thursday, another Trump loyalist, Rep. Matt Gaetz, plans to travel to Wyoming to condemn home-state Rep. Liz Cheney, a House GOP leader who said after the Capitol riot that “there has never been a greater betrayal by a president of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr. — a star with Trump’s loyal base —- has encouraged Gaetz on social media and embraced calls for Cheney’s removal from House leadership. Trump remains livid with Republican Gov. Brian Kemp of Georgia, who refused to support Trump's false charges that Georgia's elections were fraudulent. Kemp is up for reelection in 2022, and Trump has suggested former Rep. Doug Collins run against him. Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman’s decision not to seek reelection in 2022 opens the door for Rep. Jim Jordan, one of Trump’s most enthusiastic supporters, to seek the seat. Several other Republicans, some far less supportive of the former president, are also considering running. Trump’s continued involvement in national politics so soon after his departure marks a dramatic break from past presidents, who typically stepped out of the spotlight, at least temporarily. Former President Barack Obama was famously seen kitesurfing on vacation with billionaire Richard Branson shortly after he left office, and former President George W. Bush took up painting. Trump, who craves the media spotlight, was never expected to burrow out of public view. “We will be back in some form,” he told supporters at a farewell event before he left for Florida. But exactly what form that will take is a work in progress. Trump remains deeply popular among Republican voters and is sitting on a huge pot of cash — well over $50 million — that he could use to prop up primary challenges against Republicans who backed his impeachment or refused to support his failed efforts to challenge the election results using bogus allegations of mass voter fraud in states like Georgia. “POTUS told me after the election that he’s going to be very involved,” said Matt Schlapp, the chair of the American Conservative Union. “I think he’s going to stay engaged. He’s going to keep communicating. He’s going to keep expressing his opinions. I, for one, think that’s great, and I encouraged him to do that.” Aides say he also intends to dedicate himself to winning back the House and Senate for Republicans in 2022. But for now, they say their sights are on the trial. “We’re getting ready for an impeachment trial — that’s really the focus,” said Trump adviser Jason Miller. Trump aides have also spent recent days trying to assure Republicans that he is not currently planning to launch a third party — an idea he has floated — and will instead focus on using his clout in the Republican Party. Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., said he received a call from Brian Jack, the former White House political director, on Saturday at home to assure him that Trump had no plans for defection. “The main reason for the call was to make sure I knew from him that he’s not starting a third party and if I would be helpful in squashing any rumours that he was starting a third party. And that his political activism or whatever role he would play going forward would be with the Republican Party, not as a third party,” Cramer said. The calls were first reported by Politico. But the stakes remain high for Trump, whose legacy is a point of fierce contention in a Republican Party that is grappling with its identity after losing the White House and both chambers of Congress. Just three weeks after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol, Trump’s political standing among Republican leaders in Washington remains low. “I don’t know whether he incited it, but he was part of the problem, put it that way,” said Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville, a strong Trump supporter, when asked about the Capitol siege and the related impeachment trial. Tuberville did not say whether he would personally defend Trump in the trial, but he downplayed the prospect of negative consequences for those Republican senators who ultimately vote to convict him. “I don’t think there’ll be any repercussions,” Tuberville said. “People are going to vote how they feel anyway.” Trump maintains a strong base of support within the Republican National Committee and in state party leadership, but even there, Republican officials have dared to speak out against him in recent days in ways they did not before. In Arizona, Ward, who had Trump’s backing, was only narrowly reelected over the weekend, even as the party voted to censure a handful of Trump’s Republican critics, including former Sen. Jeff Flake and Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain. At the same time, Trump’s prospective impeachment sparked a bitter feud within the RNC. In a private email exchange obtained by The Associated Press, RNC member Demetra DeMonte of Illinois proposed a resolution calling on every Republican senator to oppose what she called an “unconstitutional sham impeachment trial, motivated by a radical and reckless Democrat majority.” Bill Palatucci, a Republican committeeman from New Jersey, slapped back. “His act of insurrection was an attack on our very democracy and deserves impeachment,” Palatucci wrote. ___ Peoples reported from New York. Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington contributed to this report. Steve Peoples And Jill Colvin, The Associated Press
Hockey Alberta has set a deadline to decide whether or not to continue planning league play for the 2020-21 minor hockey season.Hockey Alberta, in conjunction with its sanctioned minor leagues for male and female hockey, said in a statement Tuesday it is currently reviewing the sustainability of league play for the remainder of the season, and that if there is no new information from the Government of Alberta by Feb. 1, a decision will have to be made about its league play based on the current information available.Hockey Alberta says any decision regarding league play doesn't mean the end of hockey activity for the 2020-21 season, and that other potential ideas such as skill development programming and/or exhibition or mini-league games could be viable options with the required safety protocols in place.Hockey Alberta says it has met with Alberta Health and Government of Alberta representatives on several occasions, as recently as last week with discussions "focused on how hockey can be relaunched in a way that ensures the safety of all participants."Minor hockey across the country was put on hiatus in March due to COVID-19.Minor hockey associations came up with different solutions for a return-to-play program this season, blending guidelines from Hockey Canada and local public health authorities, in an effort to get back on the ice. But Alberta had to suspend all minor hockey activities in December after the Government of Alberta announced the temporary closure of all indoor recreation facilities, including arenas.This report by The Canadian Press was first published January 26, 2021. The Canadian Press
A new work permit program for international students in Canada is taking applications starting today. The federal government announced the program this month as part of a bid to convince more people to settle in Canada permanently. Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said at the time that former students with post-graduation work permits that have expired or will soon expire can now apply for open work permits. The program will offer affected people 18 more months to stay in the country to look for work. The federal department estimates that about 52,000 graduates could benefit. Sarom Rho, who leads a migrant student campaign with Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, says the "massive" change will benefit many, but others are still left out. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. The Canadian Press
For Debi Drennan, the film business is a family affair. The Toronto-based makeup artist has been working in the industry before the days of The Littlest Hobo. Her sons, Christian and Tyler, followed her into the business, and despite the COVID-19 pandemic, they're all as busy as ever. Christian, a key grip, just wrapped The Man from Toronto starring Kevin Hart. Key rigger Tyler recently jumped from working on Netflix's Sex and Lies and is now on Station Eleven. Drennan herself was one of the first to return to work after Ontario's first coronavirus lockdown, as part of CBC's Murdoch Mysteries. She says that with all of the precautions in place, she wasn't worried about safety. "We're not allowed on the property until we have a correct temperature and we've done a screening. We all had apps on our phone, and we would have to answer those apps every morning." With surging coronavirus rates shutting down production in parts of California, Canadian crews such as the ones the Drennans worked on are competing with an influx of American productions. In both British Columbia and Ontario, the industry isn't just busy — it's booming. Switching face shields for safety glasses Virus or not, Drennan and her colleagues in the makeup trailer still had to make the cast look picture perfect. For starters, she procured a high-end UV sterilization machine to prevent cross-contamination. But applying makeup while wearing masks and face shields turned out to be a challenge. The solution was safety glasses with prescription lenses, which became standard on set. As both the face of and a director on the 14th season of Murdoch Mysteries, Yannick Bisson says he was all too cognizant of the risks. "There was pressure, we were going to be one of the first shows out of the gate," he said. "So the potential for failure was there." Drennan says the cast and crew quickly became accustomed to the new rhythms of work, but what she didn't anticipate was how worn out she would become. "It's exhausting.... I just felt like halfway through the day, they couldn't call lunch fast enough. I just needed to get in my car, pull my mask off, take my goggles off and just sit." Headaches were common, and Drennan says she thinks dehydration may have played a role: Taking off all the layers of personal protective equipment for a sip of water or a snack was such an ordeal that the temptation was just to tough it out. Pandemic keeps productions on edge Jason Jallet, a producer from Sudbury, Ont., completed two independent films during the fall and ran into trouble getting makeup and hair trailers, which had already been reserved for foreign productions. "They are all on a lot somewhere held until somebody needed them, so they were being paid for and unused." Jallet says he was forced to send drivers to Quebec from Sudbury for trailers, costing more time and money. He estimates COVID-19 precautions ate up about five per cent of his already precious budget. On-screen, life on the CBC sitcom Kim's Convenience looks the same as it did before the pandemic. But behind the scenes, the fifth season was shot under COVID-19 measures that were so strict, even Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, who plays Appa, struggled to adjust. "I remember really wanting to push back at the absurdity of having to wear a mask because I knew I didn't have COVID and then realizing that I was making life hell for our COVID protocol officer." Eventually, Lee says, he decided to lean in and embrace the rules. Jean Yoon, who plays his on-screen wife, Umma, says she missed the faces of the crew. "Being in the same building with so many people we've worked with for all these years and not be able to see them." The strain of adapting to the regime of rules was so onerous that Jallet created a new position — a COVID-19 mental health officer — to give his crew someone to vent to. Jallet completed two films in northern Ontario last fall, Boathouse and Delia's Gone, starring Marisa Tomei and Canadian actor Stephan James. Jallet was also dealing with his own anxiety due to the lack of insurance for COVID-19 outbreaks. While the federal government eventually created a program to act as a backstop for Canadian productions, it wasn't available in time for Jallet, leaving him on the hook for any potential outbreak. "Every time the phone rang, I was like, 'Is there a COVID incident? Is somebody sick? Are we going to have to shut down?'" A surge in demand for studio space While the rush for resources has taxed Canadian productions, it's been a boon for companies offering studio space. Near Toronto's Pearson International Airport, the sound of jets overhead has been replaced by a fleet of film trucks supporting the newest location for TriBro Studios. What was once an airport hangar is now a soundstage, home to upcoming Netflix production Nightbooks. TriBro president Peter Apostolopoulos says it can't build studio space fast enough. "The phone hasn't stopped ringing. There's a tremendous amount of calls coming in for studio space. That's why we expanded to the airport facilities. We needed more space." In Vancouver, independent producer Mark Miller says he is also seeing a scramble for space, with old warehouses being transformed into soundstages. The producer, who's worked with Great Pacific Media and Thunderbird Entertainment, is bullish on the future. "We're preparing for a big boom — actually, we think that once the pandemic comes to an end, there's a lot of pent-up demand for new content." At the same time, Miller says he's worried who will buy his shows. Aggressive tax credits and the low dollar continue to make Canada an attractive location to serve American shows, such as Star Trek: Discovery or Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. But Miller says the pandemic is changing the broadcasting landscape here at home. "COVID-19 has been very hard on our broadcasters. I know it's been hard on the CBC. I know it's been hard at CTV," he says. "Global advertising revenues are down throughout traditional television, which up until eight years ago was 100 per cent of my business." While COVID-19 has changed how stories are being captured, Yannick Bisson of Murdoch Mysteries says one thing remains the same: "The need for something to watch, the need for content. We want to watch our voices on our screen." In Ontario alone, there are an estimated 30,000 full-time jobs connected to the film and television sector. But as the pandemic stretches on, choosing whether to work or wait has producer Jason Jallet facing some tough choices. "Do we go come up here to northern Ontario to make films? So if I'm bringing actors up from Toronto on a weekly basis to be on screen, am I putting my community here in northern Ontario at risk?"
CALGARY — The president of a union representing employees at some of the largest meat-packing plants in the country says there needs to be a discussion about making the COVID-19 vaccine more readily available to essential workers. Thomas Hesse of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401 says he realizes there's a shortage of the vaccine right now. But once that is remedied, he say, workers at large operations such as the Cargill meat-packing plant in High River, Alta., and the JBS Canada plant in Brooks, Alta., shouldn't have to wait too long. "In the coming months at some point someone's going to make a decision about who gets the vaccination. Will there be a priority? Will there be any prioritization of any so-called essential workers?" he asked in an interview with The Canadian Press. The two plants, which together normally process about 70 per cent of Canada's beef supply, were hot spots for COVID-19 outbreaks last spring. Cargill's plant, south of Calgary, shut down for two weeks in April because of an outbreak that initially affected 350 of its 2,200 workers. Eventually nearly half the workers contracted the novel coronavirus and two employees died. COVID-19 forced JBS to reduce its production to a single shift a day for a month, which added to a backlog of cattle at feedlots. The plants brought in safety measures that included temperature testing, physical distancing, and cleaning and sanitizing before they returned to normal operations. Packing-plant employees are still at risk, Hesse said. "In a Cargill or a JBS or other manufacturing facility in Alberta, there'll be a couple of thousand workers in a big box still working in relatively proximity," he said. "These are essential workers. They're at higher risk. This is clearly an occupational disease. Many of them want to have access to a safe vaccine." Hesse said the union plans to hold a town-hall meeting Sunday to hear members views and what to do if getting a vaccination becomes a condition of employment. An official with Cargill said the company is working with health authorities and medical experts to make sure its employees have access to vaccines when they become available without jeopardizing the priority being given to health-care workers "We will prioritize our front-line workers whenever we can, as they continue to work tirelessly to keep our food system going strong," said Daniel Sullivan in an email. "Because we know vaccines don't work without vaccinations, we also will join local health authorities in promoting the importance of vaccination among our employees." JBS USA said it will offer all its employees a $100 bonus, including those in Brooks, if they get vaccinated in the future. "Our goal is to remove any barriers to vaccination and incentivize our team members to protect themselves, their families and their co-workers," said CEO Andre Nogueira. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021 — Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
BEIJING — The Chinese government said Wednesday that actions like its warplanes flying near Taiwan last weekend are a warning against both foreign interference in Taiwan and any independence moves by the island. Asked about the flights, Zhu Fenglian, a spokesperson for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, said China's military drills are to show the nation's resolution to protect its national sovereignty and territorial integrity. "They are a stern warning against external interference and provocation from separatist forces advocating for Taiwan independence,” she said at a regular briefing, giving the Chinese government's first official comment on the recent flights. China sent eight bombers and four fighter jets into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone on Saturday, according to Taiwan's Defence Ministry. Taiwan scrambled fighters to monitor the activity. The U.S. State Department later issued a statement urging China “to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan” following China's sizeable show of force. China then sent 16 military aircraft into the same area on Sunday, Taiwan said. Taiwan is a self-governing island about 160 kilometres (100 miles) off China's east coast. The Chinese government regards it as a renegade province that should be united with mainland China. Zhu said that China would not renounce the use of force to guard against separatist moves and foreign interference. “We ... reserve the option to use all necessary measures,” she said. "Our position has been consistent and will not change.” The Associated Press
Shares in Polish parcel locker firm InPost jumped 19% on their Euronext debut on Wednesday, valuing the company which benefited from online shopping during the pandemic lockdowns at 9.5 billion euros ($11.55 billion). The parcel business is widely used in Poland by sellers on online commerce platform Allegro, which debuted on the Warsaw bourse in October with one of the largest IPOs in Europe. Elsewhere, Dutch tech firm WeTransfer is eyeing a stock market listing in Amsterdam in April or May, sources said earlier this week.
Students at the University of British Columbia are reacting strongly to the administration's proposed tuition increase for the upcoming academic year. The suggested two per cent hike for most students — and four per cent hike for new international students — comes as classes continue online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. "It was just upsetting to me. Like, everybody's going through a tough time right now, and as far as I know, everybody's kind of still paying the same amount of money that they would pay in a normal year," said Joshua Peng, a second year arts student. "It's just quite the bomb to drop on us, emotionally speaking," said Peng. The university sent students an email on Monday with links to a consultation website, but the idea of a consultation having any effect was quickly panned by some students on social media. Matthew Ramsey, director of university affairs, declined an interview request from CBC News. Ramsey sent a written statement that said inflationary pressures are among the reasons UBC is proposing the increase. "If tuition increases are approved as proposed for 2021-22, UBC proposes to allocate all of this year's incremental credit tuition revenue resulting from the rate increase towards COVID-19-impacted key priorities," wrote Ramsey, adding that in total, the tuition increases would result in $19 million in incremental funds in 2021-2022. For Peng, who hasn't yet had a complete year of university unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the university experience has not been what he had expected, or hoped it would be. "It does suck for me, but I know friends who really don't want this [tuition increase]. They're not in the best environment right now," he said. Peng had hoped by this semester, classes might have returned to a hybrid format of online and in-person classes, but the number of COVID-19 cases in the province has remained high. He said he struggles to maintain attention during online lectures at home, and being in the lecture hall "just works better." Beyond the education, Peng said the social and networking aspect of university has been completely absent. When asked about the quality of education at UBC during the pandemic, relative to the cost, Ramsey sent a link to a public relations article posted in August titled Why tuition is not being reduced at UBC. It argues that a fee reduction isn't possible, in part, due to a projected $225 million deficit for the 2020-2021 academic year. In April, students launched a petition asking UBC to issue partial refunds to students during the pandemic. By late January, it had received nearly 9,000 signatures, but has had no success in decreasing tuition or generating refunds. Do you have more to add to this story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker
Regina– New Democratic Party Leader Ryan Meili says we are now dealing with the results of not implementing a COVID-19 “circuit breaker” in November, and that the province has not taken full advantage of federal relief funds. Also, at the tail end of a seniors vaccination blitz that, as a doctor, he took part in delivering, Meili received his first dose of one of the vaccines. That blitz led him to suggest the province improve its delivery mechanisms and logistics. Speaking to reporters in the Legislature on Jan. 26, Meili said, “We saw another 14 people lose their lives in the last 24 hours 46 in the last week, is it a lot of people, a lot of families who are mourning, and it's really frustrating that to note that this was avoidable. If we had gone through the circuit breaker back in the fall, had taken action early, we could have avoided these deaths. And yet here we are today, still leading the country in the rate of active cases, over 10 per cent positivity test rate, low testing compared to what we should be doing, and outbreaks and long term care.” Regarding the extension of public health restrictions, Meili repeated his assertion that Saskatchewan should have done a “circuit breaker” in November, when cases were spiking in Manitoba and North Dakota. “This is what we said would happen; that if we didn't do that, we would be seeing months and months of restrictions. It's much more costly to the economy, and over 250 people have died. So, we missed that window. But now, what can we do? We need to make sure that the health measures are the right measures. We've seen no action to protect against long-term care outbreaks, to reduce the density of residents in four-bed rooms in long-term care. And we've still got people going to bars. That's not the case anywhere else in Western Canada. But here, people are still going to bars, despite knowing that those are common sources of super-spreader events. It's happened in Saskatchewan, and it's happened around the world.” Pointing to a Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report, Meili said Premier Scott Moe had left $150 million in federal money “on the table.” Meili said, “That was for childcare, so important in recovering our economy; for wage top-ups for essential frontline health care workers. And over $30 million that was dedicated to preventing the kind of outbreaks we're seeing in long term care today. “Now is not the time to be cheap with Saskatchewan people. And unfortunately, that's what Scott Moe is doing. Now is the time for us to invest. And that's why I'm calling on the premier, today, to acknowledge the seriousness of the problem. Things are not going well, when it comes to COVID-19. We're at great risk that the upcoming COVID-19 variant, of things getting worse before the vaccine arrives. We are in a race, between the vaccine and the virus. Only public health measures will help us win that race; and to come clean about where every single federal dollar has gone, and commit to making sure that all of those dollars go out to protect and support Saskatchewan people in this difficult time.” He added, “This government is using this to backfill their own financial mismanagement, their own fiscal failures. They're using this dollar these dollars to try to cover up the fact that they've allowed budget deficits to grow instead of doing what they should do, which is investing in Saskatchewan people at a time when we really need.” On the same day, Manitoba ordered most interprovincial travellers to quarantine for 14 days. Meili said interprovincial travel restrictions should be looked at in Saskatchewan. He said, “Especially as we're thinking about a new deadly or more contagious variant, we have to think about what's happening in our borders.” Meili, as a physician, has been taking part in providing the vaccine blitz at a seniors home a little over a week ago. Asked about that, and the shortage of additional doses this week, Meili said, “I do know that it has been chaotic in terms of the communication and the delivery of the vaccine so far. It's very disappointing we don't have more vaccine to deliver right now. “I hope the government will take this time to better prepare the delivery mechanisms and logistics and give a clearer message, so that we don't have so many people out there saying, ‘I'm a health care worker, but I don't see where I am on the list.’ ‘I'm a senior, I don't see where I am on the list.’ So people really know when they're going to be getting that vaccine.” He added, “Lots of vaccine got out, which was great to see. I was really delightful to be able to be part of that experience, to give the hope to the seniors who are coming and to hear their stories. And it reminded me how important the lives of seniors are. We often hear people saying, ‘Oh, it's only the elderly that die from this.’ “Well, so what? Those elderly people are really important. Seniors are really important. And they have important stories to tell, and their lives matter. So that was really exciting to be a part of. In that particular vaccine blitz, we had excess doses, and they were going to be thrown away. So, while I had earlier refused a request, or an offer to be vaccinated, those staff members, including myself, who were unvaccinated did get the vaccine that day.” He concluded, “My big message is, if you get a chance, if you get a call from the (Saskatchewan Health Authority), go get the vaccine. It's really important. And we're part of a phenomenal moment in human history. Many downsides, but what an incredible thing, to see a new disease and now have a vaccine for it only a year later.” Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
Some Arnprior, Ont., residents say they're angry after the town's mayor sent an opinion letter to local mailboxes, arguing why he doesn't believe systemic racism exists in the community. The letter, which has been circulating on social media, is addressed to all residents of the town and signed by Mayor Walter Stack. He says he's "chosen to listen, observe and take in all the input from both sides on the topic" of racism. The letter follows a CBC Ottawa series on racism in the Ottawa Valley, where Black, Indigenous and people of colour (BIPOC) shared their experiences with racism and called on local leaders to do something about it. In one story, Stack told CBC he doesn't believe there's systemic racism in Arnprior and suggested racist incidents there are isolated — prompting some residents to sign a petition that called for the town to apologize. He needs to hear us. He needs to try to work with us, rather than fighting back. - Kerry-Lee Williams, Arnprior resident In his opinion letter, Stack said he has "searched a number of sources for the definition of systemic." He concludes that he doesn't believe racism is systemic in Arnprior. "I certainly DO NOT believe it is embedded as a normal practice in our community and I do not apologize for MY OPINION," wrote Stack. "I was not thrilled to get that," said Patti Stevens who got the letter in her mailbox this week. "It was just greasy to me. First thing I wanted to know was who paid for this?" She said she feels Stack was "trying to spin on the word, to be technical about systemic racism." "I don't want to look at the paper again," said Stevens, who's Indigenous and identifies as Coast Salish. She says she's leaving Arnprior next month in part due to feeling unwelcome. "That made me feel very uncomfortable and frustrated and angry and sick in my own home." "He needs to hear us. He needs to try to work with us, rather than fighting back," said Kerry-Lee Williams, who's part of the town's Black community. "He needs to realize that we're speaking up on racism because it's a problem. It does exist regardless of how he feels." 'Definitely unconventional,' says councillor "I was frankly surprised. It's definitely unconventional," said Coun. Lisa McGee about the mayor's letter. McGee, who put forward a motion in December to apologize to BIPOC for the mayor denying systemic racism, said many residents have been contacting her Tuesday about the mayor's statements. "They're pretty surprised by the mailout. People have used words like shocked," said McGee. "They don't seem to be terribly supportive." When asked if she has a reaction to Stack calling her out specifically in his opinion letter, McGee said she wants to focus on the council's commitments to address racism, and wants BIPOC to know the majority of council is committed to challenging racism. "I think we just need to move forward," she said. Pointing fingers at mayor damaging: councillor In defending his position, Stack referred to Coun. Lynn Grinstead's statement during a Dec. 23 special council meeting. "As Councillor Grinstead said ... for anyone to label anyone else a racist without ever having had a discussion to attempt to understand the other's position does not support a positive beginning to a process of dialogue," wrote Stack in his opinion letter. "If you haven't bothered to speak directly to the source, then in my opinion, you have no business commenting publicly at all. These comments are more damaging than the reporter's story," said Grinstead at the time. "It amazes me how many are pointing fingers and slinging mud on social media on an issue about racism using racial slurs themselves." Grinstead, who supported the mayor during that meeting, declined an interview with CBC. Mayor Stack and the town's spokesperson did not respond to CBC's request for comment. WATCH | What systemic racism in Canada looks like, according to experts:
OTTAWA — Newly released documents show federal officials have been aware since the fall that some new parents might be receiving a smaller amount of money than they would have if not for a change in the way COVID-19 pandemic benefits are delivered to Canadians. That is due to a shift in late September, when the employment insurance system kicked back into gear and three new benefits rolled out to replace the Canada Emergency Response Benefit that was supporting Canadians who had lost income since the spring. On Sept. 27, eligible recipients started moving on to the decades-old EI system where the minimum weekly payment was set at $500 in line with the three "recovery" benefits. Prior to that date, benefits were calculated based on earnings, meaning any new parent that started their EI claim before the change could receive less than $500 a week. The documents obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act note the policy created inequities, and point to a similar effect for parents who will start claims after Sept. 25 this year, when the temporary rules are set to expire. Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough's office says the government will make any necessary changes so new parents don't face "additional barriers accessing maternity or parental benefits as a result of COVID-19." Changes to the EI program can take anywhere between three and 18 months to come into force, and they generally take effect on a particular date. Claims made before that date are often ineligible unless the change is simple and very specific to avoid what the document describes as the need to review claims that began "as much as 100 weeks in the past." But the undated memo outlines multiple, rapid changes and revisions to parental benefit rules in the wake of the CERB. When partial or retroactive changes were made, more problems seem to have cropped up. There were issues with how the system handled soon-to-be-mothers applying for emergency aid, which denied them CERB payments until changes to the system could be made and back payments processed. As well, other new parents, or those waiting the birth of their child, were put directly on EI benefits if they had enough hours to qualify, while those that didn't were put on the CERB until the government came up with a fix. That fix meant a one-time reduction in the number of hours needed to qualify for benefits to address concerns that some parents would lose out on benefits because they lost work hours through no fault of their own. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, over 35 per cent of new mothers outside of Quebec, which has its own system, didn't qualify for federal benefits. The pandemic has shone a light on the long-standing issue around the hours requirement, said Brock University's Andrea Doucet, an expert on parental-leave programs. "This was made even worse as women lost jobs and reduced (their) hours," Doucet said. "The reduction in insurable hours was presented as temporary, but will it lead to more inclusive policies that enable more parents to make claims?" Kate Bezanson, an expert on family and labour market policy, said the document points a need for a rethink of the parental leave program, noting that leave policies work hand-in-hand with child care and employment efforts. The Liberals have said they want to create a national child-care system, part of a plan to help more mothers enter the labour market. "We want people to have babies, and take care of those babies happily, and also have jobs to return to and be able to do that seamlessly," said Bezanson, associate dean of social sciences at Brock University. "This is one of those moments where if we're looking holistically and we're looking globally at our policy portfolios, let's put them together and get them to talk to each other and make the changes that have been long overdue." This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. Jordan Press, The Canadian Press
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Indian farmers on Wednesday postponed a march to parliament on Feb. 1, the day of the government's budget announcement, following violent clashes with police a day earlier that left one person dead and hundreds injured. Tens of thousands of farmers have been camped on the outskirts of New Delhi for two months to protest against reforms of the agriculture sector, which they say benefit big private buyers at the expense of growers. It said on Wednesday the unions would hold rallies and a hunger strike on Saturday but there would be no planned events on Monday, when Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman is due to present the annual budget.
CALGARY — Mitch Marner's been working on his shot and it showed in the Toronto Maple Leafs' 4-3 win Tuesday over the host Calgary Flames. Marner's quick one-timer amid a crowd of Flames produced the game-winner at 12:14 of the third period. "Trying to get more of a shot mentality," Marner said. "I feel like I really want to try and make an extra play most of the time, but this year, trying to be more of a threat and more of a guy that can be more of a consistent shooter on net, and kind of change things up a lot on goalies." Marner, who also assisted on an Auston Matthews goal Tuesday, continues to vie for the early lead in the NHL points race. He was tied with Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid at five goals and seven assists Tuesday. Matthews also had a goal and an assist for the Maple Leafs (6-2-0). Wayne Simmonds and Travis Boyd scored Toronto's other goals. Frederik Andersen stopped 23-of-26 shots for the win. Johnny Gaudreau scored twice for Calgary (2-2-1). Milan Lucic also scored for the Flames and Jacob Markstrom stopped 17 shots in the loss. Calgary's sluggish start forced the hosts to chase Toronto. Gaudreau's second goal of the game drew Calgary even at 3-3 in the third period, but Marner's deceptive release on a Matthews pass from the boards restored Toronto's lead. "We did a good regrouping in the second getting ourselves back to an even hockey game, but they win from the inside of our slot.," Calgary head coach Geoff Ward said. "The guy is standing right between three of our guys and finds a way to get a shot off. You can't give up four goals in this league regularly and expect to win games." Gaudreau scored top corner from the face-off circle for a power-play goal at 9:03 of the third period. Calgary outshot the visitors 18-5 in the second period, but still trailed by a goal after two. A Juuso Valimaki pass caromed off Leaf Alex Kerfoot's skate to Lucic in the slot for him to beat Andersen between the pads at 14:21 of the second period. Gaudreau halved a two-goal deficit at 1:08, but Boyd restored Toronto's two-goal cushion 61 seconds later. Pierre Engvall dished to an unchallenged Boyd charging into the slot. Boyd scored his first as a Leaf fishing the puck out of his feet and chipping it over Markstrom. Unchecked on Andersen's right side, Gaudreau had time to go backhand-forehand on Toronto's goalie. Toronto outshot the Flames 10-1 and led 2-0 after the opening period. It took nearly 16 minutes for Calgary to register a shot on net. "That was just an awful first period from us," Gaudreau said. "Not the way we're going to win games, playing catchup the whole game." Matthews whipped the puck over Markstrom's right shoulder at 14:16 of the first period for a power-play goal. Simmonds scored his second goal in as many games tucking his own rebound by Markstrom's right toe at 3:44. Leafs backup goaltender Jack Campbell was replaced in the lineup by Michael Hutchinson. Campbell's leg was injured in the final minute of Sunday's 3-2 win over the Flames when Matthew Tkachuk fell on him in a goal-mouth scrum. Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe said Tuesday that Campbell will be sidelined for "weeks". After enjoying the gentlest schedule to start the season of any team in the all-Canadian Scotia North Division, the Flames will now play 21 games in the next 40 days. Calgary departs on a five-game road trip with two games in Montreal starting Thursday, followed by three games in four days in Winnipeg. Toronto faces the Oilers on Thursday and Saturday in Edmonton to conclude a four-game road trip. Notes: The Maple Leafs wore No. 10 patches on their chests in memory of George Armstrong, who captained Toronto to four Stanley Cups in the 1960s and died this week at age 90. Every Leaf wore No. 10 and "Armstrong" on their back during warmup . . . Flames winger Dillon Dube was scratched for a second straight game with an upper-body injury. This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2021. Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press
Regina– Three more weeks. That’s the length of the most recent extension of public health orders in Saskatchewan meant to limit the spread of COVID-19. Premier Scott Moe made the announcement from the Legislature in Regina on Jan. 26 with chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab. The announcement came on a day when Saskatchewan posted yet another record for COVID-19 related deaths, 14, but has seen a slow drop in new case counts. There are now 2,665 cases are considered active, and on that day, 607 recoveries were reported. Moe said. “The number of new cases in Saskatchewan continues to gradually decline. Today we are reporting 232 new cases, and our seven-day average for new cases is now 254. This is down about 20 per cent from its peak of 321 on Jan. 12. Our active cases are now down to 2,665, the lowest level since Nov. 21, and down over 40 per cent from a peak of 4,763 on Dec. 7. “This gradual decline means that our current public health orders and restrictions are working, but we need to leave them in place a little longer. Therefore, all the current public health orders are being extended for three weeks until Feb. 19.” “These measures are working, when we follow them, as the vast majority of Saskatchewan people and businesses are doing. There have been a small number of mainly bars and restaurants who may not have been following those putting their staff putting their customers and essentially putting their communities at risk. So, I have asked that we increase enforcement on those who choose to break the rules, and in recent days there has been three significant tickets.” Moe also said that two bars in Saskatoon and one in Regina had been issued $14,000 fines. He held out the hope that three weeks from now, Saskatchewan may be able to look at reducing the number of restrictions in place. He pointed out that the province has made a lot of progress in vaccinations. To date, 34,080 doses have been delivered, and those administering it are quite literally getting the most out of every bottle, getting 104 per cent of expected dosages. Moe said, “But we continue to be limited by the slow pace of vaccine deliveries, from to and from the federal government. Saskatchewan now has the highest percentage of vaccines administered, and we have the second-highest per capita rate of vaccinations completed among any of the provinces. “Unfortunately, today we are virtually out of vaccines. And with no new shipments coming this week, our vaccination program will be stalled for the next number of days.” Next week, the province is expecting 12,000 additional doses, of which 5,850 will be Pfizer doses heading to Saskatoon, Regina, North Battleford, Yorkton and Swift Current to allow continued vaccination of long-term care residents and staff, as well as those over 70. A further 6,500 Moderna doses will be going to the far northeast, far northwest, and northeast regions of the province for a second doses. In the central-west region, first shots will be administered, Moe said. The province will continue to push the federal government for more vaccines, and to also look at approving additional types of vaccines for use. He referenced the vaccines that AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson have been working on. Shahab said, “I think it's really important that we are seeing a steady decline in our case numbers; all the indicators are moving in the right direction is slow and steady.” Daily case numbers have come down from 24 per 100,000 population to 20 per 100,000. Test positivity is down under 10 per cent, and is doing so throughout the province. When vaccination starts picking up in March and April, “then we hope to see significant impact on hospitalization and deaths,” he said. Until then, we really have to stay the course. “The other thing is that, with our public health measures, some people say it's too little, some people say it's too much. But, you know, they try to strike a fine balance between minimizing cases, as long as the guidelines are followed, and letting people work, (and) enjoy other amenities as much as possible.” He added, “But the downward trend does show, that if all of us abide by public health principles, it has a significant impact on our case numbers.” On the same day, Manitoba implemented 14-day quarantines for nearly all travellers to that province. Asked about doing something similar for Saskatchewan, Shahab said it have been looked at, but found to be impractical, given our long borders, and people in border communities who work and shop across the border. But he did recommend minimizing travel. Regarding variants of the COVID-19 virus, Shahab said sampling is done with relation to travel, and some sampling with age groups and geography as well. “I would not be surprised if we saw a variant in Saskatchewan, but again, what we’re doing, is exactly the same. We really have to follow all these public health measures.” Asked about adverse reactions to the vaccines in Saskatchewan, Shahab said there have been around 10 to 15 allergic reactions, some tingling on the face, and one anaphylaxis that was managed safely. They were well-described in the product monograph and have been managed, he said. “Most of them have presented in individuals who may have had a history of allergies, and they have managed well, so at this point the signal is not of any concern, compared to what is known about these vaccines what we were expecting, with what’s know about other vaccines.” He noted the importance of watching those vaccinated for 15 minutes after the shot, and if you have any allergies, make it known and you will be monitored some more. Brian Zinchuk, Local Journalism Initiative reporter, Estevan Mercury
Major Taiwanese chipmakers are willing to prioritise supplies for auto makers amid a global shortage of chips for the industry, the island's economics minister said after meeting with company executives. "Chipmakers are willing to follow the government's request and try to support auto chips as much as they can to support production in the U.S., Europe and Japan," Economics Minister Wang Mei-hua told reporters. The issue has become a diplomatic one, with German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier writing to Wang to ask her for help in addressing it.
Genomic sequencing will be key in determining the prevalence of new, more transmissible variants of COVID-19 in Canada, experts say, but the process is too laborious and time-consuming to run on every positive swab. While that means we likely can't know the exact number of cases stemming from the "variants of concern," first identified in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil, experts say genomic sequencing can unlock useful information about where and how quickly spread may be happening.The Canadian Press spoke with microbiologists and laboratory science specialists to answer popular questions about the new variants, and what we're doing to detect them.HOW IS GENOMIC SEQUENCING DONE?Positive samples, typically taken from travel-related cases or those that were otherwise flagged for sequencing, are sent to a specific lab which has the equipment required to get a closer look at the virus's genetic code. From there, a specially-trained scientist looks for mutations and changes from the main SARS-CoV-2 virus, going through the code line by line. The process, which can take anywhere from a couple days to a full week, is tedious, expensive and requires a level of scientific equipment and knowledge only accessible in a handful of labs across the country, says Dr. Tony Mazzulli, a medical microbiologist at Public Health Ontario Laboratory."You need the supplies, the reagents, and you need people with the expertise who can a) do it and b) interpret the results once the test is finished," said Mazzulli, who's also the microbiologist-in-chief of the Mount Sinai Hospital. "It's not just like a diagnostic test that is either a yes or no."HOW OFTEN ARE WE DOING IT?Ontario, which had 34 total known cases of the B.1.1.7 variant from the U.K. as of Monday, is undergoing a point-prevalence study in which all positive test results in the province from a single day — Jan. 20 — are being analyzed through genomic sequencing. Health Minister Christine Elliott said Ontario has analyzed 9,000 samples for the new variants and hopes to look at 1,500 every week going forward.Public Health Ontario also says it is introducing screening tests that can look for a mutation that's found in the three concerning variants. Dr. Vanessa Allen, the chief of microbiology at the Public Health Ontario Lab, said in a press conference Monday the new tests will help identify "high-risk samples," that will then be sent to labs for sequencing. Mazzulli says some of Canada's standard PCR tests can also pick up a hint — known as the S-gene dropout — that the sample should be sequenced. PCR tests give us a yes or no answer as to whether a person is infected, but they also look for specific genes in the virus, Mazzulli explained. If the S gene, which has the mutation, is missing from the diagnostic, that's an indication the sample should be sent in for further sequencing.Mazzulli also says Ontario is building capacity and developing further criteria for samples that should be sequenced, including those from outbreaks where a group of cases are associated with each other.In B.C., where according to data released Monday there have been three confirmed cases South Africa variant and six cases of the U.K. variant, top doctor Bonnie Henry said the province is working on strategies to see where it can target genomic sequencing to better understand changes and variants circulating in the community. About 9,500 quality sequences have been performed in the province since February, which amounts to sampling approximately 15 per cent of cases, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control. WHY CAN'T WE SEQUENCE EVERY POSITIVE COVID TEST WE GET?Joel Rivero, field application system specialist who helps set up molecular and immunodiagnostic tests at labs across Canada, says that boils down to capacity and lab resources.While sequencing every sample is ideal to get a full picture, Rivero says that probably wouldn't get you the best "return on investment."Since most variant cases are still travel-related, it's best to concentrate efforts there, he says, in hopes of catching those quickly to limit spread."We want to make sure there's a fine balance between your resource management and what makes the most sense to help identify and protect public health."Rivero adds that the COVID treatment plan and contact tracing efforts remain the same whether the patient has "a variant strain or the quote-unquote regular strain.""Everyone will still have to isolate whether they have the variant or not," he said.WILL CURRENT VACCINES WORK AGAINST NEW VARIANTS?Dr. Samira Mubareka, a microbiologist and clinical scientist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, says part of the importance of genome sequencing is in understanding which mutations are showing up and figuring out what they do.And that can have potential implications on vaccines and other treatments.Mubareka and other experts say they're hopeful current vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna will still work against the variant strains — at least to some extent."It's really unlikely to go from 95 per cent effectiveness of a vaccine to zero," she said, adding however that there may be some reduction of effectiveness against the variants."But from what I understand from preliminary data, it's still anticipated to be above what would be protective at this stage."Mubareka says the emergence of the new variants means vaccines currently being developed will need to be tested against the latest strains rather than older versions to properly measure efficacy. Some of our established vaccines could need updates down the line. Moderna announced Monday it was planning to test booster vaccines aimed at the B.1.351 variant first found in South Africa, noting the current formula had a six-fold reduction in the effectiveness of its neutralizing antibodies. Despite the reduction, the company says those levels are still believed to offer protection. The nature of mRNA technology, which Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna both use in their vaccines, is that an updated shot with a new target could theoretically be made quickly, if needed.However, Mubareka says any new vaccine would presumably need to go through a review process and trials to determine safety and efficacy. So updated inoculations won't be popping up overnight. WHAT DO THE NEW VARIANTS MEAN FROM A PUBLIC HEALTH STANDPOINT?As of right now, public health measures aimed at curbing the spread of our current dominant strain — physical distancing, hand-washing, mask-wearing — will work to fend off these variants. Travel takes on greater significance with the more transmissible versions of the virus, however, with some experts calling for further restrictions and more strict enforcement of the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for anyone coming into the country.COVID projections from Caroline Colijn, a mathematician and epidemiologist with Simon Fraser University, show a potentially grim picture for the next few months, with a skyrocketing spring wave fuelled by community spread of more contagious variants.But if the variants aren't yet firmly established here, we have time to prevent that flagrant spread, she says."If we can push that peak out to September, we may be able to avert it if most of us are vaccinated by then."Mubareka cautions, however, that new variants will continue to arise as long as the virus is spreading. So limiting contacts and abiding by other public health measures is important in making sure we don't get a series of strains that could slip past our mitigation strategies."We play an important part in preventing the likelihood that we will become a vector for one of these variants," she said. "Every time one of these viruses passes through a host, it provides an opportunity not just for spread, but also for adaptation."This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 27, 2021. Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press
NEW ORLEANS — You just can’t keep a good city down, especially when Mardi Gras is coming. All around New Orleans, thousands of houses are being decorated as floats because the coronavirus outbreak cancelled the elaborate parades mobbed by crowds during the Carnival season leading to Fat Tuesday. Some smaller groups announced no-parade plans before the city did. Pandemic replacements include scavenger hunts for signature trinkets that normally would be thrown from floats or handed out from a streetcar, as well as outdoor art and drive-thru or virtual parades. The prominent Krewe of Bacchus has an app where people can catch and trade virtual trinkets during Carnival and watch a virtual parade Feb. 14, when the parade had been scheduled. But the “house float” movement started almost as soon as a New Orleans spokesman announced Nov. 17 that parades were off. That morning, Megan Joy Boudreaux posted what she later called a silly Twitter joke: “We’re doing this. Turn your house into a float and throw all the beads from your attic at your neighbours walking by.” But the more she thought about it, the more she liked it. She started a Facebook group, the Krewe of House Floats, expecting a few friends and neighbours to join. The numbers rose. Thirty-nine subgroups evolved to discuss neighbourhood plans. By Carnival season’s official start Jan. 6, the group had more than 9,000 members, including out-of-state “expats." About 3,000, including a few as far afield as England and Australia, will have their houses on an official online map, said Charlotte “Charlie” Jallans-Daly, one of two mapmakers. Houses are to be decorated at least two weeks before Fat Tuesday, which is Feb. 16 this year. With widespread addresses and two weeks to gawk, the hope is that people will spread out widely in time and space. “I didn’t think I was starting a Mardi Gras krewe. Here I am,” Boudreaux said. “I’ve got myself a second full-time job.” Discussions in the Facebook groups include how-tos, ads for props and neighbourhood themes. Artists have given livestreamed outdoor lessons. Katie Bankens posted that her block’s theme was Shark Week staycation paradise. When a resident worried that she was not “crafty” enough, administrator Carley Sercovich replied that if they could play music and throw trinkets to neighbours, “you are perfect for this Krewe!” Boudreaux also suggested that people could hire or buy from out-of-work Carnival artists and suppliers hit by the parade cancellation. A spreadsheet of artists and vendors followed. One of them, artist Dominic “Dom” Graves, booked more than 20 five-person classes in professional papier mache techniques, at $100 a person. Devin DeWulf, who already had started two pandemic charities as head of the Krewe of Red Beans walking club, kicked the house float idea up a few notches at the suggestion of Caroline Thomas, a professional float designer. Their “Hire a Mardi Gras Artist” crowdfunded lotteries collected enough money to put crews to work decorating 11 houses, plus commissioned work at two more houses and seven businesses. “We’ve put about 40 people to work, which is nice,” DeWulf said. With Mardi Gras approaching, he said a 12th lottery would be the last. One commissioned house is rented by a pair of nuns. Sisters Mary Ann Specha and Julie Walsh, who run a shelter for homeless women with children, had to get permission for their own crowdfunding from the motherhouse of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Dubuque, Iowa. “They loved it,” Specha said. The crowdfunded decorations may be auctioned after Mardi Gras to raise more money, DeWulf said. Several mansions along a short stretch of St. Charles Avenue had elaborate displays with signs noting their creation by one of the city’s biggest float-making studios. Tom Fox, whose wife, Madeline, painted a Spongebob Squarepants scene and made jellyfish from dollar store bowls, said he thinks a new tradition may have begun. “Even when Mardi Gras comes back, I think people are going to keep doing this,” he said. Janet McConnaughey, The Associated Press
China's ByteDance is cutting the size of its 2,000-plus India team and is unsure when it will make a comeback, the company told employees in an internal memo on Wednesday, months after its popular TikTok video app was banned. The move came after India this month decided to retain its ban on TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps following responses from the companies on issues such as compliance and privacy.
China said on Wednesday that the Indian government's decision to keep a ban on 59 Chinese apps was a violation of the World Trade Organization's fair rules of business and would hurt Chinese firms. The ban dates from last year when political tension between the neighbours rose over their disputed border. This month the Indian government decided to keep the ban on TikTok and other apps.